Category Archives: TRAIL RUNNING

WOLF-PACK

wolfpackWhat started out as a joke on Facebook before our road trip a few weeks ago (you can read about that adventure here), got me thinking about the people I run with and who honestly, I spend most of my happy time with (besides my own family).

I feel very lucky to have the set of friends that I do. Friends who do crazy things and who enjoy Mother Nature and getting muddy just as much as me.

Waterfall fun!
Friends who jump off rocks and take a million photos
But remember, Blue is Bad!
Friends who goof around in the middle of a run.

If you read my posts, you know who these usual suspects are in my life. Pigeon, Stonegate and Burning Girl are the most frequent. Occasionally we are lucky enough to run with Miss P and Pearls.

These ladies rock!

I also run with a dear friend, TiggerT. She doesn’t run ultras but when we do run, we usually laugh, a lot. She is my California International Marathon buddy and my “road-running” friend.

TiggerT and I
TiggerT

But more importantly, she and Stonegate, Burning Girl and Pigeon are my friends. My wolf-pack. They are the ones I know will support me in a race and in life.

FullSizeRender
They also send you funny texts during races.

Truth be told, before I ran trails, I ran alone. A lot. I used to read Kristin Armstrong’s blog Mile Markers on Runner’s World and would be so envious of the stories she’d write about – meeting her friends for a morning workout or a long training run – laughing and sharing their life’s problems with each other. I wanted that.

2016 Selfie

Well now, I have it but 100 times better.

belt7

My wolf-pack doesn’t run together every day or every weekend, but we are connected. The trails may have brought us together but it isn’t what keeps us strong.

Trail Girls

My wolf-pack keeps me sane. They keep me on my toes. They are resources for things I know nothing about. They build you up and remind you, that you are worth it and that you deserve the best. They are shoulders to cry on when life gets hard and they remind you when you may be making the same mistake twice.

Hugs!

They give you hugs when you need them and they make you laugh.

Oops! hahaha

I adore my wolf-pack and while it seems stereotypical to “give thanks” this time of year, that is exactly what I want to do.

Thank you ladies for all that you do. Thank you for being a little bit crazy and a lot-a-bit fun. Thank you for being adventure seekers and thank you for supporting my often crazy ideas. Thank you for the hugs, the laughter and the tears. Thank you for listening. Thank you, for being you … my wolf-pack, our wolf-pack.

wolfpack-2

Happy Trails!

(and Happy Thanksgiving!)

~Trailmomma

 

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LITHIA LOOP TRAIL MARATHON RACE REPORT

They are going to kill me! But this is way too funny not to post!”
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(warning – this is a super long post but a fun one)

The Thursday before I left for Oregon, my coworker and I were discussing the fact that I was going on a road-trip with two friends (also moms) and how we were headed to do a trail marathon put on by race director and all around ultra-running legend, Hal Koerner. One thing led to another and within minutes the above photo was created and shared on Facebook.

Hal was tagged and my friends laughed. He seems like he has a good easy going personality, so I hoped he didn’t mind. 🙂

First, let’s step back just a bit shall we? How did this all come about? Well, quite a few months ago I decided that in my final year of being 39, I wanted to do races that I have never done and go places and have fun! So I registered for the Lithia Loop Trail Marathon which takes place in Ashland, Oregon and I booked a hotel.

Vans and I have been to Ashland before and we loved it. He told me that he’d go with the kids but that I should really take my friends. So, I did.

My wolfpack was set free!
The wolfpack was set free!

Vans tagged us as “the wolfpack” on Facebook and the name has stuck. My girls and I hit the road ready to explore, live and just laugh our bums off!

Mt Shasta
Mt Shasta

The drive up was easy. We stopped along the way for photos and rest-stops but we made really good time and were in Ashland with lots of time to explore.

We stayed at the Ashland Springs Hotel which was the race host hotel and is conveniently located across the street from Rogue Valley Runners – where packet pick up was located.

We grabbed our shirts and bibs. We saw that Hal was there but he didn’t seem to “recognize” us from our photoshopped post on Facebook. Whew! Saved (or so I thought).

