Into the Fire

   

Erin Clark USATF Championships
Fewer rocks in Erin's last national championships before Moab

      Erin Clark ran the US Trail Marathon National Championships in Moab a few months ago. She had a rough day, but has use that to put some fire in her training. This weekend she will be competing for a Western States Golden Ticket at the Bandera 100k. Below is Erin's post race recap of her run in Moab:


     When I signed up for the Moab Trail Marathon a few months ago, I wasn’t sure I’d be ready. When I saw how many damn rocks were on the course during our pre-race, I wasn’t sure I’d be ready. When I woke up the morning of the Moab Trail Marathon, having gotten a negligible amount of sleep, I wasn’t sure I’d be ready.

     Spoiler: I wasn’t.

     But let’s back up for a sec.

     About 10 months ago, I retired from professional running. I walked away from a team, a support system and a sponsorship deal. I walked away broken. 

     I packed up, moved to Missoula and have been working to piece my running back together ever since.

     So, I came into this race not really sure I’d be ready. I’d struggled mentally in more workouts than I’d like to admit, and that same fire to push my limits had proved harder to grasp than I’d remembered.

Erin (#53) on the startline in Moab

     Maybe I should have been gentle with myself. I’d had a long road through injury and frustration, just to get to the level I was at now. Maybe I should have done the mental work first. Meditated or something. Visualized. Told myself I was doing great. Indulged in a little self- care. But I’m stubborn and that’s not really my style. I figured if I just kept throwing myself into the fire, one day it was going to click. I’d latch onto that fire, and I’d want nothing more than to hurt as bad as I could and beat as many people as possible.

     So, I threw myself into the Moab Marathon and…felt tremendously terrible. The race went out hard. I was winded at mile 4. Around miles 8 to 10 I was convinced that if I took another Gu I would surely vomit. The mile and a half long hill around mile 12 felt like a marathon within itself. I stumbled along the slick rock that followed and struggled to follow the course between miles 14 and 18. Meanwhile, willing the sun to release me from its scorching torment. I finally grabbed some Tailwind around mile 19 and had a small resurgence. I came across another runner, one who had passed me and left me in her dust, as I had started to struggle earlier in the race. I’d watched her fly up the long climb around the halfway mark, making it look easy, as I wondered to myself, what’s wrong with me? Why can’t I do that? I asked if she was okay, and she said through tears that she’d been cramping for 5 miles. I encouraged her to try and stick me and tried to offer her one of the gels I seriously should have taken midrace. I was encouraged by this sense of communal struggle and by the idea that in the dilapidated state I found myself I could still offer help to another. I carried on, feeling flowy along a short, smooth section of trail that descended towards the finish area, before it continues out towards the obstacle course. I hit what I can only describe as a re-bonk in the obstacle course, and finally willed myself across the line after a very slow last 3 miles, just happy to be done.

Still enjoying running post-race

     Yeah, I wasn’t quite ready for that. I wish I could tell you more about the course, but honestly it all blurs together. I’ve been told the Moab Marathon Course is beautiful. I even tried to tell myself midway through the race in hopes of mustering so long-lost source of energy. Unfortunately, beautiful views don’t have quite the energizing effect that calories do. Really though, it’s an incredible race, and a stunning place. I’d highly recommend, especially if you’re interested in throwing yourself into the fire.  Hopefully someone will enjoy and/or be able to relate to this story. Whether yes or no, happy trails and keep chasing! 

-Erin Clark


You'll be able to follow Erin's progress during the Bandera 100k here


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