Tuesday, October 10, 2017

That's a wrap - The Bear 100

Clean desk, clean house, getting work started and done, meal planning, and even a touch of wandering around the house humbly staring at the mountains out my living room window.  My race year is over, and it was a sizeable one, for this 38 year old mother of 2. And now...nothing. Well, nothing in the sense of running, there's plenty of something's in my life that bring me joy, but I spent a large portion of 2017 running and gearing up for 3, 100 mile "runs" and road trip races with friends.  I wouldn't say I've got the blues, I'm just a little flat at the moment. Resting and recovering, crossing domestic and work chores off my list, and feeling a little pang of longing as I watch the colors burst in the cold mountain mornings that turn into truly spectacular sunny fall days. I know it's fleeting, our quick Utah fall.

So, It's almost 4:00pm, and I'm inspired to write some.  I just poured a Wasatch Evolution into my first swag of 2017, another Red Hot 55k pint glass.  I remember getting dressed that cold and rainy February morning and thinking, oh my! these shorts are tight! It's an early race, only 6 weeks after New Years! My first of the year. I got lost, I kinda panicked, I found my way back on course, I had the longest Red Hot run in the 4 I've done, my family didn't make it to the finish, they were 45 minutes late, I had no cell service, and I burst into tears of exhaustion when I saw my mini van chugging up the canyon. That was the start of my biggest year in Ultra-running. I'll only go back a little further, to charge my battery on the details.  I ran a 100 in 2016, Bryce 100, and it fell apart  later into day 2.  I finished, but it was a death march to last place, 2 hours after the 36 hour cut-off. I was demoralized, I was tired, and I was in pain. And as every bad race has reasons...in the end, I just felt defeated. Then later in 2016  about this time, I crewed/paced my friends in 100 mile endeavors of their own. And, I was inspired to bite off more than I could quite possibly chew, I could quite possibly even choke on those bites, but a smart phone, an impulse, a credit card attached to Ultra Sign up, and let's be honest, probably a cocktail or 2...there was my 2017 of running, boom, boom, boom.

A little late to get my Bear 100 experience outta my head, but here I go.  Jill and I were running the race, but we were not alone. Cheryl, Betsy, and Eve were all their to cover miles with one or both of us.  Sometimes you just know you're going to have a bad day. I knew on Friday from the get go, that I was going to have a good day. I can't recall a race I've ever felt so strong and confident in the "good day". The Bear starts with a big climb in the dark, it was slow but steady and in an hour, maybe 2 we popped along some beautiful single track. The views were stunning and the weather was awesome. My music was eerily on point song after song in shuffle mode, and I kid you not, I was smiling and bubbly for the 5 hours it took me to get to the first drop bag aid station. Leatham Hollow, mile 20. I just did everything I knew I was supposed to do. I ran the dirt road like Jill told me to, where everyone else was walking, like Jill said they would be.  Quickly after the road there was another climb.  Boom, more giddy smiles and wide eyed bewilderment as I passed open range cows sitting in fire engine red maples and water gently running next to the fairy tale trails that I'm sure held snow white and those goofy dwarfs somewhere in it's entangled arms of beauty.

The miles ticked off with ease and I came into Mile 45 earlier than I targeted. My friends! Betsy and Cheryl were there with warm Wendy's chicken nuggets, bellissimo! Jill had just left. Pack it up pack it in and out to the road across the street and 6 miles to Tony grove. Here it got dark, but I still got into mile 51 before my target time.  Cheryl was crewing Jill when I got there and Betsy took care of me. We were off and we came up on Jill who was not feeling great, about an hour or 2 later. The 3 of us, and the mad-Massachusetts-talker who  somehow  Betsy accidentally began pacing as well, mostly ran the 3 hours to Franklin. "Hey T-shirt, do you need a jacket?" This made me laugh and notice that everyone around me was bundled up and I had stripped down to said t-shirt and shorts.  That changed when we left Franklin, even on the climb, I was starting to get a little chilled.

The miles to the lodge were dark and pleasant.  Betsy and I chatted and giggled, or silently hiked for minutes at a time. I fell a little bit in the Logan river, and then met my lowest moment of The Bear.  A tendon above my heel had been screaming at me for hours.  Fatigue slowed me down, which made me get even colder, and then that thing that happens when you start to acknowledge all the tough stuff going on, happened. I began to get overwhelmed with the miles to go and even the few miles right in front of me. This felt like too much cold, too much pain, too much of everything. The back of my foot hurt incredibly bad on climbs. Relief came on down hill as I purposely slid my feet forward to avoid friction from the back of my shoe.  She reminded me that I should have some crappy moments in a 100 when I told her I was feeling low. I ate some and we trucked on to Beaver Lodge, where we hunkered down in Eve's VW bus.  Eve made me a grilled cheese and fresh pressed coffee...Sweet Jesus, I am so spoiled.  Betsy was done with me, and I've got to say how happy and lucky I am to have a friend run almost 60 miles of the last 2, 100 miles I've done, which happened to only be 3 weeks apart. Thank you my friend. i owe ya- But, I have a feeling I'll repay that favor in 2018.

