There are days when things just click. After 3 years of running this race, this year I finally felt like I “got it”.
It all started with my favorite pre-race ritual: camping. Ryan and a bunch of RMRs would be volunteering at the 1st & 4th aid station on the course and were allowed to set up camp there the night before, so Lassen, Yves and I joined them for a wonderful night under the stars.
Daylight broke a little before 5AM, we stuffed our backpacks with a change of clothes, I jammed our new RMR banner in between the straps and the three of us hit the trails at 5:45am for an easy 2 mile jog to the starting line. I warmed up quickly and thoroughly enjoyed the magical morning light sparkling on the frosted grass. A couple dozen RMRs were already mingling at the starting area — I couldn’t imagine a more joyful way to start a race.
The energy from having so many good friends and teammates sharing the trails and the extra kick I got from seeing the rest of the crew at the RMR aid station set me up for success. All I had to do was run.
And so I did. I fueled exclusively with CarboPro, Hydra and got some Tailwind at a couple of the aid stations (I’d never tried it and didn’t actually know what it was initially but I was really impressed by it). My energy felt solid and consistent, and my tummy was happy.
This time, thankfully, I was not that 1 in 100!
There is a tremendous strength that comes with running as a team — whether it be cracking a few jokes along the way, pointing out a beautiful view, or encouraging one another when things get tough. Each time I came across RMR green I felt lighter on my feet. My mind often thought about our friend and RMR teammate, Greg, who was wrapping up a 550 mile run at that very moment. All of the sudden, 32 miles felt like the simplest of challenges! When Malory caught up to me along a rocky ridge I felt so empowered to get to run amongst a field of remarkable female athletes. Each green RMR jersey that I saw on the out-and-back section to the summit of Windy Peak gave me strength — it was an incredibly powerful feeling to get to see the courage, grit and humility in everyone’s eyes and to exchange exhausted and sweaty smiles and high-fives as we crossed paths. In each of those moments, the burning in my lungs and fatigue in my muscles eased. Lassen helped me bomb the rocky descent off of Windy Peak — you would have never known that he was feeling like crap — and with about 2 miles to go he asked if I thought we could break 6 hours. I glanced down at my watch for the first time in the entire race and saw that we had about 20 minutes to do it. Game on!
I finished in 5:54 with Lassen just a few seconds behind me and Malory coming across the line with a minute or so to spare before the stroke of 360 minutes. And like that, 13 of the Rocky Mountain Runners broke the 6 hour barrier and got the coveted Dirty 30 “360 Club” hat.
Kerrie, Malory and I made it onto the podium along with the legendary Anita Ortiz who at 51 years old, proves, yet again, that running knows no age limits.
And as if things could get any better, RMR Dan Gorman (who also ran the race) made the awards himself!
Huge thank you and congrats to all the Rocky Mountain Runners who were out there: 27 ran the 50K, 5 ran the 12M and every single one finished strong! What an incredible group of runners and friends!