Standing Stone Brewing
Standing Stone Brewing Company

We walked down the street and had drinks and snacks at Standing Stone Brewing Company. We toasted our weekend freedom and talked about the race.

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Lithia Park

Then we walked a block or two over to Lithia Park to find the race start and finish area. This park is mind blowing and GORGEOUS!

Feeling so lucky
Feeling so lucky

We wandered the park, taking photos and then came across a little park with THE coolest climbing structure ever.

When in Rome right?
When in Rome right? (photo by Burning Girl)

Stonegate and I couldn’t resist. We had to climb to the top. My kids would love this!

Since we were racing, we made it an early night and grabbed whatever food we all needed and headed back to the hotel to settle in and get ready for the race.

We felt kind of lame going back to our hotel when it was so early but we wanted to be rested for the race.

The race started at 8:00 am which for us, is extremely late. We were sort of thrown by the late start time but realized the next morning that it doesn’t get light out until about 7:45 am. Aaah, now I get it. 🙂

Burning Girl, Me and Stonegate at the start.
Burning Girl, Me and Stonegate at the start. (photo by Stongate)

The best part is that we could leave our hotel and walk to the starting area. I love being able to do that.

As usual, we arrived a bit too early and watched as the race directors and volunteers helped put up the starting arch.

The start. Photo from Facebook.
The start. Photo from Facebook.

We knew this was not a huge race but we also knew that it was filled with mostly Oregon locals. Locals who looked like they could crush this course.

Promptly at 8 am, Hal counted us down and the race started. The first 10 miles are on a partly paved and partly dirt fire road. TEN MILES … UP HILL.

Course profile
Course profile

We all started out together and then quickly realized, that NO ONE walks. No one. Everyone was running. Mile 1, mile 2, mile 3 … no one stopped despite the fact that we were climbing some serious hill.

Burning Girl said, “I’ll catch ya later! Good luck!” as she stopped to walk. I must add, that Burning Girl’s farthest run to date had been 12 miles, once. This girl’s life has been hectic to say the least and yet she traveled to Ashland and made a game day decision. She started the race and would see how the day would unfold. Stonegate and I had our fingers crossed for her but to be honest, the odds were against her.

Stonegate and I ran a little further and then she stopped. I kept going but eventually stopped too. Stonegate caught me and we did a run walk combo up that hill. Everyone was looking at us as they ran past but we knew we wanted to be a bit conservative as we still had a lot of climbing to do!

Good morning Ashland!
Good morning Ashland!

The weather was perfect. All week they had predicted that it would be down pouring rain – first it was for the entire day, then it moved to the second half of the race and then, it wasn’t supposed to rain until late that evening! It was beautiful out. Not too cold. Not too hot.

Trail selfie
Trail selfie

The fire road was getting a little tedious. It wasn’t ugly but it had this gravel that was just very hard for me to get footing on. I would slide back an inch every so often. The tread on my shoes are also pretty worn so that didn’t help.

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Finally we made a sharp right turn onto a single track. I don’t think Stonegate and I could be any happier. The funny thing is, all the people who had ran the fire road, walked the single track. That just made me laugh. I was ready to run at this point!

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The trail was well marked and it smelled like pine! It was awesome.

I am not quite sure when it was, I think it was mile 8 or 9, Stonegate told me to go ahead that she needed to walk. So I ran thinking she would catch me eventually. I never saw her again.

This sign just makes me laugh.
This sign just makes me laugh.

I just kept running. I was starting to feel good. My legs were no longer tired from the climb and my lungs felt okay. We had reached the top of the hill and I knew that the rest was just a super flat-ish section until about mile 19 or 20.

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There were six aid-stations throughout the course and I just took them one by one. I didn’t really need much as my pack was pretty stocked but the volunteers manning the aid-stations were SUPER nice!

One aid-station was crewed by a mountain biking group.
One aid-station was crewed by a mountain biking group.

The only downfall with this race is that there is no where, and I mean no where, to pull off to the side of the trail when nature calls. You have a cliff on one side and a wall or mountain of dirt more or less on the other.

This kind of stunk as I had to go twice during the race. Both instances I had to literally climb over a cliff and down an embankment one time and then climb over some downed trees another. That took a lot of time.

