In January 2018, my plan was to run Cedro Peak 50K on April 21. My health was somewhat stable and I really wanted to get on with running and goal setting! I had a year of dealing with, treating and understanding the diagnosis of Lupus last April. I also had the emergency trip in October to Pennsylvania to be with my parents when mom had complications from heart surgery. And then I got sick, very sick in November. End already, 2017! I made my training plan, stuck it on the fridge and started January 1. A month into my training, I was feeling stronger than I had felt in a year. It was so nice to be without debilitating fatigue and pain, to think clearly and sleep well.
We had some unexpected bad news (isn’t all bad news unexpected?) mid February. It really threw our family into crisis mode and we prayed like we had never prayed before. My faith was tested. I had to decide to trust God or not. I wavered between peace that He gave me and anxiety that I gave myself. Trusting God in the unknown is what I profess, could I do it when the stakes were high? I did my best to stick to my training plan but there were days I just couldn’t run. Mentally, my mind was so overcome with sadness and fear; physically, my body was attacking itself and my pain was high. After a month we felt like we could relax a little with our situation, though it is not over. God has been so good to my family during this time. We have been so blessed by friends and family praying for us and He has grown all of our faith.
My training was sub-par for this race with only one 20 mile training run and very few back to back runs. I only averaged about 30 miles a week for all of March. I was determined to still run Cedro Peak and just give it my best.
Derreck and I drove to Tijeras on Friday, picked up my race packet, and spent the night at a friend’s house only a few miles from the start. Imagine my surprise when we woke up to snow! A quick look at the weather and I made the correct decision to wear capris instead of the skirt I had planned to wear. I knew the start would be cold, but I had anticipated it to warm up quickly. It did not!
There were about 100 people running the 50K and about 40 marathoners that started together at 7am. It was very quiet and surreal running through the blanket of snow that covered everything. I settled into my pace and passed the first aid station about a mile in, which we would see again in about 4.5 miles on this loop. The terrain is very different from where I live so the rocks and tree roots were something I had to quickly adapt to. I checked into the aid station, grabed a slice of apple and went on my way.
The next section was very runnable and so much fun. Somewhere around 7 miles in I found myself alone and a little panic set in that I had taken a wrong turn. The course was well marked and I kept seeing the flags, but runner’s brain doesn’t always function well. I soon came to the Juan Tomas aid station. I was feeling a little winded, but very good overall. I had a little Coke and an orange slice and kept going. The next aid station I would see Derreck. That stretch seemed to take a very long time as we were slowly climbing in elevation. I slowed significantly. I finally reached Derreck, grabbed some of my banana bread and some more salt tablets. This started the BIG climb to Cedro Peak. I walked this section and got a kiss from one of the Search and Rescue dogs at the top. The views were gorgeous.
We ran down the big hill we just climbed and the marathon separated from the 50K here. I did not study the course map much because I knew it wouldn’t matter or make much sense to me and planned to just run what I could. I completely underestimated how much the elevation would affect me. After mile 18, we climbed steadily until mile 23 topping out around 7700 feet. I pretty much walked all of miles 20-22, most of 23 and 24. I really wanted to run. My legs felt great but I could not catch my breath. Living and training at 3300 feet in elevation is not the same as over 7000 feet!
I never thought about quitting and knew I would finish so I just took in the beauty and took plenty of pictures and ate my gels and banana bread. I also drank ginger ale, ate some chips and ate a very delicious chocolate caramel sea salt truffle at the aid stations. Finally I reached the spot that I knew I would start decending down and looked forward to running again. I had my fastest mile split at mile 28 in a 9:21 and felt great about that. I ran as much as I could the rest of the race but ended up walking many of the hills because I was just plain tired by then. Knowing that 50K’s never quite match up to 31.07 miles I wondered how much farther it would be after my Garmin ticked past that point. When I hit Ponderosa aid station the last time, they said one mile left, which for me ended up being 32.47 miles. I ran what I felt like was fast for that last mile and finished 50K #3 in 7:11:52! They told me I got 3rd in my age group and I got a cool coin for 3rd place! It was a beautiful day and a wonderful race with excellent volunteers and aid stations. I would recommend this race to anyone, but I won’t be doing it again unless I can make some trips to Albuquerque for training at elevation. I feel really good about this accomplishment and am excited to start my new training plan for Palo Duro Trail Run 50 miler in October!
Fun stats: Results posted on Ultra Signup show I was 56th out of 92 finishers, 12th out of 29 females and actually 2nd in my age group! Overall winner was Rob Krar in 4:07:17!