Tuesday, August 28, 2012


(Trying out paddle boarding)
            It has been awhile since my last update. Mainly because I am taking a lot of down time so running wise I have not been up to much as of late. July 20th was my last race of the outdoor season. I then proceeded to take a couple weeks of zero running and no “cross training.” I played a lot, doing things like jumping off diving boards, wake boarding, attempting to play tennis, softball, etc. but I did not schedule any “exercise” sessions throughout my day. My goal was to get my right Achilles and left knee feeling pain free before starting to train again.
(Awesome tennis group)
            After a couple weeks rest I started to do some spinning and swimming along with some really light easy running. I noticed the pain in my Achilles and knee were still there. It would go away during my run but I did not like the fact that the nagging pains were still with me.
            I could run through the discomfort but since it is another 4 years until the next Olympic Trials I am playing it safe right now. I went to Neil Chasan, my PT at Sports Reaction Center on Wednesday August 22nd to get the injuries diagnosed. I had started running again the week before and after leaving SRC was back to no running. My left knee has Chondromalasia, which basically means I am having a tracking issue in my knee that is causing my patella to grind against my femur. This is causing a lot of pain in my knee. It is also causing a softening of my patella. Long term this is not good but as of right now I have not done anything irreversible to the knee.
            I was born with extremely flat feet and extra bones in my ankles so some of these issues are due to my bio mechanics. I have some exercises that I can do to help with my alignment and Orthotics I should be wearing. I have gone back and forth from using Orthotics and not and using motion control shoes and not. After experimenting over the years I have discovered that I have some issues that cannot be fixed by getting stronger. My feet are the way they are. Each time my foot hits the ground I have extra stretch on my Achilles and if you travel up my leg it also causes extra stress on my knee by pulling it different ways.
            I am not usually an advocate of huge motion control shoes or Orthotics but there are definitely certain situations that warrant the use of them. I run a lot so the amount of times my feet strike the ground adds up.  If I can toe the line without pain running in the heavier shoes will be worth it!
(My summer of burgers)
            So now I am looking at another few weeks of rest and cross training. I have been struggling with the whole cross training part. If I am not running it is hard for me to get into the gym, pool or lake to cross train. I guess I am lazy when it comes to that. Plus it’s the summer and I am easily distracted by other things, bar-b-q? Be right over! Wake boarding? Yeah that counts as cross training! I also have been trying to re-evaluate things in my life and figure out the next logical step for Levi and me.
(Hanging on the boat with Sasha)
             It isn't always easy for me to be patient especially when I hear about a competition happening nearly every weekend near me. I do have small doubts creep into my mind as to whether or not I will ever get back to where I was or if I will ever be able to "get fit" again. But I have the support and logic of those around me to keep me sane. I also think back to 2008 when I had a major surgery and struggled to walk a mile for nearly a month and I came back and had the best outdoor season of my life up to that point.
              Life is an adventure and right now I am o.k. with taking it a day at a time and not stressing about my so called “missed training.” If anything this will help me be ready to survive the next four years both mentally and physically in the sport I love and be able to take successes, failures, and focus shifts without going crazy.
(Wake boarding on Lake Washington)

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

My Evolution in the Montana Mile

(2012 Big Sky State Games Montana Mile Defending my title for the 6th consecutive year)

