Friday, January 1, 2016

Long-Overdue Catch Up on 2015!

Wow.  It’s been a hell of a year.  Blogging fell by the wayside in the midst of many fun adventure runs and a lot of races!  I am healthy and happier than ever and excited for 2016 and beyond.  As I start to write my training plan for my next race I felt it was best to do a quick update on the year and provide you all some photos of my journey! 

After the Umtead 100, I ran the ThunderRock 100 in Tennessee.  This is a new race and I have too many thoughts about it to share in a recap – so contact me if you want details on the race.  It was full of silt invested rivers and I got to see fireflies again (something I miss living in the PNW) so I was happy to participate.  I didn’t plan to run fast, I hadn’t gotten my racing legs back yet after Umstead and I had fun with it for the most part.  J  In the end I placed second female in just over 24 hours. 

The low-snow year made for an early start to some adventure running in 2015.  The season of fun kicked off with a bang with a trip to the Alpine Lakes Wilderness.  It’s a great loop and allows you to see some great alpine lakes (you knew that was coming) along with some decently high peaks with great views.  This was the first adventure run I’d done with my boyfriend, Shawn, and it proved to be a great kick off to a fantastic summer of running together.   He’s a relative newbie to running but has an amazing natural ability which often humbles me.  But he challenges me as well.  He is a great addition to my life, including my running. 

Adventure running continued with a trip to Bend and a tour of Smith Rock and the Three Sisters Wilderness.  Smith Rock was a hot dry day and the Three Sisters was the opposite.  The beauty of both was unmistakable and I was completely enchanted by the Three Sisters Wilderness.  The obsidian fields were magnificent and unlike anything I’ve seen.  St. Helens has a similar landscape at times but the shine of the obsidian was really cool!

For several years I’ve been looking forward to running around Mt. Rainier.  The Wonderland trail is a 93 mile trail of technical and beautiful trail with stunning vistas.  This summer the run finally fit into my schedule and I was thrilled to tackle this awesome run in 2 days with Shawn and my good friend Nick.  Typically the weather in Washington is dry and sunny after July 4th and the low-snow year let us access the Wonderland trail earlier than usual.  We planned to run in mid-July.  And wouldn’t you know it – we got the one weekend in July where it was rainy and cold!  We ran for 2 days, sleeping only a few hours – and saw a shadow of the glorious mountain exactly once!  It was still a great time with great people – but the views left a little to be desired.  J

This fall I was planning to run the Plain 100.  This plan later got thwarted by forest fire, but that’s getting ahead of myself.  The Plain 100 is mostly a self-supported 100 – with one aid station at mile 62.  You carry your own gear and water and the course is not marked.  The course is difficult and knowing your way and water sources is essential for a successful race.  Shawn and I went up to preview the course a few weeks before Fat Dog.  The course is amazingly beautiful and I completely fell in love with the area.  As a foreshadowing, one of the most beautiful sections of the course passes through a forest fire area.   The race was cancelled this year because of forest fire and the national forest being closed.  I’m looking forward to seeing whether any of the course burned this summer. 

In 2014 I enjoyed running the Fat Dog 120 in British Columbia.  I won a free entry into this year’s race and was excited to return.  This year mother nature threw her best at me and although she won I did not give up.   My legs started out not having a good day at Fat Dog and my body shortly followed.  We started the race and the temperatures climbed to around 80.  I saw my crew at mile 18 and I was warm and trying to get my legs in a rhythm.  I declined their offer for my waterproof jacket, instead keeping only my lightweight shell.  Shortly after the 18 mile aid station the weather started getting gnarly.  I started the climb and after a few miles it started to rain and then hail.  By the top of Flat top mountain the hail was mixed with snow and strong winds.  My crew later told me that the temperature dropped over 30 degrees in the valley in 30 minutes.  Runners, including myself, were hypothermic and borrowing any clothes or trash bags we could find to keep warm.  Although I didn’t feel like running or even moving I knew it was move or be frozen.  The race basically went downhill (figuratively speaking) from there.  I battled hypothermia three times during the race, many people quit because of the horrible weather.  I had blisters on both heels that required medical attention.  It was a snowball of issues and a battle to just keep moving most of the time.  It was not the finish I’d hoped for but it was a finish.  J  

The end of summer in the PNW means capitalizing on every chance you get to adventure run.  Plain got cancelled and I jumped at the chance to head back to Rainier to try and catch some great views.  Shawn and I started from White River Campground and headed up towards Sunrise.  When Rainier came into view for the first time I was captivated by the mountain as if it was the first time seeing it.  The view was WOW!  Shawn and I did the northern loop on the trail – which runs about half on the Wonderland trail and half on a trail to the north which loops back around to Sunrise.  The day was amazing and the weather was fantastic.  It’s hard to say whether I enjoyed this run or the Plain training run more, they were both simply spectacular.  Pictures don’t do this run justice, but they will tempt you! 

I decided to run the Mountain Lakes 100 because of Plain being cancelled.  My goal was to run five 100’s this year and in order to do that I needed to replace Plain.  Go Beyond Racing does a great job with race organization (I mean GREAT!) and I was eager to go see Trevor and Todd for this race.  They also organize the run around St. Helens, the Volcanic 50k.  I had high hopes for Mountain Lakes but my legs didn’t cooperate.  I think the volume of racing and long training runs made it an uphill battle, even though the course was pretty flat.  I made the most of the day I was given and pushed through for a 4th place finish.  The overnight temperature was frigid and I got stung by about 20 hornets on the first day... but it was still a fantastic trip with Shawn and meeting new friends.  J 

Although I hadn’t planned to race after Mountain Lakes, I couldn’t resist making my 3rd consecutive trip to Virginia in December for the Hellgate 100k.  I absolutely love this race.  It’s by far my favorite race of the ultras I’ve run.  I think this is made so by my college coach, Gomez, who comes to the race as my crew.  He and I make this a reunion weekend – catching up, reliving old times and sharing new music.  He is great company and I cherish this race for our time together.  This year’s Hellgate was another battle for me on the race course – mainly because of a nasty bronchial infection I’d battled for 2 weeks and the wicked warm temperatures on race day.  Every day is not a banner day and at least I didn’t give up.  Gomez and I had a blast and with 3 in a row now, redemption seems inevitable!