Thursday, January 23, 2014

2014 HURT Race Report

Finishing my last loop of the HURT 100. Photo by Rob Lahoe. All photos unless otherwise noted are by Rob Lahoe.
Listen to the interview I recorded with Ultra Runner Podcast the day after the race.

I was by all accounts completely unprepared for HURT 100 mile run this year yet I PR'd by almost 40 minutes and placed 2nd.  I did none of my usual intense training. In fact, quite the opposite. I decided that I'd do whatever the heck I wanted in training which meant very few long runs and lots of cross training.  I love moving my body, challenging it, and the intensity of exercise, but I hate monotony.  I'd trained hard the past few years and plateaued, some might even say I had backtracked through my intense training. My body rebelled and I became slower the more I forced running. So I stopped forcing it. I began biking indoors most days through the winter and I started a daily strength training workout (15-30 mins a day, every single day) and delved back into the physical and spiritual side of yoga.  I was practicing yoga 60-90 minutes everyday.  I began experimenting with and experiencing my inner self and learned to access a calmness that I'd rarely had in the past.
Running through the jungle. By Rob Lahoe
It's odd how a race can become a part of your identity.  How you would feel like you were missing an important part of yourself if you weren't running it.  I realized how intensely HURT 100 mile Endurance Run had infiltrated my being when my world turned upside down this fall.  As my personal life drastically changed and I was unable to train like I normally would, I still wanted to run HURT and I realized what an important role it had in my life. It wasn't about the competition or doing a race that I knew I could succeed at, it was about being a part of the ultra community and the personal challenge. I needed HURT this year like I've never needed a race.
Photo by Rob Lahoe
I went into HURT clear with myself that I was running the race only to finish. After that I'd go for goal #2, get under 30 hours and then goal #3, set a personal record (meaning I'd have to beat my 28:35 from 2013), and goal number #4 (of very little importance): to place in the top 3.  I didn't want to take all the joy out of the race to compete when this year it was about being in the moment, feeling the course: the pain, pleasure, the intense emotions and sharing the experience with all the runners, volunteers, and spectators.

The race began and I scooted back toward the middle of the pack. I thought I'd shoot for 5 hour loops, at least for the first 3. I'd pace myself so that I could comfortably finish. I kept finding myself flying despite my plans.  I was singing to my ipod songs, I was loving the root dance, the slippery corners, it was real joy!!  I'd catch myself falling, falling, falling and be back upright, bombing down toward Paradise Aid Station chasing my friend Danny.  We rolled into Nature Center Aid, completing the first of 5 loops in 4 hrs 22 minutes and I thought, how the fuck did that happen? I was running so easy. I feel so damn good.
Photo by Rob Lahoe
So I let it be. It was okay that it was fast, it was just part of this moment's journey.  Loop #2 slipped by almost as quickly. Danny and I were still going back and forth in the race.  He'd turned his ankle in the first loop, and on the second, I pulled him down into Paradise with a quick pace passing through crowds of tourists blocking the trail. Just before Nu'uanu Aid I veered off the trail and turned my ankle with a nice snap. Damn. It was taped pre-race and it still turned.  Why did I always need to challenge myself EVEN MORE than the race itself?

A little shocked by the pain, I pushed myself up, limped, looked around. No one had seen me fall. I knew I'd be seeing the 2nd and 3rd place ladies soon on the out and back and I'd been chasing them all day.  I didn't want them to know I'd hurt myself. I sucked it up and hobbled for 100 meters before striking a nice ultra shuffle. Ok, I'm ok.  I decided to get my ankle taped right away. Last year, I'd waited almost 40 excruciating miles before getting it taped.  Despite the ankle issues,  I completed loop 2 in about 4 hours 45 minutes. Still sub 5. That was very good. And I still felt amazing, if not a bit swollen and pained in the ankle.
Getting my ankle taped at Nu'uanu Aid. Photo Courtesy Ultrasportslive.tv
Loop 3 would be the loop that would welcome nightfall. I was looking forward to the dark. It had been incredibly hot and humid all day with no rain or breeze. Racers were dropping left and right from heat related problems and I was thankful to have practiced hot yoga throughout the past few weeks in Kailua, Hawaii.  I was lucky enough to be able to arrive in Hawaii on Jan. 6th for the race on the 19/20th. It gave me time to acclimate and relax.  Relax is a strong word for me. I didn't relax, exactly, I opened my 200 mile race registration lottery, and all that entailed, but still I was feeling the island time aloha spirit.
Photo by Rob Lahoe
It finally became too dark to run without a light about 10 minutes before Nu'uanu Aid, mile 52-ish.  I turned on my light and proceeded. Darkness would reign for another 13 hours.   It would be a long, stressful time despite the slightly cooler temps. What I'd forgotten from last year is how incredibly slippery the course would get. Somehow the night pulled out the moisture and the rocks and roots became slippery snakes and slip and slide trails. With my body aching and my legs becoming increasingly sore, the slipperiness was intense and overwhelming. I picked through rocks like they were covered in poison.  I tried, I really did try to push the pace, but my body rebelled and told me I was going faster than I was. It said I was going as fast as loop 2 at least. You liar, I told it, knowing full well the truth.  It might feel fast, I said to my feet, like a crazy woman, but then why does it feel like this loop is taking FREAKING-FOREVER!!

