A month ago, I ran my second hellgate 100k. Upon reflection, I'm sitting here wondering how I can adequately express why it's taken me a month to write my thoughts, impressions and experiences about the race. Just being genuine: Ive had alot going on in my life. Good, Bad, Ugly and Beautiful. 2012 was full of extreme highs ( fantastic summer and fall with the boys-- full of adventure, CTR 10k was so successful, Umstead 100!! Grindstone 100, !!!) and extreme lows -- that were beyond my control.
timing for all this was terrible. Having ran the course last last year. Knowing what I was up against-- all the vertical climbing, sleep deprivation, and technical terrain. and I've ran 2, 100 miler races. 100 milers are a new distance for me and I felt a little insecure about my recovery from Grindstone.
But I refused to focus on that. I decided to focus on 1. I'm a good person who although isn't perfect-- I strive to do the right thing and treat people the way I would like to be treated. I can only give account for myself and my actions 2. I knew in my heart my intentions, my thoughts and my motivations for my running is for personal growth. When I reflect back on all the experiences of the past 3 years! running in the mountains has given me so much JOY and UltraRunning has made me physically, mentally and emotionally a strong, tenacious, independent, capable strong willed and unbreakable gal. :)
no matter how I felt, or I knew I could eat drink and keep moving forward until I got to the finish line.
I truly feel choosing your attitude and focusing on the good is KEY in these longer events. Also, surrounding yourself with positive people is key. And another thing I'm blessed with: people who love me. The encouragement from my running friends, my coach, my yoga friends, my parents to complete Hellgate 2013 really solidified my desire to toe the start line. My brother Brian and my sister in law Tammy who crewed me at Grindstone, committed to crew me at hellgate. I felt that was half the battle, I knew if I had someone there at the Aidstations, it would hold me accountable.
The Friday after Thanksgiving, I road tripped to cville to spend time with what has quickly became my "extended family" in Charlottesville, The Spiedels:)
I ran up hawksbill with Sophie, VHTRC, and the Lundblads. This was my little litmus test to see if I truly would decide to start hell gate. This run went pretty well. It was a beautiful, warm, crisp late fall day, and I truly enjoyed spending time with positive people: sis, marc, anne, and all my other awesome ultrarunning friends.
This picture is so awesome that sis/Sophie had it printed and framed and gave it to me for christmas!! :)
I had alot of craziness the week of hellgate. of course! but I went onward and laid out my gear, replaced the batteries in my trusty petzl myo, gathered my gels, handhelds, and printed out crew directions and maps.
I drove to camp bethel friday evening after taking my kids to my parents house in richlands. I really just enjoyed the windshield time, listened to music, and mentally prepared myself for the task that would be soon at hand.
I met brian and tammy we transferred everything to my car, and then I went to the racers meeting feeling pretty relaxed and happy
I went back to the car and took a 2 hr nap, and then got my clothes on and sophie and I rode to the start with my brother and sister in law.
I got a chance to climb into the Grossman VW van for a couple of min to spend time with Eric ( my coach) Beth Minnick ( one of my oldest and dearest running friends I have) and Jj Jessee ( who was my super crew and pacer last year at HG 2011) and micah Mc Faddin, a yougun in the ultraworld and one to lookout for--
I started the race feeling fast but comfy and hung right with marc griffin. I was mere feet behind 1st and 2nd place ladies and was happy to be there in 3rd. but them in my sights. I started to feel optimistic and hopeful-- I was feeling strong- after the first Aidstation and starting the climb up to petits gap, I passed Holly Bugin, and stalked Kristen ( the eventual Hellgate woman's champ) and Chris Scott:P
I actually bounced ahead a couple times, and had a blast getting to know the both of them going up camping gap, but on the promiseland section, Kristen pressed on and I felt like I was working too hard. but felt MUCH stronger on this section than I did the previous year. I knew I was going to PR and do fairly well in comparison to HG 2011. Sophie ( man I was so happy to see her) caught me at the falls there at AS1 for promise land 50k before the FS road climb to headforemost mtn... and I caught her up to speed about my race and that kristen was the only other girl ahead and she let me know where all the other ladies she passed was, because she started slow and moved through the field ( classic sophie race strategy!)
after headforemost mtn AS, sophie dropped me on the AS I could not hang with her and feel comfortable. and I was content listening to music and was at the breakfast AS before I knew it and it was still dark. and another fast girl who ran well at JFK breezed by.. okay I'm in 4th. I'm kinda bummed about falling back in the field but really happy with my time?? so rationalize.. I should just enjoy this experience and be happy! it's hell gate!!! how many people can say they get to run hell gate??! and be happy!
