BLESSED....that is the only word I can use to describe how I feel right now.
My mindset going into this race was to actually race! Last year at this event, it was my first ultra...so even though I was fit and healthy, I tried to be smart. I was conservative for the first two laps and then finished hard on the last 16.67 mile lap. At Bandera, I was not fit, nor healthy...just blessed. This past Saturday, I felt strong, I had a great training period, stayed healthy and had the little bit of experience in the Ultra world I needed to execute my goal of a sub 7 hour finish.
The morning was a little chilly but I knew it would warm up by the 3rd loop. My excitement grew for the new parts of the course ( a river crossing with stepping stones and a straight shot finish) as I toed the starting line. Numerous headlamps would light up the trail as the National Trail Championships began. I felt like I was floating on the first lap, I approached the Pavillion in a time I would question 2:13 ish (woah! I did not mean to go quite that fast!)...but as I recharged with some GU Energy Gels, I zipped on. My consistency would soon catch Dan Vega (one of the elite masters men and also my motivational travel buddy!). We ran quietly and swiftly over the rugged terrain for 5 miles until we reached a downhill section of the course and I would surge ahead. This loop hurt rather bad, my mentality was a little weak thinking of the fast first loop and wondering whether or not I could maintain the pace, but once again Dan reassured me that I was fine and to just stay relaxed. Those words would echo in my head as I finished off the second loop with a time only a few minutes off the first loop. Heading into the 3rd loop my attitude changed. Sweat poured off me as I focused on hitting each aid station with effort. This course is somewhat easy to stay empowered, it is hosted at a Christian Camp (Camp Eagle) so when you are feeling down, all you need to do is look up (as I did tearing up the rocky hill to see a large wooden cross beaming in the sunlight, enticing me to carry on. Now in the last few miles, I passed another well known male elite Brian Rusiecki, which gave me the extra boost of energy to accomplish my goal. I crossed the finish line 4th overall, 1st female, smashed my previous course record by 32 minutes with a time of 6:53:25.
My time at Camp Eagle has always been a rewarding one...not just from the "wins," but the great people I meet there, the spiritual aspect I feel there, and the overall experience of Texas. THANK YOU to Joe and Joyce Prusaitis, the volunteers of Tejas Trails and Camp Eagle, as well as my sponsors ICESPIKE, GU ENERGY, THE SIMPLY BAR, BOBO'S OAT BARS, BODY ARMOR SUPER DRINK, AND ULTIMATE DIRECTION.