Tuesday, July 22, 2014

A Weekend in Ajijic

As I sit here in a sleepy haze, it is hard to believe that I woke up in the Hotel Danza Del Sol yesterday morning. But then I try to get up from my chair, my throbbing quads remind me that it wasn’t a dream. This weekend I had the opportunity to re-visit a very special place and re-run what was one of the best races of my mountain running career.

Just as I was ready to embark on my adventure to Ajijic, Mexico for the 2014 NACAC Mountain Running Championships, I received a phone call from a very talented reporter from the Bellingham Herald. Thanks to my very sweet BDP (Bellingham Distance Project) teammates, he was interested in doing a write-up on the pending race. You can find his article here

Only in Ajijic are there dogs on the roof.
Ajijic is exactly what comes to mind when you think of a small Mexican town in the mountains. Nestled between Lake Chapala and Mountain Chupinaya at just over 5,000 feet above sea level, it is home to over 10,000 natives and American and Canadian ex-patriots. After spending now two occasions there, it is easy to see why so many ex-pats call Ajijic home. The weather is mild, the people are genuine and the landscape is beautiful.

Tad and I met Richard and Nancy in the Houston Airport on Friday afternoon. After an hour delay and a 2 hour flight, we landed in Guadalajara getting dumped with buckets of rain. A local American volunteered to pick us up and drive us 45 minutes south to Ajijic. Our team all arrived safely and we convened at a pizza shop at about 9:00pm with our hosts and race directors, Ivan, Ricardo and Carla. Pizza and cerveza came out of the kitchen one after the other. It was delicious.

Me and Tad post race and my arm splashed with paint.
Me and my friend, Jambo.

I woke up Saturday morning with a stiff back and tight calves so I headed out for a jog to regain some sense of normalcy. I jogged down the cobblestone streets to Lake Chapala where locals were setting up shop, walking their dogs and swimming. There is such a calm presence in this town that makes it hard to be stressed out or anxious. I need to come here more often.

Carla picked us up for breakfast and drove us to a spa resort just outside of town. We toured the grounds which featured exotic flowers, serene massage houses and the most enticing steam baths you can imagine. Our appetites were ready for breakfast. Fruit, yogurt, granola, croissants, bread, scrambled eggs, beans, tortilla chips, fresh squeezed orange juice… So. Good.  After checking out the first kilometer of the course, the rest of the day was all about resting, stretching and preparing for the colossal effort that was to come in the morning.

View from the breakfast table.
Sleeping wasn't always easy as there constantly seems to be something going on. Loud random noises interrupted my naps and piqued my curiosity. During the day loud bomb-like noises would go off that sounded like the canons in the Hunger Games that signal a fallen tribute. They were dropping like flies on Saturday. At night rave-like chants could be heard into the wee hours of the night with the beat of club music.

Me and Amber hydrating after the race.
The race can be divided into four parts: the ascent, the ridge, the descent and the cobblestones.  Ivan announced the Mexican and American team members and with the blast of a flare, we were off. I wanted to start out more aggressive than I did 3 years ago because I remember the course being so bottlenecked as we funneled into the tight single-track, that I had to stand and wait my turn to get up and over some of the rock barriers. I managed to dodge all of the congestion and started the 3.6 mile climb up Chupinaya. Brandy passed me at 1.5 miles and continued to power her way up and over the massive boulders. I worked together with the Mexican men surrounding me to keep pushing the pace and grind it out. There were many water stops with little plastic water pouches that you had to bust open like water balloons. I don’t think I actually got any water in my mouth, but the men behind me got a surprising splash every time. Hopefully they found it refreshing rather than annoying. At mile 3 there was a low hanging branch that I ran right into and knocked me in the head, pulling out my hair pins. I was stunned for a second, but marched on once the birdies stopped flying around.

