Category Archives: TRAIL RUNNING


Today was another one of those “kick myself” moments. I was sitting in the auditorium at Placer High School in Auburn, waiting for the Western States 100 Mile Endurance Run lottery to start. I was there because my friend and training partner Pigeon was hoping to have her name announced.

She has previously entered the race three other times plus the current entry which brings her tally to four tickets with her name written on it amongst thousands in the bin. She also was entered into the “lottery within the lottery” for just being present at the auditorium, kind of a ‘last chance’ if you will.


Pigeon with her “last chance” ticket.

We had arrived pretty early because the weather was bad and the parking is notoriously difficult and because Pigeon wanted a good seat. While we sat and waited I watched her talk with tons of other runners who had showed up hoping for a chance to toe the line at states in 2014. After that the race entry requirements change and the race will become even more difficult to enter, hence why everyone really wanted to get picked this year.

While I was sitting there I saw legends like Gordy Ansleigh who is the founder of the Western States Run, Tim Tweitmeyer who is a legend in Auburn as well within Western States and so many other people who I have heard about, read about or perhaps even passed occasionally on the trail. The feeling was really surreal.

The great thing about ultra-runners is that they are the most friendly supportive people you will come across. That competitive drive is not really on the surface and they are more than happy to cheer for a buddy or an acquaintance then bring them down.

Unfortunately Pigeon’s name was not called for the 2014 Western States, and I know she is really bummed about that. However I know in my heart that her first 100 will happen when the timing is right.  I can’t say exactly when that will be but Pigeon is and always has been about redemption. It is practically her middle name.

She suffered miserably during the Sierra Nevada Endurance Run a few years ago only to redeem herself the following year. I have no doubts that Pigeon can conquer 100 miles. She is one of the toughest runners I know.

I hope to have her strength and perseverance tomorrow when I am at the starting line for the California International Marathon. I am not a fool to think that I will do well or PR tomorrow, not 3 months post ankle surgery but if I can have just one ounce the strength that Pigeon does, I will be happy.

I apologize for the lack of posting on the blog lately. We were away on vacation as a family over the Thanksgiving holiday and I was enjoying the quiet family time. It was a glorious week giving me lots of time to think and boy did I think … I’ll be back to share how CIM turned out and perhaps will share some of my recent news with you all tomorrow.

Happy Trails.


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I’ve been thinking a lot about 2014. Generally I like to think I am a “live in the now” kind of person. However, by nature I plan. I make lists for myself and the kids whenever we travel (for Van’s it is kind of hopeless), I write out grocery lists and meal plans for the week but for the most part, I would like to live a life of spontaneity and with no regrets. Of course having two kids under the age of 5 inherently makes that very difficult (um, nap time).

However, when it comes to running and training, I have generally never jumped into a race “just because” or signed up for something last-minute. I always get the “early bird” sign up and never the “day of” registration. That is just the way I have been programmed. I have learned my lesson a few times by signing up for races and then having ankle surgery.

But I have been putting a lot of thought into my 2014 racing/running plans. Way back before my surgery I even made (yet another) list of the races that I wanted to do. I tried to ease myself back into things with Resolution Run in January in Auburn followed by that little old thing called the Western States Training Run in February and well, that itty bitty race called Way Too Cool 50K in March. However, WTC is a lottery and what if I didn’t get into the lottery next year? Of course I’d have to sign up for the Tahoe Rim Trail 50K too (which is also a lottery for 2014). Both Way Too Cool and Tahoe Rim sign ups are in December so essentially, I have to sign up for BOTH at the same time and run the risk of being picked for BOTH races. I am not, by nature, a lucky person. Lucky things do not happen to me generally but I think in this case, I WILL get picked for both races because well, that would be Vans’s bad luck (and my good fortune) butting heads.

I also just discovered that the American River 50 Mile race, which I had no intentions of doing again, at least not this year, had a course change. The start is about a mile from my house (again)! Now if that is not fate knocking on my door I don’t know what is. Right? (Van’s don’t answer that).

My other main focus in 2014 is pacing. Pigeon is throwing her name into the Western State 100 Mile race again and I am finally healthy should she choose me to be her pacer. My love of all things Western States stems back to my first few months in California (1999) when my local PBS station (and past employer) did a documentary on the race (Race for the Soul). I fell in love then and the love still stands. I was fortunate enough in 2010 to do a few of the WS training runs as part of my training for AR50 and then for fun after AR was done. That is my goal this year. I want to be out there on Memorial Day weekend running those beautiful trails again getting muddy, wet and dirty but having the time of my life! I love it. I have goosebumps just typing about it.

