Sunday, July 10, 2022

Hellz Bellz Ultra

picture by Teri Smith aka runnerteri

Last Sunday I completed the Hellz Bellz Ultra, a 43 mile trail run/race (give or take a mile or two) in the Yacolt Burn State Forest of SW Washington put on by Bivouac Racing.  I'm one race away from completing 100 endurance races (marathon & ultra combined) and with this being my 69th ultra, I have to say it was definitely one of my favorites.  I love an old school, chill vibe race and this one fit the bill.  And it managed to do this on an interesting, scenic and challenging course, with well place aid stations and amazing volunteers.  The cherry on top was that mother nature cooperated and it was the perfect day for running in the forest and mountains.  I really couldn't have asked for a better day.  And since the start of the pandemic I really haven't been excited about racing.  This one brought back that passion, but for races that provide the experience more than the competition.  I loved every step and didn't want it to end.

Oh and did I mention we got to rid a historic train from the staging area to the start line?!!

The race was staged from the little town of Yacolt, WA at the town's recreational park.  Yacolt is only an hour from home, but since we needed to be ready by 5am, I decided to use that hour sleeping instead of driving to the race. There was plenty of tent camping out on the green, but I was comfortable in the back of my Suburban, which I call my truck.  Morning was easy and I decided to drive the quarter mile to the train station.  You see, the start was a few miles away and instead of parking at the trailhead, we were all shuttled by the Chelatchie Prairie Railroad.  It was so much fun.  And while it took a little longer than expected, I loved every minute of it.

So instead of starting at 6am, we took off from Hantwick Trailhead at 6:35am.  The first 2 miles were on wide double track along the East Fork of the Lewis River Trail.  This would be the last flat and easy running for most of the day!  Soon we turned up the Bells Mountain trail, which climbs steadily up and up with a few flat and rolling sections here and there.  I really didn't want to feel rushed this day so let a lot of people pass me but soon settled in with a few people and we chatted as we hiked and jogged and finally topped out.  I'd been up Bells Mountain trail with Marc but we'd turned around before we started to descend too much so some of the trail to the Yacolt Burn trailhead was unfamiliar to me.  Before long I found myself alone again.  There were only about 40 starters so it was easy to spread out if you weren't consciously trying to run with someone.  

Although this was a race I wasn't really interested in competition.  While I wanted to make the cutoff, of course, an ideal day for me would be a long, enjoyable day in the forest and mountains.  After finding out that the first woman in the prior year's fatass had finished in 10 hours, I had a loose goal of finishing in under 12 hours.  And I only had to make one cutoff of 32 miles in 10 hours.  So I didn't need to rush.

The first aid station Yacolt Burn Trailhead was at 11 miles.  Our drop bags were here and we would be back at mile 32.  I grabbed some fuel and my visor from the drop bag, filled up my reservoir and drank a cup of coffee.  I declined the breakfast burritos as I was focusing on carbs.  Plan was to eat every 30 minutes with about 100-125 of calories - mainly payday, stinger waffles, clif bar, gels and gummies.  I successfully kept up that plan until the last hour of the race, when I was tired of eating. But I never had tummy troubles and it felt good to eat for most of the race.

The next section of the race was about 7 miles and we had to go up and skirt the top flank of Hamilton Mountain.  I'd run this section before with Marc in 2021.  That day we had great views but this time we were shrouded in foggy cloud.  I'm really thankful for the weather as it never got too hot all day, even when the fog lifted.  I was pretty much by myself this whole section - one guy passed me early on after the aid station and I pass another guy near the top of the climb.  I enjoyed noticing my own thoughts.  Interesting that they tended to go to the negative - feeling every niggle, thinking about upcoming races that now I may not want to do.  I decided to contradict all those thoughts and told myself they didn't matter. Struggle is part of ultra running.  It's rarely easy and there's always a part of every race where I question my choices. 

Almost the high point of the race

This section had a lot of hiking and before long I had reached the high point and then soon I saw Teri with her camera.  It was great to see her!  As I descended I noticed that I was kicking a lot of rocks and had a few near misses.  Fortunately I didn't tumble the whole race, but it took constant vigilance.  There are a lot of rocks on this course, which slowed me down considerably since I'm usually pretty fast on the descents.  But again, I really didn't care about my time as much as I cared about not hitting the dirt!

