Monday, March 21, 2011

Race Report: Brazen Mt. Diablo Trail Half

No, you're eyes are not mistaken, this is a race report from a half marathon.  After last week's Shamrockin' Half PR, I was advised my many people that if my sights are truly set on running a great race in Eugene, it was probably wise for me NOT to do the 50K.  Sure, I've been training like crazy to cross the finish line of my first ultra, but I have my sights on running a huge PR in just six weeks, and doing what I don't normally do, I listened to those around me who know best and decided to sit it out.  It was a hard decision to make, but as soon as I made it, I knew that I had made the right choice.  A huge weight was lifted off of me - I made a decision that I was actually o.k. with.

Thankfully, my heart was even more settled with my decision when the weather report for race day had 100% chance of rain.  The thought of running 31+ miles in the mud and rain did not appeal to me, and now hindsight is glorious, because as you will see, the mountain was not good to us that day my friends.

I had the pleasure of joining my buddy Punky for the Mt. Diablo challenge.  Just a week out from his first 50K, Punky was also signed up for the half.  As we drove to the start together, it was pouring rain.  Both of us second guessed our sanity as we arrived at the starting area to a giant, muddy mess.  Thankfully though, Brazen always puts on a good show and we knew that no matter what the day held, we were in for a real treat.

I'm of the thinking that ignorance is bliss.  This may or may not have come back to bite me in the butt on more than one occasion, and Saturday was one of those days.  I had studied the elevation and maps in detail for the 50K, but as soon as I downgraded to the half, I thought anything else would be a piece of cake!  Yeah, mistake #1 of the day - I should have looked.  I had no idea what was in store for me - actually, if I had, I probably wouldn't have even started!

As we stood at the start line, Punky urged me (once again) to go to the front and attempt for a podium spot.  I wasn't eyeing the competition too much, but I was ready to run.  In all reality though, I just wanted to finish in one piece - I didn't want to trash my legs too much since I still had a long run to do for the weekend.  But, like true "Katie" fashion, when the gun went off I didn't think twice and began running with the front running men.

Right away the trail was a muddy mess, but I soon learned that if I followed where the men in front of me ran, I would at least know where the sure footing was.  We were slip-sliding right away and a muddy mess within a half mile.  And as luck would have it, it began to pour even harder as we ran.

I don't remember too much from the race itself - I was in full on survival mode.  Every step I took felt like I was going to slip and fall on my face.  And so the race went on, I followed the three men in front of me and we soon became a band of brothers as we attempted to survive one of the most difficult trail courses I have ever ran.  The mud was relentless, it stuck like clay to the bottom of your shoes, making it feel like your feet were an extra 5 pounds heavy!  I often found running on the side of the trail in the grass was the best place for footing, but I soon found out around mile 6 as we were on the back of the mountain that it was not necessarily the best place to be.  A giant gust came up at one point and slammed me into the side of the mountain!  I couldn't believe I was running in such conditions!  Who does this? FOR FUN?  I had many low moments out there, times I just wanted to sit down and cry, but I kept pushing forward.  Of the three guys I was running with,Tim, knew the course like the back of his hand.  He kept us up to date on what to expect next.  These guys were like mountain goats going up the hills, I did all I could to stay with them. 

At around mile 8 and the final aid station, the guys all stopped for some liquids but I decided to keep going.  Not to beat them necessarily, but because I was afraid if I stopped, I wouldn't start again.  Mistake #2 of the day - I should have stayed with them.  As I ran by myself, it was hailing - sideways.  At one turn in the course I saw a guy up ahead climbing up yet another mountain, so I followed him.  Mistake #3 of the day - not every runner goes the right way.  Turns out I had missed a turn, but thankfully Tim saw me in the distance and stopped to yell at me!  I ran a 1/2 mile out of my way!  My only saving grace was that it meant I got to start the decent and FINALLY start going downhill.