I have too much to think about and all of it wonderful. I truly am lucky in that my surgery was done well and I am back running and feeling so great. My only hurdle these days is time but I am managing. I have a lot of support in Vans, my girls, my running and non-running friends as well a few new friends that I have met along the way.

I am healthy, my family is healthy and we have so much to be thankful for these days. This solo parenting week has really opened my eyes to how lucky I am. Spending quality time with my girls has really been wonderful. They  make me laugh daily and I love to make them laugh. I love seeing bits and pieces of Vans and myself in them and I only hope that we can pass on our love of the outdoors, sweat, fitness and being active to each of them. What they decide to do with that is their choice. We don’t demand that they are competitive but as long as they can realize and understand how movement can improve how they feel and how they think. We are blessed with healthy bodies and our job is to keep them healthy.

my girls

How are you treating your gift today?






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First let me say thank you to all of you that read my last post. I appreciate those that commented, shared it on Facebook or even emailed me directly in support. I also thank those that didn’t necessarily agree with my post and told me as such. As a reminder, that post was the letter that I WISH I could have sent to the PTA President and was not the actual letter I emailed (which was much nicer, sort of). My biggest issue with her initial response was how dismissive and rude she was to me and my concerns. She clearly could have just said something along the lines of “thank you for your email. I understand your concern and will take that into advisement next year when planning.” But she didn’t do that. Instead she tried to draw me into championing a new game to rival the ring toss and was downright rude about it. I am not going to beat a dead horse about this. I sent my letter last week in response and I cc’d the school principal so she was made aware of what her PTA president was doing and how she handled parent’s concerns. I have not heard anything from either one of them. I will be more on top of things next year when our Harvest Festival planning is in the works.

This past weekend marked a small running milestone for me. On Friday I was able to run the Ridge Loop of Death (7 miles) for the first time and boy was it disastrous. Not only was it sweltering (what the heck, it IS October right?) but I had forgotten that I had gone to Breakout Fitness that morning and had done a series of leg drills (squats, burpees, lunges). Not the wisest decision on my part however, I was thrilled to be getting an extra day out running in the first place since I don’t often get extra days to run. This also was the first time since surgery that I did the Ridge Loop of Death!

On Sunday, Pigeon and I had agreed to run when she got off from work which would be late afternoon. In a way, I enjoyed this late start because I was able to enjoy a nice leisurely morning with my family but it was also harder to motivate and figure out the meal situation. However, I could not complain because Pigeon had been on her feet working a 9 hour day prior to meeting me so really, hush up Trailmomma right?

I decided that I wanted to test out my new socks. I recently purchased the Injinji lightweight no-show socks (from Amazon).

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I don’t typically (knock on wood) have blister issues when running but I have noticed that my running form has suffered post-surgery because I have been running as if my ankle is GOING to hurt and therefore have been running on the outside of my foot. The Injinji socks really let you focus on putting more weight evenly on the front/ball of the foot including the big toe. The sock is really light weight, almost nonexistent compared to my Drymax socks that I usually wear when running trails. I am not entirely sure how these socks will hold up when running through streams and river crossings but overall on a dry hot day, they were great. I really liked how they felt and I didn’t have any issues when running. I purchased two pairs and will continue to wear them running to see how their fare through some winter running. Maybe I’ll do a search and see if they have a trail version that is perhaps a bit thicker. I have an old pair that I won years ago when they first came onto the market but I prefer the no-show look and the older pair was more of a crew sock.  Okay enough about socks.

Pigeon showed up and instead of taking her on the Ridge Loop of Death we decided to try a new loop that Vans suggested that takes us on a bit of road and trails but ultimately dumps us into Browns Ravine and we found ourselves running right by a very dried up Folsom Lake.

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Brown’s Ravine

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Folsom Lake

It was a fun run and I brought my phone because well, running with Pigeon always involves the historical pretend we’re in a JCPenny Catalog Photo Shoot (probably just an excuse to stop running periodically).

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JCP Photo: Voila, the Trail!

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JCP Photo: Oh dear, what’s my time?

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JCP Photo: Focusing on the sun.

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JCP Photo: Mighty Thirsty

The weather was pretty warm and sunny with little shade cover on most of the trail. I was having a blast. Running with Pigeon is fun regardless but just being back out there running up the hills (or power walking) and getting a little dusty felt awesome. Once we found ourselves on the levee by the lake we took the pavement back to my house by cutting through a fairly festive neighborhood.

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Scary spider!

