Nick Elson and I were locked in a heated battle. We’d just passed through aid station 4 and he’d opened up another 1 minute gap on me after I’d just gotten done closing the first gap he’d gained on a technical, scrambly and steep climb up toward the peak of Mt. MacKenzie. I was just about done after having already climbed over 10000ft up and down Revelstoke Mountain Resort and now just had the long decent back down to the lodge left.

Beauty in all it's Glory

We were in Revelstoke, BC for the first TrailStoke event, the only Ultra event in the Canadian 5Peaks race series. Being three weeks post Western States my only obligation in heading up north was to be on the speaker panel the night before the race. After getting there on a clear day and seeing the towering mountains looming over Revelstoke I figured I would run the course easy just to get out and see some of the scenery. I still wasn’t feeling 100% after Western and didn’t know how it was going to feel taking on a demanding 50k at that point.

Downtown Revelstoke

Pre-race Briefing. That's a lot of people.

The beginning of a whole lotta pain

A flat 8 miler the day before didn’t feel too bad until I hit a few little hills in it. It was a nice day out and my legs were coming around but didn’t feel like they were quite there yet. The morning of was relaxed and it’s always nice preparing for a race with not expectations. If a big group of guys hauled off the start line I’d just settle in and be out for a nice run up a very big mountain. But, that didn’t happen that way. When the horn sounded we all jumped out of the gate a bit more conservative than I’d expected. There was a relay event going off at the same time and two of them were out front for awhile but the main ultra pack caught up pretty quickly once we headed up the climb. I was in the lead pack and feeling rather comfortable. No one was pushing the pace so I was able to keep it relaxed and in control on the way up. It was about a 9 mile, 4000ft climb up to what I thought would be the top and the first aid station.
This is the first time I think I’ve ever had an all out sprint in the middle of a 50k. A prime was set up for this first aid station and when we topped out I ended up well ahead of 2nd, but the aid station was downhill about 1/4mi from the top down a dirt road. As we neared the aid station the dude in 2nd began his charge as quietly as possible but I knew what was coming. Checking over my shoulder several times I could tell he was getting closer and was about to make a break for it. When he was about 20m from me he started his all out sprint and I made mine. Lucky for me I still had some leg speed. Turned out later that he was one of the relay guys, he got to stop, I had another 22 miles.

Alpine meadows

Continuing on I actually figured it was going to be a walk in the park…or an easy jog in the mountains. I was dropping the other ultra guys in the race pretty fast. We headed out into the unknown. From the ski hill we traversed through the off beaten track through a swamp, up a technical scree covered pitch, and high alpine meadows. Everything I’d read online was about getting up the ski hill then having some beautiful high alpine ridgeline running. Not on this course. They got everything right except for the running part. It was beautiful with clouds swirling, we were in the midst of a gentle storm with showers here and there. It gave the mountain a certain mystique since we couldn’t define where we were in relation to anything around us. We just continued to climb. At least another 2500ft. With the rough terrain I was relegated to hiking. I started to take in the beauty of the alpine. Meadows, grasses, wildflowers, and rocks.


Starting the pain train


Boom, Hit's you like a wall! Wait, it is a wall.


Still Climbing

That’s when, out of the fog, Nick Elson crept up on me. I could see him down below on the ridgeline I’d just come up. He was moving well and gaining on me pretty fast. He caught me at about half way at the turnaround. We both came up on a pile of flags and just stopped. There was supposed to be a person at the turn around but this was clearly where the course ended. Nothing beyond. We decided that was it and turned to head back down the mountain. The technical downhill was no easier than it was on the way up but I stayed as close to Nick as possible. Through the more runnable sections I would creep up on his heels, through the technical hiking sections he would gain some ground on me. As I descended down the treacherous loose rock the only thing I could think to myself was that this wasn’t so much of an ankle turning course, this was like a broken bones type of course.


Nick gaining ground.


Trail? What trail?

