Have you ever wondered how to restart a passion that was lost? That was me, fall of 2018. I was a runner. I ran cross country in high school. I ran several marathons in my 30’s improving my time with each race to the point that I missed qualifying for Boston by 2 minutes. My last marathon was in 2012. After that my run community began to change as friends had babies, different interests and the business of life took over. I slowly stopped running until I realized I was on the walk/run plan to barely get through 3 miles in September 2018. Here I was with a renewed passion to run but lacking the community, ability, and confidence.
I decided to find a new run community but where do I start? As one does, I did a Google search and combed through many Meet Up groups until I found the Portland Women’s Run Club (PWRC). This was an all women’s inclusive group that was a mix of runners and walkers who meet at the tram each Monday evening. My first meet up was in September at the bottom of the tram on the waterfront. I was nervous during the tram ride down. I felt vulnerable. Would I be accepted? Could I keep up? Is this group really inclusive? I was surprised at the turnout of women who were laughing, happily greeting one another, and excited to spend the next hour not only running but building bonds of friendships. This wasn’t just a run group.
I ran a couple more times with this group before it disbanded for the winter. This pack of women proved to be some of the most amazing, fun women I have met. Sai and Carmella decided to take the trails in Forest Park on Saturdays inviting those who wanted to join. This organization is no longer officially PWRC and I don’t know that it has ever been given an official name. This really lit the fire as I have spent many miles running Wildwood over the years. Forest Park was my sanctuary. I have laughed, cried, and made life decisions running the trails. I also have dreamt of grand trail runs, completing E2E, and finishing a 50k. My friend Theo and I had been scouring websites searching for the perfect first 50k. I had settled on Mt Hood 50k based on my love for the trails around Timothy Lake and low elevation gain. Mt Hood 50k ultimately became my 2nd 50k finish in 2019.
During our group runs, I met Linda, my first female ultra-marathoner friend. She gave me the quiet confidence that I could complete an ultra-marathon. I finished Smith Rock 50k in May 2019 with Linda and Sai (her first) who was all smiles as she crossed the finish line. I will say Smith Rock hurt. A lot! I met Allison, my friend who is down for any Northwest Dirt Churner weekend adventures and Scottie who can ring a cow bell-like no other at an aid station! This is just a small sample of the amazing women I have met.
As I became more comfortable in the trail running community, I was introduced to the joy of volunteering through Northwest Dirt Churners. If you’ve never volunteered, I highly recommend it. It is so delightful to help trail runners achieve their goals. Volunteering is where I began to understand what the trail running community was about, how intertwined and supportive everyone was. I’ve volunteered for Go Beyond, Northwest Trail Runs, Daybreak Racing, and Rain Shadow Running events. Volunteering is also a wonderful way to meet the race directors, other lovers of the trail and to scout out courses I may want to run.
I was then introduced to another run group on Tuesday nights called Trail Factor. This was a trail running. Wow! This co-ed of amazing, fast-paced trail runners were well, fast, but supportive with a no-drop run that cheers beers and snacks at Lucky Lab after. My friends and I ran with Trail Factor a couple of times deciding that this pace and skill set was #goals. We enjoyed the Tuesday night runs and opted to expand our run club to Tuesday. We love crossing paths with Trail Factor and sharing a friendly hello on the trail and sometimes even a beer at Lucky Lab after. I’ve met many on the trails and am thankful for the stories, pains, and food shared while churning dirt.
Our no-name trail run club or “not normal ladies” as Deepa’s son affectionately named us, has turned into more than just a Saturday and Tuesday trail runs. It has become a community of support for social and trail running goals. We’ve biked around Crater Lake, camped, celebrated life events, trail adventures and anything else these gals are up for. What started as a small group is now 26 women strong and growing, all organized over WhatsApp that allows us to add new friends as we meet them.
Our next big group adventure is the Smith Rock Ascent by Go Beyond Racing in May 2020. Several of us will be running either the 50k, the 15-mile race and/or volunteering for the race.
A lot of my doubts about running was imbedded in no being fast enough or looking like a “runner”. I was wrong. The community of trail running has shown me that I’m more than a pace or size. My fears were not about running but not having the strength to believe in myself.
2019 Trail Running Finishes:
Hagg Mud 25k
Peterson Ridge 20m
Smith Rock 50k
Mt Hood 50k
Elks King 25k
Wildwood Trail E2E X 2
2020 Trail Races:
Tillamook Burn 50k
Smith Rock 15 miler
Mt Hood 50 (#3 waitlist)