Finally I came to the last aid-station at about mile 19.5. I just said hello and was ready to keep running. I almost went the wrong way until they pointed me towards some single track trails. Yes!

It was a short single track that then dumped you onto a short fire road that then led you to Caterpillar Trail. As I understand it from the locals, this trail was newly built and this was the first year the course was running on it.

I hit this trail and it was like a fire had been lit inside me!

Photo by Stonegate
Photo by Stonegate

I just ran and ran and ran! I felt no pain. I was in heaven. I was smiling ear to ear cheering on runners as I passed them. I think I passed about 10 people on this section of the trail. I had passed about 8 on the fire road the last few miles as well. My energy was strong.

Photo by Stonegate
Photo by Stonegate

Up, down, up, down the trail was full of little rollers that weaved in and out of trees. There were downward switch backs and tight corners. To your left was a cliff. The trail itself was only a foot or two wide and to your right was a dirt wall. I prayed no mountain bikers were out there (as it turns out, mountain bikers have their own section of caterpillar to ride on that is just for them, how cool!?).

Runners cheered me on as I passed them. Finally at mile 24 I came to this …

Cause why not add stairs at mile 24 right?
Why not add stairs at mile 24 of a marathon right?

I had to laugh and take a photo. Always throwing in stairs for good fun.

Finally the trail dumps you out onto a paved road. After a turn, you realize that you’re on the same road you started the race on and that we only had a mile to go.

I ran hard. I knew the race had a 6 hour cutoff and I had no concept of time. I never once looked at my watch for time. I’d occasionally look at it for mileage when it beeped to see if the mile markers were accurate (they were) but never once did I glance at the time or the pace I was running.

I passed about 4 more runners on this road (they looked like they were hurting). Locals were sitting on their curbs cheering us on! It was so cute.

Then I see the finish arch ahead. I was so happy but then something to my left caught my eye. There was a  HUGE buck just standing at the curb, not five feet from me. Four feet from it, was a woman just sitting and cheering.

I looked from the buck to the woman and from the woman to the buck thinking, “Does she not SEE that? Am I imagining this? He is RIGHT there!” I wanted to stop and pull out my camera but I was literally just 30 yards from the finish.

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As it turns out, when I did finish, there had been a family of deer to my right as well! Crazy!

I finished in 5 hours even. I apparently snuck past everyone as they had to chase me down to give me my medal and race swag.

I then waited for Stonegate and Burning Girl to finish. I hadn’t heard from either of them throughout the race. The cell coverage was spotty most of the day so that was understandable.

Stonegate coming down the hill!
Stonegate coming down the hill! Deer to her right!

Stonegate finished and was smiling ear to ear. Her time was about 5 hours and 30 minutes and she was feeling good.

We quickly walked down the street to Pioneer Hall where the post-race food was located. Here they gave us growlers!

How cool is that?!
How cool is that?!

My very own growler! I was so excited. Stonegate grabbed a burrito. I took a photo of all the local beer being served to send to Vans back home.

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Then we went back to the finish area to wait for Burning Girl. Neither one of us had heard from her. I talked to the guy manning the finish area and he said no one had dropped at any of the aid-stations that he was aware of.

Then, we saw Hal, the race director. I wanted a photo so I grabbed Stonegate and we wandered over. We asked if we could have a photo with him.

At first he laughed, then said, “Yea, I think I saw a photo or something Facebook already … that took a lot of work.” 🙂

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I assured him that it really didn’t take much! hahaha It was so funny. He truly was a super nice guy and a good sport about it. He shared with us some places where we could go and hang out tonight post race.

All of a sudden, Stonegate gets a text from Burning Girl that she had HIT THE PAVEMENT! She was on her way into the finish! There were 5 runners out there and she was one of them.

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Down the hill she came! She looked amazing! She did it! She freaking ran that hard-a$$ marathon with little to no training. Mind over matter she did it! I am so damn proud of that woman. She is one helluva strong runner! Sadly, we did NOT get a post race photo of all of us! Grrr!

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But we did stop on our walk back to the hotel at Standing Stone Brewing Company again to fill up our new growlers!

