Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Transvulcania 2014 - A Race to Remember

Transvulcania...WOW! What a fun race. I wasn't sure how it was going to turn out since I haven't been able to train properly. For the whole month of March and two weeks of April I took off from running, completely to try and finally rid myself of the constant pain I was in. I also had a PRP injection during this time and I think that was the reason I was able to run the race. Sooo, back to the race! It was A-MAZ-ING...I had so much fun and was pretty happy the whole time. I was hoping to complete it in 10 hours but with the lack of training and injury my main goal was to finish.

The night before the race I wanted to get to bed early so I went I my room at about 3pm and put my pack together and lay around playing on the laptop. But at about 8:30 I started to get real hungry so I ordered some room service since I didn't want to have to get dressed to go down to the hotel restaurant. My pre-race meal: steak, mixed vegatables and patatoes. It was pretty yummy and I needed the nutrition to help me run strong!

The race started at 6am and the atmosphere at the start was great. Like many other races, there was music playing, elites being introduced, runners everywhere full of excitement and anticipation of the day ahead. It was really exciting. The countdown in Spanish begin and everyone shouted, diez, nueve, ocho, siete, seis, cinco, cuatro, tres, dos, uno and then the air horn went off and so did the runners. We started off on a wide dirt road below the Fuencaliente lighthouse which shortly led to a single-track dirt path that went on for about 8km. It was apparent that many of the runners knew we were about to be forced on a narrow path because the pushing and shoving was like no other race I've been apart of. I was a little surprised at this but I understand that it wasn't meant with bad intentions but just that people didn't want to get stuck behind slow people on the single-track path.  But, I was still a little surprised at the amount of men that had no problem pushing me out of their way to run past. Those 8k in the volcanic sand felt like 20...it was so difficult to run on because each time you stepped, your feet would sink in and it was like running in slow motion.
At the start :)

Soon after the first checkpoint the trail started going up again but then again that is the story of this race. We just kept going up, up  and up! I loved watching the sun rise, it was absolutely beautiful and made me feel really happy. I knew I wasn't moving fast but I didn't care. I was just happy to be out there enjoying the morning. The day went on and the hours past. Around the 26km mark is where Refugio de El Pilar checkpoint was and where the Marathon race begin. It just so happened that I ran by that checkpoint at 4:28hrs...and two minutes later the Marathon started. The runners ran by and from this point on we were all mixed together. Not only could you identify the marathon runners by their red bibs but also because they were sooooo clean! That's right, all of us who had already been on trail were a mess. We had dirt everywhere and I mean EVERYWHERE! But, after a couple hours they too were dirty and the only way to tell who was who was by the color of our bibs.

The crowds were great, people were out cheering in all the little towns and outside of their homes along the course. As the day progressed it got hot...muy caliente! And as we climbed the less shade there was for relief.
 It seemed like the climbs wouldn't stop and as much as I would have liked, I did not stay at any checkpoint but for just enough time to fill up my water bladder.

When the downhills came, I zoomed. I ran past people and imagined myself flying. I was really looking forward to the final descent that I had heard so much about. That is, until it came. I reached the highest point of the race and the last peak before the final descent at 10 hours. At this point I was really looking forward to heading down and at first I was flying, jumping from rock to rock and enjoying the momentum. But descending from 2400+ meters to sea-level got to me. It was about the time when I reached the second to the last checkpoint which was half-way down that I started to feel the pain in my feet and heat of the day. It was so hot at this point but luckily at the Tore Forestal de El Time checkpoint they had huge buckets of water and were kindly pouring the water over our heads. It was much needed because I was really starting to feel the heat. After filling up my pack I continued down the mountain but it wasn't without a couple good spills which left a nice blue bruise on my butt.
Happy to be on the trails :) and feeling good!

Once I reached Tazacorte which happened to be the Marathon's finishing point I was filled with excitement which soon turned into anger as we headed up the riverbed and then up the other side of the mountain. I knew that we would have to go back up but I didn't realize just how far back up we would have to go. I remember reaching a road where volunteers were stopping traffic and I asked the young lady where do we go now...and when she pointed up, I remember yelling "Are you kidding me???!!!" but then I smiled at her so she didn't think I was upset with her. We ended up climbing up to 400+ meters and then the finish line was in site...that was a great feeling. I just plodded along as people were screaming as if I were Frosty herself. That was a great part about this race, the crowds didn't care who you were, to them, you were a rockstar...and that was a great feeling!

I finished in 13:02:00, not 10:00:00 like I wanted but I finished...and that I'm happy about!
Photo was taken right after the race.

I also had a wonderful time the days surrounding the race. I met some really great people and was happy to have extended my ultra-running family! I can't wait to see you all again at future races :)

Hanging out at the pool and the beach the following day!

Thank you to all the volunteers and to the race organization for such a memorable race experience! It was truly a race to remember.