One more big hike up to 2200m and just a shade below the summit of Mt MacKenzie Nick gapped me pretty good as I started to struggle after so much vertical. We hit aid station three then we had about 3 miles of downhill dirt road. Hallelujah! Open it up baby! I’d caught back up by aid 4, another little off road stretch and he opened back up another little gap. Dang it! Ok, more road to the finish. I closed back down on him and took the lead for the final time. I didn’t gap him quite as fast as I would have liked and now was hurting pretty good. Any little uphill would send minor cramps down my calves so I had to stay diligent in gauging my efforts on any uneven terrain.

Nick pouring on the pain.

That jacket saved me.

The final two miles was a steep off-road pitch straight down a ski slope then a winding and fun little singletrack right into the finish. I managed to hold him off and came in just 40sec in front to one of the most scenic finishes I’ve ever raced toward. It was pretty amazing as the photos will show and it was an epic adventure.

Finish Line View

I was surprised to feel pretty decent throughout but only 3 weeks after Western I definitely dug myself into the pain cave and back into a recovery hole. Was it worth it, yeah, probably. It hurt but to win the first ever TrailStoke is pretty cool.

5Peaks Racing is trying to make TrailStoke a premier mountain ultra event with weekend festivities and what not. It’s a SkyRunner Series Race with a great after party, dinner and live band too. In their first year they attracted about 270 people up to the off-the-beaten-path resort location and managed to put on a great event. That’s a lot of nutty people running a brutal 50k course in the middle of nowhere. Good on ya 5Peaks. Thanks to Amy and Magi all the whole crew for having me up and putting up with me for the weekend. I even got to cruise around in this: The 5Peaks Mobile.

5Peaks Mobile

This is a race that is going to become one of those classic mountain races, an epic adventure course. There are some amazing mountains to explore up there with some very wild lands. It’s going to be fun to see what else our northern neighbors can cook up. The whole weekend I couldn’t help but stare across the valley at Mount Begbie and just hear it beckoning, calling my name. Next time Begbie, next time.

Mt Begbie


More to Explore

Gear (thanks to all for the support):
MHW Ultra Refueler Shorts
MHW Way2Cool Singlet
Montrail Fluidflex II
MHW Ghost Whisperer Jacket – This thing saved me. Such an essential mountain piece.
MHW Arm Warmers
MHW Race Vest
MHW Trucker Hat
Rudy Project Rydon II
Swiftwick Aspire One Socks
GU Cherry Lime Roctane


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Shoes of a Finisher

by admin on July 17, 2014

The longest journey begins with a single step. Little did Mark Vincent, General Manager of Timberline Lodge, know when he blurted out his goal to improve his health at an executive retreat in 2008 that his journey would end by crossing the finish line of the Antarctica Marathon last March.

Mark is now a member of the “7 Continent Finishers Club,” one of the elite athletes who completed seven marathons on each of the world’s seven continents. “Antarctica was always the prize,” said Vincent, “but I knew I had to work up to it.”

“Working up” meant adding marathons in Rome, Marrakesh, Buenos Aires, Tokyo, and Sydney to the NYC Marathon he’d completed in 2007. Antarctica was by far the most grueling, its steep, muddy terrain laced with ice and snow even in summer. The shoes on his feet? Montrail’s Mountain Masochist II. Vincent first tried Montrails while training on Mount Hood. “You’re running over patches of snow and through streams from the glacial run off. The shoes gripped in the snow and were waterproof in the wet areas. I thought they would be perfect for the varied conditions in Antarctica.”

And perfect they were, helping Mark to endure mile after punishing mile. “I was getting a little rummy toward the end,” he said, “but I said to myself, there’s no way I’m not going to finish this thing—not after eight years of work and waiting.” As for his shoes: “After I got them cleaned up they were still pretty new—I’m still running in them. I’m not that into shoes, but they were great. Lightweight, waterproof—I didn’t get one blister!”

We think Mark and his shoes are pretty amazing.


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Western States and All That History

by Max on July 5, 2014

The best way I can describe Western States 100 for me is a whole new level of hurt. This photo says it all:

A whole lotta hurt!

