Sunday, December 2, 2012

TNF 50 Miler Take Two

Today, after my second 50 miler, I woke-up surprisingly early with stiff heels and a sore right arm (damn water bottle). Otherwise, I felt pretty darn good, physically at least. Mentally, I had a bit of the typical post race blues, doubts, and so I did laundry, cleaned, walked, and sat in a hot tub. But, I hate that anticlimactic feeling after an ultra or any big race for that matter.

There is no doubt I gave all of what I could yesterday at the North Face 50. I’ve never wanted to give up so bad and yet still make it close to another 24 miles. I literally felt like my body couldn’t go any further, but somehow it carried on through mud and up climbs. Even a ¼ mile to the finish I thought that was it, I need to be carried. But, I somehow kept putting one foot in front of another. There is no doubt that my pacer, John Burton, and crew, Will Gotthardt, helped me keep the forward momentum. My favorite line from John yesterday was, “never make a decision going uphill.” After hearing this and running a good descent, I started shaking my head and crying at mile 32. I was done. Will said, “it’s always your decision Caitlin.” And on that note, I grabbed my water bottle and GU and started running. I have no idea why. And that’s how it kept going until the finish (with a touch more crying, cursing, and walking).

I still don’t know how I made it. But, I did. So where did this leave me? Happily in forth, amazed that I had pushed through, stunned that I had actually made it to the finish line, and a little melancholy too. I didn’t want to just make it to the finish line, but I had to work with my body and just follow its lead. I do wish that I could have felt better even though I am not sure it would have kept me running with Emelie Forsberg and Stephanie Howe (congrats ladies!). Maybe I’ll get another day to try.

Then again, I’ve got some thinking to do about ultras, just not sure my heart is in them. 50ks are one thing, but there is a reason that it took me three years to do my second 50 miler. And why I still vow that I’ll never in my lifetime do another 100k (my non-running friends are holding me to that). I guess I’d really love to love them, but deep in my heart, I kind of wish I was just a really good hurdler or 10ker. But, I’m not.  So where does this leave me? A little bit uncertain about what I’m doing and what I want to be doing. But, I am not going to make any decisions right now. Sometimes things need some time, just got to make it up those hills to figure it out.

All and all, it was my hardest race to date, but it will make me stronger for races to come. I was thrilled to reconnect with folks from the ultra community and it was really amazing to run with an impressive field of women. I hope the sport keeps moving in that direction because if I had to pick, I’d like to be doing more races with mud (maybe a touch less than yesterday), hills, and single tracks (missed them yesterday).

The descent before mile 32.
Photo courtesy of San Francisco Running Company. 

Second time into Muir.
Photo courtesy of Rick Gaston.

Happy to be done.
Looking forward to that for 24 f'n miles!
Photo courtesy of San Francisco Running Company.


Dina said...

Caitlin you are a monster. You have my respect after that crazy weather shit show yesterday! 4th place in that field with all those elements working against you is nothing short of remarkable. Sending good vibes your way...hope you can find your niche soon so I can read all about it. Take care!

John Burton said...

You forgot to mention that you ran a PR! I know the course was a couple of miles short, but still, you took over half an hour off your old PR. You were flying out there!

willgotthardt said...

Big effort & result Caitlin, well done. Repeating my best line, but real proud of you. Crazy day.

Jon Allen said...


I ran with you a bit approaching Muir Beach on lap 2, and you were running strong. Great job on a top 4 finish and a PR.

StephanieMarie said...

Nice race lady! It sure was a tough day out there and a mental battle just to make it to the finish line! You are one tough girl! Hope to see you out racing again :)

Buzz said...

4th is terrific.

Galen wrote much the same as you did, even the title:

In the US, where "bigger is better", trail running = ultra running. This is unfortunate. 50 miles is still an extreme distance and should be considered as such.

Do what enlightens your spirit.

Peter Ferguson said...

Really well written and informative blog Caitlin. I was out there for the Marathon and just the weather, mud and cold made it a major slog. To get forth place in the the 50 mile is amazing.
Getting into running late in the game (40+years cycling my first year of running).
I'm going through some of the same issues. I've aspired to work up to Ultra's but I'm having fun doing 1/2's 10Ks, Marathons with some success. Rather be less time in my own head and feel better pushing hard and fast for a shorter distance seems more satisfying.
Whatever you do, I'm sure you'll be one of the best. You're a natural! Look forward to seeing where your running adventures take you! Congratulations.

Anonymous said...

You placed so well and don't think your heart is in them? I am not sure I buy that. Nothing worse in this life than wasted talents. Don't waste yours, its a blessing! Mitakuye Oyasin!