Too many dang rocks!

We went out to AZ for Sharon's wedding (one of my long-time athletes). It was over St. Patrick's day so I thought it would be fun to find a race.

Sharon pointed me to a great road race, but Nate and Craig convinced me that I could find roads anywhere - and that instead, we should do this mountain trail race.

6th place finish
I was actually a little excited about it. I have been playing with the idea of trying to become a trail runner this year (mostly because I think I could be competitive at the ultra marathon distance, not because I particularly love trails...) so thought this could be a good introductory race.

All smiles before hand. Hard to beat the scenery!
Go TNC!
I knew there was 1000+ feet of climbing; the race was up the side of a mountain and back down. The first ~2 miles were relatively flat, and I knew I should take advantage of them. I did! As I zoomed along the trail I thought: Oh boy! This isn't too bad! Then we approached the "actual" trail and my pace dropped. And dropped. So did my spirits.

Nate passed me. So did another woman. The miles seemed to take forever, in part because, well, they were. I took to walking often, especially when I feared for my footing... which basically was every. single. step.

I was still in 3rd place for women, which brightened my mood somewhat. Not bad, I told myself. This is a competitive trail race, I haven't been training on trails, and I am just 5 months post partum. 3rd place would be pretty cool.

But then we started the descent. I watched, helpless, as three other woman ZOOMED past me! OH. MY. GOODNESS. After one woman flew by me I decided to do everything I could to stick with her. I tried to push off my forefoot, and low and behold, my foot slipped and kicked back a medium sized rock, granting me with no extra push-off or speed.

I silently screamed: ARGH! TOO MANY ROCKS! THIS ISN'T EVEN REMOTELY FUN.

I just want to run!

I even started to hate my body while I was out there. What the heck? Who invited ED to this trail race?

So happy to see this.

I think we ran up and around the big ol' rock on the right.
Needless to say, I didn't have the greatest of times. The good things that came out of it?

1. I reaffirmed that I am not a trail runner, especially in rocky/root covered trail conditions. Not only am I not very fast at it, but I just plain don't like it as much as I like road running. I realized that I enjoy being able to shut off my brain when running. I enjoy being able to feel like I'm flying. I enjoy looking around (looking for coins! looking for free piles!). I can't do any of that on the trail.

[Yes, I realize that most people would enjoy looking out on a run on the trail way more than on a road run... but I'm not confident enough in my footing or trail running ability to look much past 24 inches from where my feet are landing.]

2. I was able to white out the Afton 50k on July 1st that was originally written in my planner. Nope, no more trail races for me this year! At least I realized it sooner rather than later to save me the hassle of seeking out trails for a lot of my workouts/long runs? :)

3. I realized that ultra racing on the roads might be right in my wheelhouse! Hence this addition to my goals list for the next ~12 months!

4. I significantly boosted Nate's confidence in his fitness. He beat me by something like 15 minutes. Maybe more. I haven't looked it up as that's sort of depressing given all the time I spend running and all the time he doesn't spend running :).

[Sorry, Nate! Had to say it :)]

Everyone was required to carry water with for the race. They moved the start time up to 7am, which was THE BEST decision, especially for us northerners. The high was in the mid-90s later that day. 
5. The wedding was awesome. So happy for Sharon!

All dressed up for the wedding, exploring the sights in between the ceremony and reception.

Brooks Launch! How cool is she?!?
6. Craig proved once again that he is a BEAST. He finished 4th for men!


7. It was great to get away on vacation! I thoroughly enjoyed hanging out in shorts and flip flops!

Hole in the Rock.

That's what it is called. I'm guessing because there is a hole in the rock.
Found this while wandering around Old Town in Scottsdale. I don't think I've ever seen a statue of someone stretching before...
Here is to many more non-rocky training runs and races in the upcoming months!

Your turn:

Lift me up a bit! Tell me about a race that didn't go as planned for you - or that wasn't as fun as you had expected!


Nichole Porath

Nichole is a blogger, elite level runner, and coach. She ran professionally for Brooks for two years after qualifying for the 2012 US Olympic Marathon Trials. During that time she founded TNC endurance, where she coaches and motivationally speaks to organizations large and small. This blog details her rise to national-level racing, and continues to follow her as she gets back into racing after starting a family. Read on, friends!

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