April 14, 2015

Shotgun Trail Blast ~ 2nd race, 2nd win of 2015, and course record!?

After volunteering at the Shotgun Trail Blast  in 2013 I knew I would be back to run at least one of the race distances in beautiful Marcola, Oregon.

The year I volunteered I was unable to run due to plantar fasciitis; but it gave me a fair glimpse of what the trails were like while stationed at an aid table, serving gels, on a wooded muddy switchback.

This year, the 5k race worked into my schedule really well.

Pre- Race

As usual, I waited until the day of the race to register, but I arrived plenty early with enough time to cheer for a friend, Becky, who I met through Strava. She was racing the 50k... in an Oiselle wedding gown :)

I kept warm in the car until the last possible minute before turning on my Garmin and warming up for a few miles.

It's possible that I was the only nut warming up for a 5k trail race, but whatever. I'm getting used to being the dork doing drills while everyone else huddles in their long sleeves and capris.

Before the race I prayed that the Lord would help me to run to honor Him, and to keep me and others from getting injured during the race.

As is customary, the 50k started at 8 am. The 25k and 10k started at 9:45 and 9:50, with the 5k event at 10. The events share some of the same trails, with the 5k and 10k on the same loop, which the 10k racers did twice.

Start of the 5k. I am somewhere in here, but keep an eye on the boy on the right. He's quick!
Photo by Thomas Moser, used with permission

When the shotgun started the race, a few men took off right away and I fell in the back of their pack. There was a lot of testosterone surging around me. I wasn't worried about winning the first 50 yards; but, maybe it would have been a good strategy if I could have! I didn't anticipate how crowded the trail would get...

After a hundred yards of pavement, we took the singletrack trail, which was very narrow, and had plenty of rocks to navigate.

Hurry up and wait.

It didn't take long to run into the first 10k racers on the course, who were going at their own pace.

Like the other 5k runners, I tried to be polite about passing. On a narrow course like this, sometimes you can pass without much trouble, and sometimes there is nothing you can do except stop running until the person (or people) ahead of you are able to move over.

You can't scamper around anyone if there are trees edging the trail on both sides, and especially if there are 5 or 6 runners clustered together in a pace pack.

There was a steady 621 ft climb in the first 1.6 miles, which created one human log jam after another. I also noticed myself catching some of the men who started out ahead of me in the first sprint, which was reassuring that I was running strong.

Again, I tried to be polite, and apologized for forcing people over when there was room to pass. As I moved up on different groups of runners, they were usually kind to yield when they could. Usually.

Some of these 10k runners even offered support in the form of encouraging cheers and comments, which made me feel better about going around them and stomping the ferns out in the process.

Down we go!

By the time we hit the top of the climb, I was ready for some downhill. I knew my pace was crappy, but my heart was ready to burst running at 5k effort uphill for that long.

What pace was I running? 10 minute miles? 8 minutes? I had no idea. It felt like sub 6. It was definitely the best I could do. Honestly, I might have looked at my watch a few times in the whole race, but knew all I could do was run on effort.

After cresting the climb, we were rewarded with a fast downhill.
I do not run as well downhill as I would like. Technical trails, mud, turning and going all-out are very hard to do all at the same time.

The instinct to protect myself from a fall kicks in, and it's hard to negotiate fast running with caution. "Live to run another day" thoughts battle with "Faster, faster! Go catch that guy" thoughts.

I might have made a mistake by letting a man pass me on the downhill.

He yelped about turning his ankle, but I had no idea he was even behind me. When he passed, he took off as if uninjured and I saw him slip away.

If I hadn't let him by, would he have stayed contentedly behind me? I will never know!
Later he thanked me for pacing him up to that point...

Elevation profile courtesy of Strava
Short course? Or maybe my Garmin cropped the trail short. 

At the finish line I learned my overall time and average pace- which was officially 27:52 (8:59 pace). Horrendous for a 5k for me, if it were on the road!! But, I was quite satisfied with the placement of first female and 6th overall.

Later I learned by email that it was a new course record for women (previous record 31:59), and that 14 year-old Jed Wasson earned a course record for the men with a blazing 22:33.

My prize for finishing first female? A medal, 20$ comp towards another race, and very nice Level 32 Racing T shirt.

Of course I stuck around for food, which was catered by Chapala mexican restaurant and a Eugene brewery (I don't drink, so I had some water). Also, there was a nice assortment of fresh fruit including strawberries, which I made sure to get my share of- plus a few for Becky. (Sorry I forgot to give them to you, Becky)

Would I recommend this race?

  • Yes! Be aware of what to expect. It's not a PR course-- this is trail running! It is a challenging, rewarding run with a fast (easy on the lungs, but technical for the feet) finish. 


  • Enjoy the surroundings. Get there early and take a nice warm up run in the forest on the roads. It is beautiful at Shotgun Creek, and I am looking forward to returning there just to camp and hike around. Level 32 puts on some fun races and is accurate with timing and always makes sure there's plenty of post race raffle prizes and food.
  • Work on your hill running! 
Some thoughts regarding short trail races and on course records.

