November 11, 2013

State XC Meet & XTERRA 21K

Just in case any of you are wondering why I've not been named Coach of the Year, it's because I constantly do idiotic things. For example, book myself and high school girls rooms at a roach motel for the State meet. We had a nice drive up Friday (5 hour drive for us) to the northwestern part of the state. We jogged the course and spent some time goofing off near the Indian Mounds. Then we headed to check into our hotel. The moment we exited the interstate, I knew it would not be good. The motel was TERRIBLE. The girls didn't seem to notice; so we parted ways to get ready for dinner. Once I got to the room, I was even more appalled. Moldy shower, BROKEN LOCK on door, dirty walls, etc. Not to mention that our room opened to the back sketchy parking lot. I made an emergency call to the AD, but got his email. I then texted him, "CALL ME, EMERGENCY!" Not surprisingly, he called me immediately, and I explained our situation. After asking me some very stupid questions, one being why I would travel that far "alone and without my husband," he said for me to try to find another hotel, and he would put it on his personal credit card. I was REALLY surprised and thankful for this. He may be the only football coach that I actually LIKE. While XC is often the forgotten sport, this showed me that he DOES care about my team, and is there to help, when push comes to shove. I called 3 of the "name" hotels in the area, Hampton Inn, Days Inn, and Holiday Inn. All were booked (due to a small town hosting the HUGE State XC Meet).  I called the AD back, and he said I should pile all the girls in my room and pray for the best. In the meantime, a coach from our county called me. He said he had just checked in his boys' team at the same hotel. They had been given upstairs rooms, and he offered to switch. When we went to tell the front desk, I expressed some of my concerns about safety. The man at the desk moved our rooms where both teams could be together on the top floor on the other side (better lighting). So... being that I was a NERVOUS WRECK about something happening, the other coach and I decided to check on the kids every hour. We would alternate the duties. So, I set my alarm for every two hours. Good GOLLY, what a LONG night. Not exactly the State experience we had in mind. Last year, we stayed farther from the course, but the hotel was MUCH better; so I will keep that in mind for next year.

At 6:30 a.m., I propped open my bloodshot eyes and drove to the local park. They had a one mile paved path. I had 8 scheduled, but unfortunately had spotted a Starbucks on the way there, and that won over my will power. I stopped at 7 and ordered myself a venti with an extra shot. The girls seemed oblivious to the crappy motel, which saddened me a little bit, knowing it's just what they're used to. I showered and we hit the road to the meet. The girls didn't seem too nervous. Instead of my usual pre-race pep talk, we mostly talked about all the fun memories we'd had together over the past couple of years (since I'd been coaching them). We talked a little about the course, remembering special marks from the day before, where to surge, places for possible passing, and I told them my plans to follow them. Mentally, I could tell we were all in a good place. Honestly, I was so tired, I was far from my best coaching. One of the girl's dads drove to the race early that morning. (He left at 3 a.m., yikes.) It was nice to have him there to help support the girls. Once the race started, I finally got excited and into it. I had drafted myself a plan that would allow me to see the girls a possible FIVE times during the race. I would have to RUN, though, and the girls would need to be only a minute apart. It worked! I'm so glad, too, because they ran SO FAST. When they hit the first mile, I was scared they had gone out too fast, but no, they held it. One of my girls finally broke 21, something she's been working for all season. The other PRed by 45 seconds, last race of her senior year. (Side note: this is the girl that said she wished I was her mom, as her real mom is a piece of crap and abandoned her as a baby.) She finished her race, and went straight into my arms. She was literally in tears. (Okay, and so was I.) And that was it, the season was over, just like that. The girls rode home with the dad that had driven up; I waited in the long line to return race chips, and then got on the road myself. I made it 30 minutes before pulling over into a gas station. I parked my car and had a good cry. I mean, what else would I do? Between hormones, no sleep, and an amazing ending for my girls' season, it was inevitable. After my good cry, I took a 30 minute power nap. (Anyone else out there take power naps in their car? Feels so good.) Then I caffeinated up to drive to B'ham for the XTERRA 21K at Oak Mountain.

I slept SO WELL Saturday night. It was closer to a coma than a sleep. I was loving that 8:30 race start, too. Apparently, this race was part of a series where competitors get points for each race they do and how well they place, similar to our club's grand prix, I think. There were some VERY SERIOUS looking trail runners there. Truth: I was pretty intimidated. I had not tapered at all for this race, just using it as a long run in my training. I would be just under 90 miles for the week, including speed sessions on Tues and Thurs. Coach and I both agreed that I needed practice on the trails, footing, etc. I talked with a guy before the race that told me the trails got harder and more technical as the race went on, with 7-10 being the most difficult. He warned me not to start too fast. Noted.

