puzzle pieces

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

My 29km of Trail~

~on top of the world~


The race began at 8:30am...which was actually a late start compared to what I'm used to.
(It was nice to sleep in a bit.)
Race briefing was short, to the point, and only one mention of bear sightings around a carcass that was near the top of the trail.

(my fear of flying equals that of my fear of bears)

The trail started off gently rolling....across a Texas Gate or 2, 
through trees, and over bridges with babbling creeks.

I decided not to look at my watch and pace for as long as I could handle it.
I ran~ 3km,
 without so much as a glance down, 
enjoying the fact that I was surrounded by those mountains and pine air.
My breathing space.

When I DID look down and saw only the 3km on my watch- it hit me.
I had gone only 10% of the run.
I still had 90% to go.

Then a double hit...I had never run more than 21km in my entire life- 
let alone a mountain run for 29.

From there on it was a mind battle.
Not to mention the trail began to incline.

But with that incline came beauty....and it took away the thoughts of knees not wanting to lift.
By the 9km aid station....I was in good spirits and so happy to be a part of the race.
(And happy the aid station had water and oranges:)

The trail would plateau in places and open up in to views like this....

And this.....

But for some reason.,.at about 11-12km?
It rushed over  me- the magnitude of a mountain run.
(Maybe it was the thin air...)

The trail turned form rocks and roots-
to shale.
Non-stop shale with an incline unfathomable to a flat-road runner like me.

Who's average run is about 10km.

And then I looked up.

It seemed as though the run had just begun. 
And unfortunately my body thought I was almost finished.

At one point my legs cramped- from my ankles to the top of my quads.
I just stood there...unable to comprehend what was happening.
A friendly runner passing by....heading DOWN the mountain asked me kindly if I was okay.
When I mentioned off-handedly my legs were cramping and stuck in one position...she asked me when my last gel intake was.

I had forgotten the intake rule of "calories in" on a calorie burning run.
Within  a few minutes of downing a gel- my legs were in motion.
Again...plodding up the never-ending shale trail.

In the photo below:
Those tiny dots on the top of the rocks?
People in my race way ahead of me.
And some of them were actually running DOWN!
I was still going up.

Talk about mind battle.

Maybe that's why the scenes like this below were positioned to the side of me.
(Kind of like distracting a crying baby with a squeaky toy.)

Although in this case....
it was calming a whining 30-something year-old with: 
"eye-level with the clouds" 

Have you noticed I had my camera out during parts of this run?
I only dropped it ~twice.

It was during the last 2 km up to the summit when I decided that looking like my camera and I were here for just a scenery-capture was a good idea.
It gave me a chance to catch my breath.
Someone even called me a tourist.
So much for acting like a runner.

(Bet they can't even remember what the scenery looked like...
so busy were they trying to race against their clock.;)

I finally managed to reach 14.44km and turn myself around. 
Time was about 2 and 1/2 hours at this point.
Never had I run for that long in my entire life.

The run down took 1 and 1/2 hours....
which included consuming more calories at 2 aid stations,
feeling like I was in a dream, 
and at one point wondering where everyone had disappeared to....
(noticing that I wasn't even scared of coming round a corner to find a bear).

Oh...and I also asked a group of mountain bikers if I could borrow one of their bikes.
No one went for the idea.

I just wanted to be able to get down.
Without crawling.

There were times I wanted to sit.
Just sit.

And I also found it almost humorous that when I looked down and saw 19.9Km on my watch....
all I could say was..."Only 10km left!"
10km is my LONG run on a good day~ on flat ground.

It's amazing what you can do when you have to.
And I did.
My feet carried me up and down and off the trail.

Last year I did 16km of this course.
This year...I (literally) tackled the 29km route.

The next distance?
I'm thinking about it.
Maybe after I can walk up the stairs at home here without crawling, 
I'll sign myself up for the 42km Mountain Marathon leg of this race.



TexWisGirl said...

you are a crazy mother... literally! :)

you are an amazing woman, dear dawn. before you try that insane race you're considering, you're gonna have to get some new shoes! lordy! burning them up!

TexWisGirl said...

and your photos took my breath away - and i wasn't even running! jeepers!

Farm Girl said...

Wow, wow, wow, I am so impressed, you did it!!!! You took pictures. They are beautiful pictures. Oh my gosh what an incredible story. I just couldn't stop reading and this post will spur me on when I am doing something I won't think I can because you were able to push yourself to conquer that.
Way to go!!!
Good job and so glad you wrote about it.

GardenOfDaisies said...

WOW!! You should be so proud of your accomplishment! You are amazing! Thanks for taking your camera along and snapping these shots.

Hilary said...

Excellent! You are one motivated woman. Great job.. and those photos.. just gorgeous.

Nancy C said...

Good for you to take photos of your journey. Who cares what others think? Rude.

