Saturday, October 5, 2013

UROC 100k

Photo: Matt Trappe
Wow. I am still in total unbelief that I was able to pull off this race! UROC was the race that almost didn't happen for me. I'm sure glad that I changed my mind and toed the line. It was an incredibly hard sufferfest and I am SO, SO glad I raced!

Irunfar post-race interview HERE

1 Week Prior
A week before UROC I was enjoying my taper and went for  an easy run. About halfway through I felt a sharp pain on the side of my left foot that forced me to a walk. I've had lots of little niggles before, so it wasn't totally alarming. I figured it would feel better the next day. Not the case. It actually hurt just as bad. The funny thing was it only hurt when I had a shoe on. Barefoot was totally fine. I joked that I should run UROC barefoot. Ha, not really. 

I nursed it over the weekend and stayed off it the best I could. No running whatsoever. On Monday I was starting to get pretty worried. I was supposed to fly out on Tuesday afternoon to Colorado and my foot was not better. I set up a last minute appointment with my Dr. and called my coach, Ian Torrence, to figure out what the heck I should do. Ian is familiar with all the injuries I've had this year and wisely advised me to wait until I heard back from the Dr. I got an xray, which showed nothing, so they ordered me an MRI to really find out what was going on. When I walked into the room to get the MRI, the technician greeted me like we were old friends (NOTE: I've had 3 MRI's this year). Not someone you want to recognize you! After a nice 30 minute nap in the MRI, it was almost 6:00pm. I needed to make a decision. I wasn't going to find out the results until the next morning, but I just didn't feel good about it. I called Ian back and we both decided that it would be best for me to sit out UROC. The last thing I wanted to do was travel all the way to Colorado, start the longest race of my life, and end up injured again. I was so bummed, but proud of myself for facing the reality of the situation. I called up United and cancelled my airline ticket. No going back. Or so I thought….

The next day I met my PT to discuss the MRI results from the Dr. It was totally clear! No sign of any bone problem or inflammation. I was so relieved! I was prepping myself for bad news, so this was great! I just had a case of tendonitis that should heal quickly. Good news, but I was still sad about having to miss racing. I missed UROC last year too after I got hit by the car and fractured my hip. I am cursed by this race! 

I bummed my way through Tuesday and Wednesday, trying not get too down. Sometime on Wednesday I realized that my foot was actually not hurting. Like not at all. I called Ian again and told him I was having second thoughts. He instructed me to go for a short run to test it out. Since it was only tendonitis, what did I have to lose? If it got sore while running, then I'd know I wasn't ready, but it wouldn't cause any further damage. I went out on some flat trails and ran 6 miles. I even cranked out a mile at 6:00min pace. No pain. As soon as I got back to my car I called Ian again (who deserves a beer for putting up with my needy-ness all week). He told me to go for it! I got really excited about the thought of racing again and went straight to work on setting up logistics to get my butt down to Breckenridge. 
Long story short, I made it to Colorado last minute. I tried to keep a low profile (which is hard at a race like UROC) because I still wasn't 100% sure I'd be racing. I waited until Friday night to fully commit. I hadn't run all week, besides my test run on Wednesday, and was feeling good to go. I was back in :)

Pre-race Dinner with Amy, my BFF from growing up and my fantastic crew!!

Race Day
The race was exciting for me. Lots of back and forth with other women, adversity, and moments of greatness. The recipe for a great day :) I started off pretty easy, just kind of feeling out how my foot was going to react to running. It was a great way to ease into the long day. I was third woman up to the top of the first climb. Not bad. I could see the other two, but wasn't interested in chasing them down for the preem. Usually not something I go after. I like to finish hard, not start hard. 

Rolling down the first hill into the aid station I was passed my Michelle Yates. It was actually great to see her. We ran together for the next hour or so, chatting a bit. I was SO impressed with her strength, running a 100k just two weeks after winning RRR 100 miler? Wow. 

Somewhere in the first long downhill I rolled my ankle. Badly. It was one of those where I teared up and had to stop running. And right when that happened I was reminded of the kindness of fellow ultra runners. Both Michelle Yates and Mike Wardian stopped to make sure I was ok. Wardian even gave me one of his handheld bottles because the hose on my hydration pack was frozen and I couldn't drink any water. So much gratitude. 

After a few minutes I was able to start walking, and then jogging. I was determined to make it further than 8 miles, so I tried to run it off. It sort of worked. My ankle was sore, but not so bad that I couldn't run. Onward I went.