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Photo by Stonegate

Then it was back to the hotel for a mini celebration and showers. Despite being a little sore and tired, we were anxious to get out and really experience downtown Ashland.

We had drinks, followed by a nice dinner in a great place with locals cheering on the Oregon football team. We told stories of what we all experienced during the run and how we felt at certain points. It was pure bliss.

Alas, we are moms and we were tired so we called it quits pretty early and headed back to the hotel (in the pouring rain). We had our growlers and were eager to get foam rolling! haha

The next morning was day light savings. The time change didn’t really help us, our internal mom clocks had us up the normal time. We grabbed coffee and breakfast from the hotel and went back to pack up and hit the road.

Stopping at scenic over looks again.
Stopping at scenic over looks again.

The drive back was good. Again we made it a point to stop at scenic over looks for photos.

The wolfpack. Stonegate, Burning Girl and myself (photo by Stonegate)
The wolfpack. Stonegate, Burning Girl and myself (photo by Stonegate)

We stopped in Redding to visit Burning Girl’s mother-inlaw. She is the sweetest woman. We also stopped in Weed, California to have a little fun – gotta have fun in Weed!

Burning Girl trying to get the perfect shot of Stonegate
Burning Girl trying to get the perfect shot of Stonegate
I ran into Sheldon
I ran into Sheldon too. :)
Beautiful Mount Shasta behind me.
Beautiful Mount Shasta behind me.

All in all, it was one of the best weekends that I have had in a really long time. I feel truly blessed to have a supportive spouse who encouraged me to go have a weekend with friends and I feel truly lucky to know these two ladies who love to travel, love to run and love to adventure just as much as I do! So thank you Vans and thank you Stonegate and Burning Girl for being the two best adventure pals ever. I love that you are always willing to go on my crazy adventures and destination races.

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So the Lithia Loop Trail Marathon was my last trail race in my current age bracket. I have one more race of the season left in December and then I cross the proverbial line into a new age bracket, a new era. So far I have to say that I am not afraid. I am not sad about it. My thirties have been fabulous. I have been so very blessed and so very lucky thus far to have the family, friends and adventures that I have had. This year in particular has been one helluva year for me running wise.

I have met and talked with some outstanding runners and athletes this year and it is all because I love to explore. If my mom’s death taught me one thing (it actually taught me a lot) but most importantly I have learned to live life! There is no telling what tomorrow may bring. So grab life by the horns, and cherish it. Then, let it go and find the next big thing. Make memories (heck make waves if you can). Just do it. And don’t forget to smile.

I've been blessed to make many acquaintances this year.
The last year in my thirties hasn’t been too shabby. :)

Happy Trails!

~Trailmomma

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THAT DAM(N) RUN HALF MARATHON RACE REPORT (and a million other things)

The October love is still flowing strong. This past weekend was no exception. We squeezed in a lot!

Crazy is as Crazy does!
Crazy is as Crazy does!

The weekend started off with the school’s Harvest Festival on Friday night. I am giving the PTA props because they made some changes to the festival and it was well done. Vans helped with some set up too.

Just hanging around
Just hanging around

Saturday we found ourselves at the Loving Lane event down in Sacramento. Sally Edwards, aka the Head Heart is a dear friend of ours. Her nephew Lane Edwards was in a terrible accident about two years ago and was left with a C4 spinal fracture which has left him unable to walk.

Lane is defying all odds with the help of a huge team of trainers who are supporting his efforts to be able to walk again, on his own two feet.

We attended his event to help support LovingLane.org which is enabling Lane to continue with his therapy. Check out his website www.lovinglane.org and see how you can help.

Pinkhouse age 97
Pinkhouse age 97

Also attending Lane’s event was Pinkhouse, our 97 (soon to be 98 in December) year old friend who contributed by doing an indoor cycling ride for Lane! How is that for inspiration!?

Indoor cycling workout led by Sally the Head Heart
Indoor cycling workout led by Sally the Head Heart

Sunday morning came bright and early for us after the great day we had at Loving Lane.

A few weeks ago I ran into Coach Nikon (my old trail coach and friend). He is the Race Director for That Dam(n) Run – trail 10k and half marathon.

