Whether it be beer relays, ultra marathons, milers, or bike rides to Woodinville for wine tasting, the #SRCBrooks has been hard at work this first half of 2016, and the results speak for themselves! Keep reading to find out more! Thanks to Brooks for keeping these athletes clothed this year and allowing them to focus their time and energy on their fitness and self discovery!
The first half of 2016 has been a bit of a rocky training period for me. In late December, I developed a case of runner’s knee that continued to stifle my training hopes until mid-March, when I began running consistently again and slowly began building up mileage. Since then, my training has proceeded in fits and starts, as I’ve most recently had recurring shin splints that have limited my mileage to exclusively short runs. As a result, I’ve become an expert early-morning cross-trainer at my neighborhood pool and YMCA.
Despite these aches and pains, I’ve still had some wonderful moments with the Seattle running community and with my SRC-Brooks teammates, particularly participating in the first two races of the Cougar Mountain trail series. Both on and off the trails, the the support and enthusiasm of my SRC-Brooks teammates has kept me motivated and inspired. (Thanks, guys!)
In the coming months, I hope to actually, for real, increase my mileage and develop a more consistent training base from which to compete. I’m hoping to participate in Seattle-area trail races throughout the fall and to continue exploring the local trails.
Cedar Mountain 5 Miler – First Place
Spring Eagle Half Marathon – First Place
Pacific Northwest Marathon – Fifth Place (3rd time w/ a sub-3 hour marathon)
Chuckanut Mountain Marathon – Third Place (one week after PNW Marathon; two top five marathon finishes in one week)
My main focus for the first half of 2016 has been trying to find a new balance in my life. The three things that take up most of my waking hours and my mental energy are work, family, and running. My running keeps me sane and stress free. My family lifts me up. And my work tends to wear me down.
This year, to prevent injuries, I’ve moved most of my running to either the trails or the track. I’ve tried to stay off the hard roads as much as possible. My body, at 48 years old, likes running on trails way better. I recover faster and can put in more time/miles on the dirt. The varied surface is good for my legs and my mind. My training has been a lot lighter this year than in previous years, as I’ve taken on more coaching. Hopefully I can find a balance in the second half of the year that will allow for more time on the trail.
I’ve had a good year of youth and adult coaching. A few of my athletes set new school records. I enjoy running the workouts with my distance runners. I love seeing the rapid growth in their abilities. It’s too bad they can’t do more miles with me.
I ran a race called the Starlight Overnight. It’s a fun run that starts just before dark and goes until 5am. It’s a 2+ mile loop. It had a good varied terrain with lots of single track horse trails. I started out quick. I figured I could get in 2 or 3 loops before it got dark. I ran for 3 hours, took a nap, then ran for 3 ½ more hours. It was fun to run a 50k in the dark with so many people on the loop. I could always see the next light to pass up ahead.
I’ve been running the monthly Cougar Mt. Trail Series. I choose to do the long series. So far I’m in the top 5. The last one was the 20 miler in which I took 1st Master (over 40). I love the way they get longer each month. There is 1 more race to go it’s the 26 miler in August.
I have 4 races in the next 2 months. These should really get me in shape. They are 50k, 50m, 26m, and then 100m. See you on the trails.
I have spent the majority of this year training for the Wonderland Trail. My mom passed away in late January and, even before her passing, my plan was to run it in her memory. She was a thoughtful, positive, strong woman. I intend to use that to motivate me through the tough times I’m sure to endure on such a long, hard journey as I know running 93 miles with 25,000’ of elevation gain (and loss) will be, especially since my longest run to date is 50 miles/8 hours.
Since this is a totally new adventure for me, I’ve focused my time on training rather than racing. I’ve made a point of heading out to areas I’ve never been before to get in good, tough training. Of course I’ve utilized the trails at Cougar, Squak, and Tiger. I’ve also run on the PCT and trails off of that on which I’ve never been (like Mt. Catherine) as well as the Teanaway area and even the Austrian Alps for some beautiful terrain at high altitude. It’s been a beautiful and tough journey doing this training. I look forward to doing something that’s, for me, incredible with the fitness and experience I’ve gained.
Hopefully everything will line up – trail conditions, weather, and the necessary support crew. If it doesn’t work out for this year, however, I have a Plan B, C, D, and E, and will certainly focus on making the WT happen for sure in 2017.
