Before I get into the Mt. Hood 50 mile, I should address the elephant in the room. Most of you are probably like, what in tarnation is she talking about?
I'm talking about World Championships and my lack thereof of any sort of race report on the experience.
I really tried to write a race recap on my experience representing the USA at the world championships. But I couldn’t. It was both the worst race of my life and the best at the same time and I couldn’t write about either without the other, and couldn’t give it the justice it deserved. So instead, I didn’t write it but I will cherish my teammates and memories for all of eternity, the ladies and gents are some of the best I have ever met, and the scenery and camaraderie was indescribable (see photo of my bada$$ and beautiful lady teammates). However, I left Italy with 3 things ringing through my mind.
1. I missed my shot. Why do I dedicate so much time to something that can all go up in flames in one race? Why?!
Now you may be thinking that some of these contradict one another. Well, youre right. They do. It took me 2 weeks down from running and a trip to the wonderful Western States with my community for me to find my mojo again (see picture left of me re-finding my mojo). I left Western States with the infamous #Westernstateshangover and with a redefined list of 3.
Mt. Hood 50 mile
Finally, with my heart set and finding that my body was finally recovered, I signed up for Mt. Hood 50 mile. I wanted to run this. It may not have been my best idea, but I really wanted to run it. The running community that would be there would be awesome, it was close to home, the trails looked beautiful, the double out-n-back looked appealing, and the profile looked more like my jam. There I was, limiting those insane variables just a bit. But more, I was running it because I wanted to, I was stoked.
Race morning was great, waking up in a tent, stress-free, with a giant cup of coffee waiting for me from Chris. We walked over to the start a bit early, got my bib, and chit chatted with a bunch of the people we knew. The next thing I knew I was lining up on the start line, water bottle in hand, pockets filled w gels, Gu beanie on head, and we were off!
The first 28 miles flew by.
Yes. I said the first 28 miles flew by (But that's a lot of miles, Keely?!!). Let me tell you why.
We started out the gate running quick but conservatively and immediately I was joined by Justin James Long (JJ) as we chugged a little bit behind Laney and the lead pack of men. We chatted pretty much for the entirety of those 28 miles. Mainly fueled by JJ’s eagerness to learn, his passion for his life and this sport, and our occasional whoops at the site of Mt. Hood, because well, look at her! She's a beaut! JJ’s passion was contagious and the life he had re-created for himself through running was motivating. He is 1.5 years sober and counting. He found an out to his addictive lifestyle, and I was so proud to get to know him. 2 days prior I had lost my childhood best friend, Kim to addiction and I couldn’t help but cry tears of joy for JJ and for her. Our minds are crazy, complex things, they are powerful, but we can overcome a lot more than we think we can. I always wanted her to get infected by the trail community like I had, she was always running crazy amounts of miles too, so that day I pretended that she had, that she was there running along the PCT with me too.
After mile 28, we came back through the Start/Finish Area to go out the other way on the PCT. Everyone here was so ecstatic (including the race directors!) and my crew and pups were there cheering and handing me my new water bottle and gels. I was 8-10 minutes up on my projected pace (which was around the old CR time) through here, but felt good, so I kept it up. The second out-n-back starts with a gradual up hill to an aid 5.4 miles out, where my friend Gordo was, and then drops down and back up again to the final aid station (mile 39.8) where we turn around and head back to the finish. Since my GPS was about as helpful as I am without my glasses on, I just ran based on elapsed time for the entire run and between aid stations. By the time I was closing in on the final turn-around, I was 16-17 gels in ( yes, I know that is a crap ton of gels ), feeling good, and witnessing the men’s race unfold. Laney ran past me first (~15 min before the aid) with Patrick about 5 minutes back, both looking strong. Then Duncan was about 5-6 minutes ahead of me. They all looked solid, but maybe I could catch one?
Then I saw JJ coming through about 7 minutes behind me, and the second place female looking steady about 5 minutes behind him! I got to the final climb, which was a bit annoying and in the sun, and took me a couple of minutes to get over a mini pity party and run it without wanting to hike.
“Suck it up, Keely. Gosh” I said to myself.
Then immediately began to push, and laugh, because I thought of Napoleon Dynamite. Give me your tots, Gosh!
I am weird.
Coming into the final aid station around 6 hours I heard Gordo playing the fiddle and I knew I could break the course record (which came first the chicken or the egg?). That had been my goal the entire day, but I was never 100% confident until that moment. 5.3 miles all downhill to the finish. Wahoo! This descent was awesome and I was running around 7’30 pace pretty easily, until about 1.5 miles from the finish where I got super excited seeing some people coming out on their out-n-back, waved, and immediately superman dove head first into the trail.
Their faces were horrified. I grunted, grabbed my water bottle, looked myself all the way down, laughed, told them I was okay, and was off. This time I ran about 8’30-9 minute pace. The only way I wouldn’t get the CR is if I continued to fall my way down the hill. Knowing my track record, I knew that was not entirely impossible, so I slowed down and stopped being way too over the top when I saw others, and was just my normal cheery self.
I passed Duncan shortly thereafter, and tried to pull him with me, but he was having some cramping, so he cheered me on. I ran to the finish with a big grin across my face, knowing how ridiculous and covered in dirt I looked but also relishing in the fact that I completed my very top goal for the race.
6:46:12, 1st female, new CR, 3rd Overall.
I celebrated JJ finishing in fourth- sub 7 hours- and so incredibly grateful . I witnessed the second place female crush it, and come in sub 7 hours as well! Studette! And I shared countless finishes with racers crossing the line with the same, satisfied overly-goofy smile across their faces. It was incredible. I stayed until late that night cheering everyone in, chatting with the awesome people in our community, and 100% content. This is what it is all about. Results aside, we all endure this crazy stuff for the community. I don’t think I will ever be able to leave it.
The next day I got to see some friends race the 50k! Shout out to Danielle and Chris for coming out top 10 even though they both crewed for me all day on Saturday. And congrats to Susie and her TR teammate for crushing it as well. And a big shout out to EVERY ONE ELSE who was out there this weekend (there are too many!)!
A special thank you to GU energy labs and Inside Tracker for the support and for helping me figure out my health and allow me to train at the top of my potential. And a huge thank you to Nike Trail for sponsoring these great races, believing in me,and providing great support.
As always, here are my tallies:
2 potty breaks in good ole mother nature
16 x GU Peanut Butter or Chocolate Coconut gels in the first 35 miles
2 x cute pups spotted with my crew all day
32 x wahoos!
1 x being called a unicorn on the trail
50+x Great job! Keep it up!
1 x angel running with me
2.5 x falls (superman counts as 2)
1 x GU Beanie (until mile 9)
>12 new friends
Happy running everyone :) If you see me out on the trails, I wasn't mauled by a bear. It was just me being clumsy.