La Sportiva Mtn Cup Season Opener

In case you don’t want to read my whole saga, I finished 2nd female overall! For the rest of you, read on:

When I made the commitment to race the 20 mile Uwharrie Mtn Trail Run this year, I had no idea that I would be moving both my home and business the week before. I think on a every level I like to squeeze maximum craziness into every aspect of my life. At least I am never bored!

Needless to say, I left for the La Sportiva mtn opener feeling a bit unprepared. I had missed more runs than I took due to moving issues and then putting my SI joint out again.  I suppose it shows the power of a strong mind, faith that I was supposed to go, and again my amazing chiropractor and acupuncturist, Greg Freebairn, putting my hips back together yet again.

Luckily I am queen at jumping into things head first with a blind fold and figuring out the details later. In many cases, I have paid, but in exponentially more, I am rewarded with adventure, a true sense of living and feeling, and huge help from many. On Thursday AM before I left I hadn’t even packed yet. I chose my bag and proceeded to put everything I could winter clothing wise into it. I had no idea what the weather was going to do and I didn’t want to freeze. It is amazing what I can fit into a light weight black diamond daypack including two pair of my Newton Running shoes. I think I could get the best packer award for sure.  Into my bag I placed a 5oz container of First Endurance liquid shot which is one of the only calories sources my poor sensitive belly can handle.

I didn’t think anything of it until I went through security. Of course TSA tried to confiscate it. Amazingly I put up a good argument about why they had to let me keep it. I knew I would have a hard time finding more in the middle of no where in central NC. When talk didn’t work. I sat down on the floor and full out burst into tears right in the middle of a crazy morning in the SLC airport. Wow. Where did that come from? Apparently moving had stressed me out more that I thought? Anyway, the TSA manager came over and let me take my gel! I suppose he realized that an extra 1.6oz of race gel from a 105 lb girl probably wasn’t worth the fight. So for the first time ever, thanks TSA 🙂

When I got to Charlotte many hours later, I was bummed to find it hailing and raining. The next day, it poured hard all day. I was having a lot of anxiety about Saturday’s 20 miles. My body tends to have a difficult time in extreme cold and I was apprehensive about it shutting down mid way through my race. By mid afternoon I had finally come to my senses. Of course I knew that regardless of the weather things would be great. I just had to trust that.

The next morning it was still raining. This was going to be a fun one!  So here is how it went down for me.  Because even though I race alongside the guys, I am of course most concerned about the girl’s race as they are who I am scored against.  As for the women’s field, I thought Alison Bryant of La Sportiva might be my biggest competitor as I haven’t done many races out that way. I realized it would be mainly locals toeing the line and I don’t know many of them. 2010 results didn’t give me much information as last year they had shortened the course by 1.5 miles and moved 7 of the remaining 18.5 miles of single track to the road which made for very different dynamics.

This year it was all on single track, or should I say due to crazy rain and cold, dozens of mini stream crossings, a few bigger stream crossings (up to thigh high!) and steep slippery hills. Any single track that wasn’t on a grade or part of a stream, was ankle deep in icy water!

There was one girl I noticed whose face was familiar from pictures. She was rad. Happy go lucky and incredibly nice. I later found out she was the famous ultra runner Annette Bednosky whom races for Montrail!  So she shows up all light and smiles in the rain and proceeds to head towards this huge 8X12 foot mud/ice puddle. As she neared it she picked up speed and took a flying leap right into the middle of it and started dancing around. She said as I burst out laughing, “May as well get this part over with now!”  She was right. The rest of us huddled in the cold trying to pretend we were warm looked silly compared to her with a great attitude. Of course we would all be extra wet mud runners soon.

When the gun went off, my initial game plan was to stay as close to the lead woman as possible as long as I could stay relaxed and in good form. I knew the conditions being cold wet and technical would be challenging for a girl who thrives in warm sunshine. Come to find out, Alison ended up not racing due to a hamstring issue. But I noticed as I got caught up in a bottle neck on the initial ascent that there were three girls up ahead, Annette and two others I didn’t know. I knew it was a long race and just tried to work my way steadily past people who took off too fast. By the second mile I had caught Annette and one of the other girls. The first place woman was out of site. I did all I could to pick up time on the ascents and flat sections, but struggled somewhat in the creeks and downhills. It was really steep, rocky, and  rooty, slippery the entire way. If it wasn’t for running form and technique and my fun tropical fish Newton Momentus shoes,I would not have faired as well as I did. I maintained second place to the finish. I don’t know how far ahead first place was or how behind Annette whom finished third behind me was.

Most amazing though, is even though it was a difficult race for me to get to and the weather conditions were not my style, the people running the race did an exceptional job. Well marked course, great aid stations, and amazing North Carolinian kindness and hospitality made it well worth the trip. I encourage anyone who can to give this race a go in the future. Plus they know how to warm you up after. They went and found me my dry clothes as I was too busy shivering, talking and laughing to realize how cold I was at the end.  My post race beverage handed my in the 30ish degree temps was coffee with Bourbon. Yep they know how to have a good time and warm up after!

Thanks so much La Sportiva and your sponsors for continuing the series as well as Newton and First Endurance. Looking forward to the rest of a fabulous 2011.