Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Cajun Coyote, Thunderbird Moonlight 10km, and a Year's Journey

It is crazy to think that it has been a whole year since I started sharing my running journey on this blog. If I were to measure the success of this year based on racing performances and on miles covered it would be a disappointment; however, this year has meant so much more. Despite injuries, emotional stress, and setbacks with many months devoid of running, I've made countless friendships, discovered a love of rock climbing, and learned more about myself than in my previous twenty-seven years of existence. The love and support I receive from everyone (from my running and climbing friends and those friends that do neither) means more to me than any race result. This year has taught me, that the relationships we have with others and the impacts they create are one of the most beautiful things in life, to be cherished, developed, and never forgotten.

I have also learned quite a bit about running as well, just when you think you have it figured out, you get put in your place. This year's plan was to emerge as a potential threat on the national trail scene; however, this didn't happen. It is hard to maintain such rigorous training and racing when you aren't taking care of your body and the daily habits outside of running are nearly as important as the act itself. Often over-looked important aspects of my training are patience and recovery. I was never patient with my body thus it was never allowed to make physiological adaptations to the stress before I piled more on. I focused primarily on my cardiovascular endurance, muscle strength, and lactic acid removal, when equal focus should have been given to bone density, muscular imbalances, and diet. For instance, putting a corvette engine in a go-cart frame isn't a good idea, it won't be long before the torque from the engine twists and destroys the frame. Recovery is another matter, many of you know that I run hard and climb hard all the time. Recovery is equally important as training itself, and you can only train as hard as you can recover.

This year I was not able to race Cajun Coyote. Back in May, one of my biggest goals was to break the two hour mark for the twenty-miler at Cajun. That is still a barrier that will have to stand for a while longer, but I definitely think it is breakable. However, I did have the amazing opportunity to help support others and watch them achieve their goals. I can't understand what compels someone to run 100 miles. The beauty of this race and I guess for any hundred miler is witnessing people go out and run 100 miles based on some unique compulsion. Every year, I stick around near the finish line to see the runners fight the fatigue and pain to make the thirty-hour cutoff time. It is truly inspiring. Congratulations to you all and thank you for inspiring me! It is quite amazing to see what the human will is really capable of.

A week later, I found myself very unprepared but lining up for the start of the Thunderbird Moonlight 10km, the final stop on the Forge Trail Series. Every since I learned of the Forge Series I knew participation was an absolute must. I was very under trained and exceptionally nervous but I had to win in order to win the series. With it being my home trail and at night I stood a very good chance of doing that. At the start a group of us sprinted hard for the hole-shot, my goal was to be the first into the trail to control the race. I achieved this but paid a price for going out so fast. I kept the pace hot for a while to thin the pack out, eventually two people hung on. We dropped third place once it started getting hilly as we were climbing smoothly and quickly. The Fitz, who was in second was pushing me a lot harder than I wanted to be pushed and I was very close to putting it on damage control thus finishing second to tie him in the series. When we hit the second section of the trail, which has more hills and technical track, he rolled an ankle. He was still maintaining but I was waiting for my break. Eventually, that break came when he did it a second time (sorry Fitz, but I wasn't going to stop for you), I took that opportunity to really pour some speed into it and opened up a small gap. From here the goal was simple, just put some distance and hills between us. This worked and I held on for the win and took home the series. What a day that was! I took my last final as an undergraduate, won my last race of the year and the Forge Series! Jeff Beck, you do an excellent job with the series and I love how Forge has created a strong trail running community! Without Forge I wouldn't have an outlet for my competitiveness. In the end, it has been a very exciting year given all that has occurred, but I'm looking forward to the future with anticipation. I'm excited about the possibility of living, running, and climbing in a new place. I'm not sure how much racing will happen next year but I'll certainly be running. I don't know how many of you actually read my posts but I want to thank you all for taking the time to do so and again thank you for all the support and love y'all have shown me, it has been an honor!

"Every morning in Africa, a gazelle wakes up knowing it must out run the fastest lion in order to survive. Every morning a lion wakes up knowing it must out run the slowest gazelle in order to eat. It doesn't matter whether you are a gazelle or a lion...when the sun comes up you had better be running."