It all Came Down to Texas
We are still waiting for the final points to come out for the year to determine who will be on top for 2012. Until then photos are being posted from a weekend of racing allover the internet and people are musing about their weekend and battle wounds. For me Texas was the culmination of the last twelve months. As I stood at the starting line on Sunday memories of a year gone by almost overwhelmed to me tears.
As I arrived in Texas on Thursday afternoon, I felt a strange comforting sensation as I had already raced here before and was staying at the same hotel as last year. I knew where to get food and how to get to the race. Friday I spent most of the day relaxing and catching up on life with a few friends. Then Saturday morning happened…
As we all arrived at the race venue on Saturday it was a whose who of obstacle course racing with only a few absent. The starting line was the most intense it has been all year, people exchanged niceties but you could cut the tension with a knife. For this race and this weekend was the last opportunity for those in the points hunt this year to get their final results in. As Mike Morris, the race director, went over the rules everyone was listening and knew they would be judging it tightly that day. Next thing you know we are off and I was in a sea of people.
I settled into my normal pace, knowing this would be a long race. The conversations were low kept to a minimum or really none at all. As we approached the first set of hills, really one hill we would end up climbing in circles, I started to pick off my competition. My major personal achievement of the day was I ran every hill and never walked the first day.
We navigated through some tough barbed wire crawls, bucket carry, and sandbag carry. At the second barbed wire crawl is where I made my big mistake of the day. Only looking ahead and not at the markers I made a wrong turn with several other competitors, it was over a quarter mile before I realized my foley and turned back around. I called it my bonus of the course. Annoyed at my mistake I had a personal pity party for about thirty seconds then moved on. It was over and I still have about five miles left to race.
We reached the water for the swim and this is when I was able to make a move passing a few of the strongest women in the sport. A huge congratulations goes out to racer Sue Luck who both Saturday and Sunday braved the swim after donning a life vest and completing the obstacle overcoming the fact she can’t swim. Moving on right after the swim my arms were pumping as I reached the hercules hoist, straight into the tyrolean traverse. As I pulled myself across the rope, Juliana Sproles one rope over with Ang Reynolds and Ella Kociuba in hot pursuit right behind me, I felt the skin on my stomach burn but continued to pull, hang the bell and continued on.
As we reached the last couple of miles I passed Melinda Branch who suffered a major cramp. Then I went into the lonely last three miles where as posted on Monday the ghost of myself haunted me for miles. I pushed on running not knowing where I stood for women pressing myself to keep moving. As I reached the spear throw and slippery wall I knew the race was over and I had pushed it. I crossed the finish line in 2:50 after beginning. I had finished 7th for the day for women and quickly returned to my hotel for a quick recovery, I had to race again Sunday.
I had done all I could to facilitate a quick recovery. The bruises and scrapes always make it harder to go out and race the second day. With fifteen of the top twenty from the day before heading back out on course on Sunday I knew I had to put in another stellar race to keep myself in the rankings. Putting some morning drama aside I tried to focus in at the task on hand for the day.
As the race started I could feel my fatigue but was determined to push through. I continued to run the first set of hills finally having to give-in and slow up the pace after another roll of my almost healed bad ankle. My downhills were slower and my uphills I still tried to push. The obstacles didn’t seem to slow me down until I reached the second barbed wire.
While in the second barbed wire, I felt it lock up. My knee and IT band had done it again. A problem I have dealt with in the past but hadn’t had problems with this year flared up. I felt the knee not want to move and knew it was going to be difficult to finish this race and the pain that lay ahead. I kept moving forward, reminding myself in the Vermont 50 I ran 20 miles on a locked up knee hobbling to the finish line. If I could do 20 miles surely I could get through these 5 miles.
I kept myself running, I wanted it to be over. In the last three miles I wanted to quit more than once, I wanted to give up and get a ride to the finish. At one point when a racer overtook me I almost started to cry. It is funny how once our brain starts to take over and play the pity card the rest of the body wants to follow. I won’t let myself quit, that would have been the easy way out, instead I kept pushing the jog and kept putting one foot in front of the other.
As I got closer to the finish and over and over the slippery wall past the gladiators and across the finish line, I let the tears from the pain flow. I had managed to finish out the race 11th for women and came in with a time of 3:06, fifteen minutes slower than the day before but still a finish. I crouched down and let them out, let the tears and emotions flow. A huge thank you to competitor and friend Juliana Sproles for coming to check on me as I was there in the finish. I limped my way into the changing tent and laid on the ground. It had been a weekend to remember and one that was a test of strength, will and determination.
Thank you to all the people who made Texas and really the whole race season a memorable one. It’s been a hell of a year and one that can only be looked at with amazement. Thank you to all!