mountains

Running

Finishing My First Ultramarathon

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I didn’t write a post directly following my race. So here I am now, sitting in an airport getting ready to meet my boyfriend in Sunriver, Oregon and figured this is a great opportunity for a follow up.

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I can’t believe despite my injury, I finished that race. I felt like it went as perfect as it could have gone. The first 20 miles were pretty relaxing and I kept a pace that would allow me to save my energy and ENJOY the race in its entirety. As you know from the previous post, I chose the Deception Pass 50k through Rainshadow Running. There was only 4500 ft of gain which was nice to keep it runnable  and not toooooo much up and downhill which  benefited me since having that knee problem. I stayed with Becca for the ENTIRE race as well. That was really the best part. Sometimes we’d talk for awhile, made some friends around us, other times we ran in silence trying to keep our groove and mind right.  

My boyfriend drove Becca and I which allowed us to tear up watching “How to run 100 miles” for the millionth time on the car ride down. That is my goal. I would love to run 100 miles someday. When I first got sober I was obsessed with Scott Jurek, Rich Roll and Dean Karnazes. I read books about ultrarunning continuously before I even fathomed the idea of running more than 10 miles. 10 miles was a lot for me in 2013. In my mind, an ultra was IMPOSSIBLE. In 2013 I would run every single day. It was usually only 3-7 miles but I did it. I didn’t know about headlamps or reflective gear and I found myself only running in the dark. See- I was a party animal so when I stopped drinking and doing drugs I found myself restless in the evenings. Evenings were usually my time to party with people I barely knew and now I was left alone. I cut everyone out to stay healthy. With no friends and restless evenings - I found myself running after the sun went down, fired up by adrenaline and loving every moment of it. I would listen to all those books via audiobook so that I didn’t have time to think about anything else on a run and keeping me forever inspired. I think addicts make great atheletes because if we stop the very thing that we loved most (destroying our bodies with drugs/alc.) then we have to channel all that addictive energy somewhere. So that’s what I did. I ran. All I could think about was running. I’m not the fastest and I didn’t care how long I ran, I just know that I always felt better after it was completed.

in 2015 I stopped running because I started mountaineering and everyone in the course kept telling me to stop because running hurts your knees and it would ruin climbing so I just followed directions. I climbed a couple volcanoes that year and realized that I hate carrying 45 pounds on my back and moving slowly. Climbing never got my heart rate up and I found myself constantly hating the process of training. When I would climb with the group I would just tell myself to go one step at a time and think about the runners I’d read about. I would think ‘if they can run for a hundred miles, I can walk up this goddamn mountain’ :) the climbing happened, it was fun to get summits, eventually I started rock climbing and that was fun too. None of this lit me up inside the way running did. I used to think that damn, I could run this mountain and get some of these summits in a day with a lighter pack. It would be the best- no camping, no heavy gear, no freezing to death, and I would enjoy this more. 

I left that group two years later and since then, the thing that fills my life with joy is to go light and fast(faster than walking at least:) 

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Our 50k was a blast, the last 10 miles hurt. My knee started acting up around mile 20 and I just slowed my pace. I started to count my steps when my mind wouldn’t stop rolling, eventually I got back into the groove of things. When we both passed 26.2 we cheered for ourselves in excitement since we’ve never even ran a marathon before. The last two miles of the race felt as long as the first 20 but knew how excited we were to almost be done. Derek met us at an aid station that we passed a few times and along with the finish line which made my whole day.

Finishing the race was the best feeling in the world and man my knee hurt. I accomplished my goal of a 31 mile race while I’m 31 years old. Within one week, Becca and I signed up for the Sun Mountain 50 miler this coming May. It was a personal accomplishment since I first got sober.  I realize now that I am capable of going farther. Capable of anything as long as I keep enjoying the journey.

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Running

Tomorrow is My First 50k!

