It's been a few weeks now since I hung up my Quintana Roo tri bike in the garage, race stickers from Santa Rosa still stuck to her frame.
The weight that lifted off my shoulders was instant. Driving home from the race I spontaneously burst into tears a few times, and like a tsunami they dispersed as quickly as they came on. Emotional release... both cleansing and exhausting at the same time.
For about 10 days afterwards I would find myself sick in the stomach at about 3pm. At first I barely noticed, just a dis-ease and ick feeling. Then I noticed that it was actually worry and stress. My subconscious was thinking about the training sessions I had yet to complete for the day and the nausea set in. I would start to get this rushed feeling and was preparing to rip myself away from work to rally for the next training sessions. Once I noticed all of this and said to my stomach.... "you don't have any more workouts to do today", the nausea went away. This went on for about 10 days, sick at 3pm, reminder that I don't have any more training to do, wellness.
My goodness. Who knew!
The next weekend was pretty hilarious. Audra signed us up for a 50k trail race. Hey, why not! It was put on by the people associated with the Born to Run book and it was an absolute blast. It was actually a 4 day running festival, and by festival... I mean festival. There was an impromptu tattoo shop there. And a stage, and lots of tents, and music, and it was on a private ranch, and you had to agree to not complain to the race director for any reason in order to race. It was low key, high awesome, and the course was LEGIT.
Audra hadn't run an ultra ever, and she wasn't exactly trained to do one, but she's tough, and she's spent her whole life fit, so as long as we went the right pace, she would be fine.
There was a funny moment after the gun went off, and everyone was passing us that my competitive drive flared up and I kept looking back at her like "can we go" and she just looked at me like "ummm no" hahah!!
We had A BLAST. It was a no pressure sort of race and Audra paced herself REALLY well. We didn't get passed in the last 10 miles and actually ran a lot of people down. Audra got to experience the full ultra effect, those wearisome last miles where you are counting them down and they go by so slow and everything hurts pretty bad.
But then you are done, and you feel the accomplishment way deep down. Ultrarunning is a very personal type of racing. Nobody really cares when you finish and nobody cares that you do them at all, and very few people even "get it." So you have to be happy with what it means to you. Very different from Ironman with it's million dollar finish line experience, the crowds, the podiums. It's flashy. Ultrarunning is dirty.
I felt really proud of Auddie, I know there are more in her future and I'm stoked that she wanted to do a race of that distance for the first time with me. Made me really happy.
My feet hurt like a mofo at the end of the race. It's my toes. They were not happy. Everything else felt pretty good body wise, but oh, my feet hurt. I made a video of our little race. You can find it here.
That night we drove back to Los Osos, had some sushi and then konked out for like 13 hours. Both of us have had some serious emotional tests in the last few months and I think that ultra was just a huge release for both of us. Athletic people need motion to process their feelings and the Born to Run Ultra was cathartic! I can't wait to run another one with her!
Then came the recovery! I had offered to pace my Los Osos running wife Drea in the Mountains to Beach marathon the following weekend. I knew Drea would be like "YOU RAN WHAT" to me after the surprise 50k, but I assured her... "I got this Drea, I can run 3:35 in my sleep" Yea.... that's a LOT of confidence coming from me (fake it until ya make it... you achieve what you believe).
So a week later there we were together on the start line in Ojai, with Boston colored pace time bracelets on our wrist ready to run a time that would get Drea into Boston.
So the crazy thing with qualifying for Boston right now is that you can't just go under your qualifying time and get in! Last year you had to be 2:09 faster to get in, and the year before it was 2:28 faster. That's what makes it so infuriating when people bandit the race, or copy bib numbers to cheat their way in.
Drea had run a BQ time at the end of last year, but at just a little over 1 minute under BQ, it wasn't going to be enough to get her in. So we were after a time that would get her in, namely 3:35, a full 5 minutes under. We were aiming for 8:12 pace and were going to try to go out at 8:12s and just nail as many of them as we could.
