I found my lost soul the other morning

Jane with the cute dog at the rental place!

After my summit of Denali in 2010 I lost my climbing partner and thought I would never climb another big mountain again.  I passed my time with running trails and last year decided I wanted to focus more on running the mountains (of course after the Boston Marathon)  I signed up for the most challenging races I could find and started up with an exhilarating training plan!  I think I am way more fun to coach now!

Look at that tree!
These buff trails!
Beautiful walk in the woods!
Lots of airplaning to get to my climb!

Last year I reached out to my very dear friend Jane and asked her is she would like to climb Mount Hood with me.  Seeing that my US Highpointing has involved so many different people and stories I was thrilled when she said yes!  I then invited Dave who also is a US High pointer and himself, Eric and Richard signed up!  It was going to be quite the adventure!

So early!!!
Love mountains!
Snow school!
Richard having fun!
Nice bathroom 🙂

I had read that Mount Hood was not as easy as it looked.  I really didn’t know what to expect but when we arrived and saw the mountain looming above us it sure looked steep!  I had a bit of anxiety with having been away from mountaineering for seven years.  I also had a burning desire in my heart to get back at it!

The summit!
High Point #20!!!
Fearless guide!
Jane having fun!

Jane had picked me up at the airport and we stayed at a lovely little Air BNB house with an absolutely hilarious couple that lived upstairs from where we rented.  Jane and I went for a nice walk and it felt good after a day of flying.  I had been up since 2am and was happy to get some sleep.

Sunrise!
What a sunrise!
Amazing sunrise!

We had a half day of snow school to work on skills that we would need for the climb.  Our guide was very professional and thorough.  We hired Timberline Mountain Guides to take us up the mountain.  We had fun practicing self arrest, rope skills and how to travel safely as a team.  It was wicked hot out and the snow was so soft we were practically swimming in it!

Dave posing!
Looking back!

We ended the day with a good dinner and went to bed.  We did not get a lot of sleep because we had to be at the mountain for 1:30 am to meet our guides.

We met our guides and took a 20 minute snow cat ride to the top of the chairlift (yes, cheating but walking up a ski slope isn’t too exciting anyway!)  We saw headlamps all over the place and when we got out of the snowcat it was a bit windy but not very cold.

Mountain climbing!
So pretty!
Climbing!

We geared up and started the walk up the mountain unroped.  It was pretty easy and we were all pretty fit so we were able to pass all but two climbers up ahead of us.  This worked to our advantage because we were then able to go through the pearly gates route!  We roped up and pulled out the ice axes for this part of the climb.  It was surprisingly steep and as we climbed I was really happy that we were up front.  There were so many people down below us and it was about to be a total mob scene!

Mindy Randall got a picture of Ryan after winning his race!

Traveling on a rope team is a pretty wild experience.  You become one, working together…but really you have to take care of yourself and in a way focus on only you because if you don’t you then become a hazard to your rope team.  It is such an amazing bonding experience and when I think about how much trust you need to have in one another it makes me realize how important it is to trust your climbing partners but also to trust yourself.

Power pellets! #explore4chad
Going down!

We stood on the summit just as the sun rose and it was one of the most beautiful sunrises I have ever seen!  I cried tears of joy because my heart felt so full and everything I left on Denali in 2010 came rushing back into my heart, my soul.  I could have taken my last breath and felt complete but I have many more adventures in my soul and am not ready to go for a very long time!

Jane climbed that that morning!

We stayed on the summit for a while and then started our steep down climb back to the flat area above the fumerol where we could see and smell the steam escaping the living mountain.  It is amazing to think that below our feet the mountain is alive, full of molten lava, steam and at some point will explode.

Sassy Jane!
SO beautiful out!
Good times!

We unroped, tucked away the axes and enjoyed a lovely walk down the mountain in the warm sun.  I really felt that everything went perfectly!  The climb was not strenuous but it was much more technical that I thought it would be!  It lit a fire in my heart and I will be climbing more big mountains and hopefully my Ryan will share many of those climbs with me!  Of course I would love my friends there too!!!

I climbed that that morning!

Jane and I met up with some of her friends from Seattle and went for a beautiful walk around a small lake with incredible views of the mountain!  It was a perfect trip and I am so excited to now have 20 US High points on my list.  30 more to go!

Snow hiking!