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Or will it be? HA I’ve been dealing with patellar tendinitis and can tell there are some hidden gems of unknown pain hiding throughout the solar system of my left knee. it’s funny how this happens. Last summer a few weeks before my first trail marathon, I severely sprained my ankle getting groceries out of the car that were supposed to be my groceries for climbing El Dorado Peak the following day (also a mountain I still have yet to climb).

i can have a super great healthy year and always, right before the race, I get injured. People tell me that I shouldn’t be running injured and blah blah blah but I’m sort of in a state right now of: “If I can run, I’ll try”. I can run — I just know that after tomorrow I’ll need to pull back and get more serious.

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In the last couple months I’ve seen massage therapists, a PT, my chiropractor, as well as trying cryotherapy, buying a buff gun thingy....and have been using band work to strengthen the knee. It’s all hit or miss and sometimes I feel okay but if there is a hill going up or down, game over.

What a great deal that 31 miles only has 4400 ft of gain tomorrow? I’m just hoping to finish. I’m just hoping to make it before cutoff....but if I need to drop out tomorrow, I will.

It’s no big deal.

I run because I love to run. When I’m healthy, I find myself signing up for all these races because I’m feeling good and then when the time comes down to it, I wonder why I do this so often.

But one thing about me is that I never give up. It’s almost best that I don’t care what happens tomorrow because for me, when I stop having expectations - I have more fun. I’m a creature of strong anxiety before ANYTHING that I do. My friends know not to even talk to me about a race or climb a week before we do something because they already know how bad my anxiety gets me. Before I climbed Adams this past summer I was telling them that I’d never climb again and that it’s not for me. I’m silly.  

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So here’s a blog to tell you hi! I’m attempting my first 50k tomorrow and I give no fucks and grateful to just show up and do what I love. The cool thing is that I’m not here to impress anyone - I’m not here to prove I can do this, I already know that I can. Let’s see if my body will let me:) 

(side note: I forgot to say that it’s the Deception pass 50k here in Washington)

Running, Photo Journal

Ultra Training around Mount Baker

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Becca and I are training for a 50k in December. Our schedule said to run 20 miles on Saturday so we pieced together a route that did just that yesterday near Baker. I’ve done pieces of this trail before but never in good weather.  This Saturday was absolutely perfect having this sunny day on the one day out of the weeks of rain ahead.

It’s crazy that just one year ago I was recovering from an ankle injury that kept me from running for months. Last November I started a little group that would run (just one mile a day) for every single day of November. I also was signing up for 3-5 mile trail races and finding it incredibly tough. I loved them but at the same I couldn’t see past the idea of just running that distance. 

I have always found the idea of running an ultra distance impossible. Now one year later and back to back half marathons in the mountains along with a couple 20 mile races, here we are! We have to run around 20 miles every Saturday followed by 10ish every Sunday and a couple runs during the week. It’s amazing what is possible for your body and what is possible for your mind when you truly want something. I am not fast, I don’t care about being faster, but I do care about experiencing joy on a long run. At this moment in my life, 20-30 miles is a long run. The joy I get from long days in my favorite places is exactly where I want to be and what makes me the happiest.  

 

Saturday we met at 5:30am to head towards Mount Baker. We started to head up the Chain Lakes trail which was breathtaking having Mount Shuksan behind us and Mount Baker in front of us. Then we trekked over to Ptarmigan Ridge for awhile before we saw a gorgeous green lake off to the left of us so of course we had to go there. After that we headed back to Ptarmigan on our way to the Glacial Route trail. Weather moved in so we made our way back to finish the Chain Lakes loop then to the Goose trail only to find our way back at the parking lot with 17 or 18 miles.  

Even though Becca had a bad ankle roll at the end of our day we knew we had to get 20. We made tons of loops around the parking lot till we hit 20 and that is always the best feeling. It’s hard to see that you’re almost there then settle for something below your goal.  

So there is beauty I’m finishing strong. 