The Mountains to Beach marathon is a pretty forgiving race. The first two miles have some hills and then you get into about 15 miles of gentle downhill or false flat downhill. You cruise those miles and they feel good. The last 5 miles, as with any marathon, aren't so awesome, and in this race the course turns flat with a few uphill stretches in town that become quite the suffer shuffle for most.
We went out well for the first 14 miles.... 8:12, 8:14, 8:12, 7:57, 8:08, 8:11, 8:13, 8:14, 8:09, 8:11, 8:14, 7:45, 8:10, 8:00.
Then at mile 15, I suddenly found myself hitting the asphalt. I had rolled my ankle in the midline rumble strip and hit the ground hard. No warning, didn't even see it coming. The look on Dreas face... and I yelled at her "Keep going!!!"
I hopped up and oh my goodness the pain in my ankle and my knee. Mother!! I started running, watching Drea disappear up the road in front of me. I was a mess. Limping on the right, limping on the left, I'm the running wounded. But sure enough my stride evened out over the next few minutes and I found myself pushing back up to Drea over about 1/2 mile.
Mile 15... 8:22
She was concerned and I quickly told her everything was fine (it was not... I hurt like hell) and on we ran!
Mile 16-19 were 8:03, 8:18, 8:15, 8:02 and I just ran through the pain and told my body to shut up, you are fine, everything is good, you're here to help Drea. In cases like that, you have to convince your body that you mean business. Mind over body, every time.
Mile 20 hit and I could see that Drea was starting to fall a little more behind me. I asked if she had taken her gel and if she was drinking enough. She was getting the "this is hard" look.
Mile 20/21: 8:20, 8:11,
Then we hit the city of Ventura and things got tough for Drea. But the great thing was that we had about a 1 minute bumper on 3:35. Mile 22 was 8:27 and I started getting more vocal with Drea, that bumper can go up in smoke FAST.
Mile 23 and 24 were 8:32 and 8:43 and our bumper is gone. Now I'm really vocal, looking at Drea and giving her the "please run faster" look. I'm doing everything I can, and she's doing everything she can to get the most out of herself. It's hot, there's a hill and we are just doing the absolulute best we can. Mile 25 is 8:41 and yell at her "Do you want to cancel your reservations in Boston?" She had made a hotel reservation for Boston 2018 and I pulled that little gem of knowledge out to get her to MOVE! She was fighting so hard for it. Now I can see the 3:37 pacer and he is running us down.
This marathon is awesome in that they have pacers for 3 minutes under the BQ times so that people who stick with those pacers will get into Boston. So the pacer is back there telling during the last mile "If your BQ time is 3:40 and you finish ahead of me, YOU WILL GO TO BOSTON."
I'm yelling at Drea to go, that the 3:37 guy is about to get us, we have to go, everything you got. And she's fighting for it big time. Mile 26 was 8:46.
We see the chute and she turns it on and we cross in 3:36:30. Whew, 3:30 under BQ, definitely good enough to get in. She was so happy! I was so happy!
It's awesome to race to your potential, to lay down a race you can be really proud of and get the most out of yourself and your training. I've been there many times, feeling the full weight of that personal success. But you know what else is really flipping cool? The first hand experience of watching someone go through it. To be there mile and after mile, watching someone go faster or farther than they ever have before.
Being a part of that experience with others is something that's always been in my heart. I love watching people rearrange their lives for their goals. To see how the motivation is sparked and to watch people get out of their own way so success can shine through.
After all, we are a steward to our dreams. They come through us, the heart wants what the heart wants, and it's our job to allow the dream to come to the surface and usher it to reality. The only person in the way is ourselves. It may take time, it make take everything you got, but that's the fun in it all.
With both Audra and Drea, I didn't have to worry about my own performance, I got to be a witness, to have the pressure off and to watch the emotional tenacity of two very talented women getting after what their heart wanted for them. I will cherish those races for a long time.
So, what's next? I know, and I don't know. More running for sure. Definitely. Nothing that makes me sick to my stomach at 3pm... none of that. More adventures! Oh my gosh, so many adventures on tap this summer it's not even funny. And more coaching. Paid coaching, unpaid coaching, you name it. More helping others who are committed to making their dreams a reality. That's a big motivator for me.
Until the next adventure....