I knew the sun would come up on my climb to the next AS so tried to eat well and take care of everything I could think of-- I took an S! cap and tried to drink all I could. The sun coming up showed a crystal clear day, and it was getting warmer and warmer. I was so happy to get rid of my headlamp and my crew is the BEST. Brian and Tammy are PERFECT. They are quick, efficient, encouraging but most importantly- they keep me moving!! it was at this AS that Kathleen cusick passes me and I'm in 5th. I tried to pass her back ( I LOVE kathleen, but hey! it's a race! ) but then she drops me on a downhill. I have got to work on downhill running lol
the section where it's the devils trail and leading to bearwallow was a low point in the race for me. I was sad, grouchy and feeling sorry for myself and mulling over my heartache and trials in life. When My friends/CATS Christain and Marc griffin catches me. I proceed to spew my toxicity-- saying I hated rocks and this is TERRIBLE.. and C looks back and me and with his lovely German accent says "perhaps you should eat a gel?" my eyes grow wide! realizing I hadn't eaten in almost 2 hrs. and that is why I'm being such a meanie pants!! I immediately thank him and tell him-- Christain, I'm hurting-- do not let me drop at bear wallow gap. I just felt SOOO tired. I wasn't sleepy. I was just exhausted. I felt like I could just collapse at the side of the trail and go to sleep.
I get to bear wallow and my crew has a hot dog-- out of cheeseburgers ( dang it!) grab it, tell my crew I'm hurting but will finish and proceed to walk away. My buddy, Bob Clouston walks with me across the parking lot and up the hill to the single track.. talking me up telling me I will go back to feeling UP. It's encouragement I needed.
I start to feel better, I start to ENJOY the journey.. YEAH BABY! :P
I see blanks blankenship about mile 48 and here I am:) and he takes these awesome action shots of me!! THANK YOU BLANKS!!!!
my eyes welled up with tears of joy thinking of ALL the people who were pulling for me, encouraging me, praying for me, not to win-- not to place, just to finish and have a safe and enjoyable journey.
as you can see, the sun was shining bright and as I was treated to panoramic splendor along this section. I couldn't help but feel so humbled and just extremely thankful for all the wonderful people in my life who love me, thankful for being blessed with the opportunity to run Hellgate. ( and all these races) and The journey getting to this point... Each time I go run in the mtns, I feel I learn more and more about myself. I'm fortified with more confidence in myself what I'm capable of.
Of course! I made up alot of time on this section, I was having fun and my feet felt great! I looked down and in hot pink marking paint were the words "GO JENNY GO" :) my friend Donna Elder... THANK YOU FOR THAT!! I get to Bobletts gap full of energy and very happy I am feeling well. knowing I have 15 miles to the finish.
I start my fun downhill running towards my infamous turn I missed the year before in the "forever section" I get to my turn:) and along the way sputter sputter, die.. I got super hot and just awful feeling.. and I lost another place to a very sweet girl who was just HAULIN-- i just didn't have the wheels to stay up with her.. no down jacket for me.. I'm now 6th woman.. but I know I can run a low 15 hrs if I just keep pushing. the forever section about did me in. it was the longest 11 miles of my life..
but once I got to day creek, I drank some soda, ate a GU and my brother walked up the hill with me a bit and he looked at me and said "I just wanted you to know how proud I am of you. for you to come out here under the circumstances, and do as well as you are doing-- you are the toughest of us all: you are stronger than me and todd both." The mention of our late brother- made me emotional for a second but just renewed my focus and zeal to knock out the last 6 miles. I hugged brian and told him how much I loved and appreciated him and how much it meant to me just to have him out there with me.
At that point I look and there is Marc Griffin for the 3rd time! caught me again. I said " lets march up this hill, marc!" and I just got behind him and paced off him up the hill. we made it in 37 min. 10 min faster than last year. and continued on to the finish. I was very happy to spend that last 10k with marc. We talked about life. He was anticipating the birth of his second child. I always brag to him, if I'm around him during a race, I know I ran well.
Finishing was so bittersweet. I was so elated to finish 15:15 and 6th woman. an hour faster than last year. But this was the first race I felt completely tapped out emotionally, mentally, physically, spiritually. I sat there at the finish with my head in my hands and bawled my eyes out.
My friends and family were kind enough to give me some space and let me do that. It was like they knew I needed it.
Hellgate!!! what a vexing, special, wonderful race. Life: what a journey.
I can't say thank you enough to Dr. David Horton for all that he does for our sport, and for putting on such fantastic events. I can't say thank you enough to all the volunteers who was up all night long working aid stations cheering, being happy and encouraging thus making hellgate one of the most organized and positive events I've ran.
I can't say thank you enough to my many friends and family you guys know who you are for all your love, support and encouragement. It means so much to me-- I hung in there and worked through my tough patches because of you guys-- I knew you had faith in me and my ability and I should as well.
Lastly, yes, life is hard sometimes for us all, but its one beautiful journey. Change is inevitable, nothing ever stays the same and that is the wonderful, wonderful thing about life and ultrarunning both. Things could be AWFUL for a bit, but if you stay focused, keep moving forward, stay positive, focus on the GOOD.. things will change. and when things are AWESOME-- ENJOY IT!! stay grateful.. stay humble.. help others you see who are in their tough patches. ( offer them an s! cap, gel or tums-- if running) ( offer an ear to hear and a shoulder to lean on-- in life)
me a month later?? I'm good. doing better. still moving forward each day. still being grateful. very excited about 2013 racing season and just the year ahead and all the adventure it holds! ( and that is what my next blog post is about!)