I have been training – or at least acting like I’m training – to run the North Fork 50 mile trail race on June 4. Part of that training was running the Desert Rats Trail Running Festival – you can read about that on my previous post. I made arrangements to participate in a training run on the North Fork course the week after the Desert Rats marathon. The race director scheduled 3 training runs which would allow the runners a chance to get their feet on the trail, and over the course of those 3 training runs, cover the entire 50 mile course. After my rocky performance on the marathon, I was feeling pretty unsure about my ability to cover the pending distance of June 4, and was hoping this training run would either give me some reassurance or a reason to back out. The trails that I run on in my neck of the woods are the only ones I know – they are rocky and technical and as I far as I know, that’s what all trails are like, unless they’re harder trails. If the trails at North Fork were like the Kokopelli trails, 50 miles was not going to happen within the cutoff time of 14 hours.
Wayne and I headed to Denver for a weekend alone – I am so thankful that he totes around with me to races and long runs. I can’t imagine doing this without him. We drove up to Buffalo Creek Saturday morning to meet up with the race director and other runners at 8:00 am to get started on the 16+ mile run. When we pulled into the parking area, I was getting a little nervous – running in a new area and not sure who would be there – the thought crosses my mind that all the other runners are “better” runners than me – that I’m going to be the slowest, oldest, fattest, dorkiest, whatever. It’s like that Impostor Syndrome we talked about on the podcast. And then as I was getting all my shit together I heard someone call my name – it was Atsuko that I met at the Fruita Sufferfest Fat Ass. We had run together up the Monument Canyon trail, and I knew who I would be running with now.
As soon as we got on the trail, I said, Wow. This trail is awesome. It was soft dirt single track. Hmm. I didn’t know they made trails like that. Even the dirt road I run on at home isn’t this smooth. I remember thinking, No wonder people like trail running with trails like this. Atsuko and I stayed together the whole day – taking turns leading, but always staying in eye-shot of each other. We ran with a few other runners during the day also, and it was fun to chat with runners of all different calibers and experience – from first time ultra-runners to Western States and Leadville 100 finishers.
I had a few ups and downs during the run – feeling solid and confident for a few miles, and then experiencing that lonely, lost feeling on a climb thru the woods, with Atsuko just out of my line of sight, then feeling energetic and bubbly coming down the other side of Baldy Peak. I thought about cutting the run short around 13 miles as we crossed the road back to the parking area – but couldn’t bring myself to pull away from the group of 3 women I was with and continued up the next climb to finish the planned distance bouncing into the parking area feeling like I could keep going – but glad that I wasn’t.
Overall, the day was a successful training run. I spent time outside in a beautiful part of the mountains of Colorado. I spent time with a new friend. I saw a babbling creek, amazing rock formations and snowy bear tracks.
Training for an ultra is an adventure – so many ups and downs, so many doubts and concerns, but the good stuff – the successes, the moments of conquering a fear, overcoming those doubts, meeting new people, and going new places – I think that’s why I do it. Even if I don’t make that 14 hour cut-off, I’m going to put my toes on the trail on June 4 and do the very best I can. I’m going to keep putting one foot in front of the other – and try to remember all the words of wisdom and encouragement that I’ve heard and repeated. Here’s to staying vertical and finishing happy.
You can check out the Ultra Ordinary Running podcast and hear me and 2 other (extra)ordinary women talk about Impostor Syndrome, PreRace Anxiety and lots of other good stuff at Ultraordinary.run or on ITunes.