Wednesday, May 25, 2011

The Rapture Run

Not even Jesus wanted to show up at the Jemez Mountain 50 Miler on May 21st, as we ended up having to run the whole thing due to a glitch with the impending rapture theory. 

Nick, Shaheen, Steve, Me & Jayna
There were 5 of us who made the trek out to New Mexico to face the most brutal trails any of us could ever dream of running. At least Steve and I had completed one 50 miler last year, while Nick, Jayna, and Shaheen would be popping their 50 miler cherry at Jemez. Rated one of the most difficult 50 milers out there due to the altitude, elevation gain, and some tough technical spots, it was pretty ballsy to bring sea level (flatland) runners out to Los Alamos. We rented a pretty fun loft in Santa Fe, stocking the fridge with a ridiculous amount of groceries, bumping elbows in the kitchen and scheduling shower times.

I couldn't sleep the night before the race, in spite of my best attempts at drugging myself (2 glasses of wine and some melatonin). It didn't help any that I started reading the second book of The Hunger Games series previously that day, and ended up finishing the whole thing around 11pm. 2:30am came very early, but the adrenaline of race morning prevented me from feeling too awful.
All this for one runner...
Our purple people eaters barely made it out of the house at 3:45, with a mad rush to Los Alamos (a good 45 minutes away). We cut it pretty close getting to the start, barely having time to stage our drop bags and hit the port-a-potties. Before I knew it, headlamps were illuminated and suddenly we were running.
Quick shot before the start (me & Steve)
We stayed in the back of the pack, just plodding along at a comfortable 5am pace. Unfortunately that was one of the biggest mistakes of the day, as the wide dirt road soon dumped on to a very narrow single track. All of a sudden we came to a dead halt, as a long line of people made their way in to the narrow opening at a walking pace. I started getting really antsy and REALLY pissed. It was flat, smooth, and way to freaking early in a race to be walking. Finally Steve managed to weave his way around people, and I followed hot on his heels. It took a couple of miles to get clear of everyone, but finally I could breathe again as we came through a quiet, peaceful canyon and were allowed to move at our own pace.

We hit the first aid station just short of mile 5 and were able to drop our headlamps. Up to this point we had mostly been running, but we soon encountered the first climb of the day at the Mitchell trail head. We walked most of the 2.2 miles up to the ridge, not realizing it would be the easiest climb of the day (1540 ft gain). Everyone was in great spirits as it was still early in the day. In fact, it was completely quiet with the exception of a loud shout from Shaheen down below when she spotted our purple up ahead.

We made it up without feeling too much effect from the altitude, and realized we needed to force ourselves to eat something. I'll recap the nutrition thing here and now, as I can't recall the exact number of fig newtons and Gu's that I ate, since I'm sure everyone is dying to know this critical piece of information (sarcasm). I wore a Nathan vest with just a pocket on the back (as opposed to a hydration bladder) and my trusty handheld. I stuffed my pockets with every conceivable form of gu/electrolyte/food/gum that I could possibly want. I knew I'd be running for at least 12 hours today, so it quickly became apparent that I'd need to eat constantly without really sticking to a timed eating plan (such as every 45 minutes in a marathon). I did very well with my nutrition as far as I can tell, as I never felt weak from lack of food and never had tummy issues from too much food. I drank Gu Brew which did not taste like lemon-line hell, and randomly popped salt tablets whenever I felt like it. Ok, back to the running stuff...

We had a nice 3 mile section with only 835ft gain and 1050ft loss, i.e. more downhill than up. We slipped down some super tight switchbacks...not terribly steep but VERY short. So short I couldn't really run them because you'd go completely off the cliff if you missed a single step. I swear the trail was only 10" wide in places. Steve and I made it down in one piece, and had a pretty calm couple of miles through the quiet woods. 
You never know what you're going to encounter in a trail race...
Finally we reach Caballo base. The dreaded 2 mile, 1770ft climb. Now, this is where I completely suck as a runner. I'm no good on climbs. Steve and I slowly make our way up, joking pretty much the entire way but acutely aware that we aren't exactly rock stars on this section. We're barely .25 in to the climb when the leader (Nick Clark) comes barreling towards us, having already summited and run all the way back down. Yoowwwweeee! It's a while before we see 2nd, 3rd, and 4th place runners coming down. Slowly one by one people trickle down the mountain and we make sure to step off the trail so they can safely pass. I hope this bodes well with our downhill karma, and other runners will do the same for us when we're finally on the descent. 