In total, we did about 7.25 miles which is roughly what the Ridge Loop of Death is distance wise. No matter what you are running some massive hills on either route but I would say the hills on the Browns Loop were a bit worse and/or steeper. There seemed to be more of them and maybe that is just my recollection because I was dying from the heat and from being out of shape. Baby steps. Our fitness is coming.

Gear: For this run, besides my new Injinji socks, I also sported Athleta’s Stability Shorts  in black and their Printed Tinker Tank both of which are on sale (hint hint). The shorts I love and wear often (I have 3 different colors) and the tank,  which I usually reserve for Breakout Fitness type workouts did well for me on the run although I had to pair it with a sports bra for added support. When I can, I will try and do gear updates like this as often as I can so that perhaps someday Athleta will give me a shout out and welcome me into their wonderful world as a Featured Athlete. (hint hint). For hydration I brought my Camelback insulated handheld. I love this water bottle. I never leaks, holds enough cold water for distances up to 10 miles or so and has a handy little pocket that fits gels or in my case, dates in it.

I’ve been thinking a lot about 2014 and what runs I’ll be doing next year. Perhaps I’ll do a post on what my plans are and what I’d like to accomplish next year. Right now, I have no real races scheduled that I plan to race. I do have an entry into the California International Marathon that I am toying with right now.

In other news,  sadly Van’s is on a business trip this week so there will be no Breakout Fitness classes this week or trails runs until Saturday. I am okay with that. I look forward to spending time with these two little monkeys.

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Back in August a person who I admire, respect and look to for a lot of nutritional guidance asked me a question. We had exchanged some emails back and forth and in her last email to me she asked me point blank, “What Lights Me Up? How can I serve people best?” I don’t think I ever fully responded to her email but the question has been festering in my head for months. For a while, it was ALL that I thought about. At times just thinking about the question truly depressed me. I will be honest, some nights I even cried. Why? Because I didn’t have an answer. I know what I “like” and I know what I “think” my dream job in life would be but honestly, I could not, on one hand, count anything, ANYTHING that I was truly good at or excelled at or that people reached out to ME to handle. Sad right? I think so being that I am almost 37 years old.
I even went to work and wrote the question down: “What Lights Me Up?” and “How can I serve people best?” The things I listed are the things that I am interested in learning more about or perhaps enrolling in but is it a career? Would it be enough to support my family and would it truly make me any happier? Am I alone? Am I the only person who has no unusual talents or skills? If you opened up the dictionary and turned to the definition of “plain Jane” you’d find my photo. I am sure of it.
Even my vocational background is disjointed and confusing. I went to college for television production and immediately out of college I got a job working for a public television station as a production assistant. I worked my way up the chain topping out at Producer (kinda sorta) Reporter. I loved it. I loved my job, I loved the people I worked with, I loved being creative and creating visual stories for people to view from the comforts of their own home. As it frequently happens, my program/station lost some funding and I was let go. I was young  and in my twenties. I guess  the powers that be assumed I’d bounce back but the television industry is very competitive, temperamental and difficult to sustain. I had also met Vans and did not really see myself leaving the state to compete in another market. Instead, I went back to school to earn my paralegal certification. Why? I don’t know. I honestly do not know and while I don’t regret the decision (entirely) I often wonder if I had pursued a different road, where would I be today?
At that time, I was running. Actually I had just started training for my first half-marathon. I knew that I loved running and I had always been an active athletic person. I was a vegan at the time (still am) and I also discovered that I had Celiac Disease. These three things are probably the first three characteristics people think of most when they think about me. “Oh there’s Trailmomma, she loves to run and she’s a health nut. Did you know she’s a gluten free vegan!” I’d say those are my “labels” if you had to label me and I am okay with that. I love being vegan and I love reading about nutrition and living a plant based diet. I love learning about gluten free options and the strides the industry is making in Celiac research but the biggest thing having Celiac Disease has done for me is that it has opened my eyes to the damage that processed wheat can do to your body. I digress and I am sorry but as you can see the topics of fitness and nutrition really speak to me. So of course I often wonder if I had not gone to paralegal school and instead had pursued my personal training certification and some sort of degree in nutrition, where would I be today? Would I be happier?
Poor Vans. The topic comes up often. For over a year now I have been bugging him and pestering him that I would love to take the TRX Certification Course in San Francisco and also earn a Plant Based Nutrition Certificate from Cornell University but Vans is the voice of reason and he asks me, “I support you 100% in whatever you want to do but what would you DO with it?” He is right to ask me this. These courses are not cheap and let’s be honest, I have a full time job with two kids who are doing gymnastics, swimming and all the things a new kindergartener (and little sister) does when she is five. Life right now it not leaving much room for extracurricular activities.
Yet not a day goes by that I do not think about the question that Ange asked me. I don’t want anyone to think that I hate my full time job either. I work for a very good company and it has been a long ugly road of law firm to law firm to get here. My current employer is good, the people I work with are nice and even the company’s purpose is to help people. Of course it has its politics like any other large corporation but so far, it isn’t anything that would make me go running for the hills. I also did not intend to write this fishing for comments hoping for a pity party or an ego booster. I wrote it for the simple fact that I am not doing what I love. I am not doing something that lights me up every day. Is that even possible? Or is that only something for people who have great luck in life? I am sure someone could argue that if you wanted something bad enough, you’d work hard for it and make it happen no matter what. That may be true but does that someone have two kids that go to daycare and who will someday (I hope) go to college? Get married? Let’s face it, the economy is not great and I have been on the side of being unemployed. Like most parents do, we sacrifice our happiness for our children. Of course I don’t want my girls to see me miserable or pursuing a life that just doesn’t make me smile or laugh but I also want to be able to provide for them. It is such hard and difficult road.
I often think of my mom. She died when I had just turned 16 years old. In the time I knew her, I didn’t know her to have a “career.” Yes she had jobs. She worked. Both of my parents worked yet there were periods when my mom didn’t. We were not well off but we always had food on the table and I had toys and I was able to play all the sports I wanted. However, my mother never seemed happy with her jobs UNTIL she started working in our neighbor’s dried flower shop. It may be a small thing to some people but it was a huge deal to her. She was crafty and very good with her hands. She created the most beautiful dried flower arrangements and they sold! People loved her work. Sadly, my mom passed away when she 47 and she had not been working at the dried flower shop for very long. That haunts me. I loved my mom very much and she was a great mother but I don’t want to be 47 years old and finally find the job I should have been doing all along. Who knows how much time is left? Who knows if tomorrow will come? The one thing I took away from her death was that you should live life like there is no tomorrow. Speak your mind when you can and make the most of what you have because it may not (or they may not) be there tomorrow.
Now don’t get me wrong, my kids and my family are what truly light me up. Nothing makes me prouder than my girls and watching them grow before my eyes.

