Muleshoe Bend 30k Race Report

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This is a little late, and since it is a night race I didn’t take many pictures…so least thrilling race report ever. (Also, I just finished reading Timothy Olsen’s Hardrock 100 race report  so if you feel underwhelmed by my race report, go read his right after and feel reinvigorated by the magical spirit of ultrarunning)

 

I’m going to preface this race report with a couple of things. First, this race is the second in a series of local night 10/30/60k trail races called the Capt’n Karl’s series. Second, I ran the first race in this series last month (Pedernales Falls) and it did not go particularly well for me (this is on par with my previous post about being in a funky-funk). I was a bit hesitant coming into this race considering I was trying to use the first two races to gauge whether or not to do the 30k or 60k for the third and I seemed to be failing the 60k pre-test so far.

 

That said, I decided beforehand to put all thoughts of 60k races and previous race fail shenanigans out of my mind and just run a consistent race. First goal is always to not die. (This might mean don’t bonk. But it also might mean to not die.) Second for this race was just to be as consistent as possible with the pacing and nutrition.

 

I decided to try a bit of a new strategy this time for hydration/nutrition – I wore my Ultimate Direction Vesta with the front bottles full of slightly extra concentrated Tailwind (http://www.tailwindnutrition.com) with a bladder in the back with about 35oz of water and a considerable amount of ice. I had such a huge issue with the heat last time around, so by loading up on ice I was hoping to keep as cool as humanly possible. The ice on my back was a serious improvement, since the heat was probably the biggest detriment to my race last time.

 

 

I caught up with a friend of mine in the first part of the race after blowing through the first aid station and stuck with her for the rest of the first loop. It was fun to run with someone for a while as normally I’m solo for the majority of my races – Elizabeth is way more aware of her pacing than I am, so even though I felt she was going a bit faster than I could handle, I still stuck with her for the duration of the first loop.  Turned out the pacing was perfect (I always underestimate how fast I can handle – I have a crappy fear of bonking) and I felt good pretty much the whole loop despite going out thinking my pace was too fast.

 

I was mentally prepared for the conditions of the race beforehand, as the race director explained to me beforehand that Muleshoe was 90% covered compared to the scarce tree cover at Pedernales (a serious issue for me early in the race when the sun was still up).  The drawback to this is that the cover makes everything a bit like a sweltering sauna, so you end up trading just a few degrees of heat for a stifling humidity.  I felt pretty good when I left Elizabeth at the start/finish aid station and went charging back into the woods, but I could feel the weather once again doing a number on me.  I resolved to keep the pace slow and steady, ice as much as possible, and keep hydrating.  I was feeling pretty hungry at this point but at the same time didn’t feel like eating pretty much anything I could think of was available to me.

 

 

Side note here – around mile thirteen I ate a cherry jolly rancher and it was like wonderful nectar of the gods for my mouth.    Around this point is where I started to crave sugary/sweet stuff a lot, and the thought of drinking Coke at the aid station reduced me to a mindless junkie chasing each aid station for my next sugary fix.  I think it was around this time that, lured into complacency by my better than expected performance so far, I got a little behind on nutrition.  I can’t really recall filling up any more of my bottles with Tailwind after I took care of the first two, which is something that I have a serious issue with at races.  It’s not terribly time consuming, but it does entail stopping, taking off my vest to grab the bags out of the back (switch some stuff around to put them in the front in the future?), then carefully pouring them into the bottles, blahblah.  In the heat of the moment it always sounds like an ordeal, but maybe one day I’ll realize that slogging through the miles after not getting enough calories is way more of an ordeal than stopping for a minute to mix up some Tailwind.

 

 

Honestly, I won’t blather on about all the minutiae of this race – it really was pretty uneventful in terms of fun and exciting things.  There’s a different kind of feeling associated with doing a long night race, I think; it feels a little crazier somehow than doing a long race during the day.  I remember when I was at the Ragnar trail summit, and Tanner (one of the founders of Ragnar Relays) spoke to us about how important the overnight aspect of running was for Ragnar – that somehow being out there in the dark under all the stars was something that was very special to the runner experience.  There’s something unique about a night race.  It’s quieter, perhaps a bit scarier, definitely tougher.  At this point I think it’s safe to say that many runners and especially ultrarunners kind of thrive on that unique aspect of toughness.  It was definitely a special experience for me to come out of the woods and sprint to the finish in the dark, where the race director Brad was there to hand me my medal (and buff!  bonus!) with a bluegrass band playing at the aid station (double bonus).

 

It didn’t hurt that I finished the race almost twenty minutes faster than I finished Pedernales, despite the fact that Muleshoe is widely regarded as being the tougher course.  I’m going to attribute this to jolly ranchers, Coke, and I guess getting my mind right before the race.  I told myself to prepare to be out there for as long as I need to be, and whatever happened after that would happen.  No being discouraged about being off pace, no suffering bullcrap.  Just a good time, really.

 

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It’s hard to take pictures with a drenched iPhone in the dark…but this is always my favorite sign. In case you can’t see: Little Girl: Mom? What is…Normal? Mom: It’s just a setting on the dryer, honey.

 

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Brazos Bend 50k

Long face hair don't care?

Long face hair don’t care?

So having all my wisdom teeth ripped from my skull is providing me with a great opportunity to sit around and catch up on my blogging.  Life’s been a bit hectic lately due to finishing a month-long training that has left me drastically behind at work.  There’s also been a few Team RWB things I’ve had to get done – not huge things, but sometimes even a few hours worth of work can seem like a neverending task when you’re already juggling a million other things.  But I’ve been mostly productive (with some much needed down time) despite all the craziness…except when it comes to blogging.  I have a few drafts hanging out that I start with gusto and then get distracted by something else that prevents me from picking it up again (mostly because I find if I stop in the middle of a blog, I lost steam and don’t want to pick it up again, haha).  SO, since I’m just sitting around on post-surgical quarters (and also I can’t seem to watch Game of Thrones online anymore – this is a big factor) I figure it’s time to catch up.  I need to resolve to try and do this a certain number of times a week…

 

 

So, I posted that a few days ago (I never really have been into actual New Year’s Resolutions, so never made one) but figured setting some goals would be good.  So I’m going to set a goal to try and blog at least once a week.  Hopefully a bit more if I can find the time/fun stuff to blog about.  More on that later.

 

Anyways, the last weekend of April was my second 50k at Brazo’s Bend.  If you read my race report for my first 50k at Nueces, you’re probably aware that I had not that great of a time.  (Well, I had a great time overall, especially first loop…but not so great results as the heat made me quite ill.)  So going to Brazos was redemption time.  I knew going in that provided nothing terrible happened during the race, I would completely destroy my 50k PR due to the problems I experienced at the last one.  So I resolved to try and just show up, have fun, and try and run strong while keeping walking to a minimum.