Pre-Race
Pre-Race

Coach Nikon invited Vans and myself to come out to his race AND he told us to bring our girls. He said that he and his daughter the Cheetah, would watch them while Vans and I ran. How absolutely perfect (and nice) is that?!

Trouble!
Trouble! Peanut, Squeaker, Cheetah and friends

I ran the half marathon and Vans ran the 10k. My race started first. After a few announcements from Coach Nikon, I was off and running.

Coach Nikon talking to the 10k Runners
Coach Nikon talking to the 10k Runners

The 10k runners followed yellow and black checkered ribbons while the half marathon runners followed pink and black striped. The course was well marked with ribbons and with flour on the ground. If you got lost, you clearly were not paying any attention.

Day of the Dead theme ALL over the place
Day of the Dead theme ALL over the place

I should note that Vans does not run much if at all. He’s probably run once this entire month. Needless to say, he was pretty stoked to find out that he was the winner of the 10k.

Here comes Vans!
Here comes Vans!

He was also pretty tired and really did not enjoy the uphill finish! ha!

Winner winner tofu dinner!
Winner winner tofu dinner!

He had a blast though and loved the challenging course. Hmm, maybe I’ll sign him up for the half next year?? 😉

Coach Nikon and Squeaker - TOTAL trouble here.
Coach Nikon and Squeaker – TOTAL trouble here.

My race was fun. I ran hard and had a great first half. Second half, after climbing the old dam hill, I slowly started running out of steam.

There was a young(er) girl who passed me at one point and who I stayed behind the entire second half of the race. She was running super strong.

She stopped at the last aid-station, about 1.7 from the finish and I grabbed her arm and said, “Nope. Come on! This is your race. You’ve got this, let’s go!” She followed and took the lead.

She asked if I wanted to pass and I told her no, this race was hers as she had been a super strong steady runner the whole day.

We turned a corner and saw the final stretch to the finish. It was completely up hill!!! I had been running steady for the last 3 or 4 miles with no walking … seeing that hill just knocked the wind out of me!

Best race photo EVER
Best race photo EVER

Vans snapped that photo as I was cresting the hill. I was giving Coach Nikon the evil eye with a bit of Jersey-attitude for throwing that darn hill in at the finish. FYI – You had to run the hill because EVERYONE was watching and cheering at the top. 🙂

It was a FANTASTIC race. Such a gorgeous day and a very well run event with amazing volunteers!

First in AG, 4th overall in the half - Vans was first overall and first in AG for the 10k
First in AG, 4th overall in the half  – Vans was first overall and first in AG for the 10k

We chilled at the finish line laughing and chatting with friends.  We didn’t really want to leave ….

Two little monsters!
Two little monsters!

but alas, we had promised the girls a trip to Apple Hill to get pumpkins since next week is Halloween. Where is time going?!

All the tutus and all the fairy wings = heaven for Squeaker
All the tutus and all the fairy wings = heaven for Squeaker

We stopped quickly at an orchard to get pumpkins, apples and look at the all the vendor booths. Squeaker found her happy place at a booth that sold tutus and fairy wings.

Next stop, was at our dear friends winery. Our peaceful happy place. The girls just love it here and so do we.

Sisters
Sisters

The girls run around playing while Vans and I chat with the owners and our friends, Ann and Paul (in between masses of people visiting the winery of course).

Peanut - love her
Peanut – love her

October is always an insane month for them. It is the busiest time of year actually. Vans and I are low maintenance and happy to sit and enjoy the views. We also love to help them out when they need it, carrying boxes, empty glasses or whatever they need. It makes us happy to help.

Happiness
Happiness

Needless to say, I am bummed this is the last week of October. It has been one amazing month and I have been so blessed and over-joyed with all that we have been a part of this month.

Next weekend is my plant-based cooking class and I am super excited about that. Stay tuned.

Meanwhile, November isn’t looking too shabby at the moment. My trail-girls, Stonegate and Burning Girl and I have a little road trip adventure coming up which should be fun!

Life is just good all around.

Loving life
Loving life

Happy Trails!