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When I talk about my family I know that I am glowing because my love for them shines right through. The Peanut learned how to ride a bike recently. I have never been more proud of her and of Vans for having taught her. She was beside herself that she even yelled “I am doing it!” while riding.

I just don’t know what road to take I guess professionally. I love that I have a “career” and that my girls see me working for such a huge corporation yet what they don’t hear is me talking about how much I love work when I am at home because the reality of it is, I don’t. It pays our bills, lets us live a comfortable life
and allows me to provide for my kids.

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Clearly there are no words of motivation or inspiration in this rather long and honest post. If you are still with me reading, thank you.
Obviously I don’t have any answers right now. There are small doors opening for me including a small gig at a soon to be local running store. I am passionate about running and getting people to run so maybe something will unfold for me yet. Or maybe this will just be another notch in my part-time job repertoire (that is a whole other post right there).
But what about you? Are you happy doing what you are doing in life? What lights YOU up? What are YOU good at and how can you help people? I can’t thank Ange enough for presenting me with this question and now I present it to you.


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As I reported in my last post, we were in Tahoe for our 9 year wedding anniversary. Instead of running the Emerald Bay Half Marathon, I changed my entry to the Lake Tahoe 5K. My doctor told me that I should be fine to walk the 5K when I told her I was considering it at my post-surgery follow-up appointment. She had given me the “ok” to start running then. I knew it would be hard mentally for me to even attempt walking this race and not run it. I started running on the track near my house a little bit at first and running in the mornings before attending Breakout Fitness but I had the itch to run. Bad.

When Vans and I attended the expo to pick up our race packets, I could see that the 5K field was small, very small. That is when I knew I wanted this race. I didn’t say too much about it. I joked that I could probably ‘win’ the whole thing as it there were not a lot of people at packet pick up but inside I was really considering racing it. Still, I knew that might be foolish and that I had to just play it by ear. Let pain be my guide is what my doctor had told me. The problem is, I have a high tolerance for pain.

Vans had his bike race on Saturday and then Saturday evening we sort of did a hodge-podge dinner as we were tired of going out to eat. I wasn’t feeling 100% but I made sure I was hydrated. We had quite a few evenings of Happy Hour at the hotel leading up to our races that I was craving coconut water each day trying to replenish my electrolytes.