I’m extremely thankful for the Brooks gear I’ve received as a member of the SRC-Brooks team. I’ve put so many miles on my trusty Pure Grits! I can’t say enough how much my feet and body love those shoes. It’s incredible how long I can run in those and still feel good. My Adrenalines have been my go-to road shoe for training and my T7s have gotten me through all of my half-marathons and speed workouts (I can’t wait to try the new Hyperion!).
The shirts and shorts I’ve received are so comfortable that they are my #1 go-to for long runs. I’ve never experienced any chafing or really even noticed my clothing on all the long runs I’ve done (which is a good thing). A shout out specifically about the Distance Short Sleeve. That shirt is the most comfortable I’ve ever worn. I wore it the first time on a 6 hour run and it was awesome!
I have raced two half-marathons (Mercer Island Half, where I finished 4th, and the Mother’s Day Half, where I finished 3rd) and the Cougar Mountain 10+ Miler (where I finished 7th woman, 5th PNTF).
The Cougar race in particular helped me learn many things about what not to do leading up to a race. I will conclude with what I posted on Facebook:
Beginner Tips For Racing/Things I Learned Today/Things I Should Already Know
Don’t expect to race well if:
1. You ran three of your longest training days back-to-back-to-back the week before…especially when they’re at 8000-9000′ altitude AND
2. You travelled from another continent less than a week ago AND
3. You ran your first track workout in a few weeks, while dehydrated, a few days earlier AND
4. You haven’t slept normally for several days AND
5. You received tragic news the day before AND
6. You didn’t eat for 8 hours the day before AND
7. Your run the day before was a LOT slower than it felt and then your legs didn’t feel good afterwards AND
8. You’re running a race that’s 1/9th the distance you’re training for AND
9. Your legs feel like cement blocks on the warm up.
When all of these things happen (ideally before you get to #9), that would be a good time to realize that racing may not be the best idea or, at least, that it’s unlikely to go well.
This is likely unsurprising to everyone reading it, but apparently I like to learn things the hard way and I also happen to be very hopeful, despite hope not having proven itself to work yet.
On the positive side, I got to help a guy run a 5 minute PR today! That was 100% worth me taking my focus off myself and focusing on helping him. So cool to see how hard he worked, have it pay off, and celebrate with him afterwards!
This year, I’ve completed 6 races, worn out 4 pairs of shoes, led 23 group runs from Flying Lion Brewing, watched 7 movies, and called my Mom 10 times. Despite all of this, my mileage was defined by 240+, 5 mi work commutes. The game of balancing standard work hours and marathon-plus training has led to some interesting lessons and experiences – meetings with bosses while wearing 3” split shorts (forgot my pants), happy hour where I’m too smelly to sit near, happy hour preceding a 30 x 400m Wednesday Birthday Workout, eating half of the office donut box myself, swapping ultra stories with a co-worker in the adjacent shower stall…
It has become a beautiful routine and something I rely on to keep my head on straight. My car is getting dusty.
Bridle Trails 50k Relay – As part of a stacked SRC lineup (Greg Crowther, Stefan Redfield, myself, Olin Berger, Ethan Linck, and Keith Laverty), we took down the Klick’s Racing CR at our own Winter Running Festival in January by 8 minutes. Mach Spikeless Flats are a dream at high speeds.
Chuckanut 50k – 3:59:32! Snuck in there under 4 hours. That’s 9 minutes faster than last year.
Boston Marathon – 2:38:23. Big PR in tough race conditions. Smart race plan execution put me in at 99th Male.
Bend Beer Chase Relay – Another 6-person SRC relay victory (Team Sack Lunch), dethroning the previously undefeated Sole Brothers with an across the board domination in speed, flair, and beer consumed. We brought sack lunches for all the other teams too. Lunch! Lunch! Lunch! Thanks Captain Olin Berger.
Washington Beer Festival 5k – Victory. There was no way I was going to get beat in this race. My brother had just won Best Stout, Third Best Pale, and tied for Brewery of the Year the night before for Flying Lion Brewing. SRC! FLB! SRC! FLB! Again, in Mach Spikeless Brooks kicks. Zoom.
Cougar 10.8 mi PNTF Trail Championships – The week of the race, I heard the top entrants were all Club Northwest members to this SRC-managed event. A last-second plan change meant I could race. Uli Steidl and Eric Bone also signed up (SRC) and we came away with a clean sweep: 1 (Uli), 2 (me), 3 (Eric).