A mile or so in to the climb a woman with braided pigtails passes us by pretty easily, Steve asks if she would please retrace her steps and give him a "good game" before passing. I think she was a little taken aback at first, but then said we could get her instead on the way down. Oh Steve, always a tease. 

We seem to have landed the role of leading a handful of runners who are pretty content to take it easy up to the top, and enjoy casual conversation with our comrades in arms in shoes. In idle chat they ask where we're from, assuming we're West runners. They're pretty shocked to learn I'm from VA and Steve is from TX, and say they're very impressed that we'd dare tackle such a hard race without actually living in the mountains. I encounter this phenomenon all day long, as literally every person I met was either from Colorado or New Mexico. 

My steps slow as we near the top, it seems my legs are rather done with this whole climbing bit. Our companions ditch us for a faster gait, but are encouraging us by saying we're oh so close to the top. Finally, it happens. We come out of the trees and are dumped in to a wide open space at the top of Caballo. There are a handful of volunteers up there hooting and hollering as the runners stumble in to the grassy field. I look around to appreciate the view, and sure's worth the climb. They laugh as we stop to take pictures before heading back down. 

10,400ft elevation
And now, the fun begins. It doesn't take long for us to catch every single person who passed us on the climb (and then some) on the way back down. I don't know if it's my quarter horse quads or my blatant disregard for my well-being, but I'm completely at ease tackling the descent at a full run. There aren't many hesitant steps as I easily spot my footing and hop over rocks. Maybe a few sketchy turns with the  the classic one-armed tree swing (saving me from plummeting over the side), but mostly I'm just smiling like a goof and laughing when I can't stifle it anymore. I can't help it, it's my new set of monkey bars. Everyone clears out of our way, both runners coming uphill and those we're passing going downhill. Occasionally I hear Steve crash off course missing a turn, but he made it down unscathed and hopefully not too annoyed that I was a little reckless. He sounded like he was having as much fun as me though :)

We pass by Nick, Shaheen, and Jayna who are well embedded with a group of runners, and they're grinning from ear to ear in spite of the climb to the top. We exchange words of encouragement, and that's the last I see of them for many hours. 

Finally I see Braids with another woman up ahead, and they seem like they're going to try to hold their own against us at first but soon let us get around them. I assure Braids she can smack Steve's ass when she passes us on the next climb. Unfortunately this move put me in 3rd place. I try not to think about that yet, and am soon rewarded by my distraction with a sharp ankle roll. I somehow rolled my left ankle and kicked a rock against my right ankle, and for a solid 2 minutes I was in a lot of pain. When running downhill there really isn't anything you can do but get to the bottom, so I concentrated on the task at hand and hoped the ankles would chill out and go back to normal. Thankfully after about 10 minutes all of the throbbing was gone, but I was very aware of the pain returning in my heel (for those who missed my Napa race report, I was assaulted by my garbage can in March and have been dealing with random swelling and pain ever since). More on that later. 

By now we're to the bottom and it's a 2.8 mile treck (1170 ft gain) to the Pipeline aid station. There's a bit of climbing, and it doesn't take long for Braids and the other chick to catch us. I lolligag bringing up the rear while eating random things out of my pockets.
Steve & the ladies 

There's a bit of flat and downhill running coming in to Pipeline, just enough for us to actually look like we're in a race instead of out for a hike. I get a little winded here, perhaps finally noticing that I'm at least 9,000ft above sea level. I am desperately looking around for a place to pee, as the trees are barren and more slight than my generous booty. Steve spots a boulder for me to hide behind, and I am attacked by a giant thorn bush on my way out. First blood of the day. 