Leading Brandy up the first big climb
As I climbed my way into the clouds (there is very little "running" going on at this point), the ridge line appeared. The next 1.3 was up and down across the mountain, hugging the steep drop-offs. At one point the man I was following chose to go right when the flagging indicated to go left. I hesitated and questioned my safety, but all the men behind me followed so I sent up a quick prayer and hugged my way around a boulder that was nervously close to the edge.

The descent is a dive back down the mountain. Sliding, hanging on branches, many screams and obscenities is what it takes to get down. The Mexican men were amazing to watch as they gracefully danced down the switchbacks and loose dirt. My feet burned. Despite how hard it is to run on cobblestone streets, I think everyone on the U.S. team agreed that it was so good to see the cobblestone after what we were dealing with. As Ryan said, once you hit the cobblestones and could get a semblance of a stride going, it felt like a road race.

The kilometer back to the finish was just as hard for me as any part. I was exhausted as I made the turn for the town square and it took a lot of effort to not lose composure and keep my legs from tying up. I crossed the finish a couple minutes behind Brandy and a couple minutes ahead of Chris. All three of us broke my course record from three years ago. Go U.S.A.! Amber had a tough day after a car accident two weeks before the race, but still battled through lead legs to conquer the course and meet us with a smile. Full results here.

2014 NACAC Mountain Running Champions

Interview with Foro Runner. Coming soon!
Celebrity activity pursued. Pictures, selfies, interviews, more pictures. The most fun chaos after any race. All of the locals wanted pictures with the “fast Americans.” I've never gotten so close to so many sweaty strangers in my life. Cheers and congratulations were shouted from the crowds as we were recognized on the awards podium. I can’t say enough what an amazing experience it was, and to be able to do it again – I am so blessed!

I am embarrassed to confess that Tad and I took a taxi to the town square for dinner rather than walking another mile on the cobblestones. My ankles called uncle. A group of us went out for margaritas, burritos and some of the best guacamole ever. Ironically, the restaurant had run out of tortilla chips and we had to eat it with saltines. Too funny. After dinner, there was more eating, drinking and celebrating with our hosts at a taco joint that was open late.

I woke up at 2:45am the next morning. I couldn't sleep, but had to be ready to go for when Ivan came at 3:25am to take Tad, Danny, Rich and myself to the Guadalajara Airport. It was sad to say goodbye, not only to my teammates, but to Ajijic. Once again I was charmed by its authenticity and character. 

I could go on and on about how much fun I had this weekend. I am so thankful for this experience and couldn't have asked for a better group of people to share it with. I want to thank Nancy and Richard for the opportunity to be a part of this family.

Shrimp ceviche toastada at the finish.
Ivan, Ricardo, Carla and sweet Mom – you were so good to us and we truly appreciate your hospitality. Hopefully one day you can visit the States and we’ll take turns sharing you.

Viva Sportiva!
La Sportiva was one of the main sponsors of the race so it was neat to be representing not only my country, but a company that is so passionate about mountain running. My Helios got me safely up and down the mountain and I saw many people sporting the Vertical K’s and Bushidos.

As always thank you to Trail Butter, Terrain Gym and Align Chiropractic for fueling me, making me strong and tough and for keeping me healthy. You help me every day to reach my full potential and for that I am truly grateful.

Until next time, Ajijic. 

In my happy place.
Experimenting with some exotic fruit.

Three cheers for Chupinaya and good margaritas!

Monday, July 7, 2014

U.S. Mountain Running Championships

Tad and I flew out to Boston on Thursday for the U.S. Mountain Running National Championships to be held on Sunday at Loon Mountain Ski Resort in Lincoln, New Hampshire.  After arriving late due to storm delays, we stayed outside of the city and went for a run at the Walden Pond State Reservation in Concord, MA. A timely place to be on the 4th of July, Walden Pond is the site of the inspirational and influential philosophical writer, Henry David Thoreau. We ran a complete loop around the pond before getting yelled at by the park authorities that there was no running allowed around the pond. This objection didn't seem to be aligned with Henry's advice to "pursue some path, however narrow and crooked," but whatever.

