Monday, December 16, 2013

Club Cross Country Championships

The GBRC headed south for the National Club Cross Country Championships that were being held at the River’s Edge Golf Course in Bend, Oregon. After checking the weather on the pass over  Mount Hood, we packed up our Prius C and were Bend-bound by late Thursday morning.

Driving conditions were less than ideal, as the rain pounded relentlessly from Tacoma through Portland. We white-knuckled it most of the way there, and by we, I mean Tad. Heavy rain then converted to snow over the pass. Luckily, our Prius came through and got us there safely by dinner time.

Getting the course race-ready.
The next morning, after a bagel and coffee, we headed to the course to take a good look at this infamous course that race director Max King had laid out for us. Race volunteers were working tirelessly to remove the fallen snow from the previous week’s episode of bad weather. The course started with an uphill climb and then turned sharply to the right to begin a circle of twists, turns, fast down hills, hay bale jumps and long climbs with short, steep sections. I felt very comfortable with the terrain as most of my training leading up to the race was comparable. The challenge excited me and I knew that the conditions were going to slow the times significantly, which played in my favor.

A noon start on Saturday morning allowed for some leisure time which included team bonding, fingernail painting and (a lot of) coffee drinking. When we got to the course the Master’s 10km was in full stride, which prevented us from warming up on the course so we headed to the roads which, fortunately, had cleared sidewalks. For many, this event was a reunion of friends who had run, raced or trained together in the past. All around people were shouting out hellos and offering hugs and high-fives to wish their competitors luck. The positive vibe was truly uplifting and helped to calm my pre-race nerves.
 
The GBRC taking it out.
"Out of my way!"
Due to the challenges the 3 loop course presented, the plan was to go out fairly conservative for the first lap and then start picking people off. In hindsight, I ended up going out a little too conservative as I was boxed in for what felt to be the entire first loop. I was getting increasingly frustrated when approaching the down hills as most everybody turned on their brakes out of fear of falling. Any experienced trail runner would laugh at the reaction of some of the women. At one point a girl yelled out-while racing- “Now, Ladies, just calm down!”

Regardless, I steadily made my way through the masses, found my fellow teammates and ran strong to the finish as the third scorer for my team. The GBRC placed 15th overall out of an extremely competitive field. I feel that this performance was par with my previous cross races this season. Nothing spectacular, just solid.  I know that if I have a year where I can train injury-free, there will be a shift in my fitness and my performances will reflect what I am capable of.

I am very proud of all my teammates and proud to be on a team with such exceptional women. Now that the cross country season is over we are all back to our respective niche – marathon training, mileage, trail running. It is time to sit down and prepare my 2014 racing schedule, which I am very excited about. I am so blessed to have many opportunities to express my love for running and I know that if I can stay healthy, the sky is the limit on what is in store.

Tad and me ready for some post-race sushi.



Sunday, November 3, 2013

Pacific NW Cross Country Championships

Today was the USATF Pacific NW Cross Country Championships in Lower Woodland Park, Seattle. After yesterday’s downpours and unruly winds, today we were treated with the perfect fall day: 50 degrees and sunny. The course was 3 times 2Km loops for a total distance of 6Km. I met my GBRC teammates and we warmed up on the course while Tad’s race was underway. Deciding what kind of shoes to wear for this course was tricky because there were multiple road crossings, but yesterday’s rain made the packed dirt slick, especially around the turns. I decided to go with spikeless spikes, but in hindsight should have opted for small spikes because I was experiencing slippage on some parts of the course.  

The downhill start.
The start was at the top of a hill so everyone went out pretty quickly. The start of cross country races always makes me recall the intensity of the starts of college NCAA Division 1 meets, and the many good times I had with my WVU teammates. (The Mountaineers just placed second in the Big 12 Conference meet this weekend!) Luckily, I love all of my new team members and I know there are many fun times ahead.





