Saturday was one of the most wonderful days of my life. I feel so fortunate to end the racing year on such a high note. I had a great race, but honestly what made the entire experience so mind blowing was that I got to share the day with so many wonderful and inspiring people, many of whom were achieving their own dreams and goals. I will do a proper race report at some point this week while it is still fresh in my head, but I wanted to take this opportunity to highlight the performances by other people that had me feeling all soft and mushy. These are the memories that stick with me that I draw upon when I am in a tough place during a run.
The Salmon from Team Bear-Salmon
Ok, so yeah. I am biased, but I was so pumped to get to see my husband (who has been out of commission for over a year) crushing his first race back. He was part of a 2-man relay team and ran both of his legs in style. I will admit, I was nervous about him doing 2 legs. In fact, over the past month, I kept asking him if he was sure he didn’t want to take on another team mate so he could just do one leg. But he insisted on keeping it a two man team and they did super well. When I got to Alta, I asked a relay runner what leg he was and when he said leg 2, I had a small amount of hope that I would catch Braden and get to finish with him. In the end, he was too fast but that meant he was at the finish line and was able to see my finish which was really awesome. The man has been at the finish line for me so many times, usually in less than ideal weather conditions, so it was really awesome to be able to return the favor as he brought his team home after his second leg. Both JM and Braden had such positive attitudes about the whole thing and it was really fun to watch them train, prepare and then execute on the day. They even crossed the finish line in character. They got 29th out of 119 teams. Not bad for a couple guys in their 30’s!
Team Fast as Sam
This one is obvious, but I was really glad that Sasha came back to dominate the relay as a 2 woman team again this year (plus she chose another bad-ass lady to be her team mate). I remember last year, Sam crossed the line after her second leg and she was totally out of it. No one seemed to notice and I walked up to her and managed to get my arm around her right before her legs gave out. She was fine, but she had given her all on the trail. Despite dealing with a frustrating injury all year, and being in quite a lot of pain during this year’s race, Laura went out there and gave everything she had: clearly channeling our girl. The epic finish of flailing limbs and laughter couldn’t have happened better if it had been planned. The arm tats were just icing on the cake. Love you ladies.
Mark Noviski, Matt Schaar and Ryan Scura
These dudes took on their first ultra on Saturday and that in itself is crazy inspiring. Mark had never run further than 18-ish miles and yet finished in under 6 hours despite being attacked by a swarm of yellow jackets. Matt got lost and yet when I came upon him on the trail was still smiling and having a pretty good time. Every time I have gotten lost during a race it has completely destroyed my will to race, but Matt took it all in stride and still beat his goal time of 5 hours! Scura! You sneaky devil you! I didn’t even know he was running the 50k until I saw him ass early on Sat am at the start area. Never one to tout his own accomplishments or goals, he looked super happy and comfortable when I saw him finish his first ultra. I can’t wait to hear how the race went!
I was standing on the road anxiously looking for my hubby to finish when I saw Amber booking it towards to exchange area. Girl has been injured for over 9 months and yet dragged her ass up and down that mountain twice! It was really exciting to see her running again and I can’t wait to see her continue to get back to fitness and crush it in the new year!
Selfishly, I was secretly glad that Paddy ended up finishing his first 50 mile race towards the back of his goal range because that meant I got to see him finish. Talk about inspiring. The man got 13th place in a ridiculously deep field when in January of this year he had never run more than 16 miles. He has had an incredible year and capped it off with a sub 7 hour 50 miler. I really hope he plans to rest and eat everything between now and the near year, and I can’t wait to see what he will accomplish in 2016.
Everybody in November Project, Baybirds and SFRC
From about mile 25, I started letting myself visualize the finish. I knew there would be a big NP crowd and even though the only grassroots gear I had was my buff and the bridges spray painted on the butt of my shorts, I was still imagining quite a bit of cheering (mostly because they cheer for everybody). The reception I got when I peaked that last hill up to the finish area was way beyond anything I had imagined. Its really hard to put into words the euphoric feeling of achieving your goals for a physical challenge like Saturday’s race, but it was multiplied about 300 fold by the cheering, jumping and screaming that accompanied me across the finish line. Everyone deserves a finish like that, and I hope at future races I can help other people experience it. I also had amazing support from people at the aid stations and along the trail cheering for me as a Baybird. I saw some SFRC / Baybird team mates at a couple aid stations and got so pumped so exchange a high 5 with my new friend Sarah (who is 5 months pregnant!!) as she went out to Coastal for mile 12 of the marathon. It was so awesome seeing friendly faces out there!
The local pros did an amazing job on Saturday too. From Dylan Bowman who got 2nd in the 50 miler, to Jorge Maravilla who got 4th, its impossibe not to be inspired by the talent of these guys. Alex Varner DNF’d but dude destroyed the quad Dispea course record last week, so the fact that he not only made it to the start line but also ran over 20 miles or the race is insane. Local girl Larissa Dannis came back from injury to claim 3rd this year. When you compete against athletes who live and train at altitude, such performances are even more impressive. Thanks for being trail blazers… ha.. see what I did there.
Ok, enough of the love fest. That’s it for now. Full race report to come.