My favorite HDT quote, next to the site of his cabin.
It is no surprise that I was really nervous for this race. A week before, I had a dream that I was leading the race and all of a sudden the arrows telling me where to go were gone. I slowed to look for them, calling out to no one in particular where to go. The other women soon caught up to me and we were rummaging through a house looking for signs of where to go. Turns out, Paul (race director extraordinaire) only completed marking the men’s course and forgot to finish marking the women’s course. We had to hang around and wait for him to finish putting up flags.

The weekend before I spent following the Western States 100 and the USATF Track and Field National Championship. It was hard not be inspired by the strong, powerful, persevering athletes. If I could run with half the intensity and passion that these runners showcased, I would have a good performance.  

My last time at the Championships was in 2012 and it was also at Loon Mountain.  I was coming off of a stress fracture in my right metatarsal and I had not run for 6 weeks prior to the race and accumulated only a handful of miles the days before. Finishing the race was questionable. It was encouraging to know that my performance this year could only be better than that, barring any unforeseen weird circumstances.

I love the mountain/trail community. In my opinion, they are the most genuine, kind and friendly group of people and I am proud to be a part of it. It was great getting to see some old friends, make new ones and meet my social media stalkees.

Leading Magdalena up.
I purposefully started easy and worked my way up like I do in a cross country race. I saw Magdalena Lewy-Boulet up ahead and caught her on the first climb (or what road racers would call the fourth big hill.) By two miles, I caught up to Megan Lizotte, four-time world team member.  I knew this was a smart place to be so I tried to stay in her footsteps. Megan continued to work her way up, but because I was so focused on the demanding footing and difficulty of the course, without me realizing it she soon pulled away. 

It is hard to focus on racing when you have to also focus on the tremendous difficulty of the mountain and the technical terrain. If you are running on the roads or the track, you are rarely thinking about where you are putting your feet and you can solely focus on your competition. In mountain running, you are so focused on where you are putting every footstep and the effort that it takes to get up the mountain that it can become more about the finish line than racing. This is something that I personally need to work on. My goal was a top-ten finish so I am content with my 9th place. However, I know that I can finish much higher. With another injury-free year, another bump in the mileage and this learning experience from the mental perspective, I am confident that I can make a more aggressive goal than a top ten finish next time. 

Finish at the top of Upper Walking Boss.
Congratulations to Allie McLaughlin and Megan Deakins for making the U.S. team your first time out and to Morgan Arritola and Kasie Enmen for making yet another team.  Congratulations also to Megan Lizotte who, no matter how she is running throughout the year, she brings it to this race every time. I am truly inspired.

Results can be found here.

Thank you to Paul Kirsch and Chris Dunn for planning, organizing and executing a successful championship race. Thank you to La Sportiva, Trail Butter, Terrain Gym and Align Chiropractic for your sponsorship and support. Time to get back to the Northwest, rest up and prepare for the NACAC Mountain Running Championship in Mexico in two weeks. 

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

So Far So Good: Training Update

Less than four weeks to go until my marathon of racing. First up is the U.S. Mountain Running Championships in Lincoln, New Hampshire on July 6th. Then, two weeks later, the NACAC Mountain Running Championships in Ajijic, Mexico July 20th. Then, two weeks later, the Jupiter Peak Steeple chase in Park City, Utah on August 2nd. Then, one week later, the Angels Staircase 35k in Carlton, Washington on August 10th. (This race is pending, dependent upon fatigue, physical ailments or just plain tired of traveling, but it is one of the epic events put on by Rainshadow Running and just a few hours’ drive away.)

My Chuckanut workout elevation profile.

Trying not to fall off the bench.
I am healthy and fit. This makes me excited and nervous and sometimes I find myself holding my breath because I am scared of the imminent disaster that is to afflict me days before I board the plane to New Hampshire. My mid-week workouts have been solid, alternating between hill climbs and shorter tempos. The big ball-buster workout is, starting at the bottom of Fragrance Lake Trail, running 4 minutes hard up then jogging 90 seconds down until I make it to the top of Cypress Gates Overlook.

