Tag Archives: Oiselle Volee

QUICKSILVER 100K RACE REPORT (First 100k and Western States Qualifier)

About 53 miles into the race is the aid-station called Tina’s Den. It is home to four female mountain lions who like to hang out there. Two days ago, one of the cougars scared away a few mountain bikers. Don’t worry though, just don’t be last.

That’s essentially all I heard during the pre-race briefing from the Quicksilver Race Director on Saturday. Not exactly comforting news before I am about to begin my first ever 100k race.

While I haven’t written much about it on here, it was evident beginning back in January that I have been training for something …. something big. I wanted to run a 100k and not just any 100k, I wanted to run the Quicksilver 100k.

Yes, I am that kind of runner - folders, labels etc.
Yes, I am that kind of runner – folders, labels etc.

Last year everyone I knew did that race, including Pigeon because it was a Western States 100 mile qualifying race. I wanted to run it because I wanted to conquer that distance and I loved all the race photos from everyone last year. The chance to qualify was just icing on top for me.

Earlier this year, I raced two very challenging 50ks (one in February and the other in March) and that set the tone for my training. Going into Quicksilver with its 13,000 feet of elevation, I felt ready to climb but I was uneasy about the distance.

Insanely confusing course
Insanely confusing course

So sit back, grab a beer or cup of tea and read on if you care to see how my race unfolds (warning: it is LONG) or if you want to see a million photos, feel free to skim. 🙂

With its 4:30 am start time and the half-ish hour drive to the start, Quicksilver definitely taught me a few things about being flexible with my morning routine. I woke up at 2:15 am, ate and finalized my drop bags. I have never used drop bags before. This was totally new to me. You can tell it was new to me too because I used Star Wars lunch boxes that I got free from Target as two of my four drop bags!  I also used two Dylan Flinchum RockOn Foundation bags as my other two because if anyone can boost my spirits, it’s that little boy and his family back in New Jersey.

My "fancy" drop bags!
My “fancy” drop bags!

I even taped a photo of my girls in one of them to give me a boost late in the race.

Inside my drop bag - my shining light!
Inside my drop bag – my shining light!

After that little “pep-talk” by the Race Director, we were off and running in the dark. I had my lights with me and everyone around me had headlamps so visibility wasn’t an issue. Pigeon and I ran into Miss P who was also running her first 100k.

The race starts with a pretty good climb and everyone is reduced to a solid hike in the dark. Miss P and I chatted a bit on the way up which was nice. Eventually though, everyone spread out. Pigeon and I just ran. Our plan had been to run the race together. She knew the splits she wanted or needed in order to get a Western States qualification. I was content to run with her because I was unsure as to how the day would unfold having never approached this distance OR this type of elevation before and of course running with a friend for that long is always nice.

Soon the sun was rising and the views started to appear around us. It was pretty amazing and the temperature was nice and cool. I started in shorts and a tank top never needing anything more.

The sun is waking up!
The sun waking up!

One thing to note about this race is that there are a lot of “lollypop” loops in it. Picture a lollypop at the end of stick. To get the mileage we needed, we’d run up a trail, do a loop and then run back down the same trail passing runners. I noticed early on that we’d pass a lot of the runners coming down from the loop but none when it was our turn to descend. It was clear that we were the back of the pack. This unnerved me a bit as it is something I am not used to but I also knew there were many more miles to the day and that anything could change at a moment’s notice.

Such amazing views!
Such amazing views!

A few times Pigeon and I found ourselves behind some runners that I wanted to pass but I wasn’t sure how she was feeling so we devised a “code” for those situations. We’d ask each other, “How is your foot?” And if we said, “good” we’d pass and if we said, “not good” we needed another moment. This situation actually only came into play once during the race. Pigeon asked me “How is your foot?” and I said, “What are you talking about? My foot is fine!” Hahaha I had completely forgotten about our little plan.

Hicks #1 Aid-Station (mile 7) was first. I had a drop bag here but didn’t need it. I did take advantage of the restrooms. We both did. The volunteers were so nice and cheerful. They were very eager to help. Pigeon grabbed some more apple sauces from her drop bag.

We left Hicks and headed towards Bald Mountain. I remember feeling pretty good. Nothing was bothering me and the trails were rocky but not too technical.

Coming into Bald Mountain - Photo by Quicksilver volunteers
Coming into Bald Mountain. Yes, I have a huge smile.  -Photo by Quicksilver volunteers

Soon we approached Bald Mountain Aid-Station (mile 12.2). It was another lollypop type loop. You run past the aid-station to this beautiful cliff area, grabbed a purple rubber band to prove that you did the full loop and then back to the aid-station. We didn’t stop long here other than to use the restroom again.

After Bald Mountain we ran a short down hill followed by a pretty nice climb to get to Kennedy 1 Aid-Station (mile 18.9). Again, no drop bags for us but I noticed the aid-station was pretty bare bones. Not much to offer runners. I was fine with what I had been consuming thus far which was mostly fruit leather, some jelly beans (on the climbs) and my homemade Engine 2 Peanut Butter Oatmeal Banana Chocolate Chip Cookies. We did refill our packs here though and discovered that the water at the aid-stations tasted like rubberized chlorine! UGH! It was barely drinkable and we had to run 5.4 miles to the next aid-station with that water.

After Kennedy however, we ran DOWN and by down, I mean far down. Still, I was feeling okay. I was worried about my left knee going into this race as it tends to not like a lot of steep down hills but so far, it was behaving just fine.

When we reached Lexington Aid-Station (mile 24.2) I was feeling good. Pigeon’s wife Missouri and son were at this aid-station as was Miss P’s pacer, Christine. It’s always nice to see people you know and have them give you a good pep talk. We also had drop bags here.

We both dumped our packs and refilled them with our own water. I dug into my drop bag for the first time and swapped out a few things, grabbed some more cookies and dumped the apple sauces as they weren’t working for me.

We left Lexington and headed for the longest biggest climb of the day, Dog Meat Hill. I have seen the photos of this climb, but none of them do it justice. This is one brutally long fully exposed climb. We were lucky in that it was overcast most of the time but it was definitely warm out there.

Welcome to Dog Meat Hill!
Welcome to Dog Meat Hill!

However, I was just in awe of the views and the trail itself. I did my thing and power hiked up every hill taking photos whenever I could. I’d wait for Pigeon at the top and then we’d repeat it again and again.

A little Dog Meat selfie!
A little Dog Meat selfie!

I had overheard a guy talking about how this is the hardest climb in the race and that nothing in the second half of the race compares. That’s exactly what I wanted to hear right then. It gave me a little boost that once we were done with this beast, things would be easier.

You can see how far off in the distance the road actually goes. Insane.
You can see how far off in the distance the road actually goes. Insane.

When we finally finished Dog Meat, we arrived at Kennedy 2 Aid-Station (mile 31.1). I mentioned to Pigeon that we had completed a 50k! She didn’t seem amused. She’d been battling some tummy issues along the way which is never very fun in a race.

