Escarpment, I bit off more than I could chew.

I have begun to write this post before running the Escarpment Trail Race this weekend. Tomorrow, I will do something I have never done, hike, scramble and essentially try not to fall off a cliff.

The past two weeks, I have run 60 seconds. Total. After 0SPF two weeks ago, my foot felt off. Then the next morning, it hurt a lot. I had a very aware uncomfort when I walked. There was no point in running, so I stopped. I got on my trusty steed, the elliptical, and maintained my cardio while keeping weight off my foot.

Thursday of this week was the first time I tried running, got to 60 seconds, and then stopped. I only wanted to run enough to convince myself I would be able to get through my race this weekend, not press my luck.

I have not run since then (unless you could racing across an intersection with 2 seconds on the clock). It just does no appeal to me since no fitness will be gained. This race will be a hiking trail and I am doing it to learn how to navigate complicated trails. Not to win or become some adventure racer.

I guess we shall see how it goes. Couch to 5k in 2 months? Try Ellitical to Mountain in 2 weeks! 😉

Ok, so here we are…two days post Escarpment. I have yet to fully understand what I did to myself. It was such a beautiful race in a gorgeous area. The Catskills are one place I will return to, I probably will not run there again.

At least, not very soon.

The race boasts almost 10,000 feet of elevation change in 18 miles. That I could handle, the terrain was something else.

To say it bluntly, I was very unprepared to tackle a race of this difficulty. I had never come close to doing something like this and I am very humbled to say the least.

Escarpment revealed my weaknesses, exploited them and then proceeded not to show any mercy. Just when I thought things wouldn’t get worse, they just did. I cannot imagine doing this course with terrible weather, which is how it usually is.

I’m getting ahead of myself, so I’ll just start at 6:00AM Sunday morning.

I drove up the night before and camped on the RDs lawn that night. Dick is a great guy and lives in a perfect place to train for mountain running. Ithaca has hills, but not terrain like this.

We boarded buses at the finish line and got to the start to begin in waves at 9AM. My wave started at 9:15. I was surrounded by really talented runners, whom I wanted to learn from while we ran. However, it soon became about staying upright and injury free for me as they ran away.

The first few miles were mostly uphill, and I’m a good climber, so it felt great. After aid station 1, at about 3.5 miles, we started to descend and this is where fall 1 one happened. After that, I walked all the descents. My foot was just coming back from some time out and I was not going to push it. I started to be overly cautious, and it stole my confidence, but since I was in over my head, being that way was probably the best strategy.

After that point, honestly I struggled the rest of the race. I averaged 2 falls per mile for 18 miles. Not easy falls, but flying, hard, blood on my knees and exploding Gu falls. I just couldn’t catch a break. This was not even on the descents, this was the flat sections where I should have been a bit more confident.

The whole course was very technical with roots, stones, boulders and just crap everywhere. The only parts I did well were the sections where we climbed the side of the cliffs. I could climb and I wasn’t afraid of them. However, the confidence I garnered from climbing was extinguished by the fall I took each time I hit the summit.

After mile 9, I was thinking “ok, this is enough of a taste of this terrain to get a good training run. I can stop now.” Ten miles would have been perfect to end on. But there were still 8 left.

The hard part here was both physical, I was literally crushing my body when I fell, but also psychological. I was afraid I was going to get injured and there goes my season. Being overly carful got me nowhere. I eventually had this acceptance that I was going to fall a lot and I had to lessen the blow. Like in a boxing match, you know you’re going to get hit, you’ve got to absorb the impact and not let it hurt you too bad.

The final 8 miles were a battle both to not injure myself and try to keep going. After each aid station I told myself I was dropping at the next one. Then I would just keep going, tears, blood, s’mores Gu all over my leg, I just didn’t stop.

I did manage to get to the finish. However the feeling I have is odd. Normally once I finish a race, at least I feel like I overcame the course. I mean, that’s true because I finished. But to be honest, I feel like this course defeated me. I just don’t know what happened out there. Beautiful day, beautiful place, just not my day nor my terrain.

Maybe once I process this and heal, I’ll consider the day a success in terms of learning and teaching myself trails. But right now I stand by what I said at the finish line. Through tears, snot and blood I said “guys, I just don’t think this is my kind of race.”

On to other things.

I want to thank Red Newt Racing for the support and On Running for the Cloudventure shoes I ran in.

10 thoughts on “Escarpment, I bit off more than I could chew.”

  1. Wow, Ellie! What an intense race!! I think I would have felt the same way afterwards. Nice job on the finish! That in and of itself is amazing!

    1. Thank you so much Allie! As I move on here, I am happy to have done the race. I didn’t break anything. My body is bruised, but I appreciate the safety I now feel in myself.

  2. 2 falls every mile? Wow Ellie. I’m amazed. It’s incredible how you persevered through the whole race, but I understand that you feel a bit defeated. I still think it’s wonderful that you finished it and right now you’re still thinking about and processing all the feelings. <3

    1. Thanks Emily. As you being a more outdoorsy person than me, I know you can appreciate the mental process that happens as you fall. It must be similar when snowboarding. You sometimes just keep falling and it’s that kind of day. I have never done winter sports, but I respect you so much as it must be even more challenging when everything is covered in ice.

  3. Geez. This sounds like the Hunger Games. I’m not even sure what to say. You were in an intense match with nature, and nature was feeling relentless. I’m really glad you are okay.

    1. Thanks babe. I think this type of injury or discomfort is one I will endure more appreciatively. I am happy I did not break anything and that my body is durable. I am not ready for this type of racing more frequently, and still plan to rest and nurture my body. However, I am glad to have learned I can handle things like this and not [completely] break hahaha

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