Start of the year 2016, I had three goals: 1) Stay healthy and injury free 2) Drop my marathon time under 2:50 3) Train and race well for White River 50 mile. I am healthy with a few injuries but no major issues, which are reflected in my racing relatively frequent and well.
Open the season with Bridle Trails 10 mile female course record and the win; The Rain Run half marathon female champion; Fragrance Lake trail half marathon 3rd place; Chuckanut 50K 7th female (4:35); BMO Vancouver Marathon female 7th place, although 3:02 was not the result I was looking for. After Vancouver, I gave myself 3 days to regroup then get back at it. I run couple of shorter races before another targeted marathon in Seattle, which included Big Back Yard 5k female winner (18:46), the Shore Run 10k female winner (38:54), Mother’s Day half marathon 2nd female (1:24), Brooks Trailhead 15k female winner (58:37). Six weeks after Vancouver marathon, I ran 2:51, a 3 minute PR, and brought home the female championship in 2016 Seattle RnR Marathon. It is not the goal time yet but one step forward.
Without any break, the coming race for me is White River 50 mile. The preparation has not been smooth, I twisted ankle on the 1st course preview run and strained quads later that week. Although I managed 3rd female finish in Cougar 10-mile race one week after injury, on the same weekend the 2nd white river course preview run did not go well. I was really tired, doubted my ability, and experienced some very low points during that run.
Currently, I am cutting down the mileage 3 weeks before the final test and hopefully feel fresh and ready to battle with the tough female field. White River is a classic PNW Trail race hosted by our club, so I really want to represent our club well, but in the mean time there are a lot I need to learn and improve on the trails.
The first half of 2016 has been a blast to be representing SRC-Brooks. One of my goals this year has been to find more competitive races on a national scale (Lake Sonoma, Broken Arrow) and races that were outside my comfort zone and “unlike” of me to enter (Moab Red Hot, Broken Arrow).
Bridle Trails has now become a favorite race of mine to kick off the new year. The 2016 edition was forecasted with icy cold, hard, compacted dirt – prime for any CR’s to go down. For the 2nd time in four years, I had broken the previous 5-mile CR only to get outkicked in the end.
Orcas Island 25K was one I’ll never forget. With winter temps and snowing at the top of Mt. Constitution, I tried to get it all over with as fast as possible to get warm again. This turned out to be the new CR on the updated 25K course (since 2012).
Both Moab Red Hot and Broken Arrow Skyrace 26K were “trail” races of an entire different breed, as I liked to call them: adventure running. Both had national-class competition, courses that sent nearly everyone off-course and lost, and some tough terrain ranging from slab rock, snow fields to glacade, ridiculous climbs, and that thick, red clay mud.
Lake Sonoma was this year’s big, big “A” race. My debut 50-miler in probably the second-most competitive 50-miler in the country, boasting 10,500’ of gain over unrelenting rolling hills. To keep myself from freaking out about how my body would respond after the 35-mile mark, I told myself to stay patient, and to eat a lot. And it seemed to work! Besides going out a touch too fast (which felt like I was really holding back) to the 1st aid station, I executed my overall plan pretty successfully as far as nutrition and pacing. Although the last 10 miles certainly had more power-hiking than the first 10 miles! This was by far, one of the most memorable and learning experiences in my racing career.
One week later, I ran and won the OAT (Olympic Adventure Trail) 12k in course-record fashion in Port Angeles, WA. I was just as nervous for this race as I was for LS50. Would my legs recover in time? Yes, but barely.
Sun Mountain and Trail Factor also went well this year, with only six days rest in between. These courses featured very fast trail, that seemed incredibly easy, after experiences like Moab Red Hot. Both races, I tested out the “go out fast, then run scared” race tactic, and both worked like a charm!
Thank you to my wife, Elisa, for her incredible support at each and every race and making sure I stay strong!
Shoes worn throughout racing and training:
Launch 3 – This has been a great, lightweight trainer. Suited perfectly for the runnable trails of Lake Sonoma and city long runs.
PureGrit 4 – Light and fast!
Ravenna 7 – My staple trainer for training runs and when I need that little extra support.
