Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Tamalpa Headlands US 50k Trail Championships

“Take care of your body it’s the only place to live.” – Jim Rohn

Things in life and running are hardly ever linear. If they were they would be boring, but predictable. There have been many times over the past two years where I questioned what I was doing in running. I was putting in the work to see such small results if any. There were many months where I wasn’t running like myself. Last year at the Mountain Champs I could barely run and then the following weekend I was a mess. My legs weren’t my own and I grew anxious that with every workout or race I would continue to feel the same way, incapable. It’s not a fun place to be, but I just kept telling myself things would come together, patience, patience.

There were clearly multiple factors, low iron, maybe overtraining, mindset, general fatigue, focus, but something started clicking this year. I finally feel like myself again. Of course I am human and I still have days that are difficult and thank goodness for my training partners and heart for giving me the confidence to persevere on these days. But overall I have been feeling pretty darn good. I am extremely grateful for the momentum and confidence it’s been worth the wait and the tears and frustration.

Some of this momentum has grown from throwing my anxiety out the window and doing what I know how to do, run. Last week before the US 50K trail champs I grew nervous and even wondered if I should race. I realized I was getting ahead of myself and worrying about the potential outcomes. As the race approached I focused on trusting my training, my strengths, and my love of the headlands.   

I had a plan in the back of my mind race day, but the biggest thing was to stay focused and in the moment. I knew the race might go out fast and I was willing to sit back and run my own race. Megan Roche took it out and Emily Harrison and Tracie Akerhielm followed her up the first climb at Muir Beach. Before the climb I was running with them but decided to back it off a few notches as 7,300 feet was still ahead. I had many scenarios in my mind for how the race may go, but none of them had me taking the lead at mile 8. I felt really solid for the first 17/18 miles and then the climb up Cardiac hurt and then the climb up Steep Ravine kicked my arse even more. I guess having not run a 50K in over 17 months came into play and maybe I needed to up the calories a bit too. It’s the first race where I got cramps in my calves with a few miles to go. I stopped and tried to walk, but that made it worse, so I just kept running. It wasn’t until I saw the finish that I realized I was going to win my first Trail National Championship! 

It was a powerful moment. I felt such gratitude and hopefulness. That win was more than a win. To be honest I can’t even express the emotions that I felt crossing the finish line. All the hard work had carried me to that moment and now I can continue to move forward.

In life and running nothing is linear, but the chaos is well worth the moments like these. For anyone struggling through something remind yourself to be patient, this world and sport require it.

A huge thank you to Sam Robinson for being there for me in my frustration and joy.

Photo credit of John Medinger.


Scott Dunlap said...

Bravo! Bravo!! The best way to win. Congrats!!!

Unknown said...

Caitlin, I really enjoyed meeting you at Sally's retreat later that day. You are truly an inspiration, tough, kind, warm, and incredibly talented and hard-worker. Congratulations again!

willgotthardt said...

BIG congrats Caitlin! You are a shining example of everything it takes to succeed in our sport, we see it all! Nice recap, beautiful pic.