Well, I’m halfway there….2 races down in the US Skyrunning Ultra Series and 2 to go. I am amazed at how far I’ve come physically, mentally, spiritually... and how much further I am going to get the opportunity to go in just one summer. Besides running, life has taken a few twists and turns as well, as it does. Right now a little summer cold has me slowed down, giving me a moment or two to either get really irritated about it...or instead, eat some chicken soup in front of the space heater at work, and reflect while I wait for the next patient.
I was so afraid in April, getting ready for Cruel Jewel in May..the first of the skyrunning events. No mountains in Oklahoma to train on, no altitude training within reach, 17000ft of climbing in 57miles. I had no concept of this kind of climbing, oh, and 17000ft of descending too. My history of knee/IT issues and some niggling persistently pesky plantar fasciitis... I was afraid I either wouldn’t finish or would limp the last 20 miles and barely cross the line a survivor. I worked very hard, followed my training plan and worked my calves and feet with strength exercises and tortuous massage and core strength work- which I have yet to develop a love for! The race went like a dream. I came into aid station after aid station surprised at how good I felt...and how close I was to #1 and #2 girls. We exchanged places briefly and I got to experience racing...what I love...racing...back and forth, up and down..I was tickled pink to be racing girls number 1 and 2, but it could have been girls #51 and #52...it was the feel of racing, of knowing I was performing at my top level of fitness and smarts. I encountered problems and had to re-adjust, re-size, and re-frame things and go on..and I did. I finished exhausted and thrilled and in 3rd place, I think 7th overall.
Next, Speedgoat 50k. 11000 feet of climbing, 11000 feet of descending...add altitude and treacherous terrain...and amazing beauty! This would be the first “big race” that I would attend solo, no family or close friends with me in a place I had never been. This course is touted as “the toughest 50k in the US”. I had done more than just survive Cruel Jewel, so I had confidence that I could climb and climb and descend and descend without falling apart...I just wasn’t sure what would be in store with the ruggedness and altitude. This race delivered a whopping dose of both, but again, I was able to race smart and move well….and race! Now, I came in way down the list...like #30+ female, but I had just as much satisfaction with that finish as I did with 3rd at Cruel Jewel. This really was a brutal course, and seeing how the day played out for many, I was grateful. This one built confidence not only in my ability to climb and descend thousands upon thousands of feet, but now I knew I could do it at altitude...and race to the end. I managed my effort well enough that I flew those last few downhill miles (I’m sure it looked nothing like flying). I am learning what I love about running and racing
So here I sit, currently in 5th position in the US Skyrunning Ultra Race Series! Kasie Enman in 4th and Ellie Greenwood in 6th. Google those names! It may be short lived, but it sure is a hoot to see my name between those two! Here I sit, 41 year old female from Tahlequah Oklahoma, with 3 children, and a career as a nurse practitioner….in front of a space heater eating chicken soup, waiting on the next patient to be seen for the same damn virus that’s got me down. So weird and unlikely for this same person to be sitting between Kasie Enman and Ellie Greenwood, however short lived!
Looking forward, next up is The Rut, 50k in Montana, World Skyrunning Ultra Championship race. I am sooooo looking forward to what my brain and body are gonna be able to do now that I have a little more experience, smarts, and courage. I now KNOW I can climb and descend. I KNOW I can also do it at altitude...now what? Can I put things together and take it a step further? Can I do it more efficiently? Cant wait to see. So here’s to the weird and unlikely!