DNF- Did Not Fail
Did Not Fail. Ultra-running can be a unique, tricky sport. Success at an ultra isn’t always about the place you come in, your finish time or even finishing at all. It’s about your mental and physical performance and whether you gave it your all or not. It’s about making the most of your experience, soaking in all the beauty the trail has to offer. It’s about putting yourself out there and taking risks.
I am most comfortable and confident running flat, rolling hill type ultras. I’ve had some really great successes with these types of courses. But moving to Colorado has brought completely different terrain into my life. Training here has ignited the fire in me to challenge myself, to move out of my comfort zone.
Two years ago, I never would have considered pursuing entry into any of the UTMB races. I’m slow at long, steep climbs and equally slow and more terrified of steep, technical descents not to mention my lack of enjoyment on this type of terrain. It took many, many tough runs but eventually I started to feel more comfortable and actually enjoy the mountain trails right out my doorstep. So when the stars aligned and I ended up with 9 UTMB points, I put my name in for CCC 100K.
From the get go, I never took training for CCC lightly. I knew it was going to be one of the hardest races I’ve ever done, if not the hardest. I never pushed myself so hard in training for a race. I did the Boulder skyline traverse 4 times, which is running up/down all 5 peaks in Boulder, and the very tough Silver Rush 50 miler. Even before stepping foot on the CCC course, I knew I had improved a lot over the months of this training. My first couple Boulder skyline traverses were very hard and I struggled to get through. My last one, a two weeks before the race, felt great. I felt that I could have kept going longer. My concern however was that while I felt so much better on these types of runs, I knew I was still on the slow side especially on the climbs. That said, you don’t know what will happen until you try.
Unfortunately for me, a great training cycle wasn’t enough to get me a CCC finish. I ended up missing a cutoff late in the race at 52 miles. That said, CCC is one of the races I’m most proud of. I was not afraid to put myself out there and challenge myself on terrain that is not my comfort zone. I knew after the first major climb, which was something like the first 6 miles, that time was going to be a major issue for me. These climbs were way longer than anything I ever did in training and I would need to make up a lot of time on the terrain in between the climbs to make the cutoffs. I didn’t panic, though. I kept my composure and resolved to push as best I could, all while enjoying the incredible scenery. Even when I only made the cutoff around mile 45 by 10 minutes and was absolutely certain I would not make that next cutoff due to the 6K steep climb that started that section, I went back out anyway. I knew I could do the distance, I was very capable of finishing, I just wasn’t able to do it within their time constraints so I resolved to just keep going until I was told I had to stop.
23 hours in the Alps is no small feat in my eyes. I know for a fact that if I had attempted this race before this year, I probably wouldn’t have even made the first cutoff about 15 miles in. I’m not even sure how I made a couple of the later cutoffs so to make 52 miles was a huge win in my book. Other than actually crossing the physical finish line, I feel that my experience was very complete. I met and shared miles with fellow ultra-runners literally from around the world.
I was in complete awe the number of different countries people came from. On my own two feet I ran from Italy to Switzerland to France with spectacular Alps views the entire way. I was able to experience the incredible UTMB atmosphere for several days in Chamonix, watching as so many athletes completed amazing feats. As a family we had a wonderful vacation together exploring new places, learning new things. The thing I’m most proud of is what my son said to me when I returned to our apartment after being cutoff.
My husband and two kids had rode a bus for 2.5 hours each way the night before to see me for literally 5 minutes in Switzerland. He told me how he saw many buses filled with runners who had decided to drop from the race. He then said “Mommy, I am so proud of you for continuing to run even though you had to keep working so, so hard to barely make the times. You never quit and I know that’s the most important thing.” And that right there was my icing on the cake, my reward, making my CCC experience complete.