Hot and sunny on Dog Meat. Brutal.
Hot and sunny on Dog Meat. Brutal.

When we reached the aid-station, they had nothing. Pigeon wanted a Coke or a turkey avocado sandwich desperately and they had none. I think this hit her pretty hard and knocked her spirits down quite a bit. Her mood had been quiet thus far but I could sense her go a little deeper into a dark spot.

I just tried my best to keep hiking and chatting when I could, hoping I wasn’t bothering her too much. Eventually, I told her that we had to just let it go. We couldn’t rely on the aid-stations at this point, they’ve proven to be pretty useless in the quantity of fuel provided and we’d have to make do. I knew we were heading back to Hicks 2 Aid-Station and I knew we had drop bags there. I tried to get her to focus on that.

QS Dog meat 5

Her stomach just wouldn’t let up though. Once we reached Hicks 2 Aid-Station (mile 36.4) we both used the restroom and then attacked our drop bags. I grabbed a few more things here including some Advil. My right knee (not my left knee as I mentioned earlier) had started to really bark on the long descent from Kennedy to Hicks. So much so that at one point, it literally gave way and Pigeon almost had to catch me from cratering to the ground. At Hicks 2, I took 2 Advil. I didn’t want to but I had no choice at this point.

From Hicks we ran towards Hacienda Aid-Station (mile 39.3) which was a little hard to stomach because Hacienda is where my car was parked!!! Yes, I had to run past my own car to get to the aid-station! That’s just cruel right?

The nice part about this section of the course though is that the distances between aid-stations were cut in half essentially which means, the next one after Hacienda was Mockingbird, just 3.1 miles away. Although Mockingbird was also the finish area so you have to run past the finish arch to go another 20 miles … again cruel.

Pigeon needed the restroom at Hacienda. I talked to the volunteers and took some pebbles out of my shoe. When we were finally back on the trail running, I reminded her that we were on our way to her wife and son. We had to do some climbing to get there, but I assured her it would be worth it.

QS Hill

She was in her dark spot I think again. She snapped at me once about starting to run, which is fine, I get it, when you hurt you hurt. I wasn’t offended. I mentioned something about the time and trying to qualify and she shot back that she was already well aware. Up until that point, I hadn’t really been focusing too much on the time. It was on our way to Hacienda I think that I started calculating the math in my head with the pace that we’d been going and realized, our chances of qualifying for Western States was slipping away. I battled in my head with what to do.

The dilemma in my head was broken by the sights and sounds of Mockingbird Aid-Station (mile 42.9). I needed this boost. As I ran in, I told Missouri that Pigeon was hurting a bit, her tummy was just not happy. I had a drop bag here so I swapped out some things and I grabbed some cream for my knee. I applied some but I wanted to run with it just in case. The Advil had kicked in by now and the knee was feeling much better. As we left Mockingbird, I turned my phone on (it was on airplane mode most of the race) and I texted Stonegate and Vans that we had 20 miles left in the race and that any chances of qualifying were starting to slip away.

While I had been texting, a bunch of texts from earlier in the day came in, one of them was from my Peanut. My girls had a mock swim meet that day and my Peanut had sent me this:

QS Sierra text

That gave me such a boost. It got my thoughts running again. My little girl didn’t give up today. I shouldn’t either.

From Mockingbird to Bull Run 1 it’s up hill. We did not have to climb the huge rock pile that the Quicksilver race is known for but instead, they rerouted us an extra quarter mile. What’s an extra quarter of a mile in a 62 mile race?

I powered up the climbs but instead of waiting at the top for Pigeon like I had been, I wanted to keep moving. So on the downs, I’d slow down a bit hoping she’d catch up and she usually did.

QS flowers

We reached Bull Run 1 Aid-Station (mile 46.1) and we ran a weird little lollypop thing again. Pigeon and I ran that together. I think she was starting to get her mojo back because she said, “Hey, do you want to try for it? We have 15 miles to go and about 3.5 hours, we can push it. Want to go for broke?” I was just thrilled she had her spirit back! “Sure! Of course!” I said. Pigeon was coming back! She then said, “Okay, we’ll take turns pulling each other. I’ll go first!” She took off running down hill and I was hot on her heels behind her.

About five minutes later, she turned and said, “Ok, your turn!” and she let me pass. I never looked back. It was if a fire had been ignited within me, one that had been burning all along but I was too afraid let to come out.

Since Mockingbird I had been thinking, a lot. I thought about the time, about the race and about this course. Sure this race was a Western States Qualifier and while not my only reason for running, I had ran so much today that I wanted it. I wanted it bad. Pigeon is running Tahoe Rim 100 in July. I hated thinking this but I knew she had a second qualifying chance down the road. This, this race was my ONLY chance. So, I ran. I ran hard.

QS trail

I passed runner after runner. I passed runners sitting on the ground. I passed pacers urging their runners to just take another step. I ran uphill. I ran down hill. I entered the scariest freakiest single track trail I have ever seen in my life. It led to Tina’s Den (remember Tina the mountain lion from the beginning of this post?) … I can see why Tina and her friends like to hang out there! I was too afraid to stop to be honest that I just high-tailed it as fast as I could.

QS Side Trail

You finally get dumped onto a road. A volunteer said, “It’s a mile down that road and then turn left and the aid-station is about a half mile from there.” What he failed to tell me is that it was like a half-mile UP hill but whatever. As I had made the left turn, I saw this woman jumping up and down on a rock.

I thought she was waving to the guy in front of me who didn’t look too enthused to see her. In my head I was like, “Man what a jerk!” Little did I know it was Stonegate!!! She had raced the 2.5 hours from home to catch me at mile 53!!!!! She was a sight for sore eyes!

She hiked with me to the aid-station. We got there and they were dry. Nothing left. I had a drop bag but my stomach did not want much. Stonegate refilled my pack with ice cold water without me even taking it off. THAT is what I wanted. I told her that I had left Pigeon and that if she sees her to tell her how sorry I was and that I really wanted to push. I felt bad for leaving her.

Stonegate encouraged me and reminded me that Pigeon will understand and that she would WANT me to go. So, I went. Less than 9 miles to the finish and I was racing the clock with a lot of uphill between us.

Photo by Stonegate
Photo by Stonegate

After Tina’s Den (luckily I saw NO mountain lions) it’s a good uphill climb to get to Enriquita Aid-Station (mile 55.8). I ran quite a bit of this uphill. I channeled my training runs up Stagecoach and just pushed. Every so often, I’d hike and then I’d run again.

At Enriquita Aid-Station I didn’t even stop and instead made a sharp right hand turn and went down this gully of a trail with terrible footing.  Never mind there are runners hiking their way up too so it was a bit of a mess. When you reached the bottom, you had to read a sign (Read?! You want me to read and comprehend right now?). The sign said that in order to prove that you made it to the bottom of the hill, you had to hole punch your bib and show the volunteers at the top.

