Dwarf 1: Was the princess YOU???
SN:...and she fell in love.
Dwarf 2: Was it hard to do?
SN (laughs): It was very easy!....
Gabi cuts in: All she had to do was put on her running shoes and hit the trails!
Hitting the trails is fun. Especially when you have just come back to L.A. from a cold and rainy place like Switzerland in spring 2010.
The weather report announced sunny, not too hot conditions and I decided to go for my first trail run of Training week 1. It was a gorgeous day and I had a blast running in shorts and t-shirt. Obviously, my mental capacities somehow did not follow me on the plane across the globe because I forgot that a) weather reports can be wrong and b) not wearing any sunscreen and leaving the hat in the car isn't a great thing to do. As a result and adding to the lack of mental capacities, I burnt my nose, had a heat rash, threw up and later on mistook the temperature gauge for the fuel gauge, running out of gas in the middle of the mountains. Luckily, I just made it to the oh-so-expensive gas station.
More trails and hill training on the road followed a few days later and a taper on Thursday left me with a long run on the weekend - the Bishop 50k.
The drive up to Bishop was beautiful and I got to test my brand new camera (I burnt the old one when I took a close up shot on a burning candle, note on the side for possible chronic mental capacities issues) on some awesome scenery.
Race check-in, pre-race dinner and briefing during which I was asked to stand up being THE Swiss runner of the race all went well. Met new fun people and headed back to the motel pretty early...to get the usual only 4hrs of pre-race sleep.
My coach Jimmy gave me simple and precise instructions for my training. They came in a handbag/wallet/travel-sized form on pink post-its, the color of princesses. Love it. Basically, it's not about the number of miles I run, it's now much time I spend in a moving motion and how fast or rather how slow I move. That last bit would prove to be the best instruction of week 1.
Knowing that I'm not a morning person, I had everything from drop bags, clothes to wear, gels to music compilation ready to go and only had to down the cliff bar for breakfast before Josh picked me up to head over to the start at 5a.m.
The weather report, again, announced a perfect day and being an indestructible optimistic, I believed it to be true. I wasn't let down.
When I briefly looked at the course profile a couple of days before, I noticed that the real climb for the 50k wouldn't start until about mile 6. Also remembering that according to Jimmy, I'm supposed to run only 50% of my uphill and power hike the other 50%, I decided to run the first hour or so. Or so it was. When I reached the aid station and found out that it was the one at Buttermilk Road/mile 11, I had been running for almost 2 hours. Most of the times it's best to trust your heart, sometimes you can trust your eyes but this time, I should have trusted my quads as they had been trying to tell me that we had been gaining elevation for quite a while. And I thought my legs were still a bit tired from the hill training earlier in the week. As I turned to look back at the course, I saw the actual uphill trail and agreed with my quads.
On the power hike to the turnaround point at Edison Loop/17 miles I cheered on all the fast runners already on their way down. I was very surprised when I all of the sudden reached said tournaround and realized that I had only seen one woman on her way down. My first thought was that I must not have been paying attention and missed passing runners while I was taking pictures. My second thought was: AWESOME, and it's just a training run!
Up until then I felt great and my only concern was that my stomach disagreed with me when I wanted to feed him more gels. Our timing was just off. I ate a gel, got nauseous and needed to burp. But that didn't occur until it was "time" to refuel again. I ended up eating a little bit of everything along with the gels on the aid stations. Not the settlement with the stomach but we managed to get along at least for the day and I got the needed calories into my body.
Making my way back down was a lot of fun as gravity helped a lot and I settled into a comfortable "forever" pace. My cheers continued for the people still on their way up and soon, my conversations were limited to the ones with the aid station people who did an excellent job. Singing and jogging, at mile 23, I had my first in a lifetime encounter with a rattlesnake that I mistook for a very long twig, laying outstreched on half of the trail. Only when I saw the pretty pattern of the twig as I ran past it, I jumped to the side, letting out an unidentifiable scream. Unimpressed by my side jump plus scream, the rattlesnake remained in its suntan position. Apparently, the snake had an attitude as the 50 milers came down and had to stop because it wouldn't move and get into striking position, still in the middle of the trail. The little green snake I saw a few miles later didn't make me work up a sweat but the midday sun and again, the missing hat, got me a little headache. Nothing a nice aid station crew couldn't take care of. Besides that, I still felt great and continued the forever pace to the finish line, only stopping a few times on the last mile because I knew the running would be over soon.
I did finally come in 2nd woman overall and first in my division and think that every training run should be like that. It did pay off to run conservative and stop to smell the flowers....or take pictures on the way.
The princess on a mission has definitely earned her tiara in the Eastern Sierra Nevada.