Way Too Cool 2017 was a chance to get back on the horse and see if I could still ride. After travelling all the way to Europe in August only to DNF at mile 23 of OCC after a bad fall and having to pull out of the TNF 50 in December due to prolonged illness and missed training, I was really looking forward to just being in a place where I could even think about running a 50k. The agreed upon goal with coach was to finish strong and stay healthy to be able to keep building fitness without any major setbacks caused by over-racing. On paper, that sounded great and I knew the aid station time goals were the smart move… but I am who I am and when I got to the start line, I knew there was no way I would be able to just chill out. I wanted to beat my time from last year and I wanted to feel better doing it. It was definitely a gamble, but the race plan was set up to allow me the leeway to push for it in the final third of the race if I was feeling good… coach obviously gets me. I remained fairly controlled in the first loop, felt worse than ideal in the “flat” miles along the river, found my groove once we started climbing, kicked it up a notch after mile 20 and hung on for dear life in the final 2 miles.
In the end I had a great day filled with new friends, old friends, mud, beer, a shiny new PR, a podium finish, a bucket full of inspiration from so many of my fellow racers and gratitude for such a supportive community of volunteers. There were of course a couple of highlights so here they are, listed in no particular order for easy digestion.
- The mini cheer squad of humans and dogs at mile 19. I heard you guys before I could see you and it was the best burst of energy I could have hoped for.
- Getting encouragement from Gordy Ainsleigh, Eric Schranz and Billy Yang at Highway 49.
- Moving from 4th to 3rd at mile 17 was pretty sweet but was made even sweeter by the “get it girlfriend!!” encouragement I received from Cat as we started the climb up from the river. (Although I was really bummed to hear that Cat later suffered from serious stomach issues and had a really rough final 10 miles)
- Sharing the podium with two ladies I really admire: Megan Roche and Keely Henninger
- Picking off about 6 or 7 dudes who had passed me in the first loop in the last 3 miles was really satisfying.
- High fives at mile 8
- Working with my new buddy Josh Lerner to stay strong for the last 2 miles embodied the camaraderie and teamwork trail running brings out in people.
- It probably doesn’t count as a highlight, but writhing in pain and spewing expletives as I received a post race “attack oriented target massage” from a mustachioed gentleman named Ve Loyce was a new experience. I’m pretty sure the only reason I was mobile on Sunday was because of this but I have never experienced such torture and my nickname is the Punisher…
- Also definitely not a highlight (but I feel the need to subject everyone else to this experience) was “leap frogging” with the poor kid who kept having to pull over and release his bowels due to what was clearly extreme digestive distress. While I felt bad for the guy, I did not enjoy passing him in the bushes and getting whiffs of pre-race porta potty. Luckily I ended up losing him .. talk about motivation to pick up the pace.
- Learning the life altering fat that you can order extra crispy fries at in ‘n out burger.
From the outside it might seem I had one of those races where everything just came together, but it’s been a solid 4 months of rebuilding from zero and the day was far from perfect. That being said, I am really excited about where I am and am looking forward to building on the strong foundation I’ve built to tackle some big adventures this summer.
(It takes a village: Huge thank you to Marty Mattox at Ultrahealth, Tamara Moore at SOL, Hal Rosenberg at Chiro Medical, Katy Kunkle at Presidio Sports and Jen Ross at Ross Acupuncture for getting me healthy and to Mario Fraioli for taking me on when I was broken and barely running)