banner

banner

Monday, December 5, 2016

Mind vs The Mountains: A mental battle of strength

I don't know where I am.
I sit- stuffed in a box.
My hands on both sides and yet still touching my face.
Completely confined in this restricted space- with the little space that I was given.
You see, I was put here.
Why? You ask.
Well, that is what I'm about to tell you.
As I sit here in this thick glass cube I can barely see through the gloom that surrounds me and you know what I see?
I see me.
But it's not me, it's an impersonator!
A fragment of who I am.
We shall call her Doubt.

Doubt is what controls my being when I'm lacking the motivation or the strength to do what I believe makes me happy.
That very idea of happiness is questioned.
And instead I am overcome by a darkness, a lack of mental strength, an overwhelming amount of negativity and most of all doubt- doubt in myself.

Many times I find myself in this situation, whether it's by an injury, poor diet, stress levels, and possibly just a mere lack of motivation.
A month ago I raced Javelina 100 and ran my way back into a re injured right ankle.
I brushed it off as a mere ache.
This "ache" ignited every morning once my foot hit the ground- ultimately making me train less.
Inevitably with less training, I'm more willing to eat poorly and drink more thus jumping into a downward spiral head first..
Doubt swooped in, and took charge of the situation.

It's Monday and I wake already lethargic before my day has even begun.
It's gloomy out and the sun has yet to begun rising and yet here I am.
The construction next door that seems to have been going on for years starts at the crack of dawn.
I consider it a free alarm clock.
Pouring my coffee I shift around the filter and eventually it breaks and leaks all the grinds into my already filled cup.
Sigh.
So it's going to be one of those days.
If I could I'd crawl back into bed and pull the sheets over my head but I have an appointment for a dog run and the construction noise is enough to get me out of the apartment swiftly.
The morning continues like clock work.
A ritual I perform almost 4 days a week.
With the day off I feel as though I should do something productive and I send my friend a running invite.
I immediately regret the offer.
The idea of sleep overwhelms me.
I don't have the energy.
I'm too tired.
My foot aches.
Listening to Doubt give me all the excuses on why I shouldn't go- I confirm with my friend and eventually meet him off Lake and Loma Alta dr. At the cusp of what is called Echo Mountain, a portal to the San Gabriel Mountains front range.

On January 6th 1993, Echo Mountain was delineated as part of the Mount Lowe Railway monument. ON top of the mountain are the ruins of the "White City", a resort along the scenic Mount Lowe Railway, which could easily be seen from the valley below. Echo Mountain's name is derived from the number of repetitions one's voice could emit into Castle Canyon. During the days of the Mount Lowe Railway "echophones" were set up to assist in voice projections near the best sweet spot.

Doubt reminds me to say that I'll be going extra slow today,
that I'm not strong enough to push myself.
It had rained all day the prior day making the trails very soft.
We converse the entire way to echo mountain and then splitting off to Castle Canyon, one of the steeper routes to Inspiration Point.
The more I hike up the mountain the more sense of relief my body feels.
I could feel the goosebumps shoot down my body as I look out- What a sight!
"A gift", I thought.
A precious gift, a spectacle, a show given by mother nature.
We stop a mere minute to enjoy some trail butter and jelly wrapped tortillas made by Tony, my partner in crime for the day. (Along with my sidekick Juniper the ultradog as well).



I can't believe I almost missed this.
With this new burst of energy we continue forward before our bodies get too cold.
On toward Mt Lowe.
Tony and I continue our slow jog up and stop almost instantly when we turned the corner of the trail.


I tilt my head back to face the sky.
A beautiful sight lay before me and I feel the bone chattering cold take over my body.
This
is
incredible.




We continue climbing upward toward Mt. Lowe in a giggle fest.
We are completely stunned at the cloud spectacle before us.
Any ounce of doubt, negativity, or pain escaped me long ago.
It didn't matter how fast I ran.
It didn't matter if I received the CR (Course Record on Strava) for this section.
It didn't matter if it was even recorded.




I was thankful to be outside, so very thankful to enjoy this gift.
I threw my hands in the air and screamed THANK YOU at the top of my lungs.


Time stood still, and I rejoiced in the splendor of that moment.
Nothing else mattered.
And for the rest of the run, leaving doubt behind, I remembered what a gift this truly is.
The trails, the beautiful weather, the company- all things I need to remember to appreciate despite having a set back.
I realized I may not always be at my peak performance pace and I'm ok with that.