Pictures by Teri Smith aka runnerteri

The Grouse Vista AS was at about mile 18 and had a patriotic theme with a lot of red, white and blue.  As with all the other aid stations, the volunteers were amazing!  And especially since we were a small field I felt like I got personalized service at every stop.  I filled up again and grabbed some cookies and M&M's to go.

The next aid station at the Tarbell trailhead was about 10 miles away.  Somewhere along here I suddenly realized that all my negative thoughts and worries about this little pain and that had melted away.  Maybe it just takes me 20-25 miles to warm up but I was feeling free!  It was a good lesson in not letting my mind and feeble thoughts get in my way.  Just because a thought passes through my brain doesn't mean it's true!

I love this section of trail that winds around the side of Silver Star.  As a bonafide tree hugger I hate to see clear cut.  But the positive is so many wildflowers.  They were really popping on this day!  I don't normally take photos during races but I had to take a few of the mountain lilies (orchids?) to send back to Marc.  My pictures don't really do justice to the amazingly beautiful fields of flowers that went on and on along the hillside.

The clouds had cleared and the sun was out by now.  Fortunately, the clearcut was interspersed with forest and less rocky trails.  Running the flats and descents felt easy despite being over 25 miles into the run.  I passed Hidden Falls and was seeing more mountain bikers and hikers on the trail.  Around this point another racer approached from behind, passed me and moved ahead quickly.  I kind of wondered how he was behind me since he was moving along a lot faster.

After I passed Chinook Trail that goes up to Silver Star I was in familiar territory having run this section to Tarbell Trailhead numerous times.  I knew I had about 3 miles of mostly downhill with some gentle rollers to the next aid station.  Where the forest cleared I saw the other runner up ahead and decided he probably wasn't as experienced pacing a longer ultra.  This turned out to be true as I ended up passing him at the next aid station and then he passed me again (like I was standing still) with about 5 miles to go and finished just a few minutes ahead of me.

At the Tarbell AS the volunteers had a grim reaper theme and were super helpful and enthusiastic.  They also had Twinkies!  I wish I could've stuck a few in my pockets but figured they wouldn't travel well.  So after a fill up and a few cups of Coke I had to be satisfied with eating one as I walked out the station.  

It was only 5 miles to the next aid and again, I was pretty familiar with the terrain so knew I'd have some open areas plus some shady spots, especially through Rock Creek Campground.  The trail was rocky again so I was moving steadily but not rushing.  I caught up to a couple who were fixing their poles/packs so I passed.  But once they got moving again they were right behind me.  I gladly let them pass since I really didn't want to feel pressed on the rocky trail.  I thought they would move ahead out of sight but they were always just ahead and I almost caught up to them a few times.  I think the woman was just a little faster so she'd run quickly but the guy couldn't keep up with her (but was still as fast or faster than me) so they'd slow and never really make up too much ground on me.

It was along this section that I saw the naked hiker guy.  I suppose he thought he wouldn't run into many people along this part of the trail, or perhaps he didn't care.  He was with a not naked hiker guy who kind of smiled sheepishly as I passed.  I chalk this up to one of those funny things you see on the trail.

I finally arrived back at the Yacolt Burn aid station, right behind the couple.  This was supposed to be mile 32, but I think it was more like 33 or 34.  I didn't need my drop bag so just filled up, grabbed some cookies for my pack pocket and took a quesadilla slice to go.  The couple was still milling around so I took the opportunity to take off as fast as I could.  I was hoping that I could put some distance on them so I could run in peace without the leapfrogging, and the downhill out of the aid station helped.  I ended up finishing about 10 minutes ahead of them.

This last section was the same Bells Mountain trail we had run out on, but a little shorter since we'd finish at Lucia Falls instead of Hantwick Trailhead.  Trail always looks different going the other direction and as I kept descending to Cedar Creek I didn't recall that the course had descended so much earlier in the day.  My memory also failed me because I thought that once I crossed Rock Creek I'd be nearly to the high point of Bells Mountain trail.  Well yeah, I was nearly to the top at this crossing, but not quite as near as I remembered and it was A LOT steeper than I remembered.  After crossing Rock Creek and ascending the steep hill to some clearcut I came across another runner who was walking very steadily but very slowly.  I easily passed him and we exchanged a few words about being almost to the top of that particular hill.

