Our #SRCBrooks team has been enjoying the summer and early-autumn months with races of all distances and all around the world. We have seen 50 miler debuts, 50 miler wins, 100 miler debuts, and Stefan Redfield is even considering a race longer than 10 miles! Read more about their adventures below!
After a full queue of racing for the first half of 2016 my focus moved back to building a good schedule to get more miles per week + integrating more strength training. As my fast teammate Erik Barkhaus sagely advised, 15 more minutes a day can move you from a 50-mile week to 65; I’m trying to find those 15 minutes.
That being said, the 2016 XC is mid swing and nothing is more exciting than leaves on the ground and mud under the spikes! Sundodger 8k was a fine opener for me, getting to run in a fat pack for the first time this year and bumping down into the sub 26 minute 8k range for the first time since diving into “adult cross country.” My next opportunity at the Emerald City 8k could be best defined as “uninspired,” but I have learned to accept bad races over the years and to keep eyes up. At the very least it was a good to experience the sensation of ice-skating around muddy turns in prep for the end of the season races.
All and all, it has been a mellow Q3, but I am very much looking forward to our next 2 races here in Seattle for the PNTF and Regional 10k XC championships! That followed by the Seattle Half Marathon will surely have earned me a temporary slumber in Valhalla for the winter.
In August, I managed to close out the series as the 8th female in the 14.5-mile finale, squeaking out the win in the women’s short series. There were many talented ladies who consistently finished ahead of me in races, but alas, they missed a race, leaving me the victor and with a new long run in the books. The next week, a few friends and I tackled running/hiking the Enchantments, which was absolutely stunning…and tough. My Cascadias were awesome and I managed not to fall once.
While I had a stronger training summer last year and have started slower than usual these first two cross country races, I am excited to finish the season strong at PNTF and Regionals before closing out the year with the goal of 5K road PR! Thank you, Brooks, for a great year!
July/August – I took a break! For one week. Then I laced up my Pure Grits and spent a lot of time adventuring around the Cascades instead of stressing about races. Speed runs/climbs on Mount Stuart, Shuksan, and a variation of the Whittier Ridge-Lakes Loop (just north of Mt St Helens) were piles of fun (and rock). What a fantastic way to spend the summer. Picking one’s way on thin trails chopped into the sides of cliff faces with a water bottle in one hand and a coiled half-rope on the back. Beers waiting in the car upon return.
September/October – I made a real training plan for the first time in a while. I decided to queue up some organized mileage to get ready for a big effort at the Leavenworth Half Marathon. A hip injury, out the blue, four weeks before the race dismantled my training plan and I was left worrying about how much shape I would retain after hardly running for the final month.
I got a confidence boost with two weeks to go when I realized faster, better form running didn’t hurt so much and I jumped in the Sundodger XC 8k for a 1 min 20 sec PR. More injury followed.
The half marathon went well enough. No pain on race day, 1:14:56 (not a PR…the streak is broken!), but a win, beautiful course/weather, and a prize hydroflask growler from Icicle Brewing. The best non-PR ever.
I raced once more, at the Emerald City XC 8k, but my real focus has been solving the minor issues in the injury recovery process and getting back to my normal work commute pattern. It’s going well. The rest of the year looks bright! Mileage is increasing again. Legs are feeling good.
With relatively success first half of 2016, my 2nd half of the year as SRC Brooks member is going full speed. I have to say training is going well, after Full marathon PR (2:51:45) almost half an hour PR in white river 50mile (8:44,female 5th) and 2 minutes PR on a relatively hilly course in Vancouver RnR half marathon (1:22, female 4th) was the highlight of my recent races. In addition, I run my first home country marathon in September. With the race condition being hot and humid plus air quality issues, I still managed to run under three hours and became the 1st Chinese female to cross the finish line was considerably successful home run for me. Right now I am training for Seattle Marathon and the goal is to break 2:50 hopefully end the season with a cherry on top.
Recent race results:
White River 50 miles: 8:44 (5th female)
Seattle 10K 38:26
Iron Horse half marathon 1:24 (2nd female)
Labor Day half marathon 1:24 (4th female)
Beijing International Marathon 2:59 (8th female, 1st Chinese female)
Vancouver RnR half marathon 1:22:24 (4th female)
Coming off a fairly aggressive spring race schedule, the summer months included a little more time to relax by exploring new terrain and new trails in the Olympic National Park, and later on, in the Mt. Shasta wilderness.
