The Mountain Cup Is A Long Season

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

The Mountain Cup Is A Long Season

By Alison Bryant

Wow, at the first race of this year’s Mountain Cup, I never would have predicted that it would turn out like it has.  It has been a roller coaster of racing for me, physically and emotionally.  I thought I would recap the season, to demonstrate the ups and downs of a season on the trails.

Jason and I travelled out to Moab, UT for the first Mountain Cup race this year, the Moab Red Hot 33k.  Jason had a great race there, finishing a solid fourth against good competition.  Unfortunately, I had been struggling with a high hamstring injury since the beginning of December which acted up during the race.  I ended up just covering the course as an easy run, since that was all my hamstring wanted to do.  I figured that I might as well see the sights since I was out there anyway.  Bad idea.  I ended up creating raging bursitis in my opposite knee from all the steep downhill slickrock and compensating for the hamstring.  I was supposed to run Chilly Cheeks in Pennsylvania the next weekend, but pulled out of that race since my knee was still hurting to walk.  More Mountain Cup points just slipped away from me.

At that point, rumors of women running the Mountain Cup abounded.  I thought I might be racing for fourth or fifth in the overall standings.  I contemplated whether I wanted to compete in the Mountain Cup at all.  Here I need to give credit to the awesome massage therapist we have been seeing.   With the addition of regular massages with him and self-massage with a lacrosse ball, I started to see improvement.

Next, I flew out to Austin to run Hell’s Hills 25k.  I thought my hamstring was doing better.  It started off well.  I was racing right with Melanie Fryar, a speedy local runner.  Then the course came out onto a smooth dirt road and, bam, there went the hamstring.  It had me limping into the next aide station.  I managed to get it under control by slowing down more and was able to finish the race in a much needed second place.  I wondered if this hamstring was ever going to get better.  I also wondered if any other women were doing the Mountain Cup this year, since Megan Kimmel was the only woman who had run more than one race.

I then took a hiatus from Mountain Cup races to try to get the hamstring better.  I did manage a win at the Promised Land 50k, even with my hamstring hurting through the race.

We then returned to the Mountain Cup circuit at the Rothrock 30k.  If you like rocks, this is the race for you.  I don’t like rocks.  However, this is now the fourth year that I have run this race.  I accept it as a challenge to conquer this course.  I am still horrible at running rocky downhills.  I managed a fourth place finish, in not my worst time, but far from my best time on the course.  Still, I couldn’t help but enjoy the race.  Jason and I make a road trip of it, stopping by our favorite stores and Sheetz gas stations.  We camp out in the Rothrock State Forest the night before the race and hang out visiting after the race. 

At this point, Megan and I were the only two women who had completed more than one Mountain Cup race.  My hamstring was starting to improve and I committed to completing the Cup.

The next two races seem like a crazy dream.  I travelled out to Colorado for the Barr Trail Race.  It was a great opportunity to reconnect with old friends from the area.  I was pleased with my race, finishing second to Laura Haefali, who had won Mount Washington in June.  My time was a little slower than I had hoped for, but I felt like it was a solid performance, especially for a lowlander like me.  After the race, I got to hang out at a pool house with an infinity pool that ran off into the canyon.  This was the most relaxing trip I had in quite awhile and I thoroughly enjoyed it.

Unfortunately I had to get up at 2:30 am to catch my flight back home the next day.  It was back to work for 4 days before the next adventure began.

On Saturday, I left for California, still feeling sleep deprived.  Travel time from my home to the Marin Headlands Hostel was about 16 hours.  I arrived there exhausted and ready to fall asleep.   There were other women in the bedroom and I tried to sleep, but with the overhead light on, it was a fitful rest until after 10:00 pm.  Then, my East Coast time body woke up ready to go at 5:15 am.  The race morning was cool and foggy.  It was great to some more La Sportiva women running the last three races of the Mountain Cup.  I enjoyed the course, starting with a two mile climb.  I led the race up the climb, but was soon caught by Maria Dalzot and then Caitlin Smith.  I closed in on Maria again in the second climb but ran out of real estate.  She pulled away again on the final descent and ran in for a third place finish.  That third place finish secured my second place in the Mountain Cup.  I enjoyed my evening in California, visiting with my high school friend, his wife, and their three day old baby.  

My flight home on Monday had three segments.  On my second layover of the day, the airline asked for volunteers to give up their seat.  They were offering a night in a hotel, meal vouchers, and flight vouchers.  I had not been looking forward to driving the hour and a half home from Charlotte at midnight and already had a half day off from work for the next day.  I got a good night’s sleep in a Hampton Inn, enjoyed a morning run in the suburbs of Chicago, and drove home from the airport in the bright daylight.  So now how do I use my flight vouchers?  Maybe a trip back to California in December to run the NorthFace Endurance Challenge Championships or more Mountain Cup races next year?

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