Sunday, March 8, 2015

Return to Hillbilly

The 2015 La Sportiva Mountain Cup kicked off this weekend with the Hillbilly Half Marathon in Olympia, Washington. I was familiar with the course because I ran this race last year. It is an out and back route that features some steep climbs, fast singletrack and feet deep pools of mud.

Me and Quinn
I started the early morning with some Expedition Espresso Trail Butter on a wrap. I was surprised and bummed to find some mold on the wrap when I pulled it out of the bag. I decided to just tear off the bluish green circles until it looked more like a slice of Swiss cheese, then squeezed on the TB and wrapped up a banana. Messy, but good. As sound dietetic practice I encourage people to throw out moldy and/or contaminated foods, but in the instance of race preparation, this is an exception to the rule.

Pre-race lovin' with Sarah.
The weather felt and smelled of cross country as we walked out of the hotel; crisp, clear and clean with sunny blue skies. Not at all your typical PNW March weather, but a welcome change to last year's monsoon. Once at the course, we chatted briefly with Quinn, the La Sportiva Field Marketing Coordinator and my La Sportiva teammates that flew in from Wyoming, North Carolina, Pennsylvania and Utah.

Wishing I had my sunglasses.

Leading up to the race I had some knee pain that forced me to take a day off and adjust the plan.  And, dead legs at the beginning of the week caused me to cut my Wednesday workout. With all of that it wasn't too surprising when I felt prematurely labored and heavy as we started the immediate climb up to Capitol Peak. I followed the heels of the woman in front of me until she started to pull away at 3 miles. At about 3.5 miles there was a large road block of logs that had flagging to go around them to the right. The man in front of me started to go to the left and I yelled ahead to him that I thought we were to go right. To make sure I was correct, I changed the view on my Suunto to show the map of the course. We were headed the right direction.

Feelin' the hurt.
I caught up to the man ahead of me and worked with him to push to the top of the turn-around. Shortly after I turned to head back down the mountain I saw the woman who was previously ahead now less than 2 minutes behind. I knew she must have taken a wrong turn and was trying to make up ground. Just like last year, I ran scared the last 6.5 miles to hold the lead. 

I pulled off the win and despite not feeling 100%, ran 1:37:00, which is 33 seconds under Megan Kimmel's course record, and 2 minutes and 32 seconds faster than last year. For full race results click here. This race was a good reminder of how important it is to keep your head in the game despite how you feel. You never know how the race will unfold, what is happening ahead or behind you and sometimes you are capable of giving a lot more than you think you can.

Ryan Woods (1st place male), me, Bret Ferrier (3rd place male). Go Sportiva!
Sweet race swag.

A big thank you to Seven HillsRunning Shop for the $100 gift certificate, to Pope Press Olympia for the unique and beautiful print to commemorate this year's run and to all the folks at Guerilla Running, congratulations on another successful year.

For more information on the La Sportiva Mountain Cup visit:

iRunFar's This Week in Running.

Q & A with Trail Runner Magazine.

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