Guten Tag Salty Runners! Ever since young-me wrote feverishly within a hardback journal on the pink quilt of my farm home, I’ve navigated internal intricacies and all those existential questions best on paper. I’m thankful and thrilled to connect with all of you on the Salty Running platform!
The farm held the usual – ducks, chickens, dogs – but my mother, a saint of a veterinarian, brought home the homeless. Thus, we also had turtles, rabbits, parrots, crows, and 27 cats. We bottle-fed motherless kittens, transported opossums, and had a capacious cemetery.
Living in the country meant long walks to bus stops and with a mother who could run a sub-5:00 mile and a 6’3” basketball playing father, it’s likely that nature nurtured my running. I was a very sentimental and emotional child; running allowed me to explore these emotions with aim. With running came lessons in individuality as well as teamwork, work ethic, respect, humility. There were turkey trots, popsicle runs, middle school track and field, a competitive high school cross country and track program (I was a hurdler), where my team took first at state several years running. Approaching college, I wanted to experience life outside of Home, and helped start the first women’s cross country program at Concordia – Portland; after a year there, I moved back home to compete on Western Washington University’s teams.
During my senior year of college, I began to understand my potential under the guidance of Erik Bies who is now a Doctor of Physical Therapy in Seattle. I’d run anything from the 800 to the 10k, but we focused on the distance medley relay, the 3000m steeplechase and the 1500 (the DMR was my favorite). I ended up making it to D2 Nationals in 2010 for the 1500 and the steeplechase. At the D2 Nationals level, there are prelims, so to better the odds we focused on the steeplechase alone. I made it into the finals, ran a PB, and took ninth, feeling immense fire and gratitude.
I realized that I both feel and do better when training or racing is set to honor something outside of myself. I loved running under a coach who really cared about cultivating potential, about an athlete’s evolution, and I did well under that guidance. What really challenged me was finding out who I was without it.
After I graduated college in 2010, I moved to Boulder with a lover, and lived there for 3 years. I held three jobs and suffered from pretty severe depression. Though I’d run here and there, often in the mountains with the training partners of 1970’s Olympians and record holders, something I was thankful for, but still I didn’t feel ready to focus in on my own journey.
When the relationship with my lover ended and I drove the 1,000 miles home, I couldn’t get out of bed for a few months. I’d try to run, make it a mile out, and emotionally exhausted, would have to walk back. Somehow, these strung into a training regime of 30 mile per week. A friend suggested I run a marathon to try to post a time for the 2014 Boston Marathon in honor of 2013, and so with that 30 miles per week, I did. I finished in 3:02:42. It was the first time I’d felt mentally, emotionally, and physically re-energized in a long time. It was likely because I had physically exerted myself to the point of not being able to think, and tapped into that long-depleted well of adrenaline and endorphins.
I signed up for the Boston Marathon, and from there forward I raced about three marathons a year, etching out more specific goals until the most recent one: the 2016 Olympic Trials. I got closer with each marathon: 3:02, 2:52, 2:46, finishing at the 2015 CIM with 2:45:28, where a few days later, the USATF changed the qualifier from 2:43:00 to 2:45:00. Shortly thereafter I was offered my first sponsorship as a Saucony Hurricane.
In 2013 some friends and I started a competitive running club in Bellingham, Washington for post-collegiate female runners, called the Bellingham Distance Project. Currently, there are 11 women on the team all working toward major championships, national platforms, the olympic trials, in track, road racing, and ultras.
2016 is a year for growth (as it forever will be), during which I will remain healthy, and work on shorter distances, including, hopefully, one epic beer mile, until the new Olympic Trials Marathon standards are released in 2017.
Do you feel like running is in your DNA?