The week of June 8th I was finally given the “OK, GO!” to start incorporating speed work back into my training at 50-60% percent effort depending on how things felt. Once I was finally cleared to gradually start running again after my ski injury, I was mainly running for distance and doing a bunch of hiking at a decent effort. What does one do when they get cleared for some speed work? Get stoked, and say “YES” when the topic of toeing a line comes up in conversation for that same weekend.. as you do.
At first I didn’t feel like I had much business going out to a race as I felt I still had a looong way to go when it came to fitness/racing while coming back from injury. Then I stopped, and just accepted, “No. Right now racing is running to your best ability that day even though you don’t feel ready. Work with what you have. Be grateful, and accept what your body is allowing you to do.” I mean, really though – that’s what racing is! Whether you are fit or not – you just do what you can, and hope you have a good run!
I’ve actually been telling myself that all spring. By the time race morning rolled around, I was just happy to be pinning a bib on my singlet for the first time this year. If you know me or have been following this blog the last few years (hey there! thanks for sticking around!) I’ve usually run about 6 or 7 races by the time June rolls around. Needless to say, things have just been a little different this year… and you know… that’s okay.
While I do enjoy smaller races, I am well accustomed to larger races and bumping into quite a few familiar faces. At this race I knew one other person out of the 62 people that ran. It was a bizarre, but welcomed experience.
If it means anything to you, the race takes you past the Three Sisters and Brother rock formations, 1,000 ft up Evergreen Mountain, and are then greeted with a sweet downhill section to the finish. The course itself has maybe 1,500 ft of elevation gain and peaks at 8,400 ft. I definitely just ripped that off the website, and actually had no idea what or where I was running. Aka: on high alert for those course markers!
The start was a little unexpected? It happened pretty quick, and caught me off guard. From what I recall we were summoned with “RUNNERS!” and then a gun went off. I jumped. Well this is exciting.
I wasn’t too sure what my legs had in store for the day. The first mile I let them run wild, and had some fun on a downhill start. Within that mile I reminded myself (so did my legs) with an “Alright, alright okay. Just enjoy the run! 50-60%!” Having that mindset was helpful, as there were a few muddy sections on the course that I opted to hike through to avoid compromising my knee, which isn’t 100% stable, with a slip in the mud. I had a few brief gurgly/going to blow up/why-did you-drink-those-beers-last-night gut bomb issues that also brought me to a hike a couple times.
Side note: I’ve done my duty as a trail runner to give IPA’s (I think that’s a thing) a chance, and as delicious as being introduced to them has been (thanks, Mike!) it totally destroys my stomach.
By mile 3 I had been passed by what ended up being the top 3 females, and as much as I wanted to chase after them, I knew that effort wasn’t something my body was ready for. My apologies in advance for the lack of detail. Also read as: should have written this sooner. There was some climbing, maybe a meadow, an unmarked lollipop section at the top of the mountain that was a smidge confusing, and a rad downhill section to the finish with some switchbacks to your typical post race experience of hydration, food, and some pretty awesome folks. It was actually pretty cool not knowing anybody, because it definitely forced me out of a familiar bubble and I got to chat with and meet some new people.
I finished 4th overall, 1st AG with a time of 1:25:31. It was a good experience and I’m happy with my effort for that day. If you’re looking for a race that’s smaller, and put on quite well – I’d recommend this one! Worth noting: the weather was perfect!