Something strange happened on Friday night: as I was laying in bed thinking about the race, I suddenly realized that I had no idea how to prepare mentally. What was I meant to visualize?Running, and running, and running like the little engine that could? For the first time in a very long time, I was facing a competition that was going to last longer than 2 minutes. Line didn’t matter, conditions weren’t variable, my equipment minimal; it was just me, my body, and surprisingly low consequences. Statistically, no one is going to die running the Jupiter Peak Steeple Chase like they could on the FWT. But surprisingly, this realization didn’t calm me, it instead left a funny feeling of emptiness as I restlessly attempted to get comfortable and get my eight hours of sleep.
I woke up early on Saturday morning to eat a little bit and get ready to race. I didn’t want to feel rushed, and I felt that if my morning start off slow, I would be able to pace myself better. There is nothing like getting out of bed like a gunshot to ensure a day at a whirlwind pace that would certainly make me loose my pace at the top of the first hill. Afterall, the one piece of advice I kept in mind was “run slower than you think you need to”.
I started of the race in the middle of the pack, slowly jogging up the steep road to Crescent Mine Trail, ACDC blasting in my ears, trying to stay behind people instead of in front of them. “I am strong. I am Strong. I am STRONG.” I thought with every footfall. “I can do this. I’m not tired.” Thankfully, the pitch to Crescent Mine Trail drops significantly after the first climb out of Park City’s base area, allowing me to jog along in the middle of the race pack, allowing them to set the pace and save my legs for the steepness ahead.
I kept thinking to myself “I am strong” all the way up, even as my legs started to burn as Jupiter Peak got closer and the pitch steeper. I thought about Mt. Olympus and Lake Blanche. I thought about all the brutal training runs where I had given my all on pitches steeper than what I was racing on. I could definitely do it.
The last few hundred yards are a scramble up scree to the flagpole on Jupiter Peak and down the trail on the other side. I lunged up the mountainside, thanking my Speedcross II’s for their AMAZING traction. Passing other racers as the scree slipped out from under their shoes, slowing their progress. My throat burned, my chest ached, and my hamstrings were on fire. But I was so close, I couldn’t slow down. I rounded the top, touched the flag post, and let loose on the first pitch down. Just in time for my calves to start panicking in the change in motion and pace. I let my legs go loose, trying to relax the muscles and let gravity take me downhill, as I nursed my water bottle I had mixed with salt to help with cramping. These cramps were NOT going to get the best of me!
I started to pick up the pace as I rounded Shadow Lake, played Leap Frog with a girl who had legs at least a foot longer than mine, eventually passed her, and threw myself down Spiro. Just before Spiro hits the road, I passed a man who shouted “2 more minutes”. Eff that, I’ll get there in 1:50! I just want to sit down!
I finished the race in just over 2 hours and 37 minutes, placing 18th for the women. My goal was to finish in under 3 hours. Mission Accomplished!
I spent the rest of the weekend reading sunbathing, and enjoying various breakfast foods at different places! I munched on Silver Star Cafe’s homemade breakfast sausage after the race and after a meeting with Marmot at Outdoor Retailer’s on Sunday, Jamon and I headed to Cafe Molise just before their brunch ended. We feasted on eggs florentine with smoked salmon served over polenta cakes, hasbrowns, berries, and a smoked salmon and asparagus fritatta. It was all absolutely delicious, and to top it all off, I sipped on a nice, cool glass of prosecco to celebrate the end of the race.