Driving home that evening I was glowing with the days events.
Wishfully thinking that all days in the future will be exactly like today.

 It's Tuesday night, I'm working and it's 9:30 pm.
Stress overwhelms me with tomorrows activities.
Doubt tells me to cancel.
Doubt tells me I can't do it.
I brush doubt aside and know I can at least try.
My mental strength holding on to what strings it has left and begins to rebuild itself.

With a dog run appointment early at 7.
I carpool with my roommate Derek and Juniper and drop them off at the trail head.
Not knowing whether both dogs would get along I didn't want to run them together unless having a meeting on trail.
After my dog appointment Derek, Juniper and I make our way to Sierra Madre where we are to pick up Tony and off we go.
Where do you ask?
It's Los Angeles best kept secret!
Please don't tell anyone.
Do you really want to know?

Well for the non Angelinos...
it's the mountains.
Just like Echo Mountain and Mt. Lowe, the San Gabriel Mountains offer a wide range of spectacle.
And today we are headed to Mt. Baldy.

Mount San Antonio, colloquially referred to as Mt. Baldy, is the highest peak of the San Gabriel Mountains, and the highest point in Los Angeles County.
Mount San Antonio's sometimes snow-capped peaks are visible on clear days and dominate the view of the Los Angeles Basin skyline.
The peak is pyramid shaped, with a steep south face (Baldy Bowl) and a shallower north face. The summit is accessible via a number of connecting ridges along hiking trails from the north, east, south and southwest.

Snow!
In Los Angeles- you wouldn't believe it.
We try to keep it a secret, we try to not give it so much hype.
But today, right now- I'll show you!




We had a group of impressive runners today including Juniper my ultra dog sidekick.
We decided to go up the skihut, not even considering the dangers that devils backbone could produce.

I was already tired from the days events yet glowing from excitement for the adventure that lays ahead.
The sun was shining and we all slowly stripped off layers of clothing.
The entire group minus Tony and me were in tights and extra layers on top and were now understanding why we stuck to our shorts.
The sun kissed us with warmth despite the snow on the ground.
Welcoming us to it's gift from a few night ago, patches of snow carpet the trail once leaving the ski hut.
Hikers pass us expressing their concern of our lack of equipment.
We brush them off knowing full well what we are doing.
With this being Baldy's first snow and it still being fresh- the need for spikes was not dire.
With each turn, the trails gifted us with soft snow beneath our feet delicately commanding our attention as the technicality rewards those with short attentions spans a hefty mouthful of cold rock hard ice patches.



I took a moment to thank my body for this amazing gift of endurance, both physical and mental.
For ultras are not just for who are fit but who have the mental strength to continue forward despite the distance and demand on the body.
For we all can DNF (did not finish) because we didn't feel like pushing through or we can test our mental strength and finish despite possibly being DFL (dead fucking last).

Along the ridge line before the summit we feel it- the wind.
Despite the heat emanating from the sun, the wind blew a bone chilling cold.
From where we were we could see the blizzard at the top, almost arms reach away.
Here we go!





We reach the peak and mini bullets of snow pummel our face and bodies.
Juniper looks for a spot to hide from the fierce wind and yet cant find relief.
As quickly as we summit- we are off the peak and begin our descent down back to the Ski Hut.




Once we pass the ski hut the snow disappears and the trail allows you to gain momentum.
What a relief it was to let my legs stretch out from all the jarring technical terrain.
From that point I realized how amazing my body felt.
Not for a moment did I question any aches or pains or even fatigue.
Adrenaline rushing through me along with pure happiness.
OHHHHH endorphins... how sweet you are and how addicted I am to you!
We hit the fire road and for the first time in what seems like months I finally feel as though I can open up my stride and run down.
My feet feeling as though barely touching the trail, they move swiftly sin any ounce of pain.
WHAT A DAY!
A true friendsgiving spent doing something we are all passionate about- running in the mountains.


I'm sitting in the box, the cube I've been placed in and it almost feels like cardboard.
A thin material that envelopes me, it's dark here yet there is lights seeping through the cracks.
I feel the warmth against my check, my left calf and my pinky.
I embrace it, with a new feeling overcoming my body.
Hope.
Strength.
It's starting to build.
Through the cracks I can see myself in the distance, Doubt.
You little son-of-a-bitch.
She looks nervous.