It seems a lot of runners don't think the 5k is worth registering for, that it is too "easy" or only for beginners. I love how quickly I can recover from a 5k, and that I get a super interval-intensity workout from it. 
Also, I know this course record looks pretty soft!!  I was the first woman to break 30 minutes in the 4th year of this race. I would love for someone to come and beat it so I can try to steal it back! ☺

March 11, 2015

Salmon River Trail

I really don't need any excuse to go trail running, but sometimes it helps to have one readily available before you try to make a three hour trip to run with friends in a non-race situation.

Heck. I don't even get to drive three hours to race usually!

But I won't complain, because I have some pretty awesome runs right out my front door. ☺

Conveniently, a lady runner I had met via blogs had a birthday and needed help celebrating.
Cake is not a bad idea, but we opted for a trip to the Salmon River trail instead, at our mutual friend Jodi's suggestion.

Devon turned thirty-five, so the decision was made that we would NOT run 35 miles each. We split it 4 way.. and with some some shaky running math, came up with almost 9 miles each to run.

As we set off from the Safeway parking lot to ride share our way to the trail head, things looked a little sketchy weather-wise: Pouring rain. Luckily, we were dressed for the occasion- at least Carissa was.

Still, given the choice, I think all of us would rather get soaked for 9 miles in lush forests, cracking jokes and taking photos, than stare at a digital clock on a treadmill.

From the onset, the trail was in great condition. Trees were decorated with lush mosses. Water was roaring down creeks and into the main river.

There were foot bridges.

And switchbacks.

And rocky vantage points where you could stare down into a river valley that seemed to go forever.


The only thing missing was snow, which I think is supposed to be somewhere around there this time of year. ?

We made more than a few stops to take silly photos, with what can only be described as a cliff leading to instant death behind us.
Photo By Jodi Stilp

 The birthday girl gave us all some helpful pointers on taking good jumping pictures.
Yet another striking photo by Jodi Stilp :)
Then we made our way back down the trail toward the parking lot, where a dry vehicle awaited us, dreaming of french fries.

Somehow we managed to scramble in (halfway clothed and smelling like roses) just as the sky tore open with buckets of rain that had held off for our run.

I kind of wish I could do it all again tomorrow.

Photo by Jodi Stilp

After this run I realize that I don't have the corner on spectacular trails here in Oregon. They are everywhere in this state! I am so blessed when I get to share them with good friends.


Would you rather race with a friend, or go do an easy run with a group?

Do you ever have food fantasies while running?

February 9, 2015

Bristow Trail Run ~ First race of 2015

I had some fun this weekend at a local race! 

My dad and husband were kind enough to shuffle the boys to their basketball games and practices so I could race in Dexter, OR, for the first time since September

January 15, 2015


You might have noticed (if you're reading the desktop version) that a certain "Ambassador" label is missing from my site. 

After sporting a few different brands of footwear over the last 3 years, this year I chose not to apply for shoe sponsorship.

January 1, 2015

NYE Run ~ The Trail I Was Bound to Find

On New Year's eve we had some beautiful (but cold for here), weather. It only made sense to make the most of it, so I took my dog (I dog-share with my inlaws. It's complicated.), to a logging road I only recently discovered was any good for running.

December 27, 2014

Nothing says "Merry Christmas" and "Happy New Year" like...

Kittens and Free Gear!?

Well.. maybe your answer was different. But, you have to admit, there's something special about a combo like that!

I hope your Christmas has been exceptionally full of joy. Ours has been!

We decided this year to fulfill our children's most desired material wish by bringing home (not one, but TWO) kittens.

Our ancient kitty passed away in October after having a seizure. She was 15 years old, and we knew it would happen some day. None of us realized just how big a hole she would leave in our family.

December 17, 2014

Tuvizo Reflective Vest Review

Safety is something all runners should think about. There are perils that come with running, whether you frequent the trails or stick to the pavement. 

I like excitement, but I also like to think that my last run isn't going to end because someone just didn't see me!

For years now, I have been running with the aim to be visible. My first running vest

December 4, 2014

Running when you are sick. TELL ME THE TRUTH!

This is NOT a bragging post. 

Garmin data reveals I have a hard time keeping under 140 average heart rate (my target for easy runs), especially with a cold.

Somehow the body knows, and any little jog seems to send my heart rate UP.

I try really hard to behave.

I do

November 23, 2014

Over the Hill

Well, I guess it's all downhill from here, folks!

I hit the big 4 - 0 a few days ago.  

In running, that elevates me to "Master" status (which means I now might have twice as much luck bringing home a prize from the local 5k/10k with 40 people registered, but

November 16, 2014

Getting back on the horse isn't that bad!

I was a little nervous about starting back into running after this layoff. Each time I take some time off for an injury, I find myself a bit fearful that I will jump back in too soon or too hard.

I did very little cardio during my 6 weeks off. Although I did get out on the bike a bit, my main focus was on hitting the gym and getting consistent with some strengthening and body balancing. 

Something new I have added into my strength routine (which was very inconsistent over the summer) is