Me and Courtney working our way through the field.
I was consistent with my mile splits (5:58,6:00,6:01…), but constantly moved through the pack. The course was challenging, either a gradual uphill or fast downhill.  I worked my way up to an overall 8th place finish. Our team placed second to Club Northwest, but we will definitely be giving them a race come the National Championships in December. We received $50 for our efforts and rather than getting  $7 each, we are putting the profits into some special celebrating that will take place after Nationals in Bend, Oregon.

 Full results can be found at http://www.pntf.org/ and all of Tad's pictures can be found here



Post-race smiles.

Saturday, October 19, 2013

Close, But No Cigar

I lost the Lake Padden Trail Half-Marathon today by 15 seconds. Admittedly, it’s a bit of a blow. I was ready for this race, having time-trialed every section of the course and knowing it like the back of my hand. I was confident.  I am not upset with my final time of 1:33:56, just disappointed in the way that I felt.

Loosening up tight hamstrings.
Ever since the 6Km cross country race last weekend, my legs haven’t felt as good as they were prior to. I did everything I could to rest up this week, including getting 2 massages, and I barely ran on Thursday and Friday. Still, on my warm-up this morning I was still feeling ‘off.’ I ran the race pretty much solo. I never had a constant running buddy, only a brief passing by-or being passed by- a couple men. I was caught by the eventual winner at 11.5 miles after leading the whole race. I could get moving on the down-hills, but my ability to power up the hills was absent today and I could not hang in the last mile.
*Photo courtesy of Andy Bronson

Ugh.

No immediate race photos today because Tad was running the race (and did very well - 2nd in his age group, 10th overall). Luckily the talented and famed Glenn Tachiyama was there to capture all of the action. Thanks Glenn! I will post some pictures when they become available.

Al Coyle, race director, did an amazing job this weekend bringing together great people for a great cause. If only every community could have an Al. Great job to all of my friends who raced- you guys are awesome! A special shout out to our guest who came up from Bend, OR- Mario Mendoza. Mario and I were on the 2011 US Mountain Running Team together that competed in Mexico. Mario just won the US National 10Km Trail Championships and is preparing to take home the 50Km title on November 9th in Boulder City, Nevada. Best of luck to you! He is doing a 20+ mile long run tomorrow morning in the Chuckanuts…sorry, Mario; I will not be joining you! I am looking forward to celebrating everyone’s hard work tonight at the post-race party at Poppe’s 360.

Ah, well. You know what they say: “First if the worst, second is the BEST…”


* For more pictures from ANDY BRONSON from the THE BELLINGHAM HERALD of the Lake Padden Trail Half-Marathon, visit the Bellingham Herald Photo Gallery.


Saturday, October 12, 2013

Cross Country Kick-Off

Today was the debut race performance of the “GBRC Elite,” a cross country team comprised of local female all-stars in the sport of running. Members include: Sierra Brisky, Lydia Carrick, Kristen Carter, Bronwyn Crossman, Amber Morrison, Courtney Olsen and myself. We are successful marathoners (Lydia, Kristen, Amber, Courtney), college cross country studs (Sierra, Bronwyn) and trail enthusiasts (Maria).

GBRC Logo on the back of our singlet
Our team is sponsored by the Greater Bellingham Running Club(GBRC). The goal of the GBRC is to “promote health and fitness through participation in running on road, track and cross-country” in the greater Bellingham area. We are very thankful to the GBRC for their support financially and their enthusiasm to help us achieve our athletic goals. Brooks Running Company kindly supplied our team with jerseys, arm-warmers and sweet pink jackets that cannot go unnoticed.

The cross country season kicked off today at the Western (Washington University) Invitational Cross Country Classic at East Lake Padden Park here in Bellingham. The 6 Km course is a mix of grassy fields, a loop around Lake Padden and just a touch of horse trails. Being the first race of the season, this was a chance to wake up our cross country legs and, for me, it was a good tune-up race for the Padden Trail Half Marathon next weekend.

We all had uncertainties about how we could perform because some are marathon training, some are dealing with injury and others (me) have been focused on trail specific training. Despite our collective lack of cross country confidence, we were able to pull off the win, placing 4 in the top 16. Needless to say, we were thrilled! It was a great opener to our season and an even better boost for the team morale. There is 8 weeks until Club Nationals- plenty of time to get fitter, faster and stronger.