I think my only real mistake of the day was at this point in the race. I didn't have stomach troubles, but stopped fueling, thinking it would be quicker than it was descending the last few miles to finish.   I didn't bonk but if I'd had a gel I might've had a little more pep right at the end.  I'd forgotten how steep and rocky it was those last few miles and instead of running down I more gingerly stepped down until I reached the forested trail that was buttery in comparison.  I did have a slight, slow speed fall in this section.  I was actually stopped but my foot slipped on the dusty, loose dirt and I went off the trail up to my knee. But no damage done except for a small scrape.

Finally I reached the flat double track and turned right to Lucia Falls.  I thought I'd heard it was about a quarter mile, but of course it seemed never ending.  At this point I definitely didn't want to get passed so after looking back to see no one I walked a few steps here and there.  And then eventually the trail turned to the left and down a small hill was the river and the bridge for the finish.  It was slightly anti-climactic and as I crossed I had to ask if this was actually the finish.  But I'll take a low-key finish by a beautiful river over a finish under a blown up arch any day.

I was instructed to wait for Rich who was driving the shuttle and who would escort me to the van as there were a number of trails and I didn't really know which way to go.  Soon he arrived and I was the only finisher waiting at the moment so we walked up the trail about a quarter mile to the parking lot.  We chatted about the naked guy he'd heard about from the other runners and as we reached the top, Rich commented that I was strongest hiker up that hill the whole day.  Honestly I hadn't really noticed we were walking up a hill and that was the best compliment I could've received that day.

Back in Yacolt I got to ring the bell and received my cherished coffee mug.  Attention raced directors - we have enough pint glasses - more coffee mugs please! I chatted with a few others as I waited for my veggie burger and then took it to go and was on my way home.

I really can't say enough good things about this race, in general, and my day on the trails, in particular.  I loved everything about it.  As I told Rod the night before when I picked up my number, I just wanted to enjoy the trails and was more interested in being out there than trying to finish as quickly as possible.  I probably won't run the race again since I'm becoming less interested in racing in general.  If and when I do race I'll probably run new races or old school races that I haven't run in years (such as SOB or MRTR).  That said I think this one will become a PNW classic and you'll probably see me out there volunteering next year.  I just need to find an assignment where I get to ride the choo-choo train!

Thursday, June 30, 2022

2022 So Far...aka All Caught Up

It’s been an interesting year so far.  And when I say interesting I mean shitty.

It’s not a secret but up until now only people we see or talk to on a regular basis know that Marc has cancer. Actually I hope that’s past tense since he finished his treatment (radiation and chemotherapy) two weeks ago. So hopefully it’s gone but we won’t know until he has his post-treatment scan in about 3 months.

In early March he was diagnosed with HPV related oropharyngeal cancer. Specifically, Stage 3 cancer of his tonsil and spread to the lymph nodes. 

Did you know that the vast majority of sexually active adults have been exposed to HPV? If you or someone you love is eligible and hasn’t received the HPV vaccine yet please get it. 

The good news is the HPV related version of this type of cancer has a good prognosis versus the same cancer that may be due to smoking and drinking. The bad news is the treatment is painful and can result in an inability to eat normally with the possibility that food will never taste the same again. Plus there's all the potential short and long term side effects from chemo and radiation (both poison). But if the treatment works you live, so it's worth it, right? Hard to watch but even harder to go through.  Fortunately Marc is strong and I wouldn't be surprised if he comes out the other side of this even stronger.

So of course this year the focus is getting Marc back to health.  But I'm still getting out on running adventures as much as I’m able.

February: Hagg Mud Double -- 50K:  6:25  25K: 3:00  

To be honest, I never thought I'd run a race at Hagg Lake again.  But when I found out it was Karen, Teri and Laurie's last year as race directors I wanted to go out and support them and experience the double one more time.  Considering how wet, cold and muddy our spring turned out, it was a beautiful weekend with relatively dry trails.  I ran the double one other time back in 2014 and saw this weekend as a way to gauge my fitness now that I was on the downward slope of my 50's.  After the 50k I looked back at my 2014 results and saw that I ran about the same time as 2014 - 1 minute faster. So my goal for the 25k was to run at least 1 minute faster.  We'll it turned out that I ran it 20 minutes faster and almost broke 3 hours.  Not bad for an old gal!  This race was also great for seeing some old friends that I had lost touch with during the pandemic.  I also got to run the whole 2nd loop of the 50k with the illustrious Bushwacker and a lot of the 25k with Paula and Annie.

