Distance: 22.0 miles
Elevation Gain: 4,554ft
"The reward of a thing well done is to have done it." Ralph Waldo Emerson
Bittersweet. That's what I felt the moment my alarm went off. This is the last day I wake up at camp. The last day I pack my camp. The last day I drag the heaviest duffel bag to the Budget truck. The last day I walk to the start line. The last day I listen to Highway to Hell. It was exciting that this crazy adventure was about to end. It was sad that all the work, all the training, all the cool stories... were all about to end. Bittersweet.
I had breakfast with all the other runners in the catering tent... people were excited. Marna, Mark and I walked to the start and chilled at the lodge for 40ish minutes before the start and we lined up a few minutes before go-time.
|Start line in Vail Village|
The gun went off and I went off with a slow jog despite the big hill ahead of us. I thought it'd be short, but once I got a better angle, I decided to start walking up it since it was probably more like a mile long. We traversed on the front side of the mountain from Vail Village to Lionshead. Once above the Gondola base at Lionshead we dropped into town again, ran through the village and out towards i70. We went over the bridge and down to the Frontage Rd. on the North side and up into that immediate neighborhood. Sooner than later (probably 2-3 miles into our run) we hot the single track and up, up, up we go.
|Views of Vail from the North Side.|
|Amazing Aspen forest at the top of the switch backs.|
|Gore Range as seen from some very very remote backcountry!|
|All downhill until we get to town!|
I started getting incredibly frustrated at the fact that what had been my strength all week was all of a sudden a huge weakness. I could not push any harder, my toes were hurting and I could not see through all the plants... I was mentally struggling and didn't seem to be able to pull myself out of the hole I was in. All of a sudden, I look up and there was Chuck and Levi. You'd think that would help, but it didn't. I may have been rude to him because I could not really talk to him and Levi's collar was making way too much noise as I was trying to focus on putting a foot in front of the other. After 5 minutes I had to tell him to go. He made me feel guilty about how I treated him, and I was probably somewhat rude, but at the time, it just seemed like my brain was about to explode and I'm pretty sure I would've been so much more rude if he had stayed. I needed to do this on my own and I needed him more at the finish than I needed him on the trail. Once he went ahead, I had to walk for a few.
|Last section of trail before hitting the road.|
We ran on the pavement around the Avon Reservoir and made our way into the Bear lot in Beaver Creek and started to climb towards Bachelor's Gulch. Welcome to Beaver Creek, folks! Last last push, for real!
With 2.5 miles of climbing left, I just gave it my all. Although, my "all" wasn't much at all. I just kept putting a foot in front of the other and that seemed to be enough at the moment. The single track climb seemed to never end but I wasn't passed by anyone and I didn't pass anyone... we were all in denial and exhausted. I saw Marna, who passed me while on the aid station before the big downhill into Avon (I stopped for goodies, she didn't), slightly ahead of me in the last few switchbacks before the downhill to the finish. She was focused and looked extremely determined to finish this strong. I lost sight of her once she reached the top. Didn't see her again til the finish.
Once I reached the top though, I let it rip... I knew this road, I'd ran on it in the past and I knew it'd be non-technical and wide. Good old service road. I was running 9 min/miles and it was only 1.5 miles to the finish. I didn't catch up to anyone as I should assume, they all did the same. Once I hit the road I saw Courtney first and I wanted to cry... she was enthusiastic as always and said I was done. I took a right and there it was. The finish line. The FINISH finish line. Lined up before it was Chuck and Kevin. I barely looked at them and had my eyes set on the finish. I was done. I crossed the finish line in 5h 27m 23s for 18th place. My worst of the week, but it didn't matter. I was done. Took a while to catch my breath but when I looked up, my friend Jenny, her husband and baby were there as well... they'd made the trip up from Denver JUST to see me finish. I was feeling blessed to have so many familiar faces at the finish. I felt loved. I needed that.
|And done! Medal and Finisher's shirt in hand.|
I learned a lot about myself and what I can accomplish if I set my mind to it. I'd do things differently, yes. Training more would be one of them. I was well trained and got through it alright with no injuries, but I'm sure a few more hours on the trail would've made some of those climbs a tad easier and some struggles a little easier to get through.
If you ask me, doing this solo as opposed to with a teammate ended up being a blessing. Seemed like while I would've loved to have my partner Theresa with me during some moments, but I've learned I'm better off alone when in a dark place... and when in a good one. I'm sure it would've been a struggle to stay back when I'm feeling good or feel extra pressured to move faster when in a dark place. If I were to do it again, I'd definitely sign up with a friend, but would make sure to sign us up as "solo" runners. That way we could run together when needed/desired, but we could go our separate ways when we're mentally and physically in different places.
|Finish line picture with Houda... Race Director extraordinaire.|
Official finish time: 27 hours, 54 minutes, 24 seconds for 14th place out of 59
"Only those who attempt the absurd, will achieve the impossible." -Escher.