Not bad for a couple of (good lookin') local gals.

The remainder of GBRC Elite’s schedule:
November 3: PNTF Championships - Seattle, WA
November 23: NW Regionals- Fairview, WA (I will be in WV)
December 14: Club Cross Country Nationals - Bend, OR

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Running with Olympians (Sort of)



Going into the Xterra Trail RunNational Championships this weekend in Ogden, Utah, I felt the fittest I have felt so far this season. My workout around Lake Padden on Wednesday showed promise that my strength and speed is starting to come around. I gained a lot of experience from my previous races in California and Park City in regards to racing longer distances and at altitude, respectively, so I knew there would be no surprises for the course that waited at the Snowbasin Ski Resort. With all of those factors under my belt, I was excited to race.

We arrived at Snowbasin Friday at lunchtime with the intention of running the second half of the course. My knee was feeling a bit cranky so I made a smart decision to take the day off. Luckily I have Tad to act as my eyes and legs, and so while I waited in the car and ate all of the snacks I brought for the weekend, he ran the last 9 miles of the course. Saturday we were able to run the first 4 miles together and so I had a pretty good idea of what I was getting into before I lined up this morning.

Me and my buddy, Brad.
Lindsey Anderson, defending champion and course record holder, was returning to the race this year. As a local runner she has the advantage of living and training at altitude. There is also the little fact that she competed for the USA in the steeplechase at the 2008 Olympics in Beijing. Liz Stephen from Vermont was the runner-up in 2011 and also returning this year. There is also the little fact that she competed for the USA in cross country skiing at the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver. I knew they were going to be hard to run with.

The race was off to the sound of a gun that sounded more like a canon. Before heading up the trail, they had us run a "victory" lap around the parking lot to spread out the field. People took off like it was the 5th Avenue Mile. As soon as I started the climb at a half mile, I knew I was at 6,000 feet and I accepted that I would be sucking air for the next 13 miles.

Liz took it out very hard and Lindsey just hung on. By the mile, they were out of site. I passed Tad just after the mile and he informed me that there was no woman in site behind me and, "Good job".  Because he wasn't screaming in my ear to catch the leaders like he usually does, I knew that Liz and Lindsey were long gone and never to be seen again. Today I will be running for third place.

A Hurtin' Pup
I settled into running with the men and just ran my own race. I knew there was $400 on the line so I wanted to be sure to keep my spot. I felt as though I kept pushing and never let up for the entire race. I know this because I was breathing too hard to open a GU. Fortunately, I didn't need it today.

Lindsey ended up defending her title with Liz close behind. They both crushed the previous course record. My finishing time of 1:39:59 was solid based on last year's results.

Liz, Lindsey, Maria


Thank you to the Xterra race directors- you all had a huge weekend of events to pull off and you did so superbly. I look forward to returning to Snowbasin next year. Thank you to Inov-8 for my Roclite 268's- they are my go-to shoe, ready for any terrain and distance. Thank you to the kind spectator at 3.5 miles who told me that my running was beautiful- you made my day.



Top 3 Men & Women

After the race, it was fun to have a chance to hang out and catch up with fellow Washingtonian, Joe Gray as we waited for the awards. Rest up, Joe- you've had a great year!

Me and my Camera Man


Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Review: Inov-8 Base Elite™ 130 LS

Yesterday I got a surprise in the mail from Inov-8: the Base Elite™ 130LS, the Base Elite™ 140 LSZ and the Race Elite™ 160 3QTR.

I tried out the Base Elite™ 130 LS during my warm-up this morning. The fit was so comfortable that I wanted to workout in it, but the day's warming temperatures forced me to save it for another day. It will be perfect for winter racing which will be here before you know it. 

Though I spend 90% of my training time on the trails, the reflective detailing provides more visibility for road crossings, especially now that it is getting dark much earlier. The main body of the shirt has UPF 50+ protection and the mesh parts under the arms have UPF 20+ protection which will be great for training runs on mountain ridges above treeline when I am unprotected from the sun.  