The final 3 miles were all downhill and I wanted nothing more than to be done.  I knew I was doing pretty good on time as I caught up with the guys again and even passed one - my final three miles were all sub 7!  I flew down the hills, ran straight through all the rivers and finally crossed the finish line in 2:12:46 - FIRST PLACE FEMALE!  I couldn't believe it!  The entire time I was running, I had no thought of coming in first or even placing.  I was so focused on just surviving I hadn't even stopped to notice that there were no other chic's around me.  Crossing the finish line first, made it that much more sweeter to be done!
Garmin stats: 13.70 miles (1/2 mile out of my way + long course)
2:12:47 - 9:41/mi pace
Official stats: 13.1 miles
2:12:46 - 10:08/mi pace
1st Female overall, 1st AG
5th overall/94

When I crossed the finish line just a few seconds behind the guys, Tim gave me a big hug!  I was so grateful to him!  I owed him big and the rest of the guys.  We tackled that mountain together and without them I don't think I would have done as well.  It was a hard, challenging day, filled with some low points and some highs. 

I also got to hang out with my buddy Ann who had ran the 10K.  She did awesome too, and together we waited for Punky to cross the finish line (mistake #3 1/2 for the day - always take the keys if you plan on finishing first - just sayin')

Finally crossing the finish line!
My buddy Ann & me - thanks for waiting Ann!

Thanking Tim for saving me!!

My running buddies and me for the day ;)

I'm so glad I ran this - I learned a lot from the day.  I was more than physically challenged, I was mentally challenged.  There were a few points during the race where I just wanted to sit down and cry in the fetal position.  But again, I ran an awesome course, with some awesome people and got to hang out with some pretty badass trail runners.  Thanks Sam and Brazen for putting on a great day in not so great conditions.

After I got home for the day I decided my legs needed some easy miles, so I jumped on the hamsterwheel and made it an even 22 for the day.  My legs really liked the easy pace and soft surface and I got off feeling a ton better.  Ann warned me though, that my legs might not feel so great the next day - and boy was she right.  I had 20 scheduled for the day on Sunday and with the weather crappy again, I hit the treadmill.  I lasted 14 miserable miles before I called it a session.  I was disappointed that I was feeling like garbage, but decided to leave the run behind me and went and hung with my family for a few hours.  When I got home later that afternoon the treadmill was calling my name again, and I jumped back on.  Thankfully, my legs once again felt good.  I ran another six and called it day.  That was a run I really needed - both for my legs and head.

The streak, as you can see, is still going strong.  I finished off the week with 117 miles, my 4th week in a row of 100+ miles.  My legs are really thriving on the high mileage, and I actually can't see an end in sight any time soon.  I'm still doing double days, an easy run in the morning, followed by an evening run with some speed work.  Today was day 74, I ran 20 miles, my 3rd day in a row of 20+ miles and my legs felt awesome.  I split the runs up, 10 each, and felt like I finally had my legs and spirit back.

I have my sights set high for Eugene in May.  I am working towards a really big PR, but more than anything, I want to hit the start line fresh and as prepared as I can be.  Thank you to all of you for all the kind words from last weekend's half - it was a surprise but I can finally say all these crazy miles and training are finally amounting to something.

Congrats to all of you who raced this weekend, especially my running twin Denise who had a huge PR at her marathon, and to all my buddies who survived the LA Marathon this weekend - that was a wet & crazy race!  And thank you to all of my new followers!  Leave me a comment so I know who you are and can thank you!  It is all of you that keep me coming back ;)

I'm off to catch up with all of you!
Happy Monday (evening) & Happy Running!


Layla said...

You are a badass! Now I can go brag, "My friend ran a race up Mt. Diablo in rain and hail, and she was first female. Oh, and she ran with the lead pack of guys the whole way." So cool!!

XLMIC said...

Congrats! Sounds like a miserably awesome time…I used to love mucky trail runs :) At least it didn't snow! I almost took the kids over to Mt Diablo this weekend to see some snow but then realized it probably wasn't cold enough. I live in the east bay and have been looking for some good local races but don't know where to look…can you point me in a good direction?