It's Monday again and I wake with a sudden alertness.
Despite working till nearly 1 am I am awake before my alarm clock and again before the sun.
This week will be different.
This week is when I start rebuilding my strength and balance.
I'm heading back to the gym.
Crossfit Ganbatte for their endurance wod.
I can't stress enough how welcoming this group is and how vital it is to find someone, whether a coach or a trainer that understands what you as an athlete needs.
As an ironman athlete and ultra runner, coach and owner JP is one bad ass mother f'er.
It's comforting to be surrounded by like minded endurance athletes all looking to become stronger in their sport.
After class I rushed over to my dog running appointment and head out for a five mile run.

Today is my day off from work which means I have another opportunity to play in the mountains.
I re consider that idea.
Perhaps I should rest.
Maybe I'm pushing myself too much?
With a quick text from Vince, solidifying our meet time- I'm out of the door before you could say Mt. Baldy.

And that's where I'm headed.
Again.

I sit in front of Vinces house waiting for him to get back from a run with some other friends.
YES, I'm a bit ticked that we are starting an hour later but tardiness with Vince is inevitable(Vince is fully aware of this and I am too).
I am filled with worry that it'll get icy, it'll get cold, we won't have time for anything before the sun set.
I get anxious and hurry Vince as he brushes away my anxiety with jokes and puns.
Arriving to Manker Flats, we are met with several hikers leaving.
Knowing full well my dream of using my snow shoes would not pan out so instead I pack my spikes and grab my hiking poles and we head past Ski Hut trail to Register Ridge.

Register Ridge
Steeper than most of the other standard routes up Mt. Baldy. You gain about 2600 ft. of elevation in 1.7 miles. There is also an optional short Class 3 rock climb that you can do (option to hike around available).
The use trail fades away just before you get to the Devils Back Bone trail where you have the option to continue upwards toward Mt. Hardwood peak or left toward Mt Baldy Peak (or right back down Devils backbone toward the lodge and eventually to the parking lot).

Vince and I banter basically the entire way up Register Ridge.
I move extra slow- starting to feel the soreness in my hamstrings from the dead lift done earlier in the morning.
He makes fun of my hiking poles, being a mountain goat himself- he doesn't understand their use.
I slip and slide a little.


Thankful for my new Salomon sense pro trail shoes.
These shoes have been great for technical trails along with wet terrain.
My feet were TOASTY!


My fear of time loss quickly escaped as we reached the top.
Vince had made the executive decision of not going to Baldy peak but Hardwood instead.
It's closer and with the sun quickly fading- we are less likely to be stuck in the dark.
Just before we hit the backbone trail we are almost knee deep in snow, unable to find the "trail".



Following another set of tracks we continue upward- knowing that is the only direction.
I am amazed at how warm I feel despite the frigid wind.
Thankful for such quality shoes in such insane wet weather.



Having a lot of friends outside of Los Angeles, and mostly outside of California.
They are normally shocked at our quality of mountains when I show photos or post my daily activities.
I know, it's pretty astonishing.
A 10K mountain in our backyard!
Say whhhhhhat?

 We are pretty blessed with these local trails.
I know you probably correlate LA with traffic, high rises, beach life, and obnoxious people.
But when I describe Los Angeles I portray the mountains, nature, weather, and wonderful outgoing people.
It does exist outside of the Pacific Northwest ;)

I have an some pretty stellar runs in the San Gabriel Mountains.
Some of my most favorite times have been the last two that I've written about.
But this takes the cake.
I can officially name it my favorite time on ANY mountain.
Which says a lot.
The photos may not due the moment we had justice- but it comes pretty close.




