Kodiak 100- My first West Coast 100!

BeFunky CollagestartKodiak 100 traverses around Big Bear Lake in Southern California, however, while in places scenic, you don’t get to see the lake much at all. There is an accompanying 50 Mile and front and back 50K. The average altitude is at 7000 and the race peaks at 10k and dips to 4K. Being from the East coast, I didn’t think that the course was very technical- yes there were some rocks and some scree but nothing that made me curse its existence. As someone who is not local to the area- I was not ready for how exposed, hot, and arid everything was. There was no shade because there are no trees! I should have utilized the sauna more in training.

 Goals:
Finish- DONE
Beat Course Record- DONE
Finish sub 24hrs- NOPE


My race themes:
“Oh God, PLEASE let me be on the right trail”
“Great- I ran out of water again”

The race started at 9:00 am- and of course I was up at 5 because my body was still on EST. This allowed for plenty of pre-race coffee, rice cakes and potty time. We were fitted with a SPOT tracker (which is really cool for spectating). The first 7 miles went by quickly and then we started our first major climb up a fire road at altitude. While I’m not great at running up hills because of my asthma, I’ve worked really hard to be a fast power hiker. My climbing was NOT on point during this race. I was 8 miles in and I was questioning my fitness level and if I was going to finish. My heart rate monitor said 185 as I was being passed walking pain painstakingly slow up the mountain. I had to slow down. The altitude was killing my lungs. I also ran out of water 3 miles from the aid station (12), which became a common theme. There was only 1 aid station the entire race I ran into with water still in my pack. I started to carry smaller bottles with me.

Mile 20-31: I was hot, sunburned and salty- The medical volunteer Steve sprayed me down with sunblock. I hadn’t thought to put any on because when I think mountains- I think trees and shade! The roundtrip up and down SugarLoaf Mt was 11 miles with one tiny creek crossing. By the time I had reached the top (10K), I was slightly dizzy and had run out of water- thankfully another runner offered me some of his and down I went. This is where my East Coast running helped. While there were rocks, I was able to dance and actually pass people on the descent. I stopped and dipped my hat in the creek and made it to the aid station.

Crewed Aid station time was critical to get right because of how long between aid
21231296_10210530738044578_3971956665162579804_nstations you saw your crew. It ranged from 11-27 miles (ok there was one 3 mile section but that was really early). I made a check list and followed it.

Mile 31-42.5: Lots of turns, fire roads, and asphalt. It was also hotter than hell as the mid day sun beat down. The first place girl was over an hour ahead of me and I was making the decision to slow down even more to save my stomach and legs.  Everyone kept talking about how technical Dead Man’s Ridge was- I didn’t even realize I went through it until later when someone told me. There was scree- but my Altra Timps and my hiking poles kept me upright! I arrived at mile 38 Burn Canyon and to men were there to greet me.

Me: Do you have ice, please?
Them: No
Me: Well… That… um… (Looking for a word other than sucks)
Them: Sucks- That totally sucks- you don’t have to tell us that.
Me: Yes, that is unfortunate. I start inhaling orange slices (I ate at least 2 whole oranges)
Them: Ill start cutting up more oranges
Me: Sorry- I must have worked up an appetite getting to you 🙂

73683122-8N9A3794I grabbed another orange slice and thanked them for their time. Fueled with a whole bunch of fructose- I continued down the trail. I don’t think I saw any other runner this entire section.

Mile 42.5-69: When I arrived at the Dump- I took my time getting ready for the next 27 miles where I would not see Max. I changed my clothes, downed a soda, and packed jacket and a headlight. I asked for far 1st was in front of me and all Max could say was focus on securing 2nd… that far huh?  It was from this section on where the course markings really gave me trouble. I had heard that this course had inadequate marking, but was promised that it would be improved upon. I can’t tell you how much time I wasted standing looking for markers, countless MILES back tracking, or waiting for someone to come up behind me to verify that I was on the right route, and at one point I said F*#$ it and climbed through barb wire to get back on course. The course markings that were used at night were a reflective piece that was smaller than a AAA battery that blew with the wind- almost impossible to see.

I got to 50 miles at 8pm and turned on my headlight. And at that point I thought I was on course to go sub 24. The sun had gone down and it finally felt good to run. Much of this section is runnable. However there are so many turns that you have to keep an eye out for.73683123-IMG_4794.JPG

I researched all the perilous creatures I could encounter and what to do if I ran into one. Possible sightings: ill-intentioned Humans, Bears, Rattle Snakes, Cats (Ie Mountain Lions ect). I felt so lucky that I got through the day with ZERO snake sightings and no creepy humans.  As I was bee bopping down the fire road by myself, all of a sudden I see 2 eyes staring at me. I reach my arms as HIGH as they would go, start praying and backing up slowly. (Scrambling Thoughts: I passed a runner 5 minutes ago- they will be here soon, Im not a good dinner- there’s not much meat on my bones, this really can’t be the end of my race? My life? God help please!) Then a headlight flashed on. It was a tired runner who was taking a nap on a rock on the side of the trail. The eyes? Reflectors on his water pack… I ran by him and told him he scared the crap out of me.

It was during this section that I was told that if I was going to catch 1st it would be during 69-79 Siberia Canyon because she was scared of heights. My immediate thought was, that odd- you cant see anything at night, why would you be scared. That thought came back to bite me in my ass.

Around mile 66– my headlight broke. While Im not afraid of the dark, Im afraid of what could happen in the dark- I was alone on single track trail and it was pitch black. There was 3 miles until the aid station. I had a mini panic attack and temper tantrum and while I was walking flung my light on the ground. It TURNED ON! A Miracle. Only to turn off again once I started running. I finagled it and if I held it a certain way it would stay on for a few minutes before I had to readjust. I came into the aid station cursing, having a breakdown- “This piece of shit headlamp” and up walks my cousin- who came to surprise me in the middle of the night to cheer me on and to see me finish. UltraRunning is not always unicorns and rainbows.