In my opinion, the best part about all three of these pieces is that they are all made specifically for women. I would feel good wearing them whether I am warming up, working out, running errands or traveling. 

Base Elite™ 140 LSZ & Race Elite™ 160 3QTR.
(I will review after some quality time in them.)

Pretty sharp lookin'!


All three items are already packed up in my suit case ready for the Xterra Trail Running National Championship this weekend in Ogden, Utah. And at only 5.5 ounces or less, that leaves a lot of room for the 6 pair of shoes that I am taking. 



Friday, September 6, 2013

Lake Padden Trail Half Marathon

The morning of Saturday, October 19th will be the 3rd running of the Lake Padden Trail Half Marathon in Bellingham, Washington. The course is a delightful mix of single-track horse trails that are steep, technical and challenging -to say the least - and the wide, fast, rolling trail that circumnavigates the lake.


The Lake Padden Trail Half Marathon epitomizes what the community of Bellingham is about: Good people coming together to do something good for themselves all while helping the wellbeing of others. All of the race proceeds will go to benefit Rebound of Whatcom County, a local charity that brings hope and healing to kids and families whose childhoods have been tainted by abuse, poverty and neglect.

Packet pick-up will be held at the Book Fare Café in Village Books in the heart of downtown Fairhaven on Friday evening. I will be there at 5:30pm to give a presentation on my two greatest passions: running and nutrition. So come on over after work, get your race number, mingle with your fellow competitors and join me on what it means to live a wholesome life through diet and lifestyle.

Saturday evening after you clean up and get a nap, join us for the post-race party at Poppe’s 360 Pub. They will be offering an extended Happy Hour with food and drink specials from 4:00-8:00pm on their heated deck.  If that is not enticing enough, live music will be played by the bluegrass band, The Pine Hearts- hailing from Olympia, WA- until 8:00pm.

Hurry! Registration closes on Wednesday, October 16th at 11:59pm and there is NO day of race registration. If you are a sponsored runner interested in competing, complimentary lodging will be offered to you at the Lakeway Inn. Please contact me or race director Al Coyle at albert.coyle@yahoo.com.

For more information and to register or volunteer, visit the Lake Padden Trail Half Web site or the Facebook page.

See you on the starting line!


Saturday, August 3, 2013

Train Low, Race High


After having a solid race at Table Rock, I was 9th in the La Sportiva Mountain Cup series and thought I had a shot at placing for prize money (top 5) if I went to Utah for the final race in the series, the Jupiter Peak Steeplechase in Park City, Utah. We made a last minute decision to go for it and booked the last flight available. A would-be 2 hour direct flight into Salt Lake City turned into a 2.5 hour flight to Denver and then another hour up to Salt Lake City and in my bed at 2 a.m. Thursday night.

My biggest concern for this race was being at altitude. The start was at 7,000 feet and climbed to over 10,000 feet at the top of Jupiter Peak. The typical formula is train high and race low. Unfortunately, my house in Bellingham, Washington sits at a modest 20 feet. Hmm...this was going to be a challenge.

Friday morning while Tad was out running the course, I tested out a 4 mile jog. Within 45 seconds, my heart was trying to escape the confines of my chest. Hmm...this was going to be a challenge. I walked the climbs and ran back down. Tad finished up a couple hours later and filled me on the infamous scramble. I was nervous about the height and any possible drop-offs. He assured me that it "wasn't so bad." Our plan, then, was for me to lead up the mountain from the start to the top of the second peak and then hopefully open up enough of a gap to be able to finish well.

Emma, Susan and me at the start.
The gun went off around 8:15am and the climb began immediately at the base of the Payday chair lift. I had a couple exchanges with Emma Garrard who had the early lead and then at 2.5 miles I took the lead and opened a gap. The course was very well marked by the crew and volunteers of Mountain Trails Foundation. I held the lead as we started up the scramble to the top of Jupiter Peak. As it turns out, my fear of the height was a non-issue. Instead, the issue was that my legs suddenly started shaking and decided they were done climbing. My arms tried to pick up the slack as I struggled to get to the top on all fours. Soon, Susan Minneci passed me. Usually if I am passed on a climb, I focus on the person's back and try to maintain contact. Because it was so steep, I was staring at the heel counter of her Hoka's. That was short-lived. I was elated to reach the flag pole marking the top of Jupiter Peak, but my oxygen-depleted heart sunk when I saw Tri-County Peak looming ahead.

