Aug 142010

by Valerie Abradi – Rick and I headed there early to help out. Like last race, we just handed out the T-shirts to the pre-registered runners. Everyone was commenting on the shirts. They may be the best ever, of all races. I was just trying not to make too much eye contact, trying to hold it together. I think I did pretty good. I had already put it out on facebook that he was missing, so I had sympathy and support from my caring friends.

As it got closer to the start, we all amassed in the big field for Ian’s pre-race words. It was a large group. I tried to place myself well in the pack – not too far up to be in a fast runner’s way, but not too far back that I’d be weaving through runners to hit my pace. I think I got it right.

And we were off! Since I’ve been running there so much, I had a real sense of the pace I thought I could maintain. It was so good to be running and needing to focus so hard on footing and just the physical. When we got to the steepest part of the Boundary Trail, I was able to run up and pass some of the people that had been just ahead, but out of reach. A bit in oxygen debt by the time I made it to the top, my pace slowed for a bit as I recovered. I was at the head of a group when we turned onto the South Ridge. I warned that we were coming to a short, steep down that could be slide-y. I did that because I didn’t want them falling into me and I was going to be slowing a lot. I took the line that Ian showed me and was happy that I ran it rather than walked. Just when I was done with the last of the steep part, I fell. Hard. I lay there prone for a bit, with people asking if I were OK as the group split and ran around me. Yes. But then the pain of my fall tapped into the pain of loosing Scooter. I started crying. LOUDLY. Runners were going to stop. I said something about my cat being dead, leave, I’m not hurt. Sobbing is bad for running. Breathing is already hard enough.

I made myself get up and run. I liked seeing the blood running down my leg, my sock getting bloody. Oh, my other knee was whacked too. And both hands. The pain gave me something to refocus on. I made it to the first aid station, manned by TM Dave and another person. Dave handed me a water and Gatorade. I stayed and drank it and showed off my wound. He thought it was the best he’d seen as yet. Back to the race…

I ran the summit in the three very runnable spots that I had planned to, but walked the rest. Got the best of encouragement from Dora at the top and I’m pretty sure Rob took my picture. I love the Tote Road. After the Summit, I knew I could quickly recover there and even push the pace for most of it. On perfectly even, non-rooty ground (in very short supply on that trail!), I turned my ankle. I knew it was still runnable, but would hurt later.

I was able to run fairly well up the Northern Loop. I was probably more conservative on the Switchback than I should have been. Still finished the first lap in a fast (for me) time of 45:53. I stopped again for a Gatorade and water. I ran the first part of the Boundary Trail almost as hard as the first time through, but this time only ran 1/2 the big hill. I think there were a couple more places were I walked along there, but tried to push it after I recovered each time. Through the South Ridge vertically this time! Stopped for another water/Gatorade and visit with Dave. I managed to run to the first rock of the Summit, but then walked the entire way up. Again greeted by the bubbly Dora and Rob. Headed onto the Tote with lots of encouragement.
If I didn’t have any more wipe outs, I knew I would pr. After running up the Northern Loop, I was looking forward to the best down on the mountain. I’m pretty sure I ran it faster than I ever have, trying to fight the urge to brake too much. Then the hard right leading to the finish. My final time was 1:34:02, nearly 4 minutes faster than last year. The effort of the race had my emotions unable to be kept in check; I just kept going to our car rather than have to cry all over everyone. After a long drink and some solo time, I headed back to cheer the runners coming in.
Thank you, Trail Monsters. I can’t even tell you all how much I felt your concern.

It is very hard being home. I still expect that sweet face in all his spots. I miss sitting with him at night. I hope he didn’t suffer.

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