Monday, April 6, 2009
Photos are top 5 women at AR50 finish. Results here.
I ran American River two years ago with the hope of placing in the top 3 and gaining an automatic entry to Western States. I had a good race but placed sixth so I entered the lottery again the next year. Didn't make lottery in 2008 so I figured I was now a two time loser which meant as long as I continued this crazy ultra-running I would be an automatic entrant for 2009. Then the fires of 2008 canceled WS and people on the two time loser list were shuffled through yet another lottery. Several months ago I was told I would be guaranteed entry for 2011. This is when I decided I would try for top three again at American River. I didn't tell many people that this was my goal because I knew it was far fetched but I also knew it was worth a try. I recognized at least 7 women on the entrant list who in my mind were definitely capable of top three. I figured I needed to run at least a 7:30 to even come close.
Annette Bednosky and I decided to share travel expenses and just have a fun weekend together. She flew from North Carolina and we met in Sacramento Friday afternoon. We picked up our race numbers (I was so excited to see I was #23), ran some errands, went to the hotel, went for a short jog, and then went to dinner. I had a half veggie sandwich and a cup of black bean soup (BIG MISTAKE).
Saturday we were up at 4AM and ready to hit the trail for 50 miles of fun! Annette's husband's uncle and cousin and cousin's friend came to the start and collected our gear. They had volunteered to crew for us which was just the biggest treat ever! Annette, Kami and I started the race together and ran probably the first 10-11 miles just chatting away. It was great to visit with them and even though I felt the pace was a bit fast the miles just flew by. About 12 miles in is when the black bean soup caught up with me. I said goodbye to Annette and Kami and made my first (of five) pit stops of the day. I was able to get going again at a decent pace and crossed the marathon distance in 3:20. Other than my stomach feeling upset I felt strong and within the right pace. I don't remember exactly when but I was passed by Jen Pfeifer and then around mile 30 Jenny Capel was running right with me. We visited for a while and then she took off up the hill. I was disappointed with myself for losing that 3rd place spot. The pounding of the pavement had started to annoy me, my stomach was misbehaving, and I was feeling frustrated. Once I started running on the dirt trail my mindset improved. I was reminded why I enjoy trail running so much and I convinced myself to get out of my funk. The last half of the race is on single track, gently rolling, fun trails. The aid stations were plentiful with crew extraordinaire always there cheering. I tried to keep GU and electrolytes in but was still making more stops than I wanted to for my stomach. I knew if I could just keep my present pace I would be able to finish in the time I wanted. I just enjoyed the trail along the river, pushing my pace as best as I could and then climbed the last 1000 feet to the finish. Even though top three was not in the cards for me I was thrilled with my time of 7:26 (5th girl). Two years older and 16 minutes faster than last time! As Annette said at dinner that night...."You really are meant to run TRT this year." I think she's right.
Thank you Julie for putting on a great race. Thank you to Annette's family for being out there all day with us. Thank you Annette for being you! It was a beautiful weekend.