 

For those not familiar with the race, it’s flat.  Flat, flat, flat.  My Garmin registered about 120 feet of elevation gain for the entire 50k course.  There’s a terrible kind of sneakiness to this kind of course.  When you’re used to the periodic power hiking and hill climbing, using the same muscles for 31 miles because a new kind of pain.  I did not plan to go into Brazos and smoke it, knowing that the lack of climbs would be a challenge for me eventually.  Running the 20 miler at Piney Woods in February taught me that – I was more sore from that race for a few days after than I was for Nueces.  I resolved beforehand to not get caught up in the “flat and fast” moniker of the course and just keep a nice easy pace that would get me to the finish line safe and sound.  (Hah!)

 

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We arrived to Brazo’s Bend the day before the race to camp and got to take a nice two mile walk to the packet pick-up.  This allowed us to walk some of the course, and see some of the local wildlife.  Alligators, snakes, cool birds, flocks of tourists – we were lucky enough to witness a lot of fun and interesting things on our walk!  I might have also almost stepped on aforementioned snake, then spent the next five minutes staring at it in awe with my mouth agape and it’s startling largeness.  (I’m not particularly afraid of snakes, but I don’t see them very often, so I’m a bit wary…)

 

Russell was kind enough to take this first thing in the morning, when I was looking like rough dog crap.

Russell was kind enough to take this first thing in the morning, when I was looking like rough dog crap.

 

On race morning, I completely, totally, 100% had no desire to wake up.  At all.  I was at least smart enough the night before to load my bottles up with Tailwind and pack the race vest with extra bags and all the necessities.  I woke up at the very last minute, ate a muffin, and started taking inventory to make sure I wasn’t forgetting something small.  At this point, I still hadn’t decided what shoes I was going to wear.  I had almost brought every single trail shoe I owned (in retrospect, I might have actually brought every single trail shoe I owned) and just couldn’t decide which one would do the job.  It was hot and muggy outside, and the thought of putting on my socks and shoes was almost unbearable at that point.  So, I decided to throw caution into the wind and just wear my Luna Sandals for at least the first loop, and see how it went.  I’d ran in them many times before (but never for my long run) and loved the way my feet felt in them, so I figured they’d be perfect for the humid race.  Why not, I guess?

 

VERY INTENSELY TIGHTENING THE STRAPS ON MY SANDALS!!!1

VERY INTENSELY TIGHTENING THE STRAPS ON MY SANDALS!!!1

 

I had a bit of an issue with the heel strap on my right foot slipping down every now and again, but it wasn’t too bad.  This lasted a good 60% of the race, then magically resolved itself through no action of my own.  It was never really a huge annoyance, and going through the first loop of the race I just kind of stayed cognizant of it and tried to adjust a small amount at the aid stations.  I took the first loop at a nice clip, nothing crazy, testing the sandal and flat course waters and just trying to do everything “right” as far as nutrition and pacing goes.  I ran with my friend Scott, who was running his first 50k, and we were doing well with having compatible paces.  I was determined to not have issues of any kind this time (aren’t we all?) and just wanted to feel good finishing, so sticking with Scott for the first loop made the race fun and more or less comfortable.

 

Dramatically coming around the turnaround!

Dramatically coming around the turnaround!

 

Also we had fun times like this.

Also we had fun times like this.

 

Somewhere near the end of the first loop, I just kind of hit autopilot and starting wandering off into my own thoughts. Scott had started chatting with a gentleman we had passed (well, I had passed) and I just kind of meandered off, thinking that I wanted to run a little bit faster but not meaning to do so until after I passed the start/finish for my second loop.  Next thing I knew Scott was nowhere to be found, probably still chatting away (this is a thing, I accept it) to every person who came along.  I hesitated, not sure if I should wait for him or not, but decided he couldn’t be too far behind and I was kick it up a bit to the start/finish and wait for him there.

 

In retrospect, I waited waaay too long here.  I waited for him to come in for at least ten minutes, then waited for him to get his drop bag and do his business – then my friend Kerri (from Nueces!) came through right as we were soon to go, and I (we?) decided to wait for her.  This is completely my failure – Scott told me to go ahead and go (I believe Kerri probably did too) but I knew that if times were going to get tough, it was going to be this loop.  Honestly, I kind of wanted someone to hang with for a while, and knew Kerri would be running a similar pace.  We parted ways with Scott in the first mile or so (hence my dilemma at having waited) and trucked on together for the rest of the race.

 

Though I felt really great leaving for my second loop, at around mile 21 or 22 my body got pretty sick and tired of all the repetitive muscle usage of the flat terrain and started throwing a hissy fit.  Luckily I had Kerri around, who chit chatted with me and distracted me somewhat.  I eventually had to stop every now and again and stretch my self-destructing hamstrings, but made sure Kerri continued on without me.  this was a good thing in a way because it gave me a bit of a goal to catch up with her after stretching.  Though it felt like I was kind of exploding at every possible location below the waist, I didn’t necessarily feel bad, not like I did at Nueces.  I chalked it up to the pains associated with running farther than you do around the neighborhood, and told myself to walk if I absolutely felt I needed to, but to keep it to a minimum.  I did a lot of stern self-talking past the 25-26 mile mark as life started to become exponentially more painful.

 

The fun part about this race is how it is set up.  The lollipop structure of the course meant that there is a lot of crossing paths with other runners, which means that we saw quite a few friends.  (Shout out to Jason, who shouted “Put some shoes on, Brittany!!’ at me as he was headed into the start/finish for the 50 miler as we were leaving it…it gave me a good laugh.)  This is certainly good for lifting spirits, though most of it occurs before the last long stretch of the race which is honestly the hardest part mentally.  There’s a long stretch between the second and last aid station that despite being only about five miles, feels like FOREVER due to it being a straight, seemingly never-ending flat completely riddled with horse-hoof holes that made stabilization a bit harder.  The course here is so straight for so long that you can see straight for an excruciatingly long time, which is a huge mental mind game when you think you should have already arrived at the aid station already.  I walked a bit more here than I would have liked, Kerri almost stepped on a damn snake, and I might have mentioned my hamstrings were exploding approximately a billion times.

