This past year in running definitely had it's ups and downs for me--and I'm not talking about running hills. The first half of 2008 was nothing short of amazing! January started off with running the XTERRA Boney Mountain 21K, followed by Calico 30K one week later. In February, I ran the WTRS 18K, and after some longer training runs, I felt ready to run my first 50K, the Unknown, in March. Then I ran the Old Goats 50K in April, Laguna Hills Half Marathon in May, and then the Holcomb Valley 33 miler in June. I was in the best shape of my life! And I was having a blast! My body was quickly recovering from long runs. Every training run felt great. So I decided to attempt my first 50 miler in August. I signed up for the Mt. Disappointment race, knowing it wasn't the easiest of 50 milers, but I figure it's better to try and fail than to never know what might have happened.
But then, I had to put my dreams on hold. On a training run in July, less than a month before Mt. Disappointment, I was running down a steep, overgrown trail when I stepped in a hole and fell over and sprained my ankle. It was very disappointing. Here I was at a high point in my running career and suddenly my running world came crashing down all around me. I didn't want to aggravate the injury at all and with my doctor's advice, I decided to take a break from running to let it heal completely.
Since then, I've been back at running, but it's taking a little time to get back to where I was before. I've had to back out of several races I was planning to run, due to my taking some time off last summer. In November I started training again and found I was still able to log the same kind of mileage I was prior to my injury. I was hoping to run the Twin Peaks 50K in December, but I think my dropping out of that race was ultimately a lack of confidence.
The first half of this year was truly amazing! I've learned in life that I am happiest when I am on track to achieving my dreams. And up until the day I got injured, I could really feel my dreams starting to become a reality. One day I hope to be doing 50 mile races, 100 mile races, and multi-day races. But, as someone said the other day, "ultrarunning is a microcosm of life." You will inevitably suffer some setbacks, but what is important is that you deal with your challenges, pick yourself back up, and keep pressing forward toward your goal.
And now, here are some things that made this year memorable!
BEST RUN OF 2008: The Unknown ?K--though not an official race, was my first ultra and the first time I ran anything past 26.2 miles--it was in the 31-33 mile range. Other things that made it great: beautiful, non-technical trails south of the Ortega Highway in South Orange County, perfect running weather, amazingly well-stocked and well-staffed aid stations, and the best part of all--meeting, for the first time, a lot of super talented trail runners from our club--the SoCal Trail Headz. Everything about this race was perfect! And the fact that this was my first ultra made the day even better.
HIGH POINT: Finishing the Old Goat's 50K. I wanted to quit so bad, due to having a cold and feeling exhausted from mile 8 on. But thanks to the encouragement of those around me, I was able to finish the race! And as a bonus, I managed to beat the only other girl in my age group for 1st place in the 20-29 year old female age group. Then I turned 30 years old the next day!
LOW POINT: Spraining my ankle. I took nearly 3 months off running to let it heal. I'm so paranoid about re-injury. Even though I am back to running trails, I can tell it's still not the same. Better watch that.
DAWN PATROL: I am so thankful to have a group of friends who help keep me on my training schedule. At least twice a week, we meet at El Moro State Park in Laguna to go for a 8-10 mile training run. We usually start at 5:00 AM, wearing headlamps to find our way. While it is painfully early, it is SO WORTH IT! On these days, I get to watch the sunrise, have panoramic views of the ocean, Catalina Island, Mt. Baldy and the San Gabriels (which are covered in snow right now), Orange County's twin peaks, and all the beautiful city lights below. Best of all, I get to enjoy the company of some great runners like Jeff S., Molly, Mike K., Pete, Natasha, and sometimes more people! Who knew you could have so much fun at 5 AM!
LAGUNA COAST WILDERNESS: The great thing about running in Laguna is we have so many different options starting from the Ridge Park cul-de-sac. You can run down into El Moro Canyon and explore the many trails there. There is the 12 mile Nix Center loop. You can also head down to the 133 and cross the street to get to Aliso and Woods Canyon and just keep on running forever! We never get tired of running there.
RUNNING GOALS FOR 2009:
- Run my first 50 miler
- PR in the marathon
- Get faster!
- Stay injury-free
- Gain my running confidence back
- Do at least 3 other 50K's