I knew it! What a liar my legs were. They said I was CRUISING, but loop 4 was slower than the past 3 loops despite my pacer and crew person extraordinaire, Dave Melanson, inspiring me through all 20 miles with his Northwest plaid style Belly Shirt.  Yes, he wore a belly shirt. If you don't know what that is look up Scott Jurek at White River circa forever ago, white belly shirt. Maybe the belly shirt made me think I was going faster....
Dave and his belly shirt. Photo by Rob Lahoe
By the end of loop 4 I was so glad that I was going to have Dave keeping me company through the last loop as well since I knew it was all mental now.  My body and brain said I couldn't do one more loop, but my spirit knew I could. I had to finish, there was not "to finish or not to finish."  It was get this shit done and get to the beeeach!!  Plus, now I was in 2nd place and I felt the energy of friends and fans at home and abroad cheering me on.  I'm not sure how I knew it, but I felt the energy of a community propelling me to the finish.  Amidst my brain's "get the shit done" speak, I knew enough to enjoy the moment, each and every one. Before I knew it I would be done and being in each moment would make them infinite.
Photo by Rob Lahoe. I look like I've seen a ghost.
Dave would say these seemingly simple yet significant statements throughout pacing that made me feel like I was still in the game. In my body and my brain I was done and I had to resist many times apologizing to him about my pace. Then he'd suddenly say, "You're moving so good."   Huh?  And, "Just keep this up, you're catching first place, but no need to do anything else"  Really?!  It was so great to hear these low pressure, positive statements.  One step at a time.  And just like that we found ourselves meters from the finish and I sprinted in with the pure joy of finishing and kissed the finish sign like a sailor who has spotted land after being lost at sea.  Only my sea was the jungle and the depths of my mind.  The land was finding my peace and capturing the dream of completion.  All runners who want a finish must kiss the sign that marks the finish line. From that moment my lips touched the medal sign, I knew I wanted to come back and kiss that sign many more times.

The sprained left ankle and some horrid chaffing/cratering of pain from the taping.
Lots of chaffing on my stomach and back, I'll spare you from a back photo. Why so much? Shirtless, no body glide and lots of sweating. I figured I'd put on a shirt if it started to chafe, but before I knew it the chaffing was there.
I got matching blisters under each 2nd toe that popped the nail out of its bed.
On that note, thank you:
In finishing, I'd like to thank a few amazing people in my life who made my 2014 HURT possible, couldn't have done it without all of you:
  • The race directors and volunteers: PJ and John Salmonson, Jeff Huff, and seriously the aid stations were amazing!! Thank you so very much.
  • Dave Melanson: kept me company before, during and after the race! Crewed and paced ALL DAY and night with no rest.
  • Pearl Izumi Ultra Team: the best shoes and clothing plus the support of the team kept me motivated.
  • Ultimate Direction: the amazing folks at UD sent me an Ultra Vesta last minute so I could be properly hydrated during the race and run in style! I'm really excited to be an ambassador this year!
  • James Varner: made my trip possible and kept all the folks at home updated during the race!
  • My friends, family, and ultra fans. I am humbled by the positive feedback! Thank you to the Bellingham Trail Running Club for kicking me into shape :)
  • Luc, Marina, and Stella: Love you three!!! I wore Stella's bracelet and put M's on my pack. Always good luck to have that kind of love.

HIURT 100 Awards, top 3 women and men, plus Race Directors John Salmonson and Jeff Huff.

9 comments:

  1. Congratulations on the fine, relaxed run, Candice. See you at the Avon, I hope!

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  2. Thanks Steve! I hope to get out to Silverton, at least for the race, but I don't have a place at the Aveon. I will however come share some beers with you all!!!

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  3. Congrats Candice, you rocked HURT

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  4. Great run, girl, you are one tough chica!

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  5. nice perspective Candice -- inspiring on many levels. great work!! -Erin

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  6. What an awesome achievement, and fantastic that you reached your personal goals!

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  7. Amazing! You have found a great balance in your life! I loved listening to your interview on URP as I ran hills on my treadmill during a Midwest blizzard. You are inspiring! Keep up the good work and remember to breathe! ;)

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  8. Thank you for being such an inspiration. I have signed up for my first 50K (run for kid challenge) in Alabama. I Loved the interview, maybe one day my Wife and I can do Lake Tahoe ;-)

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