Sunday, July 22, 2012

A Runner Again

After a 6 hour delay in Minnesota, Tad and I made it to our hotel just north of Seattle at 3:30am eastern time. We got up the next morning and had a lovely run on the trails of Japanese Gulch in Mukilteo. We got to Vancouver just in time for dinner due to the horrendous city traffic.

The next morning we found fellow teammate and 2:38 marathoner Michelle Suszek. The three of us drove up to Cypress Mountain Ski Area, site of the 2010 winter Olympics, to check out the last 2 miles of the NACAC Mountain Running Championship course. We were in for a doozey: 1200 meters of a boulder-field climb, slick granite faces, chimney cracks, a waste-deep mud pit and a screaming technical downhill finish.

We had dinner with Amber and Chris, who we got to know and love at last year's NACAC championship. We had a delicious dinner at a little Italian place, Carmelo's, and then stopped at Whole Food's to pick up our pre-race breakfasts.

The morning of the race, we woke to overcast skies and a steady rain. Our caravan left the hotel at 7:30am and proceeding to the starting line at Horseshoe Bay. We were lucky enough to get a spot at the trail-head parking lot, as it was only capable of holding a dozen cars. The race began just after 9:00am with about 45 participants. Up we went for approximately 3,000 feet elevation gain. Given the last race (Loon Mountain) and having only been able to run healthy for 2 weeks, I wasn't sure what to expect. I started out following close behind Amber and we soon caught Michelle. I figured she was having a bad race due to her bed bug nightmare ( I stayed within eye-shot of Brandy (2012 Mountain Running World Team member) for about 2 miles and then Amber and I took turns leading and watching out for trail markings. I felt very happy to be close to Amber (3rd at 2011 NACAC and just missed making the world team last year). She was a huge comfort for me; given the technical course and how hard it is to watch for markers, I definitely didn't want to be on my own.

Tad caught up to us at the top of the boulder field and then took off all the way to the finish. I was able to keep up with Amber until the steep descent to the finish and then she bolted. Coming around the final turns, I felt like a runner again. I felt strong in my stride and proud of my performance.

Brandy finished as the1st overall woman just over 2 minutes ahead of us, Tad was 45 seconds ahead of me and I was 15 seconds behind Amber (2nd) finishing as 3rd overall woman. We took home the gold and the U.S. men took second to Canada again this year. I wore the Inov8 Roclite 285's that never let me falter despite the mud and slippery rocks.
Our post-race celebration was on the outside patio of Earl's, a hip restaurant within walking distance of the hotel. I had such a nice time relaxing and breaking bread with such a great group of people. I am very thankful to be a part of this team and this experience. These men and women have such positive influence on me and really appreciate and enjoy their lives. Thanks to USATF team managers Nancy Hobbs and Richard Bolt-looking forward to next time!

Nancy Hobbs & Richard Bolt Photos

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