It's funny how if you're listening, life always teaches you things. I've been so disappointed about PF Chang's Rock N Roll Marathon, and stressed about my upcoming IMSG that I've become very narrow minded. I have a schedule and I like to stick to it. But sometimes it's better to just throw the schedule out the window and follow your instincts.
I was supposed to run the Aravaipa Running Trail Series this year. I had so much fun doing it last year that I couldn't hardly bear to not run. However, life got in the way. I had to shorten my run at Coldwater Rumble and then I made the decision to not run in last weekend's San Tan Scramble. I was heartbroken. San Tan is MY trail. I've spent countless hours on it over the last year and I know it like the back of my hand. But I knew in my heart that I wasn't going to be able to tackle the downhills like I wanted to with my knee. So I gave it up and focused on this week's Pemberton Trail 50k. (Sacrifice number 1.)
My husband and I decided a few weeks ago that we'd be better off running the 50k as a relay since neither of us were prepared appropriately for the full distance. (Sacrifice number 2.) He opted to go first and I took the second loop. He set us up with an amazing 1:44 split, coming in 3rd overall after the first loop. He slapped my hand and I took off. I figured that by mile 5 I'd be getting picked off by faster runners from behind me. I hadn't run trails in 5 weeks and I hadn't tested my knee on the downhills to see if it would hold up. I was pleasantly surprised.
I held a strong pace in the first 5 miles which is mostly flat and uphill. Only one guy passed me during this stretch. I never looked back (this is an obvious sign of weakness in my mind) but I did try to listen for footsteps. But I never heard any. Cruising into the rollers between mile 5-9 I ran with a huge grin on my face because my leg felt fantastic!! I couldn't have been happier about how things were going. I was pushing the pace and feeling it in every tired muscle in my legs.
I swallowed my only gel at about mile 8, wishing I had brought more. Right around mile 9, a very fast girl passed me looking super strong. (She went on to win and smash the women's course record.) I cruised through the second aid station and my friend LM who was volunteering filled my bottle. I grabbed a sugar-coated gummy orange slice and took off, still waiting for more runners to come by. They never did.
With 2 1/2 miles to go, I had nothing left. My energy was tanking and my legs were screaming. I broke down the course into manageable segments. Get to the stop sign at the road crossing. Get to the 0.9 mile to go sign. Get to the 0.1 mile to go sign. Get to the finish!
I cruised into the finish with a split of 2:08... my fastest time on Pemberton by 7 minutes. (Reward number one and goal number one accomplished: personal PR.) And our relay time was 3:54, give or take a few seconds, official results are not posted yet. (Goal number two accomplished: finish sub 4 hours.) However we were bested for the fastest relay by another husband/wife team who smashed the previous record and came in first overall.
It was a great feeling to be able to accomplish the goals that we set out, and though I would have loved to run the entire 50k, I am hoping that I will be rewarded for that sacrifice with my next goal. It was a huge boost to my confidence and I'm now just the teensiest bit excited about next weekend. I had doubts about whether or not I could do it. Now I know I can.