Thursday, August 23, 2012

Transrockies: The North Face Bendites

Once again, Zach and I decided to team up and take on the 6-day, 120 mile GORE-TEX transrockies race across the Colorado rockies. Last year we tackled the race as an unprepared, undertrained duo not really sure what we were getting ourselves into. We ended up finishing third, but almost killed ourselves in the process. This year we were much more prepared and ready to get revenge. Turns out training and working together pays off! 

Celebrating the win!
We started the trip by flying into Denver and spending a few days with two of my best friends from high school. It was so nice to relax and have some fun before heading out to race. On Sunday afternoon we took the bus up to Buena Vista for the start of the race. Again, we had a couple days to relax and get used to the altitude since most of Transrockies is at or above 10,000ft! It was so much fun to see the town transform and become alive with energy as the runners started to arrive. Hundreds of runners filled the streets, shops, and restaurants in anticipation of the start of the race. 

Buena Vista, CO

This year there was a big crew from Bend, including Zach and I, Jeff and Katie Caba, Jeff Browning, Rod Bien, Max King, Mario Mendoza, and honorable mentions to Sean Meissner (past resident) and Jorge Maravilla (future resident :) It was so much fun to have such a great group of talented individuals and really puts Bend on the map as a mecca for runners!

Bend runners at the front 
Photo: Jonathan McLeod
One of my favorite things about Transrockies is the people. There are so many great people both racing and working at the event! I'm so sad to leave all my runner friends after a week of bonding! It's amazing how running instantly draws us to one another. After a week of running, laughing, and suffering together it's amazing how close everyone becomes. It's truly a special week and the last day is so bittersweet! 

Open Mixed Podium
Photo: Jonathan McLeod
Zach and I had a spectacular week! Each day we got a little bit stronger and increased our lead by a little more. Thanks to our patience (ok, Zach's patience not mine :) and some great competition we were able to push ourselves and throw down some fast times. Some really impressive performances by Dave James & Amy Lane (2nd place) and Geoff Reid & Amy Schneeberg (3rd) really made us work to earn the win. I was so impressed by both teams, both on and off the race course. Truly some great people!

Photo: Chris Hunter

 It was really cool to finish first this year, but the thing I will remember most from the week is all the fun I had. Each day the race course took us across some beautiful scenery up and down mountains with breathtaking views. At the end of the day it really didn't matter if you were first or last, just that you were out there taking it all in. I kept thinking to myself "how cool is it that you are running across the top of a mountain right now?" I would recommend transrockies to any runner looking for a fun adventure in the mountains or an opportunity to attend running camp for adults. I know I'll definitely be back :)
Photo: Chris Hunter
Finishing a great week of running!
Photo: Chris Hunter

Friday, August 10, 2012

Mt. Ashland Hill Climb

Climbing to the finish line
Ah, the Mt. Ashland Hill Climb. The race has kind of become a ritual for me each August. For the past 4 years I have traveled down with other nordic skiers to participate in the half marathon hill climb. The race itself is painful, and never gets any easier, but the experience is always great! We try to make a weekend out of it and do something fun on the Sunday after the race.

Each year I've run I've gotten a bit faster and come across the finish line first. This year I still finished first but was about a minute slower. Oh well, it was pretty hot out! Most people's times were quite a bit slower. I've been just shy of the record and thought maybe this was year I could crack Evelyn Dong's (a fellow XC Oregon nordic skier) time. No such luck. I was actually about a minute slower than last year. I blame the heat. Most runners were actually a bit slower this year too. Full results & story: Ashland Mail Tribune
Hal Koerner finishing

Runners making their way to the finish
So, those of you who know Zach know he is infamous for his 'adventures'. I can't count the number of times we've gone to do something and it's turn into some sort of epic sufferfest. Deep down I kind of like it though :) The day after the Ashland Hill Climb has always been some sort of 'adventure'. One year, we went on a bike ride to 'spin our legs out'. I guess I missed the memo that it was a 60 mile ride with a 15 mile hill climb in the middle and a sprint finish. I bonked. The next year we biked around Crater Lake, which if you've been there you know you are either biking 3 mph or 30 mph. There is no flat. I think we biked about 70 miles. This year may have topped all other adventures. We decided that it would be a good idea to run down after the race. Since we have TransRockies coming up soon Zach thought it would be a good idea to run the 13.3 miles back down to get used to running downhill. Somehow I thought it sounded like a good idea too. After running hard for 2 hours up to the top of Mt. Ashland, we turned around and started running back down. The beginning wasn't too bad since there was still aid stations set up near the top. After we got to mile 10, as in 10 miles to run back into town, the aid stations were closed. It was around that time that it started to get hot. I mean really hot. It was like we got hit by a wall of 100 degree heat as we descended into the valley. I ran out of water about halfway down. Somehow we made it back to the house AND in time to watch the men's olympic 10k on NBC. Success! If that wasn't enough craziness, the next morning we drove over to Oakridge to join some friends running the second half (30 miles) of the Where's Waldo 100k. It was an awesome run! There was a small group of us, including Meghan Arbogast and Kami Semick, who are two a my good friends. It took us a little under 6 hours to run and we finished right before a thunderstorm rolled in. Double success!

Top of Maiden Peak with Kami, Meghan, and Zach

I had to take a few days laying on the couch watching olympics to recover. Such a great race weekend, and just enough time to get recovered before TransRockies…stay tuned……