Category Archives: Race Reports


I don’t really even know where to begin with this race report. The last time I ran Way Too Cool was in 2010. You can read that race report here. That race was four years and 1 Squeaker ago. It was my first ever ultra and I had been running with a training group to prepare. This year, this race, everything was different.

Six months ago I had ankle surgery. This race was barely a glimmer in my mind at the time but I knew I wanted to run it again but I wasn’t sure if I could. After running CIM, I decided I could give it a shot knowing that running on trails with a bum ankle is way different then running on pavement.

With Pigeon by my side as my training partner every (other) weekend, I really hoped that I would gain the fitness that I needed to finish. And finish I did! Let’s get this race report moving! Warning, LOTS of photos ahead (and it is pretty long).

Happy Birthday WTC!
Happy Birthday WTC!

The day started off really early. I woke up at 4:30, dressed and waited in the garage for Pigeon and Missouri to arrive. The parking situation at WTC is a little crazy and getting a spot IN the parking lot vs on the haul road is ideal for many reasons.

When we arrived at the race, Pigeon and I got out and walked over to pick up our race packets. I didn’t realize that this was the 25th anniversary for Way Too Cool so that was pretty sweet. We got a neat bag (above photo), a nice shirt and a towel included in our schwag bag.

Our parking spot was pretty ideal. We were situated between my old training coaches Coach Nikon and Captain Kirk! That was a good sign in my book.

After multiple trips to the bathroom, a weak effort at trying to nap and a lot of laughter with Pigeon and Missouri, it was time to get ready for the race. I was feeling anxious. The race started at 8 am but we had arrived at the parking lot about 2 hours prior. For me, this throws a minor loop into my usual pre-race routine but it wasn’t too bad. I was able to eat my usual pre-race fuel and had packed all I needed and more.

Our "aid-station" turned race vehicle!
Our “aid-station” turned race vehicle!

As we were getting ready, I noticed that Pigeon was putting on her iShuffle. She usually runs with music, at least one ear bud in. For trails, I do not. In fact, I hardly ever run with music because I like to listen to the sounds of the race around me. It helps me enjoy the experience even more. However, I had packed my iShuffle because I thought I might listen to it in the car and that maybe I would want it for the race as a distraction. It was definitely a distraction as you’ll see later.

We knew the day was going to be really warm. It was predicted to reach the mid 70s and be sunny. I started the race wearing my usual Athleta running skirt and tank top and threw on some arm warmers which ended up being useless about 10 minutes into the race.

Pigeon & Missouri
Pigeon & Missouri
Pigeon and I ready to go!
Pigeon and I ready to go!

The race start was broken up into waves. The amount of people signed up for this race has grown tremendously the last few years and to accommodate the numbers, the race directors had to create wave starts. Pigeon and I were in wave 1 which is exactly where we wanted to be.

After a quick Happy Birthday Way Too Cool we were off and running up the paved road. The course compared to 2010 is different. The first 8 miles this year go up the road and we do a loop that takes us back through the parking lot.

And we're off!
And we’re off!

The road was pretty boring except that there were hundreds of cars along the side of the road. People were dropping stuff at their cars left and right (or using them as shields as they went to the bathroom).  At the very top of the hill we hit the single track trail that took us down …. to our first major obstacle and what would set the tone for the day…

Why hello stream crossing!
Why hello stream crossing!
Can you spot me?
Can you spot me?

These crossings wouldn’t be so bad except that it isn’t just dirt on the bottom. Underneath all that water are slippery jagged rocks of all sizes. You had to be very careful where you placed your foot IF you could see through the water.

Getting the first crossing over with was fun. Everyone was yelling and laughing. All the newbie runners were getting wet within the first mile and it was awesome.

Running with wet feet isn’t so bad. It actually feels quite nice on your joints and your feet typically don’t stay wet for long … unless there is mud, which there was a lot of in this race.

Single track conga line.
Single track conga line.

