Tuesday, December 9, 2014

New Motivations

Just two days ago I started writing this post and once the words stopped flowing I saved it and closed my computer to finish another day. The post started as follows:

The last few months since The Bear 100 my normal routine has seen a few changes. Instead of heading home from work and getting straight out on the trails I have taken naps, maybe enjoyed a few to many beers and definitely enjoyed to many Biscuits. Needless to say my off-season has been a little over embraced.

Over these few months, I've learned a few lessons the hard way but I have also made great memories with friends, jumped into one last 50K for the season, slept in on Saturdays instead of getting up at the ass crack of dawn to run all day and found a new hobby to get me through the winter. I'm getting into climbing and giving my brain a slight rest from the countless hours on the trails. I have not stopped running but my mileage has definitely dropped back. I was hopping to gain entry into Hardrock 100 knowing that would light the fire again but with only a 2.5% chance I knew it was a slim chance this year.

Now knowing that I didn't get into Hardrock I can start registering for my back up races. It looks like my early season will be filled with the first 50 I ever did, Land Between the Lakes 50 back in Kentucky with the old crew, and Bighorn 100 in June. I'm also throwing my name into the Wasatch 100 lottery to fill out my season. Fingers crossed I have better luck with this one!

Now having just got back from tonight's run where the sunset cast a strange orange glow across the mountains that is indescribable I feel the fire burning hotter again. I'm not saying I wont continue to enjoy a few beers, maybe occasionally to many, or other endeavors and I'm definitely not back 100% where I was in July and August but I have the desire to be out building my base and working on speed so I can have a strong 2015 season. The difference a couple of days can make is incredible, I am sure I will again struggle this winter with motivation but I am confident that the fire will stay lit, and that 2015 will see improvements 2014 did not!  

Sunday, October 5, 2014

Year of the Mud - My 2014 Bear 100 Report

It's 5:50 a.m., the sky is still dark with the night and the air is warm. I've had my breakfast of waffle tacos and checked in at the start. Then, it finally hits me, I'm about to start The Bear 100. Months of training come down to the next 100 miles.

Even though there are roughly 300 people starting, once the RD yells go we are all off on our own personal journeys, something different driving every one of us towards that finish line. I have a plan to keep my heart rate relatively low for the first 50 miles so I settle into a power walk from the start with good friend Kari. After a short section of road through a neighborhood we are on single track heading up the mountain with only headlamps and flashlights lighting the way. The sun has not even risen and I am already sweating much more than I would like, especially with the easy effort.

The trail quickly becomes congested and Kari and I take a few opportunities to move up the field whenever there is an opening. Before I know it we have crested the first climb and we are beginning the descent into the first aid station. The early miles go by quickly with chatter of burro racing next season and taking in the sunrise and beautiful fall colors. I'm in and out of the first aid station right on time for the goal that I have set for myself, Kari comments we are going to fast, but despite the warmth of the day my heart rate is low and I feel well.

The next 20 or so miles go by uneventfully. I see my friends at mile 19 and they go into super crew  mode getting me what I need and getting me on my way. I'm still only minutes off of  my desired pace and Kari and I are still together but the heat soon begins taking its toll. I'm forced to back off of my pace and try to save something for when the sun goes down and the temperatures drop. Kari gets a second wind and pulls away and I settle into what feels alright, listening to some music and taking in my surroundings. Cows and all.

Before I know it I cruise into mile 36 where my first pacer awaits me. I clean up my feet change socks and restock my pack. I came into this aid station starving and while I am getting everything in line to go back out Cally is feeding me melon as fast as I can eat it. It tastes absolutely delicious and is insanely refreshing. After I am done gorging myself on melon Gibbs and I are off. Chris has told me this will be a hot section and to be sure I stay hydrated and keep it easy. As we are walking out of the aid station I give Gibbs and update on how I am feeling, how much I have been drinking and my urinating situation, and I made sure to let her know it was the color of a nice IPA, as long as its not the color of Stout all is well, right?

Within a couple of  miles I could tell that my melon feast, no matter how delicious, was not the best decision of the day! My stomach was not emptying and it felt like all the melon was sitting in my throat, I couldn't run due to how heavy my stomach felt. I needed to get rid of some of the melon. I found a log and stuck my fingers down my throat about the time a couple of guys came hiking by. We exchanged a few pleasantries and commented how barf fests were the best part of 100's and they continued on. Now normally, I hate throwing up. It hurts, the stomach acid burns my throat and it leaves a terrible taste in my mouth for far to long.  Not to mention all those delicious calories that get wasted! But this time was different! Yes, calories were lost, a moment of silence for their sacrifice would not be out of line,  but this was the tastiest puke of my life! Gibbs told me to make sure to drink water but I didn't want to get rid of the taste quite yet.

We continued down the trail chatting about whatever was on our minds at the time and Gibbs with an irrational fear of being pooped on by a cow made sure to keep her distance from them. As we were coming down the road to the next aid station we were welcomed by a short rain shower which caused myself a bit of stress because I would not be able to get to my rain gear for another 6.5 miles. Luckily the rain stopped. I again changed socks, restocked, talked to friends and we set back out.

The sun set on us on our way to Tony Grove, and for some reason my headlamp would not be my friend on this night. I was looking forward to the night section because I enjoy running in the dark, where your world is reduce to the 3 foot circle of light your lamp emits, climbs don't seem as bad and everything else ceases to exist. For some reason this night my lamp would make me dizzy. I didn't get tunnel vision which so many ultra runners get from running at night, instead I was simply a bit disoriented.  My light was casting strange shadows and everything seemed fuzzy. I had finally had enough of this and I asked Gibbs if she would trade me lamps. Hers was awesome and I know she really didn't want to since this was the first time she had tried it out but being a good friend a pacer we swapped. The difference this made was phenomenal. I instantly had energy that I hadn't had since the beginning miles, I was floating across beautiful single track and before I knew it I couldn't see the light being emitted from Gibbs behind me. I briefly looked over my shoulder and noticed she was no longer right behind me. I kept going, not because I was trying to drop her but because I knew this rush wouldn't last long and she would catch up before long. I was right, after about another half mile I slowed and Gibbs was again on my tail. I quickly apologized for leaving her and made sure to let her know I wasn't trying to drop her. My head lamp was making her dizzy as well. Sorry for making you trade Gibbs, but your headlamp is awesome!!!

My surge took a bit more energy than I would have liked it too and soon I was in one of many low spots to come. When we hit the 50 mile point shorty before Tony Grove I glanced at my watched and was still pleased to be going through the half way point 13 hours and 30 minutes in, not far off my goal pace of 26 hours. I was moving slower than I really wanted to when we were passed by a lady being paced by her dog. The glowing eyes and flashing green strobe on his color freaked me out a bit until I realized it was just a dog. Hot on her heals were two guys we had leap frogged with over the last section and the runner was feeling good, pushing the pace on the descent. I quickly stepped in line and asked if they minded me tagging along for the ride. We pushed it down the trail and we were on the road into the aid station before I knew it. It felt good to let loose a bit. Again I refueled and changed clothes as it was now getting cold. There is just something about putting on a new undershirt that makes you feel like a new person. Unfortunately this feeling only lasts until you start running again. I had been told that Tony Grove aid station was usually filled with carnage and as I was refueling I witnessed one disheveled runner uncontrollably sobbing and a few others on cots trying to get warm.

We headed back out into the night on our way to Franklin where my next pacer Cally would pick me up and do the last 38 miles to the finish with me. It was now getting late and I was off pace for my A & B goals but I was still optimistic that I could finish in under 30 hours. Within the  next few hours that goal would go out the window as well. Not much happened during these next ten miles except Gibbs getting a little concerned about me. I still had not peed since earlier in the day but I finally needed to find a spot off trail to take care of other business. I found a nice spot about 50 feet off the trail after telling Gibbs I needed to go to the bathroom and I would meet her around the corner, she graciously gave me some wipes and went down the trail to wait. Apparently, you are not supposed to take a relaxing poo when you are almost 60 miles in. It didn't feel like it had been that long but after being gone for what she said was at least 10 minutes she yelled into the darkness for me. Of course I was fine and I responded immediately saying I would be down in a minute. When I rejoined her on the trail she jokingly gave me a hard time for taking so long and we were again headed to Franklin.