Um, the hole punch was attached to a cord that was ridiculously short! So after 56 miles, you have to try and stand on one leg while lifting your other leg, and hole punch your bib. Lordy!

I did it and then I ran my bum back up that hill. Just before reaching the top, I saw Pigeon making her way down. I hooted and hollered for her and she hooted and hollered for me and told me to just GO!

After reaching the top of Enriquita again, I ran towards Bull Run 2 Aid-station (mile 58.8), the final aid-station before the finish. It just happened to be completely up hill. I had to hike. There were moments where I wasn’t sure I was going to make it. I couldn’t eat anything. I wasn’t sure if it was from how hard I was pushing myself or from nerves of being on the edge of not making the cut off.

When I got to Bull-Run 2, I was sprinting, or at least I felt like I was sprinting.

The volunteers went wild when I came through! “Just 3.5 miles to go! You got this! Run just like that and don’t stop and you will qualify!” Wait, can they not SEE the big hill down the road that I have to go up in a minute? They want me to run like this, up that?! I had to laugh, it was funny.

I kept having these mini dialogs in my head pleading that there would be no more “rollers” and then I saw a sign that said, “Just a few more rollers and you’re at the finish!”  I just want to note, you don’t SEE these “rollers” on the map or elevation chart but holy cow, were they ever there!

Course profile.
Course profile.

I pushed and pushed. I passed runner after runner. I was cutting every corner I ran around even if it meant cutting in front of another runner. Soon, it was all downhill. I pleaded with my knee not to flare up (it hadn’t make a squeak since Mockingbird).  Other runners cheered me on. Hikers on their way up cheered me on and told me I was close. The sky to my left was insanely gorgeous with the sun setting and I wanted to stop and take a photo SO bad but I didn’t dare!

Finally I saw the finish. I heard Stonegate first, “You got this girl! Just up this hill!” Which made me laugh out loud! Another freaking hill! I heard Missouri and Christine (Miss P’s pacer) cheering. I was so overcome with joy and happiness. I had made it! I qualified! I made it with about 20 minutes to spare (my time was 15:38). I was done.

Smiling the whole way into the finish!
Smiling the whole way into the finish!

Five months of training was over in one day. It was totally worth it. My friends congratulated me and then asked where Pigeon was. I told them I left her on the way to Tina’s Den. I said she’s behind me but I am not sure how far.

Pigeon came in a short time later. She too qualified for Western States with just minutes to spare! She gutted it out and ran her butt off to get to that finish line. I am proud of how deep she dug to do it.

As it turns out, she wasn’t upset at me for leaving and was happy that I qualified. That’s how friends work, especially trail friends. We support each other.

Overall, I feel pretty good. I have some soreness and I stiffen when I sit too long but my heart is full. I feel like I set out to conquer something, something I’ve thought about for a while, and I did it. I worked hard for it, very hard.

QS 2

Not sure what is next. I have a few training runs planned as I am pacing Pigeon at Tahoe Rim Trail in July so I have to be ready for that.

I definitely plan to rest though and let my body recover. I owe it that. It did everything I asked of it this season and I am grateful. So I will enjoy some down time with my two amazing little swimmers.

My little fish!
My little fish!

Happy Trails!



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This was only supposed to be a training run and then Tommy Lee Jones started egging me on, lighting that internal fire that is always simmering inside and the rest was history including an uphill battle to the finish.

Photo from Single Track Running's
Photo from SingleTrack Running

When I signed up for SingleTrack Running’s Ruck a Chuck 50k a few months ago, I knew that I would be pacing Stonegate 25 miles of her 50 mile run the weekend prior. I told myself that is the perfect way to work two long runs into the month. The plan was to go nice and easy to work the legs and to get some elevation training in (the race initially boasted 6500 ft of elevation).

On Saturday it dumped rain all day; a lot of rain. So much so that Paulo, the Race Director emailed all participants AND sent out a Facebook blast detailing that the race course had changed due to the condition of the road/trails. Uh-oh. Now instead of starting at the bottom near the river, we were to start at the top in the upper parking lot area of Driver’s Flat. They also had to adjust the back end of the course to account for the three mile difference at the start. Ultimately, the course ended up being shortened by a mile or so which is better than the alternative which was lengthening it by three miles. (Good call Paulo!) 🙂

When I arrived at the starting area, I was a dork and basically was the first person there. Stonegate (like the great trail friend she is) had offered to drive me but she couldn’t wait all day and I did not want Vans and the girls hanging out in the mud and rain forcing me to run and finish faster. This was a training run after all remember?

So upon arrival I got out and asked Paulo if he needed any help. Why not put me to use right? He had me start handing out bibs to the runners as they arrived. This turned out to be great because I finally was able to put names to faces! I finally met Clint, a fellow plant-powered runner and Facebook face (Hi CLINT!!) and a few other runners.

Soon it was almost go-time and of course the skies opened up and dumped rain for few minutes. I second guessed my out-fit choice and changed my top at the last minute (tip: always go with your first instinct). We gathered at the start where Paulo did a quick pre-race briefing reminding us that we were to follow pink ribbons. He also told us where the NEW turn around spot and aid-station was located.

They counted us down and we were off! Everyone started running the long three mile downhill and were all commenting on how brutal this will be on the return, at the end of the race.

BUZZ!!! (my watch) Mile 1 – 8:30 Uh oh, that’s a bit fast, slow it down, don’t blow out your quads on the first mile.

BUZZ!!! Mile 2 – 8:30 Grrr, I thought I slowed it down!? Okay, look there’s a bathroom! Go use that restroom over there and that will help slow you down and push you farther back in the pack.

When I emerged from the bathroom I just continued running along the river. I stopped a few times to take some photos (the only photos I took all day – stick with me and you’ll see why).

So pretty
So pretty

Two girls were in front of me were talking. Eventually they moved over and let me pass. Then we hit some up hills and I heard them chatting away, so I let them pass. I just needed quiet as I was trying to get a sense of how my body was feeling. I just couldn’t find my groove.

Photo credit: SingleTrack Running - This is between miles 4 and 5 I think - we crossed two of these streams in each direction..
Photo credit: SingleTrack Running – This is between miles 4 and 5 I think – we crossed two of these streams in each direction.

Roughly at mile 10 we entered the second aid-station at Cal-2.

Photo credit: SingleTrack Running - It was a long climb to that aid-station.
Photo credit: SingleTrack Running – It was a long climb to that aid-station.

The volunteer yells out my bib number AND yells out that I am fourth female and that number three is still in the aid-station.  “Oh don’t tell me that!? It’s too early to tell me that!

Sit tight girl. This is a training run. Do not go and chase it. Let.it.go!

I let three other women pass me out of that aid-station. I refused to go chase it. I was letting it go. However, while I was in this conga line of three women and one older gentleman leading the way, I couldn’t get my stride right. There was plenty of climbing and I was hiking a lot but I would either end up on their tail or I would slow down to the point of walking. It just didn’t feel right. The next aid-station was the turn-around and I just wanted to get there.