There is beauty is the journey:) 

Here is Becca, Hamlin and Nate heading up the Chain lakes trail

Here is Becca, Hamlin and Nate heading up the Chain lakes trail

📸: Nate Brown

📸: Nate Brown

Becca and I on a little patch of snow on the Ptarmigan Ridge trail

Becca and I on a little patch of snow on the Ptarmigan Ridge trail

Runnable spaces. 📸: Nate Brown

Runnable spaces. 📸: Nate Brown

We looked to the left and far this lake and so grateful we took a side trail to get a little close

We looked to the left and far this lake and so grateful we took a side trail to get a little close

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 📸: Nate Brown took this of me frolicking in the way back to Ptarmigan 

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📸: Nate Brown

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my favorite kind of trail

Gorgeous views of baker  

Gorgeous views of baker  

Layers  

Layers  

Becca and I taking a look at the parking lot we still needed to run to.  

Becca and I taking a look at the parking lot we still needed to run to.  

Running

When Your Biggest Fear is Running in the Mountains Alone

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Caption stolen from my Instagram on Friday:

 “Tomorrow I’m running in the only area that’s ever scared me. Might join a running group but also might do my own thing and keep it pretty chill. Janelle Mastain was with me.

We were lost on a trail far too long in one direction and looked at our map. No one else was on the trail for a mile or so and we turned around to head back to our destination. It was only a minute of two when I felt him behind me.

I freaked out in surprise and laughed because of it while i said hi to him because he literally came out of nowhere. He never said anything back.

Never looked at me. Just kept walking right behind us.

He was very intentional and not friendly.

All of a sudden her dog that loves everyone saw him and started barking like crazy at him and ran off ahead of us.

That was our sign.

We casually pretended to start running like that was our intention.

Within some time we looked back and he was running too.

We kept running and got to the destination and he was right behind us.

He sat on the ledge and was just staring at us at below his glasses.

Eventually a few mountain bikers made it to the top hooting and hollering(thank god) and the creepy guy started flinching and ran back into the trees.

I’ve always had that in my mind.

It’s changed my solo adventures.

Nothing happened yet my gut knew it was not right.

Anyway wish me luck tomorrow”

 

 

Let’s fast forward to today, it’s Monday and Hello!!! I’m still alive. That was something that happened about five and a half years ago and although nothing worse happened, it’s still in my mind. It still shows up randomly when I’m alone on a trail and I catch myself frantically looking over my shoulder. It’s sad that we humans have to watch out for each other as well as animals. I am 5’3 and an easy kill if anything ever wanted to, and my fearful pheromones probably put a big bullseye over me as well.

So Saturday I ran 13ish miles alone in the same area that that had happened. The first two miles I had mace in my hand. This might sound overboard for a lot of you but I watch way too much Forensic Files along with my previous story to enjoy myself alone in the woods. There was a time when I did enjoy it...before I was tainted with fear. Although I tell you about my fears, I never stop doing what I love but figured I’d share what honestly happens for me out there. If I’m alone, I usually choose popular areas to run. 

Anyway the first two miles started with mace in hand. Then I started seeing a lot of other runners and the mace slowly went back into my vest pocket. Slowly I started to lose the fear and just focus on one step at a time. 

My run was in Bellingham from the interurban trail -> the lost lake trail -> the rock trail -> the raptor ridge trail -> dans traverse trail -> the gravel road which takes me back to the interurban trail back to my car. It was amazing and I only fell twice, I only got bothered by horseflies once, and I brushed through stinging nettles and cursed the world. But I did it. Finishing things that scare me feels good. Trust me this is not some huge blogggable event, this is literally what I go through over and over again to get through these fears. Not a one time - accomplishment. This happens for me week by the week. 

 

Today I was supposed to do Mount Defiance with a girlfriend but she backed out while I was at work today and that’s always hard. I wish I had more girlfriends that would run with me throughout the week but I feel that most are way beyond my skill level or hikers that want to run but don’t run. 

So I’m getting ready to do a local trail loop which should suffice my training for the day and take it easy. This is a short blog for you but just a reminder that we all have fears, we all have stories that make us who we are today, but it is our choice to stop doing what we love because of fear, or to push through it anyway and feel the rewards by never giving up.

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