It, of course, was much more than that. I’ve only had a few race experiences when crossing the finish line comes an overflow of emotion rather than just trying to catch your breath. WS100 was one of those where coming through the finish line was a good mix of crying and laughing, happy to be done and in awe of what I’d just done. Not the fact that I’d been able to run the course in what I would consider a fast time but more that I’d just freakin run a hundred miles. Because, lets face it, that’s the accomplishment that we were all striving for. Your first goal is to just finish the darn thing, think about running it fast later. That’s a long way by the way, a hundred miles. The longest I’d ever run by about 38 miles.

Squaw Valley to Auburn photo: irunfar

This was more than just another race for me, of course any hundred miler should be for anyone, but a short list of reasons this was my first hundred reads like this: This is the first hundred I ever knew about growing up in Sacramento, I spent countless hours in the Tahoe, Foresthill, American River, and the whole Sierra area and it’s a special place to me, probably my favorite place in the world, my family gets to see me run and follow along, it’s the first ever hundred miler and the history and tradition are full of legends of the sport, stories, native American routes, and thousands of people making their way over the high Sierra to Auburn.

I’ve always known I wanted this to be my first hundred and I’m glad I made it my first. I’m also glad I waited. Many of you know I started this race with no intention of finishing back in 2009 after I won the American River 50 then got injured. Looking back now the injury between was a blessing as I was grossly under prepared for such an undertaking. In several of the years since I’ve been fortunate to head to Squaw Valley and follow the race as it winds its way to Auburn as a spectator, taking in all the hoopla and preparing myself for what that would be like.

Still lots to learn in 2009

The road to get into Western this year was not without it’s hiccups as I didn’t perform at Sonoma and then had to make an emergency trip to Ice Age to qualify. At the time I was torn 50/50 on whether to go or bag out. Finally deciding that it was worth pursuing this year since I had other plans next year already, I’m glad I made that trip for many reasons, not the least of which turned out to be a great experience at Western States and one I’ll remember for all time.

With qualifying and having a short window to actually train specifically for Western I did what I thought I had to do and headed first to the Western States Training Camp to see the course. In all my years around the area I really hadn’t run the course. This was by far the best thing I could have done to prepare mentally for the run. It let me “see” how I would mentally break 100 miles into smaller doable segments. It became doable in my mind and not as daunting a task.

Heat Training: Ringing out my shirt. photo: Recharge

The training weekend was a great way to see the course, definitely more enjoyable than the race. You get to run with friends (I got to run with the future womens WS winner, yeah, that’s right, and my buddy Byron who was also running his first 100miler), we all camped in Foresthill, swam in the river, and did it as enjoyable 30 mile segments. So, if you don’t get into the actual race, go to the training weekend and enjoy the trail just as much. The training weekend also got me from dreading running the race to actually becoming excited to run it.
I have to admit that something other than myself was pushing me to go to Ice Age because prior to that and the training weekend I wasn’t sure I wanted to run Western or if I was just doing it because it fit into the schedule this year. After all, after Lake Sonoma I wasn’t really in the mood to ever run another ultra race.
The about face in my mental state was a combo of Ice Age boosting my ultra confidence, the training weekend just being what I’ve always loved about running, having friends to run amazing trails with then hanging out with the family camping the rest of the time, and really getting into the training, trying to figure out what would prepare me the best mentally and physically.

Training Weekend Partners

Best View from a Grocery Store EVER, other then Byron.

The training weekend would boost me to my highest mileage week at 135 miles. Subsequent weeks were 115-110 with some good elevation gain like a 30 miler w/ 11,500ft of gain followed by 20 mile road runs in under 2hrs, at one point clipping off a 53:30 10miler on the second half. When you can do that, training is really hard but really rewarding. You’re putting all you’ve got into it and it becomes important to see what your body can really do.

When Western rolled around I was as ready as I was going to be and what amazed me was that I was excited to do it. I spent some time gathering up gear, I had my crew, I put in the training as best I knew how, and I knew the course. We packed up the car on Wednesday (100milers take a lot of gear) and headed South. It was me and Tonya, one of my crew people that works at Footzone with me. We made it south to Susanville where we had our only negative encounter of the trip, a cranky old pizza making lady. I’ve never had to wait an hour for pizza before, unless there are actually other people in the restaurant. We camped outside Susanville that night and continued on to Squaw Valley early the next day to catch the USA soccer match, good game by the way. We had a nice relaxing two days in Squaw hanging out at the Montrail house, helping with the 6K Uphill Challenge, and enjoying the views of the valley. Makes for a good start to the weekend.

