Just over two weeks ago, I raced my first 100 miler in Steamboat Springs, CO - USA!!! I had been so focused on this dream and it was such a huge goal for me. It felt the closest to what I know to be a similar feeling of the Olympics, so, it was my Olympics of this year, it was really a deep passion and mindset I created for myself! It was what I imagined - an amazing day!
It had been a wild month leading up to the race - had developed a relatively intense injury in my knee during a race and had a roller coaster of events and travels. So, it was by no means clear that the day would go as planned or that I would make it to the finish line. I took the rest - for once, listening to my body, in the weeks after my injury; got a number of deep massages (that good Swedish kind); stretched for 1:15+ every day; worked anti-inflammatories; prayed, dreamed, believed...my body impressed me every day with how much it improved - easing in a couple runs only let it feel better and better with more blood flow and I got it working again. Needless to say, I was pretty shaken and quite nervous for my knee and my pain tolerance for this race. It continued to feel better and better with the TLC I gave it and hung on throughout race day much better than expected...whew!
Here we go...
Flights from Sweden to CO, night in Denver by the airport...worked on abstract for deadline during race, picked up mom at airport, got rental car, got flipped around/lost, went shopping in Denver :), drove and jammed out to music in car to Steamboat, sushi for dinner, night in hotel...scoped out race crew points for my knowledge and for mom's directions for during the race, went for super soaking run in the rain at spring creek (I have a history of getting caught in huge rain/storm weather with my mom - it is rather ridiculous), checked into a condo, mexican food for dinner, worked on and submitted abstract...day before race included relaxation, stretching, studying course, walk up race finish (super nice weather), eat lots, stretch/study, prepare race drink/clothes/bag, walk over for race check-in and meeting, organize drop bags, pasta dinner, worked on two additional abstracts (not ideal race prep)...
Race day - I spent some time this morning before getting out of bed to deepen my belief and set my mindset and I got up with good vibes and knew the day would be rockin'! Excitement sure picked up as we got locked out of the condo after realizing maybe I wanted another jacket to stay warm at the start if it started to rain (mom ran a few times to the reception, then we just told them and headed to the start -- solved later/forget the jacket), rain stayed away-no need initially. Was relaxed before the start and got to say hello to some new friends and meet some long lost friends too :) Yay!
Race started before I knew it and we were off, here is a summary of my mind from the race...be smart here, you don't really know how to run 100 miles, conservative and smart, easy does it, listen, sweaty, hot here, walk, run, walk, run, doing ok, wow, altitude, oh my goodness - my socks - what is going on - fix it now, smart, walk, woah heart rate, sheesh altitude, legs are fine, ok hello altitude, patience, smart, gosh darn socks (I had evidently put too much/put body glide on my heels - rookie mistake, had to untie and pull up and tie laces tighter...didn't work (did it 3-5 times up the first climb) my goodness - how silly, it will be a lonely day on the trails (mainly pulling up the rear of the faster class of the race - oh well, I do a lot on my own these days), doing ok, altitude, yay top, time to run, smooth, loosen the legs, let it roll, smart, hold back, nutrition going well, drink lots-it's hot, salt tablets, running yep...headed smooth in and out of long lake aid station and down fish creek falls, oh my this is quite pretty and nice to hear the river, ok...now that was cool - I just saw a fish jump in fish creek falls - nice!, at the trail head to say hey to mom and head for the road to town, super conservative and working a nice rhythm, in and out of olympian hall aid station, nice rhythms and saw some others finally on my way to cow creek aid station, very pretty over here, incredible light and perfect time for sunset - sweet!, hey mom - "MOM, I'M DOING GREAT!", all is well, body doing good-smooth knee and tendons and smooth stomach (mostly), back to olympian hall after chasing some head lamps, continue chasing some head lamps now - beautiful night for a run, up to fish creek again, mom is doing great on my crew-improving with every possibility, just like me...let's go, great climb back up although it is raining/storming now, no problem, Im ready, oh cool...I just saw a bunny rabbit (this is true - saw a rabbit during the Run Rabbit Run race - was not a hallucination), back to long lake (just over 50 miles) (super nice and very helpful aid station), feeling quite good, but slow going with dimming