 

After hitting the last aid station, there were some weird mind games going on with Kerri’s watch reporting we had quite a bit less mileage left than we really did.  My watch was a little more accurate (off by maybe .4) so though I knew logically my watch was probably correct based on how accurate it was for the first loop, I still kept clinging to the hope that Kerri’s watch was right and we had about 1.5 miles instead of about 4.  The last mile or so was complete and total shit for me.  We hit the paved portion of the course and my feet were angrily demanding to know why the hell I was doing such a terrible thing t0 them at this point.  Hadn’t they suffered enough?  I began to think that I had suffered enough and maybe if I just walked for one second – luckily for me, Kerri barked at me about half a mile from the finish line, “Don’t walk, we’re almost there!”  (If you were not already aware, Kerri is awesome.)

 

Kerri looking fresh and all smiles, and me looking all...like me or whatever...

Kerri looking fresh and all smiles, and me looking all…like me or whatever…

 

It was nice to cross the finish line and sit in a chair very unwisely and drink chocolate protein and oh god I thought I was going to die and nah that wasn’t too bad I guess.  I got Epic Bars and Coke at the start/finish aid station because the race director is my freaking hero (I love Epic Bars, omg) and went to the finish to wait for Scott to roll in.  I found out at this moment that sitting down was quite unwise, but I almost didn’t care because I at least didn’t have to run anymore.  (I want to point out here that at one point my husband asked me after the race “Why are you so sore?”  For real.)

 

It was awesome to cheer Scott in for his first 50k!  Despite all the pain, I had a great time.  In retrospect I should have spent a little less time hanging around the aid stations, as that added an extra minute per mile to my overall time.  Sucks, but still smashed my 50k PR and had a good time with good friends.  Rob (fellow Ragnar warrior and friend) the race director did a killer job on his first race and I can’t wait to hit up the Brazos Bend 100 (…for the relay…) in December!  Cheers!

 

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Hell’s Hills 25k, or what happens when you don’t pay attention

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So the week after TIR, I decided I wanted to run the Tejas Trails race Hell’s Hills for the first time.  I’d never done this one before, and heard that it was a much less technical course compared to something like Bandera or Nueces, so I was hoping to get in a good training run for some speed (in preparation for the Brazo’s Bend 50k at the end of the month in Houston) and have a blast in the  process.  Me and a friend talked to Joe (the race director) the night before the race, and he mentioned that the first and last miles of the race were particularly gnarly, with some nice speedy flatland in between.  Contrary to what the name suggests, the course is not super hilly – the ranch is named for the couple who founded it (their last name is Hill) and for the fact that it’s usually one of the first hot races of the year in Texas before everyone has had the opportunity to acclimate.

 

Knowing that the race was not actually as devastatingly hilly as the name implied in addition to the forecasted weather looking BEAUTIFUL, I decided maybe this would be a good race to try and beat my 2:49 25K PR I’d set at Big Bend.  The day before the race I returned home after class, packed my stuff and headed out to camp the night before.  The weather could not have been more amazing for camping as well as racing – it was a cool 56-60 degrees during the night and well into the morning.  I planned out my breakfast, set all my stuff up, and set my alarm for 0600.  Turns out the 50 milers were starting at 0500, and the 50k at 0600, so I really didn’t need any alarm clocks between all the hooting and hollering that was occurring at the start line at that time.

 

Before the race I decided that it would be a good idea to not worry too much about my Garmin.  I wanted to run this race mostly on feel, to try and get some good speed but at the same time be careful to not lose all my momentum before the last quarter of the race (a frequent issue on my part).  After hearing Joe talk about how gnarly the first and last parts of the race are, I had settled for a goal of sub 3 hours, and if I felt super awesome I would try to PR my 25k.  I had still been filling a bit stiff from TIR (mostly my hamstrings have been stiff as hell all week) so I knew that just going by feel would be my best bet.  It’s sometimes a bit disheartening to go from road to trail racing for me – when at TIR I was running 8:30 m/m-9:30 m/m, it’s pretty rare I run anything even slightly resembling that sort of speed on the trail.  So feeling like I’m running fast and looking down at my Garmin telling me I’m running slower than a 1o m/m normally gets me frustrated during races.  Hence the ditching.

 

There were a TON of people signed up for the 25k.  This was super obvious to me in the beginning of the race when tons of people were pushing (no, really) past me and others to try and run up all the hills to the front.  Those first few minutes of the race were probably some of the crappiest (in terms of fellow runners) in any trail race I’d ever done thus far.  It’s probably old hat to blame the road runners at this point (sorry, guys!) but when I see behavior like that in trail races I can’t help but always think that.  Double sorry to all you courteous road runners – I know you guys exist!  It’s just kind of annoying to have a bunch of people push past you to get by even when you’re trying to stay out of the way of the “faster” people, but then several people want to go passing you on both sides so you’re technically in the way of everyone.  And then they pass you to run up all the hills only for you to pass them again a mile later because they gassed themselves.  Silly.

 

Lucky for me most of that nonsense dispersed within the first fifteen minutes or so.  I got a really bad cramp in my left calf during this first mile or so of the race, which is exactly what happened at Big Bend (only in both calves).  I’m beginning to think that starting off the race with steady incline is what makes this happen – though Big Bend was far and away the flattest race I’ve ever ran, the first mile was a steady incline the entire way.  Since it was only one calf this time, I resolved to try and run it out as opposed to walking, and after about 20 minutes it had disappeared completely.  So, warming up more/differently next time before running a race that starts off with incline?  Not sure what to do about that.

 

Though the race was mostly flat, it still kept me engaged and having a lot of fun with the way the course winded around quite a bit, lots of switchbacks and pretty fun forest scenery.  There were some “water crossings” (more like puddle crossings) in a spot or two, but most of the mud on the rest of the course had dried up.  Eventually we came out of the woods and out into the back fields before the second aid station, and oh my god:

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SO MANY WILDFLOWERS.  Pictures can never ever do it justice.  The wildflowers were straight nuts here.

 

I am pretty proud of my steady pace throughout most of these miles – often times I find that the less I think about the pace the less I start to kind of get frustrated/grumpy/hate running (not really, but yes really).  I ran into some people and ran with them and chit chatted for a while, played back and forth with one woman (pet peeve – being passed by someone I’ve already passed…uuugggh) and generally cruised and enjoyed my time.