~Trailmomma

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OCTOBER IS MY FAVORITE MONTH

Sorry I have been missing from posting here lately. I have been busy mostly because I absolutely LOVE the month of October and am jumping at any chance I have to be outside.

I love the changing colors!
I love the changing colors!

I apologize for being vague here, but I am juggling a lot “balls” in the air right now all related to various projects that I essentially have created for myself. I can’t help it, I love being busy!

Hopefully, when the time is right, I will be able to share more.

So in exchange for a vague post, I’ll just fill you in on some of the things I have been doing lately.

A few weeks ago, Stonegate, another friend and I created a relay team called The MOMsters and ran The Folsom Lake Ultra Trail 100k (relay) also known as F.L.U.T.

Some damn awesome mommas right here.
Some damn awesome mommas right here.

It was my first ever trail-relay and I was running a section of Folsom Lake that I have never run before.

Gorgeous!
Gorgeous!

The run was tough. My section was 25 miles, a lot of pavement and quite a few climbs.

Unfortunately, our team did not finish. Stonegate started her leg at 3 pm in the afternoon, when it was already quite hot outside. She mis-judged her fueling routine with the later start time and ended up not being able to finish her leg. She was pretty ill and I know for her, it was a very tough decision to make. As her relay team, we didn’t care one bit, we just wanted her healthy.

After that, I took a “me-day” from work and ventured to Santa Rosa!

I wanted to visit True North Health Center in Santa Rosa, the home of Dr. Alan Goldhammer and Dr. Doug Lisle.

2While there I saw a cooking demo which was great because I am hosting another plant-based cooking demo in a few weeks! I am kind of excited about it too. Hopefully I will do a post about that as well.

It was really interesting to see how someone else demonstrates certain cooking techniques to others.

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After the cooking demo, I visited the Savory Spice Shop and was in total spice heaven!

Smelled amazing
Smelled amazing

I bought some fresh herbs and spices to try at home.

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My time spent in Santa Rosa was brief but lovely. I had never really been there before (that I can recall anyway) and I can’t wait to go back.

THEN, I had a friend who I met at Plant-Stock in 2015, text that she was headed my way and was wondering if she could crash and visit for a few days with us. I was beyond excited to see her!

TARA!!!!
TARA!!!!

Tara is a bundle of absolute positive energy. She is a joy to be around and my girls had a blast with her. Hopefully they didn’t scare her from having children in the future! 🙂 My kids were pretty wired when she was here and in rare form. Squeaker was on fire and quite hilarious.

We made massive yummy salads every night.
We made massive yummy plant-based salads every night.

Unfortunately, Tara picked the worst weekend to be here because we had our first ever major storm. A weekend full of rain and wind which doesn’t make for great hosting and sightseeing.

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While she does run trails, Tara didn’t have storm weather appropriate running shoes with her so she wasn’t able to join Stonegate, Pigeon, Miss P, Pearls and I on our Sunday morning run in Auburn.

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We were the only ones on the trail and we had one helluva time!

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It was MUDDY and slippery but oh.so.much.fun!!!! We ran, we laughed and we all were in total complete heaven.

Running through the flood on No Hands Bridge
Running through the flood on No Hands Bridge

How often do you find a group of women like us who live to get muddy and soaking wet at the butt-crack of dawn on a Sunday? 🙂

These ladies rock!
These ladies rock!

So, as you can see, I haven’t been hiding under a rock. I’ve been out enjoying nature and all that October has brought with it thus far.

Like I said earlier, I hope to be able to share some of the projects that I have been working on lately with you or at least the status updates of those.

I am hosting another plant-based cooking demo later in the month for a small group of people who are interested in learning how to cook plant-based. I am excited to open my kitchen to them and to answer any questions they may have about the way that I cook.

Hopefully, down the road, maybe I can do more of these or even better, be invited to other people’s homes to  show them how to use what they have to cook and eat plant-based.

Until then, I am enjoying some family time and some adventures.

My mini me.
My mini me.

Happy Trails!

~Trailmomma

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HEADLANDS MARATHON RACE REPORT

Wait! Stop! Just LOOK at that EFFING city! Oh my god!