headlamp, crazy puddle/really rough road, hard to run, hard to see, is it still raining or no?, no we are good, but woah watch the footing, into summit lake aid station-in and out, down rumbling dirt road to dry lake, seeing lots of people now - the top runners are on the way back up, looking for all the women and taking notes, cheer on Nikki! and get bonus strength vibes from her :) Cool! hey to mom at dry lake and fill up, head down further to spring creek, brain is getting slower at remembering what I was going to do at the aid stations, but all good, just keep it rolling, gonna get tougher from here I think, but man I am actually feeling super - considering, cruise up to dry lake (got a nice sun coming up), emotions are coming closer - so I just say as I go through the aid station (mile 75ish) (need to fill my water and get out of here or Im going to loose it - meaning I will start crying and therefore, loose a lot of energy), get a talk with mom on the way out of the aid station and know I need to start making some serious time if I want to secure a finish in under 30 hours (goal for a true finish in the classification of 'Hare'), try to push it on the climb up the rough road, shit this altitude, dizzy, ok, push, ok, dizzy, hmm, am I there yet, oh yay summit lake, fast in do my stuff and out, super sunny up here, hot, oh no cold, windy, oh hot, super hot, not, cold, oj...feeling it now, I am sssslllooooooowwwwing down, come on, here is where we make it happen, let's go Willis, diggin deep and know I will get there, ok here come some visions in the woods and some impatience, where am I, where is the long lake aid station (was looking for it for like 45 min...let's just say I was glad to get there), long lake - yes!, "need a hug?" my answer = wow, yes please! - I probably had that expression all over my face = another awesome aid station crew, ok...counting down those miles and really calculating time now, working some rhythm, body is slow and not wanting to eat much or drink much and altitude is affecting my pace, but I am moving and I am just thinking keep 4-6mph for each step, good focus on this section even though I am really falling apart, but up and across to Mt. Werner, great vibes up there, don't loose it, you are right there, be smart Sarah, you are going to do this, emotions on my sleeve - hang on to it, over the top and run right through the aid station barely words to say Im #58 and out, headed for a 6 mile downhill at the end of a 103 mile race is not what I recommend, I was just happy to keep a shuffle and get some encouragement from the 50mile racers finishing - they were bonus motivations and just trying to get those emotions from me...I didn't let em have it, super steep section made my hip flexor almost come off my leg, but rolling my shuffle rhythm again, hey it is getting familiar, condos, super close, see it, ohh mom is coming up, running together, then on my own, then a shot around the stairs into a 'designated hug' for the finish...yep...done...DONE...I DID IT...I...DID...IT! (but I didn't have much emotion...I was empty...satisfied...happy beyond belief...happy beyond any idea of what that means...complete...it was like that and it was super)! I just ran 103 miles in 28:55.56 hours! I can only be happy with that :)
Long story, but long race, bit lonely but great mind vibes and self energy all day! This was probably my best mental race (Lavaredo Ultra Trail was a wonderful one too) and for sure I surprised myself on every level...body, mind, and really deep down believing and knowing it. I think it was just something I had been so focused on and really ready for. I raced very conservatively and felt that I paced it quite well, I didn't have others to work with, so it was really my race the whole way, I was in control the whole way and I did really well with that. Especially well considering I had not been acclimated to altitude (Sweden is at sea level), I was in a stressful time with work deadlines, I had an injury leading into the race, and it was my first 100 mile race. I did my best in every moment and had no big issues - huge for a race like this, and I am very satisfied by that, but of course I want more, I want more challenges and more adventurous journeys. I did great, and I am craving more! I have found a strong passion in this type of race and I can hardly focus on anything else these days. I loved the race and the atmosphere and I hope to be back in the future.
There is much more to report of my current self, stay tuned...for now, just know that my mind has recovered as I am finally adjusted to jetlag on this side of the pond and crazily dreaming of running and racing, but the body is having a time of it's own (i.e. not recovered yet, needs that special TLC from above)...recovery mode and dreaming mode = on!
It feels great to get the first one done and it feels even greater to know there will be many more :)