24 August 2010 By Rachel’s

Taos Ski Valley Up and Over 10k

Wow. What a trip. I just had one of the most amazing breakthroughs I have had in quite some time. The Up and Over 10k race was the finale of the La Sportive Mtn Cup National Series. And what a race it was. I went there not certain who would show up as there was also the Pikes Peak Accent and Marathon, Leadville 100, and Transrockies beginning this weekend. But being a national series race, plenty of competition made the journey to Taos, NM.

This race was especially important for me to do well in. Ranked 3rd in the series, things had to play out perfectly for me to finish the series in second. First place was already secured by the ever strong and talented Megan Kimmel.  In order for me to take 2nd, I not only had to beat Alison Bryant, but I had to finish at least 2 places ahead of her to get enough points to surpass her 7 point lead over me.

I made the decision and knew somehow this would happen. Toeing the line, I was calm. Amazing, as I was right next to the ever talented Suzan Nuzam whom is a sponsored athlete for La Sportiva with speed and an incredible resume to go with it. With other strong runners at the line, I considered Alison and Suzan my greatest competition for the day.

When the shotgun (literally) sounded, We all took off up the mountain face. Although the course was only a 10k distance, it was very steep and technical. Loose rocks galore greeted us along with 270o feet of climbing over 3 miles and then descending similar grades and terrain the last 3.2 miles.

At the top of the climb, I proved to be the strongest female of the day at 12,000 feet.  I knew it would be a challenge for me to stay in the lead as my descending skills when it is steep and technical are still in the works. By mile 4 I was passed first by Alison and then Suzan. This has happened in other races so many times.

I made the decision that my day was not going to end that way. I sped up. Mile five I caught Suzan. Alison was just ahead. Putting fear aside I made an aggressive move to catch Alison. From that point on, I didn’t let up. I literally felt as though I was flying down the hill. My Newton running shoes keeping me light on my toes. Crossing the finish line as the first female overall, I felt so excited and happy. The miracle had happened. I let go of the fear of downhill racing and won! I beat Suzan by seconds. Alison was almost 2 minutes back!

Goal accomplished I tied Alison for points in the La Sportiva series. Official results have not been posted, but because I beat her head to head in each race we went against each other this year, I finished as second female in the La Sportiva Mtn running cup for 2010. I am so pleased and excited!

The weekend didn’t end there. I was lucky to meet some Taos locals whom were kind enough to show me their town and a great time.

Sunday morning I awakened early and took a final high elevation trail run. I meant to run up 45 min and then head back. The morning was so peaceful and serene and beautiful, I couldn’t stop. I ended up running 3,000 feet up and then back in 14 miles of heaven. I LOVE running!

After, I stopped at a cold creek to ice my legs. Then I showered, packed up and drove 230 miles to Colorado Springs to see some of my friends finish their Pike’s Peak Marathon. Two of my dear friends Tom Lekhan and Megan Kimmel finished within seconds of each other. Another, Bernie whom won overall the Taos race and then showed up and finished 9th overall male at Pikes Peak (wow!) is such an inspiration.

I celebrated the weekend with my friends and then drove to the airport in time to catch my fight back home to Salt Lake City. Looking forward to my next race!

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I will always remember waking up at the age of 12 to the pain I saw in so many while simultaneously realizing how lucky I was to feel fantastic.

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