It was through these parts that I started experimenting with wearing my headphones and listening to my music. I put one bud in my ear, ran a couple of yards and almost killed myself. Nope! No way. I am not talented enough to listen to music, focus on the trail and my foot placement and not break a bone. So I took the bud out of my ear and then it was bothering me so as I was running I was trying to unfeed the headphone wires from under my shirt and just carry the darn thing. I was also carrying my arm warmers at this point. I knew we’d see Missouri at mile 8 or so. It was just annoying having all that in my hands.

These 8 miles were fun except for the long lines of people we’d be stuck behind and all the slippery mud we had to run through. It takes a lot of energy to prevent yourself from falling and I could instantly feel my calves and the muscles surrounding my ankle tensing up as I was running through these patches.

Once you are tired of being covered in mud, you come to another crossing!

Bring on the water!
Bring on the water!
Time to get wet again!
Time to get wet again!

As I was taking this photo I looked to my right and I see one of our fellow runners taking photos of all of us crossing. He laughed when he saw me taking photos so he took a photo of me taking a photo!

Maybe I'd run faster if I didn't take so many photos.
Maybe I’d run faster if I didn’t take so many photos.

As we were running towards the parking lot there were lots of people lining the sides of the trail cheering for us. Initially I did not think I would like running through the finish area (you know, that mental game) but it was so early on in the race, that I actually think it helped me.

Coming in! Notice the stuff I am carrying in my hands! So happy I can drop it here.
Coming in! Notice the stuff I am carrying in my hands! So happy I can drop it here.

To me, it was like a new race. Pigeon and I have parked in this lot many times and have started our run from here. So in a way, I just thought of it as one of our training runs. I was also finally able to hand off my stuff to Missouri here. Thanks!!!

Once we ran through the lot and crossed the road, ran under the finish arch and back onto the trail we noticed it was a mud fest right in the finish shoot. That would be fun later for sure!

Pigeon and I just cruised along this section. Up and down the hills of the fire road until we came to the trail. I was feeling okay. This rocky section combined with the mud really started playing around with my achilles and the muscles surrounding my bum ankle.

On this stretch I overheard a conversation that had me laughing in my head (see, it pays to not wear ear buds). The guy and girl behind me had just met and were talking. The Way Too Cool race mascot is a huge frog and when you finish, you get an awesome froggie cupcake (that my girls love). I never once thought anything of it until I heard what this guy was saying ….

Guy: We’re coming up on the frog section!

Girl: Frog section?

Guy: Wait for it …

(ribbit ribbit ribbit times a million)

Girl: Oh yea!

Guy: The frogs say cupcake ….

(ribbit ribbit turns into cupcake cupcake cupcake)

Sure enough, the sound of all the millions of little frogs croaking together, sounded as if they are saying cupcake! I was totally smiling ear to ear and giggling in my head. Trail runs bring out the funniest of stories sometimes.

Soon we approached the downhill section that Pigeon loves. She turns to me and says “I need to make a pit-stop. I’ll catch up.” At first I was totally confused and I stopped. I realized here that I had not eaten a single thing so I grabbed some Picky Bar pieces out of my pack and started eating. Then I realized that I too had to make a pitstop or would need to in the near future. I also remembered that not far down the trail we’d cross Highway 49 where there would be a porta potty.

I know Pigeon. I know she could bomb that descent so I took off myself and made it to the porta potty after crossing highway 49. She passed me and we decided that I could catch up (there was an aid station in the middle too).

Sure enough I caught her on the rocky quarry road that parallels the river. We hiked a bit and laughed at our situation and then started running. Quarry road is rather boring. It is a fire road that is kind of annoying really. It has rocks and just goes up and down .. up and down. You either pass or get passed by a lot of people on this road.

But soon were back on the trails where the fun really begins!

More mud!
More mud!

Pigeon took the lead for pretty much the entire run sometimes leading a line of people. One thing I noticed this year was that many runners behind us never spoke up. Generally when you want to pass, I typically say “when you have a moment, I’d like to pass” or if you see a clearing you say “on your left” but no one did that. Either they truly didn’t want to pass or they would pass in a very dangerous spot and seem totally annoyed! It was starting to bug me a little bit.

