Andrea Kooiman

{ Backstory }

Around mile 2 of the 50K a runner went down in front of me. She had knocked her knee pretty good and it was bleeding quite a bit. We moved to the other side of the trail to allow other runners to pass us by. I looked down at her leg and could see the flesh pulled to the side and that the wound was very deep. Another runner and I set her on the ground so she could sit. Because I had just finished Western States 100 only weeks prior, I told the other runner to continue and that I would stay with Erika. I called for help and waited until medical arrived to take her safely to seek some care. Andrea Kooiman

At this point everyone in the race had passed me by. They were all gone and I wasn’t sure if I would be able to make the cut offs. I figured, I might as well give it a shot and continue forward. Worst case scenario, I would at least run some miles in the gorgeous backdrop of Utah. It was clear that I was at the back of the pack and needed to be diligent with my pacing in order to stay in the race. I was riding close to the cutoffs up until the very end, but I was determined to keep moving forward. Once I made the final cut off and didn’t need to worry anymore, something shifted. I was so tired, so sick and completely drained…..physically and emotionally….I just wanted to quit. I was dehydrated, discouraged and I wanted off the mountain.

Knowing I had family at the finish, a husband that, when I called, told me to keep moving and wonderful race staff (my angel Jeff), I made the choice to keep moving forward. It is a decision I will never regret and I will forever cherish. I learned more lessons finishing last than I ever could finishing first. I am one tough woman!

Andrea Kooiman

Why did you sign up to do this race?
Speedgoat 50K is known for being an exceptionally difficult race with 11,800 feet of climbing in just under 31 miles. The stage is set in the beautiful Ski Resort community of Snowbird, Utah. The opportunity to run this race opened up for me since HOKA ONE ONE is a sponsor of the event and I am one of their ambassadors.

Andrea Kooiman

How did you feel once you crossed the finish line?
I was excited, relieved, overjoyed and thankful to have made it to the finish line. I wanted to quit so badly only 6 miles earlier. I’m proud of myself for continuing on to meet the finish line.

Andrea Kooiman

What would you say was the hardest challenge in this race?
The altitude was messing with my stomach. I was so sick during the race and couldn’t keep anything down. Every attempt to consume more calories or stay on top of my hydration was quickly squashed with the upheaval of everything I had taken in. I was extremely discouraged and didn’t want to keep fighting my way to the finish.

Andrea Kooiman

What was the most rewarding thing about completing this event?
Completing the race when every part of my entire body and soul wanted to quit was extremely rewarding. However, overcoming my discomfort was not the best part of the race. Having my brother, sister-in-law and niece watch me duke it out to the bitter end meant the world to me. How could I quit when I knew they were waiting for me at the bottom of the hill? It’s amazing what support from family will do to fuel you forward.
Was there anything or anyone in particular that helped you throughout your training?
Speedgoat 50K was a taper run after completing Western States 100. That might sound funny to most people, but I thought that going out for this race would be a nice cool down. Yes, I knew it was going to be hard, but it couldn’t be more difficult than running 100 miles…..could it? Well, I was wrong. I felt pains on some of those climbs that I had not felt during any other race. It met every challenge expectation I could have hoped for and laughed in my face. It was humbling in all the right ways.
Any final words of encouragement and thoughts you’d like to share?
I come from the school of thought that if there is time left on the clock, you keep moving. Even slow steps in the right direction are bringing you closer to the finish line. It’s amazing how much your temperament, body aches and mindset can shift from one aid station to the next. When you decide to drop out of a race, you will never know what could have happened if you continued forward. I like to battle the odds and don’t mind taking a start line as an underdog. Better to show up and give it all you’ve got than to wonder what could have been.

You can follow along Andrea’s adventures on her FB page and find out more about her as Coach K and the WeROCK organization she co-founded on her website.

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