The Tao of Rachel…racing

Santa Cruz Pier

On rare occasion I am able to start writing about my race experience before I race. Today is like that. I continue to be amazed at how I get to my events. Today I owe it to many as always for getting me here.  Two weeks ago I injured my left leg and SI joint again. I took a big fall as I was out training a client trail running. I literally tripped over nothing it seemed. So crazy how that happens as the trail was non technical and flat at that point. I have run so many steep crazy technical runs with no mishap. It was another lesson to me to be here now. Stay focused and in the moment.  I paid for this one big time.

Two days later I somehow I made it through a disappointing finish at duathlon nationals. With my heart in my throat I crossed the finish line in 12th overall and 3rd in my division. I still made team USA and qualified for Worlds, I have a difficult time with sub par performances. I had very little power and a lot of pain. I then spent the next week trying to rehab my leg. It was so seized I couldn’t even straighten it or pick up my foot. I literally had 6 different people try work it out with massage My natural doctor, Gene Harkins spent hours of his precious time with me coaxing it to let go. Man my body can be stubborn!  By the next Saturday for the Moab Gran Fondo, I still had pain but had recovered 60% of my flexibility.

No Wonder my hips hurt….my bike is too small

Still not feeling right, of course I raced. I figured it was on my road bike with the opportunity to gain some fitness without impact. It was also a chance to spend time with good friends in Moab and my son, Canyon.  While I didn’t ride anywhere near my normal ability as I was still in a lot of pain, I still managed a 3rd place overall female finish. I am lucky I know how to ride with my breath and heart as this was all I had to work with as my leg and hips were still in pain. I  had very little power and spent over 10 minutes on the side of the road watching other racers fly by as I fixed my tire.  10 miles to go I flatted going 40mph down a steep grade after finishing 5,000 ft of climbing. I was so mad that I flatted, but at the same time grateful I have good road skills as I didn’t crash or ruin my beautiful Easton Carbon wheels.

Uncle David and his awesome wife Aunt Gee took Canyon hiking and repelling. The story upon meeting up again in the afternoon was “no mom, we didn’t go get ice-cream for lunch.”  Right!

The morning after the race in gorgeous sunny weather (wahoo!), I woke up early and went with Uncle David (no blood relation, but still family in my heart) out to Arches national park to do a photo shoot in desert of red rock and sand. Me practicing yoga and David shooting. It was a lot of fun. The desert is amazingly therapeutic for me and I am so happy I got to spend my morning out there!

Upon returning it was time to pack up and take make the trip back to a cold rainy Salt Lake City. Luckily I caught a ride with great friend Art and I got to just chill in the passenger seat which is my preference on road trips. I don’t like driving!  Canyon being the dream child he is behaved much better than I as I squirmed in my seat most of the way home wishing I could get out and ride.

One funny thing that happened as we drove along the highway is up ahead someone had lost their truck shell. They had many belonging strewn upon the road. As we got closer I saw my cycling friends Ryan and Jenelle running about gathering possessions. I panicked worried if they were okay and made Art stop so I could check on them. The story was they stopped to help those who lost their shell and were helping. With vehicles whizzing by at 80mph I didn’t hang out long. Wished them hello/good-bye and ran back to the car. A little while later I received a text from my friend Jenny asking what I had been doing running down the highway? Ha! The highway reunion of the 801 cyclists?  So funny. It is amazing how I never know who sees me.  Many.

Returning from Moab I was bummed. It was cold rainy gloomy. I was worried about my aching body. I still didn’t know if I was going to make it to my race in Santa Cruz. I hadn’t bought my ticket. Had no money to do so and wasn’t sure I should go with my body being out of whack. I decided that if I was meant to go, the Universe would take care of the details.

Enter my sweet friend Bahar.  I am lucky to practice yoga with her on a regular basis. Early mornings in my living room we breathe, intention, fall over, laugh, you name it. It is the most fun I have ever had with yoga. I am so lucky she takes the time to join me twice a week. I told her my predicament and that if I was meant to go to Cali, It would happen. If not, I was learning to accept that it was okay.

