So you all are probably wondering,
“What has Keely been doing since White River back in July?!”
Or maybe that thought has never actually crossed your mind.. Nonetheless, I am here to give you all a little update!
White River was my Welcome to the PNW, Keel! – House-warming gift to myself. I figured that I wouldn’t be doing many races over the following weeks/months since they would be filled with my new job, apartment searching, and various trips I had planned.
I was wrong.
First of all, my new job is awesome. And it allows for optimal training by providing me with a multitude of running buddies, top-notch training facilities, and many opportunities to get a work out in. Just my second week in, I was told that I would be racing the Bowerman 5k. Yes, you read that correctly, a 5k. Ha. So, I added in some speed work sessions to attempt to prep for this “race.”
I laced up my shoes and took off at a little under a 6:00/mile pace, holding back so I didn’t “blow up” before it was over. However, with a mile left, I found myself feeling good, and trailing a boy who looked to be about 10 years old.
“There is no way I am losing to a child!” I yelled in my mind. And at that very second, he pulled off to the side, hands on knees, defeated. After pausing to see if he was okay, I zoomed on with a secret fist pump of success in my mind, and finished fast in 18:29. I was pumped; everything is a PR when it is your first race at that distance, and it was over so fast! Running fast hurts, but it’s still fun and a totally different beast than an ultra.
The following weekend, I went back to what I knew, and made a trip to Ashland, OR to preview the Pine 2 Palm 100 course with Rudy. 47 miles and >13,000’ of climbing over two days in the middle of nowhere was exactly what I needed. And I returned to work on Monday grinning as I told people about my crazy weekend.
That grin soon turned to panic, when I was asked last minute to cover for a girl on the Bowerman Track Club’s Co-ed Hood 2 Coast Relay (The Tarahumara) team that weekend.
Not knowing how to say no to the BTC, I found myself typing back
Sure, count me in!!!
I just need to run ~ 6:00/mile for 17 miles, split over 3 legs, how hard could that be??
I would soon find out. After hardly running during the week trying to recover from my huge weekend, I felt somewhat fresh come Friday evening.
Hood 2 Coast was amazing. I love relay events, it takes me back to my team sports days, where your pain is irrelevant in sake of the team. My first leg started around 8 pm Friday night and I hit about 6:07 pace for 5.5 miles. Success!!
Then, after massages (yes, we had a masseuse) and food, it was 3 am, a complete downpour, and time for leg 2! I couldn’t see anything except a couple feet ahead of my stride, so I took it easy for the 1.5 mile hill, and then just bombed the following 6 miles downhill at a 6:00 mile, until I met my fellow drenched teammate and handed off the baton. 2 legs down 1 to go! Wahoo!
Little did we know that the storm was just getting started.
We pulled up to the final exchange slightly delusional, on caffeine withdrawal, and a little cranky. After 3 of our runners gained some of lead back, I got the baton at 8 am, with a 5-minute deficit to our competition, a 45-mile per hour head wind and a 3.5-mile “easy” leg. I have never worked so hard for a 7-minute mile in my entire life. I handed off the baton to my overly eager teammate and wished him luck. He ended up killing it, making up all of the time, and adding 5 minutes to our lead with only one runner left. We ended up winning the relay for the Co-ed division, averaging about 6:07 minutes per mile over ~200 miles. My teammates were beasts!!
And then I slept for about 14 hours.
Following these two crazy weekends, I finally got to “take it easy” around the Grand Tetons, and backpack for a couple of days. It was absolutely incredible. You are surrounded by menacing mountains and loads of wildlife. I will definitely go back for some cool run-venturing in the future. The Tetons made me miss Boulder and its amazing mountains a lot.
A couple of weekends later, I was running through Ashland again, during the day with a killer group of guys, and in the middle of the night with Rudy as he finished out the final miles of his race. He kicked butt and pushed through a crazy hot Pine to Palm and finished another 100 miles. I am always in awe of the perseverance of these finishes.
Since then, I have been exploring the Gorge and the amazing trails around Portland and the PNW. I found myself signing up for TNF championships in December and have been training with that race in mind. But most importantly I have just been running happy and with great friends to keep it entertaining and challenging.
I have been having good training weekends lately and recently ran end-to-end of the Wildwood trail in Forest Park in Portland with a bunch of amazing people. Then ran a funny Halloween half marathon road race on Sunday and ended up pulling out the Win! It felt great to get some turn over on the leggies after such a big day on Saturday. This past weekend I went on a road trip with Rudy to visit my friend Denise and explore Bend, OR for the first time and was absolutely blown away!
Running is back to being one of the more important things in my life. I can honestly say that I have been absolutely loving my life over the past months, and can’t wait to have more adventures and race more this winter and spring! I have TNF 50 coming up and am excited to be traveling to another race! I love the people you get to meet in the ultra running community.
Happy running, ya’ll.