Put together my favorite trail run distance, arguably the best race promoters (Team Unlimited) out there, a beautiful Hawaiian setting, and over 300 of the worlds most talented trail run racers. What does this equate to? Hands down, one of the most difficult, beautiful, hot, humid, amazing trail run races I have ever been honored to compete in!
I knew based on my experiences racing in Hawaii before, that proper hydration, clothing, and footwear would be of utmost importance. Not to mention the preparation that came well before I even made the trip to beautiful Kualoa Ranch.
My race preparations went like this: My last big race was the end of September. To this point, I had done a lot of racing and needed a break! I took a few weeks with easy runs and bike rides. I also included about 8 hours a week of yoga and 3 of Pilates to bring balance back to my muscles and allow an active recovery. I began a build period in the middle of October each week increasing the intensity of my hill and speed work outs. I also either raced my cyclo cross bike or a short running race most of the weekends. During November since it was getting incredibly cold in Salt Lake City and my race would be hot and humid, I practiced Bikram yoga several times a week to get used to intense exercise in those conditions. Thanksgiving weekend I backed off considerably.
I wouldn’t have backed off quite as much as I did, but I abscessed a tooth and had to make an emergency holiday trip to my amazing dentist. Thank you Dr. Jennings. Also many thank yous to Dr. Freebairn, a chiropractor whom is hands down the best I have ever had work on me. He also does great acupuncture. Without these two and my natural doc. Dr. Harkins, I wouldn’t be alive right now. In my blog, there is more on this. They continually come to my rescue and are the key reasons I am back racing. I hold much love and gratitude for them all. The residual that came from my tooth infection is that I had to go on antibiotics up until the day before my race. My body was drained from that, but my mind and heart were not.
Sometimes we can’t control when hard things happen. No matter how much we try to have everything work out in our favor. To remedy the toll the infection and antibiotics took on my body, I ate a high quality diet consisting of herbal teas, fish, good eggs, nuts, lots of veggies, quinoa, and fruit. I also drank coconut water for electrolyte balance each day several times. I took probiotics to work on rebuilding proper flora in my digestive system and first endurance multivitamins and my Optygen. The only other things I could do were focus on how I wanted my race to go. Positive thoughts, intentions, and lots of smiling and laughing. I don’t care what people believe, but when I feel happy, I get healthier. When I feel negative stress, I watch my body fall apart. I choose to be positive and happy and healthy!
The final two days before my race, I did some short hard (less than 20 minutes each) workouts. I swam about 500 meters in the ocean to loosen up my joints and a short tempo run with wind sprints at the end to open my lungs. I drank lots of coconut water and tried to stay off my feet as much as possible (that one is hard for me as I love to move all day long!)
Then came the footwear choice. Shoes were easy. Of course I was going to race my favorite ever pink Newton Racing shoes. Socks were the other issue. I often don’t wear socks as I have pretty hard skin on my feet. I think that comes from years of dancing ballet growing up and my recent love affair with triathlons. For this race I had concerns with the climate as my feet were swelling a bit since arriving to Hawaii and I had a couple of hot spots just from my short runs. After some thought, I decided that before my race I would lube my feet with Neosporin in the areas of friction and wear a very light sock from asics for a barrier. We would be crossing several streams and due to a heavy rain storm a couple days before, I knew we would also find lots of mud. The choice was perfect and during my race, my feet comfort was the last thing on my mind as they felt great!
Race morning, I again drank about 12 ounces of coconut water and a very simple protein shake. I warmed up and included some yoga sun salutes, about 10 minutes of easy running and again some wind sprints to get the blood flowing. At this point I had done all I possibly could.
Toeing the line, I looked around a bit, but mainly breathed and thought about how lucky I was to be at this race. How does a single mom with very little income and a pretty crazy life in general get to have so many amazing adventures as I do? I believe and work hard and do all I can to make my aspirations and dreams come to fruition. Often there are many bumps along the way, but it only makes it all that much sweeter and worth it in the end. Somehow the universe and people in my life pull their magic in many ways. They help me put the pieces together I am unable to, and then I am there. I love it! Always reminds me how much I need others and they need me.
When the canon went off, a miracle I was hoping for didn’t quite happen. I was hoping that the effects of my tooth infection and antibiotics would somehow magically wear off for this race. I didn’t have the snap to my legs or the lightness to my gait I am so well known for. Luckily, I know that when my physical body is struggling, I have other things I can focus on. I focused the entire race on deeply breathing, listening to my body to keep a pace that it could handle today, and my running form. Although, the race leaders left me behind, it didn’t mean I was out of the race. With the way my body felt, I easily could have given up, or walked, or developed a bad attitude. No way! I smiled and thanked every volunteer, thanked the universe for making this race possible to me, and enjoyed every moment of heat infused scenery, rugged footing, and often steep terrain.
At the finish line, I ran joyfully home to a 7th place overall female finish. I was still in the money. A top 10 finish at a world championship is super awesome! I know that if I can place that well when my body is still on the mend from some health issues, I can’t wait to see how I do when I am well. I rewarded myself as part of my cool down by running the short distance to the ocean and jumping in shoes, clothes, and all. I realized then how tired I was as I got pummeled by several waves and couldn’t even begin to stay upright. I rubbed the mud off my Newtons and legs and exchanged my salty sweat for the ocean salt. I then removed my shoes and ran barefoot back to the race venue to enjoy the company of all.
Congratulations to everyone at the Xduro World Championship. Especially congratulations to my fellow Newton runner and multiple Ironman champion Heather Fuhr for an incredible third place finish. I am looking forward to such a fabulous 2010 season!