In between these adventures, I did gear up once again for a harder race course that was both technical, and pretty far, the Squamish 50K (sporting the Brooks Mazama trail shoe) in British Columbia. It was fun, hot, hilly and maybe a little less fun, once I realized my body was depleted of sodium and electrolytes in the final several miles, resulting in some shocking leg cramps. An S-cap donated to me helped me stumble to the finish before fading back to 5th place in the final two miles, after running between 1st and 3rd place all day. I highly recommend this challenging, well-organized race and I hope to return one day to get it just right.
Shortly after Squamish, I suffered a 4-week long injury to my kneecap and super tight IT bands. All while moving from Seattle to the quieter, but still very hilly, Bainbridge Island. For my regular work commute, I opted for my own two legs to run to work instead of my VW Jetta. Despite the injury misfortune, I very luckily won a free entry into the week-long Max King Trail Running Camp near Mt. Shasta in the final week of September.
Besides fan-boying a little over Max King and his impressive, versatile running background, the camp really helped me reset, relax and reflect why I got into trail running in the first place. I made several new friends in the community, did some trail maintenance, learned more about map & compass work, and went on an epic 28-miler on the PCT and Castle Crags wilderness. There was one point where Max thought I got ahead of him (I was actually behind taking a quick bathroom nature break), so he went off to chase me down, while I was chasing him. Endless chasing!
The GOAT Run, or the Great Olympic Adventure Trail run was a point-to-point 14-miler that I was raced on my injured knee. With a little bit of Aleve and adrenaline, I was able to cruise on through for a new course record, finishing at Lake Crescent near Port Angeles. Another race that I would recommend for a weekend getaway on the Peninsula.
July-September race results:
1st overall, Carkeek Warmer (18:28 – CR)
1st overall, Summer Eddy 8M (54:42 – CR)
5th overall, Squamish 50K (5:40:17)
1st overall, GOAT Run 14M (1:23:39 – CR)
The late summer and fall has been all about building a base of consistent training and strengthening relationships with the Seattle-area running community. Beginning in July, I’ve enjoyed the longest consistent ache-and-pain-free period of training I’ve had in quite a while (although I should probably knock on wood for writing that!). In August I celebrated the one-year anniversary of my time with SRC, which provided a moment for reflection and a re-commitment to racing purely for the fun of it. Rather than fill up an overly busy race schedule, I’ve stuck with several of the SRC favorites: so far, the Fat Glass and the Sundodger and Emerald City cross country races, each of which have been fun, challenging and muddy adventures. Looking ahead, I hope to keep increasing my mileage enough to try out my legs on longer, more ambitious trail races… I’ll keep you posted on that!
The past few months held my biggest win (in terms of largest race) and biggest race (in terms of miles) to date. I was thrilled to cut 30 minutes off of my previous time at the White River 50 miler and to win the race outright.
Less thrilling was experience at my first 100 miler, the Cascade Crest 100. A beautiful course, but I ran it like a 50 miler, crashed at mile 70, and ended up walking the rest. However, I did finish and came away with a lot of lessons for my next 100.
White River 50 Mile: 1st Overall (7:06)
Cascade Crest 100: 26th Overall (24:41)
I hope to close out 2016 by defending my 2015 win at the Deception Pass 50k.
Traditionally, my training/motivation wanes during the shorter/wetter days that come at the end of the year. This year, my training waned at the height of summer, but for a very different reason: my wedding and honeymoon. Running brings so much joy to my life, yet it is very often an individual joy. This summer I focused more on the social joy that came along with finding a kick-ass running partner to spend the rest of my life with.
We did get in some pretty cool runs on our honeymoon, though. In London, my wife and I ran along the Thames, past Big Ben, Buckingham Palace, and around Hyde Park. I loved wearing my SRC gear throughout the UK and Ireland. More people called out “Seattle!” than I would have ever imagined.
I have been ramping up my training again. Instead of fearing the shorter days ahead, I feel energized and motivated to finish the year stronger than ever.
For training I run 4-6 days per week in varying distances from 2-25 miles depending on what I’ve got coming up. Over the summer and into the fall I did some crazy training as I was gearing up to attempt to a solo run, with crew support some 300 odd miles in 6-7 days on the Iron Horse/Milwaukee (also known as the John Wayne) trail at the end of September. My training included many long back to back to back runs followed by a 24 hour race the second week of August to be followed up by a tough mountain 50k race Memorial Day weekend. I’ve had a mix of gnarly trails, mellow trails, and easy flat trails for training lately! My cross training in the past few months has been mostly just gym strength and conditioning type training. I’ve spent a great deal of time this past summer and into the fall volunteering at races to bring some cheer and encouragement to others when I’m not competing (and even then I hope I bring cheer!). In late July I was the captain of the ship floating at the SRC-sponsored aid station at White River 50 Mile Run and had a ball seeing all the familiar and new-to-me faces coming through just past their ½ way point for the day. I am still in love with the Brooks PureGrit running shoes whether it be on single track trails, packed dirt, or pavement. They have done a great job comforting my footsies after many many miles in a row!
