Sunday, August 30, 2009

Post Transrockies

You can also view this report on La Sportiva's website. And Devon's report can be found on her blog. What an f'n blast!!!

I arrived in Colorado on Friday and headed down to Buena Vista on Saturday. As Devon Crosby-Helms and I received our swag (or the beginning of it) and pick up our race numbers, we got frequent questions about whether we would give Kami Semick and Nikki Kimball a challenge. We explained we were there to run, challenge ourselves, and ultimately have fun. Both Devon and I knew we could not control how other teams ran, all we could do was run our best and keep ourselves together as a team. In the weeks leading up to Transrockies Devon and I had made it clear that we needed to communicate during each of the stages as well as not take things personally while we were racing. This was key to our overall experience and continued friendship.

Day One:

It was f’n hot. 20.4 miles through sand and sunshine. I was so eager and excited to run. Devon had to remind me to chill out as I kept wanting to go into a full on sprint. This is what happens when I take three days off leading up to a race. It is also what happens when I am excited that the altitude has not affected me! Anyway, I pull Devon along even through her asthma attack a few miles from the finish. We finish first in the open women’s category and reward ourselves with a dip in the river.

Day Two:

I am about to do my favorite thing ever, run hills. 10.1 miles and we are going up Hope Pass, a significant climb. Devon and I’s strengths and weaknesses start to appear. I want to run the climb, but we walk the majority. I stay patient, but some of my frustration appears. When we arrive at the top, Devon kicks in and her killer down hill allows us to catch back up to Kami and Nikki who had passed us on the accent. We finish about 30 seconds behind them. Then we went to hang out in Leadville, spending the majority of our day chilling at the local coffee shop and chatting amongst other runners.

Day Three:

24.2 miles from Leadville to Camp Hale. Devon and I had our first full on argument. I was frustrated that I could not run faster, she was frustrated that I would not chill out. We made up and then Devon took a bad fall where her knee had a make-out session with a rock. I wanted to nurture her but instead I yelled at her to get up and keep going. With tears she hobbled along and 4 teams passed by. I continued to tell her to keep moving. Pissed Devon took over for the last 7 or so miles and she pushed me to the finish. With a mile or so to go, we came by Nikki and Kami who had passed us right after Devon’s fall. We finished just over a minute ahead.

Day Four:

By far my favorite run, I was completely blissed out, not only was the scenery beautiful, but we had great company for the majority of the run. It was on the decent that Devon, Kami, Nikki, and I got into a grove, keeping a pretty similar pace. There I was running down a creek chatting it up with runners who inspire me. We all decided that we would finish together that day and even enjoyed a neutral pee. Of course my natural instinct to haul at the finish was restrained a bit and we played on that humor. As we approached the finish, Nikki and Kami grabbed hold of my pack straps and Devon held on to my braid. I had a smile and pretended that I was toeing them all across the line. All four of us went to the creek and continued to enjoy each others company.

Day Five:

23.4 miles and yes more climbing on the agenda. Devon began crying within the first minute of the race, her knee hurt. I did not nurture or focus on it instead just encouraged her to keep going. It was hard not comforting her, but I wanted her to persevere. But, it was back to arguing. I wanted to run up the hills faster, but Devon was having a challenging time. I didn’t want us to loose the lead that we had gained. I also realized I was not the only one in control, we were a team. I tried toeing Devon, lets just say a rain jacket didn’t do the trick. Oh and the differences in height 5′3″ versus 6′ were not favorable either (although I think it made us look like one badass team). When we arrived to the first decent Devon began hauling. I had to yell at her to wait for me. When we reunited, we made up and we spent the last 9.5 miles/ hour and six minutes kicking some butt on the downhill and cruising into a strong finish. Devon thanks for that strong finish and holding my hand across the line. I am pretty sure those were the fastest 10 miles of my life.

Day Six:

21.4 miles to the final finish. We started strong, but I felt unmotivated to encourage. And quite honestly would have enjoyed sleeping in my sleeping bag longer or enjoying another cup of coffee or a beer, maybe multiple beers. Of course I did not let on to this and kept encouraging Devon on the climbs. I was super proud of her for pushing up those hills (I enjoyed the few grunts D ) as well as for putting up with my constant harrassment to “come on.” I knew Kami and Nikki were far ahead and in those last few miles I didn’t care if we won or not. I was just glad we had stayed friends. Trust me when I say several runners were bickering and no longer talking with one another. I felt like I knew Devon even better, new myself better, and had a completely new outlook on running and one of the strongest friendships in my life. When we crossed the finish Devon turned to me and said, “I am sorry.” I responded, “it’s ok.” And then, we found out we had won and the next second we were jumping up and down, exploding chamange on one another, and high off of a overwhelming and exciting week.

The End:

Finishing 113 miles over six days concluding with a handful of beers (ok and some tequila shots and drinking games) and good lively conversation amongst runners, volunteers, and sponsors. Decompression after days of running and seriousness only seemed appropriate to involve drunken runners enjoying each others company. Not only had I bonded with Devon, but I got to meet and engage with several other amazing people. It was quite a week and one that I will continue to reflect on for quite some time.


209Mike said...

Great recap or the race and congratulations on the win.

Jo Lynn said...

You didn't know you won? LOL


Jordan (Diane for you pre-2003 folks) said...

Caitlin I am so happy for you and proud of you. I can tell by your post that you were stretched to the max both physically and psychologically but it sounds like you and Devon kept the big picture in mind most of the time and hey-- YOU WON!!! Awesome. Truly awesome. Cannot wait to see you and congratulate you in person :-)
Way to run with heart.