Squaw Valley at Dawn photo: irunfar

Only a fraction of the top guys

Since Western is a pretty big deal in the ultra world I ended up doing quite a few interviews with Ultrarunner podcast, iRunFar.com, and a few others and in each one I laid out exactly how I would run and what my goal for the weekend was. First goal: finish in 24hrs to get that belt buckle. How: I would run my own race at my pace and see how things ended up. I might just lead to Foresthill and then blowup and walk it in. Well, you all know how it went, just as I said. I ran my own race at my pace. I knew I would be more comfortable and efficient if I could run what I’m used to running on an easy run and that that pace was most likely going to be faster than most of the runners really wanted to go.

Me


And Byron, His first 100miler too.

The Start. A long way to go.photo: iRunFar

So, I found myself leading Western States at about mile 9 after a cruising a flat road. What I didn’t know was that I would continue to lead until about mile 70. I wanted to keep my HR low and knew that I could cruise areas that were flatter like from Robinson Flat to Last Chance but thought I would be pretty slow going up/down the canyons and that on each climb a handful of people would catch me. Except for a brief moment at Robinson that didn’t happen. Looking back, maybe I should have taken those climbs a bit easier and slower. I don’t know. All I know was that it was a lonely 70 miles but it was fun to come through the aid stations, whoop it up with the crowd, and be on my way. It was uplifting to come through and talk to my crew too. They did an amazing job getting me what I needed. I saw all the wildlife on the course and scared it away for the rest of the pack and got into a better rhythm by not following behind another runner.

Movin

My mantra going in was to feel good to Foresthill, then I could push. Stay relaxed, smooth and efficient. I knew at some point Rob would catch me and so it was just a matter of time before he caught me just after the Cal 1 aid station. I probably pushed this section a bit too hard and should have just kept my foot off the pedal a little longer but I felt good and knew he was coming up. It wasn’t until the last 20 miles that it started to get interesting. I started to feel it coming up to the river crossing and knew it was going to be a long final 20 miles unless I could turn it around. The problem was, I didn’t know how to turn it around. Just not enough experience yet. I ran well up to Green Gate but at that point the stomach started to shut down. Nothing seemed to be passing through and all the water just sat in my stomach. That didn’t feel good and I started to slow my pace. Whether it was the accumulation of fatigue or my stomach I don’t know, but I wasn’t running at a pace that was going to keep me in second for very long. I kept sipping on water, GU, and taking an S-Cap at aid stations but couldn’t seem to get things moving.
At some point around Browns Bar I just stopped eating. Big mistake. I ran Quarry Rd, then ran well up to 49 crossing. I saw D-Bo come through the aid station just behind me and I cruised up the penultimate hill trying to fend D-Bo off. We got up to the flat though and the lack of fuel caught up to me. I bonked hard and fast. Dizzy, I sucked down a bit of GU and walked a couple minutes downhill to get it back together. Miraculously it helped and I finished off the downhill. I crossed No-Hands Bridge then looked back to see Ryan Sandes gaining ground on me. He passed me and pulled ahead by 20-30sec. I sucked down a bit more GU and charged the hill as hard as I could. This whole time I was pushing hard knowing that Ian Sharman was lurking back behind me somewhere and he was the one I didn’t want to pass me. I gained ground quickly back on Ryan and passed him on the climb to Robie Point. The final mile on the road I kept looking back expecting Ryan or Ian to come around a corner at any moment.
They never came back and I hit the track and I knew it was over. Overwhelming emotions came up and I was high fiving the crowd knowing it was about over. I crossed the line and began heaving, laughing, and crying at the same time. So happy to be done. Feet hurt, legs hurt, stomach hurt. Everything hurt.
I crossed over to the grass and laid down for a very long time. I did not feel good. I could have slept there. I laid there for about 2hrs until finally moving again. Staggering around to do a quick interview, staggered to the showers, then to the trailer for the night.

