Wednesday, November 7, 2007

Mountain Masochist November 3, 2007




(pictures courtesy of Sue Norewood)


Saturday’s run was hard. I cried (with relief) crossing the finish line. I have run Masochist 4 times now, and this time the race really earned its name with me.

This time last year, my hamstring healing was still precarious so I worked aid stations
instead of running. This year I was overjoyed to be again at the other side of an aid station table. I wanted to run smartly (without overdoing it and straining my hammie) AND I wanted a top 3 position in order to feel pleased and to “do justice”(even in a small way) to my sponsors: Montrail, Nathan, Clifbar, Petzel and 1st Endurance. These companies have supported the ultrarunning community and me for the past 3 years and I am proud of my association. I wasn’t sure if running conservatively and placing as a top finisher could be accomplished…Nikki Kimball, Krissy Moehl, Bethany Patterson, Justine Morrison and several other “known” and “unknown” fast women were there. It would be a challenge to stay within myself and not get spooked by the strength of others.

The weather was perfect-mid 30’s –mid 50’s…gusty winds…aid stations were fabulous and excellently staffed.

Nikki and I ran side by side the first the first few miles and were quickly joined by 21 year old Sebrina Moran and Bethany. Although I was enjoying our conversations very much, their pace was faster than what I needed to be doing while still on the pavement so I backed off and comfortably settled in to my own rhythm as 4th female, keeping a keen eye on Bethany and Sabrina for the first 15ish miles. Sabrina is an excellent climber and is less experienced on technical downhills. Bethany is a dynamo on the downs.

The miles passed and I alternated between running and “plampering”. Since my hamstring injury I have learned to “plamper” (cross between a plod and very slow scamper) up the hills instead of engaging the muscle to stretch the way it must when power hiking. This technique works well for everything but very steep technical hills. Somewhere around mile 12, just as I moved past Sebrina on a downhill, Bethany took off, flying away ahead of me-her tiny pony tail and blue Montrail jersey leaving vapor in her wake. I was feeling happy for Bethany for running well and wondered how the day would continue to unfold.

I got chat some with Carl Lainiak on route to Hwy 60, yet for the most part I journeyed alone much of the day. I crossed Hwy 60 at around 4:20. Rather than describing bit by bit all the rest of the run I will say Sebrina and I crisscrossed a couple of times, she rolling by me on the ups and me by her on the downs. Going into the loop I was informed that Bethany was 3 minutes ahead and Nikki about 10 minutes. I enjoyed the loop. I love single track trail and because I’d been running conservatively earlier, could enjoy the ups and downs of the rocky, leafy trail. (Though fly down hill I did not-the leaves were quite abundant and thick in places).Bethany had twisted her ankle and moving slowly at the moment I caught up to her just before the end of the loop.

As I moved out of Salt Log Gap Aid station, Bethany checked in. With Bethany right behind I did my best to plamper and then slowly “march” up the hill to the next aid station where I got cheered on by my good friend Amy Albu. Amy was working the aid station. If she were running this year, she’d have been the youngest person to receive a 10 year jacket. Yet several weeks ago she learned she was pregnant and because of a few personal “unknowns” she was unable to follow through with her plan of running Masochist ‘07. I admired Amy’s selflessness and willingness to show up and be on the “other side” of the table this year. I could relate as I was in a similar position last year, but I think I was far less graceful than Amy! Amy shared some heartfelt encouragement and I went away down the trail-to the “long” 7 miles ahead!

From past experiences, I knew the section to the next aid station to seem like long miles…yet I was looking forward to these-after the initial climb-there is much fun downhill. Not long after setting out on this section I caught sight of Sebrina and one of her friends. Earlier that day she mentioned one of her friends would join her on “the loop”-yet was surprised to see she still had her companion/pacer with her and it seemed they intended to finish together. I instantly wondered if this was allowed? I understood the loop being a common place to run with friends-yet for 17+ miles-that didn’t seem to be part of the “level field” for a front runner. I wondered if Horton had any sort of policy? I know some RD’s do. I wondered if Sebrina finished with her pacer-would she be disqualified? She was running very well and that would really be a bummer. I didn’t know if I should say anything or not. If there was a policy than saying something would be good-if there wasn’t one –would I be out of place? No matter what I did my intentions were with the deepest respect for her and the sport. So, in the true Annette Bednosky style, I said something.

