Hillary started running in 2014. She started out as a tennis player in college and was a general athlete. It wasn't until she moved back home to Colorado, for graduate school that she discovered running. She used it for stress relief at first, then, with the help of her friend J'ne Day-Lucore, she discovered trail running and never looked back. From there she has gotten into more technical trail running and won the US sky running Ultra Series. She is now ranked in the world circuit. She finished 2nd in the world series last year.
Can you explain to those who haven't heard about your accident during the Hamperokken Skyrace 50K?
During this race I was competing in Tromoso, Norway. It was an extreme sky race, meaning it had a lot of technical sections and lots of elevation gain. At the half way point, on an exposed ridge (maybe 3rd class) a rock gave way underneath my foot. I tumbled a total of 150 feet, breaking 12 bones in total and popping several ligaments. My injuries were extensive and I had to get a helicopter evacuation.
Have you returned to running yet?
At first my intent was to just walk again. It's been a long process and the doctors certainly didn't think I would run again. I have been running since April and I have miraculously done 2 races, one of which I won! I still can't believe it, but I've been working so hard to just get back to moving and being happy again, that running and fitness haven't been the focus. That's where the magic happens. I want to run because I love it, not to win races.
Do you have any fear when you're out running now?
There is a lot of fear. Not just to race, but to simply run. My body still hurts, so I must face those fears everyday. Racing is the same, just on a more focused level. My strategy is always to enjoy it, to have fun, and let the rest take care of itself.
What has the road to recovery been like?
One of the hardest periods of my life. There was a significant portion of time where I didn't want to get out of bed, where I was angry that the fall didn't kill me. I didn't think I had the strength to continue pushing through all the obstacles to recovery. So, I simply had to take it one hour at a time and come up with mantras to get me through each day. One was "keep showing up" that helped for a long time, and still does today.
What's has been the most frustrating obstacle to overcome and why?
I think I'm still overcoming a lot, but the hardest thing is confidence and doubt. To not constantly doubt my body and it's resilience is tough, or to worry about re-injury. Building confidence back is also tough.
What made you want to attempt to run again?
Simply the joy! I love to move in that way. It makes me so happy and feel so free. I couldn't not try.
You just ran your first race since the accident. Can you describe your experience and emotions?
My first race was scary. It was the Broken Arrow Vertical Kilometer and then the 52K the next day. Then a week later I did the Cortina Trail 50K in Italy and I won! There was so much doubt and fear about results and performance. It took a lot of courage to get on the start line. It was so worth it to push through those barriers. Hardrock 100 was different. I did the soft rock course which is just the Hardrock 100 course but in 3 days. Still very tough, but there was a lot of doubt surrounding that endeavor too. It was difficult to face fears and doubts each day, but incredibly empowering and rewarding to finish healthy and strong.
How did you earn the nickname "Hillygoat"?
I actually got the nickname from an ex boyfriend. His friend kept calling me it. It was my first year running trails and I earned that nickname. Then my ex boyfriend kept calling me it. It stuck. But, then we broke up, and I kept the nickname.
What's it like running with Lucy Bartholomew and her personality?
It is the best ever! She is such a ray of light and positivity. We never stop laughing when we are together. I actually met her at my first race in Europe, in Chamonix in 2015. I think we met one afternoon then the next day went out on a 5 hour adventure and didn't stop talking, laughing, exploring. Our friendship has been like that ever since. She's coming to Boulder in early August to stay with me before we do the TransRockies Run in August.
What's your favorite types of fuel for running and why?
For training runs I love to run with fruit! It's great to pull out an apple or orange, or carrot at the top of a peak. I really love it. Carrots are also my favorite food. If i'm racing, then something easy to digest, and that's usually sugar. Skratch labs gummies are my go-to.
What's your favorite cheat food & drink?
Cheat food and drink? Well, I don't drink alcohol so I would say a nice glass of wine is a good treat. That's not very frequent for me. Cheat food? I like to be balanced and not cut out foods, but I would say ice cream is a go-to treat after a big race. It's usually tradition for me to get some ice cream after a race, of course after my stomach is settled from all the sugar that day.
Do you like ice baths? Why or why not?
My preference is an ice cold mountain river! If I were to have a perfect circumstance I would alternate between an ice cold river and then into a hot springs. I've found some of these natural river hot springs near mount Princeton and outside Aspen.
What's the most important tip you like to give new runners?
Don't ramp up too quickly. Don't be afraid to rest. Be sure to enjoy running, it's supposed to be fun!
Do you have a preferred racing shoe? If so, which one and why?
Right now it's the new North Face Ampezzo shoe. It's light weight and responsive but with good cushioning. North Face is coming out with some great shoes! Pretty exciting.
What’s your favorite distance to run and why?
I actually don't know! I've tried 50K's all the way up to 110K races. They all have their pros and cons. I will say that the unifying feature to all of them is that they are mountain races, meaning they have a lot of up and a lot of down. I like the challenges those types of races bring. As far as distance, I'm open to try all of the distances. Right now I'm focusing on 50K and 50 mile races.
What is your favorite running accomplishment so far?
Right now I'm very proud of my most recent win at the Cortina Trail 50K. After my injuries I wasn't sure I'd be able to race again and being able to win a big race near course record time only 10 months after my accident, it's very special. Also, the Dolomites are incredibly special, I love running there.
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Published July 27, 2018