Soon we started seeing the lead runners on the return. First female went by and DANG she looked strong! She was flying. Second and Third females came by a little bit later and gosh darn it, it if wasn’t the two nice chatty women I let pass me earlier … the voices started again …

That could have been you. You were up there. Now you are 7th! Shut up! Training run remember!?

It was a SUPER steep down to the aid-station (mile 14 ish) at Cal 1. I ran in and realized there was nothing that I wanted. The volunteer asked me my bib number first since I was at the table and the other three women were filling their bottles. I told her my number and left.

That was tricky girl. Are you trying to get ahead or are you starting to race? Just getting ahead. That’s all. I am sure they will catch me.

Soon I came upon Roger. Ahh, Roger. Many trail runners know Roger. He is a great guy and a great runner. I met Roger a few years ago at Diane’s Thursday night race series. Roger and I used to push each other out on the course. Roger, if you don’t know him, sounds (and kinda looks) like Tommy Lee Jones. I kid you not, his voice is amazing and if you didn’t know it, you would think Tommy Lee Jones is running with you. It makes me smile every time I hear him.

ROGER: Hey Pam, you want by me?

ME: Nope, I just want to get some distance between me and those ladies back there.

Roger just chuckled. I should have known then with that innocent sounding chuckle, what was about to unfold.

This is Roger aka Tommy Lee Jones
Photo Credit: SingleTrack Running – This is Roger aka Tommy Lee Jones

Roger and I ran steady and strong for a very long stretch. It was probably my longest stretch of running the entire day. I FINALLY started to feel my groove, after 15+ miles.


All of a sudden, Roger stops and moves to the side.

ME: What are you doing? Dude, you are pulling me!

ROGER: Look, there’s number three. Go get her. You got this!

ME: (sigh) DAMN YOU ROGER! Damn you!

Roger chuckled his devilish chuckle again. 🙂

Off I go in front of Roger running steady. We knew the aid-station was coming up very soon. I just really wanted to get to there. The third place girl, (her name was Stephanie), let me pass. Roger checked in with her. I knew she was tired because when I was running behind her earlier in the day, she had said she had run 17 miles the day before marking the very course were running right now. My heart ached for her, she is clearly a VERY strong runner.

We all enter the aid-station, I reach for a cup and I feel someone pushing me sideways …

ROGER: Go! Get out of here. Go!

ME: What the?!! Okay okay …

I took off like I stole something. The next two to three miles were a steady but technical downhill. I had not been opening up my down hills this entire race, but now, I did.

BUZZ! Mile 20 – 9:25 Legs feel good. Tummy is a bit off, but I feel good.

BUZZ! Mile 21 – 9:21 Please god, let me have gained enough distance to keep this lead. Who am I kidding, if I could just bomb that, so can everyone else. Run, just run!

The next stretch was the longest between aid-stations again, something like 7.5 miles I think and that last aid-station would be the final aid before the dreaded three mile climb to the finish.

I just ran and ran. I had even moved ahead of Roger by quite a bit and then he’d catch me and pump me up some more. He even went so far as to tell me that he thinks I could catch female #2. HA! Funny man that Roger.

Finally I reached the section I affectionately called Tick Trail – it was so over grown with long grass and weeds that you couldn’t even see the trail and I imagined with every step, all these ticks jumping onto my legs. THAT made me run faster let me tell you!

Finally, I was dumped back onto the fire road that I knew led to the final aid-station. However, it took FOREVER it seemed until I got there.

VOLUNTEERS: Hey! Looking strong, what do you need?

ME: Can you please just douse my bandana in cold water? How far to the finish?

VOLUNTEERS: About 2.7 to 3 miles, unfortunately all up hill.

I silently groaned a little bit but there was nowhere to go but up to get this done. Off I ran and then I hiked. I tried power hiking. Pigeon was in my head. She had texted me earlier that morning to “power hike that last hill like a bear is chasing you!” Well, as it turns out, there WAS a bear about to chase me!

ROGER: Hey, there is a chick behind me.

ME: What!? No! You aren’t just saying that to get me to run up this hill are you?!

ROGER: Nope, she surprised me by coming up quick behind me at that last aid-station.

ME: Son of a B!*%$! I didn’t set out for this Roger!

ROGER: Well, don’t kill yourself but you got this!

Off I ran, my legs barely moving, shaking with every single step that I took. Last weekend I climbed 3 miles with Stonegate, motivating her up that hill. I used the same tactics on myself …

Okay girl, run to that rock. You can run to that rock and then walk. Just get ahead every chance you can.

I rounded a corner and something caught my eye ….

Holy crap! You caught the number two girl! Hmmm, she doesn’t look THAT far ahead … Nope, forget it. Focus on the girl behind you. You’re barely hanging in.

I am not kidding when I say this hill took FOR-FREAKING-EVER to climb. I passed one guy.

GUY: Hi! (being all friendly and nice despite huffing and puffing) One helluva way to finish huh?

ME: Can you look behind me please. Is there a girl there?

GUY: Nope. I see nobody.

ME: Good. Thanks.

Off I ran. Or I thought I was running. As I reached the top of that switchback I turned and saw her, the girl that was in front of me when I ran in that conga line of girls earlier in the day. She looked strong even then. She looked like she should have been running in front of those girls. She also looked like she wasn’t struggling one bit on that hill we were on.

Move it! Come on! Run, run a stretch now to get ahead! Come on legs! Stop shaking and run!

Female #2 turned and looked at me and then started to run too. The chase, it seemed was on, everyone was trying to get up that hill as fast as possible. I wanted to yell out to the number two girl and say, “It’s okay! I don’t care about #2! I just want to keep #3!” But come on, if I had gotten close enough …. 🙂

I kept straining to hear music. That’s a cue to all the finish lines right? But it occurred to me that there might not BE music at the finish.

Oh no, don’t rely on the music! But how will I know where the finish is? I can’t see it! All I see are these damn hills in front of me!

I had to laugh. I wasn’t angry. I wasn’t super smiley but I wasn’t angry and laughing is the best way for me to release tension. What else am I going to do on a monster climb like this?

Then, I see two men standing there. They don’t look like hikers; they look like guys who hang out at finish lines (yes, that’s how my head works in moment’s like these). I reach them, I see female #2 ahead of me and I ask them …

ME: How far?

THEM: Not far, 100 yards.

ME: 100 yards?! (In my head it was as if they had told me it was 100 more miles)

THEM: Up that hill!

ME: (internally) Come on! PUSH!!!!

Finally, I see the finish arch. I see Paulo running around with his camera. I see female #2 pushing as hard as she can, she’s about 10 yards in front of me. I am running as hard as I possibly can. Everyone is cheering!

Oh no, are they cheering because they think I am going to catch her OR are they cheering because the girl behind me has finally caught me and is going to do a sneak attack to the finish line?!!

Talk about paranoia! Haha


Finally, I cross the finish line and RD Paulo comes over. I think he doesn’t know whether to high-five me or give me a hug and all I want to do is lay down. I bend over and he kind of escorts me gingerly to some chairs, female number two was in the same state, bent over, legs shaking.

