Bottoms UP…by Branta

I raced the Big Pine 50k Aravaipa Trail race on June 13th 2015 and I will NEVER forget it.

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I had been just about 2 weeks out from North Face Endurance Challenge Costa Rica 50k

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And felt pretty refreshed and ready to run another 50k. I ALSO had raced Leona Divide 50 miler to train for Costa Rica a good month plus some change beforehand

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so I had the fever for the flavor of some Big Pine 50k. Bad news was camping was not good. No sleep night before and after my 1st friggn lap I gotta say my legs were burning up w lactic acid.  I kinda liked the pain but then thought crap…I have 3 more loops to run. What the F is going on here. Have u run too much????

Rain n thunder set in on my 3rd lap and I did something I’ve never done in my 22 Ultra races to date this being my 23rd. I retreated to my tent not only to change clothes but to contemplate the unthinkable.  I wanted to DNF. Im telling ya the letters make me wanna hurl. I don’t believe in it I have never done it and I’d have to be pretty f’d up to really go there.  So I sat in my tent as it rained for 20 minutes just re training my brain I guess.  My Body said Mel u have run enough…stop!!! Ur good girl. U have succeeded beyond belief. Chillax. Yeah right!!!!

I put on a lame rain poncho and said 1 more lap God…Let’s do this and I did. It actually felt pretty good and I beat the 2nd thunderstorm rolling in so I was stoked to have taken 6th I believe.  Ditched the oversized rain poncho in the first three minutes by the way but had to roll it in a big ass ball and put it in my Camelbak gave it to a station . Miraculously I was feeling a bit more vibrant:)

As Ultra Runners we have so many goals and want to run so many races …are we suppose to just settle and b happy to finish them smoke n barrel or slow n stale yet still finish?  I want to feel like I’ve accomplished my goals and put my very best version of Melissa Branta out on that trail EVERY DANG RACE!

After the race I was sore in my quads and aside from my 3rd lap having to stop and re tie my shoelace on my dominant left foot ; i thought to myself ok I will feel these sore quads for days when usually I’m out mtn biking the next day post my previous 50’s or 100k. Seriously yoga even hurt me that week after my race. No chair pose for this girl!!!

Had to teach a spin class sunday post race day at 8am fun fun and remembered gimping into the room a bit.

Next day couldn’t walk well at all. Pain in left shin and moreso ankle region. Foot had elephantitus look going on. All week long I’d walk into the Village at DC Ranch where I train clients and teach group x and I was getting worse n worse . Then it dawned on me…STRESS FRACTURE??? THE 2 WORST WORDS an Ultra runner can hear. I waited a full week and then had an Xray. Doc said xray was clean but he thought I had one so next I have to have an MRI. Check! Had it the following day and sure enough Tibial Stress Reaction / small fracture building up to be full blown if I dare to run on it anymore.

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I have been a good girl for 2 months plus some change and no trail running or hiking of any kind. I have lived In my pool doing every kinda Aquatic movement one can think of.

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Going to physical therapy 2 days a week for 6 weeks 90 min -2hrs a pop and to preseny still going. I’ve been at the bottom working my way back up. I’ve been patient and kind to myself allowing God to heal me and rest me at least that’s what I tell myself daily. I honestly remind myself just how lucky I have been for 2 years plus and 23 ultras and amazing accomplishments so NOW I have bottomed out..im sidelined but just this weekend got to go Run a mtn in Steamboat CO. I hadn’t run 11 miles for 2.5 months so u could imagine how high I felt on life on recovery on rebirth of my proclamation to ME in my glory as an Ultra athlete. 

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I leave u with this …I’m so grateful to my Team Aravaipa  for instilling in me Courage , Compassion and Conviction when I race or run. I’m shooting for a Grand Canyon R-r-R  monster the last weekend of sept then onto Cave Creek Thriller where I’ve won it overall female the last 2 years. Maybe a 3rd is in my future fitness forecast. From the bottom there is only one way UP up UP!

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Crown King Take 2

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Race Report – Mel Branta
The return of Crown King TAKE 2 / 2013 & 2015 …This was my very 1st Ultra Trail race exactly 2 years ago in 2013. It was the Crown king race that put me on the map and I had emerged into this ultrarunning world as a newbie to Trail Running.  I had been been a former fitness n bodybuilding chic then onto competitive mtn biker and adventure racer for a span of 9 years. CROWN KING ULTRA 2013 found me the beat to my drum, the beat to my feet:)  this pic was of me in 2013… 3rd place finisher time of 5:49

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Every time I race I just keep enjoying the heck out of putting one foot forward over and over again on any Dirt, Rock, Trail, Mud or Sand infested slab of earth.