I want to thank my sponsors La Sportiva, JULBO USA, Choucas Hats and Boom Nutrition for all of their support.  I used their gear on the climb and didn’t have any issues with clothing, getting cold, burned retinas or a cold head!  My tummy has happy and so was I!  I want to thank my friends for joining me on such a wonderful adventure, I want to thank my Ryan (and congratulate him for winning a 50 mile race while I was climbing!) for training with me in the Whites, I want to thank my pups for being my sweet trail buddies and snuggle buddies.  I want to thank my coach Andy for being patient with learning my quirks and helping me get back my mountain strength.  I am such a lucky girl!

And if you want a guided adventure in the White Mountains please check out www.redlineguiding.com!  Ryan and I are now trail running guides!!!!!

The summit!

“Thousands of tired, nerve-shaken, over-civilized people are beginning to find out that going to the mountains is going home; that wildness is a necessity”
John Muir, Our National Parks

Smiling in the mountains…oh and soon to be guiding!

Ashley and Kristine running the Ossippes with me!
Running in the Ossippes! An old ancient volcano, so cool!!!

Ever since I have gotten back in the mountains I have felt so happy being back where I belong!  I am spending more time with my friends, my pups and my Ryan!  We have had some pretty incredible adventures and are anxiously waiting for the snow to be gone up high!

Jack puppy, the mountain pup!
Jack Puppy and Bennett love the mountains!
Running mountains with my Ryan!

Something that is extremely exciting is that Ryan and I will be doing guided trail runs in the White Mountains!  We both will be working with Redline Guiding to help others enjoy trail running in the White Mountains!  From obscure routes to the classics there is something for everyone to enjoy!  Ryan has received his certifications and I am working on mine so he is currently booking trail runs and I will be joining as soon as mine are complete!

As we help pilot this new addition to Redline Guidings already extensive choices of adventure and opportunities to learn essential skills for playing in the mountains take some time to check out their site!  If you scroll down on the menu trail running is an option!  Please help us spread the word on the guided trail runs in the White Mountains by sharing this link: http://redlineguiding.com/book-now/

My mountain!
Bennett loves mountains too!
Beautiful rainbow after a run!
Ryan showing me how to descend on scree

I also recently ran the Joe English 30k Trail Challenge for the first time.  It was a fabulous course that is worth putting on your calendar!  The courses were marked phenomenally, the race director and volunteers were very caring and the post race food was wonderful!  I was thrilled to pull off my first overall win at a race and it was pretty wild!  It was not a huge or stacked race but I showed up and ran!  The course is fun with runnable terrain at the beginning and end of the course.  The meat and potatoes were in the middle and it contains relentless rocks, roots and hills!  It was so much fun to run on trails again and so nice to see my friends Mindy, Eric and Brandon and to make new friends and see familiar faces!

Mountain biking!
Kristin and I got on the cover of this magazine!
Ready to try out the Akyra!
Postholing on the Tripyramids

The transition from road to mountains has been wild and not easy, but also not as bad as I thought it would be.  I have been enjoying some really challenging runs on the steepest terrain I can find!  I even got to take out a pair of the new La Sportiva Akyra shoes for a test run and they are a really nice shoe for the mountains!  If you are a huge fan of the Wildcat then you will absolutely love the Akyra!!  I found the shoe felt similar to the Wildcat but with better traction and better performance when running.

Bennett on the Trypyramids
New shoes-akira on North Slide!
Ryan on North Slide
Ryan and the pups!
Spring is finally here!

I still love the Akasha best for my mountain running but was very impressed by the performance of the Akyra.  The La Sportiva clothing is absolutely phenomenal and I have been really enjoying the running apparel!  The Snap shorts are so comfortable and the Andromeda skirts are super soft!  The tops breath and wick very well and the sports bras and socks are super soft and don’t chafe or cause blisters.

Fell on my face…ooopppss!
The turnaround on the squad ridge traverse
Ryan going up onto the ridge
Squam ridge traverse
Squam ridge traverse
View from Squam range

As for life, it is slowly getting better each day!  I am very happy with where I am in my life.  I have a wonderful husband and pups, incredibly fun friends, I am able to run happy and I have the best job in the world!  This summer is going to be intense, I will be spending a lot of time adventuring and really enjoying my life!

Up the North slide!

