ecs-champsTNF50 Recap. If you care. I’m not offended if you don’t.
After a fast first 15 miles—way too many 6:15 miles—I was in 4th, feeling so stoked to run with my idols. Then complete deterioration began. Two women passed me, then another two, then again, two more, all before mile 25. I was 10th around mile 30 and wondering if racing was a good idea.
Am I still not recovered from Leadville?
What about this fall of haphazard training? Has that done me any good?
What about the Moab Marathon? At least I don’t feel *that *bad.
How anemic am I now? Maybe my hemoglobin is like 20 and this is all a big waste of time.
Am I eating enough?
With that thought, I pounded all of my gels and Scratch chews, drank more Coke and kept on going.
My crew, two Boulder, Rocky Mountain Runner, badasses Ryan Smith (who got 5th here last year) and Silke Koester, told me to keep going, to keep pushing. I listened to them. I also saw best friends from Princeton who biked across the Golden Gate Bridge to watch me race.
Shit! They’re so awesome. And I’m sucking!
I ran into the woods, feeling down. But, somehow, the Muir Woods engulfed my negative energy. I walked for a few steps along flat ground amongst the redwoods, in awe. I remembered why I love ultra and trail running: we get to be in the most gorgeous environments in the world.
The fat, wet, reddish-brown trees cheered me on. Those stable-as-fuck pillars of perseverance! They also laughed at the ridiculousness of the whole event. For a redwood, I can imagine that the thought of racing 50 miles is a silly yawn. Their lives are ultras. First, to evade the bottlenecks of youth as a weak sapling, then to evade the fungi, and then the chainsaws. They know how to push onwards. I laughed back. My day was nothing compared to their centuries.
Climbing more, I started to hurt in the way that is grossly painful, but also sickeningly scintillating—it’s that feeling that brings us ultra runners back for more. We crave that hurt, when you’re in a tight race with a lot on the line, the hurt is that much more delicious.
As I started picking things up, I picked gals off. Hauling my last three miles around 6:30 pace, I moved into 5th with less than a mile to go. I finished in a sprint, wanting more. I would’ve bet on myself to move up more had there been 5 more miles. Obviously, that means nothing. The race was 50 miles. But knowing that I can rebound with gusto after 35 miles of racing…well, it bodes well for 100ks and 100-milers.
I’m grateful to be healthy, racing and to have the support of The North Face and to be on a team of complete shredders who inspire me to strive farther than I can see.
In the meantime, it’s time to skimoooooooooo.

Photo: (top) Ryan Smith @ruggin; (bottom) Davey Wilson @daveywilson

TNF50 recap. Way to bounce back from a bonk: redwood humbling