2nd, Bridle Trails Winter Running Festival 5M (27:43)
1st, Capitol Peak Mega Fat Ass (2:07:35)
1st, Orcas Island 25K (2:11:12)
6th, Moab’s Red Hot 33K (2:20:18)
1st, Hillbilly Half Marathon (1:30:38)
11th, Lake Sonoma 50M (7:13:23)
1st, OAT Run 12K (43:46)
1st, Sun Mountain 25K (1:38:47)
1st, Trail Factor Half Marathon (1:28:11)
14th, The Broken Arrow Vertical Kilometer (48:04)
9th, The Broken Arrow Skyrace 26K (2:42:50)
1/9/2016 – Bridle Trails Relay Member – Team 1st overall with Course Record
2/14/2015 – UW Open 3k – 8:42 – 34th overall
3/20/2016 – Mercer Island Half – 1:12:24 – 2nd overall
3/26/2016 – Willamette Invite Alumni Mile – 4:28 – 1st overall
4/16/2016 – Fun with the Fuzz 5k – 15:24 – 2nd overall
4/24/2016 – Top Pot 5k – 15:35 – 4th overall
5/2/2015 – Cinco de Mayo Half – 1:12:41 – 1st overall
6/1/2016 – CNW Summer All Comers Meet 5k – 15:13 – 4th overall
6/4/2016 – Bend Beer Chase Relay Member – 1st overall
6/11/2016 – Cougar Mtn Series 8 mile – 54:15 – 2nd overall
6/29/2016 – CNW Summer All Comers Meet 5k – 15:07 – 2nd overall
My first race of 2016 was the Bridle Trails 5-Miler. The trails were in perfect condition and despite never having control of my breath, I was first female and tenth overall with a time that tied the course record (Note: Sophia beasted out through the 5-mile right ahead of me…and then ran five more miles to win the 10 Mile race.).
A little over a month later, I took on the Lord Hill 5-Mile and- hot damn!- was it a hill. This race was where I learned my first lesson about trail racing. I remember looking at the course record for women and scoffing. Of course I would take that down! I was actually proud of this race; despite having to walk a portion of the hill, I felt like I really raced the whole five miles. So imagine my surprise when I ran 42:41, or 8:32 pace. Never in my life have I raced anything slower than 6:40 pace, but I knew I had given my max effort out on the trails. That was when I realized trail running is a whole ‘nother beast. I was still 2-for-2 in 2016 on the gender wins, so I was happy on that front!
In March, I ran the Redmond Spring Run for Fun and won the 5-Mile overall, a first for me! This was not a great race. I felt flat and was way more excited for SRC member, Kate Impastato’s win in the half marathon! The streak continued at 3-for-3. April brought about the first ever races held at Tiger Mountain and I was stoked to run the 5K. My fourth trail race made my biggest weakness evident. I suck at hills. I didn’t always suck at hills. In fact, I used to be awesome. Then I got a nice stress fracture in my left femur, my glutes stopped activating properly (or at all, basically) and my hamstrings and other muscles and fascia that have no business providing certain functions have been compensating ever since. I have been seeing Dr. Nate at Elite Sports & Spine to work on my functional movements and mobility and will be focusing on those things over the next few months. Annnnyway, I did end up with the W in the 5K, keeping my win streak.
THE END OF AN ERA: My lovely teammate, Alison, ended my domination of small trail races when she crushed me in the Cougar Mountain 5-Mile by two minutes after barely training at all! In an attempt to start stretching myself beyond my comfort zone of 800m-5M, I signed up for the short series, which ends at 14.5 miles. The longest long run I have ever done is 13 miles. Youch. A few weeks earlier, Boundary Bay Brewing GM, Janet Lightener, reached out to Trish and asked if she had any women who wanted to be a part of their legendary Ski to Sea team. I raised my hand and waved it around vigorously! So on Memorial Day weekend, I took the timing chip from our downhill ski leg and ran 8.2 miles down Mt. Baker. Our women’s team was not only victorious, but finished in the top ten overall out of 300+ teams. If you’re a masochist, you can read all about my pain here.
After Ski to Sea, I could tell my body was revolting and needed a break. After finishing third female in the second of the Cougar Mountain short series races (8.2) to Jo and Alison, I said goodbye to running for two weeks. I didn’t miss it all. This is okay to say, people. Sometimes you need a break. Sometimes you’re Uli and you haven’t taken two weeks off since 1999. I am just now coming back after running the third of the Cougar series (10.8), which was double the longest run, time-wise, I had done since the last race. My main struggle in 2016 was my complete lack of goals. I thought that was a good thing at first, “Oh, I’ll just really enjoy running and get better at running trails.” Ha! I would never let an athlete count that as a goal. My lack of goals led to unfocused training and ancillary strength training that was not nearly progressive enough.
