The name Jodee Adams-Moore has been causing ripples in the trail running world of late thanks to some blistering performances at the recent Orcas Island and Chuckanut 50k’s. In both races she showed up, posted dominant wins and impressive course records before disappearing back into the mist and rain of her beloved Northern Washington – strains of Angelo Badalamenti’s Twin Peaks soundtrack drifting through the heavy air… at least that’s the way I imagine it.
So who is Jodee Adams-Moore and how on earth she running trails so damn fast?! Well, we got all ‘Agent Cooper’ here at iRunFar and went in search of the former high-school track star, finally tracking her down to Bellingham where she currently resides…
Firstly Jodee, congratulations on your recent win and course record at the Chuckanut 50k. You absolutely crushed it – can you tell us a little about the race, blow for blow!?
As always, I got to the race a little too close to start time and a little disheveled… Do I wear this sweater? Where should I put this snack? Shoot, where did I put that little sippy cup? Will these electrolyte tablets dissolve in my sports bra before I eat them?! But the gun went off and I found myself calm, relaxed and thankful. The miles leading up to Chin Scraper were some of the best – I felt strong and happy and the quiet during that stretch was lovely – last year that stretch had been really challenging. The last 5 miles on the Interurban [Trail] took focus – just trying not to slow as my muscles started to fade, but I bumped into Dusty at the bottom of Fragrance Lake Trail and he told me we were on pace to break 4, so I knew if I could hold it together I could set a new course record. I was pumped – up until then I had no idea where I was at time-wise.
It sure was quite a performance, sounds like you had one of those sweet days… but what kind of training had you been doing coming into the race though?
I only run on trails and there are lots of hills and mountains in Bellingham. I run five or six days a week and average a little over an hour with a two or so hour run thrown in every week and a half. This is all loose because I don’t wear a watch or chart my runs… I just run and sometimes I like to run hard. I also try to make it to yoga two times a week and I like to ride my bike around town when it’s not wet out. Running Orcas in February [Orcas Island 50k, Jodee won in 5:01:58, new course record, 10th place overall] was a good training race leading up to Chuckanut – the more 50k’s I do, the better my body handles the distance and Orcas was sweet because near the end there was a lot of steep uphill walking involved that helped give my running body a break.
So how many 50ks have you run now, Jodee? Have you any desire to run longer distance races – 50 mile, 100 mile?
I’ve run four 50k’s – Baker Lake, Orcas Island, and two Chuckanuts… I will take a stab at 50 miles this year – possibly White River if not one before…
Lets go back to the beginning. So you grew up in Newport, Washington, right Jodee? Was it a cool area to grow up in?
I grew up in Bellevue on a hill with lotsa houses on it – luckily, there was a greenbelt in the backyard. It was a good, safe place to grow up and my parents are good people. Cougar Mountain was fifteen minutes up the hill, so I ran a lot out there in high school and during summers through college. Saw me some bears out there…
What age were you when you first started running? What other sports were you interested in as a kid?
I was a mediocre swimmer and soccer player and took dance classes and loved theatre. All fell to the wayside when I started running in 8th grade. I found something I could do on my own and I just had this intense focus with it right off the bat – I think it surprised all of us.
So what was it about running that appealed to you so much at the beginning?
I felt like running was my ticket to something greater than myself. I felt Spirit through running – I still do. I liked being able to get off the bus and run three or four miles on my own will power – I knew no one else in my school was doing this. It was mental and physical strengthening and I just craved it. When high school rolled around, I saw how fit I had made myself and I just kept feeding the fire under the guidance of Mitch and Mindy Leffler – two amazing coaches and friends.
Cool. Can you explain a little bit more about feeling Spirit through running?
When I started running I was learning about the rhythm of the run and myself. I’ve been practicing for seventeen years now and since leaving behind the competitive nature of college racing, I’ve had time to grow with running and find out how it best suits me today. Here is the best way I can put it: By “spirit,” I am talking about the runs when elation dominates and the pulsing of the woods and the ground and the sky and my heart all groove together. Art and poetry ideas may come to me during these runs, but sometimes I feel so fit and happy that the running itself is a creative expression. “Falling uphill” feels spiritual. Being able to float for miles through the woods is a gift and a tool to tap into the divine in this world. Every run is a journey. Over the past few years I’ve become aware of the presence of energy that runs beneath the surface level. Serendipity pops up frequently enough that I BELIEVE. Through running in nature, through art and poetry and music and movement I’ve felt the “spirit” of this. I don’t know what else to call it. Every day is pretty rich.
