Team Bellingham Mama Takes Her Second Chance

hallie kopaldAll

I spent the 3 ½ years leading up to SEVENTY48 making and raising babies. This took a significant toll on my body, leaving me with a non-healing pelvic fracture and the words, “You’ll never run again,” ringing in my former ultra-trail-runner ears. Ugh. Two days later, SEVENTY48 was announced, and I felt I’d been given a chance to show that I could still be an athlete, to prove that I had not lost my former self in motherhood.

I launched my spritely sea kayak the afternoon of the race amongst those who’d spent hours paddling to train. I, on the other hand, had trained on a rowing machine at the gym because they had childcare. It was hard to find time to train, hard to find dusty and ignored paddling gear, hard to visualize finishing.

The race was hard and wonderful and everything I wanted it to be. I felt small and invisible during night crossings with my single, dinky headlamp. I felt powerful and swift riding the wakes of tankers off Bainbridge Island. I felt sneaky as I paddled two feet off Point No Point to avoid a foul current. I ate countless chocolate covered coffee beans. I taped blisters and retaped blisters. I fell asleep while paddling off Foulweather Bluff and spent a blissful 20 minutes napping on the sand before racing the tide through Hadlock Cut. My burning wrists screamed “stop!” the last 7 miles; I taped them too. I rang the bell almost 20 hours after the winners, finishing both exhausted and wanting to paddle on forever.

I can never fully explain how profound it was to complete SEVENTY48 as the mother of an 18-month-old and 3-year-old, how this sufferfest helped to connect me to my former self. I am a mom and an athlete, and racing in SEVENTY48 gave me the permission to be both.

SEVENTY48 is a human-powered race from Tacoma to Port Townsend covering 70 miles in 48 hours. Race start is May 31st, 2019. Applications open. Visit seventy48.com for details.