2019 Ragnar Trail AZ
The first one was Ragnar Trail AZ, which—if you’ve read much of this blog (haha, nobody has)—you know is an event with a lot of history for me, and I love it. I fell out of love with paying the registration fees for it, though. For the last couple of years, I’ve told my Ragnar-running friends that I’m on their permanent reserve list. Happy to come out and help if someone on their teams isn’t able to make it and they need a substitute. I didn’t get that call until pretty late this year, and I thought it was going to be my first year missing it since 2014.
But the call did indeed come. I went out to sub for what ended up being about 1 1/3 people. I was replacing one person, and then on top of that, someone else bailed out on race day. I ended up doing my standard three legs and one more long loop, for a total mileage of around 22. It was more than I had been planning for my taper weekend, but it felt okay while I was out there, and I had a good time. I ended up getting PRs on two of the three loops, which wasn’t something I had expected to be doing.
2019 Colossal Vail 50
And then it was the weekend of my big race: the Colossal Vail 50 miler.
I wanted to push myself for this race. I put together what was (for me) an aggressive race plan, with a finish time in the 12-13 hour range. For the first half of the race, I was on track for it, even pulling a little ahead. I was feeling good about everything.
Then I started talking to a fellow runner who seemed like she needed help. She was doing her first ultra, her first run longer than 18 miles, and her first trail race of any distance. After talking with her for a while, my heart went out to her, and I decided to change my plan. Instead of focusing on my race, we focused on hers and bringing her in. So from that point on, I became her pacer, giving her a crash course on surviving an ultra. We covered everything—pacing strategies, nutrition, hydration, and mental preparation.
Just about 14 hours after starting the race, we crossed the finish line together. I got several thank yous, a couple of hugs, and I felt really, really good about how I’d spent my day. Better, I think, than if I’d run the race in 12:30.
Pacing is awesome. Getting someone through their tough race is amazing, and I hope I get to do more of it in the future.