(no i didnt throw up... well almost, twice... )
but what im talking about is HILLS. yes, we've all heard the saying "what goes up must go down" and im sure i've repeated it many times over the course of my many running adventures to remind me. all those damn uphill climbs in various road races we all felt would never end but eventually had us cruising down down down weeeeeeeee! sweet relief.
yesterdays race was nothing like anything i have ever done before. im a road runner. i havent trained on trails. i ran on a patch of grass/field for the triathlon a few weeks ago and swore it was the worst .25 miles of the entire race. good thing i knew little to nothing about pineland before the cowbell rang signaling us to enjoy the next 25k of those grassy fields. barf.
but lets back track a bit, shall we? how did we end up here to begin with? oh yeah, right. my idea. and i convinced sara (kicking and screaming, obviously) to join me in the madness. this is what true friends are for (doing stupid stuff together, cuz then it makes more sense and makes you look less like the crazy one). we both super heart races ON PAVED ROADS. but why not try this seemingly fun looking race once, see what the hype about these trails is all about....
you know you convinced someone real quick when
their numbers are this close to yours...
(read: it didnt take much convincing. especially when theres beer at the end. shocking)
strategically pinning race bib
after a warm up mile with sean, we said our final goodbyes (you know, incase something real bad happened out in those woods) and headed to the start line. as we were
posing for photos stretching and awaiting the start, andy finally showed up to wish us good luck!
andy photo bomb!
(hard to see since my mom didnt zoom)
they reviewed the rules (which we didnt listen to), we cheered for a couple coming through the chute for their next loop... it was bethany & ryan! (who i sadly couldnt find at the end since they were running the 50 miler somewhere in the woods, but they looked so patriotic!! and happy anniversary!!), and then they rang the cowbell to send us on our way. no turning back now!
like i was saying, what goes down apparently comes back up... cuz we went down, down, down (weeeeeeeeee so fasssssssssst) for what seemed like miles (in all reality it was maybe a mile). and then we went up. and oh hi, up again.around a corner... you guessed it. UP. the woods/rocks/trees/trails/SHADE were great... open fields/grass not so much. i pretty much decided from the first field run that i would have rather dealt with a zombie apocolypse than run through any more fields. (i also would have run faster than 10 min miles if zombies were chasing me). luckily there were about 18 more times we ran through these damn fields. needless to say i was really loving my decision to do this race within about 7 minutes of starting.
slugging past the pony club?!?
"i am NEVER EVER doing this again. EVER!!"
(please note i didnt give andy the finger since im nice)
shortly after seeing andy there and exclaiming my true hatred towards all things trail running, i came upon the first aid station. water (filled my handheld and threw two cups down my back), gatorade (it was yellow... i only drink purple, so i skipped that)... then i saw it. paper plates/bowls covering a shaded table, full of SNACKS! pretzels, gummy bears, some sort of pills (energy? salt? electrolites? advil? i had no idea), boiled chunks of potatoes!!! it was like heaven. of course all i grabbed were three pretzels and a sweedish fish.
this was also where i saw patti, the amazing supportive wife of jim (also running the 25k), who snapped this lovely gem:
looook at this farmland i am dommmmminating!!!!
(aka- am i done yet? this sucks.)
its so hard to recap this race because i had so many ups and downs (literally). having never done a trail race before, nor having run the 25k race distance before, it was all new to me (hooray for automatic PR!). the shady trails in the woods were challenging but actually really neat (apparently this course is NON-TECHNICAL meaning.... yeah, i have no idea. no rivers to swim through? im not a good swimmer so thats probably a good thing). like i said, the grassy/sort of farm plowed fields we ran on were tough. i felt like my body was running on a slant and i couldnt find a good groove. i ended up falling UP a hill (who falls UPhill??) and scraping up my leg but i carried on. the downhills in the woods were so steep and i shuffled down those trying to make sure i didnt roll down (i wouldnt have put it past me to do something like that though... luckily i stayed on my feet).
i ran along side a few people here and there but for the most part i was alone. at the 2nd aid station i met up with a woman wearing a running skirt like mine and we started chatting, and i stayed with her until the turn onto the back 10k. her name was missyana from cambridge and she was a tremendous support for me. thank you!!! (she told me i was her pacer... as we walked up a hill. yeah right! dont follow me if you want to have an awesome pacer haha).
