2010 was the year of the 50 miler for me: American River, Capitol Peak, White River, and JFK. In 2011, my focus shifted to the 100k. The highlight of the year was definitely the 100k World Championships in the Netherlands. Even though I didn't score for the team, it was an honor to represent the US and to call so many great runners my teammates. And I got a lot of great experience on a big stage; I can't wait to put it all to use in Italy this April!
Here's my quick race summary for the year:
Jan 8: USATF National Trail Championships in Bandera, TX, 2nd place. For the second year in a row, I went under the previous course record (10:33)but didn't win. Liza Howard was just too nimble on her rocky hometown course, running 9:35 for the win. My 9:46 was a 50 minute improvement over 2010 and a sign of good things to come.
Feb 19: Hagg Lake 50k, 4:22, 1st. Had a great run and became the first repeat winner for the 50k on the women's side. This was definitely a MUD year and it slowed the course down quite a bit. I was 4 minutes slower than 2010 and a far cry from Joelle Vaught's stout 4:10 CR.
March 12: Gorge Waterfalls 50k in the Columbia River Gorge, 4:49, 1st female. This inaugural race was tougher than I expected with some good rocky footing and a few good long climbs. The website currently lists the course with 6700' gain but that was definitely NOT advertised ahead of time! Special bonus for winning a first time event: automatic course record - woohoo!
April 9: USATF 100k National Road Championships at Mad City, Madison, WI. 7:53:17, 2nd place. Again under the previous course record (8:00:52) but no win. But it still felt like a HUGE victory as I earned my spot on the US team with this one! This was my number one goal for 2011 and I was psyched to accomplish it!
May 7: Miwok 100k, 9:39:57, 1st. I was a little skeptical about this one, coming just four weeks after Mad City and with almost NO trail time on my feet for training, but race day, I just felt good and ran particularly well from about mile 25-50. I still had a huge grin at mile 54, but the last 6 were run on pure determination and fumes!
June 25: Western States 100, 20:40, 10th. Eked out another top 10, but I was really hoping to go sub-20 on this one. I know I am a "slow" learner - one of those people who have to chew things over before it sinks in, and well, I guess I still have some mental masticating to do at this distance. On the bright side, I was 50 minutes faster than 2010 and nowhere near as physically destroyed.
September 10: Run Winschoten 100k World Championships, 8:16:45, 16th. I struggled with GI issues and just didn't have the race I wanted to have. But the experience was incredible! So much support and energy for ultra runners - what a different scene than any ultra in the US. I absolutely loved sharing the roads with people from all over the world with ultra-running as our common bond. The women's team took home the silver and we celebrated the US men's gold medal efforts! Way to go Team USA!
September 24: USATF 50k National Trail Championships, 4:41:15, 3rd. I entered this on a total lark because I was enticed by the idea of running near Mt. Bachelor on a beautiful sunny day. The weather and the course did not disappoint, but I just wasn't recovered enough from the world championships and I felt like I was missing a gear on the climbs. Still the $200 prize money covered the cost of the trip and it was a great day on the trails.
October 10: The Good Life Victoria Half Marathon, 1:25:06. The only goal was to meet the 1:26 "elite" standard for CIM. Mission accomplished.
October 29: Autumn Leaves 50k, 3:46, 1st, CR. This run was more about rocking a costume and winning a friendly bet with my husband, but I felt great all day and surprised myself by running that fast on untapered legs.
November 20: EWEB Run to Stay Warm 10k, 37:20, 1st. Who says ultra runners can't be fast? This was a tune-up for the marathon and a confidence booster that all the tempo and track miles were paying off.
November 24: Springfield Turkey Trot, 41:52. Ok, this wasn't really a race for me, but still another huge running highlight for 2011. My six year old daughter Megan rocked her first 5k and some awesome Christmas socks and the whole family was there to share it with her.
December 3: California International Marathon, 2:55:48. This race was far from perfect, but still cleared the 3 hour barrier by a comfortable margin. I stand by my claim that marathons are way harder than 50k's. But despite my best efforts to spread the word, Salem runners aren't giving up the marathon for ultras. I guess they are tougher than I am! Well, they still make for great training partners. I am super thankful for the three awesome ladies who were training alongside me day in and day out for this one, and for so many other runners that I was able to share some miles with during the year.
Well, that's a wrap for 2011 and my 518 miles of racing. Besides the racing, I worked aid stations at two ultras, went on an epic running trip to Bryce/Zion and paced Aliza Lapierre as she threw down a smoking fast 10:33 at the Waldo 100k. All in all a great year and a lot of fun times.
In addition to my training partners, I owe a lot to family for these accomplishments. Mac puts up with more insanity than he should have to bear. He is super supportive and has really learned how to control his eye rolling when I add new races to the schedule. ;) My parents were a huge help at Western States and CIM, and Mac's mom parented our kids for twelve days when we were in Holland. She did such a good job, Liam now repeatedly tells me that Mamaw is his favorite parent!
Happy New Year! I am looking forward to many more miles in 2012!