Holy crap, you did it. You made it. You climbed that beast. What the hell man!? I thought this was a training run!? 😉

One minute later, female #4 crosses the finish line. Wow, what a day.

Roger was next and I had enough strength in my legs to get up, cheer as loud as I could and give that crazy man a hug and say thank you. Again, thank you Roger for your support, encouragement and for giving me the pep talks I needed. I could not have done it without you.

My wooden trophies.
My wooden trophies.

So, the final verdict was Third Place Female overall (I was less than 20 seconds behind second) and first in my age group. The course was shortened so I could not go by time but I think I might have had a decent 50k time overall – so long as it wasn’t a four mile hill climb to the finish instead of three. The race (according to my Garmin) also had 7,548 ft of elevation to it. Wow.

Race profile from my Garmin
Race profile from my Garmin
My Garmin said 7,548 ft of elevation - others apparently said otherwise?
My Garmin said 7,548 ft of elevation – others apparently said otherwise?

Here is what the finish looked like in photos (all four photos that follow are credited to SingleTrack Running’s Facebook page):

She is second place female - that SPEC behind her is me. :)
This is the second place female – that SPEC behind her is me. :)
Oh my god, I don't think I can make it! haha
Oh my god, I don’t think I can make it! haha
First I shoot Paulo a death look - Dude that was some race!
First I shoot Paulo a death look – Dude that was some race!
Then I smile. Holy crap, I am done.
Then I smile. Holy crap, I am done.

Unfortunately, I didn’t stay too long at the finish as I had to jet home. I didn’t want to miss taking my favorite seven year old to her swim clinic lesson. Originally I didn’t think I would be able to make it but I guess with a finish like that, I had some extra time. 😉

My Swimmer Girl
My Swimmer Girl

So what worked and what didn’t? (Sorry, hang with me, the end of this monstrosity is near).

First, I tried my home-made plant-based fuel that I blogged about. I knew going into it, that it was too salty. When I tried it during the race, it just was not going to happen.  It also had the texture of muffin batter something I was NOT going for in the creation process. Back to the drawing board on that.

Overall, I was not handling anything but fruity sweet flavors which is not my normal. I brought a gluten free almond butter and honey sandwich with me but the gluten free bread is SO dense that I almost choked eating it. I managed one square and left the rest for the drive home.

I need to work on the calorie consumption as I don’t think, looking back, I consumed a whole ton on this run. I had my usual go-to items like fruit leather, applesauce and jelly-beans (for that quick rush). I may go back to making muffins. They pack a good 300 calories per muffin but they require time to eat but since I am not racing my next race, I should have some time. 😉

Overall, I am happy. It wasn’t what I set out to do but I am happy that I was able to pull it together in the end and really push myself especially when at times, I didn’t think I had anything left to push. I feel good. The muscles are not too sore (yet). I still feel a little dehydrated and I need a few more hours of catch-up sleep. That’s the only downfall of having an ultra on a Sunday, as Monday it was back to work/school for the whole family.

Tis the life of a trail running mama I guess! Thanks for reading, I know this was incredibly long, but the good ones usually are.

Kinda cool to see my name listed.
Kinda cool to see my name listed.

I want to also thank all the volunteers who were part of this race. From marking the course in a rain storm the day before to being out there on the course the day of the race. Also my fellow trail runners were all super friendly and supportive cheering everyone on their way back to the finish. Love this community! SingleTrack Running put on another great race. Thank you!

Happy Trails!


Full Disclaimer: I am not associated with SingleTrack Running at all and was not paid or compensated for writing this report. This is the second race of theirs that I have done, and I truly believe they host stellar, challenging and thoroughly top notch events. 

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FOURMIDABLE 50K RACE REPORT (What a freaking race!)

A FOURmidable Start
A FOURmidable Start

Saturday was my first race of the 2016 season and it definitely was a race to remember. So settle in and grab a drink, this is doozy of a report. 🙂

I chose Single Track Running’s FOURmidable 50K because I thought it would be a good indicator of where I am in my training so far. It touted a high elevation and a tough course. I have never run one of their races before but I knew the general area where I would be running … or so I thought.

If you’ve been following me, you know that I spend almost every weekend in Auburn and/or Cool running these trails with my friends. Up and down K2. Up and down Cardiac. Up and down the hill to the Overlook. I’ve done it all countless times but when you string so many climbs together in one single day? Woah, talk about a death march!

My girls.
My girls.

I am truly a lucky girl because I have two amazing friends who offered to drive me to the start of the race and send me off with laughter, hugs and positive vibes.


I honestly don’t think I could have had a better start to a race. It meant more to me than they will ever know. I was calm, I was happy and I had no stress because of their generosity and friendship. Pigeon was texting me all morning as well, sending advice and good juju too.

The start was chilly but I could tell it was going to be a warm day. I was worried that I should have gone with a tank top instead of a t-shirt, ah well, too late to worry about that now.

The starting area was gorgeous. A beautiful fog was layering over the valley making for the most amazing views for the start of a race.

Or very cool Ninja poses by Stonegate
Perfect for very cool Ninja poses by Stonegate

There was a bit of confusion at the start as it was hard to hear Paulo, the Race Director talk over the loud speaker. There were four distances to this race and they started at different times. The 50k and half marathon started at 8 am and the 35.5k and 13k started five minutes later. I know that some of the 35k people didn’t understand that (despite countless emails detailing the day’s starting times) and they ended up starting with some of us 50k runners.

Off and Running! Thanks Stonegate for the photo!
Off and Running! Thanks Stonegate for the photo!

Paulo counted us down and I was off and running. I didn’t really look around me to see how large of a crowd it was because it was combining two distances (remember I started with the half marathoners too).

Off we ran DOWN the Damn Hill, the same hill that I have had to run UP for the American River 50 mile race so many times. As I was running, I realized I was going at a pretty good clip. It was downhill after all. A girl came up next to me and told me that she really liked my hat. 🙂

I said thanks and just kept running. My watch buzzed and I looked down, Mile 1 = 8:46 pace. Woah. That’s pretty fast when I have 30 more miles to go … I told myself to be careful. I just felt good. Everyone was flying granted most were probably doing the half marathon. Whoops.

Watch buzzes a mile later … 8:45 …. um…what are you doing!? Then we get thrown onto some single track trails that wind us down towards the very bottom of Cardiac and that’s when it all came to a halt.

My legs felt like jell-o when I started climbing. My breathing was labored. My body felt tired. All I kept thinking was “What in the heck?! See! You went out too fast!” But I just kept climbing. I didn’t push the pace. Luckily I was solo on the climb most of the way so no pressure from behind or in front.

Eventually though, a few people caught up to me and I let them pass … that deflated me a little but I just kept telling myself, you have miles and miles to go.