I had a couple of big races this summer…the Hamster Endurance Runs 24 hour of which I finished with a 3rd place finish. Only three week after Hamster I ran the Bunker to Bonneville 50k on still-tired legs as training for the Iron Horse trail and only managed a middle of the field 13th place female finish. That one was a tough one as it has fairly significant elevation gain and at only four miles into the race many of us (actually I think most of the racers!) were attached by very angry bees of which I ended up with at least 6-7 stings.
Since I was gearing up for my epic solo run on the Iron Horse trail, I’ve tried to refrain from too many short distance races so I could concentrate on long slow runs. A few shorter races recently: Carkeek Sizzler with NW Trailruns gave me a 6th place female finish in the 4.2 mile race. The Interlaken Ice Cream Dash with NW Trailruns gave me a stinging 19th place female finish in a large-ish field.
All my long distance races this year lead up to a solo run on the entire Iron Horse/Milwaukee (John Wayne) Trail that spans from N. Bend, WA east to the Idaho border in Tekoe, WA. I started off on my run on Sept 24th from N. Bend with my tiny crew (my boyfriend) and a car full of food and supplies. After 7 days of running long days of 10-14 hours with daily mileage from 21-45 miles, I ended up at the Idaho border in time for a reception from trial enthusiasts at a gala benefit for the John Wayne trail. My original plan was 300 miles but after skipping some dangerous for running road sections and (some temporarily) closed areas of the trail I wound up with a total of 200 miles (give or take a few tenths!). It was a massive undertaking and I am planning on attempting it again next spring except will logistically plan the road sections better. It was a massively great experience that can be followed on my blog.
My last long race of the year was the 20 mile option on 10/30 at the final Cougar Mt. race for 2016 finishing with a 12th place female placing. It was a tough one and I came out realizing my legs were maybe still a little fatigued from 200 miles in a week. After a couple of short 5-10 km races in November, my plan is to take a short break in December from competing in order to finish the year injury free!
July 16 – Eiger Ultra Trail E101
This was a 101km trail race in Switzerland. It packs more vertical into 100 km than Cascade Crest does in 100 miles. For this reason it is a UTMB qualifier which is my main goal in 2017. I got to run this with several friends and my sister which was a real treat!
This race was my first ultra after a lingering injury that lasted over one year and it was great to be back. We had perfect weather and I stopped countless times to marvel at the view and take pictures.
As is usually the case when your race pace exceeds your fitness, I had a low spot around km 60-80 but I recovered and finished VERY strong. My friend and I ran the last 6 km pretty much flat out which totally surprised me and let us pass quite a few runners.
11th – Men 50-59
120/600 – Overall (Almost 40% dropped! It’s a tough course for sure.)
My race report
August 21 – Super Tunnel Marathon
I have always wanted to run this event, it’s down the John Wayne Trail from the Hyak parking lot all the way to North Bend. Obviously it’s a fast course so I’m not surprised that I got a marathon PR… more importantly I nailed my pacing and nutrition and was able to accelerate the entire time. That has never happened to me before.
2nd – Men 50-59 (Missed the win by 5 seconds! I just couldn’t accelerate any more.)
16th – Overall
My race report
September 11 – Pine to Palm 100 Mile Endurance Run
This was my 2nd 100 ever. Again, all part of my “master plan” to hopefully run UTMB in 2017. 🙂
Once more I had a super low point just past the middle of the race (it was very hot) but again I recovered well and finished in great spirits. And this run, although very tiring, did not beat up my body! I think I am finally getting used to longer distances.
3rd – Men 50-59
31st – Overall (50% dropped! It was a hard day.)
My race report
As a bonus, I also recently ran the famous rim-to-rim-to-rim route in the Grand Canyon. With my sister! What an amazing way to check an item off your bucket list. And we had perfect weather.
Stone Cold Stephen Walston
I finished White River 50 (my first race that distance) in July, coming in just under 10 hours. It was a perfect day weather-wise, the course had plenty of spectacular views. And it couldn’t have been more well-supported. There was plenty of pain to go around that day, but I forgot about it pretty quickly (beer and barbecue helped). I wore the Brooks PureGrit 4 which held up fairly well.