The finish.

Pain, oh the pain. photo: iRunFar

I’d been thinking about it all day, poison oak! I just remembered that I meant to tell my crew to find some Technu Poison Oak wash so I could shower with it otherwise I was going to be miserable for weeks. So, my amazing crew of Geof and Tonya found a 24hr pharmacy, picked up some Technu and a strawberry milkshake at In n Out to cap off the night. Wow, what a day.

There was so much anticipation in town that it was getting hard to handle everyone asking about it before I left. It starts to mentally affect you because you’re continually thinking about it, but when we got back it’s really pretty awesome when you get everyone following along with the race. I’ve had so many people say “I was glued to my computer all day!” That’s cool. And a good feeling that you have so many people back home that care about you. So much so that Footzone threw a Race Re-cap party for the 4 Bendites that ran the race. Stephanie, of course, Denise Bourassa, and Scott Wolfe. Put us up against any other town and we did pretty well considering we’re 80,000 people.

The Homecoming Crowd at Footzone

Bendites in WS100 photo: Footzone

One of the coolest things was to see two guys walk in that had WS belt buckles from their races…in 1978 and 1981. Running the race, you join a small but dedicated crowd that is passionate about the race, can talk about the different elements of it and man can they tell stories, and the stories are amazing.

I finally had the chance to meet the amazing Ann Trason after the race. I mentioned my plans for next year included Comrades Marathon and so probably didn’t include a Western States. And she says “I did both.”

Gear:
Montrail Fluidflex II shoes
Swiftwick Aspire socks
MHW Ultrarefueler Shorts
MHW Way2Cool Singlet
MHW Way2Cool Arm Coolers
Rudy Project Rydon II Glasses
MHW Way2Cool Neck Cooler
Ultraspire MBS Synapse Waste Belt
Straw Cowboy Hat

More Photos:

Out of the river and to the woods. And hurt box. photo: tachiyama

Up to Michigan Bluff photo: ultrarunnerpodcast - Stephanie Deveau

River Crossing photo: irunfar

Frolicking Through the Wildflowers photo: irunfar

photo: Matt Trappe

photo: Matt Trappe

photo: Matt Trappe

photo: Matt Trappe


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Montrail Ultra Cup Final Results

by admin on July 2, 2014

Well, folks, the results are in, and the Montrail Ultra Cup Champions have been crowned. Big congrats to Kaci Lickteig and Ian Sharman! Thanks to all the runners who participated in the Montrail Ultra Cup this year. Top-20 results are below.

WOMEN

Runner Bandera 100k Sean O’Brien 50m Rocky Raccoon 100 Lake Sonoma 50m Ice Age 50m Western States 100 Grand Total
1 Kaci Lickteig     26.00 13.97 21.00 20.74 81.71
2 Larisa Dannis     22.91   13.92 25.81 62.64
3 Meghan Arbogast 23.40 10.84       20.70 54.94
4 Shaheen Sattar     23.94     20.70 44.63
5 Denise Bourassa   13.88       20.73 34.61
6 Lise Plantier 13.22   20.75       33.98
7 Cindy Stonesmith 13.24   20.72       33.96
8 Rachel Ballard 13.19   20.68       33.87
9 Maggie Guterl 13.17   20.69       33.86
10 Nicole Studer     31.00       31.00
11 Stephanie Howe           30.83 30.83
12 Mauclair Nathalie           23.79 23.79
13 Tera Dube   12.88   10.86     23.74
14 Pam Smith           22.78 22.78
15 Riva Johnson     21.90       21.90
16 Nikki Kimball           21.75 21.75
17 Caroline Boller   10.79   10.86     21.65
18 Sally Mcrae           20.70 20.70
19 Beth Cardelli           20.68 20.68
20 Serena Wilcox           20.67 20.67


