“I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.”
|Samantha and I at the start|
|Climbing Mt Werner (Photo: P Nelson)|
|Mountain View Trail|
|Fish Creek Falls Trail|
As I power hiked up the road, I found that my stomach wasn't getting any better so I tried to empty it. Eventually, at the top of the climb I was able to do so and hoped that would be sufficient for the 6 miles ahead. Unfortunately, it wasn't. As I began the steep climb up Fish Creek Falls, I kept having to stop and try to empty my stomach again and again. I probably went about a mile in the next hour and being as it was below freezing temps, couldn't keep my body temp up. With 5 miles of climbing left and moving at a snails pace, I had to make the painful decision to head back to the trailhead and drop just after 1 am. I was concerned about hypothermia since I couldn't reset my stomach. It was a huge disappointment to be stopped by my stomach when my Achilles was doing fine and I felt I had the legs to keep climbing. Thankfully, a couple who were waiting for their son to arrive (who also dropped) were kind enough to give me a ride back to my hotel so I wasn't stuck out in the cold.
After a little bit of sleep, I went out to the finish line to cheer the front runners coming in. As with TNF 50 last year, it was exciting and heartbreaking to congratulate those that were able to complete the distance and I mourned my own inability to do so. I wanted to experience the whole course as they did, but could momentarily imagine the thrill of having done so and be happy for them. Chatted with this year's winner, Rob Krar, and was happy that he had a great day of running and was proud of his triple-crown wins at Western, Leadville and RRR this year. He's not only a smart and talented runner but a super nice dude to boot.
|Clarkie and son coming in to the finish|
Looking back, I think that my altered training simply slowed me down so in order to keep up a 36-hour pace, I had to work harder than I would have otherwise. I was able to successfully keep my Achilles pain away, but the intensity of power hiking was enough to mess up my stomach, despite hydrating plenty. So, in my case, I needed more long runs and speed sessions to be able to keep myself at the pace to get to the finish without it feeling too intense.
This weekend was the running of The Bear 100. Every time I saw mention of it on Facebook, I felt a pang in my stomach. I loved my time there last year, despite its disappointing end at mile 85. I wanted to run it this year, but chose to stay closer to home in order to keep costs down and have my family join me at the finish line. If I have the fitness and the opportunity to do another mountain 100, I will most certainly be lining up at The Bear again. That race holds a special place in my heart and I ache to go back if I can.
Now that I'm resting and letting my Achilles heal, my racing calendar remains uncertain. I don't know when I can start running again and now that I'm job-hunting, unsure how much time I will have to train. Additionally, my husband and kids need more time with me and I want to be there for them. As much as I love trail running and ultra races, I don't want to look back and regret all the lost time with my family. My husband has been an ultra widower for the past year and a half and has been very supportive of me and my running, but I realized that having a great marriage is better than having great races. I hope to have both, but won't sacrifice one for the other. I want a legacy of being a good wife and mother even more than being a 100 miler. I also want to develop closer relationships with my friends here in the Springs. I know running will always be a part of my life, but I need to find a way to work it around these other priorities that I have.
That being said, I'm going to take a break from blogging and social media in general as I revamp and reorder my life. If you are among those that follow this blog, I encourage you to click any of the buttons on the above right that allow you to be notified when I return to blogging and racing. I've got some early season races on my radar (Red Hot 55, Salida Marathon, Rockin' K), so if I can heal up the Achilles and get back to training, I'm hopeful that the break won't be for long.
Our friend Kara (our pastor's wife and mother of four) has been battling breast cancer for over two years. When she was diagnosed with stage 4 metastatic cancer, she was given the opportunity to write a book. At her book release party last night, she introduced us to this song. While my struggles may pale in comparison to what Kara is going through, the message that grace may be found in the bitter edges of life is something that I need constantly reminded of. I encourage you to read her story and witness how a lover of Jesus struggles with braving hard and finds love, hope and grace.