Since then it’s been off the trails and back on the roads for me, though I did join in for a rain and mud-soaked Emerald City 8k two weeks ago at Woodland Park. Between SRC cross-country training on Wednesday nights and getting back into weekend/tempo runs on weekends, I’m gearing up for the Seattle Marathon on Thanksgiving weekend. The Brooks Launch 3 has been a reliable shoe for interval and tempo runs, and Transcend has been fantastic for my usual after-work easy runs during the 60/70 mile weeks.
2016 hasn’t gone the way I had hoped when I planned out my goals for the year. For one reason or another, this has been the least successful or productive year of running I’ve ever had. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve been in good shape, it just hasn’t resulted in anything to get too excited about.
Running the entire Wonderland Trail in 24 hours or less was my main goal for the year. Logistics prevented me from being able to make this happen, which was extremely disappointing. I had put all of my energy and focus this year on this goal and then wasn’t even able to start.
I thought of what else I could do that would be easier logistically. There are plenty of other mountains to run around in the PNW and Mt. St. Helens had been on my list since 2004. I wasn’t really trained for something this short in distance, but I knew I was in decent shape, so I decided to go after the FKT! I was excited to go somewhere new to me and tackle the challenge of racing without really racing.
As we started off, I was unsure exactly what the day had in store. I had done information-collecting as much as possible, but nothing is the same as experience. Many of my friends had posted incredibly scenic pictures from their runs here the week before. I couldn’t wait to see in person what they had posted! Unfortunately we were greeted with clouds, fog, and rain – at least it wasn’t windy! I was bummed, but there was a goal to shoot for, so I put myself in a focused mindset.
We tackled the boulder field first. Using a friend’s GPS watch for the first time (to make sure I’d have proof I ran the loop) turned out to not be the best idea. Seeing the watch display my pace being so slow was a mental downer for which I wasn’t prepared. I knew this was a slow section, so tried not to let it get to me, but that on top of not feeling too great on top of it being a dreary day was taking a mental toll I was trying my best to overcome.
Around three hours in, I was heading up a longer climb and realized the watch was either malfunctioning or I was finally getting a groove! My legs were feeling pretty good and I was climbing the hill like it was no big deal. Maybe I could get this FKT after all!
We finally got to a flat section. I was feeling good and doing math in my head. I figured out that I could still get the FKT, which I had determined earlier wasn’t going to happen. Upon realizing that, I decided to pick up the pace and take advantage of the flat as best as I could. I was running pretty fast, feeling hopeful…and then, all of a sudden, I was on the ground, sliding forward. I realized I had no idea what the side of the trail was like. Was it a cliff? How far down did it go? Was it rocky? I had no idea and I was still sliding!!
I finally came to a stop. Half of my body off trail, with my left arm wrapped up in a small tree, my right leg up on the trail. Uli asked if I could get up. I tried to push off my hands and knees and couldn’t. They all hurt too much and my body was contorted in a way that I couldn’t really shift myself. He came over to me, put his arms around my torso and lifted me to my feet.
I didn’t want to look down at what had happened. I brushed the dirt off my hands and saw they were torn up. Fortunately my friend’s watch appeared to be unscathed – whew! The bracelet my mom gave me was fine, too. Uli asked me if I could run. I said, “Yes,” and started to go. I quickly realized running was not possible. In fact, I could barely walk. I finally looked down to see my knees swollen and bruised, with my right knee bleeding a considerable amount.
I was devastated. Seriously?!?! How could this happen? I was finally feeling good; finally going to have my training result in something this year and now I could barely walk?! Uli gave me a big hug and I cried in frustration (and some due to the pain now that the adrenaline was wearing off). To make matters worse, I asked him where we were around the mountain and he told me we were almost exactly half-way. It wouldn’t be shorter to turn around and head back and there wasn’t any way to go over the mountain. We’d have to walk the rest of it. So walk we did. I tried jogging every once in awhile, but that would only last a couple of minutes before my knee would hurt too much.
On the positive side, we got to see two elk up close, then saw a herd of elk as well as a herd of mountain goats. We did get some sunshine along the way and we did circumnavigate the mountain. Unfortunately it took as long to walk/jog the second half as it should’ve taken me to run the entire thing. Little did I know more pain was to come in dealing with the wounds from the fall. In fact, I had to take a majority of the month of October almost completely off from running due to issues arising from that fall.