March: March Pacific Rim One Day 45 miles  

This race was a carry over from 2020.  I might not have registered for it otherwise but Pac Rim is always good for a long run.  Right before the start I spied my old running friend Bret who had signed up last minute.  We said a quick hi and I thought we'd be able to catch up on the loop.  Well the funny thing about the one mile loop at Pac Rim is that if someone is a similar pace and you end up on the other end of the loop, you might never see them.  During the first few hours I passed or was passed by various people I knew and we were able to say hi or even run/walk with each other for awhile to catch up.  But then I realized I had never seen Bret.  Finally when I was on one side of the lake I caught a glimpse of him on the other side of the lake.  I wondered if I should either speed up or slow down to catch him.  Next lap I saw that he was just a little behind where I had seen him on the last lap. So I decided to speed up.  It took me a few laps but I finally caught him.  His goal was to get to 20 miles and then walk it in for a 50k.  He was a few laps until his 20 mile (I was a lap or two ahead of him) but once he got to 20 he kept going with me.  We'd walk the corners and run the straights.  I hadn't seen Bret in person since before the pandemic started so it was fun to catch up and get in some good miles with a friend.

After Bret peeled off I continued on.  It was a pretty nice day despite some early rain showers and wind gusts.  Thanks to Bushwacker for saving our canopy! I had a loose goal of 50 or 60 miles.  But as the sun started to set I realized I wanted to get home to Marc before dark. So I finished up with 45 miles and headed home.

May: Smith Rock Ascent 15M 3:13  2nd in my age group  

This was going to be a family trip with Marc and Bart running the 4 Mile and me running the 15 Mile (I might've chosen the 50k but that was held on Saturday).  Once Marc received his diagnosis he dropped out but I hoped Bart and I could still go.  I had never run/hiked up Gray Butte but I had heard it was steep.  However I really wasn't expecting it to be THAT steep.  Ha!  I had so much fun bombing down the other side - I still have my downhill legs.  Without really any basis I had hoped to get closer and maybe beat 3 hours, but overall I'm pretty happy with my race.  The really fun part is Bart getting into trail running.  For now he likes the shorter stuff but I think he might try to bump up his distance one of these days.  He's run the 4 Mile twice before and was happy that he got a PR, but motivated to keep training and improving too.

Couldn't resist stopping to take a pic from the top of Gray Butte

June: Strawberry Fields 10k 1:01:26 

Before Marc's diagnosis I had registered for the Wy'east Wonder 50 Mile.  I've completed the 50k twice as well as a self-supported 50k there in 2020 when the race was cancelled.  The timing didn't work out well with Marc's treatment so I joined Bart for the 10k at Strawberry Fields held the same weekend.  Short races are so hard and painful. Waah!  But I did okay. Out of 42 finishers Bart came in 5th overall and I came in 10th overall and 3rd woman.  Second woman was 63 and also an ultrarunner too.  Let's hear it for the old gals!  I feel like I'm still holding my own at my advancing age.

Strawberry Fields pics by The Beast


This Sunday I'm running the Hellz Bellz Ultra, a 42 mile race up in Washington's Yacolt Burn State Forest and put on by Bivouac Racing.  The course is a lollipop up Bells Mountain trail and around the Tarbell Loop, skirting but not summiting Larch Mountain as well as Silver Star.  I've been on most of the course and (fingers crossed) the weather looks good for racing - not too hot or sunny. If I finish it will be my 69th ultra and my 99th of marathons and ultras combined.  I'm closing in on 100 total endurance races which is a fun milestone considering back in the day I thought maybe I'd run 10 marathons.

On the Tarbell Trail in 2021

On the Bells Mountain Trail in 2021

Monday, June 27, 2022

My 100 mile retirement race and other updates for 2019, 2020 and 2021

So much time seems to have passed since 2018 and it took looking back through my pictures to realize what an amazing year of adventures it was.  In racing I had both success and failure, but life in general was pretty good.