Tonia continues to work me hard at Terrain Gym. We have been doing an intense mix of core, strength and work capactiy which includes step-ups, elevated planks and Mr. Spectacular's with a 25# vest.

Ferry selfie.
Now that Tad is back running again, we have been able to take a couple day trips to explore new trails. Finally, we were able to check out Orcas Island. We hopped on the 7:15am ferry and in an hour were running around the Mountain Lake Loop in Moran State Park. After an over-priced and under-fed lunch, we took a hike up to Mount Constitution to see Vancouver Island, Mt. Baker and Mt. Rainier in the distance with limited crowds to obstruct our views. By 5:30pm we were back in Bellingham making dinner.

A second adventure was to North Vancouver, another picturesque part of the world that looks like it came out of a page of The Lord of the Rings. We went over to Deep Cove where there is a 15km and 21km trail race in a couple weeks called the Buckin’ Hell. The name should have been an omen as to what was to come, but I didn’t think anything of it because this was supposed to be an easy recovery day for me. We printed off the course map, laminated it and were confident that we would be able to follow along. Well, to make a long story short: we never did find the course despite our map; the trail we ran was unrunnable due to snow and massive rocks and steep climbs; I cried 3 times. I guess that’s why you call it an adventure.

One of the many well-maintained bridge crossings on the Mountain Lake Loop on Orcas Island.

After that disaster and a ho-hum lunch, we went to Porteau CoveProvincial Park, which is along the coast on the way to Whistler. We pulled some mats out of the car and napped. This was the best part of the day; our trip was salvaged. As Carrie Snow said, “No day is so bad it can’t be fixed with a nap.”

My mom said I looked like a beached mermaid.

I feel very lucky that I have access to so many beautiful places. In a couple hours we can be at the most remote locations and still be home for dinner.

The Bellingham Distance Project (BDP) was excited to have a cheer section for the spring Girls on the Run 5k. Girls on the Run is such an awesome program, empowering girls and teaching them how to be confident, strong young women. The BDP represented in the best way we know how—as wieners and condiments.

The BDP: Alyson Klein, Courtney Olsen, Amber Morrison, Me 

Honored to be representing U.S.A. in Mexico.

The support I have received during this intensive training phase has been overwhelming. For anyone who has sent an encouraging message, said hello as we passed on the trails or sent good luck wishes-- please know that it really means a lot to me. I have worked as hard as my body allows without risking injury or sickness. With all of the traveling and racing coming up, my goal is to roll with the flow and to try not to get worked up and stressed out over factors that are beyond my control. Rather, I will focus on being thankful for the opportunities that I have and enjoying the experience. Isn't that what this is all about anyways?

I will do my best and we shall see what happens.

Saturday, May 10, 2014

Don’t Fence Me In

To set the mood, please play the song above,.

The Don't Fence Me In Trail Run is the 6th race in the La Sportiva Mountain Cup. The race is put on by the great folks of Prickly Pear Land Trust, who work to maintain and expand the trail system on which the race is run. The 30k is billed as “unsupported”, with just two water stops on the circuitous route through the Helena mountains.

Bird's Eye View

I knew going into the race that competition was going to be fierce. Fierce speaking of the talent, not personality, as my competitors are some of the nicest, most genuine people I have the pleasure to be around. There was Megan Kimmel who has won this race 3 years in a row, Paige Pattillo, fellow Washingtonian, local Sarah Kjorstad and college track stand-out Megan Deakins.

The weather looked foreboding days leading up to the race, everything from rain to snow to temperatures in the low 30's. We lucked out though, and started under partly sunny skies and a comfortable 41 degrees at 7:30 in the morning. Helena sits at 4,200 feet so our first climb of the day pushed us up to 5,200 feet. From there the course bounced up and down between 4,600 and 5,500 feet. My laborious breathing never ceased, but the elevation never hindered my performance as it has done in the past. I owe this strength to all the work I have been doing at Terrain. (Thank you , Tonia!)