the first 15k was so challenging, both physically and mentally. it was the 9 month anniversary of aaron passing away, and we found out saturday that our friend amber passed away that morning (she had cystic fibrosis as well). they were both weighing heavily on my mind as i trudged along the tough terrain. i didnt emotionally break down until the final 5k but i was so far out of my element in this race i just couldnt get to feeling like i could control anything. *sigh*
coming in through 15k
i had been told the back 10k was by far much easier than the first 15. as i ran through all the tents and support crews, i saw my mom ahead of me and ran up a little hill to surprise her. she thought i was done and started cheering... but alas i had 6 more miles to go. blah. she cheered me on through the woods and off i went. i lost my skirt sister missyana at the next aid station and was by myself for the remainder of the run. i actually really loved the final 10k... less fields, more woods, less hills, more awesome. i saw two sub 10 minute miles which made me more comfortable. my legs felt strong, i had my breathing under control, and i slowly shuffled up the hills instead of walking. and i passed a few people who werent doing the 50 miler. win.
as i passed the 20k sign, i turned my music back on (i had shut it off a while back to just enjoy my surroundings) and the first song that came on was "fighter" by gym class heroes. que emotional breakdown. i was fighting to finish something i had never done before. aaron and amber had fought their whole lives to survive and ultimately heaven gained those fighters.
"give em hell, turn their heads
gonna live life til we're dead.
give me scars, give me pain
then they'll say to me, say to me, say to me
there goes a fighter, there goes a fighter
here comes a fighter
that's what they'll say to me, say to me
say to me, this one's a fighter
if you fall pick yourself up off the floor (get up)
and when your bones can't take no more
just remember what you're here for"
so yeah... i somehow pulled myself back together as we headed onto the final field towards the end. i heard someone coming up behind me and i moved off the grooved path so he could run through. as he ran along side me saying i didnt need to get out of his way, he asked if i was danielle... (this seems to be happening to me a lot lately.... maybe i should dye my hair or something?)- it ended up being Ty Thurlow, a really awesome runner and friends with my friend elizabeth. he was running the 50k after having done reach the beach last weekend as a 6 person ultra team! holy moly. he admitted this was probably not a good idea, and then smoked by me. thanks ty!
i gave the final (stupid) hill an extra push, shut off my music, and ran towards the finish with a smile on my face (i think).
finish is right around that next corner
so happy to almost be done
after crossing the finish line a volunteer handed me an ice cold water bottle and I GOT THE DAMN COWBELL. side note: its a cowbell keychain. about the size of a half dollar. ha.
my old boss from when i worked at a sportshoe store in high school was the first person i saw when i finished (hi bob!) and then eric and victoria came over with their congrats. my super awesome cheer team of sara and andy decided to be lazy and sit in the shade and totally miss my finish. thanks guys!
from sara's blog:
"WORST FRIENDS EVER AWARD: Goes to Andy and Me... We completely missed Danielle's finish because we are assholes. No other excuse. Sorry Danielle, I am glad you are still speaking to us, it won't happen again (until the next 80 degree day that we run and the shady spot is far from the finish, that is... I kid, I kid!!) Good thing Eric was there to get pics like a boss....
And on a side note: Danielle looked pretty fab for somebody who was hating life so much, seriously! I can only hope that I look so stylish and run so fast next time I'm cussing out life the way she was. :-) Jeesh..."
(nice compliment there at the end... i guess ill forgive you. both. maybe. i might need cookies.)
(and now andy and i are fighting cuz of his sweet race recap that you can enjoy HERE)
pretty accurate pic of how i felt immediately after finishing
and then we ate lunch... or something like that
poor lonely m&m
add a beer and compression socks...
... and i decided life really isnt so bad
(and were already thinking about this)
smart life choices 101
overall a really awesome experience. the race was extremely well organized and the volunteers before, during, and after the race were excellent!! this was so different from any road race ive ever been to (and thats a lot), and i have a whole new appreciation for trail runners thats for sure! i was afraid to take off my socks but i surprisingly had no new blisters or missing toenails. by the time i went to bed last night i was sore, which is a good sign i worked hard. despite my cursing, claiming to never do this EVER again, i think id love to train more on the trails and potentially do this again next year (i know!!)
4th place in my track club
(team finished 6th overall)
(cool to see the comparison... looks similar. shocking)
this probably sums things up for you pretty well
oh hey 11:41, havent seen you EVER.
i really think this would have been better...
see the cowbell there above my bib? if you squint your eyes?
25k (15.5ish miles)
22/62 age group
*22 is my favorite number!!
and after walking around, getting more beers, minimal stretching, lots of complaining, finding shade and making fun of andy relentlessly, we watched maddy finish and completely OWN the 50 miler, placing 3rd woman overall in 8 hours and 32 minutes. holy awesome.
still smiling, and standing.
and last but certainly not least, a HUGE thank you to my mom for all her support all day xoxo!!
congrats to all who ran this weekend and thank you to all our supporters!!!
*photos courtesy of:
my awesome mom, patti, eric, and andy.
thank you all!