As we pull in to the aid station I'm delighted to find the volunteers are a heck of a lot more experienced than I am, as they have my gear bag out and ready to go before I can even sit in a chair to get my shoes off. I decided the shoes I was wearing were rubbing too much on my heel, and I couldn't fathom running the whole race in that amount of discomfort. I swap my shoes for the Salomon Wings, and opt to drop my handheld in favor of my Nathan pack with a 70 oz bladder. I'm so glad I did this, as I value having my hands free to eat, take pictures, and flail my arms around at will throughout the rest of the race.
Pipeline Aid Station (with my bag)
Steve and I head out of Pipeline and I'm immediately smacked back in to reality when we encounter a nice little section known as Nate's Nemesis. It's this awful little (ha, little) section that goes straight down in to the abyss of nothingness. Actually, it empties in to a meadow but it is so steep and treacherous I can't fathom why this is on a race course. I did not master this section in the least, as I opted to essential crab-walk my way down the steep, rocky, dirt hill. My garmin registered this section at a -50% grade for those who can imagine what a 50% incline/decline would be like.

 I don't quite make it out of here unscathed, though the blood is more profuse than the wound would indicate. 

Coming down off of that brutal little kick in the pants was a welcome relief. We're rewarded with some of the most runnable terrain of the day, a smooth jeep road with nothing but wide open meadows. We chat idly and make friends with other runners, this time some guys from Wyoming. 

There's a tent far off in the distance, soon to be our next stop of the day. The aid station at mile 21 was small but every bit as energetic is their predecessors. Someone helps me clean up my hand while I use my free hand to roam the table for junk food and treats. Feeding time, yet again. Braids was just getting ready to leave as we came in, and she showed off a similar wound on her hand. Silly gals, that's what we get for running on our hands...?

The next mile is one of the most thought provoking of the day for me. I'm tired, but content to just soak in the scenery. I can't help but thinking about a time when a girl perhaps my age crossed the very land I'm running on in a covered wagon. It probably didn't look much different then than it did now, and it dawns on me that this is why I fell in love with trail running. Little pieces of nature devoid of engines, houses, crowds, obnoxious cow bells...There are even large berries as evidence of an elk population hiding somewhere off in the trees. I begin to realize a transformation is taking place, and I'm not so sure I'll ever be fully satisfied with marathons ever again. It is here that I most feel the awesomeness of creation, and marvel at the architect of such a beautiful place.

A group of us make our way across the meadows, and these are the runners I will see throughout the rest of the race. We take turns passing one another over the next 30 miles, them on the on the descent. I've been dubbed "Virginia", and respond to this name as they cheer me on throughout the rest of the day. One of the guys is from Durango (Mexico, not CO), and he completely blows me away by his casual non-running attire. He's wearing something akin to basketball shorts and gym shoes, and even has the race t-shirt on as if he didn't bother packing anything else to wear. Yet somehow he's passing me on all of the climbs, leaving me in the dust with my trail shoes, singlet and arm warmers. Power to you, hombre!

Unfortunately all good things must come to an end, and we're soon faced with a garish looking field of rocks that is seemingly endless. 

Steve high-stepping it over the rocks

 I know, I know...this looks intense. It really isn't that challenging, you just have to get your feet up and walk/clamber over it. In fact, it's about the least challenging obstacle of the day. I was having a little too much fun, though, and someone coming up behind us had to shout to pull me off to a trail in the woods. In hindsight I wish I had climbed up the whole mountain on those rocks, because my performance heading up to the peak of Pajarito Canyon was beyond awful. Steve seemed to be struggling as much as me to get his legs to cooperate as we made the steep climb up. Just how bad was it? Well, we clocked a 42:00 mile. I'm not kidding. At all. 42 minutes to walk UP 1 MILE. My legs were burning, I tried pushing off my knees with my hands, then imagining that I was pulling a rope ahead of me (which really just made me more pissed that I didn't actually have a rope). The funny thing I experienced here is that mentally I was ok. In fact, every thing was ok with the exception of the burning in my legs. I realized I could tough it out, however long it took. Steve was quiet and sullen behind me, suffering from some altitude issues of his own.
Steve's triumphant water bottle wave. He probably wanted to throw that at me about now...
We seemed to make it to the top, and as usual there was beauty in our pain.