Around mile 17 I was contemplating taking an Aleve. The pain in my achilles was starting to bug me and it was also migrating up my calf and starting to feel more like a cramp. I took a salt tab and on a climb, I dug an Aleve out of my pack and took that with some more Picky Bar pieces. I was willing to risk the tummy ache from the Aleve in an effort to calm the pain in my leg.

Boy am I glad that I took that! Within 20 minutes I started feeling like a million dollars. I had energy, I had strength and I really was hanging close to Pigeon’s tail finally happy to be cruising along easily. I was in such a good mood that I started laughing when I saw this sign …


If you are from New Jersey like myself, you will understand. Hoboken New Jersey has quite the reputation. Hoboken Creek however was another fairly large crossing.

Pigeon going for it.
Pigeon going for it.

It was pretty rocky and slippery underneath. That guy in the photo was icing his knee. We offered him some pain meds but he said he preferred the nice cold stream instead.

After that we hit a warm sunny patch that felt like we were running through a sauna. The temps were definitely warming up and I was taking more salt that I have in a long time in an effort to keep the cramping in my calves at bay.

Love the red sign that warns you a photographer is just ahead ... better look like you are having fun!
Love the red sign that warns you a photographer is just ahead … better look like you are having fun!

Miles 17 to 25 I felt like a million dollars. The whole body felt great. My fueling felt fine although I probably could have squeezed in a little more calories but overall I felt great. Then we reached the infamous Goat Hill. I had sort of forgotten about Goat Hill.

Prior to the hill we’d been running in a long line of runners and I was too busy listening to the women behind me talk non stop the last 5 miles, to really notice that the hill was coming. Granted I was in a zone and pretty quiet but their talking just seemed to bug me. Pigeon was really quiet and I could tell was hurting by the way she was running.

As we were approaching Goat Hill I did something new. I am not a gel person but I had a Honey Stinger gel that I had picked up from work and decided to try it. Ugh, not a wise choice right before you climb the beast that is Goat Hill. Luckily, I kept it down.

The start of Goat Hill
The start of Goat Hill
Up and up we go!
Up and up we go!
AND ... I am about done with this climbing stuff.
AND … I am about done with this climbing stuff.

By the time we reached the top (9 minutes later) I was toast. I really needed a recovery break here to just catch my breath, stretch my calves and maybe take in a little food but Pigeon was off and running and so was I.

These next few miles though are so pretty with some amazing views. I really wanted to take my camera out quite a few times but I was in the middle of a long line, we were so close to being done and I was watching my steps to make sure I didn’t fall.

Sunny trails!
Sunny trails!

Pretty much the last 4 miles of the race are a blur. I just wanted to be done and in hind sight, I should have taken in some food along the way. I usually ate at whatever aid station we came upon. Pigeon was drinking coke which was more like crack because she came alive after having been in a very visible down session earlier.

Her enthusiasm is infectious though (to most – some runners didn’t appreciate it haha). When I started hearing the cars that were on highway 49 I was happy. I knew we only had to cross 49 and then run the long mile UP towards the finish.

We crossed 49 and reached the aid-station they have there and some how I was confused. I wanted to get food but the ladies were grabbing at my water bottles and one lady was telling the other lady to put Gu Brew in my other bottle. I was trying desperately to tell her no, I don’t want that in there, just water and the one lady just handed me a cup of Gu Brew (which I drank) and the other lady had my bottles but I had my lids … it was just confusing. Pigeon was downing more soda and looking at me like “let’s go” so I just started running. It was all a blur. But, I ran.

We hiked up the crazy rocky section and I have to say, I really dislike this section. For someone who has an ankle that doesn’t bend well at all combined with some cramping calves, this section realllllly sucked.