For the next five months, my focus is on training for the cross country season and increasing my functional strength and mobility. I will finish out the Cougar Mountain short series next month and will turn my focus toward the 6K. I’d like to take on a road 10K before XC starts because, well, I have never done one. GASP! Long term, I am super excited about the honeymoon Thorin and I are planning…in ICELAND!! We are going to run/compete in Run Iceland, a 5-stage 110K race across the country. Run Happy, y’all.
Typically I run 4-6 days per week in varying distances. For the first 5 months of this year I was doing back to back long runs on the weekends but am currently doing a long 20-25 mile run on a weekend day followed by shorter distances varying from 3-10 miles on 4-5 other days. It seems to work better logistically than two long runs on the weekends. My long runs can be anywhere from a flat rail trail to hilly technical mountain terrain, and I generally avoid hard surface roads. In March I started hosting a casual Thursday night group trail run for interested SRC members and the general public. Usually they are held at Ravenna Park but Magnusson and the Arboretum have been scheduled also. Cross training for me includes hiking (usually integrated with running), strength and conditioning type work at a local gym, and hot-styled yoga. I spend almost every other weekend and many summer Tuesday nights volunteering (and very often racing also) at various races, mostly for North West Trail Runs. I’ve volunteered at a variety of SRC races and sponsored Cougar trail maintenance days. I am currently exclusively training in Brooks PureGrit runners whether it be on single track trails, packed dirt, or pavement. I find them the finest comfort and fit I’ve come across in ages. Other training attire: I’m loving the fit, comfort, and ruggedness of the provided Brooks singlet and running shorts. Comfort and durability is key when training and racing are so much an important part of life as with me!
As I am gearing towards distances longer than just an average “ultra”, my year started out with a successful 24 hour run at Across the Years in Phoenix (Aravaipa Running), starting the morning of Dec 31 and ending January 1 with a final tally of 71.4 miles and 42nd out of 162 overall. This training run for a 100 miler was a highlight for me for it far exceeded any distance or time on feet I’d accomplished so far. In April I attempted my first 100 mile run at Zion 100 (Ultra Adventures) in Utah in record rainy conditions but failed to make an aid station cut off coming close to the half way mark. I learned a lot from that race and decided to immediately sign up for another 100 – Pigtails 100 (NW Endurance Events)in Renton, WA in May. Pigtails was successful in that I accomplished the elusive 100 mile distance in 31:53 with eight minutes to spare! Coming in as a last finisher was not only humbling but strangely satisfying as there were many DNFs. Having pulled up nearly unscathed, not much a break could be had to prepare for a 24 hour race in the Hamster Endurance Runs in Bellingham in August. All the long distance races this year will lead up to a solo run on the entire John Wayne Trail that spans from Tekoe, WA west to N. Bend, WA that I will be doing in September with a support crew. The run will be not only for personal satisfaction but also in honor of two charities: Friends of the John Wayne Trail in WA and Sober Sisters, in NH (https://www.facebook.com/elgranola32/).
I generally use races of less than ½ marathon as “speed training” as speed is often a difficult feat for long distance runners (I am not exception to this). The following is some shorter distances races so far this year: Carkeek 5 km (NWTR): 7/12, 29:27 (PB at Carkeek), 24, 68 overall; Taylor Mt marathon (Evergreen Trail Runs): 6/25 5:52, 36/50 overall; Ravenna 4 km (NWTR): 6/7, 23:22 13/35 overall; Wilburton 4 km (NWTR): 5/24, 22:47; Coal Miner 5 km (NWTR): 5/7, 28:29 3rd overall and 2nd female; Redmond Watershed ½ mara (NWTR): 3/6, 2:19 (PB), 53/103 overall; Frost Eagle Soaring Eagle Park 5 mi (NWTR): 2/6 49:17, 49/178 overall. Completion of the winter trail series that secured me the 3rd place female masters win; Interlaken Icicle 5 km (NWTR): 1/23, 34:02 44/186 overall.
The year started off well with a great team relay victory at the Bridle Trails Winter Running Festival. Not only did our team (comprised mainly of SRC-Brooks Team members) win the race, but we also set a new course record.
I followed up that win with another victory in January, this time a solo effort in the Capitol Peak Fat Ass 50k. Definitely no CRs were set during this muddy slog, but it was good training for later distance races to come.