MEN

Runner Bandera 100k Lake Sonoma 50m Rocky Raccoon 100 Sean O’Brien 50k Sean O’Brien 50m Ice Age 50m Western States 100 Grand Total
1 Ian Sharman   10.81 25.98       20.94 57.73
2 Max King   10.93       21.00 22.95 54.88
3 David Laney 18.39 11.94         20.81 51.15
4 Brian Condon 13.22         13.95 20.77 47.94
5 Paul Terranova 15.31     10.16     20.85 46.32
6 Ford Smith 14.26   20.82     10.79   45.88
7 Jorge Maravilla 23.40           20.87 44.27
8 Matthew Laye     31.00     11.91   42.91
9 Matt Smith 13.17   20.73         33.89
10 Hideki Kinoshita 13.00   20.57         33.57
11 Jesse Boisaubin   10.70     10.67 10.73   32.11
12 Rob Krar             31.00 31.00
13 Seth Swanson             25.97 25.97
14 Dylan Bowman             23.95 23.95
15 Steve Speirs     22.86         22.86
16 Ryan Sandes             21.94 21.94
17 Miguel Ordorica   10.67       10.65   21.32
18 Alex Varner             20.94 20.94
19 Brendan Davies             20.93 20.93
20 Brett Rivers             20.91 20.91

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GoPro (or go home!) Mountain Games

by admin on June 20, 2014

By Megan Lizotte

It felt so good to be back in the mountains, running trails, sucking wind and chasing some great friends/competitors! I was so happy to be back in Colorado—I just feel like a different person when I’m in the mountains, like I’m home and I know my way around even if I’m deep in the middle of the Elk Mountain wilderness.

[Training run on Arbaney Kittle…one of my favorite trails in Colorado.]

Go Pro Mountain Games—probably my favorite mountain running fest EVER! The atmosphere at this event is unreal—there are people (and dogs) everywhere psyched to watch some of the world’s most talented athletes, stoked to be outside celebrating the long-awaited arrival of Colorado summer…and getting free KIND Bars. We joke that Colorado has two seasons: winter and July! It’s either covered in gorgeous snow or perfectly warm…and always sunny! This weekend was no exception…perfect running weather, bluebird ski and beautiful mountain views.

I arrived almost a week before GoPro Mountain Games and stayed with my parents in Basalt (my dearly-missed hometown). Not having raced at altitude since I moved to San Diego last fall, I wasn’t sure how this sea-level girl (okay, that just doesn’t sound right, we all know I’m really a mountain girl through and through!) was going to respond to the huff-and-puff effort of hauling my butt up Vail Pass, so I wanted to make sure I had plenty of time to acclimate…and of course grab some extra backcountry time before race day! As we flew into Aspen, my daughter Maven and I were glued to the window and I remember thinking, “Oh man, I am NOT going to want to leave here next week!” Everything was so vibrantly green and the peaks were still plastered with snow. Late spring, early summer is my favorite time in Colorado and I was soaking up every aerial minute I could.

[The ultimate playground! So fortunate to have spent a few hours running around the Bells!]

I’ve been struggling with Achilles tendonitis since January. It’s the most unpredictable injury I think I’ve ever had!? Some days it hurts like crazy and then the next day, it will feel totally normal. I’ve never had an injury I could really run through until this one. While I’m thankful I’ve been able to baby it while still putting in some big miles, it’s also frustrating not knowing when it’s going to freak out and not let me run for a few days! So, sure enough, Monday before the race it started throwing a tantrum mid-10miler. That run left me questioning whether I could even run the next day…let alone race an all uphill half marathon Saturday and then turn around the next day and bomb through a technical trail 10k. However, after lots o’ icing, arnica, and massage from my go-to therapist in Colorado Denise Abrams, I was confident I could get through the weekend sans Achilles hissy fits.

On paper you’d think I’d be super nervous for this year’s GoPro Mountain Games Vail Pass Half Marathon as I have won the race every year since its inception in 2009, except for 2011 when I was 2nd to the queen of uphill, Kim Dobson on a shortened course due to lingering snowpack (Vail got pounded that winter!). I’ve also placed among the top 5 females in the Spring Runoff 10k every year. Stats aside, the majority of my training now takes place at sea level and the entrant list was super-stacked! I knew I was going to have my work cut out for me, but I was also less anxious than I’ve been in the past—all I could think about was how excited I was to be racing in Colorado again. Regardless of street cred, stats, entrant lists or outsider expectations, it was nice to not feel so much self-imposed pressure for once. I was honestly just so grateful to be in Colorado, that it made me more motivated to work hard…almost like it was my way of saying “thank you” to my home-state for hosting me!

