Monday, May 21, 2012

Capon Valley 50K-5/19/12

Run Capon 50K
The Very first ultra I ever signed up for was Run Capon 50K. Back in November of 2011 I dreamt of simply completing a 50k. Due to my run ins with injury and failure in the past and some obscure idea that 2 marathons/ yr was plenty for the human body to handle, I decided that the middle of May would be the perfect time for my first 50K race.
Well clearly things changed. I was offered many other chances to test myself and with growing success I continued. My 50miler in NV was a peak- a struggle, a true challenge on all levels and a clear look at what I am working with- personally…. What tools I have without fully committing myself to anything that might put me in over my head.  If it had not been for The 6th Branch and letting my “thing” be something to help Operation Oliver I cannot guarantee that I would have succeeded as I did. Nevertheless, after the 50miler… my focus was dead set on my chosen race. Run Capon- a trail race in Yellow Spring W. VA with water crossings, hills, technical footing and GREEN everywhere. I was more excited than I’d admit to anyone… but I think as it got closer, it became clear. I was yearning to run… and because of the races I’ve done well at already I had an absurd amount of comfort and serenity.
I drove out Friday night with a borrowed 1-person tent and my new sleeping bag and all my running gear in the car. Upon arrival to Ruritan camp grounds the start/ finish of the race, I popped my tent together and arranged my bedding and then went to check in for the race. I tried to appear social, but as usual I conveyed more of an independent vibe. I can tell when this is the vibe I’m giving off, it’s hard for me to fake it, and in new settings with ppl I don’t know, who I don’t know or how to feel about,  I move in a particular way, fumble with anxiety and lay things down in a way that makes me seem content on my own, as I basically am at this point. So after a few minutes of ease dropping a couple conversations and finding no particular friendly opening I headed back to my car and arranged my gear for the next morning and then proceeded into my tent at 8pm to read until I became sleepy. The ppl in the next couple tents beside me started up in conversation, and strangely enough I found some vague sense of confidence and stuck my head of my tent and as uninvited as it may have been interrupted my way into the conversation. I have never done that before…but it seemed to go smoothly, I ended up talking with my new friends until it was dark and chilly. Sleep came easily as Fridays are particularly long days for me.
9hrs later my 1st alarm went off, and I was NOT ready to move, pitch black and icy damp air awaited outside… but I ALWAYS drink 1 L of water 3 hrs before my race… if it was sooner to the start… well athletic details…. I risk changes in my electrolytes and body system that I do NOT want to deal with during a race. Yes, it was for fun, but I had every intention of doing my best and taking pit stops was not in the plans. So up I got myself to eat my 200kcal breakfast #1 and drink my water. I then grabbed my race outfit and climbed back in my sleeping bag and proceeded to waste a stupid amount of energy getting fully undressed and redressed inside the sleeping bag in the pitch black. I took me almost 15 minutes. But- I was warm.
Nearing 6 now, the sun was brightening the sky, I dug through my car for some change to get a cup of coffee and proceeded to head inside for that. As I walked I had breakfast #2 another 200kcal.
Everyone was kind, the bathroom line talks are always great. The newbie’s, the ones that have run this every year and so on.  And I waited till 5min to start to head outside- to keep my body heat in check. In no time, 6:59…. And Go!
We headed up the road, I was telling myself to hold back a little I didn’t need to push the pack now… I just needed to be past anyone that might be in my way on a single track trail. On the first hill I took the last woman in sight- who was an experienced looking runner with a strong uphill pace. I was intimidated and inspired but then got out of my head and checked my body… it was back to my race. I was here to run some miles on a beautiful trail, just out to enjoy the day, and hopefully feel well enough to push myself.
The trail was gorgeous in fact I couldn’t stop smiling. The creek crossings in the first hour were nothing to get wet over, you just hop from rock to rock and pray for secure footing. I was thrilled to get to play a bit, it’d been months since I challenged my footing like this at a pace like this. I began to get concerned that I wasn’t recovered enough, that I really might bonk for the first time. I kept asking myself if I should pull back more, but I was comfortable.
 I ran with a couple guys for the next few miles, they kept me on this comfortable pace. I ended up being able to take the hills just slightly harder both up and down and sooner than I would have liked I left my new friends behind as headed off track about 50yards downhill  and then back uphill and back on track…(which was conveniently also the time I passed the 1st female who Id some how missed at the start of the race.) Again though, that early into an ultra or heck… any run longer than a 5k, I wouldn’t put a claim on a position…. You never know what can happen, and I certainly wasn’t taking it easy, there was a very good chance I went out too hard. But, I always go out like this and have always succeeded….thus far, so I went along with it. And in no time I was running alone again. 150yrds behind the next two guys. 