I find myself back in the box, or what was the box.
The once thick confining cube I sat in lays fragile blanketing my body.
The once thick darkness opens up to fresh mountain air.
I stretch my legs out- wondering why it seemed so hard to move before when it comes effortlessly now.
The box disappears.
I stand up with strength beaming from my toenails to my dark brown bun.
And that's when I see her... Doubt.
With happiness, shoulders back, head up high I walk toward her with a new sense.. an overwhelming sense of confidence and
POOF!
She's gone.
With her sense of doubt, darkness or weakness that I may have felt overridden with a new power.
The knowledge and understanding that when life gets turbulent it can also quickly become calm if you just believe and be patient.
Mental strength is just as vital as your bodies endurance.
Believing in yourself is the first step toward building that physical strength.
No, I may not be as strong of a runner as I have been but I feel like my mental strength has truly grown.
When I think of past races, it hasn't been my key endurance training that aided me in finished rather my mental strength that enabled me to keep moving forward during low moments and just continue even when I feel like shit. (or when I raced with sprained ankle at Broken Arrow but I also never have laughed that much and had so much fun during a race).
I can run any given day for any given distance when I'm feeling great- any one can!
It's having some degree of mental strength to keep you moving when you aren't having a good day instead of just quiting.
My body put me through that test this month.
Challenging me everyday.
Putting me through what seemed like an ultra marathon just to make it through a day.
I've enjoyed the journey- embraced the suck and continue forward.
What I can do now is work on my weakness instead of embracing doubt and rebuild.
Become stronger and efficient in every aspect- not just in the mountains.

Sometimes in life, your situation will keep repeating itself  until you learn your lesson.
I think I'm starting to learn that lesson...

Till next time,
Peace, love and happiness.

Postscript:
My computer from 2006 is on its last leg. The amount of time it takes me to write, edit, sycronize photos, links, etc. on this computer is MIND BLOWING.
Hey Monday, it's been real nice sitting on the couch allllll day.
Thankfully both Juniper and I spent allll day in the mountains yesterday (and then I worked a closing shift at work) to allow some rest today...
I believe in a new computer is in my near future... maybe.












Tuesday, November 15, 2016

Javelina Jundred- Running 100 miles in an oven.

Photo by Sweet M Images

(Current music selection as I write)
It's 11:36pm on October 31st, a date most would reference as Halloween.
I gather all of my things and quickly escape the madness that is my work; a dive bar on Hollywood Blvd. Just finishing up an 8 hour shift as I walk, hobble at best, quickly out before the last strings of my sanity snap.

An eight hour shift here is not ideal, it's definitely a longer shift than normal and despite carrying miles in the hills, right now my feet beg for a minute's rest. Fatigues, sore, restless- my poor body screams for recovery time that I have stolen from it. You see, dear friends, in order to have the time off to run in the desert I had to be available to work on Halloween only the day after hopefully completing 100 miles. Boo. No really, boohoo.

An agreement I made just three weeks prior when I finally signed up for Javelina.
Was it worth it?
An answer I haven't quite confirmed as of yet.
 


A short tease of the Trail Running Film Festival the night before the race.


It's almost 4pm on Saturday, October 29th and I'm running into Coyote Camp aid station.
I instantly spot several friends; Raul, Carlos, Dean and Howie yet all I can focus on is:
DO NOT PASS OUT before the ice bucket.
My eyes fixate on it.

Despite leaving Jeadquarters just a few miles earlier fully drenched, my body packed with ice, I am now bone dry and feel as though my skin is melting.
Strike that, maybe my skin really IS melting.

 



I need ice and I need it fast.
Quickly mumbling my hellos to the gang I try to reset.
 At every aid station they have buckets of ice water with sponges and I soak my entire body.
My body shivering in shock.
I start to regain mental stability as I talk to my friend Howie who is out supporting and photographing all our friends who are running this toasty desert race.

  


"It's so hot!!" is the first thing that comes out of my mouth.
A statement made countless times throughout the day in this TRIPLE digit heat.
I spent a significant amount of time at this aid attempting to reset my over-exhausted body and prepare myself until next aid at Jackass, six and a half miles ahead.

As I begin running from the aid station any happiness regained from the ice refresher quickly escaped as I try to mentally prepare myself for my least favorable section.
This heat is unbearable.
I try to stay close to the man with the blue compression socks.
As weird as that sounds I'm awfully tired of running alone.
Quickly agreeing with whatever pace he keeps I continue my quest forward.
One step in front of the other.
Avoiding any loose rocks that may further hurt my right ankle, this next section is the most technical .
photo by Howie Stern

  

My body screams with fatigue.
My mind fights off my will to stop.
Within each step I feel the tightness of my legs and the shooting pain in my ankle and I beg myeslf to make it end.
Any mental strength I had escaped me long ago.
Why am I putting myself through this?
A question I asked myself countless times throughout the day.
Slowly everything starts to fade.
The vibrant desert color turns into shades of grey.
From the split ends of my crisping braided hair to the aching pain in my toe nails every molecule of my being envelopes this darkness.
       