Was this love for nature and adventure instilled in you when you were young? Were your parents into hiking and the outdoors?
My parents introduced my younger brother and I to hiking and camping and general adventure. They were weekend warriors and we explored the woods of the I-90 corridor and XC skied a bit in the winter. We also took in a possum and a crow! A love for the woods and the magic therein was established early – I am so grateful for this.
So you were a proper running star already back in middle & high school. You won three state championships in cross-country, but also ran heaps of track, too. Can you tell us about those years, Jodee?
The high school running years were wonderful and very intense! I put sooo much on running back then. This made me fast but was also detrimental to other parts of myself. There was a blend of passion and addiction that drove me back then.
So you were super focused on running, did you put a lot of pressure on yourself in those days, too?
I put loads of pressure on myself because at the time that felt like my way of achieving self-worth.
…and you seemed to achieve that, too, back then, sounds like you had a immense commitment for what you were doing and were happy about how it made you feel, right?
Passion and Love, yes.
You then moved to Georgetown Uni on the East Coast, what did you study there and why the big move across the country? Was it a conscious decision to get a little distance from where you grew up?
Through my high school running I had some exciting college options, so I checked out some big running programs. It came down to GTown or Colorado and DC seemed so different from where I had grow up and my high school coach had run there and loved it. I wanted new experience and adventure, so that’s what pulled me to the other coast. I was homesick soon after and right away romanticized the northwest, but I stuck it out in that crazy city.
My favorite times during college (running-wise) were summer training runs – on my own in the woods. I’d get myself so fit. In retrospect, I see that as the precursor to what I’m doing today – just rackin up some miles in the trails. I loved cross country season, but indoor track was intense and seemingly unnatural and by the time outdoor track season rolled around I was spent. I was not the greatest college distance runner – I needed my own program and that was not an option at Gtown.
Cool, Jodee, you’ve mentioned a couple of times about running on your own. Is that one of the big attractions with regards to running for you, please explain. Do you still get a buzz out of competing too though?
I like to win races. I am competitive and when I feel fit and happy I want to try to win. During races, though, I like being alone. I think I run just as hard if not harder when no one else is around.
I really like the way you talk about feeling fit, really feeling it – being excited by that feeling. It seems like it can get overlooked a little, but you seem to be very aware of listening to your body. No watch, no real training ‘plan’ as such. Can you tell me more about that, Jodee?
More emphasis has been placed on intuitive living these past few years and as I’ve reignited my love affair with running, I’m trying to keep this intuition intact with the running, as well. I don’t ever want to dread running or racing again – the day I do, please stop me! Or maybe my body will.
I’m not anti-training plan, but I fear that having a plan can be detrimental when life has other plans. The goal is to promote inner growth throughout life and as long as running long and fast fits within this goal I will keep it up! That being said, not wearing a watch does not mean I have no idea how long I run for. I have a good idea what two hours feels like and I look at the clock before heading out the door.
So moving on, Jodee. Did you move back to the West Coast straight after college?
After receiving a degree in English and Art, I moved back home upon graduation and started the new chapter. I did not return to DC until just this past fall, five years later, to see a friend. It was kinda like a weird East Coast dream…
Can you tell us about you getting into running trails and mountains more? You ran and won some of the Scott Cougar series races around Seattle in 2006 and 2007, but was racing not your top priority at that time? Were you just enjoying life after competing track and cross country for so many years?
My young adult life began in the Seattle. Returning from what had become a somewhat negative running experience by the end of college, I spent some time learning how to play – figuring out other means to happiness! It was the beginning of the adult me. I got to bathe in the hippie waters of the Oregon Country Fair and started playing with clay. I worked at farmers markets and learned about wild mushrooms! I was a little wild and lucky I didn’t get into too much trouble, but I did ruin a nice Bianchi bike and on a separate occasion gave myself a concussion on the 4th of July. When I hear stories about distance runners doing crazy things later I totally get it – we have some extreme tendencies.
Ultimately, after spending four months living in the Costa Rican mountains, I found a new space for myself living rurally in Snohomish and, eventually, Skagit counties for four years. Nature and art moved to the front burners. I started gaining a new inner strength out there. I worked part time at the Food Co Op in Mt. Vernon and spent my free time making pottery, exploring trails outside of Arlington, cooking and listening to music… lotsa music.
