2018 has been quite the ride! With my name drawn in the Western States 100 lottery January started off with my main focus on States and other races to support that goal.
In February I sustained a concussion and had to log a month of no running, so In April my 50 miler at Bull Run Run was pretty miserable. By mile 30 my concussion headache had returned and slowed me to a crawl. Fortunately I was able to get through it and Salvage enough training and recovery so I finished 21st and sub 23 hours at States!
It may not have been what I was hoping for, but the experience and time spent with friends on the course was awesome!
After a big event it’s not unusual for me to feel a little hollow and aimless, so I signed up (very last minute) for the Jarman’s International Marathon. A 30 miler of hill repeats up and down a 3 mile hill in Virginia. I won it in 2014, and won it again this summer as well. It left me hobbling for a week, I was not recovered from States and all that downhill, but it was a fun day anyway. After that I tried my hand at a road half marathon, something I haven’t done in more than a decade and was pleasantly surprised with a second place finish.
After several months post concussion I was finally feeling good!
without having time to train in the mountains, which are 3+ hours away, I had to make due with some flat tempo road running as my training bread and butter. It made me a tad nervous leading up to Mountain Masochist 50, so I opted not to read irunfar or check out who else was running. I wasn’t going to get all anxious about things out of my control.
MMTR is put on by Eco-x the company of Clark Zealand, with a little help from the original race director, David Horton. This year there were a few course changes, so no one knew exactly what to expect.
In the pouring rain my husband and I drove up to Lynchburg just in time to lay out some things for the race morning and get to bed.
The next morning the clouds had lifted, but the rain was so heavy it left tons of water on the whole course.
I made peace with that and put some Vaseline on my toes to try to keep them from getting too wet and lined up at the start. The race begins before sunrise so for about an hour+ runners race with headlamps.
5-4-3-2-1 and we were off, through single track and onto a road for a very short time until back onto single track for a rolling 11 mile climb. Unfortunately for me, an oncoming car blinded me temporarily and as I stepped off to the side not only did I step in a hole, when I tried to catch myself I kicked a hidden stump so hard that when I finally landed I almost threw up. I checked my head, terrified that I’d aggravated my old concussion, it seemed fine but my knee and ankle swelled very quickly. In that moment I had to decide, quit the next time I saw my husband, or load up on anti inflammatory pills so I could hold off the swelling. I would decide in the next few miles.
To take my mind off of the pain I chatted with a few other runners and took it easy up the very wet single track. I noticed that the other two ladies and myself were quite a bit ahead of the rest of the women’s field and made a mental note. If the Advil could keep me in the race then I’d run to win.
Upon seeing Drew I ditched my headlamp and grabbed several a Advil. I knew the other women were stronger climbers but I was much smoother on the downhill, all the tempo running made the downhills feel easy. By mile 20 I was solidly in the lead and stayed there until the end.
This year, with the guidance of my coach, I have learned several things.
I have finally leaned to eat! I just needed some solid training day practice. During MMTR I ate a honey stinger gel almost exactly every 30 minutes. I kept a salt tab with me and would lick it to see if I needed more sodium when I began to pee often. If the salt tasted good I’d take it, if not I’d leave it and I was well hydrated the whole day….which led to my first ever finish with out bonking or getting sick!! I was so happy to finish and be able to eat my recovery eggs immediately after!
the second important thing I’ve learned is that overall fitness goes a really long way! I worry constantly that living at sea level with no access to any real hills leaves me at a great disadvantage, I’ve gone on stair climbers, run workouts in stadiums, hiked on 15% grade treadmills for hours on end, but did none of this all year. Instead we focused on back to back long runs and fixing my gait and short hill sprints and increasing tempo efforts, and it paid off. All the worrying I did was for naught.
As my bruised knee and ankle heal I am looking forward to 2019 and more adventures, faster tempos, and nailing more races!
Happy trails all!