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Letting Go of Ego

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For the last five summers, I have been lucky enough to get to organize a running camp on Mt. Hood. And for the last four summers, for three days I get to immerse myself in the fun and excitement of adults coming to summer camp, where they get to spend their days running on trails, learning from some awesome athletes, and enjoying the beautiful scenery.

This year I had the pleasure of meeting a woman who traveled from Queens, New York for the three-day camp—flying in on Thursday evening and back home on Sunday night on a red-eye. She had googled "mountain running camp" and had stumbled across ours. She was in the midst of working on some changes in her life and when none of her friends would commit to coming with her, she decided to come out for the camp on her own.

She seemed to radiate positivity and courage. She loved the beauty of the mountains, and felt empowered by the trails. On the last day, we do a 15-mile run from Timberline Lodge to the Ramona Falls trailhead—a go…

Rescue in the Gorge: Right Place at the Right Time

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On Sunday, May 31, we set out for a day hike in the Columbia River Gorge. We had a loose plan to start at the Horsetail Falls trailhead, hike up Rock of Ages, and either come back down the Horsetail Falls trailhead and cross Oneonta Creek or take the longer route around Bell Creek. The hike up ROA was lung busting as usual, but quickly gave way to the lovely rock arch and views of the river, and always exciting (ok, somewhat scary) walk across the exposed Devil's Backbone, and within 3 miles we were at 2,900 feet and at our first trail intersection. 
We headed west on the Horsetail Creek trail, crossed a few creeks, and quickly covered the 1.8 miles to the turnoff for Bell Creek. The last time I had been on Bell Creek was to perform some trail work on this much neglected 3.3 mile stretch of trail. We found the trail to be in remarkably good shape, and got to enjoy some beautiful old growth forest. Stopping to count the rings on one downed tree, it seemed as though some of the tree…

Cascade Crest 100 - Race Report

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I haven't posted in awhile. I've been training, and working (a lot), and trying to get myself ready for my next 100 mile attempt. It hasn't been a great build-up period. The 10 weeks off running (6 of that non-weight bearing) between January - March seemed to take a toll. Then my back/hip issue got worse (started last September, still trying to get it worked out) and limited my ability to run and do hill training. July rolled around and I still hadn't gotten much in the way of hill work.

But then I had a few solid weeks - the final three weeks in July were good training. I hit an 85 mile week the last week before the taper began, I got in a solid 50k training run, and had a night run that felt great. My peak was only a 22/21/22 (Fri/Sat/Sun) as I was limited in time due to work conflicts. Unfortunately, during the 50k my old nemesis, my IT Band, reared it's ugly head and gave me new cause for concern. I spent the final 8 miles of that race cursing the downhill with…

You're That Runner ...

Day 40.

40 days without a run.

14 days of nothing but the pool and upper body/core work.

I'm starting to get the hang of the crutches. I take the stairs up to the second floor at the gym. I could take the elevator but the effort of crutching up the stairs seems like some of the best cardio I get these days.

My weight is up. In the past 40 days, despite my best efforts, I've put on 6 lbs.

I feel Every. Single. One.

My body feels heavy and woefully out of shape.

This weekend I signed up for a race that I'm unsure I have a chance of finishing. It's 6 months away.

The trip up the stairs leaves me a little bit breathless.

I make it to the top of the stairs (finally) and look around trying to decide where I want to go first.

"Wait, how do I know you? You're ... you're that runner." It takes me a minute to realize that a woman is talking to me. I'm trying to place her but she doesn't look remotely familiar. Am I wearing a race shirt? No. There's …

Recovery

In July of 2010 my doctor thought I had a stress fracture in my right foot. She ordered me onto crutches and told me no weight bearing activity for three weeks. I made it home from that appointment, called a friend and became hysterical. I don't think she was even able to understand me on the phone. I could barely breathe. The gist of what I was saying "I can't do this. I need to run. I'm not strong enough to handle this."

I'm not strong enough. 

I thought I would break, mentally and physically, if I had to take three weeks away from my drug of choice - exercise.

I refused to accept this diagnosis and treatment. I put on my rigid mountaineering boots and hit the stepmill and bike. I figured if my foot wasn't flexing it could heal. July in Portland isn't exactly boiling hot but it isn't cool either. I wore those boots everywhere for 6 weeks. I followed that with a week long canyon trip in Arizona and Utah. Then I ran for the first time in 7 weeks. T…

Injury Part II: Diagnosis

"What happened?" I was asked as I limped my way into the house.

"I think I just broke my foot."

Right off the bat instinct told me that this was a real injury. Fortunately, or unfortunately as it may turn out, I had a doctor's appointment that morning for another issue. While there I mentioned the foot and my doctor ordered an x-ray. She called me with the results a few hours later. "You have a stress fracture to the 2nd metatarsal. You should get a walking boot and go non-weight bearing for the next three weeks." Well that didn't sound good. But it also didn't seem right to me. The pain wasn't anywhere near the 2nd metatarsal and referred pain in that area didn't seem to make sense. Not being one to take injury or the idea of not exercising lightly I made an appointment with the podiatrist who had done my toe surgery in 2011 to get a second opinion.

I walked into his office with my walking boot 5 days later. After a quick exam he info…

Injury Part I: The Beginning

In September 2013 I decided it was time to re-evaluate priorities. 2012 and now 2013 had been disappointing years for running and racing. Between health issues and injury I never seemed to find a good groove. While I was lucky enough to get picked in the lottery for Western States 100 and have the satisfaction of crossing the finish line, in total I dropped out of more races in 2013 than I was able to run. A two week trip to Europe in the beginning of September was a forced two week running break. Upon returning from the trip the goal was to start over. I  needed another round of IV therapy to get more iron into my system, so this seemed like a natural time to return to lower mileage, faster turnover, tempo runs, hill training, strength training, etc ... Get quality sleep. Eat well. Rebuild and recover. Then allow myself to build back up to long distances. 
As they tend to do, the injury gods had other plans. While in Europe I started to have pain and numbness down my right leg. I not…

Western States Part III - The Journey

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I promised myself when I was out on the course, in pain, hating pretty much everything and everyone, that I wouldn't sugarcoat this race report. I wouldn't try to re-write history and make myself look stronger and better than I was out there. I would write it as it happened, with the best recollection that I could. If you are looking for a happy race report, you might as well skip this one. It is also very long. It was my first 100 and I wanted to get all of the information down, so that I can look back on it for future races.

Race Morning
I don't need to wait for my alarm to go off. My eyes pop open at 2:15am. I allow myself a few more minutes in bed before starting my race morning routine. Shower, dress, lube the feet, put on compression socks, eat, drink, look over everything in my pack. None of this takes very long but I like to allow myself time in the morning in case anything unexpected comes up. Everyone else in the house is up early as well and at 4am we pile into J…