I listened to Nick Drake a lot this February and love the line from the song, Things Behind the Sun: “And the movement in your brain/Sends you out into the rain.”
Nice. There is another line from the same song ‘Open up the broken cup/Let goodly sin and sunshine in’ that sounds like it could possibly be a soundtrack to those times, too?
That whole song is amazing – almost seems like Rumi wrote it. David Byrne, another wise-man-musician, says “Stop making sense making sense” – I like that line a lot, too…
Were you still running during the years after Gtown too or did that take a place on the back burner for a while?
A running buddy and business-minded friend of mine uses the term “correction” when talking about what had to occur after years of imbalance in the financial market. I look at my running history this way – there needed to be a break and change for new growth because the old way was spent. I never stopped running.
So let talk art, Jodee. You produce ceramics and also paint oils, have you always been a creative person?
Drawing was my first love. My parents always had me set up with art supplies. Creativity is a wonderful friend and I am thankful it comes naturally to me. It is how I spend a lot of time. There is a fire in my belly and when the running is done I burn in creative realms. I’m always working on some project – usually clay involved but oils and india ink and… poetry! Last summer words started to flow and this December I made an album on Garage Band with my kalimba and my poetry.
Cool, can I hear it!?
I like to barter – in fact right now I’m sitting on a sheep skin that I traded an owl luminary for! What would you like to trade me for the limited edition “Fortune Flavor” – Shrine On album??
I’ll have a look in my treasure trove and see what could be a good swap! Your ceramic rattles are cool, too…they seem influenced by voodoo or witch-doctor staffs, can you tell us a little about them?
The “voo-doo” rattles are just playful pieces that happen… I don’t know where all the little monsters come from, but Jim Henson’s genius had an early impact on me – I wanted to make Muppets when I grew up. I’ve got a little voo-doo love in me though – I didn’t know it for a while, but I’ve been practicing… In DC this fall I stumbled into the African Art museum and learned about an ancient Goddess, Mami Wata. I think I’ve been channeling her these past few years. She’s pretty sweet.
Cool, so she’s obviously into running fast on the trails too!?
Here is my favorite definition of this ancient Goddess of water: Mami Wata is the product of both transaction and localization. She came in on a wave, yet she emerged from the depths of the waters. She is both foreign and indigenous, and somewhat paradoxically, she is a singular being of multiple incarnations and manifestations.
So yeah – I think she is into trail running, too…
You are also involved with the local food co-op there. Would I be right in saying that you live a pretty organic existence there in rural Washington?
I’m pretty organic, but I also enjoy a chimichanga from 7-11 when need be. Healthy food is very important to me and I did not realize when starting the co-op job four years ago how much being around top quality food would change me. Healthy food is YUMMY!!! and the more you eat it the more your body says GIVE ME MORE, WE CAN DO ANYTHING!!! Organic fresh food is a major player to longevity. Another wonderful addition to my life as of late is yoga. I go a couple times a week and have been getting so much out of it. I left the rural livin’ for Bellingham last summer (2012) and have been socializing again! It’s crazy!
So what’s on the menu on a typical week?
My day begins with a strong cup of coffee with cream and sugar then this has been the cuisine as of late: Coconut anything – especially young Thai coconut, kimchi, nettle pesto, nuts!, sunflower seed butter on dates, dark chocolate, sweet potato spring rolls with cucumber, crab (not every week but I got lucky!), Juanitas tortilla chips, mango, banana, hemp milk, smoothies with greens and turmeric and ginger, a little wine, a little beer…
My favorite restaurant in Bellingham is a dive with good margaritas and “the world famous potato burrito” – Casa Que Pasa. I love their salsa bar and bang for the buck. I try to go a couple times a month. I mainly eat organic, whole foods and then give myself room for treats that are rich in the good ways.
So back to Chuckanut, Jodee. You got second last year and then knocked almost 30 minutes off that time with your course record this year. What other races have you got planned for 2013, any plans for racing in Europe?
As far as races I may try White River 50 mile and other trail events in the area. I would love to race in Europe and beyond… I just need a benefactor. Anybody???
Haha, well I’m pretty sure if you keep knocking out times like you did at Chuckanut then it won’t be too long until someone signs you up! So if that was the case which races would be your dream locations?
Pretty nature anywhere… I want to see it all!