An hour after she left my house, she emailed me telling me that there was no way I was missing my race. She got me my airplane ticket using her hard earned miles. I already was entered into the race. I have a place to stay with dear friend April. The only thing I have to pay for is a rental car. Oh wow! I is unbelievable how I get places. Thank you Bahar and April. I appreciate you so very much!  The cool thing is Jeff Trout also offered me his home. Because April lives right near the venue, I decided it would be smarter to stay with her (less chances of me getting lost!).

How is it that I have never been to Santa Cruz before, yet am lucky enough to be heading out to see my family. This is what XTERRA is. Not only do they offer incredible racing adventures, but the people who put the races on are family to me. My friends I have met over the years through XTERRA events are so dear to me.

I am especially looking forward to reconnecting with another soul sis Renata Bucher. She is one of the most amazing athletes on the planet. Last summer I was fortunate to have the opportunity to train with her in Park City as she was preparing for XTERRA worlds and I for trail run worlds. My wish is someday we live in the same town and can train together. I have never had a training partner who was so perfect for me.  Maybe someday if I hang out with her enough I will become like her.  She is strong, lean, fast, and so very smart.  She is also one of the sweetest kindest girls I have ever met.  I have a long way to go!

Yay! Fast forward a few hours or 8. I made it to Oakland. Picked up a cool new Subaru for my rental car and drove to Santa Cruz. Instead of trying to describe the word ADHD, people have often just said, “you know Rach? She is the definition.” Ya. But I really am working to shift that! I really am! I actually for the first time in a long while made a game plan. First. FInd Trader Joes. Did it!

Views from the bluffs at the Santa Cruz trail race

Then out to Wilder Ranch for a bit of a run to check out the trail course and kiss the beautiful ocean. Well…. One thing led to another and my 30 min max time limit turned into a stop at the beach. I had to do some yoga. Then of course I had to play in the water. Then soaked and wet I realized why it might have been a good idea to put socks on with my shoes. Can I describe sand as sticky?  It wouldn’t come off my feet!  Hmmm… Maybe sandy feet in my trail shoes would file down some calluses. In my case with my “mountain runner” feet it would be a good idea.  So on went my shoes with sandy feet. Dripping wet I carried my running clothes so hopefully my swimming suit would try faster. I am sure I looked silly to other racers checking out the course. But I didn’t care.  I was enjoying the ocean views and the cool sunny skies too much!  I knew that on race day I might not even notice. One thing led to another and my half hour turned into 2 hours out playing on the course and in the sand, water, and sun.  Oops.  luckily I ran slowly stopping any time my hips started to seize to stretch and shake them out.

A Quiet Pre Race XTERRA Tent Village

Finally after running the entire course.  I found my way back to XTERRA’s tent village.  I was so hungry!  About to head towards my car, I made it about half a step before I ran into Kalei, such a hard working woman with 48 different job descriptions to keep XTERRA rolling. I talked with her and then a few others walking by. Finally I was about to and Renata came riding!  I was so happy to see her. Big hugs and joy!  Of course I talked with her until she had to go and was about to leave myself.

John at the pier

Then John came. He is the same one whose shoulder I cried on in 2008 after the final triathlon XTERRA nationals in Tahoe I raced when I was sick. Right before things got really bad. He found me again here! So then I talked more. Yes XTERRA events are always a grand reunion for me!  When I had the chance I made a beeline for my car. Food! I needed food! It was 3:30 Utah time and I had yet to eat for the day.  Well John came over in his truck and invited me to eat lunch with him on the Pier. Cool!  Lunch with good company is great!  My choice of food? An IPA from a local brewery and grilled fish. Perfect!

After that it was a trip to a running shop to pick up registration and of course hug and kiss and talk way too much more. Now I am at April’s amazing home loving the peace and solitude and time to prepare for my race. And I was only 4 hours later than I planned. I am tired but ready to run fast! A great tomorrow is on the horizon.