~0.5m to go!
Megan D. took it out hard and never looked back. I ran with Megan K. for the first 3 miles and then began to pull away on a short scramble up to Mt. Ascension. She just raced a tough 12 miler last weekend and was still feeling it in her legs. For the next 16 miles I was pretty much alone other than the volunteers at pivotal crossings in the course. Tad had programed the course into my watch so when I couldn't see ribbons in the trees or people on course, I looked to my Garmin for reassurance.

Me and Paige. Can my smile get any bigger?
I held on to my second place and finished the ~19.3m course in 2:38:14. This race was another big learning experience for me. Navigating the trails alone and pushing yourself when no one is around is not easy to do for 2.5+ hours. I managed to keep the voices in my head positive and my focus never wandered. 

Thank you to Kelli Butenko and the rest of the Prickly Pear Land Trust staff. You know how to put on a well run (pun intended), scenic, challenging and rewarding event.

As always, thank you La Sportiva for all of your support and for making really awesome shoes. I can't help but notice all the people around me in races slipping and falling and I think to myself, "well, you should be wearing Sportiva's..."

I have to give a really special thank you to Dr. Chris Lockwood for taking heavy duty care of me leading up to this race. This past week I had some nagging hamstring/piriformis/glute pain which prevented me from being able to extend my left leg fully. Dr. Lockwood worked tirelessly to help relieve the pain and based on today's results, his efforts were a success!

Ian, of La Sportiva, and Me Post-race
Before the race I had my usual bagel with Trail Butter, this time with Mountaineer Maple. I had sustained energy throughout the race and my blood sugar never dipped. Tad and I are spending a couple extra days to explore the Montana mountains with Trail Butter in tow, of course.

I am ready and excited to spend the next 6-7 weeks training hard and preparing for the U.S. Mountain Running Championships on July 7th in Lincoln, New Hampshire. I don't know what is harder: 30k trail run at altitude or 5 miles up Loon Mountain. We'll see.

1 Megan Deakins Mountain View CA 35 23 F 1 overall 2:30:48.49 8:05/M
2 Maria Dalzot Bellingham WA 33 26 F 1 20-29 2:38:14.16 8:29/M
3 Paige Pattillo Ellensburg WA 107 25 F 2 20-29 2:49:29.13 9:06/M
4 Sarah Kjorstad Helena MT 74 38 F 1 30-39 2:49:36.84 9:06/M
5 Megan Kimmel Silverton CO 73 34 F 2 30-39 2:52:02.16 9:14/M

Saturday, April 12, 2014

Up and Down (and Up and Down) Alger Alp

I am going to West Virginia for two weeks to visit family and friends for the Easter holiday so I decided last minute to jump into the Alger Alp Half Marathon to see some good friends, enjoy the beautiful spring weather and get in a solid effort before switching coasts.

1st Place Female, 3rd Overall
The Alger Alp Half Marathon is part of the Bellingham TrailRunning Series and is directed by Candice Burt, who has just returned from winning The Zion 100. If you are interested in checking out some of Washington's finest trails, Candice's races are hard to beat. 

I have run up Alger, which is 15 minutes south of Bellingham, only once and it was when I had just moved to Bellingham. I forgot how brutal it can be. The Half distance is a double climb up to the peak and has an elevation gain of about 2,900 feet. My plan going into the race was to run the climbs fairly hard and relax on the down hills so as not to beat up my legs. I didn't want too much pounding on my legs as I am finishing up a tough training week and heading into another one.

Finishing strong thanks to La Sportiva, Align Chiropractic,
Terrain Gym and Bogg's Trail Butter.

After the race I got several questions as to why I had bright pink masking tape on my knee. I visited my chiropractor, Dr. Chris Lockwood at Align Chiropractic, on Friday and he put the kinesio tape on my knee to help support the surrounding muscles and tendons for injury prevention. Due to the combination of his adjustments, mobility exercises and tricks like the tape, I felt great the entire run.
Every finisher received this sweet pint glass!