Once we arrived at Franklin it was a bit cold and I ate some grilled cheese, changed socks again and prepared to head back into the night. Cally had driven my Jeep up and Gibbs would take it back as she planned to come out to some aid stations to crew through the night but I volunteered her for other things. I over heard a cute girl next to me saying she needed to find a ride back to the finish since she was done for the night. I graciously volunteered Gibbs for this duty after which I looked at Gibbs and said "You don't mind do you?" Cally and I sat off leaving the aid station and Gibbs with her new friend. You're welcome Gibbs!

Soon after leaving the aid station the skies would open up and be completely unrelenting for the rest of my time on the course. I knew there was a chance of rain and storms but never imagined what would ensue for the next 14 hours. There were several awesome flashes of lightening and loud claps of thunder which sounded like they were right on top of us as they echoed through the mountains.

From this point on the race becomes a little foggy. Time and the fact that anything other than my 3 foot bubble of light, still being emitted from Gibbs' headlamp, ceased to exist. The rain was cold and the trails became rivers of water. If there wasn't water rushing down the trails the mud was so slick and thick that I can not even begin to describe it and do it justice. I still moved forward but at a snails pace. My sub 30 hour "C" goal was now out the window and all that simply mattered was finishing.

I became extremely tired throughout the night despite all the Coke and Mountain Dew I was drinking at the aid stations. Every step I took would mean sliding through the mud and engaging stabilizer muscles that I did not know existed. We arrived at Logan river soaked and a bit grumpy. I sat down only wanting to clean my feet, change socks and undershirts so I could feel like a new person for a short time but by now this wasn't doing the trick. Rob and Ellen arrived shortly after I did and Ellen's headlamp was dying, I offered her my AAA batteries since Gibbs' headlamp took AA and I no longer needed them. They left before I did and I would  not see them again. Ellen ran a strong race regardless of the conditions, congrats again Ellen!

We finally left and went back out into the elements. Little did I know the aid station workers would mark me as drop here and in a few hours I would be MIA to my friends. We continued on to Beaver Mountain Lodge where before following a road into the aid station you must go down a steep embankment. I was at the top looking down thinking there was no way to get down upright. I looked for an easier way and settled on what looked like a grassy section. I took one step off and was immediately on my side sliding down. Upon stopping, covered in mud all I could say was "Well that's one way to do it!"  Upon arriving at Beaver Mtn Lodge I took a much needed 10 minute nap, since I could barely keep my eyes open. After changing and being down for 3 minutes, Cally brought me food and asked one of the guys how long I had been down for. He told her roughly 10 minutes to which I simply exclaimed "Three!" Cally asked if I wanted some water melon and I told her "In seven minutes" those next seven minutes would be glorious! Cally woke me up I put my pack on ate a little food and we left.  I was able to run, slowly, for a short flat section before I was reduced to a hike again. My plans had fallen apart and I was a bit demoralized! I should know you can never plan how things will go in a 100 miler!

I don't remember much until the last aid station at mile 92. What I do remember is a few hours later I could again no longer keep my eyes open. I found a pine tree, sat down ate two gels and told Cally to wake me up in 5 minutes! I zipped my rain jacket up, pulled my hood over my face and laid down on the ground. I was asleep before my head touched the ground. This helped for a short time, and I again began my painstaking slow march down the trail

Upon leaving Ranger Dip aid station tensions between Cally and I were a bit high and I snapped at her. Sorry again! We had one climb left that was a steep 600 feet then a steep 3000 foot descent to the road before the finish line. I power hiked the slick climb as fast as I could pausing a few times to regain my breath. Once we reached the top the descent was slick but mellow and I was optimistic this is how it would be to the finish. Unfortunately, I was wrong! Soon the terrain would be steep and extremely slick.  My quads and stabilizer muscles where hurting me badly and the only way I could make it down was to take a few steps and ski through the mud. When I would start going to fast or begin to lose my balance I would grab the branches of the brush on the side of the trail to slow down. The brush would stay in place and yank my body to a stop where I would regain my balance, let go and start the process again. I  made it through this section in just under two hours to my surprise and after one last angry episode we were on the gravel road to the finish. A spectator said we were roughly 20 minutes from the finish and I looked at Cally and said "Lets do it in 13!"  By my watch this would put me just under 33 hours 30 minutes.

Once on runnable ground my legs still had the pep to be able to pick it up. At one point I looked at my watch and it said I was running just over a seven minute mile. As we approached the last turn I could see a group of people standing on the corner, they stepped into the road then back onto the side walk. I secretly hoped these were my friends. They again stepped out and back trying to decide if it was Cally and I running down the road. Once close enough to tell it was me Rob and Gibbs took off running with me, Rob carrying his milk shake. We ran past Eric's car where he was sleeping since they didn't expect me to be there that soon. Gibbs knocked on his window woke him up and I pointed at him like some cool kid from a 90's movie. We turned another corner and there was the finish! I sprinted through like I was beating the clock, told them my number and immediately dropped to the ground. After just over 33 hours and 29 minutes by my watch it was over! I had finished my second 100, and gained qualification for Hardrock 100!!!

Some friends came over and congratulated me and new friends of theirs came over to tell me that was a hell of a finish. We made our way out of the rain to a picnic table where I exclaimed all I want is a beer when someone asked if I wanted some fish. One of the new friends quickly sat one down in front of me and I enjoyed my celebratory beer while everyone told me about being marked as a drop. After turning my phone on I had several messages asking what happened and if I was alright. Everyone was surprised to hear I had just finished and I was confused as to why everyone thought I dropped.

Shortly thereafter we headed back to the condo where I showered, ate two pieces of pizza got nauseous and went to bed for the next 12 hours. Every time I rolled over I would hit  my sore feet on the end of the bunk bed, wake myself up and moan some obscenity! It was a painful night but by the next morning I was feeling a bit better. We all sat around eating breakfast talking about the previous two days and what we all went through before packing up and heading home. It was a successful trip for our condo where all four runners staying there finished! Congrats everyone!

This journey would not have been successful without the help and faith of so many close friends. Cally and Gibbs thank you from the bottom of my heart for being out there with me and helping me through the good times and the bad. It really is appreciated and your selfless acts of helping me get to that finish line me more to me than you know! Thank you to Rob and Chris and Eric for helping crew me before setting out to complete their own pacing duties! Also thanks to my coach Cindy for designing my workouts for the summer and helping me to prepare! My name is already in the lottery for Hardrock and dependent upon that I will be back to The Bear to try and get the time that I desire!

Since the race many people have asked me why I do these. That's not an easy question to answer and I think it is different for every person, but the best answer I can come up with is because I want to be challenged. I want to be put into a spot where I must tap into a part of my soul that until that moment I though was non existent. To push myself to that point, to me, is to live anything else is just being. I want to live!

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Washed Away

The evening is cool, wet and quiet. My legs are heavy and tired as I move over the soft wet single track. I tell myself to just run the first few switchbacks then I can be reduced to a walk. As I climb my legs loosen and liven up, my mind begins to let go and I climb into the low hanging clouds that have settled in across the front range. The usually busy trails are empty and I have a sense of solitude never before felt on one of my favorite trails. I reach the top of the first large climb having not stopped to walk once, a first, in a time never before seen. I am now fully immersed in the clouds, the view of town below is no more and my field of vision is reduce to the next bend in the trail. I take a moment to soak in the stillness of the evening and then continue my way down the trail. My legs are still tired from the previous weekends race and the well ran climb but I cruise across the rolling terrain in and out of the trees seeing not another soul. My only company tonight is a lonely deer watching curiously as I pass. We make eye contact and she holds her ground as I run by. The farther into the run I get the more my mind and body let go. I can feel my legs and lungs growing stronger by the day, finally adapting to the ever growing familiar demands the mountain trails present. As I come around the corner finishing the last long climb of my usual route I decide to turn down a fork I've never before explored. As I open up and cruise down the smooth single track into the valley I become more aware of the sounds of the night; the rain falling on the leaves, the stirring of the unseen wildlife, and my feet hitting the ground. I run through an overgrown section and am instantly covered in the cool water that was until disturbed, resting on the vegetation. I find myself needing to turn back to head down the mountain but I let my curiosity lead me further down the trail wanting only to see what is beyond the next bend. After a short time exploring I finally turn back making note to fully explore this trail again soon. I begin climbing out of the valley back up to the familiar intersection and I feel my mind completely let go of the stresses of work, life and the recent events of having my car broken into. Instead the worries and stresses of life are replaced by flooding memories of the previous weekends race to the times and company enjoyed last night. I continue along down the trail to the final descent and I feel a sense of peace not felt for some time wash over me. I let go and I let my mind, body and trail become one, dancing over rocks and through puddles with a lightness and grace never before felt. As the short reprieve from the rain ends and the sky again begins to open up, I feel the cool water hit my bare skin, I drop my chin and I too open up comfortably cruising down the trail letting the rolling contours and gravity do the majority of the work. As I come to the end of the trail and arrive back at my car I am not out of breath or tired from the previous 90 minutes of bliss, I am no longer stressed about past events but my mind is free and clear. I am calm and at peace, and everything has been washed away.