I thought that would carry over into 2019, but my body/brain felt otherwise.  I had agreed to pace a friend at Black Canyon 100k and was excited and ready for the trip.  But a few weeks prior to that, seemingly out of the blue, I started developing sciatica-like pain down my left leg.  I still made the trip to AZ and was able to crew a little bit, but I wasn't able to pace.  I have had a lot of  neuropathic "running injuries" over the years going back to 2008 when I pretty much stopped running for two years.  What I've learned after searching out many medical solutions, is that pain is very real, but it's often not actually based on a structural, physical problem.  For me, the times that pain has really slowed me down is when there are other stressors in my life. And I've come to learn that when I start getting a running niggle that doesn't seem to be related to anything I've done, it often resolves fairly quickly when I acknowledge the stress in my life and focus on how I'm feeling and dealing with that stress, instead of focusing on what might be wrong with my body.  Enough said about that but it took me most of 2019 to finally figure this out and for me to get back to running.

March: Pacific Rim One Day 13 miles - I was still in denial and this really should've been a DNS.  I struggled to finish a half marathon at a walk.

Between March and June I did a lot of walking and hiking and even walked a shorter race or two in the Gorge.  I had moments of feeling like running was coming back but it really didn't happen consistently until July into August.

June: Wyeast Wonder 50k 7:59. Another race that I probably shouldn't have run.  I gutted out a sub 8 hour finish but I was pretty miserable this whole race.

June: Sweep Old Cascadia 20 mile. Still in denial - this was the week after Wyeast and I was in a bad mood the whole time on one of my favorite trails.  I apologize to my fellow sweepers.

Hauling water for the Volcanic 50 in late July

After not being able to finish Old Cascadia 100M, I had come to the realization that tough, mountainous 100 milers weren't inspiring me or bringing joy.  I enjoyed being out in the mountains and wilderness, but pushing myself to achieve an arbitrary time requirement in this environment wasn't for me.  However, I still wanted another 100 mile finish.  And this time I decided the challenge would be to complete a 100 without crew or pacer.  So I had entered and made it into Mountain Lakes 100M.  But by mid summer I realized this race wasn't going to happen for me, so I dropped out.

September: Appletree Marathon 4:43  By August I was mostly pain-free and had registered for the new Portland Marathon. I decided to use this race as a long training run.  Totally reasonable to run a marathon to train for a marathon, right? It poured rain the whole time but I was pretty happy to be out there.

October:  Portland Marathon 4:29  I love the new Portland Marathon course (it goes within a mile of my house).  It was great to be out racing again and see friend running and cheering.

In November, Marc and I went on one my favorite mountain adventures ever to the Jefferson Wilderness. The trails were surprisingly snow free for mid-November and we saw very few people.  Sadly I think this area has since burned out and is currently still closed.

Just a bit of snow at the high point

December:  McDowell Mountain Frenzy 10M 1:50  Back to Arizona for this race and to visit my brother and his family.  My goal was go beat my time from 2018, which I did by about 5 minutes.  Aravaipa races never disappoint.

I had big plans for 2020.  My friend Jen had completed her own supported 100 mile on the PCT in September 2019 and I wanted to do something similar in September but make it more like a stage run over three days.  I was also on track to reach 100 combined marathons/ultras in 2020 and had my races lined up to complete this goal.

But of course we all know what happened in March of 2020 and most of my running plans had to change. After the stay at home orders went into place I stayed really close to home.  And I registered for some virtual races - partially to support race directors but also to stay motivated.  Some of the virtual races I completed were:

Aravaipa Strong
Dawn to Dusk to Dawn (I finished 60+ miles without ever going farther than a half mile from my house)
Go Beyond's Favorite Place Race
Great Virtual Race Across Tennessee (ugliest race shirt ever)
Go Beyond's Run the PCT (Oregon mileage)

And, I actually got to race and finish a real, live 100 mile race.  I call the 2020 Strawberry Fields race the little race that could.  The date and place just happened to fall into a sweet spot where the county opened up events to enough that this race could happen.   And I don't think we really knew until about a week or two beforehand.

June: Strawberry Fields 100M  26:24  The 100 mile distance here is 16 times a 6 mile loop at North Bonneville, WA right on the Columbia River.  I thought this would be a great race to do on my own, without a crew or pacer.  But my friends Dana and Jen offered to come out and pace me and I took them up on their offers.  Dana ran with me two laps from about 36 miles to 48 miles, I think.  And then I had a lap or two by myself again and Jen came out to run the last 40 miles with me.  