The next section was a long uphill climb- the longest of the day. I felt amazing here! It was the uphill grade that I excel at- not too steep, and very runable. I kept moving up as I passed people and eventually caught Michelle and Emilie. I stayed behind them for a few minutes then realized that I wanted to move a bit faster. I passed them both and kept going uphill. I felt great! I was moving pretty fast but it felt easy. If only the whole race was like that section!

Photo: Matt Trappe

At the top there was a whole lot of snow! Before going back down we ran on the side of a hill for about 2 miles, of course a left slopping side hill that hurt my foot/ankle pretty bad. I pretty much hated that section of trail. I was not moving well and I was worried what it would do to my foot! 
Fortunately it didn't last too long and the trail started a steep decent down into Copper Mountain. I had the pleasure of running this section with Martin Gaffuri. During this decent I rolled my ankle THREE MORE TIMES! What the crap?! I realized then that I had done something stupid. To relieve some of the pressure on my tendon on top of my foot I had laced my shoe one loophole further down. It didn't put pressure on my foot, my it made my ankle very unstable. Hence all the rolling. At the bottom of the hill I stopped and fixed my shoe. And you know what? I didn't roll it again the whole race. 
Running with Martin

The next section was on the bike path up over Vail pass. It was the longest run on pavement I've done in a couple years. I know Killian got a lot of grief for saying this section was "boring", but honestly it was boring. And long. Emilie passed me early on the bike path and stayed ahead of me. I tried my best not to loose too much time, but I really had a rough time moving on the bike path. I really should have grabbed my ipod!
Running up Vail Pass

Getting some help at the Vail Pass Aid Station
About 2 hours later.....the end was in sight. I was relieved to be off the bike path- it was really hurting my foot and I couldn't run very well. I'd love to say that I was able to push again once I got on the trail, but it wasn't the case. My rough patch continued up the next climb. I was walking way more than I should have been. My body was just tired! The climb took quite a long time and the following decent even longer. I'm sure Gary Gellin can attest to my slow pace here because I sent him my Garmin data so he could geek out the stats :) I'm sure most runners beat me over these 10-15 miles!

Photo: Matt Trappe

The last 15 miles were a blur. I just tried to keep going. My body was tired. My foot hurt. I was ready to be done. The course was actually longer than expected which was not a pleasant surprise. At the Minturn aid station, supposedly mile 51, I had 55.85 on my Garmin. There were still 10 miles to go. It was going to be a long day. I was into Minturn aroun 5:15pm. This was the last opportunity I had to see Amy, my crew, before the finish. I decided against grabbing my headlamp. I still had 10 miles (actually turned out to be over 11 miles) to go with the sunset around 7:15ish. Two hours. I knew I'd be running in the dark, but hopefully only the last couple miles.
Minturn Aid Station
I made may way out of Minturn and slowly up the last 5 miles of climbing. I tried my best to run, but I was so tired that I walked a lot. Finally after what seemed like hours I made it to the top. Thank Goodness! I joked with the guys at the aid station that they better not tell anyone behind me how tired I looked. They told me to get my butt moving and kicked me out of the aid station. I grabbed a handful of peanut m&m's and got moving.
Photo: Matt Trappe
The last 5 miles were a gradual downhill to the finish. It was starting to get dark and I could see the lights of Vail. So close! These last few miles didn't go by fast but I also didn't think about much except that I hoped I could hold onto second place. I didn't want to have a sprint at the end. It wouldn't have been pretty. The last couple miles were in total darkness, but I didn't really mind. The trail was wide and smooth so nothing to worry about tripping over. When I finally ran the last switchback and saw the finish line I was estatic. I ran 100K! And I finished second! I couldn't have been happier!
Photo: Matt Trappe

There were lots of things that I could havce done much better, but for my first 100k I was pretty pleased. I definitely learned a lot and can say I was pleasantly suprised with how well everything turned out. I mean, just a couple days before I wasn't even planning to race. I'm sure glad I did!

Photo: Matt Trappe

I really have to say the other women in the race impressed the heck out of me! So many stories of strength, determination, and perserverence! Great job ladies! Also, I really couldn't have done this race without Amy, who took care of me ALL day long! You are the BEST!!! Also thanks to Ian Torrence for coaching me through my first 100k and helping me make the decision to race. You rock!

Now I am resting. I'm trying to take 2 weeks off running. So far I've made it one week no problem. I need to let my body recover and heal up after all of this. If you see me out running this next week, kindly remind me that I said TWO WEEKS! I'm actually enjoying the time off, it's been good to take a step back. Soon enough I'll be gearing up for The North Face 50 in December!!