Thank you to Candice and all of the many volunteers who were out on the course today.

I also want to thank Seven Hills Running Shop for the generous prize of a $100 gift card for their store in Seattle, WA. I will be coming by soon to pick out a hydration pack! Thanks!

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Burpees, Fartleks and Graston: Training Update

I am in the thick of an aggressive training period in preparation for my next cluster of races starting with the Don’t Fence Me In 30k in Helena, Montana on May 10th. I am averaging 70 miles a week exclusively on trails (which is like 10-20 miles more on roads) and 2-3 workouts at Terrain Gym. My weekly running workouts are a variation of tempos, progressions and fartleks.


The cool kids.
My long run is a 30k in the Chuckanuts with two of Bellingham’s most passionate trail runners. Nichole and Mark (and Reuben!) have taken me under their wing while Tad has been out nursing a hamstring injury for the past several weeks. Four hours in the mountains fly by in the presence of their company.

I feel as though I have had a mini breakthrough at Terrain. I no longer feel like the clueless new kid and can walk into the gym with more confidence now thanks to Tonia’s guidance and expertise.

500 step-ups with a weighted 25# vest.

Fun Fact: Tonia’s mentor, Rob Shaul, trains Mike Wolfe who runs for The North Face and is one of the best ultra-runners in the country.

She has me doing a mix of work capacity, strength, and core and mobility workouts. A work capacity focus is a circuit of intense exertion for a certain amount of time or repetitions. An example would be X amount of burpees, box-jumps, suicide sprints and pull-ups and repeat for 10 minutes. It is tough! I am used to my heart rate gradually increasing. With work capacity, my heart jumps overwhelmingly from 0 to 200 in seconds.

I am about a quarter of the way up the strength learning curve. Push-press, hang-cleans and Curtis P’s were not previously in my vocabulary. Slowly but surely I am getting better with technique and breathing. I have to admit, the calluses on my hands make me feel pretty bad-ass. 

Core and mobility is far from just abdominal work. It targets everything from pelvic floor muscles to the diaphragm. Muscles are popping up out of nowhere and I have had soreness in some of the oddest places. It has really been eye-opening realizing all of the muscles that I have been neglecting to strengthen in all my years of running.

Dr. Lockwood putting me back together.

I am able to do all of this work with the much appreciated help of Dr. Chris Lockwood from Align Chiropractic. Thanks to his sponsorship, I have been seeing him weekly to tend to minor aches and pains and to keep the “mojo flowing,” as he likes to say. Knee pain after my long run last week was gone in just two adjustments and Dr. Lockwood has helped me keep my hamstring tightness under control by showing me some specific exercises and stretches that teach the body how to mobilize the muscles and respond appropriately. I have had tightness around my knee that causes a “clicking” sound when I extend and then bend my leg. We have been treating it with some light Graston work to help break up any adhesions that are causing restricted muscle movement and reduced flexibility.

Mountaineer Maple..Mmmm
Trail Butter continues to fuel all of my efforts. My current favorite application of TB is to spread it on brown rice cakes and serve it with plain Greek yogurt. The TB gives the yogurt just enough sweetness and the nuts add a nice crunch. I go through about a jar of week –good thing Brad and Jeff are so good to me!

"Good, better, best. Never let it rest. Until your good is better and your better is best."
-Tim Duncan

Sunday, March 9, 2014

Hillbilly Half: Second Stop in the Sportiva Mountain Cup

My level of anxiety was considerably less going into this race than for the Moab Red Hot three weeks ago. For one, no extensive traveling was involved. Flying to a race comes with its own repertoire of worries: carry-on versus check in, lost luggage preparation, liquids in baggies, delays, germs…the list goes on. No, for this race, just a 2 ½ hour drive south the day before. Can’t decide what to pack? Bring everything. No problem.

I also had the opportunity to check out the course two weeks ago. Knowing the course prior to a race always relieves a significant amount of nerves for me.  And, to be honest, I was so worked up over the Moab Red Hot that I was still too tired to be that emotionally strained.