It's 4am on Friday October 28th and I've woken up 20 minutes before my alarm.
Accepting the earlier rising time I quickly call Juniper over for a quick snuggle before the morning madness begins.
I'm in the guest bedroom of my parents house- where my sweet angel child will be staying over the weekend.
We snuggle for a minute longer and I quickly assess what needs to be done before driving to Sierra Madre and then to Arizona.
My dad makes me coffee the way I like it,
hints of coconut oil and almond milk in a very dark roast gives off the perfect taste.
Walking out to my car I notice there was a guest appearance of rain at some point in the night.
Yawning, I start my car and wave to my dad who never leaves the side walk until I'm out of sight.
I'm so grateful to have my parents so close.
If it was up to Juniper- she'd never leave their house.
She's definitely spoiled with love their and for that I am forever grateful.


The drive to Arizona was uneventful.
The closer we got the more anxious I became.
I felt like a puppy- in the back seat filled with so much excitement I could stick my head out the window as drool escaped my open mouth sun kissing my face.
This year's race invited several friends from all parts of the country and I was eager to share this experience with them.

Hoping my Frida Kahlo costume would win this years costume contest (ran with a drawn in unibrown and mustache and still didnt win)


The 15th Annual Javelina Jundred will take place October 29 – 30, 2016 staged out of the Four Peaks Staging Area at McDowell Mountain Regional Park north of Fountain Hills, Arizona. The 100 Mile distance will be comprised of one 22.3 mile loop that incorporates the Escondido Trail on the far East Side of the park and four 19.45 mile loops on the popular Pemberton, Shallmo, and Cinch Trails.
   

 


 

This will be my second time here at Javelina Jundred, last year being my first completed 100 mile distance.
A weekend I constantly explain as one of the best weekends of my life.
Making new friends on the trail and feeling strong the entire race.
I couldn't wait to come back!
Photo by Howie Stern

It's been twenty minutes since I left Coyote Camp aid station.
I'm 46 miles into Javelina Jundred and I've embraced every negative thought possible.
As I continue to leap frog with the man in the blue compression socks I plan my inevitable end to this race.
Do I trip myself and fall?
Do I blame my rolled ankle?
Should I throw my leg against a cactus?  




My dnf is inevitable- there is absolutely no way I will continue to torture myself.
Why did I think I could do this?
Why didn't I train properly?
Why didn't I heat train?
Why did I spend so much time in the mountains when this is far from a mountain course?

So many questions flood my mind.
Regret weighing heavy in my heart.

Three days prior I held a number 46, waiting for my food after running the Feet Feet Halloween pub run.
I jokingly knocked on wood stating that there's no doubt that I'll make it past 46 miles.
But here I am.
Mile 46 and planning my demise.

The sun beats down on my body, pushing my body closer toward a DNF acceptance.
I take a sip out of my nathan handheld.
The large chuncks of ice have quickly melted into small bits.
My skin is crisping, already several shades darker than just this morning.
Feeling the pain, I wonder how I'll survive a full day a work in a mere two days.

I moan to myself.
My body aches.
I recall every twist and turn that is made from Coyote Camp to Jackass and I feverishly await it to be over.
Walking hurts more than to run so I pace myself into an ultra shuffle.
Trying to keep any resembles of structure in my form as I count down the seconds till the next ice bucket bath.
100k is a good distance I assure myself.
There is no need to continue forward when the option to stop dangles right infront of me so teasingly.

This is not fun.
Not fun at all.
I continue to dig myself deeper into the pain cave.
Hating myself for putting myself into this situation.

The man in blue and I pass several people standing on the side of the trail.
Bent over, hands on knees, salt crystals glistening from their forehead as they mutter that their ok.
Countless people are overheating, exhausted and just plain wiped by this heat.
Myself included.

    

Meet Frida Kahlo- my chosen Halloween Costume   
By the second loop I changed into my Boa chilli pepper shorts. I'm also wearing unmatching Stance socks- apparently I only own one sock in every color now.

