Friday, November 4, 2016

Back At It: Swallowing my pride and some bananas

                                                     Cave Creek Thrasher 30K

      Back at it...sort of.  I loved every minute of this race, being completely alone on the trail at night under a full moon, not even seeing any other lights I could chase down.  The course was my favorite kind, rocky, climbing up and flying down.  None of those dull flat stretches.  I was reminded of why I love racing, and I have never been so grateful just to be out there.  But I am way too long winded to leave it at that.  Sorry, if you ever talk to me, you have probably already heard this story, but I know you love redundancy.

Cave Creek Thriller 50K 2015
      I'm not sure why I signed up for the Cave Creek race, of all races to come back at.  Maybe I have some masochistic side that wants me to make a direct and painful comparison to the Cave Creek Thriller 50K, the last race I ran, exactly one year before.  Thrasher was only a 30K, but a big deal after the past year.  Thriller last year was one of my best races, I missed the course record by about 2 minutes.  All year I have struggled with thinking about where I was, and where I am now.  It's probably the hardest mental training obstacle I have ever encountered.

      I'm not going to detail why I haven't raced in a year, my last post is all about that if you really want to know.  I'm sort of better, that's all that really matters

      The race.  I had to give most people a disclaimer when I signed up for this, to protect myself and lower everyone's expectations of me. Pride can be a very ugly thing, and at some point you have to let go of it. I got used to being competitive in races, and I wanted everyone to know I wasn't trained for this, not ready, not fast. To protect my pride.

         Arriving at Cave Creek Regional Park, I was welcomed by my Aravaipa family, always making me feel at home and supported.  I was psyched that Rich and Erin McKnight were there, which reminded me of my first experience at this race 3 years ago.  It was an IPA 10k that Jeremy Pager and I had come up with.  Three IPA's and run the 10K.  I remember Jeremy falling in the first mile, and that was the only race I have ever stayed ahead of him the whole time, since he was afraid if he was alone he would keep falling down.  This was also the only race I have ever finished ahead of Rich...he was running with Erin who had placed in the 50K earlier that day.  So anyway, good memories of Thrasher to recount with the McKnights.

      Start of the race.  Tried to get Jubilee to play some T Swift to pump me up, but ran out of time.  I'll blame that for my slow start.  Mentally I knew I was slow, and knew if I pushed it I'd just end up hurting myself.  So we took off, I kept an eye only on my heart rate monitor, which is much less depressing than looking at my pace.  Everybody took off ahead of me, and I had to tell myself this was okay, run my race.  Not the time to get competitive, again trying to put aside my pride.  I felt awesome cruising along, and immediately was at home again.

The all powerful Rich McKnight
      Around mile 3 of the first 7 mile loop, my lower calf started to bother me.  I thought maybe it was a tendon thing that might work itself out, but of course it got worse.  I had never had this problem before.  One thing I had been struggling with was bad cramping in my calves, which started when I switched to the ketogenic diet. I had started this to get over a plateau I was feeling in my training, and  to lose a few pounds that had crept on after a year of no running and a summer of bar tending.  One side effect of this diet can be deficiencies in magnesium and potassium, thus the muscle cramps. Cramps that would wake me up in the middle of the night, pain so bad I was rolling on the floor. I will note that  I did not have to carry water during this race and consumed almost no calories, and felt great (which I attribute to the Keto).   If you're interested in knowing about this diet, which I have since stopped but can have a lot of benefits for endurance runners, check this site out   Ultimately, my calves, stomach issues, and my passion for beer and ice cream pulled me off the keto wagon.

       Anyhow, I was still enjoying the trail despite my leg,  At several points, reflecting on the many struggles the previous year had brought,  I felt overcome with emotion and gratitude for those moments out there.

      I had forgotten about how fun the descents were on this course, and the climbing was pretty mellow.  I tried not to get discouraged that there weren't even any lights I could see ahead of me to chase down, something that has motivated me a lot in the past. Let the competition go.

      Finishing my first lap I was in a lot of pain and unsure if I could do 2 more laps, but definitely was going for one more.  Seeing Jubilee and Chris Worden there at the finish was also a great motivator, I'm so lucky to have all these wonderful people that running has brought into my life.  At the aid were Thomas O'Reilly, Patty of course, and my friend Carly, a new trail runner and my savior that night.  I tried rolling out my calf and used the magnesium spray I've been using since the cramps started, but I think what helped with that next lap was the ibuprfen that Carly gave me.  And her overall love and concern for my well being.

        Heading out on that second lap, before the drugs set in, I was near tears, less because of the pain and more at the idea that I would have my first ever DNF, and on top of that this was my first race back.  Again, my pride creeping in, worried about what I would tell my friends, the sense of defeat I would feel.  Fortunately the pain dissipated just enough, and I could focus on the good stuff and forge ahead.  Once I realized I'd finish the race, I could enjoy myself again.  No reason to really race this, I told myself, be happy with where you are.

         Again got pumped up by all the love coming through the start finish, Maybe what got me through that last lap was my biggest treat of the night.  The ketogenic diet limits carbohydrate intake severely, and I hadn't really eaten fruit in almost 2 months.  My very favorite fruit are bananas, which are a big no no and loaded with carbs.  I let myself eat half of a banana, and I have never tasted anything so amazing.  Morale booster times ten, thanks Thomas O'Reilly.  Then I tried to roll the calves, took another ibuprofen, and set out.  The first pain in my lower calf was manageable, but now my entire calf muscle was seizing up.  Just had to work through it for 7 miles, and even if it took me a little while to recover, at that point I needed to finish.  Its amazing to think about this 30K, which I would have considered such a short distance, not even worth racing, and now just finishing this was an accomplishment for me.  I had to tell that little voice reminding me how slow I was and how insignificant this race was to fuck off.

        One of my favorite points of this lap was coming through the remote aid station.  Each lap, I had been helped by a little girl there, and I explained to her that a great way to help runners is to splash ice water in their face, by surprise.  She didn't seem to think that was very nice, and I explained that she had to pick the right runners.  I demonstrated for her on myself during my 2nd lap, but the 3rd lap was her big debut.  She was very hesitant, but I got her to douse my face in ice water, perfect form.  That girl's gonna make it big time.  Plus you can't get mad if its a cute 7 year old girl that's dumping ice cold water on you.

          I finished a 30K (well it was at least a little longer than that) in 4:19:42.  8th overall, 6th female. Out of only 12 runners who finished.  I tried not to look at the results, but going back to that pride thing.  I finished the race. With a cartwheel. Nobody really cares where I placed or what my time was. That's all me.  So I can let it bring me down, or I can be thankful I got to be out there.  Nothing is taking Chiva down, so I swallow my pride.

      Thanks again to those folks out there, Chris Worden, Jubilee Page, Rich and Erin McKnight, Carly Kappus, Thomas O'Reilly, Patty Coury, and everybody else I missed (this report is being written a few weeks after the race, my memory is going!)  Also congrats on strong finishes from Laura Ewersmann and Rich McKnight out there!  Love my Aravaipa family, I would be nothing without my crazy runner friends!

1 comment:

  1. Nice work, Erica! Screw the race results. There's a 7 year-old girl out there who will never forget you and may even have a new interest in the fun of helping others to succeed! Enjoy the journey of the run, bust out a great cart wheel across the finish line and keep smiling!