The Scramble
The race uses the name "steeplechase' to signify the "hurdle" of peaks as if they were two barriers on the track. Susan had a 30 second lead at this point, but my biggest goal was just to get to the top of the second summit. When I finally crested the top, I was so happy. I could have finished there and been thrilled with my performance. Instead, the actual finish was another 8 miles away.




Whee! No more climbing!
The first mile of the descent I was just glad to be going downhill, but then 2 miles later, I didn't want anything to do with a hill - be it uphill or downhill. Somewhere in there (things were getting fuzzy), Emma passed me. With 3 miles to go, I latched on to one of the La Sportiva crew. Thank God he was there. I think he was as ready to be done as I was. The two of us almost took out an inconsiderate mountain biker as we bombed down the hill. I followed him all the way to the finish where we hugged and high-fived jubilantly, celebrating that we could stop running and sit down in the shade. I ended up 3rd female (3:48 behind the leader, Susan) and 4th overall in the La Sportiva Mountain Cup Series. Overall, it was a satisfying day. I met many great people, gained a lot of racing experience and won $1,500.

Thank you, again, to the race directors, volunteers and the Mountain Trails Foundation for a well-organized, unique and challenging event. I'm ready to do it again... I just need 364 days to recover. Thank you to La Sportiva for sponsoring some of the greatest trail races in the country through the La Sportiva Mountain Cup Series and for supporting mountain racing. Thank you to Inov-8. My Roclite 268's came through again. They are amazingly versatile, from the rainforest of the Pacific Northwest to the coast of California to the mountain peaks of Utah.

Emma, Maria, Susan
I was right about one thing: it was a challenge!

 *Tad Davis photos


Monday, July 22, 2013

If You are What You Eat, I'm "Beet"

It was a bittersweet weekend. The US Mountain Running Championships took place in North Conway, New Hampshire on Sunday and I wasn't there. After being off for 4 months at the beginning of the year, we didn't feel that I had enough time to adequately prepare in order to be competitive, especially with such an elite field.

I still wanted to run a national-class trail race without having to make a big trip out east. The plan at the start of the year was to compete in the Sportiva Mountain Cup races, but with my injury, I missed out on the early races that were closer to home. We chose to compete in the second to last race in the series, the Table Rock 27K which is hosted by Inside Trail Racing in Stinson Beach, California. This race was going to have solid competition and it was a chance to gain experience with a longer distance. Before I knew Caitlin Smith, the course-record holder and 2:41 marathoner, was racing, I thought my main competition would be Alison Bryant (La Sportiva) whom I've raced in the past at shorter distances.

View of Stinson Beach with a mile to go.
We left Seattle early Friday morning and we were pulling in to Stinson Beach by noon. The town seemed oddly familiar before I realized that I had been there before on a day trip before running the 5K at Stanford in college. I remember my college friend, Alison Spiker, raving about the awesome lunch we had after our run along Highway 1. Tad and I were anxious to find the spot for lunch after our course preview.

While Tad ran up, I walked two miles up the infamous Dipsea steps that I would be running down the last mile of the race. My first thought was that these steps are hard to walk down, let alone alone run down, let alone race down. Afterwards we headed to the Parkside Cafe for a delicious lunch.  I got a beet and arugula salad-yum! I wanted to eat as many nitrates as I could. (Studies have shown the nitrates in beets to increase endurance.)

Did I mention they have an awesome beet & arugula salad?

The next day, we drove to a different section of the course and ran a 7.5 mile loop on the beginning of the Dipsea trail and ending on the Coastal View Trail. Within the first mile I was nettled (see Enough Mettle to Nettle) . Then the trail opened up and we went from running on soft rooted forest trails to dusty scrubby hillsides. Coming around a turn I saw what I thought to be a bunny rabbit the size of a dog sitting in the middle of the trail. It turned out to be my first encounter with a jackrabbit. It took off and led us down the trail. Then we drove back to Stinson Beach to eat at the Parkside Cafe. I got a beet and arugula salad-yum!