I started at a pretty relaxed pace (had already done a few miles before the race). I was placed 4th female, which I was fine with. These people were SERIOUS trail people. Those first few miles were tricky. I wasn't running fast, but very focused and tense. I was scared of falling. After about 4 miles, I started to loosen up and pick up the pace. I passed a girl, and moved with 2nd place. We ran together until Mile 7, and she started to slow. I was feeling good! I moved into 2nd. Just as expected, the trail started to get more difficult. The rocks were really starting to hurt my feet. I'm not sure if it was my shoes (Pure Grit 1s) or just the nature of the terrain or my feet not being used to it, but OUCH. I went back to really focusing on not falling. I caught up to the guy I had been talking to at the start; I'll call him Neon Guy. (He wore a bright green shirt and bright green shoes.) He had WON a 100 mile race * mind blown*. We got to Mile 10, and he advised me to walk this portion. The trail was TERRIBLE- huge rocks, little rocks, steepness, hardness, stuff that HURT. He said I would waste more energy trying to run, only to be going the same pace as my walking/hiking pace. I took his advice, and walked through the tough portions. We were about to hit Mile 11, and he told me that worst was over, the trail would smooth out and I could cruise in. He was right, it got wider and smoother. I felt like I was flying. And then I really WAS flying. That freaking trail wasn't as smooth as I thought. Out of nowhere, I hit the ground like a bag of flour. Neon Man immediately stopped, despite me telling him to go on and not ruin his race. He was saying something about that being a pretty bad fall. He pulled me up. Ouch ouch ouch, knee, elbow, butt rash. Ouch. Right as he was pulling me up, two HEIFERS passed me. And I say heifers because they didn't even ask if I was okay, nor did they even say "excuse me," or ANYTHING. Girls, I don't expect you to stop for me, but at least PRETEND to be concerned, even if just for a split second.

I walked my poor self to the water stop, where the volunteers asked if I needed medic. I didn't; and just to prove I was okay, I started jogging again. We went up a steep hill of straw, where I ... it's so ridiculous... I FELL AGAIN! So, the straw and pine is now stuck in my wounds. I hear the volunteer at the aid station get on his radio and say, "Have medic waiting at the finish, got a girl pretty banged up coming out soon." Truth: I probably could have run, and I did a little bit, but I was scared. My knee was sore and bloody, and I didn't trust my feet to run anymore. So, I walked/jogged the last mile-ish to the finish. And to prove how hard core trail runners are, the medics poured STRAIGHT ALCOHOL on my wounds and bandaged me up like a mummy for my drive home. And with my sparkly headband and Run Happy shirt, I cried like a little baby. Clearly, I'm not a mountain woman.

This week's plan? Get on the trails, teach those roots who is boss. I WILL DO THIS!!!!


  1. Oh wow!! First - huge congrats to your girls for PRing. SCARY about the motel. IKES. And you pretty much just summed up why I am a road runner. :) Hope you heal up quickly! Great job though on the race!!! Hard core for sure. Hugs! :)

  2. Dang Heifers!! Yeah...Huntsville sounds like a piece of cake compared to that! Regardless of the digs for pre-race, you did a phenomenal job with your team!

  3. Oh lord. You sure do know how to have an interesting weekend! Those small town crappy hotels can be terrifying. And I'm happy for your girls to have a nice ending to the season. You know they were just excited to be at the meet, no idea that the hotel was terrible!
    Congrats on the trail race, blood and all, sorry 'bout the heifers (that made me laugh. I would totally have thought the same thing...probably would have yelled it!).

  4. First up well done to your Girls, it's alway nice to leave your best race for the end of the season...

    Now: Welcome to trail running... They say that you are not a trail runner till you have fall 3 times, but then while you have a love for x-country, trail running is the next step up. If you ever find yourself in Cape Town i would love to should you just how 'technical' a trail could be... and the amazing place trail running can take you!!!

  5. Oh man, I have totally stayed at those dive hotels while racing before. The worst one...well, I woke up at 4am for the race, stumbled into the bathroom to get ready, turned on the light and found cockroaches. Yes, I screamed. :)

    Nice job on the race!! And don't worry about falling...pretty much everyone falls. I don't think I've ever run a trail race where I didn't eat dirt at least once. I fell twice during my 50k. In all the post race pictures, I have a trail of blood from my knee to my ankle.

    I'm clearly not good at trail running :)

  6. Lady -- I love this post. You are so alive! So much life in such a short post -- the good, the bad, the ugly. You = Inspiration. Also, offer stands for free guest room in Silicon Valley if we're around and you want to come run a race out here...