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

If There's a River Cross It, and If There's a Mountain Climb It - My Hardrock 100 Pacing Report

A new Patagonia hat, free stickers, and not one but two, yes TWO, trips to Baked in Telluride to start my day, how could it get it much better? By pacing a big section of Hardrock 100 is how! I took off out of town Thursday afternoon after work so I could get to Silverton to see the start of the 2014 Hardrock 100, spend my day watching the race and crewing a friend all before getting to spend some time on the course of my dream race! It was gonna be a good day!

Friday was pretty great. Aside from the things listed above I got to see the leaders come through Telluride at mile 28 looking like they had just been out for a leisurely stroll. I was set to start pacing my friend Bob at Grouse Aid Station (mile 58) starting somewhere around 1:30 a.m. Saturday morning. At about 9 o'clock Friday night my friend Gibbs and I set out to get what would be my last hot meal for who knew how many hours. This resulted in us being rejected by more restaurants than women I've been rejected by in my 25 years! Finally after let down after let down we found one last restaurant that still had their kitchen over and we were able to get a hot meal. Unfortunately since dinner took so long to get we missed friends Chris and Bob come through Ouray by about half an hour and before I knew it, it was time to start getting ready and make the drive up to Grouse to pick up Bob.

Gibbs generously offered to drive me the 10  miles up so I wouldn't have to leave my car overnight, (thanks again!!), and on the way we drove through a pretty nice hail storm and could see lightning in the distance. This had potential to be an interesting night! But even though the threat of bad weather was high I still couldn't wait to get out on the trails and share some miles with Bob!

1:30 came and went and there still was no sign of Bob. An electrical storm at Engineer Pass had knocked out the radios so I wasn't able to get an update on when he had went through or when I could expect him. By the time 3 a.m. arrived I was starting to get a little worried so I checked with the aid station again in hopes the radios had been restored. Luckily I was able to find out he had left Engineer shortly before 3 a.m. but with 8 miles between him and me that meant I had at least two and a half hours before he would arrive so I climbed in the back of Andy's truck and grabbed one of the first and last naps I would have until I was done with my section.

Around 6 a.m. Bob and Pacer Kim arrived at the aid station. Within 30 minutes we were off and I was simultaneously excited and nervous to be on the Hardrock course. My preconceived thoughts of what the course was going to be like did not fail to disappoint as we were immediately met with a 2,000' climb up and over a 13,000' pass before descending roughly 1000' then back up and over Handies Peak, my second 14er since moving here. For some reason in my head I kept referring to it as Hades Peak. Bob and I got lucky and had great weather going over the highest point of the course while others that summited the night before weren't so lucky!

The course was absolutely stunning. I would stop to take a few pictures then run to catch up with Bob. Since this was only my second time pacing an 100 miler I checked with him to make sure it didn't bother him that I was doing that and I received his blessing. Bob was extremely easy to pace, he is tough as nails, knows the course and knows how to take care of himself in the mountains. We talked when he felt like it and we were silent when I felt like he wasn't in the mood for talking. When we arrived at aid stations I would do my best to make sure he got the things he needed then would tend to myself. I was pretty pleased with the way things had been going and so far the only complaint I had received from Bob was that I screwed the lid of his bottle back on too tight. I'll take it!!!

Once we left the Burrows aid station we had only 4 miles of gravel jeep road to go until we got to Sherman aid station. This section has a net downhill and we were looking forward to getting to Sherman. For some reason though on our way in I got extremely tired and was struggling to stay awake while we made our way down the road. There were moments when I would be walking and nodding off at the same time. Luckily I was able to keep this from Bob and get the aid station where I took in copious amounts of caffeine to give me the boost that my body needed. From what I hear Sherman is usually the favorite aid station, and it did not disappoint. They had a wide variety of food, including delicious mac n' cheese, and they had even spruced the back country bathroom up with candles, baby powder, wet wipes, motivational posters and to many more things to list. I could see why people loved getting to Sherman so much.

Bob had one main request on our way into Sherman, and that was that we apply bug spray before leaving. No problem! There was bug spray on the table next to us. I went to the bathroom one last time and had reminded myself when I got done that we would apply bug spray and then head out. Unfortunately at this moment I had the memory of a gold fish and the fancy bathroom atmosphere made me forget all about Bob wanting bug spray. Mistake number two of the day!

I realized I had forgot to spray Bob down within a mile of leaving and decided not to say anything about it in hopes Bob wouldn't notice. Unfortunately 5 minutes later he remembered we forgot! Crap! I tried to play it off and quickly changed the subject in hopes he wasn't to mad about it. Before I knew it we were at the top of the climb and were emerging from the pine forest onto a mountain tundra area around 12000'. The rain was finally coming down hard and steady enough that we decided to put on all our rain gear in hopes of keeping dry.

The rain was making Bob move faster and with the rolling terrain we were making descent time. After about hour and a half of steady rain, Bob asked me if I was still dry to which I honestly answered no. Apparently he wasn't either. We were both soaked at this point despite our rain gear and I had completely stopped trying to avoid any water on the trails. The rain continued for another good hour but we kept moving strong toward the next aid station.

The rain stopped shortly before we crossed the Continental Divide Trail, and we had begun talking a little bit more during this time. Some how  my age was brought up in the conversation and when I told Bob I was only 25 he told me that I had a good head on my shoulders and seemed to have things figured out and was on the right track. He made sure to tell me that he didn't mean just with pacing but with life. To this I responded with a sincere thank you and said I hope you are happy with my pacing as well though. No sooner did I say that Bob stopped atop the pass, turned around, stuck his hand out to me and told me how pleased he was. I shook his hand and told him I greatly appreciated it and we chatted about how he was initially skeptical about having me pace him but he couldn't be happier or more pleased with how things had turned out. Coming from a man who was on his way to his 5th Hardrock finish and a total of 30+ 100 mile finishes under his belt made those simple words mean the world. Bob, again I sincerely thank you for your kind words!

We continued on to one of our last aid stations that Bob I would go through together before I passed him off to his son at Cunningham, mile 91. The rain had made pole creek extremely muddy and sloppy and again I didn't waste any energy in avoiding the puddles. We were met with several knee deep cold swift river crossings, which we would cross with our arms locked to try and avoid having our feet swept out from the flowing water. This was the section in which I got the title of this report from. I have to give credit to Bob who responded to me "If there's a river cross it, and if there's a mountain climb it" when i commented on the numerous amounts of river crossings. I feel like this short phrase perfectly describes the Hardrock 100 course. We refueled at pole creek and began the 4 miles to Maggie Gulch. The last 4 miles of this section where pretty quiet and we eventually made our way into the aid station.

On our way in Bob commented on the size of the mountain that we had to climb coming out of Maggie. To put it simply, at this point it looked huge! The aid station assured us that we had only 1700' feet to climb and 3100' to descend before arriving at Cunningham, but Bob and I both knew we had way more than 1700'. We tried to make the most of what daylight we had left and we pushed hard to make it over the pass before the sun set behind the beautiful and intimidating San Juans. Upon cresting the first 13000' pass we noticed we had yet another to go before finally beginning the final descent into Cunningham.  By this time the sun was setting quickly and my heart rate was high. The hard effort coming out of the aid station had caused what food I had ate to not settle and I was starting to get some sever stomach cramps, but with only 5 miles to go I trudged on did my best to not show Bob I was hurting.