Pigeon was just yelling at me “come on!” and “you can do this!” and in my head I wanted to scream at her but I know what she was doing. She was trying to motivate me. She wanted me to get my PR (personal record) so she was pushing. Generally when I am pushed, I do the opposite and back off. I don’t like being pushed but internally I wanted to be done with this last mile so bad that I just kept moving and praying that my calf wouldn’t seize up on me.

Finally we hit the rolling hills and Pigeon was just pushing and pushing. Then we hit the straight away and I all I wanted to do was just run this and even said, “this is good enough” in terms of my pace but Pigeon pushed even harder, “no it’s not.” Finally we made the curve towards the finish shoot and I all I wanted to do was sprint and avoid the mud so I sprinted …. then Pigeon sprinted. We crossed the finish at the exact same time! I can’t wait to see the finishers photos when they post them as I am sure our faces were hilarious.

Our last little climb before the sprint!
Our last little climb before the sprint!

As I cross the finish I am handed a medal by this adorable little blonde girl … who I realize is the Peanut! I am totally spent and baffled at how my daughter is handing out medals to the runners … she then runs off and I am left standing there alone trying to find Vans and Squeaker.

Finished and loving my Squeaker!
Finished and loving my Squeaker!

After the race I cleaned up, changed and hung out with Vans, the girls, Pigeon and a lot of the Fleet Feet crew. It was nice to relax after the race and let the girls enjoy my hard earned cup cake.

Froggy Cupcakes
Froggy Cupcakes
Post Race
Post Race
My cheer section
My cheer section

TiggerT was also out there showing support. It was a great day. The weather was great (warm but great) and despite the mud and water, everyone had a lot of fun.

The Way Too Cool course is not an easy 50K in my opinion. Our finish time was 6 hours and 14 minutes which is about 16 minutes faster than I did it in 2010 (granted a different course too). There is a lot of climbing out there on this course and combined with the mud and water, it could make things interesting.

Almost 4,000 ft of elevation gain on this course.
Almost 4,000 ft of elevation gain on this course.

I am happy with the race overall. I am pleased with my gear. My Jenny Vesta was fantastic and so far I am in love with it. The muddy ground made everything soft so the usual pain that I have in the ball of my foot was nonexistent during the race. I continue to love fueling with Picky Bars broken up into little pieces in my bag. Towards the end of the race I was running low so at one of the aid-stations I grabbed a potato and some M&Ms (not sure why, my hand just went there). I also use ginger chews from Trader Joes on the run in-between when my mouth is dry or my tummy is starting to feel off. Those work great although they can be hard to chew so be careful not to use them on a tough up hill. 🙂

Things that didn’t work or that I didn’t like so much was clearly running with my iShuffle and headphones. That was a big fail for me. No big deal, I much prefer the sounds and sights around me. Taking the Honey Stinger gel was not a hit for me. I thought it would give me a faster rush of energy and additional electrolytes but I just don’t love that gel consistency. The twinges in my achilles and ankle are a new(er) sensation for me. I tried going for a post race recovery run and only made it about a block before I decided to turn around and head home. I didn’t want my gait to change compensating for the ankle so I just called it a day and will try again tomorrow after some rest, icing and rolling.

Mostly I am happy. Everything else feels great today (the day after the race). However, I need to wrap my head around running the American River 50 miler in 4 weeks. Luckily my Cornell class is over. The stress that filled my week is also gone (knock on wood) so from here on out, I need to just focus what I can do to help my body be better for AR50.

These guys definitely help.

My crew
My crew

Happy Trails!



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Three months and 3 days ago I had my ankle surgery and today I ran the California International Marathon.  A few weeks ago, this was not my plan. A few weeks ago I  thought about perhaps running 13 maybe 15 miles of it and then calling a friend to come and pick me up.

What changed? I am not really sure. I think when Pigeon and I ran our 14 miles in Auburn I felt a little stronger and more confident but at the same time, I had finished that run in some ankle discomfort. Then we went to Tahoe for Thanksgiving and I had some decent 5 mile runs on the road and figured, “Why the heck not? Why not start the race and just see what happens?”

