Monday, August 29, 2011

Back From Europe

(Photo courtesy of Dan Coyro/Sentinel)

Well, I’m back from Europe. After Kilian’s Classik, the race in the Pyrenees, I spent some time in London. Then I rejoined some of the Salomon’s International Team for a run up the highest alp in Austria, the Grossglockner. The 13k mountain run turned into a fast hike after the first mile on the road. It was gorgeous and brutal. I literally got to run over a glacial moraine! From that day forward I’ve pretty much craved flat running.

I’ve been back for almost three weeks. I did a poor job of keeping blogs about my adventures, but I was busy watching plays about pigs with blue eyes in London, wandering around Salzburg and getting soaked to the point where I had to toss my shoes, and enjoying my one evening in Munich with a run through the park followed by a beer garden excursion. There are too many stories to capture in words, but I learned more about 18th century midwifery then I ever knew, I found out a suitcase is pretty much all I need (in terms of material belongings), and I’m very grateful for Salomon for supporting me through these European races, giving me an amazing pair of trail shoes, and including me in their amazing international team.

Ok, now that I’ve got you somewhat up to date… I am back in Oakland, about to loose a toenail, and I just completed one of my favorite trail races to date, the Dirt Inspires Women’s Trail Half Marathon in Aptos, CA. The trails were absolutely beautiful with the perfect balance of rolling and flat. The race was very well organized, eco-friendly, volunteers galore, post-race massage for all the runners, and an announcer that seriously kicked-ass.

Before the race I was tired even with a cup of coffee, a 5 am wake-up is always a tad rough. After I had some toast with peanut butter and banana I headed off to Aptos. Sam and I were a bit groggy in the car, so I made him listen to Pitbull radio on Pandora. We stopped and picked up Will Gotthardt in Fremont and we all chitchatted until our arrival. Then I got my race number, 202, did a few miles of warming-up, and then I stood at the start line.

Quite honestly, I didn’t know what to expect. I had been feeling fit and strong, although there had been some bumps just before the race. This past Wednesday I said, “I can’t believe I said I liked these things” – in reference to hills as I staggered up them feeling slow, annoyed, and just fatigued (And the truth is I do like them, but dang some days they just kick your butt). Regardless, the second the gun went off on Sunday, I took the race and I set out to have fun and run fast. I had such a blast out on those trails. I wasn’t the most graceful over the five river crossings, but those rolling trails and even those climbs made me smile. I deeply apologize to those girls at the first aid station who I nearly took out on my way off Buggy Trail. I am extremely grateful for the amazing directions and cheers from all the volunteers. And thanks to all the other women who were out there racing and took the time to cheer too!

I came across the finish line in 1:33:44 where I was informed that I took 9 minutes off of the previous course record (results). I cooled down and cheered on the outstanding women who were approaching the finish. All I can say is for years I underestimated my abilities. I felt weird even trying to be up front in 2009. I never felt “fast.” But something was different yesterday, I felt fast and I didn’t feel weird taking the lead from the start. Words won’t do justice here because it wasn’t the winning that was important to me (although I do have to admit this does feel good too), but it was the change in myself. My confidence and abilities have grown through running and it has been life changing. In the end, that race, those trails, pushing my body, seeing all those other women out there enjoying the dirt, the rivers, the trees, it just made me incredibly content and happy. I believe I am still beaming from it and I hope all those other women are too. Thanks for an amazing race.


bjs said...

So well said!

Sarah Lavender Smith said...

What a great report! You make me so eager to travel abroad and race more. Congrats on bumping up to this next level and making the most of it. I'm going to share this post on my blog's page since it's an awesome "runner's trip."

Scott Dunlap said...

Congrats! That's a great pic too - I suspect we'll see a lot more of these "Caitlin up front" photos in the coming months.

If you don't have time to write up Europe, just cheat like I do and post a photo montage. ;-)


Buzz said...

" But something was different yesterday, I felt fast and I didn’t feel weird taking the lead from the start. "

Welcome back from racing in Europe! It's a big wide world out there.

trailturtle said...

I just put the Grossglockner on my "life list."
Congrats on continuing to nurture your potential. You still have more there.
Your ability to laugh and have fun and still focus on a technical course speaks wonders.
Don't feel bad about not blogging your adventures...these are lifetime opportunities...blogging can be done anytime...
but Scott's suggeston of a photo montage is a good one, given your artistic/photographic eye :).
Best, Ann