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That pretty much stopped me dead in my tracks and made me laugh, out loud. When Stonegate sees a view that she wants to capture, she makes sure you (and everyone else around her) knows about it! 🙂

Last year on a whim, I reached out to Stonegate and asked if she was interested in running the Headlands Trail Marathon with me. She was … so we did and we laughed… a lot.

So when sign ups came for the 2016 Headlands Trail Marathon we both jumped at the chance, not really thinking too much about our fitness level and mileage.

I have had a few longer runs under my belt recently, nothing more than 15 miles or so though. Stonegate however, had not really run much more than 7 since her 50 mile race back in April. Still, we went into this run looking for fun and adventure. Pure and simple. No expectations. No agenda.

We arrived in Mill Valley late afternoon on Friday. We bummed around town a bit checking out the shops and planning our post-race meal location for the next day. This town is absolutely adorable. We crashed at our friend Mill Valley’s place just as we had last year. We made her a plant-based dinner in exchange for two comfy beds to crash in pre-race and a nice shower post-race. We are super lucky to have her and she is one of THE nicest people I have ever met.

Saturday at 4 am my alarm started blaring and we began getting ready. We arrived at the race start pretty early. We sat in the car until race registration opened up and we could go get our bibs and use the restrooms.

Start area
Start area

The race start is steps, literally, from the ocean. The temps were breezy and cold but the salt water air was a refreshing change from the pollen and smoke filled air of the central valley.

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When race time neared, we headed back down eager to get the day started. While milling about waiting for the pre-race meeting, we ran into Miss P and Pearls (named for her Pearl Izumi shoe obsession – which by the way, she’s super sad the shoe has been discontinued, but she’ll always have her nickname!).

Me, Pearls and Miss P - love these ladies!
Me, Pearls and Miss P – love these ladies!

While also hanging around, we noticed two people wearing shirts that said VEGAN in super large lettering. Of course I had to say something. I sort of walked over and said, “Awesome shirt! Woo Hoo, go vegan!” The conversation started and we all talked about being plant-based and learned that Vegan Skott, who was from Boston, was running the Headlands Hundred! Rachel, his crew, was assisting him. Super sweet people!

Vegan Skott and Rachel
Vegan Skott and Rachel

The race director jumped on top of the water fountain and gave us a little pre-race briefing. After that, we lined up at the start.

RD on a water fountain
RD on a water fountain

Different from last year, the marathon started at the same time as the 100, 50 and 75 mile races but instead of going right, we went left to tack on an extra mile to make our distance equal 26.2.

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There seemed to be a lot more marathoners this year than last year. You spread out pretty easily though so there is no stepping on feet or anything but it does take a minute or two to get some space.

My legs felt a bit heavy from the start. They had not quite woken up yet and I hoped that the sensation would eventually fade otherwise it would be a super long day.

I knew it wouldn’t fade right away though because the start of this race is up hill. Like REALLY up hill, for quite a while with very little break. Like hands on hips hiking straight into the fog up hill.

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Looking down

The central Valley allergies were still present. My chest felt tight and my right eye started watering. Stonegate affectionately started calling it my “leaky eye.” It was annoying but we kept hiking.

A quarter of the way up, we noticed something moving on the side of the trail. None of the other runners seemed to see it.  It was a coyote! It had been at the start and now, it had run up the hillside and was watching us runners run by. It blew me away that no one else seemed to notice, or maybe they didn’t care. We stopped and took photos. Of course. 🙂

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Photo by me – he looks superimposed!
Photo by Stonegate
Photo by Stonegate – we swear he’s real!

Unlike last year, the fog never seemed to dissipate. Last year we were rewarded with some amazing views of the ocean from the top of the hill but not this year. This year, we saw fog and lots of it.

Still we ran the flats and hiked the up hills stopping to take goofy photos along the way.

Do Not Climb On Historic Gun TWSS
It says: “Do Not Climb
On Historic Gun”  ……TWSS
What? Oregon Border?
What? Oregon Border? On my way!

The fog also didn’t deter us from taking photos on amazing cliffs overlooking the ocean.

Stopped to get one of Stonegate ...
Stonegate soaking it all in

When we reached the aid-station at Muir Beach, for some reason I glanced up and saw that someone had placed a plastic pig on top of this sign hanging from a lamp post.