 

Joe was not messing around about the gnarliness of the last mile, though – the “rolling hills” on the course turned into death drops onto unsteady wooden plank bridges, dropping down and then immediately heading straight back up.  I am admittedly extremely reckless when it comes to running steep and technical downhill, but even these gave me a little bit of pause.  This was due in part to the appearance of instability in the bridges (planks with spaces in between them – I kept imagining myself flying down and tripping on the gaps in between planks) and just general distrust of the bridges in general.  I’ve been doing alright on the knee front lately, but running steep downhill kind of aggravates it so I didn’t want to throw myself straight down with abandon…but you know, sometimes you just gotta make up time.  😛

 

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Eventually we came out of the woods again, and the frequency of the “motivational signs” posted on the trees was dramatically increasing so I figured we must be close to the finish at this point.  I kicked the pace up just a little, feeling a bit sore but overall still pretty good.  Eventually we were suddenly at the finish, and I kicked it up again a bit, still pretty comfortable but breathing heavier.  I crossed the finish line and hadn’t even thought about my time during that whole last part of the race.  After talking to a friend for a few minutes, I realized I hadn’t checked my time and finally looked at my Garmin – 3:00:41.  Seriously?!  I waited for the official results, in hopes that maybe I had started my Garmin a bit early and would be miraculously granted my sub 3 hour goal, but alas…it wasn’t meant to be.

 

Perhaps most frustrating about the whole thing was that I know I could have easily ended up with a sub 3 hour time if I had been checking my Garmin and knew where I was in relation to my goal, but oh well.  You live and you learn.  Maybe next time I’ll settle for only looking at my Garmin every half hour or something like that.  Or I’ll just go back to obsessively looking at it and then spontaneously die of frustration during some race one day.  Whichever.

 

Race equipment included Tailwind as always, my trusty Team RWB running shirt that makes me run faster, Pearl Izumi E:M N1 shoes, and my Ultimate Direction Jenny Vesta.  Full disclosure: I literally only wore this vest to hold my phone so I could log the Charity Miles for my local Team RWB chapter (I left my SPIbelt at home…)  I hate running with my phone, but I also hate losing, so I’ve been running with my phone so our chapter can log those miles!   😉  Luckily this vest is crazy light, so it didn’t even bother me in the slightest.

 

Coming up:  Fast 50k training, how yoga is hard, and my return to CrossFit.  Yikes.

 

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Texas Independence Relay

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Sign posted on the course of the Texas Independence Relay for John Sharp, who ran all 200 miles solo.

 

This year was my second year running the Texas Independence Relay, a 200 mile relay that runs from Gonzales, TX to the San Jacinto Monument in Houston, TX.  For all you non-Texans (sorry), here is an abbreviated history of the events behind the race.  If you haven’t done a relay of this sort of epicness before, the basic gist is that everyone piles into vans and takes turns running legs of various distances until they all die of exhaustion or finally arrive at their destination.

 

 

Being that this was my second year, I pretty much knew what I was in for.  I also did the 223 mile Capital to Coast relay (Austin, TX to Corpus Christi) last year as well, so while I wouldn’t call myself a veteran, I would say I definitely know what’s up when it comes to absurdly long Texan relays at this point.  Honestly though –  it doesn’t really matter at all how mentally prepared you are going into it, because when you get exhausted all mental preparation goes out the window.  People get cranky.  Hangry.  Whiny.  Sleepy.  Legs refuse to move.  You have to wear a tiara.  (Side note: the wife of one runner brought a tiara along, and anyone who was being excessively bitchy had to wear it.  If I had a dollar for every time I heard “Do you want to wear the tiara?!” I could pay back my race entry.)

 

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Doing a 200 mile relay is definitely what is classified as “type 2 fun”.  While you do have fun during, eventually it gets dark and you get sleep deprived and everyone starts to point the blame at me for making them join the team and telling them it was fun or something.  (Whatever!)  During the race you cheer on your runners, tag other vans, drink beers and have fun in whatever way you possibly can.  Through all the crap parts – the sleep deprivation, the heat, the getting lost – there’s a lot of meeting and hanging with rad people, seeing the Texas countryside, and some more drinking beers.  Some running, too.  Where we were very unfortunate in our fate of being the van to run during the heat of the day – and it got HOT as hell – we were very fortunate that Texas blessed us with some amazing wildflowers and some beautiful country.

 

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My last two legs were slogs if I have ever had them – the third was right after our van’s break in running and our short nap, which I feel like just intensified my exhaustion by that point.  It was about four or five in the morning, and the entire leg was set up in such a way that the van could provide no support for the entire leg.  As we got into Houston, all the big obvious signs pointing us in the right direction were replaced by small flags stuck in the ground that were barely visible in the pitch-dark of the early morning.  I got lost a few times.  My legs felt like they were made of stone, and protested every single step I took.  It’s those moments in the dark where you start to get a little bit loopy – things start to make less sense, you start to feel like you’re probably going to be running forever in the dark because though you’re relatively sure you’re not lost, you can’t help but think maybe you are.  We found out later in the day (well into the afternoon) that a lot of the flags as we came into Houston had been stolen by passerby and as a result many people got lost.  One of our runners whose leg was in the thick of downtown Houston called us several times at one point because he was completely lost and without direction.

 

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These things suck.  They suck a lot.  It’s so cheesy to say these kinds of things bring you together as a team – the suffering, the confusion, the exhaustion – but it’s completely true.  When you cross that finish line and everyone runs through to the San Jacinto Monument, you realize how completely INSANE what you’ve just done was and no matter how much you might have thought it sucked at one point, it’s completely awesome afterwards.  And if you’re a team that has to return 200 miles west to get back home afterwards, once you start making that drive home you start to realize “Oh shit, we ran all of this…”  Mind blown.  Also the assholes who blamed me for their suffering (“THIS WAS YOUR IDEAAA UGH”) say they had a lot of fun and want to do it next year.  BOOM!

 

It’s made a million times more awesome to be able to do it with Team RWB.  The opportunity to go and represent this amazing organization and spread the word about our mission is a huge blessing!

 

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We looked pretty cool doing it, too.

For the record, I ran in my Brooks Pure Connect 2s ($40 for last year’s model…how could I pass that up?).  I don’t own very many road shoes (aka I only own one very thin-soled pair of Merrell’s), so I was admittedly a bit neurotic about finding the “right” shoe for the job.  I had to take the insoles out for them to feel right, but in the end they worked out perfectly for me!  I fueled the entire weekend with Tailwind Nutrition and was dealing it out like crack to my vanmates before their runs as well.  All in all, with the many things that could possibly go wrong on a 200 mile relay, I feel like everything more or less worked out to our benefit.  😀

Nueces 50k

You can tell this is the first loop because I'm smiling!  Yeah!

You can tell this is the first loop because I’m smiling! Yeah!

