Monday, July 9, 2012

Xterra, Hunger Games, Grit Prevails, again...

Embarked on another new adventure yesterday, Xterra Trail Series Harbison Race, a challenging trail half-marathon, that is HILLY!!

Always searching for a new challenge, new territory to explore and as a fellow adrenaline junky said " you live the life of - Do something that makes you uncomfortable everyday - I think she summed me up pretty well.

When we sit still, we become stagnant and you know what stagnant does? Smells bad, grows algae and mold and attracts mosquitoes, hmmm? Chew on that for a bit, I choose not to just be, thanks.

Here is the elevation chart:
And I love hills. Well, got up, had breakfast, filled my camelbak (which would be a lifesaver), removed my first aid kit (dumb idea), added in my sports beans w/o caffeine, packed my post race beer, knee socks, braided hair and bandanna.  Ready to roll to Harbison Park!

Excitement is looming but to digress for just a sec to Saturday afternoon.  Nik and I went to HalfMoon Outfitters to pick up my packet because I was borderline losing my mind from having to rest, then decided to eat at Mellow Mushroom (yummo) and then head home.

As we are eating lunch I get a text from Lori that read, "picked up my packet, going to church tonight in case I die tomorrow, I'm good." May have been the best text I ever received.  My friend Lori is a devout Catholic, sometimes I call her to ask her to cut church on Sunday to run with me.  She does but usually will attend on Saturday instead of cutting church all together.  My two best friends are polar opposites and let me tell you there is never a dull moment. Here's Melinda, we are in Puerto Rico of course already drinking and she looks down the beach and sees something that looks like a baptism going on.  What does my friend do? In a bikini, beer in hand, has to go see what's going on. Those two girls mean the world to me. 

We are definitely a motley crew. So we are off at the start after having to walk 2 miles to the start, I mean seriously that is a long walk, (go ahead and laugh) and then once we get there, yeah only a two stall bathroom for all us women who are well hydrated meaning we all have to pee.  Well we started off by peeing in the woods before the race started because they were calling us all to line up for the official start and National Anthem. Follow red flags through the trail in the forest and we are off!!!

It was all our first trail race, I had signed up a while ago, then Melinda signed and then Lori and what an adventure we were about to have.  First thing I notice at the start of the race, trail races are small scale, I would assume because of safety issues and traffic on course, and everyone seemed nice. Trails are marked with red flags, like landscaping flags, miles are not marked every mile, thank god, and aid stations are fewer than road races.

The first few miles were just getting a feel for what was going on around me, meaning, narrow trail, rocks, roots, pinestraw, sand, red clay, trying to find footing while making sure I was paying attention to what was overhead, beside me and below me. Trail is much more than mindless running where I can just zone out and go through the motion of running. On trail, focus is key, so being aware of everything even remembering to drink was taxing on me.  (I forgot to mention that at 6 am yesterday the temperature was 80 degrees.)  I am running along and here comes Lori, she had fallen skinned up both knees. Poor thing was bleeding. Kept running, we met a guy who was talking Lori's ears off, I didn't talk much, I don't usually unless I need distraction. The landscape out there was so beautiful, untouched somewhat, downed trees that I must confess I wanted to walk across of dance like "Dirty Dancing" but I had to stay on task.  

Running on through narrow winding trails, getting to watch the sun come up during the beginning, not too much can be better, well damn that root jumped up and grabbed my foot and wham, I am falling not regaining footing, falling...slide, ouch. I regroup, look around, nobody was insight, scraped thigh, knee and elbow. I get up and start again.  Here comes Lori, I said I fell too! We both laughed. So we are running on and come upon these ruts where we have to kind of bounce from one leg to the other to get through this part.   Lori said that she was glad she had been playing Dance Dance Revolution because those dance moves were helping  her out. I said well I'm being a ninja on Ninja Warrior. We both laugh and trudge on. 

Curiosity was killing Lori about where we were and in my experience with trail, usually I don't want to know as on trail, distance is hard to judge. Well we get to a mile marker 3ish is what it said, I swear it was more like 6 but 3ish it is. Moving on, miles passed, water stops passed, people passed, we passed people, water stops without water were passed, direct sunshine was encountered. Dear lord it was hot and Lori and I start having delirious conversations.  I said I feel like I'm on a reality show, she said, the Hunger Games, and we are waiting on the storms and wild animals, because at the moment we are in baking sun. We laugh and keep  going.  I look at her and tell her if she never speaks to me again after this race I completely understand.

Then we are at mile 9, I think. The sweetest children in the world helped us, no I wasn't hallucinating, we were at a waterstop and these kids filled up my camelbak and were so attentive. We met a couple from Ireland there. I told Lori we just met a leprechaun, she said yep, our good luck. 

Dave and Me
Mile 11. Only two more to go and them .1ish.  There was a lot if "ish" out on trail, ish. :) Then there was 12 and 13. The course was wrapped around and looped and curved that when you were on one trail you would see the next, very deceiving as it appeared the end was nearer than it was in actuality. ("Is this real life?")  The cars, the finish and the gazebo were in plain view however the red flags did not lead me to it, they lead me parallel and cross ways beside. I had met up with a guy named Dave out there. I said to him that if I could I would cut straight across this and just go to the finish but I wouldn't be able to live with myself for cheating. 

Then the field we had started in, the finish clock is somewhere ahead of me, I scream, "Where the hell do we go?" And I am told to run straight for the clock, I proceed. I hear Nik, calling my name. I finished.  I finished my first (it will not be my last) Xterra Half-marathon.

Lori, Melinda and I finish within minutes of each other. We all hugged, got our shirts, laughed about experiences on the trail.

The Coldplay song "Fix You" was playing at the end. What a great Sunday, to spend with my best girls, three supportive husbands and children in tow.  Beer in the truck and Hudson's BBQ for lunch and  yes we went to lunch dirty, smelly and still drenched in sweat, and we wore our Xterra shirts to boot.

Lori, Me and Melinda
The greatest friendships are built on the road and even better ones on the trail. Another one down, everyone survived, grit prevailed, again.

By the way...they are both still speaking to me. :)

 Until next time...happy trails to you until we meet again!

"Fix You"

When you try your best but you don't succeed
When you get what you want but not what you need
When you feel so tired but you can't sleep
Stuck in reverse

And the tears come streaming down your face
When you lose something you can't replace
When you love someone but it goes to waste
Could it be worse?

Lights will guide you home
And ignite your bones
And I will try to fix you

And high up above or down below
When you're too in love to let it go
But if you never try you'll never know
Just what you're worth

Lights will guide you home
And ignite your bones
And I will try to fix you

Tears stream down your face
When you lose something you cannot replace
Tears stream down your face
And I will try to fix you

Tears stream down your face
I promise you I will learn from my mistakes
Tears stream down your face
And I will try to fix you

Lights will guide you home
And ignite your bones
And I will try to fix you...

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for sharing. You are so blessed to have friends willing to share your dreams, and explore your inner strength together. I would love to someday have an opportunity to run with your 'gang'.

    Love ya,