When we reached what I thought was the top of Cardiac, the spot where my friends and I usually stop, catch our breath and continue on down the canal..but instead, we kept climbing. Cardiac apparently, goes even HIGHER than I knew was possible. Geez. But it was gorgeous. Absolutely gorgeous!

That was the first of the “FOUR”midable climbs in the race. That is what I kept telling myself. Just count the climbs and you’ll be fine.

After cardiac we wind our way back to the starting area for the first aid-station. I was in and out in about 15 seconds. I didn’t need much. I threw out some trash and that was it.

Then we dipped onto some trails that I have never run before that take you down and under the Auburn Damn Overlook. It was beautiful. I was just beaming!

Then we were dumped back onto the Western States Trail and were on our way to No Hands Bridge. I found myself behind this girl who was flying whooping and hollering down the trail. Her energy was infectious! I latched onto her tail and flew down to the bridge running a 9 minute mile. She of course, was only running the half.

No Hands Bridge, mile 9.2 aid-station – in and out less than 20 seconds. Instead I hiked up towards K2 eating what I brought in my pack.

The climb up K2 (the second of the FOURmidable climbs) was not nearly as fast as it had been last weekend but it was steady. One foot in front of the other. At the top, where I normally stop with my girls and take a breather, I realized I couldn’t stop. I had to keep going. There was one girl who literally ran up K2. I was floored.

I texted my friends … and they texted me back with this … causing me to crack up while climbing K2, thanks girls!


Again when I thought we would go one way, the course had us going a different way. What fun! I was trying to figure out where the heck we were and if I had been on these trails before. I was definitely by myself. Some guys had passed me and then kept going. Finally I reached the Knickerbocker Aid-station (mile 13.0). I asked the volunteer (who was super nice) which way the 50k runners go because at this point, we had some 35k runners with us (the ones who started at the wrong time).

The volunteer pointed across the street and said, “Well, you’re going to do a little four mile loop and then come back to us here and then go that way.” Inside I laughed, “a little four mile loop?” … I knew what that meant … the third of the FOURmidable climbs, Old Auburn Damn Hill … another brutal climb.

It was getting warm and fast. The girl from the first mile had caught up to me and we ran together for a while chatting. I also ran into TrailTurtle Shannon who I haven’t seen out on the trails in a long time. Always a pleasure seeing her.

Hat Girl started telling me that she is out here twice a week climbing Damn Hill and K2 while her daughter is in school. She said she saw a “nest” out here a few weeks ago that was HUGE. I was like, “What kind of nest?” Thinking it was going to be a bees or wasps.

Humans could fit in that nest!
Humans could fit in that nest!

Nope, she meant a bird’s nest that was SO large, a couple of humans could actually fit inside. What in the hell?! I stopped to take a photo when she showed me, and she took off! ha Sneaky sneaky. 🙂

She was quite a ways ahead of me up the climb. When we reached the aid-station (mile 17.6), I think she saw that I didn’t really stay long. Less than 20 seconds and I was out, walking and eating. She was quick to join me.

She ran off up ahead while I was content to eat and hike some. Eventually I caught up to her and another girl (the one who ran up K2) and they moved to let me pass. So I did.

But Hat Girl was quick to stay with me. She left the girl she was with and was behind me. I have to say, I have never been on these trails before. I knew we were in Cool but I had no idea where we were. Some of it was the Way Too Cool course but some of it took us off where I don’t think I have been before. I could see highway 49 and it felt like I was in the backyard of the homes that lined the highway. Crazy!

This was the LONGEST stretch between aid-stations and I had no idea at the time, that it was that far. Seeing that aid-station tent off in the distance at the fire-station in Cool was a HUGE relief. Thank goodness.

I had a burst of energy. Not only because of the aid-station, but because I knew that I was on my way to the finish. I’ve run this route (again, or so I thought) a million times and I was anxious to get to that downhill section that leads back to No Hands Bridge.

At the aid-station (mile 23) this girl dressed head to toe in pink came up behind Hat Girl and I and said, “You two are hard to catch! I ‘ve been chasing you girls forever!” I laughed and then she took off! I probably stayed the longest at this aid-station, mostly because they were so chatty (really it was probably 30 seconds). Off I went and Hat Girl was right with me.

When we reached the section where we normally turn right to head back down towards No Hands, the course had us going straight. WHAT??!! My heart screamed inside a bit. Noooooo! I wanted to turn RIGHT! Whhhhyyyyy! Straight we went. We eventually came back around but man, that was a hard detour to swallow.

Pink Girl was gone. Hat girl was with me. We reached the downhill section that I have been bombing lately and I turned to her and said, “This is the section I have been waiting for!” Poof, I was gone. I had a enough juice in the legs and I just motored. My average on this section was an 8:50 mile (and it was muddy).

I caught up to Pink Girl who was not backing down as she took off even faster. We were both talking as we were running about how awesome this section is!

We reached No Hands and the aid-station (mile 26.8) and I threw away some trash. Pink Girl I noticed didn’t even stop. She handed a water bottle to her family and left without grabbing anything. I grabbed a cup downed it and then started eating and walking across No Hands. I texted Vans to tell him that I had  4 miles left and that it would take me an hour.

I put my phone away and started running. I eventually passed Pink Girl who it looked like was finally taking a moment to eat. I passed her and said that I’d probably see her again soon.

I just felt, good … so I kept running on all the flats. I’d stop and power hike when I’d feel like my legs were about to fall off, and then the sensation would pass and I’d start running again. The trails were FILLED with people hiking and carrying strollers and they didn’t quite know trail etiquette.

Run walk run walk up and up and up I climbed. I heard a noise behind  me and I turned and there was Pink Girl! “Girl!” I said, “You just come out of no where! Man you are killing it today!” She laughed and said she had no business trying to keep up with me but this girl was strong. We talked for a bit.

She said that the downhill section we had just bombed took a bit too much out of her.  She was also a mom of 3 and had been up all night the night before with her youngest who was sick and that all 3 of her kids had been sick during the week. Geez, I can’t imagine how she runs when her whole family is healthy!

I took off running and she said she wasn’t there yet. I thought for sure I would see her again. Back towards the Overlook we were climbing but just as we were supposed to go right, the course had us go left onto a trail that I have never in all my times running out there noticed before! Where are we going!?

It was an awesome single track and there was a guy in front of me. Trying to take advantage of the down again I picked up the pace. I joked that while I loved this course change, it scared me … what goes down must come back up …and we were going very steeply down towards the river.

The guy let me pass him and then finally, I turned a corner and saw it, the massive climb with various runners sprinkled way up high. Holy moly. We have to climb that to get to the finish?!

At first I felt strong and then my legs started to shake and feel weak. I kept thinking about the guy behind me but eventually I think he even stopped because I no longer heard him. One foot in front of the other I told myself. I remembered Vans’s note to me this morning ….

Just Keep Going!
Just Keep Going!

Just keep going! So I did. Hands on knees hiking – I kept trying to stay up right to help my breathing be better but dang was this a climb! Then, I heard it … someone yelling!!! That means we were close. We had to be close!