Mile 69-79: This is a trail that has never seen a day of trail work. My legs got cut up from21230897_10210530749084854_2826142427419861859_n all the briers.  The first mile was aiming for the arrows and bushwhacking through a self-determined trail. This is a 4.5 mile down and 5.5 mile up section. I got down to the bottom of the canyon and there was a water jug- I filled up because I knew this would take a while. The man there said 1st lady was only 15 minutes ahead of me. I had made up significant time in those 4.5 miles. Then the climb up.  I wish I had a pacer for safety from 69-79. Siberia Canyon going up was the scariest thing I have ever done- while I might not be scared of heights- you better believe I am scared of falling off the mountain. The trail was very narrow sugar sand trail that one wrong step, they would need the spot tracker to find my body. I couldn’t tell if I fell, if it would be 100 feet or 1000’s of feet down.  Maybe if I had seen this section in daylight, I wouldn’t have been so fearful. I would look up and wonder if the lights I saw were stars or other runners headlights. There was SO much climbing. My lungs were not happy- my legs wanted to go, but I just couldn’t breathe. And the downed trees- These aren’t your East coast maples- these are humongous trunks that were chest high across the trail. I rolled over them on my side, backward, forwards, headfirst trying to find the best strategy.

I think because my mind was stressed out about falling off the mountain, my body tensed up and my stomach started to get nauseous. It was about this time I caught 1st girl. She was heading the wrong way on the trail. It was about .1 of a mile from where she should have turned and we ran a little together. I knew at this point I needed to throw up to feel better. I did but then I ran out of water and had to slog it out to the aid.

79-87.5: I sat down for the first time. I needed to just calm my nerves down. I took 10 minutes to regroup and eat saltines. I left with 50oz of Ginger Ale in my pack. I stayed within 8 minutes of 1st through this section. These were my calories for the rest of the race.

87.5- 100: Got another 50oz of Ginger Ale and tried to push myself, but my lungs had enough. I forget how many times I took my inhaler during this race, but it was more than advised. While I usually pee 3-4 times in a 100 miles, these last 20 miles, I was pulling over to pee every mile. It was so annoying. This section was also on a bike trail. While there were a few who pulled over, most were going so fast it forced me off the trail into poison oak bushes. The last 4 miles were downhill and I gave it everything I had left.

BeFunky CollagekfinishThe first words out of my mouth when I finished was: “I think I broke my lungs.” This race was rough for a flat-lander with asthma. While I’m happy with my second place finish (and  $1000)- I was really hoping to break 24 hours on this course. Im really happy that Rachel (1st) did.

BeFunky CollageI want to thank my sponsors:

Altra Running– I wore the Timps the entire race and they handled the scree perfectly. NO Blisters
TstarRunning– My adorable skirt with new SIDE POCKETS was awesome- NO CHAFFING at all!
DryMax I wont wear any other sock. NO Blisters and really comfortable
XOSKIN– wore the Heathered Sleeveless 2.0 and it kept me dry and comfortable.

Food I consumed:22154443_10100177226623953_1928863310074710144_n22 scoops of Tailwind
5 cans of Diet Pepsi Max
5 Gu Chew packs
3 White Cherry Powerade
100 oz of Ginger Ale
2 oranges
Potato chunks
Pretzels

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Mohican 100- Run on Prayers and Muscle Memory  

 

Please refer back to what my spring looked like- Had I trained enough to run 100 Miles?BeFunky Collage
GOALS:
1.  Finish- nothing is guaranteed in life
2..  Don’t Throw up
3.  Finish under 24 hours
4.  20-29 AG Course Record (21:17)

Pre Race:

Max took a break from this one and I asked Lucas and Janet to crew/ pace me. They were
a godsend. Together they were the perfect balance of OCD and chill. They even made a binder for ME! In OCD-like fashion I, wrote detailed crew instructions for each loop- which included food I wanted (where and when), clothing changes, headlight needs, and an a compilation of pills I must have on me at all times.

pre race

My awesome Crew                                                   A Picture that defines me as a runner

I ate my traditional pre-race meal and tried to sleep. Although lights out was at 10 and I took a handful of OTC and RX sleep aids- I didnt sleep much- pre-race anxiety is the worst

5 alarms went off at 2:45AM and COFFEE was first thing on the agenda. I hadn’t had coffee in 3 weeks. Breakfast and then the 30 minute drive to the start. The entire car ride I listened to “Something Just Like This” by The Chainsmokers/Coldplay on repeat. This song is mellow enough to calm my anxiety, yet upbeat enough to get me focused. I spent many stair climbing sessions listening to this on repeat- it made me feel strong and ready to tackle the day.

The race consists of 4 loops- There were 5 aid stations on each loop. Crew was allowed to access 3/5 aid stations. The longest I went with with out seeing my crew was 13 miles.

start lineLoop 1: 26.8 Miles: 4:58
Mantra: “ You only have to run 100 Miles”

The gun went off and a group of 15-20 men scurried ahead of me. I purposefully started with a really CRAP low light headlight to ensure that I wouldn’t start too fast. I walked hills early. After 45 minutes of darkness I could see enough to turn off my light. While jockeying for position early in a 100 miler is not smart- I knew that I wanted to be somewhat near the front of the pack as long as I could kept my heart rate in check.

The first 4.1 mile section is what bikes love and what I as a runner consider “PUDs”- pointless up and downs. Fortunately, there was usually enough momentum from the downhills to get you up the next climb. I ran through the first 2 aid stations and just waved to my attentive crew. On the first two loops is where you get to experience and climb a waterfall- this is what Mohican is known for. Three of us got lost on this section and added minimal bonus mileage. We continued towards Big Lyon Falls and Enchanted Valley and came out at the Pleasant Hill Dam where there was a bonus crew area!

The plan was to dump and refill my pack so I would know exactly how many calories I was consuming. What actually happened when Lucas goes to dump my pack? I frantically exclaim, “NO! NO! TOO MUCH TIME” and then proceeded to guesstimate how much water/ calories I needed. Since I got lost, I fell behind a few women and I wanted to catch up ASAP!

first loopSince the Covered Aid Station is about 1 mile from the crew access point, I ran right through. The section from Covered Aid to Hickory Ridge is where I made my move to the front. There is a lot of climbing in this section and I took off on those hills. While I was trying to make my getaway a root caught me and down I went-That root also took 4 toe nails from me.

The rest of loop 1 is a blur- Since running mostly 24 hour races for the past few years my mantra on this loop when I started to feel tired was, “ You only have to run 100 Miles” which is incredibly refreshing.

Loop 2: 26.8 Miles: 4:59
Mantra: “Run with in yourself”

Loop 2 was all about the ICE and Diet Pepsi Max. Ice in the pack, my bandanna, my bra- anything to fight the heat and humidity. I wasn’t sure how far back any one was- so I made haste and got out of the aid station in NASCAR fashion.

In the months leading up to the race I had done a lot of climbing workouts, but I had done ZERO downhill work. The long loop included 2 LONG sections of stairs that obliterated my quads by mile 85. I don’t know who engineered these stairs- but they should be fired. The stairs width was extremely short and close together and it forced your quads to “break” while going down.stairs

I asked my crew to keep my informed of the race around me by staying an extra 20-30 minutes at the aid station. Every time I asked on loop 2- they told me we waited until we had to leave and saw no one. I still ran conservatively and within myself but I was starting to pick off men slowly.

Before getting to the beginning of the loop- you have to go through a campground. This section was horrible- open, exposed, and scorching hot with a bunch of people staring at you shuffling along while they are trying to enjoy their Father’s Day weekend.

By around the end of Loop 2, I had consumed the 2 Liter of Pepsi Max- I had to send my crew to various convenience stores in Loudonville asking them to buy out all the Diet Pepsi Max’s they could find- because you don’t mess with what’s working.

Loop 3: 23.2 miles:
Mantra: “Run within yourself”

runnin

PC: Butch Phillips @photoglyphix

We had a loose pacer plan which possibly started at Mile 54. I decided I was still moving well and to save Lucas for the last loop. While I do believe my heat training paid off, the first 2 hours of the 3rd loop were miserable (3-5pm). It felt like I was roasting from the inside out. All of the kinetic energy I used to keep myself running through those PUD’s was slowly disappearing.

When I arrived at the Fire Tower I was told that I was 4th OA and that 3rd was within eye shot and second was 5-10 minutes ahead. That got me moving again! I gracefully ran by the man in front of me and then was on the hunt for second male.

At this time there were 50 milers and Marathon runners on the course too. Because the bibs were different colors, I was able to take a peek while passing runners to see if I had caught #2. I ran 7 miles to the Covered Bridge with no luck.

After much confusion (they thought I was asking about 2nd F), Jay told me that I was 2 minutes behind #2. Progress! The next section from Covered Bridge to Hickory Ridge while it says its only 5.6 miles it FEELS so MUCH longer. Therefore, I deemed this section the “Forever Section.” During the Forever Section, I chase down what I now think is an imaginary male because I just can’t find him. My crew know that I’m competitive- Maybe they all lied to me and just dangled that carrot to make me move faster??

I arrive at Hickory Ridge and the man taking numbers excitedly says, “WOAH- Do you know your second?” I was as shocked as he was. My only guess was that I passed while #2 was taking a #2 potty break on the side of the trail. Elated- I left and finished loop 3.

Loop 4: 23.2 miles:
Mantra: “DONT be LAZY… MOVE your ASS”

IMG_1092

Me to Janet- PLEASE! Don’t get lost! Ill take a headlamp just in case.
Me to Lucas: Can you Climb? He said yes (he may have regretted that) and off we went.

The temperatures were finally starting to break and I was still able to run at a decent pace while power hiking the hills. It was nice to have someone with me because I ran alone for most of the day. We arrived at the first aid station and Janet was there- I switched out my ice bandanna and kept trucking along. Just after the Gorge Overlook, dusk had settled in and my eyes were having a hard time adjusting to the trail- everything just blended in together- which significantly slowed my pace. By the time I got to the Fire Tower (86) it was dark and I was starting to struggle- downhills hurt and steep uphills were met with a string of curse words. I stopped eating and drinking like I should but kept popping salt pills.

When it was flat, I was running, but most of the course is up or down, so there was a lot of shuffling and rock kicking happening. I should have grabbed my ipod, instead I just kept repeating, “Don’t be Lazy” and “Move your ass” until I was running again.

When we finally reach the camp ground and I knew there were no more significant hills, I told Lucas, “Im running” and took off. I wasn’t sure how close the finish was, but I wasn’t stopping until I got there.

I finished in 20:10:17 and immediately sat down in a chair- first time sitting in over 20 hours. I shut my eyes and felt like I could have fallen asleep instantly. Then 5 minutes later, I looked up and said, “I don’t feel so well”. You would have never guessed I had just run 100 miles the speed that I jumped out of that chair to get to an isolated area to throw up 20+ times. I looked and felt bloated… not any more after that!

war wounds

War Wounds

EXACTLY 24hrs later at 2:45 AM we found ourselves back in a hotel room getting ready for bed instead of chaotically making coffee. They slept while I laid there in pain, starving, but too nauseous to eat. We had all accomplished what we set out to do.

Around 10AM, we drove over early to the awards ceremony to cheer some of the finishers on and so I could get a few of my blisters worked on. Those podiatry interns, God bless them. They dealt with some of the most disgusting feet I have seen.

 

At the awards ceremony, I found out that the second female was more than 8 hours behind me. It now made sense that Lucas and Janet never saw any one at the aid stations while waiting. I know if my training was up to par and included downhill running, that I could break 19 hours.

1st Female/ 2nd O/A out of 172 Runners

finishline
Huge Thanks to my Crew and Pacers: Janet and Lucas. Didn’t miss a beat.

Thanks to my sponsors:

TSTARRUNNING– your skirts keep me cool, chaffe free and looking cute while running lots of miles

ALTRARUNNING– wore the Olympus the entire time and had no issues and your shirt!

DRYMAX– Feet were as dry and comfortable as could be with 95 degree heat and humidity.

XOSKIN– NEW! Excited to be part of the team and to wear gear in upcoming races.

 

Find me on Twitter and Instagram: Runnergirlmsteg

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Spring 2017

After my abysmal performance/ catastrophe at Run for Water 24- I ended up unable to walk, let alone run without pain. I knew going in my hamstring hurt, I just didn’t realize that I tore it and then I ran almost 100 miles on it (which didn’t make it any better). I have been more disappointed in myself that I failed to compete to the best of my ability and my body failing me at the most inopportune time, than I am not making the US National Team. 

Physical Therapy

 2 ½ months of twice a week sessions. My physical therapist is also an ultra-runner so he gets the emotional toll of not being able to run. He told me I could swim and hike, so I spent hours doing both. I also was religious about doing all of my exercises EVERYDAY, sometimes 2x a day because I was desperate to get back to running.  The 25 minutes of hands on myofascial release and deep tissue work was extremely painful, but so worth it in the end.

phyiscal therapy

Icing (while being tied to the table) at the end of PT

GYM

  • Swimming: 1 Mile of swimming = 64 lengths of the pool. There is something SO ZEN about focusing on number of the lap you are on and nothing else. It was hard, but I spent a lot of time in the pool and worked my way up to 3 whole miles (that’s longer than you have to swim for an Ironman
  • Biking: Meh- I still don’t like biking. But its good for reading*
  • Treadmill Hiking: The gym treadmills go up to 30% incline- but I usually stay around 20-25% depending on how I feel. Hours spent catching up on Netflix #2birdsonestone
  • Stair Climbing: I climbed until my legs wobbled like spaghetti under me. I got a head start on training for Grindstone 100.
  • Personal Training: I was given a package of personal training sessions. She helped me see that strength training isn’t evil. I have been very lackadaisical about strength training, frankly, I would rather run. I think she made it her mission to make me sore (she did!!!!) BUT, I learned a lot and now I do something 2-3 times a week. Having a squat rack in the basement helps.
BeFunky Collage

There is no running happening in these pictures

dogs lift too

My dogs like to lift now too!

 Sasquatch 50k and Portland:

I was going to be in Oregon the same weekend as my cousins first 50K- DESTINY! I had to run this race and share the experience with her. I got clearance 2 days before Sasquatch 50k to run, as long as I took it easy. There was a lot of climbing in this race (9,531ft over 33 miles) – so I wasn’t worried since ALL I was allowed to do was climb the past few months. The mountains of Oregon are beautiful.

No Hammy pain, but my quads were so unbelievably dead the next few days. They buckled repeatedly as I was trying to run around Portland at 4am- but me being stubborn, I wasn’t going to waste all this potential training time. When I travel, I stay on East coast time as much as possible, meaning I was up at 4am and my conference didn’t start till 9AM. Pam came and picked me up one morning to do a run in Forest Park- which has beautiful single track- I even got back in time to go to all of the sessions that day! This week was my first solid training week with 115 miles since early March.

sasquatch

Ran it with Janet: 4:25; 1st Female with a NEW CR, 2nd OA

I purposely didn’t tell my PT I was running this race. What he didn’t know- wouldn’t hurt him. PLUS- I was planning on taking a conservative approach because I didn’t taper. My goal was to finish around 5 hours and keep a 9mm pace while WALKING all of the hills.

When the race started another female sprinted past me- I tried to tell myself “Don’t be stupid, you have done ZERO speed work” but my competitive side got the better of me and my “easy” race plan was thrown out the window. We were running 8:30mm when the entire front group got off course for about 7-8 minutes. When I realized our error, I turned around and started running hill after hill with reckless abandon. I was determined to be out of sight (and out of mind) if at all possible. I slowed a bit on the second loop and walked a few hills. Close to the starting the 3rd loop, Mike, who I was running with the entire time up to that point mentioned I was close to CR pace, I started doing Run math in my head (which is rarely an accurate way of thinking) and decided that I needed to pick up the pace in order to get the CR. Its been a while since I ran a consistent 7:30 pace- but MAN did it feel good. It was like I was at mile 90/100 Miler and my legs still worked. 

When I finished the RD asked me if I saw my Physical Therapist. He was out hiking on the course and I must have just missed him. However, she tattled on me: “She’s running fast and winning!”  OOPS- maybe I should have mentioned this adventure to him.

riwj

Heat Training:

In the three weeks leading up to Mohican 100 all of my runs were done in long pants and  multiple layers on top, either on the treadmill or outside (whichever environment was warmer) with NO water followed by up to an hour in the sauna. Then I waited an hour after the sauna to drink any substantial liquids.  Not going to lie- this sucked. It was the worst. I also wore my heart rate monitor for most of these runs- I needed to make sure I could keep my heart rate in the proper zones and if it started to elevate, I practiced “zen”ing myself back to where it needed to be. I also got some weird looks on the treadmill- but I didn’t care- this really helped prepare me for the 95 degree heat and humidity at Mohican 100.heat trainingblog

Book: Rising Strong- Brene Brown

Brene Brown is someone I admire and respect. Her work on shame and vulnerability is top notch. Injury is demoralizing and there was a lot that I had to deal with emotionally as well as physically this spring to be able to come to terms, accept, and rise strong.  I’m fiercely independent (to a fault) and my current life motto is, “I’m stubborn as hell and I do what I want”.  I’m thankful for the people in my life who where there for me (and didn’t judge) when I reached out for help and support- because Ive learned the hard way going it alone is never the better option.   brene

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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NJ One Day- Take 2

“Life’s battles don’t always go
To the stronger or faster man;
But sooner or later the man who wins
Is the man who thinks he can.” – Vincent Thomascharlotte and I sitting after race

 

I LOVE things that are Free. I’m a sucker for good deals, and I’m a novice “couponer”.

Except for the Gas $$ it took to get to NJ- everything for this race was Free. I had earned a FREE entry from winning last year, My neighbor donated her points for the Hotel- making it FREE (which I am incredibly thankful for), and I had worked “Free”dom’s Run Marathon Altra Booth- earning a FREE pair of ALTRA Paradigms to run in.

Needless to say, I had a good feeling about this race.

Selfie of me- with an ALTRA shirt, 32 degree sign and a phrase that says holy guacamole its coldI had a not so secret fantasy goal of 140 Miles, I would have been happy with 137, and marginally satisfied with 132 (a PR).

Race morning was COLD- I needed a cold race for my body to be happy, but BRRRR. People at the hotel gawked at my bare legs, but with temperatures getting into the low 50s- pants were not an option.

When I got in line for registration- I thought, “That hill doesn’t look as bad as I remember it” It felt like a good omen.

Milestones: 25M, 50K, 50M, 12Hr, 100M, 120M- for each Milestone I had a target time/ distance that I wanted to hit. My mini goals were:12 Hr mark 73-75 Miles and complete 100 in 16:30- that seemed reasonable. There’s a fine line of “banking miles” and running more even splits, I didn’t want to risk blowing up.

charlotte and I sitting after race
Miles 1-25: Its always hard for me to find my groove in the beginning of races. It was cold;
my legs weren’t excited to be running. I ran most of them with Charlotte, a strong runner from previous Canadian 24hr teams. Since we didn’t want to give up a good thing we had going, we took a pee break together at 17 miles. You know girls, always have to go to the bathroom together!

Miles 25-50: I started to pick up the pace, and ran many laps with Aaron. He was willing to match my pace and the miles ticked by.

Miles 50-75: These were what felt like my strongest miles. I had gained time on the clock and was feeling great. Ran a bunch with Serge. I added another layer because the temperature was dropping. I ran 77+ miles in 12 Hours. I kept praying that this was the race of my life and that I wouldn’t bonk. My Right arm/ upper back area also really hurt. Hurt so bad that I had to take an Advil to dull the pain.

shitload-of-miles1

This was from North Coast- but totally applicable here.

Miles 75-100: I adopted new crew at this point. Max had started his race, and I would leave things on the table for him to refill when I ran out. This way Max could break up the day and not be bored, and he could get his training run in. Fortunately, Matt and Mike both came to the rescue when other needs came up. I am forever grateful for these two keeping me running.

  • I had developed a HUGE blister that encompassed my entire Big toe that I could feel around mile 30, I debated on if I should take the time and deal with it our keep running. Fortunately, around mile 80, I stepped on a pointy rock and felt a beautiful warm sensation in my socks. No more toe pain!
  • At mile 85, I realized that I had NOT walked ONE step up to that point, and me being the stubborn person that I am, I wasn’t going to walk until I hit 100 miles. So I didn’t. Looking at my lap data, there were only 5 miles that were minimally over 10:00.
  • I crossed the 100 mile mark at 15:41- I was scared, I shouldn’t PR in the 100 Mile on the way to a 24 hr, but I thought of Jenny H, who had done the same thing and if she could do it, I could do it and I pressed on.
back

I ran right by all the cameras- no one was able to catch me.

Miles 100-121: It was cold- literally freezing at this point. I made the mistake of just adding layers, instead of changing out of my base layer. This cost me time, because there were multiple wardrobe changes trying to warm me up.

  • Miles 106- 121: Were filled with 9-1-1 Emergency Explosive Pit Stops. It took 6 Imodium to make it stop! I had a rhythm, and the stopping and bending down was hurting my legs. I just think how many more miles I could have covered if I wasn’t constantly pulling over to poo.
  • I pray a lot during my races, God listens when I’m in pain or need to think things through. I also made a deal with God in this section that I wouldn’t run for a week if He gave me the strength to run 140 Miles. (A promise I kept!)

 

Miles 121- 140: My body hadn’t had a chance to acclimate to colder temperatures yet, and I seriously suffered. The temperatures dipped to 25 degrees. I run on a treadmill if its under 28. My asthma started to act up- I took my rescue inhaler along with my regular 2x a day inhaler to no avail. Because my lungs weren’t getting good amount of air, my legs started to seize up. I asked for Advil and my IPod to help the situation.

ALL of my liquid nutrition was freezing– turning to chunks of ICE! My tailwind- frozen, my soda- frozen, my 5 hr energy, PowerAde, even my boiled potatoes- FROZEN! Matt and Max went and warmed up my potatoes more times than I can count.

The only thing warm that I could stomach at the Aid station was chicken broth- I am a
devout vegetarian, and I had a “to Hell with it” moment. I was so cold; I just needed something to warm my insides. So I drank the broth. Only to find out at the end of the race when I made the suggestion of having veggie broth on hand that there was a pot on the stove all night that the volunteers weren’t aware of… DOH!

 

Before the race, I had the discussion with Max that he needed to push me, not to accept any of my doubts or excuses and to be mean if he had to. With 3 hours to go, I didn’t think I could hit 140, I was spiraling downward in my negative thinking. He told me “Don’t be a vagina and man up” this made me laugh and with some words of encouragement from Charlotte, I quickly got back to work. Thank you Helen for starting that joke at the Ring.

endThose last 3 hours I was doing the “Ireland Shuffle” I tried to push my body to run harder, but ended up in coughing spells and unable to breathe. So I shuffled and walked different sections in my mind that made sense.

When I completed my 140th lap- I was in tears, it hurt so good.

Now to cross my fingers that this performance is enough to represent the United States in Ireland next July.

Food Consumed:
Tailwind- A LOT
12oz bag of pretzels- THE ENITRE BAG.
5 cans of Pepsi Max
2 5 hr. energy
5-6 boiled red potatoes
2-3 bottles of watered down PowerAde.

Huge Thanks to:

  • Max: My Husband, My Crew, My Everything.
  • Matt and Mike- My adopted crew
  • TSTARRUNNING: I ran in my original skirt. Perfect and chafe free as always
  • Altra Running: My Paradigms are the bomb. I feel like I’m running on clouds.
  • DryMax (NEW!): I only wear your socks. They keep my feet happy.

    collage of me lying down, 2 pigs and me, amy and emir altra ambassadors

    Fellow Altra Ambassadors Amy and Emir. Amy PR’d her 100 mile time! and 2 pigs that I saw 140 times

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The Elusive 140

The number 140 has been on my mind for 2 years… ever since I ran 131 miles in April 2014 at the Virginia 24Hr Run for Cancer, I knew deep down inside that I could do it. On paper, its easy- run 10:17 for each mile for 24 Hours. To improve by 9 miles seemed like a lofty goal, even to me at times, but when I set my mind to something, there is no deviating.

Before 131, my longest run was 122.5 miles at Dia De Los Muertos, I had worked SO SO hard to just break the 120 barrier. At this point I didn’t want to be on the team, I just wanted minimally qualify. It took 3-4 tries to get to this distance.

That said, there was a long, hard road ahead of me, I tried 3 separate times, I decided that if it didn’t happen in NJ, I would invest in a coach. Each time I ran worse and worse mileage. I was super frustrated, I was supposed to be getting better, and instead I was in a downward spiral.
Last November, I ran NJ One day and I ended up with 129 Miles. I had run 100 miles in a little over 17 hours and then at 107, I tossed my cookies and couldn’t keep any more
nutrition in me and was forced to walk the last 22 miles. Still this gave me confidence, because up to that point, it was my second fastest 100 mile time. I had hope.

Next up, SOLE 24 Hour. There were many issues with this race, first it wasn’t timed within
the rules of the USATF (as it was advertised), second it was a 90 degree day and there was a huge Hill that sucked. I wanted to quit when I realized that they weren’t recording lap splits, but I stuck it out. I ran 122.5 miles a CR, and this was the first 24Hr race where I hadn’t thrown up. A little confidence booster.

More recently, I BOMBED, embarrassingly, at North Coast. 109.5 miles- devastatingly disappointing. I let all the fast ladies go, was in 10th for a while and worked my way up to 4th because others dropped. 24hr races are races of attrition, but that’s not the way to run- hoping that others quit. I threw up in a porto-potty at mile 50 and was fighting nausea the entire race. However, this was the ONLY race that I have thrown up and been able to come back and keep running. A tad bit more confidence.

It’s hard to fight failure repeatedly, it’s extremely disheartening. But I got back on my horse and kept training. I have trained so much for this race. I believed that I just needed a colder atmosphere to excel.

I went to bed thinking #140, I woke up thinking how I would feel once I run 140 miles. I worked on my mental training. Accepting the world around me, whether I was happy, sad, mad, in pain or nauseous, I accepted it and stayed in the moment. I think that’s where I have faltered in other races, my mind goes early, and I loose my focus, my ability to want it bad enough. That was not going to happen in NJ. When I started to doubt myself- Max reminded me of my drive, and Charlotte (from previous Canadian 24hr teams) reminded me that I had it in me and I had enough time.

I ran 140 Miles in 24 Hours- I broke down in tears when I completed that last lap. Partly because I was in so much pain and partly because something I had worked so hard for actually happened.

I woke with a sickening feeling the day after NJ One Day (it didn’t help that I was still nauseous), scared that 140 wouldn’t be enough. The women in America have improved immensely. I cross my fingers that what I have done is enough, but have confidence that if I had to try again, I could run a lot more. This is just the beginning.

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Holston River 36 HR

1st female/ OA
150 miles Overall Course Record.

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I wanted a late summer race to keep me honest in my training and another long haul adventure. Holston River Endurance challenge has many races to choose from. 6Hr (Day or Night), 12Hr (Day or Night), 100 Mile, 24 Hr, and 36 Hour. I debated between the 36hr and the 100 Mile run.

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Logic:
I got better at running 100 Milers because I raced 24 hour runs. Here’s to  hoping that I get better at 24 hour runs because I ran this.

Course: 1.5 Mile Loops. Serious Short Uphill and downhill included. Hill- Technical. 10 seconds of shade on the low section; otherwise exposed.

Format: NIGHT –DAY—NIGHT. Race start was at 8pm.

Terrain: Earth. Grass- section of grass. Gravel- Good ole 57 stone was just dumped,  dirt- dusty dirt, asphalt- small amount. Pointy rocks- only when you LEAST expected them. Good finding them at night to keep you awake.

Scenery: Brewery, Tree’s, Backhoes, Holes, and glimpses of the River.

 

The race started with a few minutes of drizzle while we ran into the sunset. I kept an easy but steady pace for the first few hours. I was also nervous, nervous because I thought I timed my pre race meal accordingly (ate at noon) and I hadn’t pooped before the race began.

My first pacer, Glenn, arrived right before midnight and we ran the next 5-6 hours together. This let Max get a partial night’s sleep. Finally, 10 hours after the race started, it was potty time, which leads me to:

Life Tip #1: AVOID construction Porto Potties. Just don’t do it.

This further lead to a Hunger Pit deep in my stomach ensued and more calories were ingested. Night Running is the best thing in the summer, Day running on the other hand is literally a slog through hell.

The heat was making me cranky. I needed to check my attitude and just cool off. So, I max and iwalked a good portion of the 8-10 hours of blazing sun. Max shared a few laps with me during this time.

Life Tip #2: Snow Cones and Popsicles are the BEST in 90 Degree heat.

Because I was walking with some running I started to chafe. BAD. EVERYWHERE. Tammy came to my rescue- I got yelled at for chaffing so bad. I had tried everything I knew. She introduced me to Bag Balm.

Life Tip #3: BAG BALM for EVERYTHING. Makes chaffing livable. Makes running tolerable.


Once the threat of rain had diminished and the temperature had started to decrease as night fell, I changed my whole outfit. It was absolutely amazing to have new, dry clothes on. The only thing I have ever changed in races before was just a top.

I had a surprise pacer, Sally, help me when I was in the worst mental space. It was hot, I was moody, I wasn’t putting in “enough” mileage, I was just a hot mess. She brought me back from the dead and got me moving again into the night again.

Kate swooped in and ran with me a bunch of laps, I was already over 120 when she joined me, so it was just keep moving and getting calories in me.

When Kate had to leave, Liz stepped in and we had a few GREAT laps together before I started to fall apart on her. She had the fun job of keeping me moving and getting me to eat. Liz also tattled on me that I wasn’t eating to the race director. I was drinking ½ a ginger ale every 1.5 miles, which is good calories, just not real food. But that lead to me having to PEE EVERY SINGLE LAP.

I got to 145 and was pumped- I had to keep a 16 minute pace to complete 160 miles. YA! I CAN DO THAT and we took off. Then out of NO WHERE tiredness hit me like a sack of potatoes. On the next lap, I told her that at 150, Ill take a 20 minute nap. At the end of that lap, I was falling asleep while moving. I took a nap on the ground while she babysat me. When I was woken up, it was like an out-of-body experience I could see my legs trying to stand up, but they were bricks on the ground. That was it. I finished that lap for 150 around 34 hours and called it a day.

I was kept on my toes the entire 34 hours by the Bello couple- Emily and Todd. They ran img_3049step for step with each other the ENTIRE race. It’s a testament to their relationship for the two of them to stay together through their highs and lows and not get snippy with each other.

The race was extremely well run and the Race Director and the volunteers took care of all the runners. The chip time and the computers worked perfectly. I always knew where I was and knew the mileage of 8-10 people around me.

The only negative thing- I had just run for 34 hours and I couldn’t eat anything. When I got home, I ended up going to urgent care because my throat hurt like hell. Leg pain and lung pain had nothing on the pain I was experiencing. Turns out my inhaler gave me an infection. Lesson learned for next time!

This race makes me 4 for 4 in course records achieved this year in races.

A huge thanks goes out to Max- for always being there for me in these outlandish races helping me accomplish my goals.

ALTRA: Paradigms- all the way. Every step of the 150 miles. Thank you for your zero drop,                  foot shaped shoes. 

TSTARRUNNING: 2 skirts kept me cute and comfortable. Won’t race without them! 

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Sole 24 HOUR Run

First Place Overall
121.07 miles
NEW female Course Record

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Fit Bit Stats: 208,550 steps .
Midnight Saturday: 123,050 steps
Sunday: 85500 steps

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I earned a $50 Walmart Gift card, Sweatshirt, Medal and the BEST TAN LINES EVER!

The course: HILLS- HILLS EVERYWHERE!  5 feet of shade in 93 degree heat.

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The certified course with my additions

 

This race report will be told through Quotes- mostly by me.  The last quote is my favorite.

“The marathoners look like they are dying”
Max, Adam and I drove up Saturday morning for the 10 am start time and we set up my aid station. The marathon was already in progress and seeing the desperation on their faces only 1.5 hours in made me realize just HOW hot it was this early in the day. The race got up to 93degrees.

“Hmmm- NO CHIP Timing”
SOLE 24 advertised chip timing, but there was nothing on our bibs, another runner asked and they said they were hand marking laps- I didn’t think anything of it. I did a track 24 hour and they hand wrote splits EVERY SINGLE QUARTER MILE, so every 1.5 miles shouldn’t be an issue.

“Well, I think you should”
My response when at 10 miles, I realized that the lap counter wasn’t looking at their watch as runners passed, only writing dashes. I asked as I ran by because it was still early enough to correct this mistake. I sent Max over there to talk with them. Upon my return, they said unless I could prove to them that lap splits were needed, they weren’t going to.

“Sir, I think you’re wrong”
 I took a minute to plead my case trying to be respectful to no avail. Adam and Max went on the internet trying to prove my point. .  I was already starting to feel the heat and became “hot and bothered” real quick. Another lap went by and they reassured me that it’s ok and were already here, so treat it like a long training run.

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Danny may have taken a nap in this in the wee hours of the night.

“No, I took this chair from my parents’ house-they won’t miss it”
The aid station in the middle of the course, on the surface, seemed unnecessary, however, the people there provided cooling and comic relief every time we passed.  Those Dixie cups of water dumped on the head were magical. It was also there to ensure people didn’t cut the course and verify lap numbers.

“We haven’t even run a marathon yet”
I had caught up to the young one who took off in the beginning.  We were both feeling the heat and starting to feel drained.


“Your suffering is almost over”

I was so jealous that they 6 Hour runners suffering would soon be over. I had finally hit 30 miles in 5:30.

“This Straw is Worthless”o
I emphatically tossed the straw with a hole in it on the ground while drinking my 5th Burger King Cherry ICEE. My estimations from my credit card statement is that I had at least 10 ICEES. My credit card got flagged because Max went back so many times.

“I should have been here 2 hours ago”
Lamenting on how long it took me to hit 50 miles. Usually, I hit 50 Miles around 7:40ish. As the day SLOWLY continued on, I kept my efforts easy and promised my legs that I would pick it up at night. The course was filled with sites of softball games, dogs chasing each other in the dog park, and free train rides around the area. CHOO CHOO.

“Bugs are committing suicide on my stomach”
Dusk arrived and all the gnats came out of hiding. I seriously had 50 plus gnats on my stomach and chest. GROSS!

“Since when does it stay light until 9p.m.?”
I realized that it stayed light (meaning the torturous sun beaming down melting rays of light) longer, but, seriously. Who knew?!? The darkness was a welcomed relief- however, the temperature stayed uncomfortably warm.

“I’m running NINJA STYLE”
No light needed. The course had almost enough light to run comfortably in the dark. Although, I think I was the only one with-out a light. I finally felt free to run my heart and legs out.

“WE ARE NO LONGER FRIENDS”

Reasons why races should have split times for runners-

There were a few discrepancies over mileage between my people and the officials’ 2. I hit “100 miles” 3 times. Seriously.

  • The first time- I misunderstood what lap was considered 100 miles and what lap I was currently on
  • A few laps later The middle aid station corrected me and told me I just hit 100 miles with that last completed lap-
  • They were wrong and the S/F aid station told me I had to go around one more time to hit 100.

The middle aid station was completely apologetic, but I might have stared daggers in the night at them and they still lost my friendship for 2 laps. I asked if I could have a vote in the matter- not allowed.

“NO- Don’t start chirping yet!”
Those birds started chirping around 4:30 am. That signals the start of the sunrise. The breathtakingly beautiful sunrise was met with silent curses.

“The course record is 116.98”
All I needed was 116.99 to achieve the new female course record. I would need 126ish for the men’s course record. I set my eyes on 117 miles.

“Egh- I’ve seen it all”
My response after a gentleman picked a wedgie in front of me- and turned around and realized I was there and looked extremely embarrassed.

“IT HURTS TO PEE”
At 110, I decided to take a potty break- WORST Decision of my life. I was in tears on the toilet- I pulled myself together. I yelled out for my TRAIL TOES, and when Max came over, tears ran down my face as I explained just how badly it hurt to pee. Chaffing was NO JOKE and I didn’t think to re-lube at all until it was too late. I lubed up and shuffled the rest of the lap and when I came in- I just broke down- blaming it on how much it hurt to pee, but in reality, I had had it, the laundry list of reason of how bad this race went for me had finally caught up to me emotionally.

“No -PACING is not ALLOWED”
I initially told Adam this, and then realized that others on course had pacers and I wasn’t going to hit 125, so no rule breaking there. He joined me for my last 3 laps as I picked up the pace. We finished and I wrote my number obnoxiously huge in chalk.

 finish                                                        “Go back there and run in”
The picture of me finishing- totally staged. After running for 24 hours, I needed to then run for a photo finish… I just laughed at the irony of the situation.

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“NO Grand-baby’s for YOU”
As someone who was recently married everyone is dying to know if there are any babies on the horizon, especially my parents. Before running the race, they asked if I ran enough miles to secure a top 6 spot on the 24 hour team, would I stop and have a baby after that competition. My mom texted me asking “How was the race?”. That was my reply.

I guess it was a blessing in disguise that I didn’t run far enough to meet qualification standards, because it wouldn’t have counted. For a race to meet qualification standards it must have: “1) course distance certification, 2) course sanction by USATF or IAU label and 3) lap splits must be provided. As it stands, would an athlete have met qualifying distance, without the proper verification, the performance would not have counted toward qualification.”

I am truly thankful for my husband Max and friend Adam for sacrificing their weekend to IMG_2782help me come nowhere close to my goal run. They took care of me, kept me cool and encouraged me to stay in a good mood.

Thank you to my sponsors:

  • ALTRA:
    • Shoes: ALTRA Paradigms- Love these padded, comfortable shoes. I also wore them for my wedding.
    • Calf Sleeves
    • Shirts- ok, so I took my shirt off after 2 hours (and put a different one on for pictures), but I still love the shirt.
  • TSTARRUNNING Skirt- That skirt kept me happy the entire race- cool, breathable and comfortable.

 

Calories Consumed:

  • 3 scoops tailwind
  • 10 Large Burger King Cherry Ice’s
  • 1 Gallon of Strawberry Lemonade from Trader Joes
  • 1 Strawberry Lemonade PowerAde
  • 1 Liter of Mt. Dew
  • 1 5 Hour energy
  • Lots of handfuls of pretzels.
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