I have mixed feelings about the last two weekends of trail run racing with XTERRA. First off, both events were spectacular in the way they were run. When XTERRA puts on an event I know I can expect full out flawlessness all the way around. Many of their staff have become very dear to me over the years. I look forward to seeing them as I would any family.
When I showed up to pick up my registration in Bend, OR for the trail run National Championship it was no different. Big hugs and kisses and 2 sentence synopses of how we are doing (they are working hard-no time for chatting!). The one thing I asked which I now regret is, who else is here? I thought I had a pretty good idea and wasn’t worried. I felt really good and thought I had at least a podium inside of me. But of course I asked. My jaw dropped when I received a long list of elites including the ever fast and amazing Lauren Fleshman who is a running superstar known worldwide. Oh wow.
Instead of letting it roll off my shoulders and focus on my own race, I spent the remainder of the day and night worrying. I know better than that! I didn’t eat enough and got very little sleep. On race morning I didn’t feel very well. Shoot Rach! Why did I do that? Getting back into the moment, I prepared for my race, went to the venue and started feeling better. The people, the high energy XTERRA provides, and of course just wanting to run this thing melted away my worries. I warmed up, danced around the venue talking to new and old friends. Of course I also answered many questions about my awesome new colorful Newton trail running shoes!
When it came time to start the race, it went off fast. Faster than I was ready to go. I know my body. I am definitely one who needs to start a little slower and build into negative splits through the race. By mile three I paid a heavy price for not listening to my body. I developed a stomach cramp that was so severe it stopped me hard. It took me a few precious minutes of breathing and rubbing and calming down in general before it subsided and let me run again. I never did find my full rhythm after that. All things considered I ran the best I could through the gorgeous race course. My favorite parts were the river and then winding up the switchbacks on the climb back up to the Mt. Bachelor Village before heading back to the race finish at the Old Mill district.
For the last two months, I have been teaching trail running clinics locally. I love how teaching others my passion helped me in this race. Amazingly my own words I gave to others during the clinics played in my mind. After my initial mistakes, I focused on breath, leading out with my heart to keep a forward lean from my ankles, and keeping my feet under me. I really feel technique and my fantastic Newton Momentus shoes helped me get back into the race.
My finish? I finished 7th female overall which all things considered is pretty good. I closed the gap significantly from last year to this against my competitors time wise even though I finished two places back from last year. This year’s course was about 1.5 miles longer than last year. I finished only 3 minutes slower than last year’s time, which meant I ultimately went faster. Most others finished between 6 and 10 minutes slower this year than last.
I learned a lot of lessons and gained another high quality race of experience. I am looking forward to Worlds in December and know I will go there with a level head and no crazy nerves! I am so happy I am improving ultimately, especially coming back from my illness which almost took my life in 2008. I am lucky to be racing at the elite level and look forward to improving more and more. The other wonderful thing? I spent 4 hours after the race showing people how to run in Newtons. Talking about them, enjoying new friends and hoping that what I helped others to learn about running technique will help them in future races.
That was last weekend. Fast forward to this past weekend, September 25 back in Utah. I again raced XTERRA’s 21k trail run. This was in conjunction with their U.S. off road triathlon National Championship. The Wheeler Canyon 21k XDURO I raced last year and won the women field by 7 minutes. I was confident I would take the win again. This time it was external circumstances that almost didn’t even allow me to make the race start. Being a single mom has challenges sometimes. I was having a rough time finding someone to watch my 5 year old, Canyon, leading up to the XDURO in Utah. I finally had a friend who lives on the way to the race offer to watch him for me. This was great except that logistically I knew it would be a challenge to be ready to start my race when I live an hour from the race venue, had to get my son up and ready and to my friends home I’d never been to in Layton. Then get to Snowbasin to drop off my car and then down to Pineview reservoir for race start. All of this before 7:30? Really?
I had no other choice. I would make it happen. Getting up was fine. Getting my son up and dressed was good as well. Getting to my friend’s home even with directions and a GPS? Not so good. I am queen of getting lost and I did it again. Not too bad, but it did cost me the 20 minutes I absolutely didn’t have. After dropping of Canyon and kissing him goodbye I headed as fast as I could within speed regulations I could drive. I arrived at Snowbasin just in time to miss the last shuttle down to the race start. No! Well this provided one of the XTERRA Pro triathletes and opportunity for some good karma points. I saw her going towards her car and she graciously offered me a ride down to the race start. Thank you! This was great until I got to the race start and realized I left my gel flask in her car and then didn’t have time to go look for it as I arrived with only enough time to pick up my race number and choke on smoke as the start cannon blasted.
Oh well. Focus on what I can do. I set off pushing a pretty hard pace. I suppose I needed one last lesson on starting out faster than my body is ready. Especially with zero warm-up. But this week I felt much better. The uphill 2,300 foot climb is definitely my forte and I was excited! I held the lead until half way up Wheeler Canyon and I started to feel hungry. Bummer. Wish I had my First Endurance/Monavie mixture. I got passed by one female and had to let her go. I knew running a slightly slower pace was much better than bonking halfway through my race. I again focused on breath, rhythm, good form and a positive attitude. about mile 8 I started to run out of energy and really wished for some calories, but I held on as best as I could.
It was a perfectly beautiful morning and I was so happy to be racing. When the race was over, I never did recover the lead. 2nd place female was my finish. The good new is despite all of my craziness, I still ran the course five minutes faster than last year. How exciting! Again my Newton trail runners were amazing. Kept me easily on my forefoot just as I like. Had the laterally stability for rocky sections typical road racing shoes lack, and I definitely had the brightest feet of the day!
Thank you Newton Running, TEAM unlimited/XTERRA, and First Endurance for such amazing experiences and opportunities to push my potential and live my passions!
Now taking a few days easy before I hit my final training cycle for XDURO Worlds in Hawaii in December. Have I ever mentioned I LOVE to run? 🙂