Fellow runners are distractions for Jodee Adams-Moore, pulling her away from the scenic beauty Whatcom County trails offer in such great abundance.
The 32-year-old Bellevue native prefers running along the uneven earthly surfaces in solitude, legs speckled with mud beneath a canopy of trees overhead.
It’s an experience plodding along alone with her own thoughts, she explained, competitors sometimes muddying the waters in that respect.
“I’ve never been the person who is running because they love racing,” she said in a phone interview. “It can be meditation when you get into a rhythm. I found the least you can have your mind being busy ... you can relax and just be this animal that moves through a trail or a mountain for half a day or close to sun up and sun down.”
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Races do not emphasize what she loves most about running, and yet she finds herself entering the 2014 Lake Padden Trail Half Marathon as a top contender to take home the women’s title, having already won the event in 2012 with a course-record time of 1 hour, 30 minutes and 45 seconds.
After not competing last year, Adams-Moore returns to a much different race than the one she participated in two years ago.
Or different in one major respect.
The 2014 Lake Padden Trail Half Marathon was selected as the U.S.A Track and Field Trail Half Marathon National Championships, offering a rare distinction to the winners.
The race is set to begin at 9 a.m., Saturday, Oct. 18, at the east entrance of Lake Padden Park. Pre-race orientation runs from 7-8:45 a.m. Online registration is now closed, with a day-of-race option available for a flat $100 fee. All registration fees are being donated to Rebound of Whatcom County, a local organization that helps “empower under-resourced families.”
Cash prizes are being awarded to the tune of $750 to the winners of the men’s and women’s open competition, $500 for second, $250 for third, $125 for fourth and $75 for fifth. Winners of the masters divisions will get $150 each.
“We have elite athletes, some Olympians, world champions in different venues,” Race Director Al Coyle said in a phone interview. “We have a wide range of runners that are coming from all over the country to try to capture their title at this distance in Bellingham.”
And yet it’s Adams-Moore, a woman who calls Bellingham home, that holds the fastest course time, a mantle many will try to relinquish her of come Saturday.
She’s not unfamiliar with the thralls of competition, an environment she once thrived in many years ago at Newport High School when she won the Class 3A state cross country championship in 2000. In doing so, she also helped Newport to its third straight team title, her time of 18:36 being the fastest 3.1-mile time in any classification that year.
In the three years prior to her state title, she had finished third, fifth and second, as reported by The Seattle Times.
“It was amazing. It was my biggest passion back then and my biggest goal,” she said. “It was big for me because I worked so hard. Definitely different — more intense a stage.”
Now 14 years removed from her win, she’s found running to be a more spiritual endeavor than physical.
With her unique mentality and running philosophy, Adams-Moore has since opted for longer-distanced races, such as 50Ks (31.06 miles) and 50-plus mile competitions. It allows for more isolation, although the mental and physical challenges of such grueling distances has proven a great test of her will.
She employs certain techniques that help her navigate the physical pain and the mental fatigue.
“It’s weird, but it’s kind of this idea of there’s not really a beginning or end to the race, or life. This existence, it’s a continuation of always going even when you’re halfway through,” she explained. “I could have just started the race or be at the finish — it doesn’t matter. ... There’s something about getting to that place that is really challenging mentally and physically, realizing you can be there and sustain that in a way that becomes part of the addiction.”
Her plan to avoid any congestion with fellow racers? Simple.
“Be fit enough to not having to hear a breath of another,” she said with a laugh.