Thursday, July 28, 2016

Scott Rock the Top - Zugspitz Trailrun Challenge

Oh boy, do I have a story. First, I have to say that I almost didn't even start the race. I woke up that morning totally exhausted and it took all I had to force myself to get out there.

The day before the race, we took a half day off of work so that we could get on the road by 12:30 for our 4/5 hour drive down to Garmisch. We had a lot of last minute things that needed to be accomplished but we got on the road by 12:45...not bad. What was bad, was the drive down there. We hit so many Stau (German word for traffic jam) and ultimately it set us back 2 hours. We ended up arriving in Garmisch at 20:00, just one hour before the race registration booth closed. I picked up my bib and then we grabbed a bite to eat because neither of us had eaten a real meal since breakfast. We decided to eat at a middle eastern restaurant which I was a little weary about but the food looked amazing so I decided to take a was delicious! While we were eating, our phones were going off with family, friends and co-workers asking if we were ok because there had been a shooting in Munich. By the time we were done with dinner it was already 22:30 so we headed to the Edelweiss Lodge which is the U.S. Military Lodge and Resort to check-in to our campsite. Once at the campsite, we set up our bivy's...Addie and I would sleep in mine and Bj would sleep in his. This was going to be an experiment because not only was it Adelaide's first time camping but I was expecting her to sleep in my bivy with me. We laid down around 23:30, I could already tell it wasn't going to work because the two of us were trying to sleep on a single air-mat and whenever she would fidget (which was a lot) she would slide off and each time she fell off, she would start crying. Somehow we both fell asleep before midnight. But, at 01:30 I was woken by her scream and before I knew it she was trying to stand up in the bivy and was freaking out because there was no room for her to do so. It was a mess! I woke Bj up and told him that I couldn't sleep with her in the bivy and I asked him if he would set up the tent. Instead, he suggested that we lay the back seat down in the car and I lay my air-mat on it. So, after pulling everything out of the car to include the baby's car-seat we were able to lay the mat down and Addie and I slept (not well, but we slept). We still tossed and turned throughout the next several hours. Every time she would move, she would slide off of the mat.

04:45 came way too early. When my alarm woke me up, I considered just turning it off and going back to sleep but instead I forced myself to get up. I started to get ready out of the trunk of the car and woke Bj up around 05:00. As I was getting my gear together he came over to the car and I told him that I didn't think I wanted to start the race. I just felt horrible, I hadn't gotten much sleep and I was so tired. He said ok and that he would put up the tent so I could go back to sleep...but after about a minute of debating in my head, I yelled over to him that I was going to run. We ended up leaving the campsite by 05:30 to head to the start of the race which was about a half hour away. Unfortunately, I didn't get to have any breakfast so I was super hungry on the drive there. We arrived Ehrwald (the start) at 05:55, 5 mins before the start...just in time.

I got into the shoot and politely nudged my way up to the front, but not too close because I wanted to ensure that I would run my own race and not get caught up in the excitement. The countdown started and before I knew it, we were off!

At first I felt terrible. My legs were so heavy, I felt like each one was 200lbs each. Around 4km, I wanted to quit. I really thought to myself, this isn't your's ok to drop. Three girls had passed me but two of them were directly in front of me. I was still running the runable up-hills but my legs felt like lead. After about 7km I started to feel a little better. I decided to push myself past the two girls in front of me and took advantage of my downhill running ability. The terrain at this point was messy. It was a wet, mushy cattle path with lots of mounds and holes that you had to try not to step in or you could break an ankle. Oh yeah and I should mention lots of cow poop. Luckily, I gained a little bit of distance on the girls, not much but a little. When we got to the first checkpoint, I hurried up and got water and was on my way. No time wasted. Somewhere around the halfway point spectators told me that the first woman was only about 3 mins ahead of I pushed it. I ran whenever the grade wasn't crazy steep and before I knew it I passed her. I happened to run by her on a downhill and it was right before the second checkpoint. I still had plenty of water and nutrition so I didn't stop at that checkpoint. I just kept running.