See the piggy? haha
See the piggy? haha

Because I am a dork, I pointed it out to Stonegate and the whole aid-station heard and they all started laughing wondering why this plastic pig was just sitting there. I assumed it was kind of a weird treasure hunt game thing. 🙂 Only I would notice something as random as that.

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After that aid-station we were back on the trails hiking back up hill. One of the things I told Vegan Skott before the race had started was that he might enjoy the many “eco-systems” that we’ll get to run thru throughout the day.

Maybe “eco-system” isn’t the right word but it is the best way to describe running from a cliff beach like setting into something that looks like it belongs in a rain forest!

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These “rain-forest” sections are my absolute favorite. It brings a huge smile to our faces and often draws out an “Awe yea” or “Look at this!” from one of us.

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From the rain-forest eco-system you are then thrust into an urban/city-like touristy eco-system as the trail has you running high above the freeway one minute and then down below the Golden Gate Bridge the next.

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You run a paved road down until you are underneath the Golden Gate Bridge. It’s kind of crazy. The aid-station is at the bottom and this year it was closer to the bridge. Stonegate and I stopped and added some water to our pack. This was about mile 20 here.

We got to see Vegan Skott arrive. Rachel, his crew had this mini-van that was full of plant-based food and she invited us to have anything inside that we wanted. She also offered to get us coffee to have at the finish. This girl is crazy sweet. We wished her well and told her we’d see her at the finish.

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As we were making our way back up the hill, we looked to our left and did a double take. A bunch of people were gathered around this guy who appeared to have the largest gold chain and what looked like a gold roll of toilet paper hanging from it??!!! He was also rapping … about being under the Golden Gate Bridge. They were apparently shooting a rap video?! It was the craziest thing and totally unexpected!

Photo by Stonegate
Photo by Stonegate

We climbed back up the way we had come. Slower now, as it was uphill and there were still runners coming down. The trail leads you back across the windiest section of the race. Last year Stonegate almost lost her visor. This year she was prepared and she held it in her hand. The trail even has ropes on either side to keep you safe.

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Back across the we went. Stonegate I think was starting to feel a bit off at this point. The girl hasn’t run more than 7 miles so I don’t blame her. I think her stomach had decided it was done. She battled some nausea the last few miles or so.

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We would run and then stop to walk. She urged me to go on without and I wasn’t quite sure that was a good idea. This race wasn’t about time or performance but at the same time, sometimes when you are not feeling well, the best thing is to be left alone.

So I told her, “Let’s run some. If you need to stop again, I will just keep going. Don’t feel you have to rush to the finish or anything though.” So with about 2-ish miles to go, she stopped again and I continued on.

I have to say, those were the longest two miles ever. My legs had regained some energy somewhere along the run, I think back on the “rain-forest” trail so I had some pep in my step. I ran and cheered on all the ultra-runners who were coming back up to start their second loop of the race.

The trail along the ocean was pretty but never ending. You had the ocean to your left and a parking lot to your right. Lots of spectators were standing about which was nice as they cheered for you as you ran by.

Finally, I made the turn to the finish. There wasn’t much hoopla. A few claps from people but boy did it feel nice to be done! Stonegate finished not long after either. We’d made it, we finished the Headlands Marathon despite our lack of training.

We chatted with Miss P and Pearls for a bit. Said hi to Rachel and wished Vegan Skott well on the rest of his race. As it turns out, he didn’t finish the 100 but stopped at mile 50. Having only trained in Boston, that was one tough 100 to try and run. Kudos Skott!

Stonegate wanted to jet out of there as we had to get cleaned up, eat and hit the road so that we could be home for the last concert in the park with our families.

Overall, it was a great day. The cool temps were great compared to the warmer temperature last year but I did miss seeing the views just a bit.

I am super lucky to have Stonegate who is open to adventure on a moment’s notice. She dug deep on this one and finished. Not sure if this will be on our calendar for next year. We love visiting with Mill Valley but maybe we’ll pick a different race? Who knows, but no matter what, it’s always an adventure.

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Happy Trails!

~Trailmomma

(Finish time: 5:44, 1st AG)

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