Boom, a little boost of energy and I was climbing a bit harder …. I knew my family was there, I knew it and I wanted to get there fast. The guy behind me had mentioned earlier that we were on track to be sub 6 hours. I refused to look at my watch when he said it but I glanced down while climbing and knew it wouldn’t happen, not with this climb.

My Girls at the finish! Waiting for me!
My Girls at the finish! Waiting for me!

Finally I reached the top, saw my girls and Vans and almost melted. I had to run a few more yards to the finish. Everyone was cheering and my legs just felt unattached to my body! I finished! From my watch, it looks like I PR’d with 6 hour and 8 minutes (Official Results say 6 hours and 9 minutes).

I was handed a very cool wooden medal and told to go pick out a hat or a beanie … how cool!!!

As I was doing that, I saw Paulo, the race director. When I got near him I said, “I don’t know whether to hug you or hit you!” 🙂 But he got a hug and he said, “Congrats! Third female!” and he handed me this cool wooden award.

“What? No!” I said, “You have to be mistaken.” He said they just checked and I was third female! After all that battling with Pink Girl and Hat Girl, I ended up being third. So many times when they got ahead of me I just said to myself, “Forget it, let it go, just run your race.” And you know what, I did. I did run my race and it apparently worked! I was also first in my age group. 🙂

My cool trucker hat, wooden medal and wooden award. Very creative.
My cool trucker hat, wooden medal and wooden award. Very creative.

This race was incredible. Definitely one of the hardest, if not THE hardest 50k I have done. Mt. Tam 50k is probably the next closest but I do think FOURmidable may have been a smidgen harder.

Course Profile
Course Profile

The course was well marked. There were sections where you really had to pay attention otherwise you might miss a turn but overall, it was extremely well executed. I am a little bummed because there was a ton vegan food at the finish and I didn’t have ANY of it. 🙁 I completely forgot and was busy with my family.

Course map. We went everywhere!
Course map. We went everywhere!

I worked my butt off training for this race knowing there was a lot of climbing. I also know that I need to keep up that amount of climbing if not double for what lies ahead.

As always, I will post my recovery meal but know that post race is always an exception in my world. Our fridge is on empty in terms of food this weekend and since Vans and the girls were at the finish, Vans had a little something up his sleeve … with a little help from me too …

Cafe Nectar to go while sipping some wine from Casque on their patio.
Cafe Nectar to go while sipping some wine from Casque on their patio.

Two vegan tempeh tacos and one vegan chorizo taco (for Vans) complete with two wonderful glasses of Syrah as the girls played off in the distance as the sun was setting. Perfection. #goodhusband

Sorry, I know this was the longest race report ever. Hey, it was the first race of the season, give me some slack. 🙂 It is not every day when I PR in a 50k AND get 3rd female. I am still blown away and completely blessed by all the wonderful people in my life. Thanks for reading!

The two real prizes in my life!
The two real prizes in my life!

Happy Trails!


Full Disclaimer: I am not associated with Single Track Running at all and was not paid or compensated at all for writing this report. They truly put on a stellar event. 



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Even though I have run 20 miles numerous times, there is something to be said about running your first 20 of the season. It means training has truly begun and it is time to start seeing what works and what doesn’t. Weed out the bad stuff and push your limits.

Tunnel of Truth
Tunnel of Truth

This past Sunday, I had one of the best runs yet and what made this run so great, was that I had ALL my running pals together at one time. Our schedules finally collided and Pigeon, Stonegate and Burning Girl and I were all ready to hit the trails at once.

Trail Girls
Trail Girls

Pigeon was happy to show Stonegate and Burning Girl some new trails. Trails that I have run a few times but didn’t have the confidence to do on my own just yet. Stonegate was super excited to see some new views and I don’t think this run disappointed her.

Hello Auburn!
Hello Auburn!

We carpooled in two cars and parked near the confluence. We started running and then BAM within 3 minutes I had rolled my left ankle and heard a distinct “POP!” I was too busy looking at the beauty around me to notice whatever the heck it was I had stepped on.

I didn’t stop. I didn’t want to stop. I pushed the pain radiating up my leg aside and just kept going. The day was just beginning and I was too excited. Plus, I knew it was not that serious, just a minor set back.

The Auburn Fog is just amazing
The Auburn fog is just amazing

We ran Clementine in single file. Such a gorgeous trail. It was muddy and slippery in sections which made it even more fun. The only sketchy part was running into a couple that had two dogs. After my dog experience last year (read about that here), I am forever hesitant on the trail and will never trust a dog or its owner again.

This couple pulled their pups way off the trail. They had one tiny dog (held by the woman) and one large dog (held by the man). When Stonegate ran by that big dog was growling and lunging towards her. Luckily the man had a good hold but I can’t say the rest of us were eager to run by next.

With that behind us though we just continued on. Stonegate and Burning Girl would run up ahead, I’d take up the middle and Pigeon was the caboose with her steady pace. We’d stop and regroup at all turns and intersections.


With that downhill section my tummy started doing some flip-flops which is why I slowly positioned myself to mid-pack. I wasn’t sure if the porta-potty that I remembered was still where it used to be. Lucky for me, it was!

In true goofball form, the girls decided to play a little prank on me ….

Surprise! Papparazzi!
Surprise! Papparazzi!

They thought they were hilarious trying to get my reaction when I stepped out. It was pretty funny but I felt tons better! Moving on!

Weeee down hill!!
Weeee down hill!!

Back towards our car we ran. The first loop was done.

Photo by Stonegate - all smiles
Photo by Stonegate – all smiles


Next it was time to introduce the girls to ….


We all started the initial hike up Stagecoach together hiking and running when we could.

Banana Slug!
Banana Slug!

As we were hiking I saw this huge stick … moving … wait that wasn’t a stick it was a Banana Slug! 🙂

Soon however, I started to feel the pull. There have been a few times when Pigeon and I have gone up this hill and I’ve said, “See ya at the top!” Climbing is one of my favorite things to do so off I went, powering my way up.

Amazing views
Amazing views

There was a guy in front of me that I was determined to catch. I caught him and then passed him. I finally made it to the top feeling strong.

When the rest of the crew made it to the top, we ran through Auburn to the Overlook and then back down the trail towards No Hands Bridge. The sun was up and the day was just getting better and better.

Burning Girl however has been dealing with some hip pain and decided (wisely) not to push her limits and headed back to the car. This is where running loops is SO smart. Pigeon, Stonegate and I continued on towards K2 to do our last four miles with a good mile of climbing to start.

Burning Girl and I pushed our way up K2. Some doofus on his way down thought he was being cool and said to us, “Just so you know, you’re not even half way there.” No duh kid, thanks. 🙂

When we were all together we headed off towards the trail that leads back down. For years I used to hate this trail. Before I had my ankle surgery, this trail used to be nothing short of excruciating for me. Now that I have solid ankle strength, I love to just FLY down this section.