This idea of pushing our limits, seeing how far we can go- seems like a pretty selfish thing to demand from our bodies.
We eagerly sign up for these races and push our bodies in order to train for the distance.
The races are always difficult.
Pain is inevitable.
It's supposed to be hard.
If it wasn't hard, everyone would do it. The hard... is what makes it great.
During every race I run, I promise myself to take a break from this taxing activity.
Yet once I finish, I've already broken that promise and begin searching for the next opportunity to put myself through that pain again.
Pain is, nevertheless, a prominent aspect of this sport.
It's something that needs to be overcome.
We run in discomfort, we put ourselves in this situation.
Discomfort is what we seek.
I find myself embracing the feeling and looking forward to that second, third, or forth wind during each race that I know will inevitably happen.
At least I hope it comes.

Not today though.
I have yet to establish any ounce of momentum.
That first wind never happened, any thoughts that any second or third escape my mind.
My body never seemed to accept what I was doing.

Despite the discomfort and definite unhappiness I continue running forward finally arriving at Jackass Junction.
That ice bucket my target.
I am quickly enveloped in a hug by Uncle J who asks me if I'm sick and that I do not look well.

Uncle J  is known for his perceptive abilities. An ultra psychic?

Um... duh!
I don't feel well.
I'm hot.
I'm unhappy.
My body hurts.
The complaining continues in my head but I'll I can manage to say is I'm great.
You're a liar Sawna.
Liar liar and you're pants are on fire.
Well, pretty much.
   

The next section is quite possibly my favorite, energized or not.
A simple glimpse of hope- a slight downhill toward the next aid and then Jeadquarters.
But Sawna, you're legs hurt remember!
You're neausus.
Your ankles hurt.
Your right foot is shooting pain upwards.
and don't forget you're overheating.
Reminders going through my head that yes, constantly go through but despite that I run.
I begin to pick up speed.
Everything hurts- EVERYTHING!
But as I gain momentum, everything starts to hurt less and I continue forward.
Step by step.


At this point in the day the sun is slowly setting offering a slight rest from the heat.
Instead of 100 degrees, it may be in the high 80's at this point.
Still warm but bearable.

I continue forward and  Egan passing people.
Man in blue WHERE ARE YOU?
I believe he was still at the aid station when I left.
We may have barely spoken a few sentences to each other but it was comforting to know someone was around.
I'm overwhelmed by lonieless.
At this point I see Jimmy.
And my heart almost explodes with happiness.
A friendly face.

If I actually had fluids to support tear production I would've started crying there and then.
I was overwhelmed, to say the least.
We ran together for a bit and I shared my fears and how my body felt.
He didn't say too much, suffering on his own level I bet, but what he did say was encouraging and motivating.
A man I hold so much respect for that any words he said I held onto.
Stay positive, Sawna he repeated.
You look strong, he added.

And you know what- deep down inside this machine of a body I've been given, things started to look up.
I continued forward, faster.
A thought pops in my head that hasn't been there all day.
I can do this.
I can.

I start reciting the mantra from last years race.
I am cool.
I am calm.
I am powerful.
I am a machine.
I AM A FUQUIN MACHINE

A memory quickly pops into my mind.
Going for a run the day after a leg circuit at crossfit ganbatte where I did pistol squats for the first time.
My body was wrecked- but I still ran through the pain.
   

And today- my legs didn't feel half as bad.
So I ran harder.
From Jackass to Rattlesnake ranch I clock in a 9-10 minute pace- body slowly feeling better.
At the aid station I finally pee for the second time (the first being at mile 52).
I realized my mistake of intaking too much sodium and was currently trying to render the problem.
I eat another handful of dates, pickles and a few potatoes- the only things that look slightly appetizing for me in my current state.
This year the aid stations are not stocked with avocados, to my dismay.
I, however, brought plenty.

Leaving the aid station, coke in hand, I strike up a conversation with a fellow and we begin to run together.
We chat a bit but mostly just run.
Running felt weirdly good.
And forward we went.
Step by step.

Until we were in a a parking lot, obviously not on course.
Shit.
My heart drops.
We turn around and run back the way we come and notice a hard right we missed.
Only a couple minutes were lost and before you know it we are back to a good speed- toward Jeadquarters.

You can do this!
You can do this Sawna.

I am cool.
I am calm.
I am powerful.
I am a machine.
I AM A FUQUIN MACHINE

The idea of dropping never phased me again.
Being able to pick up Colton as my pacer gave me hope and I was plain out excited to have a running partner.