Sunday morning came and we loaded the car. Vans was going to drop me off at the 5K start and drive to the finish (it was a point to point race). The wind was flying and it was a little chilly at the start but not too bad.

Side note here, this will probably be the first of many posts where I talk about Athleta. I do not work for Athleta nor am I associated with them in anyway. I just happen to buy a lot of their clothes (usually on sale but not always). For this race, I was dressed head to toe in an Athleta outfit and I’ll be honest when I tell you what works and what doesn’t work when it comes to running. I am generally quite particular about my workout clothes.  My top was the Kenton Burnout Top and my running skirt was the printed Swagger Skort (the solid color is on sale right now). I love this skort for so many reasons but mostly because it is super cute, very flattering and does not ride up when running. I have not run in it for anything longer than 7 miles but when I have it has worked great. In Tahoe, the temperature was in the 40s during my race and I really appreciated having a shirt with thumbholes while waiting around at the starting line however, once the race started, I got hot. This top is warm! Granted I also had on a vest (Brooks) to cut the wind. I probably didn’t need both but once the race was over, again it was nice having the thumb holes.

IMG_1995-LBack to the race. Standing around at the starting line I noticed that the field looked small and that many peopled looked like they were out for a Sunday stroll instead of a race. There were a few women who looked serious though. I never think I look serious though and I just stood off to the side and tried to stretch and warm my muscles as much as I could. Everything felt stiff and foreign to me.

The start was very unassuming except for the guy that said “go” also had a huge rifle in his hand that blasted my ear drums when he fired it. As I took off running I noticed that four or five guys were sprinting pretty darn fast. I slowed my pace a little bit as I didn’t want to get caught up too fast. There was one girl who was in front of me and I silently made her my rabbit.

I passed my rabbit somewhere between miles 1 and 2. The course was on a paved bike trail and fairly flat. I noticed that my ankle felt great. My lungs on the other hand were burning like crazy. I was not wearing a watch at all because I had not planned on really running. It felt really nice to just let go and run not knowing my pace.

After I passed my rabbit I made a promise to myself that I would not turn around and look to see if she was close. I knew that if I turned around that I might see she was way far back and then would slow my own pace down OR I would see her right on my tail and try and push too hard to stay in front.

The course at one point got a little bit confusing. The arrows disappeared and there were no aid stations left. I saw a man walking along the road and I asked if I was going the right way. He said yes and that I would turn left shortly up the road. When I turned left down the drive to Pope Beach I realized my lungs hurt so bad that if I had to go another mile I might hurl.

I rounded a corner and I saw Vans and the girls walking towards the finish line. He turned and saw me and then tried to get the girls cheer for me.


As I was passing him he yelled to me “Um, first female! FIRST FEMALE! RUN! RUN FAST!” Of course I thought that someone was behind me so I tried hard to add some extra fuel to the fire but my lungs were having none of it. I passed through the finish line and luckily did not hurl on the teenage girl handing me my medal.

My girls ran up to me and congratulated me. They wanted to see my medal. The Peanut was quick to tell me that Vans’s medal was bigger. Love that girl.

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The race director came up to me to tell me that he had a special prize for me and to not go anywhere meanwhile a nice woman came by with two kids in a double jogger and asked if we wanted her to take our photo so it would look like we vacationed together.

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Eventually the race director gathered myself and the first male winner and presented us with a large “trophy” that was in the shape of Lake Tahoe.

2My “big” award (pst, way bigger than Vans’s)

The guy doing the announcing interviewed the first male and female briefly in front of the (very) small crowd. We had to then wait around for the age group awards. I give my girls credit, they played on the beach and hung around even though it was a little windy and chilly outside.

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The truth of the matter is, this 5K is not as big a deal as it sounds. The field was quite small. I was 7th overall, first in my age group and first female however my pace was an 8 minute mile. Typically an 8 minute mile does NOT win a 5K. Ever. But I am not diminishing my win or discrediting it at all because I do think running an 8 minute mile 3 weeks post ankle surgery is pretty impressive.

Two weeks ago I was wearing a boot that reached up to my knee. The body is an amazing thing and I am grateful for the way in which mine healed from surgery and for the way it continues to surprise me each day by getting stronger. To be truthful, I’ve had a few twinges of pain when walking and/or running this week but not until more than a week after the race so I don’t necessarily think it is related to running but perhaps something I am doing incorrectly at Breakout Fitness Folsom. I am going to pay more attention to our movements this week.

October is my favorite month so I hope you all can take the time to enjoy the leaves turning colors, the awesome smell in the air and just the beauty that surrounds us each day.

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Keep Running.

~ Trailmomma

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