|Tasha and Me- I love her so much! This is the ceramic trophy I got for 3rd overall Female|
Bloodied Bruised and yes Smiling!-getting to the starting line
Mental Struggles- Earlier this year the face of evil struck my family. It has been a traumatic experience but we will be ok. For us not to be I would have to believe that the Devil rules the world and I know that is not true. Training has been tough because mentally I’ve struggled. I was unsure if I could keep my mind clear enough to finish an ultra. My spark was missing. I know that running/training/ and performing well at races makes me happy. So I did my best to keep my routine. I struggled to find the joy on the trails that I once did but I want that happiness and pushed my way through many mentally tough runs. I knew I had to keep myself fit because I love racing. Even if I wasn’t feeling it now, I was working towards the day I got my joy back.
“Love the life you live, live the life you love” Bob Marley
I chose Big Bear 12 hour trail run as my next goal race. This race is set in the Appalachian mountains of West Virginia. It is a 6.5 mile looped trail race. The object is to run as many miles on the course you can in the time given. All the miles would be run on the 6.5-mile loop. I like looped courses and was excited to experience these mountain trails. I adore running on different trails through out the county. They all have their own personality.
The RACE: Big Bear 12 hour trail run: Bloodied, Bruised and yes Smiling!!!!
The race had a record number of entrants and the RD had closed registration before I signed up. I called Heather, the RD, and she kindly allowed me in. I was paying at packet pick up. My husband Royal Hartwig, my daughter Tasha (age 12) and I drove to the race and arrived at 9:20pm. Packet pick up was supposed to close at 9pm. It was a long drive for us, we tried our hardest to get there in time. I was happy to see that a very pregnant Heather, was still there. I got my race number and she explained to us where the race start was. There were tents as far as I could see. I asked if all these campers were for the race and she said yes...Wow! That was a lot of people. Most of the runners were already tucked in resting up for the race. I wish we could have got there earlier, I bet it had been a fun night.
We were surprised to see a spot open right by the race start. It seemed too good to be true…. a close walk to the race start. Plus easy access for my husband and daughter while they were crewing for me all day. We set up our tent in the dark and had a good night sleep. We found out the next day why this premium spot was open…it was where the rattlesnakes hang out. Yikes!!! I was quickly finding out I’m not a mountain women.
I walked to the race start with my family. My husband is telling me “take it easy, 12 hours is a long run, be sure to drink”, you know…all the normal stuff. My daughter is hopping along happy. She loves races! I’m the luckiest mom in the world because she thinks I’m awesome. She can’t understand why I’m nervous because she is sure I’m going to do great…I gotta love that. My main concern was staying mentally focused. I had my music ready and lined up towards the back of the pack. The race started and we all took off across an open area then filed in to the single track. This went smoothly. Everyone broke up and we were running right away.
I was nearing the end of the 1st loop and I got behind a guy that was running at a perfect pace for me. I stuck behind him and we started passing people. The course gets very rocky here. We had just passed a guy and I thought I better check my HR and make sure I’m not running to fast, I took a quick peak…Boom…down I went hard…total belly flop on the only dirt patch I’d seen for awhile. I guess I found out I was running to fast to check my HR (ha ha…cracking myself up). The guy I had just passed (Tony Mollica) stopped to see if I was okay. I said I was and he could go on. I immediately got up and assured him I wasn’t seeing stars. Tony was very kind. I needed to start running again. My thigh had hit a rock and it was throbbing. I reminded myself to be careful. This trail was much different than what I normally run on. “Okay Michele…pick your feet up while you run!”
|This is the Hot wheel loop|
I finished my 2nd loop feeling warmed up. Adrenaline was flowing and I wanted to speed up but I was carefully pacing myself. Save some energy for hour 11. I filled my bottle with ice water and ate a honey stinger pink lemonade chew and it gave me a great boost. I was happily trotting through the forest listening to my music. I even sang out loud a little having a great time. I spotted the guy I had been following earlier a short way down the trail. I got a little excited to catch up with him when…boom…down I went again. My toe caught the rugged trail and on my way down my knee connected with rock. Instant-total-pain! I lay on the ground moaning in pain. A few people passed me asking if I needed help and I told them all I was fine. My knee was locked and the knee cap had immediately swollen to look like I had a tennis ball under my skin. I poured some of the ice water on it and took an advil. I thought my day was over and that I may have to crawl back to the starting line. After laying on the ground for about 10 minutes I decided it was time to get up. I got up and was surprised I could walk on it. I decided to keep moving forward on the course. I could at least walk an ultra today. I walked a few steps and decided to try and run. That was it, I was running again. I worked at running the course just like I had the first 2 loops. Walk the big hills, push the down hills, and pick my feet up through the rocky area. The good thing about the fall was now my thigh wasn’t hurting…only my knee was throbbing.
|Timing table- I'm dirty|
|Tasha pacing- tough trail chick|
|Having fun on final lap!|