Colton, if you know him- you love him.
If you don't know him- you should.
Just being in his presence made my heart sing.
His positivity radiated and was contagious.
We shuffled along and talked about nearly everything all while picking up tons of trash along the way.
(Shocking how much trash was left on course).

Time flew by and about 100 I'm sorries later we were back at Jeadquarters and I picked up Peter.
(I kept apologizing for wining, going ultra slow and/or for just really breathing too loud- I would say I'm sorry alot).

Picking up Peter went smoothly.
And as soon as I got to Jeadquarters it seemed as though I was already on my way out with him in tow.

Peter flew in from Denver, Colorado the night before and I was extremely thankful he offered to run a loop with me.
Just a few months ago roles were reversed as he completed Angeles Crest 100 in sub 24 hours- an amazing accomplishment.

We continued in a forward motion.
My body seriously drained and I reminded Peter that every, I don't know, every few minutes or maybe seconds.
From Rasttlesnake ranch to Jackass- my least favorite section (incase you've forgotten).
Unfortunately during this leg of the section, I ran out of water about three miles out.
All day long, running with one handheld and then two- never did I run out of water.
Yet around midnight when you think it wouldve been nice and cold.
It was still HOT!
This is probably when I felt the worst and going the slowest.
But Peter kept me positive and prepped me for what I needed at the aidstation.
Seeing Jackass Junction sent a bolt of happiness through my veins- getting fluids in me was a top priority!
I chugged many liquids; gatorade, water and then left with coke.

Recharging I kept walking and with a ping of excitment I remind myself:
You CAN do this.
Sawna you ARE doing this.
YOURE A FAQUIN MACHINE!

I begin running- well what resembled running at mile 92.
And I ran over 4 miles of the section before I decided we should be at the next aid already.

The last few miles were a blur.
But what I do know is we continued ran.
I picked up speed as I could see the light of Jeadquarders getting closer.

I never want to do this again I thought.
Fighting back tears I remembered the feeling that I never for a second thought I'd be here.
Mile 99 and running after the torture that was today.
Pushing ones physical limits and pain barrier need not, however, be everyone's goal.
Not normally mine.
But there is a part of me that wants to see how far I can go.
We exercise for several reasons and to me- I don't see this as exercise.
I see this as an adventure- a quest that I must take.

I gain more speed as I enter the headquarters and sprint to the finish where Peter and Consuela wait.
I fight back the tears as I walk straight to the Coyote tent and crash into the nearest chair without even the slightest idea of what time I finished.
66 seconds slower than last years finish.


I quickly remember mile 46 and how negative I was- how much I put myself down, my stregth, my ability to accomplish this goal and any goal for that matter.
I'm stronger than that.
I fight back the tears while I look back at the last 22+ hours.
That was, by far, the hardest thing I have ever done.
But I did it.

22 hours
34 minutes
04 seconds

66 seconds short of last years time.

I could be upset that I didn't PR but the fact that I finished is more that satisfactory.

I'm still shocked.



                                     

As I attempt to complete this blog post, as difficult as it may be as I sit here on the beach in Tulum Mexico,
(It really is hard to post photos, link and tag things on ones phone) I try to think of what I would do different to better prepare myself for this race.
(Also, since I'm on my phone please excuse the word vomit and lack of editing).

Firstly I completely avoided training for this race.
Running flat is not my forte nor do I consider it fun.
Despite signing up for this race I still found myself in the local mountains of Los Angeles enjoying my normal "training day".
If I was really interested in racing I should've focused on preparing myself for the heat and the inevitable miles  and time I would be spending on my feet.
I SHOULD and still should be spending more time on mobility work and strength training.
One thing I noticed during the race is how much stronger I feel when I've put time into strength training, something I haven't been able to focus on these last few months since I sprained my ankle.
I definitely felt the missing strength during the race.
Having a strong body is vital when putting forth so much effort during a race and with the help of JP and the rest of Crossfit Ganbatte these last two years I know what my body needs to excel.
I just need to actually go!
Not only putting in the time to strength train but to ensure you are doing it properly is just as important!

I guess I can say there is so many things I could've done, would've done to properly train for this race.
Honestly, I wouldn't change a thing.
It was a learning lesson to say the least.
An experience.
I can not say whether I'll return to Javelina Jundred again but I can say that I will never forget every moment of the 22 hours and 34 minutes.

Till next time,
Peace, love and happiness.