Stonegate and I just took off. Eventually I even lost sight of Stonegate behind me. I was just smiling ear to ear dancing around and through all the mud puddles. I was like a pig in a mud bath or baby in a toy store … it was the perfect way to end this 20 mile run.

Where's Stonegate? I can't find her!?
Where’s Stonegate? I can’t find her!?

When we made it back to No Hands we were stretching and goofing around waiting for Pigeon. Stonegate decided to climb up into this cave.

20 miles and almost 5,000 ft of climbing in one day with three of my favorite running partners. My heart was full. My body felt amazing. My fueling was good and my legs felt strong. I was a happy girl.

Post-Run Fuel
Post-Run Fuel

If you follow me on Instagram, then you saw that I posted this after our run on Sunday. I am a strong believer that what you eat after a hard workout sets the tone for your recovery.

In the photo above, I had a gluten free teff flour tortilla topped with homemade no-oil hummus, raw spinach, shredded carrots, steamed kale mixed with hot sauce, cooked beets and a sprinkle of nutritional yeast. So good. If I remember, I will continue to post the meals that I recover with because I know people are curious and it is often a question I am asked a lot.

So there you have it, our 20 miler was fantastic! I am looking forward to another weekend on the trails however mother nature it looks like she might grace us with a nice big shower for our entire run. Bring it! 🙂

Happy Trails!


PS: Ankle Update – Tonight I saw my miracle worker at Elite Spinal and Sports and he said that I thoroughly jacked up the tendon between my tibia and fibula. He was pretty amazed at how messed up it was AND that I was able to continue on with the run. It feels great now, a little tender but at least I have feeling back in my toes. 🙂




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This past Sunday I ran my 7th California International Marathon and my 11th marathon to date.

Last year when I ran this race (you can read that race report here), I decided that upon crossing the finish line that I wanted another shot at actually “running” this race and not just finishing (even though I ran the past few CIMs with TiggerT and had SO much fun while doing it). I had decided, that even though I am on the fence about ever running in Boston, I’d like to at least have the ability to say, “Why yes, I qualified!”

So when my trail season ended, I began running roads and started “lightly” following an old training plan that I had from years ago. I ran long on weekends all solo. I did speed work on Tuesday nights a few times a month with my old crew, the Buffalo Chips (man I missed that group and their workouts). I still ran with my morning crew but mostly on Thursdays.

In the beginning, I was hitting my pace marks and felt strong and then, things started to fizzle. Either I lost motivation to run or was dealing with a few issues that my aging body did not thoroughly embrace.

Either way, for the last two months, my running has slacked. I ran Clarksburg but even then I knew, that the outlook wasn’t as positive as it had been earlier in my training. For various reasons that I won’t list here, I found myself waking up between 3 and 4 times a night.

Bottom line, I wasn’t recovering and I wasn’t hitting my marks. Still, I had faith and was determined to give it my best shot.

Come race morning, Stonegate and Burning Girl arrived at my house at 5:30 ready to whisk me away to the start. Their jokes and laughter made me smile, I was ready.

I had some pre-race laughs at the starting line with the McBride crew who always make me laugh, no matter what. They are, to put it simply, real good people.

Soon it was time to find my pace group.  I needed to run the marathon in 3 hours and 40 minutes to qualify for Boston. My CIM personal best was 3 hours and 56 minutes ran in 2008 when the Peanut was 8 months old and I was about 15 pounds lighter and still full of prego hormones. That would have been a major hail mary of a PR to pull off. Yet, I am a way different runner now than I was in 2008.

I decided to run with the 3:40 pace group. When the race started it was a crowded madhouse. I haven’t run in such a tight knit elbow to elbow race in a very long time. It was a little unnerving and I got slightly pushed away from the pace group.

I didn’t panic as I knew it would eventually clear out. My pace group started off pretty darn quick though. Our first few miles were jockeying between our needed pace and a little bit faster –  8:16, 8;24, 8:10, 8:23, 8:11 went the first few miles. Our pace should have been 8:23 but I understand how it works and was hanging in there just fine.

Every so often it would dump massive buckets of rain on us and then stop. I completely over dressed for this race. I should have gone with my instinct but I didn’t.

Mile 7.5 we were passing an aid-station area with lots of spectators and they started blaring Bon Jovi’s Living on a Prayer and I just started smiling and rocking out. It was a sign for this Jersey girl and I let the music carry me.

Fast forward to mile 13, when my quads started cramping and I decided to let the pace group go. I always, ALWAYS carry a salt tab with me and I didn’t have a single one.

I hung in there running just behind the 3:40 group, closer to the 3:45 group until about mile 17 when I decided my quads were going to either seize or fall off. From that moment on, I let myself walk through the aid-stations. Just that small adjustment alone brought some life back into my legs.

I was still smiling mind you. I had decided not to beat myself up about it and to just keep running. What will be will be. I knew if I could get to mile 20, that I’d see Vans and my girls which would help a lot and if I could get to about mile 22 (I think) I would see my Oiselle Volee team and get another boost.

Hi girls!!!
Hi girls!!!

I pretty much walked here and gave them high-fives. It was Vans who said, “Ok, keep moving, get moving.” Thanks honey. 🙂

I saw and heard my Oiselle team cheering for me as I ran by in my singlet. That helped, a lot.

Running through downtown I tried my hardest not to look at the numbered street signs. I know how defeating that can be to not see them get smaller faster.

There were a few really SLOW moments in there between 23 and 26 where I just wanted to lay down and sleep. My quads were SCREAMING at me to stop. I just kept telling myself, “You can’t walk here. You can’t stop here! You have less than 2 miles to go!”

At one point, I said, forget this and starting pushing myself, hard … or at least it felt hard .. and then a wave of nausea hit me. I looked around and both sides of the street were lined 4 deep with people cheering us on. I thought, “Oh god, if I hurl here that would be really really bad!” 🙂

So, I slowed ever so slightly, enough to push the nausea away.

I crossed the finish line in 3 hours and 54 minutes. 2 minutes faster than my last “real” marathon and a sub 9 minute marathon. I know I have it in me to  run faster, I know it … I just need the motivation or the determination or perhaps maybe a coach to actually keep me more honest and more on track.


Overall, I am pleased with those stats. My quads had nothing left. I was a sweaty mess at the end because I dressed too warm and I haven’t quite figured out how to fuel in a road race yet compared to ultras where you have the time and the convenience of fully stocked aid-stations.

Depending on our plans in 2016, the chances of me running CIM 2016 are pretty darn high. I love this race. It is right in my back yard and I know it inside and out and yet the outcome is never quite the same. Road racing keeps you honest. It pushes you beyond limits you didn’t think were possible.

As much as I love and adore trails, the competitive part of me loves to challenge myself and try and exceed past attempts at things.

My whole family was there at the finish. My heart was full. My girls and Vans were in good spirits and the weather was great.

Post Race Family photo for once
Post Race Family photo for once

I was happy. No matter what my time was, I was happy. And that is all that matters.

Happy Trails!







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