I've said this is my retirement 100 and so far I haven't been tempted to register and train for another one.  But maybe someday I'll change my mind.  The rest of 2020 I continued to get out in the local mountains and wilderness and we even found some new to us trails to explore.

In 2021 races were starting to come back.  I didn't really feel like racing but I had some race credit to use or lose so I signed up for Elijah Bristow 24 hour.  And then thought better of it and changed to the 12 hour.  Race day coincided with picking up Bart after graduating from the University of Oregon, so he volunteered at the aid station while I ran.

June: Elijah Bristow 12 Hour 53.84 2nd Woman, 4th Overall  I placed fairly well at this race but I expected to complete more miles so I was mildly disappointed.  I guess it was hot.  

Bart and I before the race started

The only other thing I have to say about 2021 is that I ran a lot. I could say this is despite little racing, but it's likely because there was little racing and the need to taper and recover.  I also retired from full time work in August so I had a lot more time run.  I ran 2586 miles in 2021, which averaged just under 50 miles per week.  I'm pretty sure this is the most miles I've ever run in a year.

Tuesday, June 21, 2022

2018: An Amazing Year of Trail Adventures

Spoiler: This turned out to be another year of highs and lows. But that's life, right? After recovering from the fracture I was anxious to get back to my quest to finish a mountain 100M. I chose the inaugural Old Cascadia 100 in September. I hadn't been aware that these trails existed so Marc and I went out for a few scouting runs (plus I went to the official preview run). These trails are amazing and count as my top 10, maybe even top 5 trails.  

Our first visit to the Old Cascadia trails in May

March: Pacific Rim One Day 33 miles  This was my first race back from my knee fracture so I kept my miles low.  I remember feeling really good this day.

Pre-race selfie with the Wildman

April: Whiskey Basin 31k  4:04 Traveled to Arizona to visit the family and do this race up on the Prescott Circle trail.  Love, love, love.  My brother ran the 10k.  I wanted to break 4 hours but didn't quite make it. Dream race is to go back and complete the full Prescott circle which is about 54 miles.

I love the high desert

My brother, Phil

June: Newport Marathon 4:09 I hadn't run a road marathon in forever but decided to go out and join Moe who is one of the only people to have run every Newport marathon.  I hadn't really trained for a fast race, but ended up beating my 9 year PR from back in 2007 at the Eugene Marathon.

June: Old Cascadia Preview Run  I wanted to get some more miles on the course so I woke up early on a Saturday and drove the 2.5 hours down to the race start/finish despite feeling under the weather.  They shuttled us to the Quarry and we ran the 20 mile course back to the start/finish.  It was overcast and we didn't get any views.  It even snowed a little but it was still an amazing day.  James Holk was filming to put together a short video to advertise the race.  He lost touch with the fast folks so us slower runners are featured.

June: Wyeast Wonder 50k  6:44  This was good enough for an age group award.  Not bad for two weeks after the Newport Marathon and a week after 20 miles on the Old Cascadia course

June: Hypnosis Night Run DNF  I wanted to redeem myself but I ran even less this time.  My heart and mind wasn't really into it.  Some day I'll go back and do this.  Perhaps even at the Coldwater races in January which are in the same mountain preserve.

July: Ochoco 50M  14:10 My race this day will forever be known as The Great Ochoco Famine.  I felt so slow and every step seemed so hard.  I never really found my groove.  I thought I wasn't going to make the last cutoff and dug deep to get there.  I'm not particularly fast but making cutoffs is not usually a problem for me.  After making that last cutoff I knew I just had to get to the finish however I could.  I slowed down even more and even sat down on a rock at one point.  By now I was extremely nauseous but forced myself to take in tiny bits of fuel.  I finally reached the last aid station that was at the top of a big climb and then there would be just 5 mostly downhill miles to go.  It was later in the evening and they had made broth and so I sat down to have some.  Oh man did that hit the spot.  I felt revived and was able to run, shuffle the rest of the way to the finish.  I was happy and relieved to be done but still not feeling that great so I declined the post-race meal.  And then back in Prineville I just crashed in our room without eating.  The next morning I woke up early and ravenous!  Marc wanted to keep sleeping but I was SO HUNGRY and I convinced him to come out with me in search of food.   The local diner was open and I ate a ginormous breakfast with the farmers.  And I was still hungry, but that definitely took the edge off.

