Two Saturdays ago I completed a race that was a pretty big deal for me.
I came, I ran, and I conquered the Golden Gate Dirty Thirty.
I attempted to race this 50K 2 years ago just prior to my big adventure in Germany, the Gore-Tex Trans-Alpine Trail Race, and passed a milestone: my very first DNF. I bowed out around mile 18 with aching knees, both hips clicking painfully, and a racing heartbeat. At the time it was the best decision for me so that I didn't injure myself for Europe, though it still didn't ease the intense humiliation and awesome feeling of complete self-let down.
I actually dreaded this race up until the night before. I knew it was going to be a hell of a race: extremely tough, lots of grueling climbs, and heat. I also did not feel very prepared with my training. I started to work on my mental situation the night before and succeeded in pumping myself up, telling myself that my goal was to simply finish the B****. I prepped my iPod for some serious running, got all my gear ready to go, and headed for bed early.
I ate a great breakfast and headed out the door. My goal time for finishing the race was 8hrs. I would be happy with anything remotely around that time. For the first time, I also left my camera at home. I wanted to be focused and not waste any extra energy or time.
Quick summary of the race:
1. It sucked through and through but I actually, sort-of, enjoyed it if not simply for the fact that I ran 31 miles and didn't die (nor did I need a wheelchair at the end). I cussed a whole lot, mostly in my head, and wanted to quit with only 2 miles left to the finish line but I dug deep and carried my body to the end. I refused to allow this trail to beat me twice.
Reasons why it sucked:
I actually paid to suffer and loathe this much.
I hate climbing serious ups only to be rewarded with gradual soft rolling downs: give me a screaming downhill dammit I worked hard for it!!!
It started out cold.
It started to thunder, then lightening touched down right as I was climbing up to the highest point of the race.
Then it began to drop sleet (freezing rain). I had no jacket because I dropped off a lot of my stuff at the aid station several miles back when it was sunny and I had to re-apply sunscreen. I should have known better...crazy Colorado mountain weather.
It ended cold and raining.
Their after-race feast involved two dishes of very spicy foods. My gut was giving me the straight-arm as soon as I even remotely hinted of stepping towards the food tent. I ended up eating a small salad and some tofu (which was actually extremely good).
Reasons why it didn't suck:
Oh, and I realized that I'm slowly starting to be able to run long distances without a pack (weather permitting). I could have gotten away with just a handheld, which I carried, and my nutrition stuffed in that. I only needed to stop at 2 of the aid stations to refill.
2. At one point some guy was strong-hiking next to me up a steep section and he wanted to chat. Chatting was the very last thing I really wanted to be doing at this point and his chipper-ness had me grinding my teeth in attempt to be friendly. He had to inform me that this was his third time at the GGDT and then asked if I was going to do it again. All friendliness left my body and I growled at him, "hell no." I was here for one reason and one reason only. I had a bone to pick and I wasn't going home until that finish line was behind me.
3. I ran almost the entire race with absolutely no music. I finally plugged in around mile 24ish in an attempt to enjoy the rolling sections. It felt good and kept the cussing at bay.
4. Saucony trail shoes turned out to have absolutely no flaws. No blisters to report, no black toenails, no sore feet from pounding/rocks. This is one happy girl.
5. I crossed that finish line at 7hrs 42 minutes. Halle-fucking-lujah! I was really hoping something closer to 6 but as determined earlier, I was overjoyed with less than 8hrs especially given the weather factors and my sub-par training.
So, it's done. Finito! Onward to training for Trans-Rockies....