Bethany + Ryan said...

congratualtions! Can you just cut to the chase please and run a marathon so we can see your new PR? thanks. the suspense is killing me!!!! :-)

Teamarcia said...

I'm with Bethany!
Girl you are in such a great groove! And look how skinny you are! What up?

Anonymous said...

You have definitely taken it to another level. I don't know if I am worthy of reading your blog anymore! :-)

Congrats on the win!

Indi said...

Congrats Lady!!! Totally kick-ass job! Having run in mud totally with you on how tough it is..but to have be raining and hailing at the same that's whole new badass level!! Congrats on the great race and kicking butt!

Jen Feeny said...

A-M-A-Z-I-N-G!!!!!! That is all. Oh wait: You are my hero. Ok. Done. :)

Marlene said...

You're a machine! BIG congrats on first place female - incredible! Look at all the mud on you!!! OHH what a day!

Can't wait to see what you do at Eugene. The elites better watch out. ;)

gina said...

Amazing! I volunteered at this race and the trail was ridiculously muddy before any runners even set foot on it! Way to go!

PunkRockRunner said...

It’s obvious that your hard work and determination (and ability to recover fast) is paying off and there is no doubt in my mind that you will continue to see impressive results. You’re a gifted runner.

I just hope you’re not afraid of heights because some of those podiums are pretty tall (so I’ve heard).

All the best,


Katie said...

holy crap. only you would run an extra 1/2 mile and still win the race. girl, you are amazing. can't wait to see what eugene brings.

Denise said...

1) how come all i think about is the laundry you must be doing lately?
2) i'm honored, but i'm no where near you anymore and am thinking we weren't separated at birth. :-(
3) how much more can you possibly do? i can't wait to find out!
4) you need to share your goal for the marathon w/ me!! it's killing me.
5) you're amazing.

trailturtle said...

Shoot for the moon in that human rocketship of yours; shoot for the moon.

I was honored to have been able to share a place on the VERY COLD and MUDDY lift-off pad with you on Saturday. Hope to do it again soon.

Stay grounded and focused. I'll be sending you positive energy and be that angel over your shoulder no matter where running may take you.
Tax season is almost over--yay!
Run well, Ann

PS--I have some funny pics of you and all of us that I'll have on my blog post. Sorry I couldn't get them to you before.

Jill said...

Totally on fire, girl! Congrats on a fantastic race!

Spoke to Maureen today and mentioned your name. Hope you're still thinking of working with her, I think someone like her could do wonders for you and help not land you on the injury reserved list down the road.

Big hugs!

Janice {Run Far} said...

I bet that was such a hard decision to make. Glad tou felt content after making it.

The weather for my first Ultra
(50m) on this Sat, is suppose to be rainy and maybe even rain. UGH.

ajh said...

You won the race! That is so incredibly awesome! A huge huge congratulations! It sounds like one tough race too.
You have really been getting caught up on blogs lots of comments lately!

Ewa said...

You are simply amazing, do you know that?
I know mud on Mt Diablo up close and personally. This is not mud any sane person would want to walk, hike or run in.
Congratulations. I am speechless so I won't say anything more.

Page said...

You are the biggest, baddest bad ass I know. CONGRATS! Simply amazing.

Jo Lynn said...

Even though that is one of my favorite, that mountain is no joke! Congratulations. ;)

Anonymous said...

Surprise winning is the BEST! Congrats!

J said...

I cannot believe the amount of mileage you are running! Truly amazing! Congrats on first female!!

Laura said...

Awesome race and pics! You are badass...

Tortuga_Runner said...

Heck yeah! Mt. Diablo is a tough course and in wet conditions. Has anyone told you that your a rock star? Great job on the 100+ miles. We are three months into the year and I would hit 100 until Saturday!

Laura said...

Good thing you did the half - that sounds brutal, and it's probably better that you rested up for Eugene. That said, I don't know that winning qualifies this as "resting up"... CONGRATULATIONS!!!

Anonymous said...

I love that you're kicking so much ass all over the place girl! keep it up! You're going to do absolutely amazing in Eugene!