I carried this elevation chart/aid station guide during the race

I may not have crushed the race, but I certainly crushed breakfast.

Later, while reflecting on the race I couldn't figure out why I was so slow. Was I getting old?  Did I forget how to train?  I talked with my friend Dana who is also an amazing ultrarunning coach.  She asked me a few questions and without missing a beat didn't eat.  And after reflecting on that for a moment I knew she was right.  I had let myself get way behind on nutrition early on and then I was never able to catch up.  And that's why we call that race The Great Ochoco Famine.  I'd like to go back and redeem myself but that particular race no longer exists.  Hopefully Alpine Running or someone else will bring it back.

July: Elkhorn Crest Marathon 6:58  I wanted to redeem myself and complete a legit marathon at this race after my DNF in 2017, so I headed back out to Eastern Oregon.  I'm happy with my time as this is a seriously difficult course.  I definitely earned my shower beer!

August: Three Fingered Jack Circumnavigation

I'm mostly just recapping my races, but looking through 2018 I'm reminded of all the trail adventures I went on, mainly with Marc or Jen.  My plan once I get up to date is to share more of our adventures here on the blog.  In August 2018 all three of us took a day trip to central Oregon to circumnavigate Three Fingered Jack.  It was the most perfectly amazing day.

August: Another Old Cascadia adventure  Marc, Dre and I went back out to the Old Cascadia trails to run the full loop part of the lollipop course.  It was hazy due to wildfire smoke but the views were still there.  With about 10 miles to go Marc decided he'd reached his limit so we left him in a spot that I knew how to get to, but the first road I took was actually blocked by boulders.  So we had to turn around and take another road. We finally found him and were worried that he'd been waiting so long and might have run out of food and water.  Turns out some people had driven by and gave him some water and half of their Subway sandwich.  It all worked out in the end, except we hit road work on the freeway and didn't get home until midnight.  It's all part of the adventure, right?

September: Backcountry Rise 20M 5:05  I earned some Daybreak Racing race credit for sweeping at Tillamook Burn earlier in the year and used it for a last long run before Old Cascadia.  I just love the Mt Margaret Backcounty and Mt. St Helens areas.

September: Old Cascadia 100M DNF but earned a 50M finish (15:48)  I felt really prepared for this race.  I'd trained with a lot of vert, more than I'd ever done and a lot of big miles.  I'd been on every section of the course. But man, these trails are stout.  I was just so much slower than I thought I would be which was pretty demoralizing.  The RD's subsequently moved this race to June, which I think is much better (snow level permitting) since there is much more light in the day.  We started in the light but finished the last climb in the dark which definitely slowed me down.  I don't think in my other 100 mile finishes it has been dark before 50 miles.  I felt okay but did the math and decided to stop after one loop of 50 miles.  I have so much respect for some of my fellow runners who kept going despite the probability they wouldn't make the cutoffs.  Also thankful to the RD's who gave me a 50 mile finish instead of a DNF.  Despite not reaching my goal I still love these trails and try to get out to them as much as I can.

At the start of Old Cascadia with my amazing crew Dre & Christina (Marc also crewed.)

October: Dupont Endurance Challenge 24 Hr 90 miles 1st place  I wanted redemption so registered for this 24 hour race up in Washington.  This race also had 48 and 72 hour options and you could start the 24 hour race on 3 separate days (Thursday, Friday, or Saturday.  I chose Friday so when I finished on Saturday another 24 hour race was starting and I wouldn't know my placing until that one finished.  I was really focused at this race and was able to park my car right on the course.  I used my car as my aid station and had all my bottles pre-made so I barely had to stop.  I can't remember the exact mileage of the course but I think it was about 3 or 4 miles and on rolling trail.  Sometime late evening my knee started hurting and I walked most of the night. I think if I could've run more I would have reached 100 miles.  Nevertheless I ended up winning this race.  The win was bittersweet since as soon as I got home I found out my Mom had just passed away in Arizona.  So this race will always be associated with that in my mind.

December: McDowell Mountain Frenzy 10M 1:55  Back in Arizona, my brother and I ran the McDowell Mountain Frenzy 10 mile race.  So much fun.  The Arizona sunrises never disappoint.

There were so many more adventures in 2018 that I could write about but this is getting long.  Revisiting my race results and pictures has been a wonderful reminder of what a great year it was.