Before those injuries caused me to take time off, I had one of my most memorable experiences which was the last-minute opportunity for Uli and I to lead a group on the Wonderland Trail! How fortunate to be able to run a majority of the trail that had been my goal to run this summer. To do so as a tour guide for people from around the country who came to enjoy the wonder that is Mt. Rainier and the Wonderland Trail was even better.
Looking back, this was the top most positive and fun experience of my summer. With the most laid back approach I’ve possibly ever had in trail running (partially due to knowing I could not fall on my knees again for fear of incurring a potential long-term injury), I ran the biggest back-to-back mileage days I’ve ever done.
The second day we ran Mowich Lake to the White River Campground (~25 miles). Another beautiful, scenic day. We were so fortunate with the weather. It was a blast to be a tour guide pointing things out, telling stories, taking pictures, laughing together, and helping these new people I was getting to know through tough times. I greatly value the happenstance opportunity provided to me to meet new, wonderful people and go on a journey together, wondering at the beauty of Mt. Rainier together, toiling together, and laughing together.
We learn the most from our ups and downs. I feel like this year has been relentless in the “down” department and am looking forward to what 2017 must have in store for me!
Here’s a list of the Brooks gear that got me through my adventures:
My focus this quarter was visiting as many of the classic NW trails as possible during the Summer. My Brooks Pure Grit 5 and Cascadia 11s were perfect for bagging some epic peaks and Alpine Lakes. This summer I ran up the following for the first time:
Mailbox Peak – everything they say about the brutal incline up the old trail is true! Insane climb to the top with epic views. Loved every minute of it.
Gem Lake / Snow Lake – ran up it early and beat the crowds. Beautiful lakes and peaks. I saw my first avalanche up close but luckily not too close.
Granite Mountain – It was a beautiful clear day and an awesome run. Great 360 degree views.
Sahale Glacier and Hidden Lake Lookout – It was overcast for most of the day when I ran these two. However, I was able to get above the cloud level on my way up Sahale and was treated to a majestic cloud waterfall.
Kendall Katwalk – Great views and a really unique trail.
I did a few semi competitive races. I took first place at the Access to Justice 5k in my Brooks Racer ST 5s. I also took first rockin’ my Pure Grit 5s at the August Cougar Mountain Trail Series 5k.
I ran the Sundodger 8k open with the Cross Country team and took 275th in 30:50. It’s always fun and humbling to go up against the collegiate athletes.
I ended the Summer by completing an adventure run I’ve been dreaming of for a long time – a two-day circumnavigation of Mount Rainier on the 93 mile 22k feet of gain Wonderland Trail. It was the adventure of a lifetime and the hardest thing I’ve ever done in terms of running. I did it solo and I carried all of my own water and food – although I did resupply between day 1 and day 2 when I slept at the National Park Inn at Longmire. I loved how the views of the mountain changed as you traveled around it. I also appreciated the rhythm of running down the switchbacks, crossing a river, running up the switchbacks, and getting overwhelmed by natural beauty – repeated 10 times.
When I left off with my midyear report in early July, I was still living in western Colorado and about to hit my yearly. This peak coincided with an 8-day stretch where I ran two shorter-distance mountain races in the San Juans on consecutive weekends during 90+ mile
weeks: the Kendall Mountain Run, where I placed 9th in 1:53, and the Kennebec Mountain Run, where I placed 1st in 1:57 to outkick my main training partner by less than half a second for the win. Logging the second-fastest time ever on the 15 mile/+3400’ course (which tops out on a cross country section above 12,000’), I’m not sure I’ve ever had a better race — previously,
only one other person other than course-record holder Eric Skaggs had gone under 2 hours.
I then began a three week taper for the season’s goal race, the Leadville Trail 100 . With my family and friends on hand to crew and pace, it was an unforgettable experience, even if it didn’t turn out how I had hoped. Despite running with restraint and feeling relaxed around 7th place for
the first 50 miles, my stomach ended up turning on me, and I managed to keep less than 400 calories down for the second half, eventually finishing in 22:58 for 38th out of 700+ starters (though half the field would eventually drop).
After 10 days completely off and a few weeks of easy jogging, I began to return to focused training with a renewed emphasis on speedwork. Without any late-season goals in mind, I nonetheless decided to jump into a hilly 5K at my alma mater in Portland on October, which I won (by about a minute) in 17:09. Now, I’m focused on laying down a strong block of training in preparation for next year’s goals and the coming skimo season. Thanks for the support!