Besides pushing myself and enjoying the trail I was trying to watch my footing and the trail markers… gazing up the tree branches in the distance makes not tripping a bit of a challenge. So I made it a short term goal to keep these guys in sight. I didn’t think I’d ever catch them, but as long as I didn’t lose them, I wouldn’t be alone to get totally lost.
After the water station was a ridiculous climb… utterly unrunnable- clambering for footing about to use my hands as the ground was about a foot from my face – or so it felt. Anyway by the time we got up that, I caught those guys. One of them fell back, I was very surprised. The other I ran with for almost 20 miles. His pacing was great, we took turns in the lead.  We actually never spoke except for both times I fell he asked if I was all right. The first fall, I kept my feet on the ground the whole time, only staggering for about 4 smalls steps. The second however I actually took flight falling onto my left shoulder and rolling over back up onto my feet- like a ninja- it was so COOL, haha…. But all I thought after, besides the “man, I can’t believe that wasn’t on tape”… was what an epic waste of energy that was. The lactic acid burnt throughout my body and then there it was, the stubbed toe… just as raw as any other time you stub your toe only I was still running on it. I don’t know about you but when I hit my toe I feel the need to look to make sure its still in one piece. Well, I was in the middle of the race, so I wondered if this would change my race, would a blister form, would the pain get worse? In no time at all I’d moved on… it was just my toe, who really cares… and the pain subsided.
At the aid station I took in my greens bar 300kcal and kept running. I used my endurolytes as needed. The next aid station I switched to Gatorade/ water mix and kept running. I was proud to be cutting down time at the aid stations. In my past races I took my time, but today I wanted to see what I could do with just a little more focused effort. After the next aid station and one more greens bar I was still feeling good. I had literally no idea where in the run I was. I thought I felt too good to be where the time would have put me. So assumed I was moving slower than I thought, I mean I was walking the major the climbs… So 5:30 is ok… I mean I did have the lead right now… so it can’t be that bad, maybe the course if just harder than I thought.
I tried to guess the mileage from the aid stations but I didn’t read the race details that thoroughly so I had no idea, (race details make me nervous- and I prefer to just run… and not over plan my race) I wasn’t even sure where I’d put my drop bags since I hadn’t planned for drop bags in a 50k. But with option there, and my love for carrying as little as possible… I left drop bags at 3 of the 5 places.
Anyway, the race was a blur of uphill’s, downhill’s, fields, trees, green, rocky ,shady sunny day…. I felt good, very clear headed, pain free and as of the last hill I lost my running buddy and passed one other guy. I was actually confused by how well I was doing.
Suddenly I was at the 1&6 aid station… which meant I had a 5k left…. WOW… that’s it… and I feel this good? I grabbed some watermelon- managed to inhale a chunk up into my sinuses. But having relaxed into my position in the lead I wasted more time than I should have already so as soon as my bottle was back in my hand I took off down the road. I kept trying to clear my sinuses since I was lucky enough to be alone. Nothing I could do seemed to help me clear the watermelon. Once I was back onto the trail the watermelon was less of a concern than my footing and now my legs were aching… nothing compared to how they felt in Nevada so I mostly ignored it, but I was intent on holding my current pace. I mean , I wasn’t “in it to win it”… but how pissed would I be if I let it all go in the last couple miles and lost the position…. Could I really hold a “race” in the last mile…. I’d rather not find out.. so I kept steady. Everything moved so fast… it wasn’t till I was coming through the finish line that I realized how totally fine I felt. What a fantastic run, was all I thought. I had place 1st female and 3rd overall in 4hrs 30min (and some seconds). A proud finish for sure.
In the coming hours I met many many people and received more attention than I’m used to. I put myself out there and represented myself as best I could. I had my first “interview” (link below)…. It seemed silly but I have to admit I loved it. I loved being recognized for doing well, because for once in my life, I actually would agree (although I still think I need to do a lot more hill work and build up my ankles some more, and could increase the strength endurance a bit more and overall endurance- could still gain more) I did my best and I did well. Did I mention what a beautiful day it was!!! I didn’t want to leave the race, but the long drive, the warm sun and the coming fatigue would only grow worse. So I packed up-said my goodbyes and headed home.

Now, there’s a lot on my mind. Whats’s next for me- in my career? My running?... my life?
I have some short races coming up and a couple weeks off before those… I have potential… but enough? It doesn’t really matter to me, I have found something that makes me happy to be me and that gives me enough self confidence to take risks and make formal decisions about my life, my friends, my intentions. So as long as Im happy, having fun and nourishing my life and that of those around me… My life will take me where I belong.
Thank you to many who took part in no small way this past weekend. Much Love and Gratitude for you all.
Up Next: Volunteering at Old Dominion 100miler- June 2nd
                 Litchfield Hills Road Race- June 10th
                Baltimore 10-miler – June 16th
                 Annapolis striders Fathers Day 10K-June 17th

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