Sunday, February 22, 2015

Season Opener: Fragrance Lake Half Marathon

After a couple days off in December I got in a solid 6 week push of training. I ran consistent 80 mile weeks (a first for me) with 3 days in the gym and 20 mile long runs. My work in the gym has been predominately strength focused. Though it's not important to dwell on gym numbers (Tonia always says it's what you do outside of the gym that counts), it is really exciting to see my loading get heavier compared to just 6 months ago. Tonia teaches me something new every day that improves my technique and increases my confidence.

Josh leading the way up Two Dollar.
I've had great company for my long runs. Dubbed the "We Don't Run for Fun" group, we wound and hammered through the Chuckanuts every weekend. Members include Josh Vander Wiele, Ben Scherrer, Brian Shasserre, Mark Harding, Kevin Douglas, Allan Carbert, and Tad Davis. Yes, I felt like a queen with them putting up with my idiosyncrasies as I dictated the course, the pace, and the distance. Sometimes they even did laps around the parking lot with me to make sure my Suunto read 20.0. They push me and motivate me and I am so thankful for their camaraderie.

Most of our long runs were wet and sloppy making the La Sportiva Crossovers my shoe of choice, but due to the recent warm, sunny and dry weather the trails were in great shape so I raced in my Helios. They are really comfortable and responsive across all terrain (on the Interurban, up Cleator, through the mud of North Lost Lake and skipping across Chuckanut Ridge.) I am very lucky to have a shoe sponsor which specializes in making trail shoes that pay close attention to every detail and that serve a specific function to make moving on the trails faster and more efficient.

I was told this was the view at the aid station.
The Fragrance Lake Half Marathon was a perfect season opener. I started out with a relaxed 6:35 mile out on the Interuban Trail and then started pulling the men in while climbing up Cleator. The top men were flying and already out of sight. At Fragrance Lake (mile ~4.5) positions were pretty much set and I tried to keep the guy in front of me in sight while climbing up Rock Trail. At the top of Chinscraper he stopped to tie his shoes so I was able to get a head start on the Ridge. He soon passed me, but I was able to keep him in sight with some fancy footwork. Many are aware of my disdain for the Ridge. It is two miles of very technical, winding single track that takes 100% concentration and a positive attitude. Luckily I was determined and in a good mood so I made it across the ridge in about 19 minutes and 23 seconds. At that point, it's the final push to the top of Fragrance Lake Trail and then bombing down it without taking any hikers and their children/pets with you. I was 1st female and 6th overall with a time of 1:54:10. Full results here. (The Ultra Signup times are two minutes fast.)

The Homestretch.
It was really encouraging to have my Bellingham Distance Project (BDP) teammates cheering for me at the start of Two Dollar, at Fragrance Lake, at the top of Rock Trail, at the bottom of Dan's Traverse and at the finish. They probably ran more than I did.

I was also greeted at the finish with a big hug from Kerry Gustafson, massage therapist-athletic trainer extraordinaire. Kerry and weekly treatments with Dr. Chris Lockwood have been instrumental in keeping me healthy. I can't express how elated I am to be able to run without any pain or tightness or discomfort.

Thanks to race director Candice Burt for putting on a great race. For more of her epic race events check out Destination Trail and join me on April 11th for the first Orcas Island Marathon and Trail Running Festival.

Me and Candice.

After the race Tad and I drove down to Tukwila for the Annual USATF Pacific Northwest Awards Banquet. I was one of three female athletes nominated for the Athlete of the Year. I didn't find out until we arrived that the other two nominees were track phenoms and Brooks Beasts Angela Bizzarri (4:32.57 mile) and Katie Mackey (15:04.74 5k). What an honor to be recognized amongst these two accomplished women. Katie was announced the winner given her awesome 2014 season – ranked in the United States 6th in the mile and 4th in the 5,000 meters. Amazing!

While at the banquet we listened to the history of the Pacific Northwest Track & Field Association and what makes it stand apart from other associations. I am really proud to be a part of a group of individuals who have been so passionate about the sport all the way back to 1984 when they hosted the Women's Olympic Marathon Trials in Olympia.

In two weeks I will run the Hillbilly Half Marathon down in Olympia, WA. This is the first race in the 2015 La Sportiva Mountain Cup. I'm hoping for a more positive experience than last year.

Thanks to all of your support, encouragement and motivation 2015 is off to a great start.

 Check out this video of the Rock Trail, 2nd through 6th place all within a minute of each other.

Shout out from iRunFar's 'This Week in Running.'

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