Sunday, July 23, 2006

Crow Pass Victory!

We did it! Yesterday we successfully completed the 2006 Crow Pass Crossing! Here's my (Andrea's) account:

The start: the weather was perfect for a race of this length -- cloudy and cool, but no rain. I was a lot less nervous at the start than I had anticipated. I had a great start -- with a combination of running and power-hiking, I made it to the checkpoint (4 miles) at the top of the pass in 46 minutes -- well, within the 1 hour cut-off. Chester and Aaron got there about a minute ahead of me.

The middle miles: Aaron waited for me at the top of the pass and then we cruised on the steep downhill section. I slid on my butt down a long snow field at one point, not anticipating the snow and dirt that got lodged in my butt (yes, very cold)! The view of the valley was absolutely spectacular: the clouds were high, so I could see the surrounding peaks and the river below. But no time to check out the view: lots of rocks to avoid and jump over. We caught up with Chester on the downhill and then kept up a good pace through a long, rolling, heavily vegetated stretch. Cow parsnip, devils club, nettles, but lots of wildflowers, too. This part of the trail was tough: often the vegetation was so overgrown, it was difficult to see the trail (and the rocks and roots on the trail).

About 9 or 10 miles in, things started going downhill for me. I realized that I couldn't keep up the pace we had been maintaining. I develped a stomach cramp, and needed to slow down. By the time we hit the river (about 13-14 miles in), I was severely demoralized. I had a sharp pain in my side, which was only accentuated by the pounding on the downhills. Chester and Aaron and I linked hands and headed across the river together -- thank God for both of them -- I thought to myself on the way across that if I had been by myself, I wouldn't have been strong enough to make it across. The water was above our knees -- not too deep -- but cold and rushing and splashing to my waist. The bottoms of my feet stung as I got out and started running again. Emotionally, I was crushed. I was running slower and slower; I was giving up.

As Aaron and I started up the trail, he realized what was going on with me. It was time for his pep-talk. He gave me a hard time - told me that I needed to suck it up, deal, and start pushing harder. That I was a stronger runner than the folks who were passing us. That kind of tough love might not work for other people, but it sure works for me (thank you, my love!). From then on I kept telling myself that this is what we trained for -- that I needed to just keep pushing.

The next 5 or so miles were better. My stomach cramp subsided, although I developed a leg cramp in my left inner-thigh. I have never had a leg cramp before and twice I had to stop, my leg paralyzed by the cramp. (I screamed at one point in pain; maybe all the exertion made me a little dramatic?) Aaron told me to keep running, which actually did help. We passed a big group of folks while traversing by the river -- that felt good and got my spirits up. From there, it was just managing the roots and rocks. The trail is pretty flat until the last hill, but techincal. I fell quite a few times, but kept getting back up and pushing on.

A strong finish: For a few miles, Aaron and I hadn't seen Chester. But we caught up with him on the final hill (about 2 miles out). I was feeling good at this point, and we were able to keep up a strong pace through the final rocky section. Aaron caught Chester and took off - he had a great strong finish. I dragged myself up that final hill and reached the finish line in 4:32 (and some seconds), just a minute behind Chester. My time won me two awards I was not anticipating: top finisher in the female 20-29 category, and Female Rookie of the Year!

Reflections: This was a really challenging race, both physically and emotionally. I am really proud of myself for pulling out of my demoralized state and finishing strong. Thanks to Aaron for helping me do that. Thanks to my running partners -- Aaron and Chester -- for all the training and encouragement before and during the race. It's great to know I finished this race with a great time. Even more fulfilling knowing that we did it as a team.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Yay! Congratulations! I hope you and Aaron celebrated in style (i.e. a joint ice bath in with some champagne).

5:04 PM  
Anonymous marisa said...

congratulations to the both of you - this sounds amazing!

6:01 AM  

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