So, after my thrilling visit to Ragnar was the Nueces 50k.  This was to be my first 50k, and it was on 01 March – the day after I was slated to fly back to San Antonio from Ragnar HQ.  I was in a state of serious doubt about my ability to do well at this race because I had been incredibly sick during my visit to Ragnar, but decided to go out and run it anyways.  I was scheduled to arrive at the San Antonio Airport from Salt Lake City at about 5 PM on Friday, where my husband would pick me up and we would immediately make the two hour drive to Camp Eagle.  Unfortunately, every single flight I was slated to be on that day got delayed.  My original flight to Las Vegas was delayed about three times, until I was told I would miss my connecting flight and was rescheduled for Phoenix instead.  My flight to Phoenix was delayed.  After finally arriving in Phoenix, my flight to San Antonio was delayed about three times.  I did not return to San Antonio until about 1 AM.

We elected to stay in San Antonio and get up and make the two hour drive to Camp Eagle, not wanting to arrive at Camp Eagle at 3:30 AM and wake everyone in the shared dorm we were slated to stay in. My friend Meghann was crazy awesome enough to show up at my house at 4 AM for the drive to Camp Eagle.  I got about an hour and a half of sleep.  I was still quite sick – coughing, congestion, short of breath, the whole shebang – and though I had packed everything beforehand I still felt incredibly unprepared when we arrived to Camp Eagle.  The long and short of this is that the careful pre-race experience I had crafted in my head was a complete disaster.  I hurriedly filled the bottles on my vest with Tailwind and water, tried to allocate things like extra socks (didn’t happen) and my buff (also didn’t happen), while also having to hit the bathroom and pick up my packet.  In the parking lot, I could hear Joe (the race director) counting down to race start…10, 9, 8… I kissed my husband, waved by to Meghann who was urging me to GO, and ran to the start line.

All the frantic scrambling around made me forget that I was insanely tired and sick and did I mention tired?  Loop one is a go, all adrenaline, who needs sleep? Honestly, describing the first 25k loop of this course is probably an exercise in monotony – I spent most of it hydrating as appropriate, briefly visiting my husband and Meghann at the aid stations, and wondering at what moment the crushing tiredness and fatigue would set in.  It never happened on the first loop.  Everything went exactly according to plan – I never stopped too long, I hiked the hills, ran most of the way, chit-chatted with a person or two.  Near the end I started feeling a bit fatigued, but didn’t really pay too much attention to it, thinking I didn’t have too much more to go.  (The “just think about getting to each aid station” approach can backfire this way – eventually you realize you do have to go the whole 25k all over again…and become quite sad.)  Eventually I emerged from the woods to find Meghann and Russell waiting for me.  Meghann informed me that I was close to the start/finish, and now I “get to do it all over again!”  Then this happens:

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This is my “are you freaking serious?” face.

I sigh, keenly aware at this moment that I’m starting to get tired.  And not just tired like “Well I just ran 25k probably a bit faster than I should have considering I need to do it again,” (I actually ran the first loop about an hour faster than I ran the 25k race last year)  but more like “Well, now that all the adrenaline has worn off I now realize I got an hour of sleep and desperately would like a nap.”  When I finally get back to the start/finish, I trudge over to the aid station under the pavilion and am greeted immediately with Olga barking “Salt!  Coke!” at me.  I immediately comply, and just as a side note from someone who has never drank coke during a race before, that shit was GLORIOUS.  I talk with Russell and Meghann for a second, then Liza comes by and tells me I am still looking good, though in retrospect I’m not sure if she was just saying that because it’s her coachly duty because I think I kind of looked like dirt.  I’m just starting to think that I’ve been standing for far too long when Olga tells me it is time to go, time to start running again.  Not really into defying Olga, I nod and start to trot off.

Please note the piteous, mom-like way Liza is looking at me.  Also, how freaking red my poor ginger face is.

Please note the piteous, mom-like way Liza is looking at me. Also, how freaking red my poor ginger face is.

As soon as I’m out of sight I start walking again.  It’s getting really hot at this point, but eventually I head back into the woods and start the run/walk, on again/off again routine that will pretty much become standard for (almost) the entire last loop.  Eventually I start a back and forth with another girl on the trail, her passing me, me passing her, going back and forth like this for a while until she is right in front of me and trips and hits the dirt pretty hard.  I run to her side and ask her if she’s okay, and she laughs it off a bit and tells me she had just been telling some friends the day before how she had never fallen on the trails.

At that point we run together for a while, eventually resolving to run together for the rest of the race.  Turns out Keri twisted her foot around mile 9 or 10 on the first loop and had to have it taped up because it was causing her some serious pain.  By the time she met up with me it was only getting worse.  So we ran on together, resolving to see each other to the finish line no matter what (I don’t think she knew what she was getting into at the time, haha).  Eventually we hit what was (I think) supposed to be the 10k self-service aid station (basically a few cases of gallon jugs of water that had been left on the trail).  I remember all throughout (and even at the end) the second looping thinking I had been paying pretty good attention to my hydration, but I very clearly remember how happy I was to see the water at this aid station, immediately downing one of my vest bottles and filling it up, then downing half of it and filling it up again.  In retrospect I probably shouldn’t have been that thirsty if I was keeping up with my hydration.  I helped Keri fill her bottle and we pressed on.

It was around this point that I started to feel like things were about to go seriously wrong for me.  I had a bit of trouble with my stomach, and getting to the next aid station seemed to take an eternity.  At one point me and Keri started wondering aloud how far we could possibly be from the aid station, as it seemed like we’d been running (and walking) forever.  At this point it was (for me, anyways) seriously hot.  I was super tired.  My stomach problems were only getting worse.  I was feeling a bit nauseous, something I had never, ever had to deal with in running before.  When we finally reached the aid station I dumped ice water all.freaking.over myself.  It was awesome for approximately five seconds, until the heat burned it that away.  I ate a few oranges and we started to trudge up the hill from the aid station, where we met with Meghann and Russell again.

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Also this is where Keri displayed her superior photogenic qualities, and I displayed my herpaderp qualities.

Things pretty much only went downhill for me at that point.  I remember a lot of pitiful retching on the side of the trail on my part.  I was extremely nauseous for I would say about the last 10-11 miles of the race.  I remember several times wanting to just stop and lay down on the trail because my head was swimming from fatigue.  If Keri had not been with me, very graciously determined to get me to the finish line, I have no single doubt in my mind that I would have pulled a Liza and laid down somewhere to take a nap.  I’m sure there are many words in the English language I could employ to describe how incredibly tired I was, but I think just saying “I was tired as shit” will suffice.  Keri talked to me the whole way, and when we hit the fence line (the longest hill on the course) I had to stop constantly because I was either on the verge of puking, or had become nauseous to the point where I could hardly stand and was almost willing myself to puke.

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This. This was my favorite thing.