Eve and I began again, but not before she gave me the literal new socks off of her feet. How I didn't have socks in my bag there, I don't know. She threw on an older pair she had and off we went. I didn't realize the time, but just like that, we had arrived to my second morning of the Bear.  We caught Jill at the top of the climb, mile 80 ish, and she and I were together the rest of the morning which turned into afternoon, and then the finish. Jill didn't feel well, and I have been in races feeling shitty for so long, and it sucks. The only silver lining is I was able to run with her in a 100.  So Jill, Eve, and I trucked down to mile 85 together. Cheryl and Karl were there. Cheryl who paced Jill from Franklin to the lodge had a 3 hour break where she was supposed to sleep (she DID NOT sleep) and planned to pick me up for the final 15.  She gotta a 2 for 1, and she led the way as Jill and I finished the Bear, in 32:33.

Right after Cheryl picked us up, the weather began to turn. The rain turned to icy snow, and the trails turned to mud. Oh Mud, had we not parted ways amicably at Bighorn?? Had we not had our fill of each other and all of our shoes? It was a slippery and rather painful, for me, stretch to the last mile and a half of road.  Jill asked me if I was still having fun, and I answered "no, I just wanted to be done". The pain in my foot was unbearable, but I needed to feel it a little longer.  But as all races have up's and down's, I laughed again as Cheryl and I lightly debated bacon. It's not food, she says. Why isn't it food, I say? It looks like food, it smells like food, you eat it! It's not food, it's not enough calories , she says..and this continued on down the slippery trail  for long enough to remember that no one is making me do this, and the smile returned even as I winced in pain.

I let out some mix of relief and tears when Cheryl said we had a mile and a half to go. I saw my girls as we rounded the corner. Me, Jill, Olivia and Sylvia ran it to the end, and we were done.

It was my fastest 100 of the year, and besides my first 100 at Antelope Island (FLAT!!!) it was my fastest mountain 100. Here's to the big runs in 2017, geez, I guess I am a little blue it's over, but I am very much looking forward to shorter runs in the dark cold mornings, skiing with my family, and swearing off early races like Moab and the Buffalo Run, or ya know, at least until that impulse, smart phone, and cocktail combo meets again. (which is kinda

Thanks for reading that was longer that I set out to write!

Thursday, September 14, 2017

"Welcome to Saturday Morning!"


I guess I am getting slightly seasoned as I went to bed at 9:00pm the night before Wasatch, and....I slept.

I woke up at 2:45am, even for an early bird like me that sounds stupid. But, I got up and started my day. Coffee and OJ. 2 hash browns and a handwritten note of thanks & Love to my family.  knock,knock,knock Nancy went at 3:45am! What a friend.

Nancy pants drove me to the start on her day off because well, she's awesome. It wasn't long until I hugged her goodbye and began the journey of one foot in front of the other.  I had an uneventful day thus far in the way of shit gone wrong. I ate 700 calories climbing Bair canyon (4,000feet in 4 miles) I tried to drown out the "lemme tell you all about me and all my races" stories in the conga line and enjoy the cool air, the glowing blue sky, the clear moon that had been out of focus for days given our beautiful west on fire.  I was a little impatient with the complete stops crossing a creek or 2, but I remembered the words of my tribe, be patient, eat, move with purpose. 

The heat is such a bitch to me.  I wish I could turn it into an advantage as it is a beast to so many, but I can't. I run so warm that even  a mere 75 degrees in a cloudless sky feels like an inferno to me. I packed an extra bottle strictly for my neck and head at Bountiful B. 10:09 am and I'm already wearing ice water.

In and and out of Sessions lift off , rolling like a stone in an upward swing of switchbacks under a canopy of green and brown.  We had moved from jeep roads to single track. What goes up, must go up again. We hit a short but steep climb, and meandered on single mountain side trails for a number of miles before finally popping out onto rich red road at Swallow Rocks. This next 5 miles got me good in 2015, and I wasn't feeling real well again. I ate a green otter pop, (even though I wanted red, the suffering life of an ultra, it's like offering a starburst and dishing out a yellow, I mean, what's the point?) But, I ate it and it was pretty good, after all.

I got into Big Mountain, mile 32ish where I saw the lovely Eve and Carrie.  I was feeling a little crappy. My stomach was not shot but it wasn't great. Eating would help, so I did that. Eve, if ya don't know is a plethora of knowledge on all biological things and experiences, and a lover and care taker of the earth, which can only explain how she knew a Mcdonald's hamburger and a mango Jamba Juice would be perfect.

Needing the calories to settle, Eve and I started hiking slowly out of the aid station.  The heat had gotten to me for hours, and we were heading into a notoriously hot stretch in the late afternoon. Ugh..I hate Alexander Ridge.  -Which, if I stopped saying that to myself, perhaps it wouldn't feel so terrible EVERY time we run it.  So, wait, I love Alexander! But we're not there yet, we are still making our way to Bald mountain.  Eve gave me an acid reducer that began to settle my stomach as we perched on top of Bald for a mere moment before trotting down the loose rock.  Suddenly something marvelous happened! The clouds began to gather so tight and close to each other, that they blocked out the sun and the wind cooled my face and tried to steal my hat. We saw rain in the distance and assumed we'd feel it soon.  This was a gift. We got up Alexander ridge, ran the rail trail, down into the trees before hitting Lambs aid, mile 45ish. The rain never came but the relief the distant storm brought for temperatures was welcomed. 

My crew! Nancy and Jen were at Lambs with food and helpful hands. Eve kept talking to me about layers, but I was perfect. "It could get cold..." nah, not for me, I'm basically a running microwave. Jen and I set out for Brighton, but before that, we set out for Upper Big water, Desolation, and Scott's Pass.  We walked the long road to the trail head eating French Fries (I love my friends and the fried foods they bare) up to Bare Ass Pass steadily moving and eating. The road to Upper Big Water, which is the end of Millcreek Canyon Rd, is what it is. It's a gradual 3 mile incline in the dark.  Temps were cooling but I was not chilled in the least.  Checked in, emptied and repacked, Jen's on it at aid stations, organized and thorough.  I decided to leave my hat and gloves. We set out for Desolation Lake as I downed 2 servings of instant mashed. Yawwwwn. Oh no. Yawwwwwn.  Yay a tree, I'm just going to put my head here for a minute.  I was eating fine, but the sleepy monster was coming in strong behind me. Yawwwwn.  After Desolation my eyes began to cross, It was not painful to run, but painful to be awake.  I asked Jen if I could close my eyes for 2 minutes..."ya got 2 minutes".  I could have fallen into a deep slumber with drool and all. I'm not sure if Jen got me up after 2 minutes or the raging cold burst that hit me did. But I'm up! And FYI, the 2 minute snooze cruise helped. It helped the way a cat nap does, just enough to push on.  But the cold... We were heading on to the ridge line and the cold wind had me shivering.  Since I don't get cold...Jen gave me her own hat and gloves. What a friend. I had wind pants and a lite jacket in my pack. 

We made it to Scott's and to Brighton, but not before I puked a little. Jen inspected said puke and was happy that I didn't lose ALL of the calories I just got in me:)

Brighton, mile 67ish, Hello Betsy!
Pee, clean contacts, sausage, hash brown, coke, headlamp #2 and we're outta there. It was 4:30am, and I was off my goal of getting to Brighton by 2 hours. But, there is something about day 2 of 100 miles that gets me excited. The probability to a finish perhaps? Because we already made it through the night, the stomach and sleepy monsters, puke, and the cold? Or the fact that you will be done later that day-with a finish or not...you will be home today. Or after going 70 miles, 30 more is doable?  I know this section. I can run it in my mind Brighton to Pole Line. It's 7 miles. I think I was moving well. Betsy brought Iced tea and Fried Chicken tenders (seriously, im pacer spoiled).
We breezed through Ant Knolls, and up "The Grunt" 3 big switchbacks up. We hit the pass at Sunrise "Welcome to Saturday morning!"said Betsy.

There was a lot of actual running from here on out. I missed my personal goal at Brighton, but we were nowhere near cut-offs.  I felt considerably great.  I'd go through little bouts of sluggish marches, but Betsy got me back on track and focused.  The immediate goal was to get to Pot Bottom by 11:00am. That would give me 6 hours, waaaay more time than I needed to go 15 runnable miles.  We ran into Pot Bottom at 11:08am...nice. From here on out we ran. Betsy would toss me back a chicken tender and a flask of orange gatorade periodically, so that was awesome. I love those miles where you forget that it hurts, you even forget you're in a race, and you're just running with your friend laughing about this one or that one.  Now some might say it's the need for calories, maybe the need for sleep, most likely both but at one point I had to stop and think "Am I running Wasatch or is Betsy?" Whew, it was me. In my defense we did this exact same stretch last year with roles reversed.

Coming into the last aid station and the finish was actually the first time in 2 days the physical pain got to me.  Surprisingly, my feet are in great shape today, but they just throbbed those last 6 miles. Everything did.  My glutes, my outer thighs, my IT bands, even my arms  hurt with every step.  Betsy reminded me that it's going to hurt until we finish so lets run.  When I thought a log was a cat she wanted me to eat. I ate some bacon, but that was it, we were almost to the road. There it was, the end. 34:40. An hour and 9 minutes faster than 2015. I was done and I was happy.

My family was there, the sweet faces of my girls! I couldn't even talk about them 15 hours ago, or I would have started to cry.  My friends! So many smiles and hugs.  Such a wonderful way to celebrate life and ability and the earth and running.  I know we're not saving lives out there, but we are certainly trying to live them.

Next up is the "finale" of my running year. The Bear 100.

Sunday, June 25, 2017

Bighorn 100

I might be too tired to finish this post, but I'll give it a shot.
Bighorn 100 

I've said this before but a start line starts way before your feet begin to move on race day.  So much anticipation and thought,
so much effort and support from many.
So much thinking and planning and checking the stupid weather. and then you get there-
and there is so.much.mud.

I'm not sure how I could have been surprised by the soul sucking mud. I believe  every person I talked to about Bighorn mentioned the notorious mud, in one conversation or another.  And, I already know I will not be able to describe it well enough. The only thing I can describe is my shock at the 38 miles of wet, slippery, deep mud.  It was remarkable and extraordinary in a God, this freaking sucks! kinda way. And, suck it did. For hours I curled my toes in my soaked shoes to help keep them on while trucking up 18 miles and down 18 miles.  

Friday was perfect. the weather was right in my wheelhouse, cool, drizzly, over cast.  I ran well and felt well. I started this race in good shape, for me. I haven't injured myself all year and I have been consistent and running better than I have in awhile. I was super excited to get Bighorn under way. Very minimal jitters and a lot of pre-race fun; a long drive, just a few beers, a street festival, souvenir shopping for the kiddos, and fish tacos with my second family. 10:00am start and I rolled into Footbridge aid mile 30 at 6:00pm. This is where I met Cheryl, and we began our really unbelievable 7 hour stretch up to Jaws. Just when I thought I couldn't take one more step of mud we got to Jaws a little after 1:00am.

Jill was there waiting with my bag, getting me food, ramen I think...maybe some bacon. It's hard for me to remember, as so much of our time together is all about eating and calories and salt and putting in what I can expend out and fuel one foot in front of the other.  We quite literally slid down the course for hours.  It was really frustrating at times trying to multi-task like eat while Not falling on my ass, or my side, or my face. I could not get my footing placed under me, my feet were wet and at at the mercy of mother earth's funny obstacle she was throwing down tonight. If you did not laugh at this ridiculousness we were trudging through, you would quit. That's where I was. Laugh and move or bitch and quit. 
Cheryl feels like my OG partner in dirt. She brought me into this community and introduced me to some of the strongest women I am honored to call friends. She has paced me many times but more accurately for hours..days even, if you add it all up. Our trudge up to Jaws was nothing short of insane, but we move as naturally and efficiently as if we were out on a training run, with the exception of the 110% goal being mine and she is taking the lead for me.  We talked and moved and ate. We ran when we could, but even the leaders struggled up this shit, I'm sure of it. We talked about how grateful we are and important it is to have such a group of women who genuinely lift each other up, support and encourage each other with no judgement- just because we blindly understand somethings you just can't explain. You've heard it before...therapy, release, adrenaline, personal success in an unconventional manner not judged by a piece of paper on your wall or zeros in your bank account. A measure that is so personal, that it's metaphoric denomination varies in each of us. For me, it's strength. It's like adding an ingredient of mental strength to the make up of Natalie. And, it's not just races or ultra distances, it's just the courage to try and overcome that comes with running. When i ran my first 100 in 2013 I was trying to explain this to my sister. I said something like, I feel like I am going to have to fight really hard for something in my life. I feel like I need to see if I can fight hard enough. Now...arm chair shrink here is going to say this might have some deep seeded roots tied to my mom dying so young, and watching her fight when the end was simply inevitable .  But, after  thousands of miles, that feeling like I need to fight hard has transpired into a confidence that I never had. It has transformed into a serious look at myself and after 37 plus years, finally liking me for all I am, not disliking me for who I am not. I digress..as I do.

So now I'm going to call out Jill.  After about 6 1/2 hours getting down from jaws and breaking into an overcast Saturday morning. We reached footbridge for the second time. The rain had stopped. She sat me down in a folding chair and  struggled to get my muddy wet shoes and socks off.  She washed my feet. Did you hear me? She washed my feet.   She remarked that they looked terrible, but I didn't want to look. I knew they felt pretty terrible. I did catch a glimpse at the bottoms. They looked like wet paper. She dried them and helped me get on dry socks and new shoes. These were not the shoes I planned on wearing for the remaining 34 miles, but anything was better than the encased swamps I had been in the last 22 hours. Jill you are so calm and smart. I don't know if I could have kept it together without you... which brings me to when I in fact could not keep it together with  you.  I set out for cow camp. A decent climb...Over 2,200 feet in 3 miles. This trail was dry yesterday. Today, not so much. The rain had stopped but the mud was thick heading up. The sun was out now, so fingers were crossed that the trails would dry up, but not here, not yet. 

Jill told me to go ahead at footbridge, she had to clean her own feet and would catch me. She's a killer climber, so I knew she'd catch me in no time. Here's where I began to worry about time. The cutoff to Dry Fork was 3:00. We had 13 miles and (I think) a little under 5 hours to get there. But I told Jill I wanted to get there at 2:00. I really wanted a cushion between cut-off's. I would have been more comfortable with a 1:00 cushion, but that shit was not happening. 3 miles an hour, that's all we have to do, Jill said. It was runnable. We could do this, but I'll be damn if I believed that, as I started to unravel coming up the long dirt road to the aid station.  I can't even guess how much I ate in this stretch and how many salts. I was peeing every 10-15 minutes.  Jill carried Gu Brew, an electrolyte water in a bottle for me. I was drinking a lot, but it was going right trough me. I said something to Jill;  that nothing I was putting in was giving me a second wind or an ounce of energy. Was I in a hole, depleated? Was I burning it too fast? Both? Jill would have me run for 30 seconds then walk. Then she'd have me run for 10 seconds then walk. I started to grab my head, yelling at myself, that this was just temporary. Figure it out, just run! I was yelling at myelf. I was saying everything hurts, but it won't last long, suck it up, just go faster! I couldn't entertain the thought of failing, the thought of telling my daughters I couldn't dig deep enough. But,  I didn't even know what the hell that meant at that moment. I choked up and asked Jill if we were going to make it to the finish. I was unraveling. I had no idea what time it was or even if I made it to Dry Creek by 3:00 if I could run another 18+ to the finish.  I asked Jill to just tell me what to do, what and when to eat and drink. I couldn't make decisions. I asked her to think for me.  When we got to the last little push up to the aid station. She said 10 minutes. She said 10 minutes to the top. Then you have 10 minutes in the aid station and you're out. 
Holy shit, we made it. And, it was only 2:10 (i believe)  I sat down. Jill wrapped me in a blanket, and dumped my drop bag. A rainbow of Gels and a red bull. I put on my hat. "You have to eat something, I don't care what it is". I ate bacon and a Perfect bar. I drank a red bull, Jill filled my water. "Go, Ill catch you". It was 2:20 and I was ready to take on the next stretch.  

Friends. A friends face is so amazing.  I hadn't seen Betsy or Jen since yesterday at mile 13 where my girl posse crewed me. They were running the 50 mile race. It started this morning at 5:00am, at the top of Jaws. I thought often how they were faring in the mud.  As I was heading out of Dry Fork, I ran right in to Betsy coming in. "Hi friend!" Betsy yelled. We hugged, and I said, "I've got to go right now, catch me!" 

Jill came up from behind a mile or 2 later with a... wait for it...Mcdonalds Cheesburger. She wanted to peel the cheese off, but I said, Jill would you rather me have calories now or diarrhea later:)  She walked behind awhile longer. My friend who had been taking care of me, literally thinking for me, was depleted herself. She needed to eat and get herself back.  She caught me on the last little climb, of course she did:)  We ran the rocky downhill for what seemed like forever. It hurt. The shoes I changed into were minimal. Everything hurt, but we were close..we were approaching single digit miles. Just when I thought we were smooth sailing with 6 miles to go...."Natalie, can you run any faster?" "umm..yeah?" "ok, do it, I'm worried you're not going to make it" Wait, what?? So, my internal compass and inability to do math after mile 20 bamboozled me once again. We still had 3 miles to the aid station. So, 9 or 10? more miles, not 6. So, I ran. I ran faster to that  aid station than I had all day. I was passing people that also started running. A kid came up behind me running. "Your pacer told me I needed to run or I wouldn't make it!" haha, Jill, always looking out for people :)  We got to the road. I knew the road was 6 miles to the finish. But, the aid station volunteer told me it was only 5. I wondered at that moment if it would be inappropriate to kiss this man. It's amazing how much 1 mile made a difference in my mood at that moment. It was about 4:00. I had 2 hours to go 5 miles on flat dirt road. Even if i walked the whole way, I knew I'd make the cut-off.  Jill met up with me at the last aid station, Homestretch . I had a pink freezie pop. We ran over the bridge, we ran down the sidewalk, turned left, a short jaunt down some grass, boom. Finished. 33:17

Unfortunately, many people missed cut-offs or dropped seemingly due to the weather and mud. Even for a notoriously muddy course, apparently this much mud and for that long was atypical.  I tend to do well in extreme situations. I am not speedy, I'm not an amazing climber, but I can endure and suffer.

Ohh, it felt so good to be done. I felt so freaking amazing and proud of myself. I felt so grateful to have such an amazing crew and support from my friends with me and family and friends afar. Scott has really become my ultra-running crew from home. No more griping about running for hours or gone for days, we've finally reached understanding and support. 

We headed back early Sunday morning, Father's Day. This past week has been peaceful. A calm high of Bighorn 100.  Next up is Speedgoat 50k and then the double 100 attempt in September Wasatch100 and the Bear 100.  I can only hope they go as well for me as my time at Bighorn in the northern mountains of Wyoming.

This was pretty lengthy, thanks for reading :)

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Quad Rock 50 mi...errr, 25 mi..scratch that 35 mile race?

I can't call my run at the Quad Rock 50 a race. And, I can't really call it a fun run either. Actually, I am still trying to process last Saturday's run at Lowry State Park. Perhaps, getting it outta my cluster fudge of a brain will help me articulate my thoughts on this past weekend.

We quite literally, merrily headed outta town Friday morning, heading east to colorful Colorado.  It was a long drive, but I've come to the conclusion that my friends who are also my running tribe do not run out of things to talk about. You name it, we talked or laughed about it. We rented a cute little house 10 minutes from the start line. The evening before the race was full. Packet Pick-up, quick shopping trip, and dinner. Need to point out Fort Collins is a jumping town! Main street is packed with brewery's, restaurants, shops, and college kids oozing from every corner. It was also graduation weekend, there were people everywhere! After a really fun dinner consisting of 2 beers and mediocre at best fish, but outstanding chips (potato, potato, potato...) we piled back in Jill's truck and headed  to the house. Drop bags, race clothes out, bed.

RACE MORNING!...came early
Coffee started peculating at 3:00am.  One by one we began milling.  The scents of Coffee, Sunscreen, and Desitin filled the kitchen and living room. Bibs pinned, shoes tied, poop again, and we're out the door. It was pretty warm, for a May Colorado morning at 4:45am.  Quick shot over to the start line. We snagged a parking spot right next to the start line due to our untouchable car pool game. It's gonna be a good day, i could feel it, man! And, we were off.

From here, I can only account my version of this race, but I can say I think we were all pretty stunned by the outcome. The first 10 miles were great and runnable. The scenery was on point, and the first 2 hours flew by.  I glided in to the first aid station Towers for the first time, grabbed a watermelon and headed out behind Betsy. Cheryl, Jill,and Dee were ahead and outta eye sight. Betsy and I pushed in to the Horestooth Aid (mile 10+) at the same time, and 10 minutes under my personal goal time to get there. The cut-off's to this race are tight. Betsy heads out. I'm slightly behind at this point, because it was getting HOT and I wanted to start icing my neck immediately. blah, blah, blah for 4 miles back up to Towers (for the second time) and exactly where everything went backwards (sincerely) for me. I saw Betsy just before the she popped out on the dirt road leading to the aid station (mile 14ish) In true Betsy fashion she was outta the aid station like lightening and I didn't see her when I arrived a few minutes later. I got more ice, I ate some more watermelon, I asked a volunteer if I needed to check out, and I  proceeded down the wrong trail. How? I'll tell why it's there fault, then how it was mine. There were 2 trails out of Towers Aid. There were 2 distances in the Quad Rock.  The 25 milers were coming in from a dirt road, and the 50 mile racers were coming in from an adjacent dirt road... let's see if I can draw this how I see it in my head right now

 No, my 5 year old didn't draw that, I did.

So, how is it there fault?  In my opinion there should have been a sign and or person at each trail signaling runners to their course trail. Or, at least checking the 50 mile runners in and out of that aid station. There was no timing mat at this aid, but I still think a written check in-out  could have helped air heads like myself...which brings me to...

So, how is it my fault?  Those awesome colorful triangles in my portrait above are flags.  In hindsight, I should have realized that was a "barrier" for the 50 milers to take the trail to the left . However, back to their fault. I went right to the tables and never knew there was another trail out of Towers. I actually thought the flags were blocking off the dirt road which we came up earlier in the morning, which was now the trail the 25 milers were coming up into Towers. (confused yet?) (Well, clearly I was) Back to my fault, I should have read the course description. And, actually I usually do study the course before hand.so, my fail. Also, it should have tipped me off that I had been on the trail to the right before. It was really sweet downhill for about 5 miles, and I was just on it maybe 1 and a half hours ago.

So, after getting food, ice, coke I said to a volunteer at the (wrong) trail head, "Do I need to check out" She said No, you're good, squirted me with water, and I proceeded down. I wondered why so many people were speeding by me, but WHY didn't dawn on me until I hit Hoorsetooth trail again.
After a bit (a lot) of cursing and holding back of tears. I decided to get aid and continue back up to Towers the exact way I went up before, take the correct trail this time, and continue on to the Start/Finish. Knowing very well that I would miss the cut off's to finish the 50 miler, I came to peace with it pretty quickly with the notion that my goal races are Bighorn 100, Wasatch 100, and The Bear 100.  I would get 34 or 35 miles and heat training out of the Quad Rock 50 miler.

I ran into the always lovely Eve who was running the 25 mile race. She allowed me to curse and vent some more.  We chatted for awhile, and I dropped behind her for the big climb back to Towers. At this point, Quad Rock had turned into a training run. I didn't have a chance in heaven or Hell to make the first cut off with my course mistake, so I didn't push hard from there on out. blah blah blah, back to Towers, down the correct trail, into Arthurs, out of Arthurs, climbing up one last time until the descent to the start/finish. After Arthurs, I expected to cross the girls paths as they continued on their counter clockwise direction of the course. Where is everyone?? Perhaps I followed a trail of boy scouts or a heard of deer this time and missed the course again? Perhaps I was daydreaming and took a turn to head back to Hoorsetooth for the third time? :) But no, I was on course.  Finally, I see Carrie, Dee, and Jill.  They made the first cut off at the turn around, yay! They were trucking on to Arthurs but chasing the second cut -off.  Betsy and Cheryl were done for the day due to cut off's and pains. 
I had to force down a bonk bar to get the last 2 miles under my belt to the finish. When I came in, everyone was there, and done for the day. None of us were able to get in under those cut-offs for the 50 mile finish. What. The. (You Know what Im gonna say...F!)

For a little perspective...I went on UltraSignup ,Jill and Dee have never missed a cut-off. Between the 2 of them alone, they have 165 races recorded on Ultra Sign up. This ain't their first Rodeo, know what i mean?
 (I am not sure about Betsy, Cheryl, and Carrie) But, I do know there's another combined 110 races between Betsy, Cheryl, Carrie, and myself. So..here's what I'm having trouble processing, and you can make your own conclusions, obviously:) But, that's 6 strong and tough women who have ran, according to ultrasignup, 275 races (and mind you, more than that, as all races aren't recorded on UltraSignUp) who couldn't make the cut -off's for the Quad Rock 50. 

Perhaps, it just wasn't our day. Perhaps, (speaking for me only) this is not a race for me. Even though I took a detour that didn't give me a chance of making up time in this race, I don't think I could have made it past the second cut off, even if I managed to get it under the first. It allows little to no margin of error or hiccups for a back or middle of the pack runner (in my very humbled opinion)

So, we didn't get  what we went out for, but that's life. We all walked away with a 25 mile finish medal, and a long day in a beautiful place. Beers and food afterwards eased the sting. We headed back to Salt Lake early Sunday morning. It was Mother's Day, and as much as i couldn't wait to spend it with my little babes, it was also pretty great to spend the morning with my second family. We will get em' next time. 

Next up 
  • Scout Mountain 35k
  • Bighorn 100
  • Speedgoat 50k
  • Wasatch 100
  • The Bear 100
  • The couch for a month

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

What would you change if you knew you only had one year left to live

Recently I revisited an article titled "What would you change if you knew you were going to die in one year"

So here is what I would change.

1) I would move back to Maryland  to be with my family

2) I would sell everything except my car, because I like to go places.
3) I would splurge on Food and Experiences
4) I would stop worrying
5) I'd stop questioning my value and beauty
6) I would quit social media
7) I'd take my daughters out of school and spend every day with them.
8) I would smell them and hug them too much.
9) And, I would make them videos and write them books of memories and lessons
10) I would print every picture I ever took.
11) I would be as honest and sincere as I could, always.
12) I would let go of pain and scars.
13) I'd kiss my husband every day.
14) I wouldn't work out, but I would run until my bones broke, and then some more.
15) I would tell each person I love, why I love them.

So, the point of this exercise, I gathered, was to pick your list apart, and change what you can control now.  As I sit here with tears rolling down my face, it's a very simple but powerful exercise to really narrow down what is important to each of us. I look at this list and I see very clearly what is important to me: My Family, Nature, Friends, Mental Freedom.  I guess I could move home without a death sentence, and I guess I could pull my daughters out of school and forgo conforming any longer to society. I kind of already do run until my bones break, so I guess I can check that one off.  But..all of those things have consequences that leaves us in a rational state figuring out the right and wrong things to do in our lives, the possible, the difficult, the affordable things that contribute to quality of life . But...I think the conversation that is starts with yourself, when you put yourself in this idea wholeheartedly , is possibly one that can filter thorough the muck, through the decision making process, through the top layers.   I realize this is getting very abstract, but looking at my own list I see the things I want.  I want to be free of negativity and excess, it gets in the way of so many things in so many ways! I want to like myself more, which goes hand in hand with my previous "want".  That is not a poor me thing. I like myself a lot, most of the time. But, I want to all the time...

I'll digress for just a moment because I think this is one of the greatest things I've heard in a long time...

“Even if you sleep late, eventually every day begins, and in the first minute of each day you have to face yourself. Day after day, until you die, you will wake up and remember what you’ve done. Memories of what you did the night before will bubble to the surface. Those memories will come with feelings. If you binged on ice cream or box wine or cocaine, that will be one of your first thoughts, and it will come with a weight of shame, maybe even self-hate.
“Those feelings may be subtle when you’re young and you think you have all the time in the world to turn things around. But unless you practice treating yourself well, soon you’ll be in your 50s and you’ll wake up and the pain of that first minute will be so intense that the day ahead will feel like a prison sentence.”
  “If you practice treating yourself well, then in your first minutes you’ll remember that you met a goal. You’ll remember that you ate food that nourished you, and that you moved and played with the body you’re so lucky to have. Those positive memories will come with good feelings—with deep, meaningful pleasure. A sense of peace. Accomplishment. Rightness.
“Practice living with intention and treating yourself well. Bother to care for and about yourself and your body, and your first minutes will feel like new beginnings. Ignore your body’s needs, neglect yourself, or continue to justify not treating yourself well, and your first minutes will be torture.
 “And here’s the thing: Your first minutes are unavoidable. Even if you graduate and get rich, you can’t ever outsource your first minute. You can’t hire someone to deal with it for you. Yes, you’re gonna die. We’re all gonna die. But until that hammer drops, you alone have to experience the first minute of every single day between now and then. We’re talking tens of thousands of times. Dying only happens once. Relative to those thousands of first minutes, dying is small potatoes.
 “Not to say that stuff has no impact on how you feel about life. Obviously, it does. But unless you treat yourself well and feel well, then it doesn’t matter how much good stuff you’ve got going on, because it’ll all just feel like a fancy box that you live in and resent until you die.”-Kelly Coffey

I want to work on my relationships, I want to make them better, stronger, more honest, less fluff, less criticism and judgement, more accepting, patient, and loving.  

The other day, a rare day when my house was clean, my to-do list was all crossed off for the day, dinner was great, and there was no arguing or bickering with or by anyone...I looked around and felt satisfied. I felt calm and happy. I felt loved and loving. I decided at that moment, that everything I have is enough. I tried really hard to hold on to that feeling for a few days.  It lasted until one night I had one too many cocktails, and spent the first minutes of the next morning wishing I hadn't, not feeling very good. The house was no longer straight, and the girls were arguing over the Minecraft world they were playing in together, virtually.

It's hard  for me to look at myself without negativity.  I don't always see the good stuff.  I don't always see strong, only the weaknesses I have.  Some days I forget to listen to my children talking. And some days marriage is work. Some days I miss my family so much that resentment and anger builds like a fire. I believe all of us are works in progress, and I thought this exercise, of listing the things I would change if I only had one more year to live, showed me the things I should change if I have 100 more years to live...

Tuesday, January 3, 2017

My New Year Post 2017

I went total cliche this New Years.  I took off December and  ate and drank myself into a jean size bigger, all with the idea and anticipation of resting & recovering from a year full of races, runs, biking, yoga, and getting stronger. A year full of really cool places and really hot runs, actual muscle definition, and very little body fat. But all that melted away in December with the help of all the food and all the drink and all the merry ol' holiday spirit..with gravy.

Actually, if you know me, you know this was an unplanned R&R.  Nagging pains and past injuries had been pestering my runs since a  Thanksgiving morning run in the snow. So, I talked myself into a planned (not really planned) rest, because I have filled my plate and went back for seconds, thirds, and a doggy bag for 2017.

Not to mention all the training runs I love and need to get me to these races in the New Year, this year, here's what I have on my horizon:

  • Moab Red Hot 55k in February
  • Buffalo Run at Antelope Island 50k in March 
  • Quad Rock 50 mile in Colorado in May
  • Scout Mountain 20 mile, Pocatello in June
  • Bighorn 100 mile, Wyoming in June
  • Speedgoat 50k (The Monster of the 50k) in July, Snowbird, UT
  • Wasatch 100 mile Endurance Run, September, Wasatch Mountains, UT
  • The Bear 100 mile Endurance Run ALSO in September, Utah/Idaho.

The only one iffy on that list is Wasatch, as it is a lottery. However, I did not get in last year, so I think my chances are even better this year of my name getting pulled.

Soooo..here I am January 3, with a mostly healed lower leg.  This pain comes and go's. It is an off and on  lingering pain / sensation from a tibial stress fracture 2 years ago.  I have had it MRI'd in the past (not this time) But, the MRI came back clear as  crystal.  Doctor said it could be nerve damage.  Either way, it irritates and worries me, becasue I have been benched in the past for almost 4 months due to an injury in the same spot..ayeyeye. So, I have rested..Im so damn rested, I feel like Ive been hibernating with Winnie the pooh and and large quantities of honey..and wine..and Salsa Verde dorittos..and tacos, plenty of tacos.

So here is my New Year Post.  Not of much interest to many, but a good way for me to get it all outta my head. So thanks computer for allowing me to blow my running bubbles with the ease of a keyboard and the risk of carpal tunnel. Who needs paper anyway. #savethetreesman

I gotta end this post with a reflection of 2016.  As far as running goes, it was mostly great.  Ups and downs with aches and pains didnt stop me this year from finishing all the races I set out to run. The first half of the year was tough. I figured out some tummy issues and dealt with a 5 week rest a month before Bryce100 (another unplanned rest due to a nagging injury that felt too much like a breaking bone)  Bryce was interesting and eye opening. Beautiful race, but hot and more like 105 miles. I learned way too close for comfort of the need to carry more water than you think you'll need. I learned to take care of your feet out there in the sandy desert for 100 miles, and that was no joke. I also learned DO NOT expect you and your ALSO sleep deprived crew to rally back to Salt Lake after a 100 mile race in the dark. Because although 4 hours aint no thang..it most certainly is after being awake for 40+ hours.
I came back to end my summer running with a satisfying finish at the Speedgoat 50k.  Paced 3 different friends in 100 mile races, exceeded my expectation at the Corner Canyon 50k in October, and ended the year with a double crossing of the Grand Canyon.Which was really great. For what its worth, I thought the eye candy was on the North Rim, BY FAR!

But- lets talk about this election. Have you heard?? The US elected an unqualified orange man who tweets angrily and often at media criticism and has turned this country into a dangerous joke, that for the first time in my life actually makes me want to cry about politics. This is not a new feeling for the millions of Americans who chose differently.  I was having a conversation with 2 men the other day- about this said asshat.  At last, I blurted out.."But hey guys!! Grab them by the Pussy?!?" Both men, one lib & one not, agreed with each other, that that was not that big of a deal."That's how men talk"...My only response was , well, than I am disappointed in both of you too. A friend of mine, whom I was very close to in my youth, is an apparent Trump supporter given her social media accounts.  I know for a fact this girl has been sexually assaulted, raped.  I will not go further into other reasons I can't understand her support for the man-baby. But, I am so shocked and sickened by even this one aspect of Trump.  But, more so, I am shocked and sickened by the "no big deal" attitude of the way he treats and has talked about women.  Trump is a national Show full of quick insults when his detached from real America ego gets fractured by the NY times or CNN. He's a joke..and we are the butt.

I'm putting it here, and honestly hope I am wrong when I come back and re-read this next year. I hope we go further forward as a united country. This will be tough given the volatile steps we have taken backwards over the last 18 months. But, I'll do my part. I will try to understand why him? How Him?! But, I am not hopeful I'll ever agree.

Anyway,  back to running for sanity, for health, for a pure high, and for a damn good time.
Happy 2017


No one can really know Everything about you, but

I cannot live with someone who can't live without me.
Nadine Gordimer