Unfortunately for us there was a little more uphill to be had, and we forced ourselves to continue on. Instead of winding through a wooded path, we were out in the open on deceptively steep terrain. It didn't help any that we were peaking over 10,000 ft again.

More than your average grassy field...
I was lost in my state of numbness when we finally went as high as we could go, and quickly had to transition to our downhill legs. It was a strange sensation, trying to control my muscles after such a long haul of climbing. My legs felt bruised, which was a new sensation to have while running. I touched my glutes lightly where they were most tight, and was rewarded with a sharp bite of pain. Clearly we were going to have some issues after the glutes and I.

Steve seemed to be reeling from the altitude and told me to go at my own pace. I could still hear him behind me, but his downhill legs were taking longer to kick in. Little did I realize his IT Band had flared up so bad his race was essentially over at this point. It wasn't until I commented about the latest encounter with rocks and heard a female voice in response instead of Steve that I realized it was not his footsteps behind me this entire time. I felt bad for abandoning him, I have a feeling he would've stuck around if it were me.

These rocks were much smaller and very loose compared to the boulder field. My feet were sliding over the rocks as they shifted positions, and somehow I found myself constantly aiming at the rock piles in the middle of the field. It's like I have this major rock magnet that draws me towards the most obnoxious rocks possible. I would later learn that this is the spot where a rock fell on top of poor Jayna's foot, crushing it and leaving her too injured to finish the race (though she toughed it out for another 12ish miles to get to the aid station). 

The next couple of miles were heavenly. I averaged an 8:30 pace for a while on gentle, rolling dirt paths in the crevice of a canyon laced with aspen trees. I was completely cured of my uphill pouty face, and found myself smiling again at the sound of birds and a stream. 

I caught the usual crowd before coming in to the aid station at mile 29, and we all exchanged encouragement and words of "what the heck did we just run up?". As I crested the hill that brought the aid station in to view, a spotter yelled out my number so the volunteers would have my drop bag ready for me. I spilled in to a chair and ripped my shoes off so I could put some fresh socks on.

I was laughing at how dirty my feet were, and the helpful volunteers commented on how chipper I was for nearly 30 miles in to a race. I commented they'd be laughing too if they got to sit down after that awful climb we just did. Touche. I was rewarded for my comedic efforts with homemade oatmeal butterscotch cookies which may have been as good as my mom's chocolate chip cookies. Tough call. I was so enamored with them that I ran a few steps, took a bite, and promptly turned around for another cookie before finally making my way out of the aid station, fresh socks and all.
I would later realize I once again forgot to apply sunscreen, and should not have taken my socks off. It seems however I re-laced my shoes applied awful pressure to my heel, as not even a mile out of the aid station I nearly fell to the ground limping in pain. On a likert-scale of discomfort, this was off the charts. It hurt most going uphill (you know, kick a horse when it's down), and I couldn't fathom how I was going to continue to run on it. The next few miles were utterly painful, and it was 4 miles to the next aid station. The climbs in this leg weren't significant, but for whatever reason I just couldn't get it together. My heel was so distracting I couldn't convince myself to run, I just mostly slogged through at an awful pace, furious at the stupid trash can at home. At least the scenery was nice weaving through trees and over a few streams. I also got a little confused by the course markings (or lack thereof) starting at this point in the race. It would continue to be a problem throughout the remaining 20 miles, leaving me continually doubting whether I was going the right way or not. They only marked the trail in really long increments, so you could easily run a half mile (or more) without seeing any markers. They claimed that "the trail is obvious, just follow the trail", but there were plenty of opportunities to veer off on what looked like it could be the trail. Well, for someone who is 30 miles in to a race just about anything starts to look like a trail. 