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Suffice to say this pretty much happened for the whole rest of the race.  We ran a little, I inevitably had to stop, Keri gently coaxed me on and we trudged along.  Let me just pause in this oh-so-thrilling narrative of my nausea to point out that Keri was basically the most amazing thing ever to happen to me during this loop.  Having to make that last 10 mile trek all by myself, slowly (seriously – it took way longer than the three hours of my first loop) would have seriously been an exercise in total suckage.  Keri let me stop to do my puke thing, she set little goals for us, and she was completely understanding of my melodramatic exclamations of being on death’s door.  She let me do my thing, while still keeping us moving.  Doing the fence line without her probably would have taken me three times as long because I undoubtedly would have sat down on a rock, puked on myself, and fell asleep in the sun until I got heat stroke or someone found me and put me in the ground.  (Or something.  I don’t know.)

So we hit the last aid station to some amount of fanfare, because Tejas Trails has the best damn volunteers on the planet.  Joyce (one of the race directors) was at the aid station and upon being told by Keri that I was having some serious issues, Joyce immediately descended upon me like a mother hen.  She asked me a few questions I can’t remember, took my bottle and put a little bit of blue something in it and filled the rest with water and instructed me to drink.  She took my vest and told me she would take it to the pavilion for me, saying if I was overheating the vest would certainly not help me in this situation.  I remember someone instructing me to sit, but I told them I didn’t want to sit because if I did I would never get back up again.  There was concerned talk of overheating, dehydration, this and that as Joyce had me put a bag of ice on my neck, head, underarms.  Someone asked me if I was feeling well enough to finish.

“Do you want to just go?”  Joyce asked me.

“Yeah.  Might as well.”

Joyce had me put the bag of ice down my shirt, and we took off.  Slowly.  We walked, tried to run a bit, walked some more.  We came around to the river crossing and I tried to pay no attention to the fact that I could practically see the pavilion from there, knowing that we still had to go around that part of the property and back through the woods again first.  When we finally came out of the woods and took the last of the course through the Camp’s buildings, we started to run.  I was seriously uncomfortable with how much more nauseous running made me in addition to the stomach pain every footfall caused, but we were determined to run through to the finish line.  All manner of crazy emotional thoughts ran through my head as we took those last few steps towards the pavilion, and coming down the incline to the finish I could see Meghann cheering and yelling while taking pictures with her phone.

If you look carefully, you can witness the beginning stages of my devolution into a blubbering baby.  :D

If you look carefully, you can witness the beginning stages of my devolution into a blubbering baby. 😀

So we crossed the finish line, and as soon as we do I fell into Russell’s arms and cried like a little girl as Keri explained to whoever happened to be near that I was having some serious issues and needed to be looked at.  They lay me down, give me something fizzy to drink, and Rachel later tries to feed me some ginger that she then prompts me to spit into her hand (because it was disgusting, how do you ultrarunning people eat that crap?!) because she has serious hardcore mom status.  I laid around on the cot for a while before I was deemed able to get up and run around shortly after, and we hung out at the pavilion for a few hours and drank beers and cheered on many of the remaining runners as they came across the finish line.

It was quite a few days after the race until I accepted the fact that perhaps I did actually do the best I could have done under the circumstances of one hour of sleep, serious sickness, rough weather conditions, etc.  I definitely did a lot of beating myself up about it, because it was the first time I’d gone that kind of distance (having only gone up to 20 miles in training) so I was seriously starting to wonder if it was just that I wasn’t ready to do it.  I’d been training for a while and was told by everyone and their mother that I was most certainly ready (and though I always appreciate the sentiment, most people just say that kind of thing so it’s not always easy to take it seriously when you feel like you’re at your worst).  I’m pretty sure my husband is tired of me randomly bringing it up.

Looking back, there were some things I could have kept up with more – the heat definitely made me underestimate my need for water and fuel.  At the time I was sure I was keeping up with it, but in retrospect I don’t think I was.  I can’t recall exactly how much Tailwind I took in, but I feel like no matter much of that or any supplemental VFuel gels I ate it wouldn’t have really mattered.  The complete and total lack of sleep was probably going to catch up with me no matter what.  I was seriously pleased with the performance of the shoes I wore – I wore the Pearl Izumi E:M Trail N1, a shoe I had bought only a few weeks before and kind of gambled with (I brought a spare pair of Altras just in case).  I never had any serious issues with my feet hurting despite all the rocks out there (and despite the mileage) and the shoes are still light compared to my Altra Lone Peak 1.5s (the original shoe I had planned to wear).  I was prepared as I could have been as far as my gear goes, but sometimes the cards just aren’t in your favor.  I was incredibly lucky to have Russell and Meghann there cheering for me and helping me out with anything I needed at all the aid stations, as well as Keri who stayed with me all those miles and pushed me to the end.  Though I might have still finished without them, it would have been a much more miserable experience.  So, until next time I suppose – Hell’s Hills 25k on 05 April and another crack at 50k at Brazos Bend on 23 April.

forrest

Bandera 25k

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The stars at night, are big and bright…

As you can probably glean from my brief confession of panic in last week’s Thinking Out Loud Thursday post, I was pretty freaked out about running Bandera this year.  I ran the Wild Hare 25k in November of 2012 – my first 25k – after having not ran more than 12 or so miles.  I ran the Pensacola Half Marathon on Sunday with a friend, and drove back the next day and ran the Wild Hare 25k on Saturday, having no idea what to expect.  It went well – the course is (for a Tejas Trails race) relatively tame, few rocks, mostly dirt trails in the woods with a nice 50 yard drop into the back routes and a climb back out.  I was still relatively new to trail running, so I was challenged a bit by this (in retrospect, mostly because of the distance – I had only been very loosely “training”) but I had a lot of fun by the end.  It fueled the fire of my trail running obsession and I ended up signing up for the Bandera 25k not too long after doing this race.

Bandera…”a trail of rugged & brutal beauty where everything cuts, stings, or bites.”  Joe wasn’t kidding about that. Just to get to the long and short, I had a miserable time at Bandera last year.  Everyone who asks about it, I tell them the same thing – it was the first time I had EVER been running a race and thought “What the hell am I doing?”  I’ve never let doubt get to me like it got to me at that race.  I forgot my Garmin beforehand and had no idea what mile I was at at any point in the race until I hit Crossroads Aid Station (mile 10.75).  I was completely unprepared for the rocky, steep, and seemingly endless hills.  I remember to this day being furious by the end when it was winding through the woods, completely flat and runnable, but I still could not bring myself to run because I was so worn out.  I had a completely miserable time.  So it was with some trepidation that I registered again this year, deciding about December that I had been training hard enough to at least give it another shot.

Not to mention they had completely overhauled the new medals/buckles - and they were completely freaking awesome and I needed one in my life a little bit.

