Mid-February found me at a Pacific Coast trail run, the Montana de Oro 25K. It's in a beautiful part of the central California coast and my parents live nearby. Despite extremely windy conditions, I had a great race and it provided a boost to my confidence. A week later I joined quite a few other runners at the Green Gate on the Western States Trail for their annual training run that covers the last 22 miles of the famous WS100 course.
I was lucky enough to get into Way Too Cool 50K in the first 4 minutes after registration opened so I began training on the wonderful trails of Auburn and Cool. I have found that the trails are really well marked in some places, others, not so much. That led to extra miles being run as I "explored" new trails in the area. AKA: got lost :) WTC didn't start out the way I wanted. I was dealing with some calf pain that had me wanting to quit within the first 7 miles. But I persevered and despite a slow start, had a strong, fantastic finish.
Next up was the American River 50M and besides Leadville, it was an "A" effort race. I paced well in the first half before seeing my family at Beals Pt. It was while hugging my 5 year old that I had this sudden urge to just stop running and spend the rest of the day with my family. I spent more time there than I wanted but it was worth it to get the extra hugs. Despite a strong second half I couldn't break the arbitrary 10 hour mark (finished in 10:03) but I know I can one day. The important thing was that I felt great during the entire race and was on track for Leadville. Another special thing about this race is that it was the first time Caitlyn ran across the finish line with me. It wasn't the last.
The next big test came at the WS100 Memorial Day training weekend. I participated in the first 2 days and it was so wonderful to finally be able to run on parts of the trail I had never seen before. Overall, the runs went well but they highlighted a couple of my weaknesses: the canyon descents really worked my quads and the fact that I'm a slow climber was confirmed. Two areas I would need to work on and I did.
My birthday in June found me with my family in SF, more specifically, on Angel Island. I did PCTR's 16 mile race which would allow me to see the entire island but be done early enough to spend time with my family. We couldn't have asked for a more perfect day. I ran hard and had a blast.
A few days later found me on the road to Leadville for their 3 day training camp. I was able to run a huge chunk of the course and gained a lot of confidence out there. The highlight was definitely the night run on the Colorado Trail. I made a lot of new friends that I would see and support on race day. Leadville is definitely a family event.
Mid-July found me back up at Lake Tahoe attempting the 50M version of the TRT. I just love this race. I had been doing training runs on the course so I had an idea of certain split times and I managed to hit them during the race. It was a long day and I was hoping to beat 12 hours but I missed that goal by 10 minutes. But more importantly, I was learning how to manage my body during ultras. I routinely start out slow and then pick it up and run a strong second half. I also got my nutrition and electrolytes dialed in. I seldom have stomach issues and cramping isn't an issue since I started taking S-Caps.
One of my favorite races is 12 Hours of Cool, a night run. Run on a 9 mile loop course you can run as many or as few laps as you want. I went in thinking I would just run 2-3 loops and call it a night. However, my competitive juices started flowing and I decided to push it and ended up running 45 miles that night. Then I got up the next morning and ran up at Lake Tahoe. That's when I realized there was a problem. I had pushed too hard and aggravated my ITB. 3 weeks before my BIG race and I couldn't run a step without severe pain.
I made the decision to stop running and try to let it heal which got me to the start line. However, my body had "softened" during those 3 weeks and it quickly became apparent that all the descending was really destroying my quads. By mile 50 I was done but my crew wouldn't let me quit. My husband paced me back over Hope Pass but it was no use. I was reduced to a walk due to severe pain and missed the Twin Lakes cut-off time.
At the time, I was pretty depressed with how the summer ended and I considered the year a "failure" since I hadn't reached my final goal. While I'm still a little pissed (and will be until I rectify the situation with a sub-30 hour finish at Leadville), I know it was an incredible year. I had some great races, met some wonderful people and got into pretty good shape. I also had a lot of fun.
After Leadville I took 6 weeks off from running. I took up P90X as a filler and was able to maintain my fitness. In order to finish off 2009 on a high note, I signed up for the Oceanside Turkey Trot 5K with my husband, cousin, and her son. It was so much fun to run really fast, pain-free and be done in less than 23 minutes.
So what does 2010 hold? Not much racing I'm afraid. Last year was special because my husband was actually off work with a shoulder injury which allowed me to run a lot more races than I normally would since we didn't have to juggle his work schedule as well as mine. However, I sacrificed a lot to train for Leadville and I'm not willing to do that again this year. My kids are 3 and 5 years old and I just don't want to miss so much time with them.
One race that will definitely be on my schedule will be TRT 50K. I just love this race. I also want to run a 50M qualifier for WS 2011 and would love that to be AR50 but I would have to do some fancy schedule juggling to do that one. Maybe Helen Klein if AR doesn't work out. Other then that, I'm just going to have to play things by ear. Reno Tahoe Odyssey, the Alcatraz Sharkfest open water swim, and the Jenkinson Lake race are possibilities.
I couldn't have had the year I had without the constant support of my family. I know I will return to Leadville to finish what I started but it won't be in 2010. I look forward to what this year will bring. New challenges, new races, new experiences. Happy New Year everybody. Below is a collection of photos from races this year.
Montana de Oro 25K
Way Too Cool 50K:
American River 50M:
WS100 Training Camp:
Angel Island 25K:
Leadville Training Camp:
12 Hours of Cool:
Leadville Trail 100:
Oceanside Turkey Trot 5K: