Monday, April 30, 2012

It has been a great few weeks of running!

I love spring. The running/racing season is in full force and there are a lot of great choices for running fun races. I have been on a pretty constant running high for several weeks now.

First, I ran my first ultra marathon. Then I ran my second long-distance relay with some of my best friends. Finally, I was part of an incredibly fun wedding party that-you guessed it—involved running.

I am working on my race reports for Ragnar and the Gladiator Rock ‘n Run.  In the meantime, here are a few pictures…

RAGNAR—Team 2 Dozen Scrambled Leggs!

Ragnar start line




GLADIATOR ROCK ‘N RUN—Sandra and Andy’s Wedding!

gladiator start

gladiator fire run


Photos courtesy of AlannaRene Photography

I hope you are enjoying your running as much as I am.

Happy Running…

Thursday, April 26, 2012

San Juan Trail 50K Race Report—first Ultra Marathon!

I wrote about some lessons learned from my race HERE at  My race report here is a bit more detailed and personal.

I was excited and nervous about my 50K. I could barely sleep the night before. I drove to the race site with plenty of time. That is a good thing because I missed the turnoff and had to drive a ways down the highway before I could turn around.

When I arrived to the starting line, I discovered that the course had been changed. The day before, there was a storm. It was a short, but powerful storm that brought snow into the foothills. Snow levels dropped to about 3000 feet. Because of the snow, the race organizers decided to eliminate the upper portions of the course where snow apparently covered access roads. We were told that the Forest Service had originally asked them to cancel the race. They posted a map, but it was hand drawn and didn’t mean much to me.IMAG1151

Everyone was buzzing with the news. The biggest change was that the toughest part of the race, Horsethief Trail, was no longer part of the race. Several runners cheered with delight at this news. I actually felt disappointed. I mentally and physically prepared for that trail. I was also a bit bummed when I learned that the course would be several miles short. I then realized that I needed to face the situation for what it was and keep positive. I made the comment to another runner that I just needed to get 45K in since it was my 45th birthday. I was still super excited!


I took off on the first loop at a comfortable pace. I was running with a group of runners for a while. Had it been a 10 mile race, I would have pushed to keep up, but I realized that I had a LONG way to go and slowed it down a bit to conserve my energy. I let them go down the path without me. I was a little relieved hours later when I passed one of those runners around mile 23.

The rest of the first loop I spent running mostly by myself. I always forget how disconcerting it is on these trail races with relatively few runners. I often felt like I was out there by myself. I kept doubting whether or not I had taken a wrong turn. I used logic to reassure myself. It was early in the morning and it had rained the night before, so any footprints would belong to other runners as few hikers would be out that early. So whenever I felt lost, I would look in the mud and see footprints to know that I was on the right trail. I felt a little like a tracker.

tracks SJT50k

Photo courtesy of Lauren on the Run

Many of the miles are a blur. I enjoyed the solitude of the trails. I listened to my music and didn’t listen to my music. I was out there for a long time. At the end of the first loop (9ish miles), there was an aid station stocked with some food and helpful volunteers to top off my water. I grabbed a couple Oreo cookies and went on my way. I have never eaten Oreos during a run and it was fun.

The next loop is known as the Candy Store loop. It is about 19.5 miles and was originally supposed to be the first part of the race. I tried to imagine that I hadn’t just run over nine miles and I was just starting out.  I was feeling great.

The entire course was single track trails. Those are the kinds of courses trail runners love.  However, you have to pay attention the entire time. So mentally and physically these single tracks take a toll. There were several times when I came very close to tripping and doing a face plant onto the trail. Tired legs trip more easily. SJT50k Lauren

The hills didn’t help either.SJT50k Lauren 3

Photos courtesy of Lauren On the Run

Around mile 14, there was a little gully. There were big rocks that I needed to cross. I stepped on a big rock and it was slippery. My feet slipped out from under me and I fell flat on my face. My first trail fall! I did a quick assessment and realized that I was fine...just a little scrape on my hand. I picked myself up, wiped myself off, said a quick “I’m OK” and ran down the trail. You see, even though I had been running mostly by myself, the one time I face planted, there was someone there to witness it.  Of course.

About 1/2 mile down the trail, I looked down to check my Garmin.  GONE!!  What??  I have a velcro wrist strap instead of the standard strap that comes with the Garmin. The device itself snaps onto a plastic housing. During my fall, it snapped out of its housing. My brain was spinning.  Run back? Keep going? I wasn’t 100% sure if the course came back that way. I don’t have money to burn buying another Garmin. Ultimately, my practical side won out. I wasn’t going to win this thing. I trained for 31 miles and this one would be shorter. What is an extra mile or so?

I ran back to where I fell. I was really hoping that I would find it. It was possible that it fell between the rocks and was lost forever. I could spend time looking for it and only come up empty handed. But there it was, right where my wrist banged against the rock. I tried to snap it back on the band and it wouldn’t go. Assuming it was broken*, I stuck the Garmin in my pocket. For the rest of the race (about half of it) I had no idea how far I had gone. Maybe it was better that I wasn’t checking my Garmin all the time. But it was frustrating not to know how far I had to go unless I dug into my pocket.

As I ran into the aid station around mile 15, the awesome volunteers starting singing happy birthday. They finished with “happy birthday dear, number 58!  Happy birthday to you!!!!”  I was shocked. Tears came to my eyes. “How did you know?” I stuttered. “I heard you telling someone at the starting line,” one gal said. I was fully refueled and recharged after this aid station-both physically and mentally. I felt like I was flying. I was ready for the next 13-14 miles!

Five miles down the trail was the next aid station. This was the big station. They had lots of stuff to refuel. They had some bananas, cookies and some nectar of the gods, Coca Cola. The Coke was the perfect temperature—not too cold, but not too warm and just slightly flat. It really hits the spot and gives the perfect boost. I love an ice cold Coke after a race, but during, it is better a bit flat. This aid station marked the turnaround of the loop. There was about nine miles or so left. There was a woman who had been right on my heels for a while. We both left the aid station around the same time. My competitive streak kicked in and I was determined not to let her finish ahead of me. It was great motivation.

The return was mostly uphill. I did quite a bit of power hiking, but tried to run as much as possible.  Most of the bottom part of the loop looked a lot like this. SJT50k Lauren 4

Photos courtesy of Lauren On the Run.

About mile 25 was the same “happy birthday” aid station. I felt great after this. I tried to run as much as possible. The terrain flattened out for a bit and looked more like this: SJT50k Lauren 5

At one point I ran into Lauren. She is my wonderful trail running friend and guide. She was heading down the trail as I was heading up.  She was in good spirits, despite having taken a spill herself. We stopped and snapped a couple of pictures of each other.  Photos courtesy of Lauren On the Run.

Lauren SJT50KDSCN4019

As I was a couple miles from the end. I came up to an intersection of trails. This was the third time running through this particular section. I had three choices of which way to go. One of them went away from the finish, toward the first loop of the day.  The other two both went towards the end. One of them went straight up a brutal hill, the other was a bit longer, but a more gradual uphill. I stood their for a while. My brain was not working well enough to decide. There were arrows going both ways. Another runner (that one female who had been behind me at the aid station) ran up and the two of us made the decision together. We went UP. That trail went up, up, up. Three other runners came along behind us. So at least if we were wrong (which we were), we would be wrong together. I found out later that the other trail was the way to go. The trail we chose was a bit shorter, but MUCH more difficult.

I finally hit the pavement of the road to the parking lot. It was a short downhill to the finish!!  I was done!  My Garmin said that I had run around 27 miles. I added the extra mile I had run backtracking to my Garmin to give me a total of 28 miles. I barely made my 45K goal.

My finish time was 6 hours 30 minutes. I was a little disappointed with this time. That was my goal time for the original course. I had thought I could run closer to six hours with the shorter course. But this course was not necessarily easier. There was still plenty of elevation (close to 6000 feet!). Plus, there are several miles on the original course that are on fire roads, allowing for some pretty fast pace. I couldn’t “open it up” on any section of the course that day.

SJT50K elevation profile

I tried not to dwell on any disappointment. I still ran an ultra—a very difficult ultra. I was tired at the end, but was still able to enjoy dinner and a movie with my husband later that night. Looking back, even though it was difficult, I enjoyed nearly every minute. People call me crazy for running for over six hours on my birthday. I must really love running.

I had normal soreness the next couple of days, but was able to run 29 miles the next weekend (look for my recap for the Ragnar Relay!!!).  I feel strong and am ready to run another one.  I still have a desire to complete that 50K! 

Thanks for reading this novel of a race report. It has been a while since I have written a detailed race report.

Happy Running…

*because my only camera was my phone, it was difficult to take pictures during the race. The on-course pictures are from Lauren at On the Run.  Thanks, Lauren for letting me steal!

**it turns out that it is fine. The plastic didn’t break like I had thought. I was just too impatient to snap it in place correctly.

Friday, April 13, 2012

Can I really run an ultra marathon?

Four years ago today, I ran my then longest run to date- 16 miles. I was training for my first marathon and was getting ready to turn 41 years old. I had a crappy run and my confidence that I could finish a marathon was shaken.

Well, I finished that marathon (barely) and five others.  I have had good races and bad ones. I finished them all.

I have wanted to take it to the next level for a while now. I thought that my first 50k would be Montana de Oro in the summer of 2010. I didn’t get the training in and the timing didn’t work.  But, I never lost the desire.

This year, when I was searching for a spring race, I was ready to take my running to another level. I am approaching a big birthday that isn’t quite big enough for a party, so I wanted a cool way to mark the event.  I found the perfect race. The San Juan Trail 50K is relatively close to home (an hour drive), it is in a location where I have run races in the past and it is ON my birthday. Only someone who really loves running would subject themselves to this kind of torture on her birthday, right?

The race is tomorrow. My training has been just OK. It was going well until a badly timed bout with the flu. Until that point, I had run at least a mile for 90 days! Breaking that streak was really sad. I was proud of that running streak and had planned a fun run for my 100th day. Check out all the blue on my DailyMile account!  This screen shot was taken early-FebruaryDaily mile streak

I did get an opportunity to run two races on the same trails, put on by the race organizers.  The 18K was a fun trail race where I met a lot of great runners. It helped to see so many familiar faces during the 21K a couple weeks later.  IMAG0515

I met the race director, Big Baz. He is a bit of a “dirty old man” but has a certain charm…


These trails are no walk in the park!

After I recovered from the flu, I was plagued with a horrible cough. I still get coughing fits—I just can’t seem to shake it. I missed close to two weeks of quality running. I missed two weekends of long runs. I missed a 30K race put on by the race organizer of the 50K. This would be the first 18 miles or so of the race. I also missed a 20+ mile run with some new trail running friends going up the Horsethief Trail, the most difficult part of the course.

Luckily, my friend Lauren invited me on a 22 mile run, which turned out to be closer to 24 miles. The run was fantastic and actually deserves its own post. It was a great trail run. It was very scenic, but incredibly difficult. There was a two mile stretch that was as difficult or more than the Horsethief Trail on the SJT 50K. It was tough, but I powered up it feeling strong. In fact, once at the top, after a bit of rest, I was feeling better than I had all day. The rest of the run was basically downhill and I felt great. The last couple of miles were tough, but I was able to finish strong. Finishing that run feeling so good gave me a lot of confidence that I can finish this race.


It is late and I must go to bed. I promise that I will write a timely race report (unlike the last half dozen races I have raced). Look for my race report sometime next week.

Happy Running….

Check out more about my training plan on

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Tough Chik Tuesday: Almine

Here is another installment of "Tough Chik Tuesday." I am thrilled to introduce Almine.  To me, she exemplifies tough.  She is a Crossfit expert and climbs both rock and ice, which is awesome.

When I think of the term “Tough Chik,” the first quality that pops into my head is “tenacity.”  This implies both mental and physical tenacity.  Tenacity is what gets me up at 5 a.m. each morning to crank out pull-ups.  It allows me to look fear in the face every time I climb ice or rock.  It allows me to go beyond the limits that my mind holds as “possible.”

I think what inspires people the most is a tale of “rags-to-riches.”  Someone, who, like a phoenix has risen from their own ashes.  This is my story.

I wasn’t always an athlete   (see my Journey of Darkness blog post ).  But, I have always held dreams close to my heart, coupled with discipline.

As a child, I was constantly in detention for climbing the school roof and playground trees.  The air is quiet, I found.  Where the birds live, drama and the worries of the world cannot thrive.  This is where I wanted to be.  When I climb, high above the ground, and watch people below me, the size of ants, I can see what the birds see:  a world in peril.  An earth inhabited by her children, who do not yet understand how precious it is.

Even though I’ve been touted as an “Adventure Athlete” by radio shows and magazines, I still consider myself a work-in-progress.   Its true, you will find me seeking out myriad training conditions.  My home state of Oregon offers this:  rain, mud, snow, sleet, sun, fog, oceans, mountains, rivers, trails…its all here.   I make it a point to expose myself to all these weather and landscape variables.  Nature is my proving ground.  Extreme terrain my love.

I’ve proven my tenacity, over and over, through Adventure Races, ice and rock climbing, mountain biking, snowshoeing, “CrossFit” and trail-running.  Each time, I am amazed at the capacity for what the human spirit and body can endure.  Every day is a new adventure, awaiting my curiosity, and willingness to begin again.
Climbing is my #1 athletic pursuit.  It requires 100% present moment concentration.  There can be no mistake in safety protocols or back-up procedures.  Each climb takes me to my edge, physically, emotionally and mentally.  It allows me to see with the eyes of an eagle.  It gives me vision for the grander scheme of my life, and great purpose.  

In addition, it teaches you the gift of “falling.”  Falling is a metaphor that runs through our lives like a thread.  We all fall down.  It is scary when we do.  The question is “Are you going to get back up?”  The fall will rattle your insides to the core.  It can make your heart race, and your knees weak.  But the triumph of finishing a route, you’ve been “projecting” (falling over and over on), is a sense of satisfaction I’ve never felt on the ground.  It gives you confidence in your capability to face fear, push your physical limits, and realize you can get back up.

My ability to be a “Tough Chik” lies in the “falling down” in my life.  And, in my tenacity to climb back up.  This lesson, I learn on the rock and ice, “trickles” into every area of my life:  marriage, relationships, family, work, etc.

The message I offer to “Tough Chiks” everywhere, and yes ladies, you all are “Tough Chiks,” is to find the peace in the “falling” process.  This is easier said than done sometimes, and is an ongoing lesson for all of us.  Some days are easier than others.  But, if we can all strive to find the tranquility in this falling down/getting back up process, then a great gift will unfold in your daily life:  one of self-esteem, confidence, and the knowing that nothing can break your spirit.  You are free.  Just like the birds above you.  Like the stoic rock around you, and the living earth that awaits you to discover it, like a child full of wonder.  Everyday.

For more information on Almine Barton, Licensed Acupuncturist, Certified Fitness Trainer, “CrossFit” Coach, you may visit her website at:

Monday, April 9, 2012

Reasons why I am NOT applying for Nuun’s Hood to Coast Team

2011 was a great year for me.  I accomplished many goals that I have had for years. I started my fitness business, I qualified for Boston and I ran the Hood to Coast Relay.  The Hood to Coast Relay was an incredible, memorable experience with some unbelievably awesome women. It not only introduced me to those fabulous people, but to a fantastic company.  I am honored to be a Nuun Ambassador and am loyal to this great product.

It was such an epic experience that it took six blog posts to say everything I wanted to say. I am sure there was more I could have said. It was one of those once-in-a lifetime experiences that will never be replicated.

So when Nuun announced that they were going to host teams again in 2012, I was beyond excited. We had been talking about running it again since we finished our last legs. I was eager to get my creative juices flowing and submit a kick ass application.  I was looking forward to joining my new friends again for a fun-filled weekend.

Here is a little taste of our weekend:
Here it is, the day of the application deadline and I have nothing to submit. I thought long and hard over this decision and decided NOT to submit an application. I am sad, but at peace about it.  I know that when Nuun announces the 2012 teams, I will be sad again.

You must be asking why are you NOT re-applying for this incredible opportunity that is right up your running alley????

Here are the top reasons WHY I am not applying for Hood to Coast this year:
1) Fear of rejection—I am not too proud to admit that this year I am a little nervous about getting rejected.  Normally, I do fine with rejection.  Lately, however, I have been a bit more sensitive. I have a lot going on in my life and I find it harder to let things go. I feel like all my friends and running buddies have other friends and I am nobody’s first choice lately, so I am not up for not being Nuun’s first (or 36th) choice. Last year I had nothing to lose. If I didn’t make the team, I could look at all the fabulous bloggers and know why they chose those women over me.  This year, knowing that 2011 team members are not guaranteed a spot, I was a bit nervous. In fact, to make it fair to everyone, Nuun has told us that only a percentage of us would be chosen again. If I don’t make it this year, I know I will question myself even more. It will take me back to those feelings I had in middle school. I will wonder if I didn’t make the team because I was lacking in some way. Did I talk too much?  Did I not talk enough? Did they not like me? Is my blog not popular or witty enough? Am I not good enough? 
2) My social media presence has been appalling lately—Other than Facebook for personal updates etc., I have been pretty absent from the social media world. My blog hasn’t been updated in weeks. I can’t remember my last tweet. I hope my followers don’t unfollow me!  I have only glanced at Pinterest and, frankly, don’t get it. I know that Nuun wants a big social media push from their team. If they check my stats, they will be disappointed.
There are several reasons for my lack of internet activity. First, my computer died a few weeks ago. I went back and forth with the manufacturer (it is still under warranty) and they still have it! It is difficult to get anything done on my phone. I finally plugged in my old computer, but there was a reason I replaced it—it is painfully slow!
Second, between clients and working in my kids’ school, I have been very busy lately. I hate spending my free time at the computer (although that does seem to happen). I have always been pretty busy, but lately it has made me feel overwhelmed.
3) I'm running Southern California Ragnar in two weeks—As much as I would like to run several relays a year, it does put added pressure on my family. My husband has to take a day(s) off work and/or I have to find friends to pick up my kids from school etc. Mommy being gone gets complicated.  My husband is great with this and very supportive, but I don’t want to push my luck and do it too often. I am also planning on running St. George again, which is another Mommy day off. 
In addition, with Ragnar looming, it is difficult to think about another relay in a few short months.  I know I would love doing both and becoming a relay “expert” like fellow Hood to Coast alum, Lauren. I just don’t think this is the year.
4) I have recently taken on new responsibilities—Some of my online friends and I have started a new website, This is a group-edited blog featuring articles about our favorite sport, running.  The site is a mixture of original content and reposted articles.  I don’t want to let these people down and I try to meet my deadlines to help keep our content fresh.  Check out as well as our Twitter, Facebook and Pinterest pages! [LOL…shameless plug]
5) We are relocating to Colorado in June or July—My husband’s job and the tough Southern California economy has us relocating to Fort Collins, Colorado. This last reason is probably the deciding factor in not applying. Details of our move are still up in the air. Our target move date is July 1, but we haven’t found a place yet. It will be a big transition for my children (and for me). School in Fort Collins starts in late August and I would have to miss a few of their first days of school. Switching schools is a big deal and I don’t know how much they will need Mommy in those first few days. Last year, I missed picking up my daughter for her first day of Kindergarten because I was at Hood to Coast, I am not sure I can do that this year. 

I don’t know what our routines will be. I don’t know how flexible my husband’s workload will be (although it is the same company, but his workload changes based on various circumstances). I don’t know if I will have any friends to help pick up the slack when I am gone. All these unknowns make it difficult to make plans to be gone for three or four days. 
I am both excited and scared about this move. I think this impending life change is one of the reasons I am feeling sensitive, overwhelmed and not very creative. I am sure as I get back into my blogging, I will write more about my feelings about this new chapter of our lives.
So there you have it.  While so many women are posting their Nuun Hood to Coast applications today, I am feeling a bit wistful. I just hope that my teammates and Nuun don’t take it as a reflection on them. I plan on starting my application for 2013 as soon as I get settled!  :-)

Good luck to my blogger friends who are applying.  To those of you I shared a van with, I hope you miss me—at least a little. I will be following you all eagerly and cheering you on. 

Happy Running


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