I told her I didn’t know what the policy was but I was afraid that if there was one she could be DQ’d and shared my reasoning about being on equal ground as a front runner. I hoped I came across as respectful and didn’t step on any toes. The next time I saw Sebrina she was without her companion.

With all my ethical wondering about the above interaction, this section went by very fast and the down hills and sense of getting closer to the end fueled my enthusiasm for finishing. I used lots of self talk this day and positive imaging. I am pretty good at doing this in races and am working on using these tools in other parts of life!

This run was work. It was hard. (It was fun too). Finding the balance between competing and meeting my body where it is “at” was hard for me. Juggling position all day long too was a strain mentally. Though I sort of knew where Bethany and Sebrina were all day-I had no clue where everyone else was. I finished in 2nd place in 8:43:42 , my 2nd slowest time on the course. In 2005, I also got 2nd in a time of 7:55: 52. Go figure! This day Sabrina took 3rd at 8:49:36 with Nikki winning in 8:31:42. Bethany wound up with serious throwing up issues and finished a few places after.

I am grateful to Bethany and Sebrina for the physical and mental push during the 2nd half of the course. I also thank David Horton for designing this fine and challenging course and for encouraging and pushing me, and to his wife, Nancy for reminding me to fill my water bottle Aid Station 10 when I became discombobulated due to finding my drop bag missing! It was fabulous to see old friends and meet new ones-and in conclusion I wish Clark Zealand well on his journey Into The Masochist this coming year!

8 comments:

Trail Goat said...

Annette,
Great run and great race report.

I, too, encountered pacing during the run. Between mile 15 and 25 a young runner, I believe from the Virginia Tech crowd, and his young female pacer kept flying by Bethany and I on the downhills while we would catch them on the climb. We only knew she was his pacer as she said so much to Bethany when they passed us for the first time - apparently to alter Bethany that she had not fallen back in the women's race.

As Bethany and I were catching the whole way, we discussed the pacer issue for a while. e were both pretty sure that pacing was not allowed at MMTR. I felt that I should only inform Horton of the pacing if the young man placed in the Top 3 and get an automatic entry into Western States. If the young man placed Top 10 or received an age group award, I wouldn't tell Horton, but would go up to the young man and inform him that he should think twice about using a pacer in the future when they are not officially allowed.

I think it is generally agreed that pacing can and often does help the racer. While there is certainly debate within the ultra community about whether there should be pacers at any races, for better or worse individual races make choices about whether or not to permit pacers. While I swear by them in 100s, I don't use them in 50s. I like the JFK 50 rule - pacers allowed for the general field, but not the elites. Why not give those trying to finish or even run well, but not competing for prize money or age group awards have pacers? Keep the playing field even for elites while making the race as enjoyable as possible for the remainder of the field.

Sophie Speidel said...

Annette,

Thanks for the great report and your candid comments about the pacing issue. You did Sabrina a great service in helping her learn "the ropes" of running an ultra, as there are lots of unwritten rules in racing (and in life!) that would be helpful to know if only someone would point them out. You are such a wonderful mentor and "sister" to so many!

Congrats on your great run at MMTR. See you at the gates of Hell soon...

Anonymous said...

Hi, Annette! This is Sabrina. I read your blog, and I'm still really upset about the whole "pacer" issue. When my friend told me he wanted to run for a while, I said that I didn't think it was allowed. He said that it definitely was because the VTech kid had been paced for something like 11 miles. So I said he could come if he ran behind me. I was actually relieved when you said he should go because I like the solitude of ultrarunning anyway. I'm sorry that the whole thing happened, and I never would have let him come if I knew it was a bad thing. I'm still new at this whole thing. What's upsetting is that this is becoming my take-away memory of the event, which otherwise was a positive experience. Anyway, I hope you're doing well. --Sabrina

Trail Goat said...

Sabrina,
The pacer issue shouldn't be your take away from the race; instead, file it away as a lesson learned. (I've been running ultras for five years now and learn something new nearly every time I'm out there.) What you should remember is that you ran a great first 50 miler and bested many a top women's runner. Cherish it!
Congrats,
-Bryon

olga said...

Awesome run, Annetter! The more reports I read the more sorry I am I didn't come:)

Bedrock said...

Annette,

Very impressive run and a great report. Your battle back from injury last year is a big inspiration to us novice (and slow) runners. It was great seeing you over the weekend and good luck with the rest of your season.

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