Saturday, March 27, 2021

Chanoko 31K-Robin-2021


3/27/21 – Auburn to Granite Beach


31K (Approx 19.5 Miles)




2nd (40-49 Females); 7th Overall Woman

This is my first actual race since the Napa Marathon in 2020. It’s also the first race to be held in our area in a long while. I’m glad to have the opportunity to race, even if I’m not really trained for “speed”. Fortunately, I do have some good miles under my belt.

I’m thanking God that I'm injury free. It’s a difficult and technical course today. A lot of downhills so I am concerned about some cramping in my quads recently when I tried running fast at track workouts. I am also concerned about falling on the trail. Because we leave for Disney World on Monday and I hope not to break a tooth or something that would require emergency dental work. Praying for protection.

Troy drops me off at the start. I check in and chat with one of the race directors Mark Shaw. He's so pumped to get his business going again. The state parks finally approved his permits.

At the start line I see Anna come running by with Oscar! Yay! It's so much better starting a race with family present! We hug.

Mark does his usual speech about how the race name came about during his business partnership with the other director, Bill Driscoll. I learn that when they were kids, before they became friends, they actually fought together on the playground.

Ok, time to start. Ready, set, go! Anna and Oscar hang back but follow within sight. We head down towards China Bar and I wave goodbye. I won't see her for over three hours. Even though it’s only 19.5 mi, because of the hills and trails, it’s takes practically as long as a marathon. I'm 5th woman at the moment.

Down, down, down we go to the river. I accidentally take a wrong turn. I hear someone say "that trail is longer but smoother". Phew, at least I'm not gaining an advantage. I get back on the right path behind a woman that was behind me. I wonder if I'm 6th or 7th now.

Mark is along the river taking pictures. The woman in front of me starts to slow as we hit a hilly section. She lets me pass. Good, now I can get ahead on these hills before I have to slow again, out of caution, on the downhills. Most runners fly by me on the downhills. I'm feeling strong.

I'm averaging around 9:15 at Mile 4/5. Two years ago I averaged 10:13 so hope to stay close to that. I've pulled ahead of the pack of runners I was running with and catch some new runners. Last time I ran along this trail I remember studying the river trying to figure out if my friends and I could swim from this area near my house down to Rattlesnake bar 5mi away. Sadly, the river is very low. Just not enough rain.

I know we are getting close to the PG&E water power station where the trail widens. I can hear some footsteps behind me and I pick it up so I don't have to pull over before the wide section. There are actually several groups of recreational runners coming the other way and they are so kind to pull over and let the racers go by...and a lot more racers behind me will be going by!

I make it to the wide section just in time for the guy behind me to pass. I tell him good job. He runs by like I'm invisible. He's in the “zone” I suppose. The normally cute Avery Pond along this part looks more like a mud pit. Boy, we need rain!

Mile 9. 9:40 pace average. I get to the aid station in Rattlesnake Bar. I fill up my water, get some pretzels and say thanks. It's going to be tougher now to keep the pace because of the rocky terrain.

My legs are feeling really wiped out. With each step I’m noticing it more and more. Now every little step up or down is starting to become torture. I am also tripping a lot and fearful of getting hurt right before our Disney World trip on Monday. I try to call Troy but I have no cell service. Lord, please help me gut this out. My pace has slowed significantly but at this point there is nothing I can do. It’s such a tough trail. I trip again and shout out “this is ridiculous!”. Around the corner comes another group of recreational runners and I’m embarrassed for my outburst.

Around another corner I see Troy and Anna! I hug Troy and start to cry. I tell him about the pain and fear and he prays for me. I ask him what to do and he tells me I just need to keep on persevering to the finish. I thank the Lord for placing Troy and Anna at the right place at the right time. I keep pressing on.

Mile 13. 10:37 pace average. Just over 6 miles to go. I can do this. The terrain is even rockier and requires a lot of stepping up and down. The pain and discomfort is constant. I feel like I’m inching along but I’m getting closer to the end.

A guy in white shirt goes by and I feel the Lord say to go with him. I’m actually able to “pick it up” some and keep him in sight for the next few miles. It’s a nice mental challenge that helps me go a tiny bit faster. I’m averaging 11:26 pace now. I’ll take it!

I finally make it to the outskirts of the Granite Beach park. I catch up to the guy in white and pass him. I tell him good job. I stop briefly at the aid station and then continue on.

Only 2.5 miles to go! I can do that! I run down a road for a moment. Our friend Cliff Appleby is directing us back onto the trails. He asks if I need anything and I tell him, “prayer.”. He says a prayer for me right there. “Thank you, Cliff!” And thank you Lord for that encouragement!

At this point there might be mtn bikes passing me on course so I try to stay to the right edge of the trails. Just keep running, just keep running! I’m looking forward to stopping. The discomfort is so hard!

I look at my watch and wonder if I can go under 3:45. Last time I went under 3:20.

As I approach the last mile, I see Troy and Anna again. I tell them the Lord is getting me through. This last mile is basically flat and a nice wide trail. I’m actually able to pick it up and run sub-10 min pace. Wow! Thank you Lord! Every step gets me closer. It’s not long before I am approaching the finish. I look up to heaven as I cross the line. Thank you Jesus! That was so hard but you got me through! I ended up averaging around 11:25 pace and was under 3:45! It was a good exercise in perseverance for sure. Now time to get ready for Disney World!