My next race was the Chuckanut 50k in which I hoped to redeem myself for a late stage blow-up last year. I did not reach my goal of breaking four hours, but was only five minutes off and did manage to snag 9th in a pretty competitive field.
I made up for my disappointment at Chuckanut with a win at Rainshadow Running’s Sun Mountain 100k (my first race of that distance). I also set a course record for this race, but this year being the race’s first, that achievement was somewhat dampened.
Undampened was the thrill of winning this year’s Bend Beer Chase relay put on by Cascade Relays. Again, this team was comprised mainly of SRC-Brooks Team members and we were able to handily secure victory over the local team that had beaten us last year.
Upcoming, I have my two biggest races of the year, the White River 50 Mile and the Cascade Crest 100, my first 100-mile race!
My year started out with a big break from running. After some surgeries and a persistent injury, I was forced to take an extended break. Never have six weeks felt so long…
By the end of those six weeks the pain from the injury was gone and all my care providers told me it was okay to solely reintroduce running. So I did. Very tentatively. Six more weeks later I got off the treadmill and went for my first outdoor run; with no pain. Three weeks later I went for my first trial run; with no pain. And the last four weekends have been a succession of amazing trail runs, each one longer than the last, all with no pain!
Am I healthy? I’m still not sure. But man is it great to be running again without my body complaining.
My takeaway is that sometimes you need to really rest and not just fake it. And faking it is what I used to do.
It was incredibly frustrating watching races that I had registered for come and go but these last three weeks have been a total turnaround for me and a huge boost I moral. In fact, I am about to leave for Switzerland and go all in at the Eiger Ultra Trail 100k. I’m psyched! And as long as my body doesn’t break down I don’t care about pace. My goal is to finish with a smile. If I can I will consider myself “back” and ready to really train.
Knowing I would have a new baby joining the family in July I front loaded my race schedule this year. It has been an exciting six months of running, with a good combination of adventure runs, trail races, and road races.
Adventure run highlights included running to the bottom of the Grand Canyon and back, Exploring the red rocks in Snow Canyon State Park in Utah, Summiting peaks in the Olympic National Park and Stuart Peak in Montana.
In addition, I was able to do some international running adventures. In England I ran to a prehistoric stone circle in Ilkley Moor. I also loved the fantastic network of trails in the Rhine Gorge in Germany – a particular treat was running up the Lorelei Rock.
My go to shoe for adventure racing this year was the Cascadia 11. It has enough protection and support to go long and handles all kinds of terrain. I loved this shoe when running through the Grand Canyon and Bryce Canyon.
My road racing was mostly focused on the build up for my major race goal of 2016 – completing my first 100 Mile race. As part of a 30 mile training run I ran the Lake Sammamish Half Marathon. During my recovery from my first 100 I ran the Boston Marathon with an Ultra twist. I started alone at the finish line four hours before the official start time and ran up to the starting line. I reached the start in time to begin the race with the rest of the entrants and then ran to the finish following the normal course. My Launch 3s served me well through the entire 52.4 miles.
Trail races were the focus for the first half of the year. I took 5th place at the Bridle Trails 10M in January. In February I took 3rd place at the Frost Eagle Half. At the end of March I raced in the Badger Mountain 100M challenge. This was the main focus for the year and much of my training was focused on strength and ultra distances. I finished in 2nd place in 20 hours and 45 minutes for my 100M debut. It was an experience I will never forget – truly transformative. My Brooks gear was especially important when the distances got extreme and the margins for error small. With varying weather, it was important to have just the right layers and between the Brooks Sherpa shorts and the LSD jacket I was always comfortable. I wore my Cascadia 11s for the first 50M and the Pure Grit 4 for the back half. Both pairs of shoes were just what I needed for that stage in the race.
In May I beat my PR on the Cougar Mountain 10M course by 2.5 minutes – although my time last year was enough to win the race last year and this year the PR only earned me 6th place. As these amazing races grow in popularity the level of competition has risen.
In June I ran the Cougar Mountain 14M and took 6th place. Another great day on the Cougar trails as part of this epic Summer series. For both of the Cougar races I ran in the Pure Grit 4. I love this shoe for going fast on trails – the footing is great and I feel like I’m flying with them on.