A woman passed me at one point on a very slight climb, but I was in such agony I didn't care to keep up. Why is it that when I get chicked it really pisses me off? I hold it against guys for feeling this way, I'm such a hypocrite. She tells me to take a Gu, and is generally really nice and encouraging. I don't bother telling her the Gu won't help my heel, but I say great job and keep my head down. I finally make it in to the Townsite Lift aid station at the bottom of a ski slope. There are all these weird signs that make absolutely no sense, but it's their attempt at being coy or humorous or...something. A woman gets all excited seeing me come up the trail and starts ringing a cow bell. Crap. Even out here I can't escape that thing. I don't have the heart to tell her that it's giving me a headache, and it's probably her signal to the aid station that a runner is coming. 

I particularly enjoyed the organization of food at this spot, though I didn't bother eating any. I also forgot sunscreen and advil for my heel...I'm starting to think I'll have to run with a sign around my neck so I can check off items at aid stations. 

As I head out of the aid station I'm filled with dread thinking about the next 3.5 miles. It's a climb straight up the ski slopes, and my heel is freaking out causing me to question whether I'll ever be able to run in the remaining miles of the race. Since the last aid station, I essentially walked the entire time. I somehow come to the realization I should loosen my laces, and that helps a little. Halfway up the slopes I hear a familiar voice and am overcome with relief when I see Shaheen and Edgar making their way up behind me. I'm a little saddened to see that Shaheen is nursing a strain of some sort on her calf, and Edgar looks like he's seen better days. We give each other knowing smiles without having to say much. At this point, we're all in the worst place we could possibly be mentally in this race.  I ask "Steve, Nick, Jayna?"....Apparently Steve isn't too far behind, but the fate of the rest of our crew is unknown. I was actually thankful the mental crap didn't hit until now, as I expected to hit my low long before. As always, I take some pictures to try and distract myself from my pathetic issues. 

I was feeling a little upset when I was passed by a man and a woman (and no offense, but she was much older and didn't look like she should be passing me). I was standing in the trail trying to figure out which way to go, because the trail looked like it went to the right but I couldn't see any markers. The man plowed straight up and found one, shouting down for us to come on up. I mumbled my frustrations with the lack of markings, everyone agreed with my sentiment. We make our way all the way up this time and I find myself wondering what it would be like to ski the slopes we're on.

Don't let that smile fool you. I was pissed. 
It seems at long last we're finally given a shot at some downhill running. I'm nervous about my heel, but find the pressure of my toes in the front of the shoe takes away from the pain on the back of my foot. It seems so long as I'm running downhill I'm going to survive. It takes a few minutes for my legs to start working again, but soon I pick off the man and woman who had recently passed me (and who also took a wrong turn...again), and make my way through the woods and across/down the mountain. I feel a blister forming on each foot and decide the blisters are better than the alternative heel problem. 

Soon I'm slipping and sliding down a steep path that dumps straight on to the ski slope. There are no switchbacks here to slow you down, it's straight, steep, downhill running at its finest. I think I needed this mental boost to encourage me through the rest of the race. I spot a guy who is already halfway down the slope and make it my goal to catch him, meaning I'd have to run twice as fast to get him before he reaches the bottom. Poor guy never even stood a chance. He had no idea this train of purple was barreling down the slopes. People attempted to politely get out of my way, but I begged them to stay on the trail as it was easy enough to go around. At one point I trip on a rock as it's rather hard to avoid rocks that are moving down hill...and trip on it again as it chased my ankles down the slope. One rock, 2 trips. I find this absurd, and further proof that I will never get along with rocks. 

