“I think it was just an excuse to talk to me,” Amanda Basham cheers, and I feel a loving smile glance across the room. She ran the Bandera 100k in January of 2020, and so did Justin Grunewald. They met the day before thanks to shared friends, and afterward Grunewald inquired about Basham’s coach, even though her race wasn’t a great one. “‘Well, Amanda coaches herself,'” Basham echoed the friend’s answer, and so shortly thereafter, Basham started to coach Grunewald, too.
“We started talking a lot, he actually paid me,” she says with some surprise at the turn of events, and then gushes about his potential for trail racing. They both set fastest known times on Hawaii’s Kalalau Trail early this year. I joke that the trail was made famous by the 2009 thriller film “A Perfect Getaway,” but Basham’s hasn’t yet seen it.
The dating couple–Basham and Grunewald–are now expecting their first child. “January 15, it’s a girl. We found out [the gender] as early as we could,” she cheered. Basham wisely knows not to share the expected name, saying, “I don’t want anyone to steal it,” and I assume that it must be something especially unique. The couple share a home in Boulder, Colorado, but Grunewald travels to Minnesota for work, and Basham sometimes accompanies him. The pair just road tripped back from Minnesota, detouring through South Dakota for some Black Hills and Mount Rushmore scenery. A day later, they were hiking in Estes Park, Colorado. “Definitely in Colorado,” she answers of the anticipated delivery. “After November, I’ll be in Colorado the whole time. We’ve got a nursery with a mountain theme, an adventure theme. We’ve just got to paint some mountains.”
Basham lost a younger brother in August of 2018, and Grunewald’s first wife passed in June of 2019. That shared loss wasn’t part of what brought the two together, but has added to the bond. “It’s not a conscious thing, but your perspective on life changes [after the early death of a family member]. It’s a different way of being empathetic and how you share your feelings,” Basham said. Her brother died of a drug overdose, just hours after dropping her at the airport for a flight to Germany and the TransAlpine stage race. She talks openly about the painful loss, and understands that long-distance running is part of her personal therapy.
She’s a dog person and lost one her two Pomeranians last year too, and the surviving one is 14 years old and recovering from a set of seizures. Eager to keep a watchful eye on the dog’s health, Basham plots an early use for the BOB stroller she just got. “I’m going to put Charles [the dog] in it,” she thinks out loud. “I’ve been carrying him on some hikes.”
There’s a lot to learn with a first pregnancy, and Basham and Grunewald aren’t getting the traditional experience. “There aren’t in-person classes now, the stuff online starts soon,” she explained. “I’ve talked to my sister, but everyone’s experiences are different.” I question the potential for masks during delivery, and she stomps it down. “Oh my gosh, I don’t know. I’d rip it off right away.” Later I think she must be right, the idea seems silly.
Basham then touched on the ups and downs of her pregnancy. “I did think it would be way easier to run. I trained really hard for April’s Lake Sonoma 50 Mile[, which was canceled due to the pandemic], and a month, month and a half later I was pregnant. I tried to run a decent amount, but I was pretty nauseous. I was nauseous all day, just constantly nauseous. The second trimester’s been more pleasant. I’ve gone back and forth [on my run frequency], every other day right now. I’m just much slower,” she said, almost apologetically. “It’s getting harder to carry this thing around. Things just hurt.”
She sports varied hair color, and says it’s purpley-brown right now. “I’m waiting to bring back the neon red post-partum. I guess neon red is my signature running look. I get bored with normal colors.” She’s greatly looking ahead to 2021 post-COVID-19 normality, and racing. “After the baby, I would hope things are normal. CCC in August of 2021, I’d really like to race that again, as long as things are normal. It’d be great to spend a month [in France].”
And she’s still guiding others through their running journey too. “I’m still coaching 15 athletes–online, phone, and email. A big part’s been what to focus on, where the motivation is, and it’s been interesting to see how people have adjusted. It’s a way to force recovery and go into 2021 ready.” Basham is active with Addict II Athlete too and its path to recovery, working to grow the group’s presence in Colorado.
There’s a lot of uncertainty in the world right now, but things are certainly going well for Amanda Basham. Good luck to her over the coming months, and congrats to the expectant couple.
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