Race morning (and the week leading up the race) I was more nervous than usual because this was going to be my longest race distance yet. Between my nerves getting the best of me and the hairpin turns on Highway 1, I couldn't stomach my usual pre-race coffee. I got to the starting line at 8:30 a.m., said hi to Alison Bryant, introduced myself to Caitlin Smith and we were off. The race starts with an 1,800 foot climb in 2.5 miles and then meanders its way back down to 20 feet before climbing again to 1,400 feet and then dropping to the finish. Caitlin went to the lead with Alison on her shoulder and I was a few steps back for the first half mile. When the climb got serious, Caitlin slowed and Alison took over. As the climb got steeper and tougher, we dropped Caitlin and started to pass the men that were walking. I was surprised that Caitlin was no longer a factor once we crested the mountain. I followed Alison at a comfortable pace until we reached the first aid station at 10K. I  didn't realize this whole time that Caitlin was chasing us down at probably 6-flat pace. I was caught with my pants down as she blew by. Tad yelled out, "Go with her!" I felt like Forest Gump when his teammate handed him the football and yelled, "RUN!" OKay!

Ready to be done!
I took off after her and the faster I ran, the further ahead she got. Before long I was all alone on a hillside with wind blowing sideways, thick fog and 50 switchbacks to navigate. At mile 11, my legs were shot. It took everything I had to keep running up the second climb. Alison told me later that she was running me down on the climb. Luckily, once I made it to the top, I got a second wind from the ice water at the aid station and got rolling again for the last 5K. The Dipsea steps turned out to not be an issue and I made it to the finish in one piece in a time of 2:25:31 with Caitlin about 6 minutes ahead with a new course record by two minutes and Alison just over a minute back.

I staggered into the shade, sat down and missed the quick awards ceremony. Whoops. Next time I will not assume that a competitor of Caitlin's caliber could be so easily dropped early on in a race. Well done, Caitlin!

A big thank you to race director Tim Stahler for a course that was well marked, challenging and beautiful. Inside Trail Racing events are definitely going into my race calendar. Thank you to all of the volunteers for your friendly encouragement and for the ice water at the last aid station- it was the best I've ever had. Thank you to Inov-8 for my Roclite 268's. They were FANTASTIC for this particular course. Loose gravel, wet muddy patches, lots of steps- no problem!


After a brief cool down and a change of clothes, we went back to Parkside cafe for the last time. Guess what I got... No way, I'm sick of beets and arugula! I got poached eggs with toast- yum!

*Congratulations to Joe Gray and Morgan Arritola, the 2013 U.S. Mountain Running Champions and the rest of the team that will represent the U.S.A. in Poland at the World Mountain Running Championships on September 8th. Go U.S.A!


Saturday, June 15, 2013

Kicking off the Cobwebs at Echo Valley


How do you like them apples?

After running consistently for a couple weeks, it was time to start thinking about racing. Evergreen Trail Runs hosts a series of trail runs showcasing some of Washington's finest landscapes. As my 2013 racing debut, we chose to sign up for the Echo Valley 10K in Chelan. Echo Valley is the "wine country of Washington" and Chelan (pronounced like the "she" in "shepherd" and "lan" as in "oh my land!") is a top vacation spot for Washingtonians due to its endless sunshine.

Tad and I took the beautiful drive through North Cascades National Park a couple weekends ago to check out the course. Once on the other side of the mountains, the climate changed drastically from wet, moss-covered rainforest to dry, sunny and desert. All around are vineyards, apple and cherry trees.

Warming up in the Inov-8 Terroc 308
The trail system at Echo Ridge has over 20 miles of smooth dusty trails with views of Lake Chelan, the Enchantments, Pyramid Peak and the Okanogan Highlands. The 10K course totaled 900 feet of elevation gain and the trails were very runnable. You could really get moving on them unlike the trails in western Washington that are gnarled with roots, rocks and mud. This was going to be a perfect race for dusting off the cobwebs after 4 months off with an Achilles injury.