I come in to the aid station at mile 36 and down random foods of interest. I see a bowl of sketchy looking white stuff and discover it's tofu. I revert to potato chips. I leave the aid station forgetting something...ah yes, sunscreen and advil, again. I seem to suck at this game. Shaheen and Edgar are far enough behind now that I never see them come in to the aid station, I will them to make it down in one piece. 

The next 3 miles are a combination of very gentle climbs and short downhill bursts. Had it been the beginning of the race, I probably would have run most of it. Instead I compromise with a battle of walk/run/slog. 

I had been trading spots back and forth with a guy who was somewhat my senior, and he never piped a word of recognition. At first I was annoyed by his obvious contempt for my company, but then I realized perhaps he's having a crappy day and needs to be lifted out of his mire. I start off with the basics..."So, come here often?". Turns out he's run this 4 times total, and is quite the veteran of ultra marathons. We have a very pleasant conversation over the next 5 miles, encouraging each other without random spurts of running. We come in to Pipeline again where our initial drop bag was staged, but I wave them off as they go to retrieve it. 

11 miles to go, this is it. I finally remember to ask for something for my heel and get some Aspirin. I slosh down some very juicy watermelon and head off, not quite knowing if there's something else I forgot. Wanna guess? Yup, sunscreen. Forgot it again. Drats! 

My new friend and I head out for a short stretch of jeep road climbs. The grade isn't bad, it's just a matter of getting over it at this point. 

My recognition for mileage is a little sketchy here. At some point we started making our way over a ridge, which consisted of dipping into a saddle and coming back up. My new friend released me with his blessing, saying his old legs couldn't keep up with my youthful downhill running. I wished him luck and took of (ha, "took off", more like ran a 10:00 pace), through the trees and down the mountain. Here is where I really started making bank. I passed runner after runner, not quite sure what was going on with my legs at this point. I picked off 2 women ahead of me (one who tried to keep pace with me for a minute), and just waited for my next victim to come to me. Actually, that isn't what I was thinking at all. I was hoping to come across another runner who would keep pace with me, as the last few miles were a surreal stretch of exposed desert running on the face of the mountain. The ground was an odd combination of dirt, grit, and very large sheet-rock type surfaces. I tripped on a rock disguised as sand and landed on my right side in some brush, but it was a gently landing. I picked myself up, annoyed that I wait until mile 44 to fall, and keep going. I finally feel my shorts sticking to me and when I look down I realize the back of my shorts are caked in blood. I check my right cheek, and sure enough my butt is trashed from the brush. It was so dry out the brush tore my skin like tissue paper. Oh well, just another bit of blood to add to the toll. 

The exposure to the sun and wind is really starting to make its presence known as my shoulders start to feel burnt, which means they probably have been that way for a while. I can't see any markers, it's impossible to tell if I'm going the right way. There are a couple of spots that have logical alternative trails, but somehow I stay on the right path. 

I don't do much with my camera here, as I can tell I'm getting tired and the fall shook my confidence in my awareness. Up ahead I spot a guy and work my way to catch up to him. I realize I've passed at least a dozen runners in the past couple of miles, and wonder if I can fend off anyone from passing me. Not that it matters, sometimes maybe you just need a short-term goal to distract you from the overwhelming thought of being in the final miles of a 50 mile race. We end up trading places back and forth, though he encourages me to please take the lead as he feels like he's holding me up. If only! We come in to the final aid station and it really starts to hit me that I'm 2 miles away from being done with the most physically challenging day of my life. The last aid station boasts a supply of beer and pumpkin pie, but I barely acknowledge them as I'm dead set on being done with this race. 

