Basalt’s Lizotte secures spot on U.S. Mountain Running squad | AspenTimes.com

Basalt’s Lizotte secures spot on U.S. Mountain Running squad

Jon MaletzThe Aspen TimesAspen, CO Colorado

Contributed photoBasalt's Megan (Lund) Lizotte races to a fourth-place finish in Sunday's U.S. Mountain Running Championships at Cranmore Mountain Resort in North Conway, N.H.

NORTH CONWAY, N.H. – Megan (Lund) Lizotte openly admits her confidence was shaken. Because of a nagging right-foot injury, the Basalt resident said she contemplated not traveling to New Hampshire to take part in Sunday’s Cranmore Hill Climb, site of the 2011 USA Mountain Running Championships.In the end, the 27-year-old opted to compete. After all, this was her lone opportunity to earn a spot on the U.S. Mountain Running Team for a third-consecutive season.”[The injury] definitely was in the back of my mind,” Lizotte said of the joint inflammation in her foot. “I knew I would just have to rely on my ability to be tough when it counts.”She proved her mettle with a gutsy performance at Cranmore Mountain Resort. Lund was somewhat conservative on the first of two 3.87-kilometer laps nut worked her way through the pack down the stretch. She was passed shortly before the finish line, but still managed to hang on to fourth place – nabbing the U.S. squad’s final qualifying spot.Kasie Enman of Huntington, Vt., sped to victory in a time of 32 minutes, 59 seconds. Official results were not available by press time. The finish was a little too close, Lizotte acknowledged.”I thought the finish line was before where it was – they didn’t have a line marked, and I thought it was at this stake,” she said. “The girl I just passed [to take over third place] kept running, and the girl in fifth ended up being really close behind. I almost didn’t even make it.”She’ll certainly take fourth, however, after a tension filled, two-week stretch that began with a third-place finish at June 12’s USA Track & Field Half Marathon Championships in Oregon. Lizotte sustained the foot injury early in that race – she was hobbling into the medical tent, not celebrating, soon after crossing the finish. She did not train for the next four days, opting instead to take multiple trips to both a masseuse and a chiropractor.She rested for two days in the week leading up to Sunday’s race. She also scaled back the intensity of her workouts to keep her fitness level up without risking further injury.”I can still feel it when I’m running, but it wasn’t anything like the pain I was experiencing a week ago when I couldn’t put weight on it and I felt like it was broken,” Lizotte said. “Thankfully, it ended up kind of cooperating. … I wasn’t going to let it bother me.”In stark contrast to her strategy in Oregon, where she vaulted into first almost immediately and tried to hang on, Lizotte said she was content to “kind of see what happened,” Sunday.She settled into seventh for much of the first loop on the muddy course, which snaked through grass ski slopes, cat tracks and singletrack. “I was planning on watching and seeing how the race unfolded,” Lizotte said. “There was a ton of girls trying to make the team and go out hard, and I knew a bunch of them would end up dying. … I tried not to get too caught up in what was going on. I kept a level head and I never counted myself out. I’m kind of a come-from-behind runner naturally.”Sixth after the first lap, Lizotte quickly passed two competitors on a challenging uphill. She maintained that position until the race’s final 100 meters, when she briefly took over third.A hectic few moments ensued.”I hope someone got it on video,” Lizotte joked. “I didn’t even really know what had happened until I crossed the real finish line. That could have been bad. I would’ve been really bummed for the rest of the day.”Lizotte can rest easy now. The effort helped her earn a trip to Sept. 11’s world championships in Tirana, Albania. “This feels pretty good. This has been a big goal of mine this year,” Lizotte said. “There were a lot of great girls out there, so I’m definitely excited. I still can’t believe how close that was.”jmaletz@aspentimes.com

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