Sunday, June 21, 2015

Garden of the Gods: Crash and Burn

This past Sunday was the first race of the Triple Crown, the series I signed up for (perhaps a bit naively) this spring when I decided I needed a new challenege.

Coming into the Garden of the Gods Ten Miler I had begun to deveop shin splints and had lost a lot of the confidence I had gained from Colfax. On top of it my mind was anywhere but the race at the start, more focused on goodbyes, airports and a lack of sleep that entie week before the race. This was clear as I left my water bottle in the car, forgot to coordinate with friends who were also running (didn't remember until I no longer had a phone with me) and was just generally scattered with no plan for the race. The no plan realization set in as I joined the crush of people at the start and I had a sinking feeling that I was already doomed.

As the start gun went off I trailed behind a new friend Jocelyn for the first mile or so, weaving through the crowds. As we started the first hill up to balanced rock I glimpsed Riannon ahead in the crowd and pushed through to catch her by the top. Those first two miles were realistically the only good numbers at the end of the day.

Yep. Bad Numbers.
Riannon and I started downhill and I began to feel the creeping pain in my left calf. With eight miles to go, I knew it was too early. As my the pain started to magnify I unconciously began to compensate for it, a huge mistake that would cost me later. As we hit the bottom of the next climb and mile three I flew backwards from Riannon. I don't think I passed a single person for the next six miles. 

I hit mile five and Jocelyn caught and passed me as well as a new friend Chris, who I had run with earlier in the week. By this point my back and shoulders had clenched (lesson: never compensate for pain by losing form) and everything was hurting. I would walk at least part of the next five hills from mile five to the finish.

By now I had fallen into no man's land. There weren't a lot of people around and I kept looking back for the end motorcycle, I thought I was that far back. My mind had checked out and that was that.

The only bright spot left  in the race came at mile nine. As I crested the hill at balanced rock I found a little energy and picked up the pace for the last mile descent, passing most everyone in sight. The faster pace took a toll though and as I rounded the final bend I was fighting back tears and the urge to walk. I can say with absolute confidence that the only thing that got me across the finish line was Jill, Gloria and Riannon cheering and running with me, and Gloria catching me in a big hug at the end!

I have a hard time remembering a more physically and mentally painful race, even from my history in cycling and even counting the crashes I experienced in cycling. Both outside factors and the race itself led to not a great day, but that being said I can't remember being more proud of a finish either.

Having the ladies from CRC there at the end made all the difference. It wasn't long before I was sitting in the grass with a smile on my face, too happy to think about the pain in my legs as I listened to everyone else's race stories. I have some recovering to do, but I am looking forward to regrouping and getting back to training. 

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