Saturday, August 3, 2013

Mat-Peak Challenge - First Mountain Race Ever.

I think my decaf was caf because I should be exhausted, but I am wide awake.

Mind consumed.  Last night, I had such a hard time sleeping.  I was so eager/anxious for the race.  I probably got about 4 hours of rest.   I kept trying to sleep.  I think it was also a combination of lack of exercise (as we took the week with only one hard workout on Monday) and one short run on Thursday and eagerness.

Race Registration.  I was glad to get there a little later so the wait was shorter.  But, I looked around...this was not a race of normal people.  They all looked so determined and ready to go.  I think because it is rated so challenging *most vertical feet mountain race in Alaska, it is not for the light hearted.  Off the ADN website "With 9,100 feet of climbing over 14 mountainous miles, the race is so difficult many of Alaska's elite runners skip it.   It's like hiking half of Denali in an afternoon."

Beginning.  Annie didn't want to be too far forward, so I stayed back with her.  However, we were in a train line up Lazy for a good 10 minutes.  It took awhile before, we could set our pace.  People were joking, and talking.  At about 20 minutes, it was mostly silence.  

Top of Lazy. I knew to hold back a bit because I had three mt. left, but was glad to be at the top at 1.11.  James was far ahead, but I loved hearing his laugh a few times.

On the decent. I had only done this once for just a short distant (5 minutes down).  

The up and down. I passed the flag and now I was hiking on new ground that I had never seen before.  I was thankful for a bit of a down hill and since I had no rocks, I was able to jog right away.  The weather was holding, and my spirits up.  However, I knew it would be hard going back up this part.

Level-ish valley to the picnic table.  I didn't have much in me to run the valley, so Annie and I hiked fast and talked.  It was there were I realized we are actually doing it.  We thanked God for the weather and the clouds to not bake us.  We got a swig of water at the picnic table:)  Thanks, random guy.

Insane climb.  If you look at Mt peak, it looks like a long pointed top that has a nice incline.  That incline has some nasty stuff.  The small gravel and loose rocks are my mental wall.  When I started to go up and not get the stable footing, it frustrates me.  I saw Annie keep plotting along, but I was getting sluggish. The weather turned colder and I was not thinking straight.  My footing went sideways and I was not gaining any grounds up the mountain. Often racers were coming down Mt. Peak all saying encouraging words.  James came and I told him, "I don't think I can make it.  I will miss the play (my three kids were performing one show in Wasilla)" He hugged me, and told me to just finish the race, I will speed.  We will make the play.  (He never speeds).  I kept going for a few more minutes.  Sitting down, I prayed and gave myself a few minutes to refocus.  You will not believe this.  But, all of a sudden, I look to the left and an enormous RAINBOW stretched out from one end of the valley to the other.  It was a full spectrum rainbow.  I yelled, "RAINBOW".  Another racer coming down, stopped and we both gazed intently.  He thanked me for letting him see it.  It was the needed boost from my Father.  He was with me.  I got to the top at 3h30.  I enjoyed layering on my rain jacket and rain pants as it was windy, sleeting and cold.  Some saint gave me chocolate covered espresso beans.  I was off.  REFRESHED.

Decent Mat Peak.  I wisely took the hard right trail and blasted down the mt.  Now, I was passing people and leaving the men behind.  It was my fastest decent ever.  The wind felt like it was pushing me down the peak.  Getting too hot, I stripped my pants off and noticed that when I stopped my legs began cramping.  Ugh.  So, I kept moving as I removed my rain jacket/wind breaker off while running the valley. I was feeling so good,  then.. "pop". My right ankle turned.  I heard it pop.  I took a few light steps, but pain was there.  I prayed, "Lord, I need you to get me through this. Please make my ankle be strong."  I felt it once more when I stepped on the side of the trail, then nothing.  No pain!  

Feeling great.  I made it 1/2 the time through the valley and met up with Haley from church.  She gave me gatorade and grapes.  I noticed I had 1 1/2 hours left before we needed to be heading to the play.  So, I was rejoicing.  I gave myself 1 hour to get up the backside of Lazy.  I just kept saying slow and steady finishes the race.  I just plotted through and was so thankful to be up Lazy at 5:30. *I didn't know it, but James was worried about me after seeing me at my "wall" on Mat Peak, that he had the check in girls at the top of Lazy text him when I checked in. 

Running down.  Now, since I had trained on this section, my legs went into muscle memory. I could just run down.  I knew the best places to hit and even though I had two piercing rocks, I thought, anyone could run will rocks in their shoes for 30 minutes.  It was almost over.  I passed some people and felt great. Then, James showed up and he cheered me down the final 1 minute.  I left the trail and sprinted to the finish line with tons of racers/watchers cheering!  

Getting into the car.  I really felt great.  I was ready to sprint to the car.  I did, but when I sat still, my leg muscles started cramping.  Ugh.  I got out of the car after a man offered to take off my other shoe.  I just walked down the road and James picked me up.  As long as I was moving, no pain.  I laid in the back seat with my feet out the window- gently moving them.  By the time I hit the second light in Palmer, I jumped into the front seat. 

The Show.  We arrived 15 minutes early, and even had time to wash off some mud before the show.  Bronwyn and Max did great and so did Hannah on her performance.  Now, we are all beat.  

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