The sun quickly set and we pulled out our lights. At this point  Bob told me to lead and he would follow where I went. It doesn't sound like much responsibility but it is! I was extremely nervous I would some how get us lost and be the sole reason Bob wouldn't get his 5th finish. Put the stress on top of the ever worsening cramps and this was set to be the worst section of the past 16 hours.

With only a couple of miles left to go I told Bob to continue on while I stepped behind a rock to try and better the situation. After no luck with that and making myself throw up, where only saliva came out, I continued down the trail to catch up and take back the responsibility of leading still in pain. I caught Bob within 10 minutes and we were soon at the top of the last steep technical descent. My stomach was getting worse by the minute and every step was agonizing.

I kept it to myself as long as possible but with just over a mile to go I turned to Bob and told him to continue on, I needed a minute to sort my stomach out before continuing. He told me, he needed a break as well and we both sat down on the side of the trail. Before I knew it was on my side in the fetal position. My breathing can only be described as that of a woman in labor and the pain was excruciating. I convinced Bob to continue on without me, and that I would be right behind him. After questioning if I was going to be alright alone on the side of the trail he continued on.

I was now alone, in the fetal position on the side of the trail in the dark. I laid there for a moment longer and the pain became so intense I broke out in a sob. All I wanted was for the pain to go away long enough to finish what I started. Several runners and pacers passed by me while I was sobbing, all but one looked at me and said good work. Good work!!??? Could they not tell I was crying on the side of the trail!!! One girl did stop, pat me on the shoulder and ask if I was going to be ok, to which I simply replied, I'll make it down. Thank you for asking!

I finally pulled myself up and made my way into the aid station. Bob had came and went with his son for the last 9 miles to the finish. He had plenty of time to get his 5th finish. After sitting in a chair for a while I finally made my way to Gibbs' car where I crawled in the back and passed out while she finished working the aid station. We made it to town just in time to see Chris get his 5th finish in a row! Congratulations buddy! What an incredible achievement! I was to exhausted to stay and see anyone else finish so we made our way back to camp where I quickly climbed in the back of my jeep and slept until the awards ceremony a few hours later.

100 people, including Bob finished Hardrock this year. Killian Jornet set a new course record of 22:41 breaking Kyle Skaggs' previous record of 23:23 by 42 minutes! The joy that I saw in every finishers eyes as I watched them individually be recognized and receive their finishers print was absolutely beautiful. Pacing Hardrock was guaranteed to do one of two things for me, make me never want to attempt the race, or give me even more want and desire to toe that start line and set off on my own journey across the beautiful course that demands respect from every runner who decides to attempt it. Anyone who knows me closely knows that its the latter of the two. I'll kiss that rock myself one year, and until I'm given the opportunity I will help anyone who will let me!

Thanks goes to Gibbs for driving me around and for putting up with my delusional "Driving Miss Daisy" moments, and Bob again I want to thank you for your kind words and allowing me to share the miles with you on course! It was an honor sir!

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Soaking it in

I wrote this early Saturday morning while I watched the sun come up over the mountains. After a fantastic weekend in the San Juans and a couple of busy days at work I'm finally getting around to actually posting.

This morning as I sit at our campsite in the  brisk mountain air I am again reminded of why I moved to this beautiful state. I am the first to wake up after a long day yesterday, so I am able to sit in silence alone and start what will surely be a long day by listening to nature wake up around me. There is absolutely no other place I would rather be at this exact moment.

I could sit here for hours listening to the sounds of flowing water and the singing of the birds that have already risen to start their day. Our campsite is nestled in a small clearing by some old mining grounds that the San Juan mountain towns are famous for. Behind me the ridge rises just over a thousand feet and to the west are several peaks and saddles that I don't know the names of, but the names aren't important. What is important is the way the sun is casting its early dawn light over the peaks to the west. The colors are vibrant and beautiful. It is my first true mountain sunrise and I contemplate taking a picture to capture this moment, but decide against it. Pictures wouldn't be able to do the beauty any justice. Sometime some views aren't meant to be shared with others through a picture. Sometimes some moments are just meant for you. For you to sit still, soak in, and appreciate that you have been given that moment in time. 

The world is quickly becoming a world of technology and instant gratification. So many moments are missed because our faces are buried in the screen of our smart phones. Mornings like this one were never meant to be seen through the screen of a camera or a smart phone. Mornings like these were created to remind me that, even though I miss people from the mid west, I made the right decision in  moving here.

I challenge you wherever you are and whatever you are doing to occasionally take a step back and truly soak in the moment and your surroundings. Don't ruin it with technology, you can answer the text, or look at social media later but you will never again be given the same exact moment. It has always been said that a picture is worth a thousand words, but sometimes no words are needed. Sometimes the silence can be beautiful. 

Live smart, but most importantly live happy!!!

Monday, June 16, 2014

Going Too Far

"Only those who risk going to far can possibly find out how far one can go" - T.S. Elliot

I'm making the trip to Sheridan, Wyoming later this week to pace a friend in her first 100 mile attempt, and the above T.S. Elliot quote comes to mind. Whether you are running your first 100 or your tenth I feel like every time you toe the start line you are testing your limits.But you don't have to run 100 mile races or even run at all to test your limits. Every time you take a chance with something and do something unfamiliar you are finding out what you are made of and what you can take, and to me that is what makes life interesting and worth waking up for every day.

Four short months ago I never imagined I would be where  I am today. I'm finally settled in and am calling Golden, CO home after my second move in the last few months. I am thoroughly enjoying everything the small town has to offer, from the phenomenal trail access to the Bluegrass fest I attended this past weekend. I am making memories that I will fondly look back on and friendships that I will cherish for years to come, all this is possible because I risked going to far and I couldn't be happier that I did.

After a bad ankle roll a few weeks ago that I was most certain had ended my season (I may or may not have had a few melodramatic moments) I'm excited to pace this weekend and get things back on track with training. I'm registered for Bear 100 in September and I start working with a coach in the next couple of weeks which I hope will give me the edge I need to perform well this fall. I'm excited for things to come and new opportunities to present themselves to test my limits in life and in running.

To many people go through life not knowing what they are capable of because they are to afraid to try. Take a step back and ask yourself how you want to look back at your life when your time is up. Safe or a hell of a ride? Personally, I prefer the latter!

Live smart, but most importantly live happy!!!

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Twenty Seconds!!!

It's been a few weeks since my last post, not for lack of adventures to write about, but honesty from lack of energy! My recent weekends have been filled with some big days in the mountains that I still have trouble believing I am able to do on a regular basis. A few weeks ago Chris, Kari and I went up to Fort Collins, and met up with a new friend Brian, to run a 25 mile loop of the Quad Rock course, the next weekend Chris and I ran to the top of Pikes Peak and back, my first 14er! This last weekend I worked the Quad Rock 50 and ran the last 18 miles of the course as a sweep with Chris and two new found friends. All three of which are multiple Hardrock 100 finishers and one has been to The Barkleys a few times. The wealth of knowledge I was surrounded by was unreal! Needless to say with some big weeks under my belt I have been pretty exhausted, and my body has been in need of a bit of a break. Thats why when my lower legs started screaming at me to turn around and go home a mile into tonights run I was unsurprised. Even though the past couple of days have caused me to need some time on the trails and the scenery was amazing I decided to listen to my body and come home.

So naturally since I couldn't run tonight I decided to read some blogs on nothing other than.... you guessed it, trail running! I stumbled upon one titled Seven Ways Trail & Ultrarunning Can Change Your Life and within the first couple of sentences a chord was struck.

"...but life is to short to hold on to your security blanket / comfort zone / whatever reason you give for why you're not out there and doing something"

This simple portion of a sentence immediately caused my mind to be flooded with thoughts of all the excuses people make for not getting out of their comfort zones and experiencing life. I've been guilty of it in the past and daily I make an effort to do something that makes me atleast a little uncomfortable.