            A hot summer day in July of 1994, a young girl pushes herself in the sweltering heat to the finish of the Big Sky State Games of Montana 5k. The course is pretty simple. Go past Pioneer Park and up the hill. Take a left. Then run to the cone, turn around and head back, taking a right into Daylis Stadium and finish the last 300m on the track. She knew she was getting closer to the turn around as more runners came past on the opposite side. As the runners passed she mimicked the best running form she knew and pushed a little harder though she did not want to. She was waiting to see her dad, brothers, sister, and mom, run by and did not want to appear as though she was slacking. That little girl was me. Years ago the hill felt so big, the run so long.
            After the race I would go to the hospitality tent and grab whatever goodies looked good. My parents would make me eat something healthy like a piece of fruit but my hands were always full of whatever sweets were on hand, licorice, gummy bears, etc. My younger brother John and I would fill our hands then head to the stands to watch the opening ceremonies.
            Each year consisted of different acts but a few things were constant, the parade of athletes, an Olympic speaker, the lighting of the torch, fireworks, and the Montana Mile. In the beginning there was just a men’s race but it didn’t take long for the women’s race to be added. I would sit with my family and watch in awe at the fast Montana Milers racing around the track. From the first time we watched the Montana Mile John was set on racing it and couldn’t wait for the day when he was invited to do it. I was a little more sheepish. I thought the runners were amazing but were in a completely different league than me. I did not know if I could ever compete in something like the Montana Mile.
(2005 Montana Mile)
(2006 MT Mile 2nd place)
            Then in 2005 the invitation came. I had just started college and had already come a long ways since my 5k road racing days in the early 1990’s. I was maturing as a woman and runner. I remember talking to my dad asking him if he thought I should do it, and could I even compete? Without any hesitation he gave me the encouragement to do the race. I was very nervous but sent in my acceptance form and got ready to race. The race seemed so big, so competitive. I felt like a little fish in a big pond. I can’t remember where I finished that first year, top 5 I think? But I loved the competition. I was not afraid to put myself out there even if that meant I lost. I already wanted to come back the next year. My second year of running the race I was 2nd. My time was around 5:17. And for the last 6 years I have been the Montana Mile Champion.
            There have been some memorable moments like in 2007 when my younger brother John and I had the sibling sweep, winning the men’s and women’s race. In 2010 when a minute before the start my hamstring cramped up (remember it is always hot there, in the upper 90s) and I managed to block out the pain and break the previous Montana Mile Record by running a 4:59. Then in 2011 I broke my own record and ran a 4:53 which brings me to this year.
(2007 The year of the Sibling Sweep)
(2007 John and I sweep the mile)

            This year presented its own set of challenges for me. I raced at the Olympic Trials at the end of June. Then the next weekend headed to Omaha, NE for Club Nationals where I raced four different distance events (3k steeple, 1500m, 5000m, and 1200m) in very hot conditions. When I finished racing at the Trials my body and mind were screaming at me for a break but I needed to continue another month until my final race of the season at the Big Sky State Games. I love the Montana Mile and with the help of race organizers I was going to be able to make the trip from Seattle to Montana to compete. The weekend after Club Nationals John and his girlfriend Jane were involved in a mountaineering accident. God was definitely with the two that day as the situation could have been life threatening. John suffered an injured patella while Jane suffered a broken clavicle, scapula, ribs, and ankle and had to have surgery to set some of the bones in place. Both will have a 100% recovery.
            It was a very exhausting month. I headed to Montana early since my sister lives in Billings, MT and it would be nice to spend some time with her. I relaxed at her house and tried to get used to running in the heat (I don’t think I adapted, lol). We went wedding dress shopping and she took me to the venue where she will get married in 2013. Before I knew it Friday was upon me and I found myself warming up for my 8th Montana Mile.
            The race went off without a hitch and I took the lead from the gun. I was going to try and see if I had another record performance in me but I could tell that my body was not feeling quite as good as in the past. I won with a 4:58 and was pleased to have defended my title for the 6th straight year. The people at the event are what make it so special. A lot of them have watched me go from that little girl pushing herself to finish the 5k wondering if she could ever get fast enough to race the Montana Mile to her 6th consecutive win in the event. 
(2012 MT Mile)
(Breaking the tape in 2012)



                   When the race is over the highlight of my night comes from the kids who shyly come up to me asking for a picture, advice or even an autograph. It makes me smile because they remind me of me. Getting asked for an autograph used to make me feel awkward, knowing that the autograph is not “worth” much in the track and field world when you compare me to distance running legends but over the years I have learned this does not matter especially in the eyes of a child. For a night I can serve as a hero to some young child, much like the racers before me did for me. The people who raced before me served as inspiration, a goal that I could shoot for, and without them I would not be the runner I am today. Many of the kids I talk to are competing in the Games themselves and I love to find out what event they will do or have done. Their eyes brighten and they enthusiastically tell me about their accomplishments and how someday they want to be fast like me. I smile. The games are not about one individual performance. They are about this; the smiles, the feelings of accomplishment, the journey, the dreams. People of all ages pushing themselves to accomplish their goals, all in the spirit of fair competition.  

Kulr8 Report:

Billings Gazette Post Race Interview: 

Pre-race report: Casey out; Ricardi Keller guns for sixth Montana Mile Crown
Post race report: Ricardi Keller wins record 6th Montana Mile title