Echo Valley was sponsored by Vindu Lac of Chelan, one of the top Wineries in the region, and was named “Winery of the Year” in 2010. Race participants were treated to special deals and discounts at Vin du Lac’s tasting room and restaurant, including 20% off all wine, and 10% off all food and merchandise. Naturally, we took advantage of this and bought 2 bottles of wine - a white and a red.

Top of the 900ft climb
We camped out the night before - something I have never done, but it worked out just as well as staying in a hotel. The early rising sun had us up at 5am and after hanging out at Starbucks with coffee and a bagel, we headed to the course. The 50 mile race was already going on when we arrived and the 50K was to start at 8:30am, followed by the half-marathon and the 10K at 9:30am. I decided to race in the Inov-8 F-lite 240's and they turned out to be perfect for this particular hard-packed terrain. The 240's are unisex, but their performance fit was very comfortable. I stayed conservative at the start and then at a mile I passed the first man to take the overall lead. The rest of the race I ran solo, following the extremely well marked ribbons and arrows. When I came through the finish, I was treated with a bottle of wine and congratulatory hugs and handshakes. My time of 44:02 breaks the previous women's record by over 6 minutes. I couldn't have asked for a more perfect debut after being off for so long. The effort was perfect for my current fitness level and the distance stressed my body enough, but not too much. This was my first race since December and it feels so good. Today I am so full of joy and gratitude.

First Finish in 6 months!!!

This calls for celebration!
 A big thank you to Roger Michel and Jerry Gamez for organizing and directing such a great event. I look forward to participating in more Evergreen Trail Runs in the future for the fun, the camaraderie, the challenge and hopefully, more wine.

Sunday, June 9, 2013

Girls on the Run

Pre-run butterfly stretch.

On Saturday, I ran with a participant in the Girls on the Run Program during their celebratory, non-competitive 5K. According to their website, Girls on the Run “encourages positive emotional, social, mental and physical development. Participants explore and discuss their own beliefs around experiences and challenges girls face at this age. Designed to allow every girl to recognize her inner strength, the Girls on the Run curriculum inspires girls to define their lives on their own terms.”

Mehar & me
Before the run, the girls were full of energy running around in pink capes and race numbers that were all “#1.” My running buddy was Mehar, a sweet and spirited soon-to-be 6th grader who, in addition to running, plays the piano and dances hip-hop. She really impressed me with her mature attitude and bold goals of one day running the Boston Marathon. Most of the girls around us would alternate walking and sprinting, but my buddy was smooth and steady for the entire 3 mile run. Even when she felt like walking, she kept on going. As we ran we cheered on the other girls ahead of us and behind us, we received high fives and encouragement in return. Mehar told me that she could never imagine running in long braids and a pink cape if not for the confidence and self-esteem that this program instilled in her.
Coming into the finish

My brief experience with Girls on the Run really touched me and inspired me to be a part of it next season. This is yet another example of the power of running. Go, Mehar!


*Tad Davis photos

Review: Inov-8 Roclite 275 GTX


I had the opportunity to test out the Inov-8 Roclite 275 GTX a couple months before they became available for public purchase (you can now find them on the Inov-8 website under Products, Off Road). These are an updated version of the popular female specific shoe. The first thing you'll notice is that the previous mesh upper has been replaced with a much stronger mesh material. This should significantly decrease the likelihood of an upper blowout due to extended use as well as trail hazard (rocks, sticks, etc.) cuts and tears. The heel was designed to be narrower to match the shape of the female foot. It has good cushioning with a lower than average differential. This is a great training shoe and perfect for long runs in wet slippery conditions. The sole of the shoe was developed using rock climbing rubber technology to optimize grip in wet conditions. The GORE-TEX lining keeps my feet warm and dry running the wet Pacific Northwest Chuckanut trails as well as hiking high elevations on the North Cascade trails still covered in 5 feet of snow. This has been one of my favorite pair of Inov-8s because it is so versatile, comfortable and reliable.