In the usual arc of my athletic year, I started 2016 with a focus on backcountry skiing and shorter distance trail and road races, slowly building volume and distance to the present. After helping SRC-Brooks cinch the Bridle Trails 50K Relay in course-record fashion, I grabbed 1st at the Geoduck Gallop Half Marathon in Olympia in 1:14, which — given it was my first attempt at the racing the distance — was necessarily a PR. I then focused on logging long hours on skis to prepare for the Elk Mountain Grand Traverse, a classic 40-mile backcountry ski race from Crested Butte to Aspen in Colorado on March 26th. I had a bit of a rough race, and my partner and I finished 23rd in 8:53, but it was a beautiful, memorable experience. Back in Seattle, I hit my first two exclusively-running 70 mile weeks of the year, always a benchmark that I’m getting serious about training, and ran the always-hot Yakima Skyline 25K to finish 2nd in 2:21.
During a 6-week stint doing research in San Francisco (I’m a Ph.D. candidate at UW, studying evolutionary biology), I held decent volume, capping my time in the Bay with 1st place at the San Bruno Mountain 1/2 Marathon (1:31, a young CR) and 1st place Rodeo Valley 50K (4:27, definitely not a CR). Continuing my itinerant summer, I moved on to Colorado, where my girlfriend lives and where I’ll be working and training until September. Last week, I managed to grab 6th in the Gothic to Crested Butte 1/3rd Marathon in :53, in spite of relatively limited acclimation to running above 9000’. Now, my focus is on logging higher mileage in the mountains in anticipation of the Leadville Trail 100 in August, which I earned an entry to winning the Leadville Silver Rush 50 back in 2014. Other than a few niggles now and then, I’m healthy and feeling and fit, and will be running a few shorter distance mountain races in preparation for game day. Stats as of 1 July, 2016? 1511.4 miles covered, climbing 226,049 vertical feet in the process.
Stone Cold Stephen Walston
“Each of his workouts were attended by ten thousand or more spectators…”
-Seabiscuit: An American Legend
Earlier this spring I finally got around to reading Seabiscuit which, despite its equine hero, made its way onto my reading list for Endurance Athletes Who Have Already Read Born To Run™. It’s an inspirational underdog story that shows how the simple joy of running can carry an athlete beyond the expectations of others, and if you haven’t read it yet I highly recommend it. In his heyday Seabiscuit was the most famous personality in the country, athlete or not, and a household name on par with FDR. I imagine it must be surreal to have ten thousand spectators show up to watch you train, even if you are a horse.
At last count, only three spectators have appeared to witness my workouts, but they weren’t fans or journalists. I recently volunteered to participate in a study of running mechanics designed by the exercise physiologists Seattle University. After data collection and measurement of VO2 max on a treadmill I was outfitted with 3D motion sensors and followed around the Garfield High School track in an attempt to understand how the movement of our bodies changes as we get closer to maximum running effort. It’ll be interesting to see the final conclusions.
“We had to rebuild him, both mentally and physically, but you don’t have to rebuild the heart when it’s already there, big as all outdoors.”
2016 kicked off with a bang but promptly slowed to a crawl as a nagging ankle injury flared up during Chuckanut training. With the aid of rest, time, cross-training on the stationary bike and some custom orthotics, the issue has been fortunately quiet since then.
So I was pleasantly surprised when when my first run at Chuckanut ended with a PR for the 50k by about 7 minutes. Attending the course preview arranged by Eric Sach and race director Krissy Moehl definitely helped me plan my strategy – something I never really took seriously as a runner until recently.
Then in May I made it to the West Seattle 5k. This has been one of my favorite races in the city and was my first 5k in about 2 years, and I left with a new PR there as well.
The main event of 2016 will be White River, my first 50-miler and what I’m quickly learning will be a grueling course. Aside from a preview run there earlier in July I’ve really tried to hit the trails at Cougar and Tiger Mountain as much as I can to prepare, and I’ve also been experimenting with different hydration/nutrition strategies. With the relatively cold and wet conditions so far in the northwest this summer it’s hard to predict exactly what I’m going to need. Through all of this I’ve been extremely impressed with the Brooks PureGrit 4 which were with me at Chuckanut and I plan on using at White River as well.
With White River closing in I try not to let nerves get the best of me, however. This past weekend I biked the Burke-Gilman trail to Woodinville, WA and visited some of the local wineries for tastings. Sometimes “cross-training” has to get a little creative, I guess. I was sure to represent SRC all along the way.
But today it’s back to work, and back to training. I think in the end, no matter what I do, a lot of it is going to come down to a heart, with any luck, as big as all outdoors.