When my friend and running buddy, TiggerT offered to get my packet and give me a ride to start she joked that doing all of that would require that I run all 26.2 miles with her as she had not had the best training either for the marathon.

The day before the race I had attended the Western States Lottery in Auburn and then I traveled up to Apple Hill with the family to find a Christmas Tree … in the snow.




It was a wonderfully cold and wet day that resulted in a larger than life tree that is currently taking over our living room.

I went to bed immediately after the girls and had probably one of the most restful sleeps I have had in a while. I woke up at 4 am feeling rested and excited about the race. I dressed and made my way to the kitchen to have my bowl of oatmeal and tiny cup of coffee.

Soon TiggerT arrived with a truck full of trouble friends. It was 24 degrees outside. for this area. Super cold. Luckily I found our goodwill pile in the garage at the last-minute and discovered an old pair of yoga pants that I was going to toss. I grabbed them and cut the ankles a bit so they’d fit over my running shoes.

I have to admit, TiggerT had the whole morning of CIM dialed down complete with multiple porta potty stops. Eventually we found ourselves near the starting line ready to go. The first mile was pretty uneventful. I never stripped any of my layers the entire race because the temps never seemed to rise very much.

Mile 3 is when insanity started. All the aid-stations were sheets of black ice. We’d approach them running only to slide about 3 feet trying eagerly not to fall. I saw quite a few men slip feet in the air landing flat on their backs. I heard that a few people fell and hit their heads. It was brutal. At one of the aid-stations I slipped while walking and holding my water cup only to have the water fly up and up and out of my cup and land on my head. The lady next to me laughed. I did too.

By mile 13 the bottoms of my feet hurt. It felt like I had no padding on the bottoms of my feet. It was not the feeling I wanted to have that early in the race but I couldn’t help but notice that my ankle was doing great.

At one point we caught up with one of TiggerT’s friends and ran with her. She mentioned to me that the bottoms of her feet were killing her too and for some reason, that made feel a lot better. My shoes are pretty new so the only explanation is that perhaps it was lack of training (imagine that).

I took two Tylenol around mile 15 hoping that might help the pain. A lot of the in-between miles TiggerT and her friend would be chatting away to waving to people they knew. I kept fairly quiet trying hard not to go into a mental zone but I was doing an internal check to see if perhaps I might pull off and call a friend to pick me up.

The next thing I know we are at mile 20. The miles truly flew by and we walked through almost every water station (at my request) as it seemed to break up the monotony as well as keep us safe during the icy conditions. Mile 20 is a special mile. Not only is the aid-station near my old house but Vans and the girls had surprised me by being there!! It was the lift I needed. I don’t think I would have quit (who quits with 6 miles to go!?) but it made it much easier to continue having seen them.

The last six miles of CIM are brutal though. You start running through a neighborhood where the streets are numbered so of course mentally you are looking at the street numbers counting down. This year I was smart and never once looked at the street numbers, not even through the downtown stretch (okay, maybe I looked once and it was bad idea).

I believe around mile 24 I turned to TiggerT and said “Tell me a story. I don’t care what, but tell me a story.” TiggerT came to my rescue and told me a story about running in Boston. You have to love her. At one point she turned to me and said “are we stopping for water?” and I was like, “no! no more stopping” and we pretty much jammed to the finish.

Soon the turn towards the Capital was there and we cruised into the finish. Our unofficial time was 4:30. That is by far my worst marathon time but I had a good time and I finished feeling okay. I still feel okay. Of course I am a little bit stiff and tomorrow may be a whole different story but today is a good day. This was my 5th CIM and my 6th marathon total and while I don’t recommend running one without training, I am kind of on a high that I actually did it. The body is an amazing thing and often times you can find strength when you thought you had none and sometimes, that takes having an awesome friend believe in you.



Fueling Session



TiggerT, Me and friend




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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.

photo 3-5 (2) 5photo 4-4 (2) 4

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.

photo 5-3 (2)

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.

photo 3-6 (2)

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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