Take care of yourself -- don't push too hard too fast, dear. :)

darlin said...

Wow! Now if you can do this I KNOW I can get through one final year of studies! :-)

The scenery is stunning, what an amazing place to have the marathon at and thanks for stopping long enough to take the shots to share with us.

You have drive and determination that equals none, you inspire the hell right out of me! (No other way to put it girl!).

Leah J. Utas said...

Good for you. You must have a tremendous sense of accomplishment. Where was this?

Rambling said...

I think I missed where this is ... looks like Colorado? Oh, and your shoes are looking a little tired ... but what a trip! Well done!

Jo said...

My Lord, Dawn! What an incredibly strong woman you are. From the look of those photos, the scenery was worth the fight. Those are some of the most amazing pics I have ever seen you post, and you consistently post AmAzInG pics! Way to go, girl.

Ransick said...

The photos are absolutely breath taking Dawn. That is a huge accomplishment and a crazy distance with extreme altitude, congrats!

PS. My homegrown half is flat with no bears :-).

Buttons Thoughts said...

Way to go Dawn. Great run I could feel my legs getting tired just by reading your words.
You are doing incredible. Awesome pics.
Nice shoes. B

mountain mama said...

You are my hero!!! I just might start running if I had those views to see!!!! Wow! So proud of you. I'm not a huge fan of Bears either :)

Carole Barkett said...

Congratulations, I can only imagine the struggle and the pain. Glad you took the time for photos, amazing scenery

Alan said...

Jeez, I'm exhausted just reading about it. Those riders.... not real mountain bikers, no way, no how. We're a caring, sharing breed of people, honestly:-)

Maximum respect, Dawn, especially with your revelation that you're in your 30's. I always assumed you were about 26...:-)

Blueberry Heart said...

wow - unbelievable achievement!! Well done! Amazing photographs you managed to capture too, just gorgeous scenery!

BH x

Liesl said...

Go Dawn!! Amazing running that far and up a mountain...! Well done to you and lovely pictures.

Joe said...

Way to go Dawn!!! My knees started hurting just reading your post :).

Out on the prairie said...

That would be a tough trail walking. Congrats Dawn!

Lisa @ Two Bears Farm said...

Congratulations! It looks like a really beautiful (but challenging) course!

Hope said...

this reminds me of my daughters marathon coming up Prague in the spring. The trainer told her to take the 3 hrs. to run it for you can't go to Prague without taking pics.

you are on top of the world. wonderful photo's, Dawn. and thanks for bringing us along with you!

enjoyed your post very much! thank you!

Samantha said...

29 km...18 miles..holy cow.
Amazing challenge, Dawn, and you did it!

Judy said...

Your run, along with your photos took my breath away...Congrats on the run!!!!

Kim@stuffcould.... said...

The view is breathtaking! Wow that was unstable ground you were running on....your shoes say how hard it was:)

Clint said...

Dawn rules! That is an amazing story. Your determination and training are incredible. And to think you were also able to get such great shots. Wow.

Anonymous said...

So well described - it brought back such memories... It felt as if I was running the race they were so vivid. How are the toenails after the long descent though?

黄清华 Wong Ching Wah said...

With all those rocks, and you are running with your camera ... almost 30km, that's endurance and patience !

carmilevy said...

You. Are. Awesome.

You have totally inspired me to push my own running limits and start upping my mileage. What an epic run. What an epic way to capture it.

Maybe? I'll say certainly. And I hope you have your camera with you next time, too.

Peter said...

Amazing story ... and you also took pictures! The view from the top is inspiring and the view from below is daunting. You get the blogger medal of the month.

trump said...

A very beautiful area whether its for a race or building a home. Id love to see how its looks in winter because I'm a sucker for mountains. Richard

Anonymous said...

Wow - you've got a lot of stamina!

These shots are just gorgeous!

Ben said...

The view from top of the mountain is beautiful and stunning! Very well run and shots :)

Pat Tillett said...

Wow! You are amazing! Talk about a stubborn will!
Also, thanks so much for taking the photos, what a beautiful place!

Full-On-Forward said...

UNREAL---and thanks for taking us along!!!


Did you happen to see Bear Grylls??? That is remote!


Zuly said...

Well done to you.
Lovely pictures.
Zuly Castillo U. - COSTA RICA

Anonymous said...

No chance! I wonder will i have the strength and courage to do a least what u did here. Amazing Dawn!

I enjoyed these awesome shots... bearing away the camera, even without fear about bears. hehe... U did a great job friend. Congrats and hugs

Rick said...

Of course I just had to look at this post to check out all the mountain scenery - not sure if it was the scenery that was breath-taking or following you through your race - maybe both. Congrats !

Calories Burned Running said...

AMAZING! 29 km! strong dedication.