Not to mention they had completely overhauled the new medals/buckles – and they were completely freaking awesome and I needed one in my life a little bit.

I’m completely glad and without regrets with this decision.  While it was only a 25k, it was definitely a “mental block” race for me – I’ve even been to Bandera on my own time to train since the race last year, so theoretically I should have nothing to be afraid of – so I knew I just had to nut up and do it.  I’d been training more and I knew it, whereas last year I don’t think I did a single long run between Wild Hare and Bandera.  I KNEW logically that I was more prepared.  I spoke with my coach about fueling and nutrition plans for the race.  We camped out at Hill State Natural Area the day before the race so we wouldn’t have to deal with the insane bottlenecking traffic coming into the park for the race.  I was prepared in a million ways I was not last year (I was actually late to the race last year due to the traffic!)

I chomped down two gels before the start, filling a spare baggie of Tailwind to put in the pocket of my handheld bottle (already filled with Tailwind).  I had almost five hours worth of nutrition on me, and I was pretty worried about whether or not I would be diligent about drinking my nutrition when the temps at the starting line were in the high thirties.  Fortunately this proved to be a non-issue – between the hard running and the hills, I did not have a problem with thirst, and had almost drained my first bottle by the time I got to the first aid station at Boyles (about 6 miles in).  The trail coming into Boyles is a freaking blast to run, as it’s a nice steep downhill with lots of rocks – I completely love throwing myself with abandon down these steep declines because it always allows me to catch up to others that I might have lost on the uphills.  As I got down to Boyles I quickly filled my bottle, very briefly spoke with my husband, and flew off down the trail again.

Leaving the aid station at Boyles, still feeling good!

Leaving the aid station at Boyles, still feeling good!

I don’t have a lot of awesome running powers to brag about, so when something awesome happens to me I might hang on to it a bit more than is probably necessary (every little bit of encouragement counts, guys!)  As I was leaving the aid station and about to dump my Tailwind into my bottle, a fellow runner spoke to me who had been in front of me before the decline into Boyles and who I had quickly flew by as he gingerly picked past all the loose rocks.  “Where do you train that you learned to run downhill like that?”

“In the land of absolutely no regard for my own personal safety.   …oh and here, and Eisenhower in San Antonio, and Friedrich.”  (Honestly it’s mostly the first one – I’ve always been the kind of person who throws their self down the declines with abandon, banishing all thoughts of The Dreaded Faceplant…)

So I ran for a while at a nice clip, feeling pretty good.  I really need to start utilizing that “lap” button on my Garmin to analyze my splits more fully, because I’m pretty curious as to the pace I was putting up on some of the miles, but I guess it doesn’t really matter.  Eventually I met up with a girl as I was barreling down a hill as she paced me side by side with reckless abandon, and we discussed our mutual lack of regard for our bodily safety as we flew down the hills like giddy children. By this point I had begun to realize that this was EASILY some of the most fun I’d ever had running.  I felt good, I was flying, not trying to run too fast on the flats, I was drinking Tailwind regularly and now I had a buddy.  We ran together for quite a while, chit chatting about this or that, and eventually parted ways at Crossroads aid station (mile 10.75) as I stopped to stuff my face with oranges.  (I go INSANE when I see oranges during races.  Freaking nectar of the gods.)

The end was near at this point.  I’d had most of the fun with the sotol cactus that I would see for the remainder of the race, as I would eventually turn back into the wooded area of Bandera and hit some pretty solid flats for a while.  I knew this was the area I’d crapped out on last year (well I’d been already pretty far past crapped out at this point) where it was flat and I just COULDN’T run.  So I resolved to take it easy and not push myself until I KNEW I was ready.  I couldn’t remember any significant hills after this point.  (Right?!)

Well, eventually I hit Lucky Peak again, and I was completely, totally unprepared for it.  I won’t say this is where my race unraveled – I don’t think my race ever “unraveled” at any point – but it was definitely where I lost a bit of spark.  I’d completely forgotten about hitting Lucky Peak again.  The runner who was hiking behind me later described me as looking “completely demoralized” upon seeing that wretched hill, and I can’t disagree.  I hiked it, feeling alright at first but then having to stop.  I was a little disappointed because I had hiked (almost powerfully, even!) straight up all the hills so far with no stops, so to make it all the way to the end and have to break that track record made me slightly upset.  But I continued on.  “Don’t let that hill beat you!”  The runner behind me shouted as I took a breather, hands on my knees and face glaring at the rocks as I crouched down slightly.  At this point I was less demoralized and more like pissed off, pissed off at this hill that had the audacity to come in and ruin all my fun.

But you know, that’s life.  And that’s most certainly trail running, so eventually (like, two seconds later – I don’t hold grudges even against gnarly hills) I powered through it and took off again.  I was definitely a bit slower the last 1-2 miles, and the playful skirting through the rocks turned at this point into more of a slog.  As it turned into a slog I definitely started having some dark thoughts about having to go out for a second loop at Nueces in March – if I was tired now, at 14 miles into my 25k, how was I going to feel when I hit mile 15.5 and then had to do it all over again in March?  Was that even going to be possible?

I quickly realized that this negative self-conversing I was doing was exactly what killed me last year (besides being woefully unprepared) and then began to think about getting to Last Chance.  I had been drinking Tailwind the whole race and my mouth was getting a bit irate at not having any straight water for most of the race.  So I thought about getting to Last Chance, grabbing a quick shot of water, and then powering on to the finish (a measly .5 miles away).

One of the few smiling finish line crossings of my time, haha

One of the few smiling finish line crossings of my time, haha

And that’s pretty much what I did.  I got to Last Chance a few minutes later, and after rinsing my mouth I took off with a bit more pep in my step than before.  There were people lined up in lawn chairs spectating and cheering all down the trail from the finish line, and as I began to cross I smiled.  I finished an hour and a half faster than last year. My husband was there taking pictures, once again having followed me around the whole race because he’s awesome and supportive and well, I kind of like him.  🙂

So, in a nutshell…Bandera began as my nightmare and ended up easily being one of the greatest, most challenging and fun races I’ve ever ran.  I’m already thinking about doing the 50k next year.  In fact, I can’t wait to do the 50k next year.  Crazy how these things turn out.  It definitely gave me a lot to think about in terms of doing the 50k in a few months (really not that far away…yikes).  I felt like my nutrition was great but could have been ramped up a little bit for the end.  And as cheesy as it sounds, there’s really no beating the power of positive thinking.  No doubt my miserable race last year was caused by allowing myself to get to that Dark Place of No Return – that gross and soul-suckingly negative place you go when your race isn’t going great and everything seems to have gone wrong.  I resolved to just go and do it, not kill myself, and have fun this year.  And I think it worked out just fine.finish_1

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sunrise

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Team RWB Trail Running Camp (Part Two)

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Saturday and Sunday brought a whole slew of amazing experiences!