[Stacked! Start line of the Vail Pass Half Marathon was full of superstars!]

Don’t get me wrong, I was nervous for the half marathon, but it was a very necessary amount of nervousness—the amount that says, “I’m invested in this, so I better run well!” rather than, “What the heck am I doing here on the start line with 6 USATF national champions, an Olympian, a Footlocker finalist, the former USA high school record holder in the 1600m and 3200m, the entire gold medal-winning women’s USA Mountain Running Team from the 2012 World Mountain Running Championships…I could go on and on with the accolades! However, as I’ve gotten older (and wiser?), I’ve become more calculated and mature in my response to race day angst. I don’t flip out as much as I used to and instead remind myself to trust my training, run my own best race and go for it. If you take yourself out of the mix before the race even starts, there’s no reason to get on the line! I have to remember that by being there, I am making that race competitive too! So, when the gun went off, I did exactly that. I ran smart, kept the front pack of girls in sight and moved up on them.

[Me with mountain running phenom and new mommy, Brandy Erholtz and sweet Baby Asher at the Vail Pass Half Marathon finish area.]

I was surprised at how good I felt cardiovascularly (that is, as good as racing 13.7 miles uphill at 10,000 feet can feel)…I felt like I had never left Colorado! In effort to suppress my hesitation about how miserable racing at high altitude would feel now that I live/train at the beach, I read an article that talked about how runners who live/train at significant altitude (above 5k feet) for 30+ years often become exempt to the negative effects that racing at high altitude can have an performance. SWEET! Check! I guess that little tidbit rang true last Saturday as I finished 4th in 90 seconds faster than my time last year. Although to be fair, I was still breastfeeding last year at this time, but hey, an improvement is an improvement and I’ll take it! It wasn’t the best time I’ve posted on that course, but I was pleased given the way my race plan unfolded, my continued battle with my own Achilles, and the insane level of competition (congrats to the top 3 she-beasts: Morgan Arritola, Allie MacLaughlin and Stevie Kremer!).

After the Vail Pass Half on Saturday, my plan was to recover as quickly as possible because I wanted to do well in Sunday’s trail 10k. Not having podium’d in the half stunk a little. So…to the creek for a real ice bath it was! Thanks to my awesome husband who played with Maven all weekend, I snuck in a 90 minute nap, sat in Gore Creek for what seemed like an eternity (6 minutes) and then hopped in the pool and had some family swim time at our hotel! I was in bed by 10pm and up again at 6am—ready to roll!

The competition was just as steep in the Vasque Spring Runoff Trail 10k and I knew I’d have to get out hard and pull away on the climbs if I wanted to snag a top 3 finish. I’m a really good uphill runner and an equally terrible downhill runner! If it weren’t for the uphills in trail racing, I would be just a regular back-of-the-packer! I found myself in 5th place within the first 800m of the race and then as soon as we started making our way up the first ascent, I quickly moved into the lead, but with Megan Kimmel and Morgan Arritola clipping at my heels. Once that initial climb flattened out and we started approaching the downhill, those girls flew by me like I was standing still! However, I knew I’d make up some time on the not-so-far-away uphill. I moved back into 2nd for most of the 1st half of the race, but with the majority of the downhill in the 2nd half of the course, I faded into 3rd and managed to stay there through the finish line. Overall, I was really pleased with my finish in the 10k and it gave me a good dose of confidence going into my final build-up for the Loon Mountain Race, which is the sole selection race for the USA Mountain Running Team where I’m hoping to make my 5th USA Mountain Running Team.

Not only did I race in Vail while I was in Colorado, I also got to pound out some miles while my up-and-coming media hound husband took some photos and videos! We are working on some promo videos for my coaching website www.hgrunning.com so here’s a little taste of what Colorado is serving up right now in the backcountry!

Happy Trails!
-Megan Lizotte
Follow me on Instagram & Twitter: @MeganLizotte


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