Thursday, January 30, 2014

HURT 100 Recap

I fell off a ladder 4 weeks before HURT. I pulled muscles in my chest, neck, and back when I tried to catch myself. I bruised my bum when I landed in a heap on the floor. Running put painful pressure on my pectorals and I couldn’t lift or do a pushup. Instead of peaking with 70+ mile weeks I was on 100% taper. I did nothing. Nada. For 2 weeks. Then I managed to do some short runs and some leg/core work for a week. Then the week of the race I was back to nothing.  Needless to say, with only two 40+ mile runs under my belt since August and not much of a build in December I wasn’t terribly confident about HURT. Not that I was anxious about finishing. I never doubt my ability to finish a 100. I can hike one in the cut-off time. More that it would be really painful…that it would hurt. I’ve run several 100’s with little to no training and they were miserable, gut-it-out sessions.

I couldn’t have been more surprised.

Physically I felt fine the entire race. By lap 4 I was ready to pick up the pace and push, but I was running with Kevin and he was having a tough race having just gotten over food poisoning. We hadn’t planned to run together, but inadvertently had pushed and pulled one another through the first 60 miles. By then we were committed to seeing it through together. It was a test of our relationship and also proof that we can go through something as physically and mentally demanding as a 100 mile race with nothing but love and compassion for one another. I had no goals going into it and still had none on loop 5 when Kevin and our incredible pacer Hannah tried to convince me to go faster to break 30 hours. I remember starting to cry. “I don’t care. I just want to finish.”

“You will care if you don’t!”

We did finish in under 30 hours—29:22, but I still don’t care. For me the race was about commitment to a person. Sticking things out when it was possible to leave. It was about seeing my body at its strongest—gliding through 24,000ft of gain without any pain, soreness, blisters, or fatigue. Feeling myself pulling away from people on climbs when I was hiking and knowing that something in me has changed. It was also a discovery of how my mind had yet to really solidly recover from last summer. When, feeling awesome physically, I railed at the idea of pushing harder. That the pressure of trying to beat a certain time sent me over the edge into tears. I was not yet ready to flip the “suffer switch” and push myself to the limit. Perhaps I’ll never be ready to. I don’t know. The only way to find out is to go out there again. And again.

HURT100 was a great race. The HURT ohana makes every runner feel encouraged, supported and loved. My crew, Linda, and pacer, Hannah were amazing. Without them, I am certain I would have struggled to make fast turn-arounds in the aid stations and would not have pushed for the finish time I had. Kevin was a constant inspiration to me. As sick as he was he kept moving, never once thinking about quitting. Every time I felt whiney I would look at him and know that there was nothing I could complain about. I found my Altra Lone Peaks to work excellently on the slick terrain. A special thanks as well to Seven Hills Running Shop and Altra for supporting my endeavors at HURT and elsewhere in 2014.

Now, on to the best  part of the race:

Seeing my mom at the finish line, camera in hand and tears on her face was, by far, the most important moment of the entire race. She may never see me run again. She’ll never be at the end of a trail when I come staggering in after a grueling physical and mental experience. Instead, she’ll follow my blinking SPOT dot and see the pictures on Facebook. But on January 19th, 2014, she was there in person. For that reason, no other finish line will ever be as special.