Our first run was at 0700 but coffee was being served at 0615, so my plans of sleeping in a bit were shattered by all the stirring coffee-drinkers at 0600.  I dressed and walked down to the pavilion to chit-chat, where I ended up learning that coming between a trail runner and their coffee is a big fat no-no, as the coffee was still brewing and a mob of coffee-fiending runners was beginning to gather ominously around the brewing pots.

Glad I don’t drink coffee.

Eventually we all gathered in our respective pace groups to head out on the first of many “Focused Running Workouts” – runs where we would receive an on-the-go seminar of sorts from one of the various trail running mentors who were in charge of leading our group.  We learned a bit about trail running form on this one, namely picking up your feet and mostly some general running form that transfers over to trails.  For me personally, being instructed to focus on “quick, light feet” has always been something that has helped me immensely – it’s so easy after long distances to start plodding along.  High cadence, light feet, quick over the rocks.  Easier said than done sometimes, but it helps me out from time to time to remember that.

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Though I learned a lot of new things from the various running workout/seminars, the best part about the runs was easily Camp Eagle’s awesome terrain.  The trails are beautiful but difficult, and once you get done cursing those steep and seemingly never-ending climbs, you’re rewarded with some of the most amazing views.  We did a “Downhill Running Technique” and a “Speed Intervals” workout (two separate seminars, but we sort of combined them since they were in the same trip) later in the day that had us running repeats on a pretty steep hill 3-4 times.  Hills are easily my biggest weakness with trail running, so this was a bit of a tough time for me.  It sounds like a cliche to say the views made it all worth it, but I don’t care because they did!  It also gave me an excuse to stop at the top and be all “reflective” and whatnot (aka, catch my breath because those hills are intense!)

Nikki Kimball speaking to an enthralled crowd

Nikki Kimball speaking to an enthralled crowd

After dinner, we were treated to an amazing presentation by an amazing keynote speaker:  Nikki Kimball, three-time Western States 100 mile champion and a seriously all-around epic woman.  Nikki spoke of her struggles with depression as well as her attempt to beat the record for Vermont’s 273-mile Long Trail.  In addition to running and beating the record, she was also trying to raise funds and awareness for the organization Girls on the Run, an awesome non-profit geared towards encouraging young girls to pursue active lifestyles through running.  I’ve volunteered with GotR before and they’re an amazing organization, and it was so awesome to hear that extraordinary women like Nikki are out there supporting them.  

 

Nikki cited the pervasive problem of women being unrecognized in sports as one of her inspirations to beat the record – the women’s record at the time was seven days, while the men’s record that Nikki was shooting to beat was four and a half.  She mentioned when winning Western States, how the male’s race was front page news while her win was barely even a footnote.  As a woman, hearing how Nikki overcame crippling depression to break records and run insane distances was incredibly important for me.  People like Nikki are important to showcasing how powerful and competitive women can be in sports…I really admired her honesty and her strength in describing her struggles, as well as her will to blaze the trail for women aspiring to great things in her wake.

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The next day we started our morning with “Technical Trail Running Skills” – this was easily the most fun I had running the entire camp.  The first half of the run was a challenging uphill, but then the second half was all technical (slight) downhill, switchbacks and crazy speed!  I ran up front with some of the elites, and felt like a little bit of a big deal chit-chatting with them while we sped down the trail (probably infinitely slower than they ever normally run, but I’ll take it haha).

Highlight of this day though, was definitely the presentation by Mike Ehredt.

If you have three minutes (if you’re reading this, you have three minutes!) WATCH THIS.  Mike ran across America TWICE (from Oregon to Maine and then Minnesota to Texas) to commemorate all the military members who died in Iraq and Afghanistan.  He stopped every mile to plant a flag in memory of a specific soldier’s death.  Hearing him speak was completely amazing.  Mike is truly a testament to how one normal guy can do something completely extraordinary when his heart is really in it.

Later that day we did a 5k obstacle course.  After doing this, I really wish Camp Eagle would put something on like this more often!  As I’ve mentioned, the terrain is really gnarly and perfect for this kind of stuff – as someone obsessed with Spartan Race and things of that sort, coming out to Camp Eagle for an actual obstacle race would be loads of fun.  The course itself wasn’t especially challenging (except the ring crossing!  ugh!) but it was loads of fun, which was just what I was looking for.  I was feeling pretty tired by this point, so when my friend said he was going to pass on the obstacle course I almost bowed out with him.  I think Jason Bryant’s enthusiasm at the start really pumped me up to go out and have fun and not worry about my stupid legs and their stupid tiredness.  (I don’t know why they insist on getting like that…sheesh.)  By the time I returned, I was feeling pretty beat.  We had dinner and I contemplated retiring to bed, but decided to join everyone around the camp fire and socialized with some cool new people over beers.

Monday definitely started out differently, as instead of running we did WOD for Warriors.  WOD for Warriors is a CrossFit workout Team RWB does on Veteran’s and Memorial Day – for Veteran’s Day it was as follows:

9 minute AMRAP

100-meter sprint

11 sit-ups

11 air squats

100-meter sprint

22 sit-ups

22 air squats

100-meter sprint

33 sit-ups

33 air squats

 

add 11 to the sit-ups and air squats for each additional round

 

2-minute rest and reflection

then

 

9 minute AMRAP

100-meter sprint

11 pushups

11 box jumps (RX 24”/20”)

100-meter sprint

22 pushups

22 box jumps (RX 24”/20”)

100-meter sprint

33 pushups

33 box jumps (RX 24”/20”)

We did jumping lunges instead of box jumps.  It was really fun and a blast to get “back in my element” of CrossFit after spending the whole weekend being a back of the pack runner, haha.  I love trail running, but I’m no Nikki Kimball!  It was fun to talk and workout with the runners there who had never done CrossFit before.

After breakfast and the last RWB Leadership seminar, we took our leave of Camp Eagle.  I met a lot of awesome, inspiring, amazing people!  So much passion for trail running and Team RWB that it makes me smile just typing this.  I really hope that I am fortunate enough to return next year, as this was truly one of the greatest experiences I’ve ever had.  A big huge thanks goes out to Liza Howard, Joe and Joyce Prusaitis, all the volunteers and mentors, and most definitely TEAM RWB for allowing this amazing experience to happen!

 

Leaving Camp Eagle, all smiles!

Leaving Camp Eagle, all smiles!