Swimmer, ultra runner, wife and mother of three

What is your sport and why do you love it? 

I’m both a swimmer and an ultra runner. For swimming there is this wonderful feeling that comes with being so comfortable in the water, be it in the swimming pool or in open water. I’m in my head either keeping track of my distance, speed, and technique, or soaking up the feelings and sights of a lake, river, or ocean. 

For running, I absolutely love the trails. The difference between running in a forest, desert, beach, or mountain always brings this sense of freedom and joy, even as I get tired. I love challenging myself and testing how far I’m able to go, which is why I’m drawn to ultra distances. 

Tell me about your athletic history?

I started swimming competitively at the age of 10 in Costa Rica, and continued to participate in swim meets all the way into my 30’s with the Corvallis Aquatic Team. Although I no longer swim competitively, I continue to train 3 times per week. During the last 8 years or so, I’ve taken up trail and ultra running, and sign up for races every year. The longest race I’ve done so far was a 100 miler in 2018, and am currently training for a 50k, 100k, and second 100 miler for this year. I also enjoy backpacking and hiking with my family

List your top 5 athletic achievements so far in your life:

2018 I finished the Mountain Lakes 100 Miler in 29 hours 10 minutes. So far my longest race.

2017 I ran Peterson Ridge Rumble 40 Miler as a celebration for my 40th birthday

2016 I ran my first ultra distance during McDonald Forest 50K

2011 I swam in the United States Masters Spring Nationals in Mesa, Arizona placing 7th on my age group for the 500 Yard Freestyle

2009 Participated in the USMS National Short Course Championship in Clovis, California, placing 6th on the 200 Yard Medley Relay

2008 Participated in the USMS National Long Course Championship in Portland, Oregon, placing 8th in the 50 Meter Fly

Who inspires or has inspired you?

As a child, my inspiration was the swimmer Silvia Poll. She was the first Costa Rican to medal at the 1988 Seoul, South Korea Olympics and that was a huge deal for young swimmers in our country. 

Nowadays I’m more inspired by friends in my local swimming and trail running communities. These are people of all ages, that make things like running a 100 miles in one go seem like a perfectly normal thing. They all lift and support each other in ways I find wonderful, and I’m lucky to know them.

Why did you want to participate in this Female Athlete Project?

The project sounds very fun, and I believe that representation matters. If I can inspire or encourage anyone to go for it and become active, sign up for that race, or complete that personal challenge, then why not?

Why do you think it is important to keep active as we age?

To me, being active represents freedom. As long as I can move my body, I know that I will not be prevented from going on a backpacking trip with my kids when the mood strikes, or to sign up to run a challenging race course, or join my friends on a river swim just for fun. To me being active is how I can always be ready for any adventure life throws at me.

What obstacles have you faced over the years trying to stay active in your sport/compete in your sport?

As a kid I took for granted my routine of school, swim practice, and swim meets, it took me a while to realize how much my parents worked to make it possible. As an adult, having to go to school and get a job meant that swimming had to be prioritized differently. I had to pay for my coaching, and swim meets, as well as take the time to go to practice early in the morning before work and school. Once I had my first baby, I was so sleep deprived and tired that I quit for a few years. Not staying active took a toll on my health and led to a difficult second pregnancy. This brought home to me how important it was for me to go back to practice so I made myself get up at 5 in the morning so that I could be home before my husband went to work. We tag teamed so the kids would always have one of us home. As the kids got older I started participating in swim meets again, and averaged about a race per month. I nursed my babies in between races, and my husband would be with them while I swam. As I later took up running, I’ve been very lucky to have a very supportive family. They give me the time to train, sometimes for very long hours on the weekends, and have been there to crew for me on my bigger races. The kids are now teenagers, and occasionally will go running with me as well. It’s very much a team effort.

What would you tell the younger version of yourself?

I would tell myself to own what I had been able to achieve. It took me years to fight off impostor syndrome and call myself an athlete. I remember having to force myself to call myself a runner after running multiple ultras and finishing my first 100 miler. It seems absurd that despite all the hours of training and discipline, all the races, medals, and ribbons, I still wondered if I belonged there, especially with running since I took that up later in life. I would tell myself to stop worrying about whether I was good enough to belong, and just enjoy the fruits of my training.

What keeps you going?

My love for both sports. I love the feeling of tiredness after a good training session, and the feeling of accomplishment after a race. I enjoy training blocks, and after the off season I can’t wait to sign up for another challenge so I can train again. And most of all I love the challenge of finishing these crazy distances in these gorgeous places, not knowing if I can do them, but trying anyway. 

Advice to other women about staying active as we age?

“Life begins at the end of your comfort zone” -Neale Donald Walsch

Being uncomfortable once in a while is good for everyone. Yes, it takes work, and time, and sacrifice, but it’s so worth it. The human body is a wonderful thing, and if you take care of it, it can do amazing things with it at any age. It’s never too late to start.

Best memories in your sport?

So many! But if I had to pick one, I’d pick finishing Mountain Lakes 100. It took me 29 hours and 10 minutes to finish that beast. I remember the gorgeous Fall colors and the sights, the camaraderie of all runners making their way from aid station to aid station, seeing my family at mile 55 as I picked up my amazing pacers for the night portion of the race, and finishing in pain but elated to have made the cutoffs. In my sports, swimming and running, what makes the best memories are the community of people that make up both. Always supporting each other and always lifting each other up.

What do you hope you never forget as you grow older?

I hope I don’t ever forget to have fun. I love to do well on meets and races, but I hope that it never becomes a chore, or that as I get older, and most likely slower, I can still just enjoy being out there loving every moment.

Anything else you want to say about your experience with this project?

Thank you for the opportunity. This is a great and important project and I’m glad to have been part of it.