Don’t worry; I was plenty nervous the morning of the race. The Hillbilly Half is a tour of Capitol Forest, just outside of Olympia, WA. Runners, volunteers and support crews gathered at the Rock Candy Mountain Trail-head in mild weather conditions. The Mountain Marathon took off at 8:00 a.m. and the Hillbilly Half thirty minutes after. During my warm up it started to rain a little, then a lot.

Into the woods. Photo from race volunteers.
We took off, climbing up and down a gravel service road for the first mile and a half before disappearing into the woods. Within the first half mile, I was alone. A group of La Sportiva men took off ahead and I had dropped everyone behind. Being alone in a race is always a tough spot. You have to be careful to not become complacent and lulled into a pace that you only think is ‘fast.’ You must constantly check in and monitor your effort. Luckily just before 4 miles I started to catch up to the marathoners and their encouragement pushed me onward. That is, until I came up to one woman.

The encounter was on a single-track trail with a foot deep of mud water on one side. I approached the woman and said “coming by!” I don’t know if she heard me, but she didn't budge. I came up on her, put my hand lightly on her shoulder and said excuse me with no hostility at all. Her response was shocking, completely baffling and made me question humanity. She dropped a couple F-bombs in conjunction with some name calling. I told her there was a race going on (which I thought was obvious?). Apparently she was f***ing jogging and I disturbed her peace and tranquility. Maybe she just started and her endorphins had not kicked in yet. Whatever the case, she scared the crap out of me and I ran the next mile in disbelief of what just happened. I was scared she was going to get me disqualified, spread rumors about what an awful human being I was or trap me into a dark corner after the race.

I came to the turnaround which opened back up on to a service road. Within seconds of the 180 degree turn, I saw that there was a woman right on my heels. I immediately ditched the idea of having a GU and took off for the 6.5 mile sprint down the mountain. Then as fate would have it, the crazy woman was coming up the road. As I passed, she called me the worst name in the history of vulgar language. I am too embarrassed to even insinuate what it was. Just think about the worst name you could call somebody and then kick it up a notch. I couldn't believe the hostility of this woman. It was a definite ‘Curb your Enthusiasm’ moment. I never got angry. I think I was too stunned and hurt. For a moment I felt tears well up into my eyes, but shook it off because I had a race on my hands for crying out loud.

In the heat of the chase.
I ran as hard and as fast as I could. Terrified of another traumatizing encounter, I apologized profusely for getting in the way of runners coming up the mountain and thanked those who stepped out of my way. When I popped back out on the service road for the final mile and half descent, I knew the 2nd place was right on my heels. Unfortunately, I didn't have the speed or the strength to hold her off. Sigh. Well done, Paige!

Regardless of the psycho woman and getting passed with a mile to go, I am happy with my performance. I was only 2 minutes off Megan Kimmel’s course record and I just felt good. Now I have a solid 6 weeks of training before my next race; plenty of time to get in quality miles, become stronger and faster and hopefully be able to hold off my competitors in the last mile.

Stereotypical Pacific Northwest weather continued to rear its ugly head after the race. The wind was blowing sideways, tents were being blown over and everything and everybody was soaked. But that didn't stop all of the wonderful volunteers from feeding us deliciously warm food and cheering in the finishers. Thank you!

I ran to the car and changed into a completely different outfit hoping to disguise myself from the profane spewing monster should she show up at the finish line.

A big thank you to Guerilla Running and race directors, Rachael Jamison and Craig Dickson, for staying calm, cool and collected in the midst of chaos. (See their FB page for stories of flying bullets, confused logging trucks and a stolen car chase.)

Thank you to everyone at La Sportiva, Ian and Everett for all of your support. Congratulations to all of the fine performances by the La Sportiva ambassadors; way to represent!

Thank you to Seven Hills Running Shop for helping to sponsor the race and for the $50 gift certificate- awesome!

Thank you to all of my other sponsors: Trail Butter, Terrain Gym and Align Chiropractic