Now this 2015 Crown King race 2nd time thru reconfirmed that im just not a fan of ANY roads. Some trail running races include Service road or Fire roads and even Road roads but after Racing Crown King the first time as much I loved the beauty of the open backdrops, the lake view, the hi climbs and the smell of pine;  just running in this awesome back country was a blessing however I craved single track. The up side was i luv climbs so that part of Crown King I was excited for.

Post race reflection i realized a lot of things – 1. I still dislike cause hate is a strong word ALL AND ANY kind of roads. Its like the Packers  vs the bears, the 2 don’t mesh. Sure i could embrace the opposition and train harder on my weaknesses but im more interested in training in areas that excite me that get my heart pumping that I enjoy and truly love . Moving on to the second thing I realized  2. not training nearly enough this year hurt me. I really miss all my climbs on echo at camelback mtn. 3. I just can’t do what I want to do or what I think I will do every race I enter. I just have to be humble, be happy and B in my moment of glory as a runner.

3/38 Crown King started 6 a.m. as my picture shows

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my friend Keith from California who I met at the Cave Creek thriller 2 years ago. This stud took the 1st place finish and i was just lucky enough to take a backshadow 2nd overall. He and I stayed in touch periodically and have developed an amazing running kinship. The guy is a freak that’s why I like him. We are both 2 for 2 right now he’s beat me in two races we’ve  done and I beat him in two races not like we really compare we just enjoy telling your stories.

It was a beautiful morning I got up at 330 am crown king morn which is beyond dreadful for me. I didn’t sleep much at all yet was excited for the day. I hadn’t done much running in the 2 weeks prior so i was well rested despite some misalignments in my body that my chiropractor eventually got knocked out . I had even decided not to do Mesquite Canyon because I wanted to rest my legs for Crown King. The downside of that was I don’t train much during the week due to my work schedule and dont do sprint work on flats therefore my flat pace was too slow and I never caught up to what i call the (front runners). I was always one of them. I look at them flying by me it’s a hard pill to swallow . I had such tremendous victory year 2013 to 2014. I won the overall female open desert series ultra championship and could not have been more proud of myself never putting an expectation or pressure on myself. This year I find it completely opposite I’m up I’m down and truthfully I’m more down than up. Thank God for Black Canyon 50k 3rd place finish this year. I’m trying not to be so hard on myself but how can you not be when you excel and feel so amazing with your talent and your skill and your blessings for one entire year,  my first year of ultra running ever and THEN I take a six month break come back for Flagstaff frenzy that was quite a whopper and well got a slap down. At least after that I took Cave Creek thriller as my 2nd year Win. Woot woot!

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Watching these runners at Crown King was awesome everybody was so dedicated so passionate so eager to pounce right off that start line into the harmonizing yet challenging miles and miles of dirt dusty road ahead. And let’s not forget all the ATV’s quads motorcycles and trucks . Within 5 minutes of my run I got a full on nosebleed still don’t know how that happened . Continuing on i did not feel good until mile 17 . Finally at mile 17 I perked up it was like happy juice was injected into my body. Soon i started doing some climbing no walking, drank steadily and kept on my nutrition. Even started dipping my bandana in the creek crossings which I rarely do. I started to accept the fact that since my energy was low for the first 17 miles of the race that I was not going to come in near my time of 5:49 but was positively reinforcing myself!  It didn’t take long after that for my energy to plummet again . I’m not a walker yet i remember starting the major climbs and walking although so was everyone else.  I thought this is unacceptable I never walk I scramble!!! I knew I wasn’t going to place within the top 15-20 girls at this point. What a big downer I got hit up side the entire body with that’s what it came over me as. Soon the big honker Hill as I call it up to the final aid station. This one that I actually did not mind I was pretty much alone and felt excited to come to the finish and see my dad my puppies my boyfriend and all the community of runners.

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I really AM thankful that I do like distance running and that each course I train and race is so different and promises a variety of rewards. I want to thank Aravaipa for always presenting such amazing opportunities for all of us runners and although I finished an hour plus some change over my time two years ago I can totally say I feel extremely accomplished because I have hit my goal. What goal u may ask? my goal was 20 ultramarathons by this time so within two years I have done 20 ultramarathons three of which are doublers. I hope to keep doing what I love to do as we all do… till next time.

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