First the Mushy Stuff
I don’t even know where to begin but I feel pretty confident my stoic German grandmother is rolling over in her grave over the mush-storm that’s about to hit. The past week or so has been such a whirlwind of excitement and awesomeness that I needed some time to actually understand all the feelings I’ve experienced in order to put them into words.
The main event of the weekend was the North Face Endurance Challenge Championships in Marin on Saturday, and while getting back out there and racing was amazing, nothing can beat the magnetic vibe created by this little thing called November Project. If you know me, you will have heard me talk about it beforehand are probably sick of it, but much like the mafia every time you think you are out, they pull you back in, give you a giant sweaty hug and push you to be better. Hmm, maybe that’s not really how the mafia rolls, but you get my drift. I will admit that as our little tribe in San Francisco started growing beyond around 75 people, it began to lose a little magic for me. The feeling of working out with 30 of your closest friends was a little diluted by the anonymity that naturally comes with such a large group. The fast growth was compounded by the fact that I couldn’t do the workouts which is of course how you actually engage with the other crazy people who showed up at 6:30 to workout. I felt as if no one would notice if I wasn’t there and (let’s be honest) injury gang gets really fucking old after 3 months so I stopped showing up. Let’s just say that connecting with members from tribes all over the country this weekend was totally what I needed to rekindle the passion. From seeing old friends from other tribes who had visited before to hugging complete and total strangers from 3,000 miles away just because they were wearing tagged neon, I am totally back in love with November Project. The support not only for fellow tribe members running the marathon relay, but also for all the bad-ass mofo’s who ran 26.2, 50k and 50 miles totally transformed the finish area into the celebration of awesomeness it should be. Maybe its because I don’t have a very large family, but I have never experienced the feeling of walking into a place filled with hundreds of people and being totally at home; knowing I could rely on any of them for the physical and emotional support to get through pretty much anything including temporary insanity caused by lack of physical exercise.
This was my first race since surgery and it went well. I was just really excited to be able to toe the line and put it all out there without being afraid of hurting something. The race itself was fun (more on that below) but what I didn’t realize until afterwards was that a lot of other people were really excited for me to be back out there as well. They all had their own races to run, but somehow amid all of the excitement and nerves and tired legs of the day, they found the time to tell me how happy they were to see back racing again. My mind was pretty blown by this, until I did the exact same thing to another friend (and injury gang founding member). She has been injured for even longer than me and it was so freaking awesome to see her out there racing that I couldn’t help but be genuinely excited for her. At the end of the day, we all have our own goals for the next race, or the next PR Wednesday, but knowing your tribe will notice when you missed a workout, or be there carry you to your chair after you cross the finish line, or will drive several hours to cheer for you as you attempt (and succeed) to qualify for Boston is really what community – and family – is all about and I couldn’t ask for a better one.
Actual Race Recap
Although my quads would disagree, I felt great to be out racing again and as usual, my brain was way ahead of my body in terms of how fast it thinks I can go and I am paying for it dearly today. My relay team of 2 decided at the last minute to add 2 more people to our team so we each only have to run one leg which I am really thankful for. I decided to kick it off and go first which was super fun. The start line felt like college cross country on drugs, partly because of all the neon, but also because the competitive yet supportive energy was almost tangible oh and also cause I got to line up next to my XC team mate Ashley.
As expected, I couldn’t contain the excitement and I went out too fast, paid for it in the middle of the uphill, then had to make up for it on the downhill. Knowing I was only running one leg meant I put it all on the course even if my final kick came about 5 seconds too late to catch original NP leader Bojan, I am happy with my overall performance. I finished the 6.5 mile loop in 48:21 with an average of 7:23/mile. Considering it was over 1,000 feet of elevation gain I feel pretty damn good about it. Most importantly, I had no knee pain during the race and today it feel pretty much the same as any other day; meaning not 100% but getting there. I did re-learn a couple essential lessons: 1) Drinking for 6 hours the day before you plan to attempt racing up a giant hill is not the best idea and 2) not eating anything and standing around cheering for 4 hours after racing means you will be really hangry and sore. In my defense, Friday was my company holiday party and there was basically nothing to eat at the finish line except bananas and beer, but I am definitely aware that I am no longer 20 years old.