Monday, March 19, 2012

Run Hard..... Live Happy (even after a DNF)

It’s always easier to focus on the bad, but we get much more out of focusing on the good. Yes, it takes more effort and it can be hard, but happiness takes work-just like everything else worth having in life.

That’s my number one Secret of Adulthood. Secret of Adulthood? Some of you have no idea what I’m talking about but some of you have a smile and are thinking “she’s read The Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin”, which I indeed have.
I’ve actually had this Secret of Adulthood (though I didn’t call it that till now) for years, but I am finally making some progress with it.
The past 3 weeks of running have offered a great test: My first overall win and my first DNF.

Which one is it easier to focus on? You already know… the DNF. BUT how about I not get ahead of myself and start at the beginning.

If you want a bit more of a detailed report of the Destin Beach 50 you can check out my sister’s and Steve’s combined blog:

Here's my shorter version:
I entered a contest to run an ultra at Destin Beach with one thing in mind- the chance of getting to see Rachel and my Dad. I adore where I live, but it doesn't mean that I don't miss my family every day. I think the only reason I won the contest is because my intentions weren't “I want to go soak up the sun in Florida”, they were "I want to see my family and give them a short vacation as a small thanks for everything they have done for me.”

Rach and I at the Pre Race dinner (I just like the painting in the backgound)

Just after Rach finished

            The race was great. Zane, the RD, put on a great event. I was feeling strong as the race started so I took off fast and held the pace for 16 miles, hitting the 16 mile mark at 2:08. I was on track for a PR but then as I turned around I hit some crazy headwind. All I could think of was the Tuesday morning tempo group runs up a five mile mountain road (then back down of course) and thought I’d rather run up that for 15 miles then the wind and the “sticky” sand I was in. For the first 16 miles I was blessed with hard packed sand, but the winds brought waves that ruined the hard sand and the sand was either “sticky” or way too soft. Hills definitely would have been easier. Fortunately, the view was still gorgeous, for once I was actually doing great on nutrition, and I was still feeling strong. I was the first person to cross the finish line that day (2nd place overall male came in 40 minutes behind), but best of all my dad was there for the first time to see me finish a race.  Everything else you can read about in Rach’s blog.
(side note: I learned that the course would only be 50k if you ran straight. Of course the better (at least for the first 16) footing was close to the water which was always curving, make the course quite a bit longer)
Sean "Run Bum" Blanton's video of Destin 50:
The Salida “Run through Time” Marathon:

Home Sweet Home: Salida, CO

            I’ve been running the hardest parts of the course as a long run since late November. 8 miles of uphill to beautiful rolling hills to come back on. I loved feeling stronger every time I ran that 8 mile uphill stretch and I thought the course was a perfect fit for me with long climbs and technical down hills. Sure it wasn’t an ultra, but I wanted to do well and prove I could be fast in the mountains. It’s a low key (somewhat), cheap race that trail runners love, and it brings out some elite runners like Nick Clark and Tim Parr every year as a “season opener”.
            Unfortunately my first year working with kids all day means that no matter how healthy I am, getting sick is going to be unavoidable. A few days before I felt an itch in my throat and immediately started taking cold medicine. It didn’t help. That Thursday and Friday I felt like my head was going to bust open from the pressure and couldn’t stop sneezing for the life of me.
            I started the race hoping my legs would still have some power but after two miles I knew it wasn’t going to be a good day. For 13 miles I’d look at my watch and know that I had hit points of the race faster on training runs where I wasn’t going all out. My legs felt weak. I know climbing is my strength and it was disheartening to feel so bad. I got up to the 13 mile aid station not having any fun and feeling light headed. I decided to go to one more aid station and see how I felt. I just started getting dizzy and upset because I knew I had run this rout almost 40 minutes faster as a training run. It just wasn’t worth it. With not one regret I placed my bib still in 3rd at the 20 mile aid station and said I was done. I gave myself the rest of the day to be upset about my first DNF, then knew I had to move on by Sunday. There was no point into focusing on a DNF when it was out of my control, I had won a 50k three weeks earlier, and I have many more good races to come.
Why do so many of us hold on to silly little negative things when there is so many good things? “Because it’s easier”, isn’t an excuse I can live with anymore.
            I am also very excited to say that if I stay in Colorado after my AmeriCorps term is up, I will be the new Race Director for the Salida marathon. I’ve always enjoyed being behind the scenes, but I really think I could put on a great race with a little help to get me started.
Added 3-20-12
            A week after the marathon I felt better, but not all the way so I decided to hike Mt. Princeton instead as a kind of "I got in the Pikes Peak Marathon!!!" celebration. I once again got to test my Secret of Adulthood in nature.
One adventure done so another one can begin
           Twister (roommates dog who is my official hiking buddy) and I started up Mt. Princeton road in hopes of getting in a winter summit. Because of the lack of snow Colorado has had this year and the warm temps the past week, it was definitely doable though still snow and icy. Twister and I were having a blast going up even though the ice made some spots a little dangerous (I came a little too close to sliding down the mountain and I once had to jump on my stomach to save Twister from slipping). I knew that just under 11,000 I was supposed to see a stair case leading up to the single track trail that would take me to the summit. Unfortunately, the snow completely covered up the stairs and there was no sign. I followed footsteps the whole way and thought this was a pretty good idea. Unfortunately, it too me up to Tigger Peak at 13,900 ft. It was a 40 minutes scramble on all fours to get up, I slipped and caught myself by grabbing a plant with a bunch of thorns, and I didnt see Mt. Princeton until I was almost at the top. I was mad for a second, knowing the summit of princeton would take another hour and Twister would get too tired, but then I could help but find it amusing and took the time to laugh at myself and my never failing lack of direction. This made it a great adventure. Going up Tigger Peak I saw my first mountain goat up close running on the mountain! On the way down the peak, I took an alternate route to jump on the single track (I was supposed to be on to begin with) and tried to slide/ scoot my way down the snow. It worked great at first until I hit hard back snow, started flying down the mountain, jammed my trecking pole in the snow, had the pole break in half (the other one was broke anyway), and had to use the half still in my hand to stop. What a ride! The way down was warm and sunny and me and Twister even got to run the last couple miles to the car. The day didnt go a planned, but it was a beautiful day spent in the Colorado wilderness.
            Lastly, I’m hoping within the next week or two to post a blog that is in more in line with my summer adventure blogs. After all, the past few months have just been an extension of my adventures, even if my life is somewhat “stable” at the moment. If not, I’m finally starting “full” training this week again (I always take it easier in winter and don’t go all out till spring), so hopefully I can have a good report after Ice Age 50 in May.

Run Hard, Live Happy