It caused me to think of a dinner conversation that was had just last week between myself and another runner I've met. I'm blessed to live in a place where I am surrounded by beauty at all times and I couldn't be more greatful. I'm constantly emersing myself in the beauty of the mountains and the trails that are thankfully at my disposal. It's my way of getting away and unwinding. When I'm out on the trails everything in the world makes sense and the stresses of my daily life are stripped away for a short time. I can't imagine living in such a wonderful place and never getting out onto the trails to enjoy and experience the beauty God has given us. Yet there are so many people that live here that have never even hiked some of the trails I run. They make the excuse that they don't have the time, or they have to do this and that. Now I'm not saying that everyone has to get out and run the trails multiple times a week like I do, it's not for everyone and that's fine. My point is so many people don't because that's what they've always done and that's what they are comfortable continuing to do. People become so paralyzed by their daily routines that they forget to experience life for what it is, an amazing gift, a short amount of time to fill with experiences and memories with the people that matter to you, not something to work away or spend alone. In this same dinner conversation the comment was made that "It is a blessing to work to live, but I don't live to work." I've never heard it verbalized like that but it's so true.

 This post honestly has nothing to do with getting out into the mountains or working to much, it only has to do with doing things that make you uncomfortable and experiencing life. In my opinion life is not experienced until we have done things that are outside of what we know and make us a bit uncomfortable at times. You can do that however you chose. I understand being overwhelmed with stepping out of the comfort zone, it can be a frightening thing, but the rewards that can come from it are amazing! I am not perfect and this is something that I have to conciously work on as well, so please dont take these words as me pointing my finger because if I was, I would have to point it right back at myself as well. I know this post isn't quite the type of thing I normally write about and It's a bit scattered but it's something that has been on my mind the past week. If you are reading this, I challenge you to lay down the proverbial security blanket and step out of your comfort zone. No matter if it's quitting the job you hate, trying something new, or opening yourself to a new relationship. Take the step! Even if it doesn't work out according to plan or how you had hoped I promise something good will come of it!

Saturday, April 19, 2014


Not all runs are created equal, and not all runs go anywhere near according to plan. I have again realized this week that this also goes for life in general.

Things have been going well since the 100 and I am getting more and more settled in everyday. I am beggining to meet new people and am exploring new trails almost daily. Whether my adventures on the trails and in the mountains are solo or with firends I truley appreciate that fact that I now live in a place where I get to take in so much beauty everytime I go out.

Even with all the beauty that is constantly surrounding me though there are still days that are hard. With the exception of the first week I lived here this has been one of the harder weeks for me since the move. I've been stressing about things that I have little to no power to change and I have been focuing on the negative of situations. This doesn't only translate to poor runs but poor communication with the people in my life as well. When I get stressed my introverted tendencies come out in full force. I become short and slightly irratable. This week has brought this out in me. Usually the best way for me to fix this is with a bit of alone time away from things. So what better way to get away from the stresses of life than set off on what was planned to be an epic solo adventure in the mountains.

The plan for today was 30ish miles on the trails. Roughly a six hour solo run. Even with the soreness in my left hip from a nasty spill on some wet trails Wednesday night and residual fatigue from the race three weeks ago I went to bed last night optimistic for a good day on the trails!

I woke up early this morning a bit tired but still optimisitc! I showered, ate and grabbed my stuff and arrived at the trail head just before 7. I hit the trail and not even two miles in my body began revolting. The lactic acid that was building up in my calves was miserable and no matter what I did I couldn't get any relief. I slowed down, put my head down and kept on, still with the intentions of a 30 mile day. I kept pushing and trying to force the run and things were getting worse. Within a few more miles my hip flexors were screaming on every climb, but again I was persistant. I kept thinking to myself that if I just kept pushing, the forces working against me would give up and I would still achieve what I had set out to do.

Sometimes, during runs as well as in life, this is the attitude that is needed. Nothing worth having or doing is ever going to come easy and you have to fight for what you want. It shows courage and strength when you continue to fight for what doesnt seem possible, but occasionally you need to step back and reasses the situation. In running, just as in life, it takes a smart person to stop and realize when you need a rest day. It can be one of the hardest parts of your training to take a day off and listen to your body when all you really want to do is be out there cruising along on the trails.

About seven miles in today I finally listened and decided to turn back. I spent that last hour and a half of todays run thinking about life in general and how it relates so much to my running. At one point I even sat down on a rock on the side of the trail, removed my headphones and just listened. The birds chirped, the wind blew and I could hear the water running from a near by stream as well. I felt the raindrops from a small spring shower land on exposed skin and I soaked EVERYTHING in.

It was at this point I decided that like todays run I needed to listen to what is going on around me and let things work out the way they are suppossed to. It's not giving up or quitting, its being smart and living to do it again another day. Just like deciding to cut the run short and give my body a break, this wasnt decided easily. All week I have struggled with making the decision to just let things happen, but thanks to a rough day on the trails I have came to my senses.

Overall things are great. I'm so thankful to be meeting new people and for having miles upon miles of trails at my disposal for epic mountain adventures. The road to what you want and to where you want to be is never straight. Its filled with all sorts of twist and turns, back tracking and obstacles to overcome. Be smart and keep fighting! Today the trails won. But tomorrow, God willing, I'll go back out for my rematch. I may lose again tomorrow, but as long as I am persistant and smart about it, eventually I'll come out on top!

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Praire Spirit Trail 100

The alarm went off well before dawn Thursday morning. I drug myself out of bed at 4 a.m. took a shower to wake me up, loaded the car and was on the road to Boulder to pick up Chris so we could head to Kansas. By 7 we were loaded and on our way to Ottawa to meet Michele and Wayne for the Prairie Spirit Trail 100. Eight hours later with just a few miles to go to the hotel we got a call from Michele and they were a little concerned with the looks of the hotel. I booked the hotel online months ago because I got a got a really good deal on it and it was right across the street from the start finish line. I have to admit upon arrival I was a little skeptical to, but to everyone's surprise the hotel turned out to be pretty nice.

That night we went to a small Italian restaurant in town for dinner and went to Walmart to pick up some last minute things that we had both forgotten. We laid around the hotel and caught up on everything that has been going on lately and called it a night. The next morning we made a 75 mile round trip to the nearest Cracker Barrel so we could keep the day before the race breakfast tradition alive. We spent some time at the Bass Pro Shop then headed back to the hotel to get our drop bags ready so we could go to the race check in and drop them off.

The pre race briefing was at 6:15 that night at the local rec center just down the road. Honestly everything in Ottawa, KS is just down the road, the town isn't very big at all! After the briefing my parents, Wayne and Chris went to dinner and Michele and I headed back to the hotel to have or normal pre race meals. Papa Johns cheese pizza for her, picked up that morning when we went to Cracker Barrel, and Subway for me that we picked up on the way back to the hotel. After we ate I made sure I had everything laid out on the ironing board in the hotel room per tradition, changed into some comfortable clothes and tried to relax for the rest of the night. Surprisingly I wasn't nervous about what I would be attempting to make my body do the next day.

I checked Facebook one last time before turning in, and I had received a post from friend and veteran 100 mile runner Misti, telling me to have fun tomorrow and the next day! Which made me laugh. She also included some unsolicited advise that I would hold on to throughout the race the next day. I set the alarm for 4 a.m. and I went to sleep.

When I awoke the next morning I noticed Chris was on the floor and the mattress was hanging over the edge of the box springs a good 8 inches. I asked Chris what he was doing on the floor and he proceeded to tell me that in the middle of the night he had diagnosed me with "Periodic Limb Movement Disorder". Apparently every 20 seconds I would twitch for approximately one second. The way he presented the story made us all laugh and earned me the nickname of Twitchy for the morning. After a quick shower and breakfast I got ready so we could make the short walk over to the start line.

Photo Courtesy of Chris Gerber
We checked in and talked to a couple of people we recognized and before we knew it was mere minutes before the start of what we had been training for for the last 16 weeks. David Horton said a prayer and Michele and I made our way to the start line together.

With one last quick word from the RD we were off! The first two miles of the race was a short out and back section before we began our journey to the turn around in Iola, KS. Before we even made it to the turn around of the out and back the leaders were already heading back and moving fast! Since we started at 6 a.m. it was still dark out for the first hour or so and we were running by the light of our head lamps, something I enjoy a lot! Before I knew it the sun was coming up and we were in our rhythm of running 10 minutes and walking for 1 minute. Michele was having some issues with her periformis that would unfortunately stick around for the entirety of the race. She thought if she sped up a little it would allow her hip to loosen up and pop and the issue would go away. I didn't want to run any faster than what currently were so I told her to do what she needed to do and hopefully we would see each other through out the day. We did not plan on running the whole race together but I was a bit bummed that we were already separated and we hadn't even reached the first aid station. There was nothing I could do about it so I settled back in to my own rhythm chatting with other runners as they passed or I as I passed them.

Photo Courtesy of Kristi Barnhart
I arrived at the first aid station about 9.5 miles in, topped off my water bottle grabbed something to eat and headed out not wasting any time. To my surprise I saw Michele just heading out and just like that we were back together. Running faster hadn't helped her hip out any so she decided to settle back into the original pace and we set off together again. The next aid station was about 16 miles in and we quickly arrived, topped off bottles grabbed some food and were off again. I had downed a Mt. Dew while in the aid station and brought a sandwich with me that was gone in 4 quick bites.

For the last few miles I had been thinking to myself that we may be going a bit to fast but I hadn't said anything as it felt alright, but then Michele said something about it and we both agreed that we would be in a lot of trouble if Chirs knew how fast we were going. A couple of guys over heard us and chimed in on the topic and put some things in perspective for us. We were running at a pace that would have us finishing at 16 hours. Far to fast for us! They were running for 4 minutes and walking for 1 so we decided to try that as well to see if it slowed us down a little. It brought our pace down a bit but we quickly arrived at the Mile 25 aid station in Garnett. We didn't see my parents, Chris or Wayne when we went in so we figured they were still back at the hotel catching some sleep before they began their long day. We went in grabbed some food and Michele decided she needed to try and stretch since her periformis wasn't getting any better. When we walked out and there was our crew, and the first thing Chris said to us was, "You guys are going a bit to fast don't you think!" I told him we were trying to reign ourselves in and his comment was "You're not going to reign it in now its gonna hit you later." We both felt a little scalded so we stayed quiet the rest of the time we were there and walked out of the aid station together, like puppies with our tails between our legs, so it would appear we were trying slow down.

Once we were out of ear shot we both kind of laughed and commented we felt like a puppy who had just gotten in trouble for peeing on the carpet and decided we did need to slow it down. Michele was still struggling with some pain and my hamstring were revolting as well so every chance we got we stopped to stretch to try and get some relief. We rolled into the mile 33 Aid Station in Welded in an elapsed time of 6:30, we would later here that the leader was at the turn around in the same amount of time!
Running into Welda AS. Mile 33
Photo Courtesy of Kristi Barnhert
Welda (Mile 33)
Photo Courtesy of Kristi Barnhart
  Just like the aid stations before, we were in and out not wasting any time. Chris commented that we had reigned it in a bit and thought we were both completely with in ourselves. This was good news! We weren't in trouble any more! Wayne told us we looked a lot better than the people that had came in before us. This was good to hear. 33 miles down, 67 to go!

The next aid station was at mile 41.5 and was in Colony, KS. During the last stretch Michele and I had discussed switching our run walk ratio to 3 and 2, so we could try and save our legs for the last 50. Misti had commented the night before that the race didn't begin until mile 50 and even though I really wanted to go through the first 50 in 10 hours I wanted to make sure I still had the legs to run a good second 50 and not encounter the dreaded death march. We tried the new ratio for a little while but it was making Michele's hip feel worse, I liked the way the 3 and 2 felt but wasn't ready to split up and I didn't feel like the running 4 minutes and walking 1 minutes was affecting me negatively so we settled back into together. 

My legs were beginning to fatigue a little but nothing that isn't expected 35ish miles in. I felt like I was still taking in plenty of food and fluids and mentally I was still feeling strong. I didn't feel like we had been out there as long as we had and I was eager to hit the 50 mile mark!  Nothing really interesting happened on our way to the mile 41.5 aid station and when we arrived we went through our same routine of topping off bottles, restocking our packs and taking in some solid food. Michele would get stretched out by Wayne while I would talk to my parents and eat as much food as I could handle. The day was beginning to get a little warmer and while eating here I thought I was going to have an issue with nausea when I was eating some ramen noodles, but luckily within a few breaths and a few drinks of water my stomach settled and I was good to go!

This next section seemed  more exposed than the rest of the race and the sun was high in the sky beating down on us. I began to feel the effects of it getting warmer a little. Every time we would start our walk I could feel my heart pounding in my temples and it would just settle by the time we started running again. The 3 to 2 run walk ratio felt like it would have been the perfect way to fix this but it still gave Michele problems so we kept on with the 4 and 1. At about mile 47 I told Michele I was feeling the effects of the heat and that I most likely would have to start doing my own thing when we got to the turn around. I was a bit bummed about this because this is where Michele would be picking up her pacer but I wouldn't be getting mine until mile 69. I was happy we had been able to stay together this long though! Soon we hit the 50 mile mark at 9 hours 58 minutes and 44 seconds! 1 minute and 16 seconds faster than I wanted to hit the half way point. This gave me a bit of a boost and I stopped feeling the effects of the sun and soon we were rolling into the aid station at 51.5 miles!

Iola AS. Mile 51.5
Photo Courtesy of Kristi Barnhart
When we arrived at the aid station our crew was once again waiting for us ready to help us with what ever we needed. Chris was ready to pace Michele and the excitement of coming into the turn around gave me the second wind I needed to comfortably and confidently leave with them. The night before Misti had told me to get through the first 50 without any problems because the race didn't begin until the last 50. So here we were, back at the "starting line" and as Chris put it, "Ready to Party!"

Party Time
Photo Courtesy of Kristi Barnhart
The three of us left the aid station together with Chris asking us both how we were feeling and telling us that we looked good. The next aid station would be roughly mile 63 and we were well on our way. We continued with the same 4 to 1 walk/run ratio and drank every time we walked. We chatted a lot as we put in the miles which made it feel like we reached the next aid station rather quickly. Michele's hip was still bothering her and she said she wanted to take her time at the aid station and try and get it sorted out. I used this time to refill my pack and try and take in a substantial amount of calories.

I ate the same things as I had been all day but for some reason the ramen wasn't settling quite as easily as normal. My parents told me that I needed to eat more than I was but I assured them I was fine and soon enough we were on our way. Looking back I should have listened to my parents! Wayne would be picking me up at the next aid station which was mile 69, so I wanted to stay with Chris and Michele at least until then. I had been looking forward to this station all day because the night before Misti had also told me that if I got to mile 70 I was GOLDEN! I could screw up all I wanted in the last 30 and still be able to crawl in if need be! So far I had made it 64ish miles without a screw up so only 6 to go!

Soon enough the sun was starting to set and before I knew it we were pulling out our headlamps and were getting closer to the next aid. We didn't chat as much this section as I was focused on getting to mile 70 and Michele was starting to go through a little bit of a rough patch. Chris kept periodically checking on us to make sure we were feeling ok. I told him I hadn't taken a Vfuel in quite a while and was contemplating taking one even though we were only a couple of miles from solid food. He assured me it definitely wouldn't hurt because you can't get a second wind if you aren't fueling properly. Thinking back this was the only thing I had with calories in it since the last aid station. I was slipping on my nutrition a little and I needed to get it back in check or pay the consequences!

We ran into mile 69 under the power of our head lamps and I quickly went to my drop bag and pulled out a sandwich and a mountain dew. I drank the mountain dew, ate about half the sandwich before it didn't taste good any more and decided to eat some soup. I felt full and decided that was enough to eat, my parents again told me to eat more and I again assured them I was fine. For the time being I was but unfortunately I wouldn't be for long.
Mile 69 Aid Station
Photo Courtesy of Kristi Barnhert

With Wayne now along for the ride the four of us ran out of the aid station and we filled Wayne in on what we were doing with our run walk. When I realized we hit mile 70 I made the comment that I could now screw up as much as I wanted and still be able to crawl in! Stupid, stupid, stupid! Now that it was completely dark outside we could see when we were approaching people by the glow of their headlamps and we spent the next few miles picking them off one by one, we were picking up our pace from the excitement and I could tell from my heart rate I should back off a bit. At about mile 74 the urge to pee hit me and I stopped, exclaiming that I would catch up but I told Wayne we were going to catch up slowly though because I was beginning to tire and could tell me energy level were beginning to drop.

We caught up within about a mile and ran together for just a short bit before the pace felt a little to hard for me so I slowly let Michele and Chris pull away thinking I would take my time to the mile 77 aid station then be able to leave with them feeling fine. Little did I know, that wouldn't be farther from the truth! All of a sudden it hit me! My legs were beginning to scream in agony and I had no energy! How could this be happening? I felt fine less than 5 minutes ago! I would be fine I told myself. Just coast into the aid station and keep your heart rate low so you can take in a substantial amount of calories! Maybe I should have listened to my parents hours ago and ate more!

I walked into the aid station having finally hit my first low. I still had hopes of refueling quickly and going back out with Michele and Chris, but the second I stepped in things went from bad to worse! I bent over hands on my knees trying to get my legs to stop shaking. I refused to sit down when Wayne told me I should, that is until I stood back up and things began going fuzzy! I quickly made my way to a bench and requested some salted potatoes from my parents and began going through my check bag. Over the course of the next few minutes I don't remember much except starting to go deeper into my dark spot.

I was having trouble getting the potatoes down and I was getting a little frustrated. Michele told me not to stay sitting for long and I replied with "I'm gonna sit here until I can feel my F*cking legs again!" This would be the first of many F bombs to come while at this station. Chris came over and told me it was all in my head and that I would be fine. I think he might have thought I was thinking of dropping. But even when things got really bad I never allowed myself to entertain the idea. I just thought that I had 12 hours to go 23 miles, I would finish but its gonna be a LONG 23 miles. Before Chris and Michele headed out Chris came over and said "This is from Misti" and proceeded to pat the bunny. This made me chuckle which I took as a good sign.

I was still having trouble taking in solids and now I was beginning to shiver uncontrollably. I must have been looking pretty rough because several aid station workers kept asking me if there was anything they could do. They kept brining me food and finally after drinking about 5 cups of ginger Ale I was able to eat again! But I still couldn't warm up. I was finally convinced to change clothes after some coaxing from my parents and the workers. After I changed they moved me to the back and put me in front of a heater wrapped me in a blanket then put an electric blanket on top of that. I was finally able to eat substantially, bacon included, but not before having some serious  Betty White moments. One guy even asked if I needed a snickers! I was a little disappointed to find out he didn't have one though.

After talking to Leah on the phone for a second and finding out that I had spent 35 minutes in this aid station I pulled myself together the best I could and Wayne and I departed for the last 23 miles. When we left I wasn't able to run right away and I quickly began getting cold again. This made me pretty nervous because I know what can happen if you cant warm up. Plus I had on two pair of tights and seven long sleeve shirts, I shouldn't be shivering! Finally I started running one tenth of a mile then walking one tenth of a mile and began warming up. Before I knew it I was running two tenths at once and mentally it felt great. This went on for about 3 or 4 miles before I began crashing and things again severely slowed down! Luckily the next aid station was only a couple of miles away. A couple of miles that I walked, slowly, and painfully!

Upon arriving at the aid station I again sat down in front of a heater wrapped dads jacket around me and began shoveling in whatever I could eat. I spent longer than I should have here but I still feel like it was needed. When I got up to leave I asked them how far it was to the next aid station and I was told 9 miles. A little longer than I wanted to hear, but doable. Again we walked out this station and soon enough I was running a tenth walking a tenth. Just like last time this went on ok for a few miles but then things slowed down. I took a couple of gels and put in some music hoping that would give me the boost I needed. Soon enough my phone was ringing. It was a text from Chris asking me how I was doing. I told him better but I was power walking alot, I was at about mile 91 and ready to get the last aid station. He told me they were around mile 92 and power walking as well. They were only a mile ahead! I could still catch up and we could still finish together! This was just the boost I needed! We began running again and soon enough I was running as fast as I was at mile 50! This felt great! I text Chris and told him to tell me when they got to the final aid station and that I was trying to catch up!

I looked down at my watch and realized according to the workers at the last stop we should be getting close, but I couldn't see any lights in the distance. We kept going and every time we would come up on a pair of headlamps I would get excited thinking it was Michele and Chris, but it never was and the aid station was still no where in sight. Cue another mental dark spot! I began cussing the workers for telling me it was only 9 miles when I had clearly already gone more than that and I still wasn't there! Nothing Wayne said calmed me down so I just turned my music up louder and hoped I was getting closer to Michele and Chris.

We finally rolled into the last aid station at just over 10 miles. Now I know one extra mile isn't that much but that night it felt like an eternity. I still hadn't heard back from Chris so I was hopeful they were still there getting things sorted out. I again sat down to eat and dump the rocks out of my shoe and I asked a worker when number 25 had been through. They told me she had checked in at 3:08 took her drop bag with her and never stopped. This deflated my sails a bit, she had left just over 10 minutes before I arrived and from what I was hearing she was looking strong. All hope of catching up was gone.

I talked to my parents a little, figured out I had 7.2 miles to go and approximately 115 minutes to do them to get in under 24 hours.  Not quite the cushion I had wanted but none the less it was doable. I put my music back in and told my parents we would see them at the finish line! The next 4 miles are a blur. With about 3 miles to go I could see the spot light for the finish line in the distance but I didn't recognize any of the trail and we were running away from it! My right foot was beginning to hurt as I could feel a  huge blister on the ball of my foot developing and I again began to bitch that we must have taken a wrong turn and that there was no way we would be at the finish line in just under 3 miles!

With about 1.5 miles to go I recognized the trail again and received a text from Chris apologizing for not texting at the last aid, he had just gotten my message and told me to text him when I hit the last bit of pavement. I responded that I was hitting it now and should be at the finish in about 1.5 miles. He responded "Like a Boss!" I sure didn't feel like a boss!

The trail wound about a bit always seeming to go away from the finish, but we finally rounded a bend and there it was the last straight away to the finis!. It was probably a half mile long and I could finally smell the barn! I cranked up my music and put Lose Yourself by Eminem on repeat and began singing it out loud! I was going to do it! I was about to finish my first 100 and I still had 30+ minutes to do it in under 24 hours! My pace began to quicken to what felt like a sprint but ended up being only an 11ish minute mile! I could hear the cowbells ringing signaling the finish line workers that I was on my way! I made the last left hand turn into the field and there it was! THE FINISH LINE! It was like a weight had been lifted from my shoulders! I did it with an official finish time of 23 hours 37 minutes and 10 seconds! My sense of accomplishment has never been greater!

Photo Courtesy of  Mile 90 Photograpy

 I would like to thank Wayne for pacing me the last 31 miles and dealing with me bitching when things weren't going the greatest. Also to Chris for the knowledge and tips in the weeks leading up to the race and for driving the entire way home Sunday after being out there all day as well. Last but most certainly not least I want to thank my two biggest fans and the best support system anybody could ask for. They always believe in me no matter what challenge I tell them I am taking on next and they always want to be there at the finish to see me do what I set out to do. My parents drove all day Friday to be there and crewed for Michele and I from start to finish. They made sure Chris and Wayne were where they needed to be to fulfill their pacing duties and even gave a ride to a racer that dropped at mile 63. They sacrificed their entire weekend to help and asked nothing in return. For that I am forever grateful and can not thank them enough!

Michele and I after we finisher!
Photo Courtesy of Chris Gerber

Left to Right: Me, Chris, Wayne, Michele
Photo Courtesy of Kristi Barnhert

My Crew and biggest fans. Mom, Dad, and I
Photo Courtesy of Chris Gerber

Saturday, March 22, 2014


After a particularly hard run this last Tuesday I sat down with my computer and started writing a post titled Everyday Is A Struggle. I talked about how hard it was running out here because I wasn't used to the altitude and how on every run I felt like new runner again, with my lungs burning and my legs just not wanting to turn over. I wrote about not only how every run was a struggle but about how every thing in general was a struggle due to missing friends and family more than I ever thought possible. After a while in front of the computer I had wrote what was on my mind but I just didn't feel like the words where there the way I thought they should be, so I closed my lap top and went to bed with full intentions of revisiting the writing Wednesday and posting it. But then things changed.

I was at the Denver office all day Wednesday so I got back to The Springs just in time to change, eat a snack and get over the The Boulder Running Company for a 5:30 group trail run I had heard about. This would be only the second time since I have been here that I've ran with other people. All my other runs have been spent solo on the trails behind my apartment and my thoughts have always went to how hard this was and wondering if I made the right decision in moving here. I needed a run with other people, and I needed it BAD! I'm a very introverted person but with a week and a half of alone time under my belt some social interaction was in order.

I was a little concerned that I would not be able to keep up with anyone since any time the trail starts going up my heart rate decides it should do the same and begins beating out of my temples! The first couple of miles were pretty easy with some time spent on the road getting to the trail head but my I was still struggling slightly to get into a rhythm with my breathing. We hit the trail dropping into single file with me right behind the lead guy and three other people right behind me. I spent the majority of the next mile following him step for step, if he picked it up I picked it up. I didn't want to be the reason the three behind me had to slow down! My breathing was a bit labored and I just kept thinking to myself, "I don't know how long I can keep this up!" Then I glanced over my shoulder expecting to see the other three right on my heels, but to my surprise we were pulling ahead of them!

As the lead guy picked it up a bit more I decided to stop at the top of the climb and fall in with the other three. I didn't want to do anything stupid with the 100 next weekend and I really didn't know exactly where we were going since this was a new part of the trail for me. The others crested the climb and I said "I don't know where I'm going! I'm gonna stay back with you guys!" With a bit of a chuckle I fell in behind them and off we went. A couple of the guys asked me if I had a Marathon in May after we discussed what was on our schedules for that night. After I told them I had a 100 next weekend the conversation picked up, with questions from them about how long it would take and so on. The girl we were running with just kept quite as she is an ultra runner herself.

Before I knew it we were about 4 mile in and my lungs WEREN'T screaming! We were going down the trail at a decent clip and I was keeping up! I was pleasantly surprised! After that first loop the two guys peeled off and the lead guy from earlier, Jen and I went out for another loop. We all chatted about what our race plans were for the summer., both of them were looking at some 100K's that sound fun, so I listened and put in the back of my mind races to look into after the 100!

We finished our second loop and hit the road for a short jaunt back to the store. Once we got back I decided to run it out to 9 for the night. I said my good byes and accepted the good lucks and set off for the last bit of my run on a great high! I finished up and drove home and felt great. I had just had one of the best runs since I had been here! I didn't set any records with my mid 9 min/mile pace, but I felt strong! I had just kept up with two local ultra runners! It doesn't sound like much but it was a big deal for me. I feel like it may have been the turning point in my running out here. Since Wednesday night I've had two other great runs and I feel like I'm adapting to the altitude a bit more every day. I'm still a long way from being completely acclimated but I'm confident that with in the next few months I'll be running strong again like I was back home. Just in time to start going higher into the mountains!

So all in all maybe the reason the words just didn't seem right Tuesday night was because they weren't 100% true. Don't get me wrong, it is still a struggle every day to realize that I'm a 1000 miles away from the people that are most important me. Its tough to accept the fact that I wont see any of you on a daily or monthly basis like I'm accustomed but maybe I just needed some human interaction while doing what I'm most passionate about to realize everything will work out in time, and everything will be exactly how it is meant to be.

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Settling In

This past week has been a whirl wind to say the least. I've been meaning to write but with everything going on I haven't had the chance, or the words to say. My thoughts are kind of all over the place and this post will most likely be the same way. Please bare with me!

Last Friday morning my parents came to Evansville to help me load up the U-Haul before I left for LBL with Michele and Wayne, and I have been going non stop since it seems. We got to Grand Rivers Friday afternoon for packet pickup and realized there was no Papa Johns or Subway anywhere close for us to pick up our pre race meals. We ended up going on a bit of an adventure that involved 50ish miles of driving and a pizza pick up in a bowling alley parking lot that resembled more of a drug deal than anything!

That night was spent at the condo with everyone. The group got me a big picture that they all signed, Kendra and Kevin got me a plaque that they wrote a nice message on the back of and Cathy got me a Superman bank since she always calls me Superman. She told me it was to be used to save money to come visit one quarter at a time. What really pushed me over the edge and almost made me cry was the glue stick Michele gave me. Long story short she has always been the glue that held our running relationship together as she puts it. Its earned a permanent home in my pack.

The race Saturday went awfully, I'll get around to a race report at some point. I crashed on Michele and Wayne's couch Saturday night and said my final good byes Sunday morning. Papa Wayne was wrong, I didn't cry before I made it to the end of the road, I held it off for 60 miles!!! The next two days involved 1000 miles of windshield time and getting everything into the new apartment with the help of my parents. The move would not have been possible without their help and I am forever grateful!

My parents left Tuesday around noon after I got back from an interview with another company. I've had a crazy turn of events and I'm actually going to work for a different company than the one that I moved out here for. It's going to require me to move to South Denver in the near future so that's another thing that I am having to figure out.

The stress has definitely been building up over the past couple of days with accepting a different position, the reality that I have left my best friends behind, and the 100 coming up in two weeks. Today the realization that this isn't just a vacation set in and the water works began flowing! I'm not normally an overly emotional person and I don't wear my heart on my sleeve but today was hard on me.

I've explored some trails over the past couple of days that are literally right by my apartment complex which is really nice. I'm not doing anything to crazy since the 100 is in two weeks. I'm embracing the taper!!!

As you can tell by this post my thoughts are all over the place, and I apologize for the scattered post. I'm looking forward to getting settled and getting back into a routine and I'm really looking forward to seeing Michele and Wayne in a couple of weeks.

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Some back history....

After talking about it for about a year I decided to finally do something about it and started looking for jobs. I put in my first resume on a Friday evening and by the next Tuesday I was booking a flight to Denver that weekend to spend some time in the mountains and interview for a position Monday morning. Little did I know that I would have 3 interviews lined up with 3 different companies by Sunday evening.

I left the first interview feeling like I had completely bombed it and would never hear from that company again. Within an hour and a half they had called me to set up my final interview before I caught my flight home the next morning. Completely shocked and excited and every other adjective I could use to describe being nervous I went on to my next two interviews.

I didn't expect to come back from this trip with a new job so one can imagine how shocked I was to have an offer from both of the last two companies. Now I had some decisions to make! Nothing a little time in the mountains couldn't help with though. My buddy Chris G. and Misti H. took me to the top of Mount Sanitas that night and I enjoyed yet another run in the mountains, while we all talked about the crazy happenings of that day and the looming decision I would have to make soon.

The view from Mt. Sanitas. Photo Courtesy of Chris G.

The next morning I arose super early for another interview and to catch my flight back home. The final interview went well and I was very confident that I would be receiving an offer from them by the end of the week, but I had already made my decision on which job to take. I flew home and my training partner picked me up from the airport and I told her I would be moving to Colorado Springs in a few weeks, just 3 weeks before our upcoming 100 miler.

Fast forward roughly 3 weeks and here I am with only two days left at my current job and only 4 days and a wake up before I begin my drive across the country with all my belongings in  a U-Haul to begin the next chapter of my life. The past three weeks have held a whirlwind of emotions and have been chaotic ironing out all the details of the move. I'm beyond excited for this new start but I would be lying if I said I wasn't terrified. I'm moving farther away from my family and leaving the best friends I have ever had. The BOR is the reason I am the runner that I am today and without this amazing group of people I wouldn't be where I am now. They will be truly missed. Luckily this Saturday before I leave I get to run one last race with them in Kentucky. LBL 50. I'll be running the 50 miler as my last hoorah with the group and I cant think of a better send off than one last weekend of us all together.

Race and move report to follow sometime next week...

Friday, February 28, 2014

I'm going on and adventure!

I've finally broke down and decided to start a blog to document my adventures and relocation to Colorado. Hopefully you can bare with me in these first few posts and find something worth reading in my ramblings and race reports and decide to come along for the journey.