Somewhere around the 25km mark I was heading up the mountain again and ended up passing a guy who was taking a break. He told me that I was the first woman and said something like "you can do it!". Not long after that, he was behind me and I asked if he wanted to go around me and he responded with "no", he said whenever he is in front, he can't control himself and goes too fast so he wanted to stay behind me. We ended up talking and running together for the rest of the race. Johannes was his name. As the kilometers went on, I learned all about him. He was a super nice guy, a teacher from a town not so far away. He told me all about the different sports he had done and how in January he became a father for the first time. We talked about how much fun and stressful it can be to have a baby but also that we wouldn't change it for anything. At this point, I was really happy to have someone to talk to me because I was suffering quite a bit from blisters on the tops of my toes. They were really hurting with every downhill step I took. Johannes asked me if I wanted to use his tape but I didn't want to stop so I told him, maybe later. Luckily, most of the race took place going uphill so the pain would subside enough to give me a break. Every downhill step though, felt like my toes were on fire! With every step, my foot would shift in my shoe and the tops of my toes would rub the blisters that I knew were broken open and raw.

About 5km out I was running in a group of about 3 or 4 guys. Sometimes I would pass them and then sometimes they would pass me. Somewhere around here we crossed from Austria into Germany and ran over the most dangerous section of the race which had us running on a narrow path with via feratta on one side and the mountain edge on the other. As we approached the final checkpoint which was at Knorr Hut, I had to hurry, fill my pack with water, grab a gel with caffeine and then go on my way. I wanted to wait for my new friend but I just had to keep moving. I was fearful the women behind me would be coming up soon so I just left the checkpoint while they stayed to refuel. I knew the they wouldn't be far behind me but, I couldn't wait...I needed to finish. The final push was tough but then again, so was the whole race. But, with it being mid-day the sun was out in full force. I was pretty hot but all I could think about was that the race was mine. The feeling I had as I approached the top was awesome...I knew I was the first woman. As I rounded the top of Sonnalpin, I heard my name and looked over to see Bj and my baby girl. I was so happy to see them but I had to cross the finish line before I could celebrate. As I approached the finish line, I think I surprised them because they were not ready for me. I saw one girl scrambling to get the banner up but she was trying to do it alone and it wasn't working out well for her so I just crossed the finish line anyway. I was so happy to have come in first place that I didn't care about the banner. One girl placed the medal around my neck and then they asked if I would run back I did. At that point I was just so happy that I didn't mind running back around to get a photo with the banner! As I was walking out of the shoot, some young boy wanted a photo with me so I stopped while his mother took the picture. Then I was approached by several people, asking questions and then requesting a few minutes for an interview. Around that time I saw my beautiful baby girl and her smile just filled me with so much more happiness! It was all surreal.

Overall, it was a super tough marathon. Lots and lots of climbing. I felt strong except for the blisters on my feet. I would definitely go back and do it again. The course was beautiful, the views were amazing and I love the climbing. My Strava showed a distance of 47.3km with 3,751m of elevation gain. For my American friends, that is 28.9 miles with 12,306ft of elevation gain ;)

Not a bad ending to what started off to be a horrible beginning. A lesson I learned from this run was no matter what, go out and give it a shot, you might surprise yourself. I really didn't think the race would go well but after a couple hours I warmed up and was happy to be out there. Once again, I kept telling myself...I'm right where I want to be!
My sleep the night before the start

And Up...

And Up...The climb makes you feel ALIVE!

View from the top -

Cool shot by

View from the top!

The Finish Line

Pure Happiness :)

1st :) :)

Me and MY WORLD!


Awards Ceremony :)

You can check out my Strava here:

Here are some other sites I was mentioned in :)

- The photo story

Friday, July 15, 2016

Rock the Top - Just a Week Away

I'm actually pretty excited about my next race... It's only a little over a marathon in distance but the elevation that we will climb...yikes!!! I really don't know much about the race except, it is called Rock the Top, Zugsptiz Trailrun Challenge put on by Scott, this is the 3rd year running and it is 43,5km with 3965m of elevation. That is a lot of climbing in a short distance. Plan B is the organization that puts this race, they are the same organization that puts on Zugspitz Ultratrail and I think they do a fantastic job.

Anyway, I'm not sure how long it will take me. I guess in the past the winning female won it in around 6 I guess I'm shooting for somewhere around there.

We plan on camping out that weekend in Garmisch and I'm excited because it will be Addie's first time camping! Should be fun :)