I'm shocked to come across Braids leaving this aid station, and we both ask each other how we're fairing. She tries to get me to keep up with her on the last long climb, but it's completely futile. She comments that it's a bummer for me the last portion isn't downhill, and oh how true those words are. 
I'm completely on autopilot now, pushing myself to finish the race. Everything is finally starting to hurt, though it isn't anything like what I felt at the finish of JFK. I think the fueling and nutrition really carried me in this race, and I know so long as I can help it I'll never make that mistake ever again. I make my way over the terrain I ran through in the dark roughly 12 hours ago, and visualize running through the finish line, with my name being announced and everyone cheering. Hey, whatever keeps you going... I know the finish line should be coming up at any minute, but I can't hear or see any sign of it. It seems like forever before I see the last push to the top...
Last climb out of there!
And suddenly I'm at the finish. I can't quite tell what's the finish line and when I'm supposed to stop running, and I have to actually ask for clarification. Someone points me around the corner and it's only then that I can see the clock. There are people scattered around, some clap some don't. A gal I know (Michele) from Daily Mile shouts my name and cheers for me as she sees me come up. It's somewhat anticlimactic as far as finish lines go, what was I expecting though? Someone to announce my name as I ran through? Ha...

Finish: 12:21
Pace: 14:48
Place: 5th female, 41/162 overall. 118 finishers total. 
Elevation gain: 12,000+

And here it is, the moment I've been waiting for. I stop running. I expect tears of joy, but they don't come. I'm filled with relief and pride for having finished that race. I immediately think of my companions and wonder how they are doing...if they're far behind, or perhaps only a few minutes behind me. Braids comes over to congratulate me and we have a big sweaty hug moment. Nice gal from Colorado, that Braids. She beat me by about 3 minutes, and I feel good about being that close to her finish time. 

I stumble in to the shack where I stowed my bag, and am shocked to see the familiar purple shirts filled by Jayna and Shaheen, sitting with their feet propped up and looking rather forlorn. I'm sad to hear that they both jacked their feet up pretty bad, and had to pull out at 36. They're in good spirits though, recognizing this was a brutal, brutal course. I have mad respect for them selecting this race as their first 50, and really one of their first tough trail races. 

My Agiletoes

My proud moniker
I show the girls my booty burn, and set about getting cleaned up. Taking my shoes off has never felt so amazing. I stumble out to the grass to catch Edgar and Steve finishing close together. Once Nick makes it through, our gang is complete and we slowly come to terms with the fact that the day is done. The only ones who can't seem to walk are our injured girls, though the comedy of that which is walking up and down stairs has only just begun. 

In the hours and days after the race, I don't seem to have any lingering issues other than a blotchy, painful sunburn and a swollen heel. As I reflect over the past year of running I can't help but think of how far I've come since my first trail race last June. I also can't help but think about what my next adventure might be...all I know is that I want to become an awesome mountain runner. 


  1. Amazing report, as is your way. I can't believe the races you voluntarily subject yourself to :-). Once again, an amazing race with an incredibly impressive result. Congratulations, Lush, you rock! (you rock the rocks, the mountains, the ladders and anything else in your way)

  2. Oh my God-- that is truly amazing. I don't understand how you did all of that. You are one tough chick! Congrats!!!!

  3. FORTY-TWO MINUTE MILE. I can't EVEN. And tripping twice on the same rock, hee! But despite all these obstacles, you still rocked! Great job toughing it out and coming in ahead of all us mountain locals :-)

    Also, I totally appreciate that you carried a camera! Yay for photos!

  4. Awesome job out there Saturday and excellent report. It was amazing watching you work the trails, especially downhill. With some strengthening of your climbing abilities others will be hard pressed to beat you, man or woman.

    And I'm appreciative that you carried a camera as well as a lot of my picutres look like yous :-).

    Take care

  5. Wow. That was epic! I think you'd enjoy our West Coast ultras so much more! That was one monster of a race course! Not sure I'd pick it as a destination race though! I enjoyed your race report. It was hilarious at times! I suck at directions. I'd be so lost on that course. I hope you become an awesome mountain runner too. And I'll definitely have to join you in one of these mountain ultras, hopefully with new and improved mountain running legs myself! Thanks for sharing!

  6. As always, I love reading your race reports! Hard to believe but epic feels short of describing your effort on that course. Really awesome that you finished it and had the experience!