 

I want to thank my sponsors La Sportiva, JULBO USA, Choucas Hats and Boom Nutrition for their support.  (Get a discount at Boom Nutrition with code FOLCIKSHARE5).  Be on the lookout for a La Sportiva shoe demo/group run this summer in the White Mountains!  Thank you to my Ryan and pups for being such great friends, adventure buddies and snuggle buddies!  Thank you to my friends for taking time out of your life to do fun stuff with me!  Thank you to my boss for allowing me to live my life outside of work, you only live once and it is so important to enjoy every breath you take.  When you are treated with so much respect at work it really makes you want to work hard when you are there.  Thank you to my coach Andy for dealing with my ridiculously wacky schedule.  I am a very lucky girl!  I am still not using Facebook for anything other than blog posts.  Feel free to reach out through Facebook messenger or email kfolcik2@gmail.com

On the slide together! We love the mountains and each other!

It is not the years in your life but the life in your years that counts. ~ Adlai Stevenson

My beautiful mountain that keeps me strong, happy and gives me so much joy!

 

Back in the mountains, wild and free…

It’s been a week full of some rainy days and some hot sunny days and it has been perfect for melting snow!  I am ready to say goodbye to winter and get back on the rocky trails that I love so much!  Spring is such a beautiful time of year and it always feels good to clean up the yard after the snow melts!

Mountain biking again!!
We still have snow, took out the fat bike!

I have had a wonderful recovery since the Boston Marathon.  The bright side of not being able to run fast was that my legs and body were not destroyed as they usually are after marathons!  I had some fun mountain bike rides on snow in NH and dirt in CT when visiting my family down there and had some wonderful runs with friends!

Mountain biking on dirt in CT! Thanks for the tour Mike!
That tree is still at Case Mountain!

On Sunday I ran the Muddy Moose trail race in Wolfeboro, NH which is a fun spring event!  I really wanted to run the 14 mile race but my coach told me that it would not be smart so soon after Boston.  I ran the 4 mile race and it was really hard to not go for the long race!  When it comes to running trails or mountain biking I struggle with holding back.  I need someone to keep me from doing too much and ending up injured.

Keri and I at Muddy Moose!
Photo by Salmon Press Wolfeboro Sports–Muddy moose race
Photo by Salmon Press Wolfeboro Sports–Muddy Moose race

I joked with Ryan at the start and he said to treat it like a joke and go out like a 5k.  Well…I did just that.  I hammered out a sub 7 minute first mile, laughing the whole time!  Then the mud got sticky and the puddles deep.  I got slowed way down and for the first time since the fall I felt the uneven terrain that trails provide!  It was a hoot!  I ran through the middle of the puddles and kept my heart rate up as high as I could!

My nephews and I!
My nephews and I!
My beautiful mountain, nothing makes me happier than being in the mountains..wild and free.

My legs felt incredible, my cardio…not so much!  I ran in the lead for 3 miles and was pretty excited that I might actually take my first overall win.  Well…so much for that!!!  A guy caught me in the sticky mud and I tried to hold on but couldn’t.  When we hit the pavement I cranked it up and started to close in on him but it was not enough to catch him.  I was still pretty thrilled to come in 2nd overall and 1st woman!

Lots of Snow!
So much snow still!

Ryan ran the long race so I chatted with my friend Keri at the finish while she waited for the kids she brought with her from the running club she started in her town!  The kids were so cute and it was awesome to see them finish!

Ryan finished the race and said it was really muddy and I wished I had done the long race!  We got lunch and went home to work on the yard.  Today I had a fabulous jog/hike up to the Hammond trail junction on Mount Chocorua.  The trails were muddy, but it was so nice to run on rock for about a mile until the snow line was reached!

My Jack Puppy!

The monorail of snow was pretty slick and I took a good digger on my way back down and when I hit the rocks I realized I was a bit out of practice on the trails!  I have an incredible season ahead of me and to pull it off I have to achieve a very high level of mountain fitness and have plenty of recovery time so I don’t end up injured.  I am pretty confident I can find balance in my life and running!

I am very fortunate to have an incredible boss who allows me time to train and to get to races whenever I want.  More employers should be so respectful of their employees lives outside of work.  It really makes me put in 150% to my day at work.

My Bennett

I have replaced my social media addiction with more fiddle playing, daily meditation and mindfulness and getting back to blogging.  I am extremely happy to have so many friends reach out to me through email, text and messenger to keep in touch!  It is nice to have private conversations with friends and even nicer to see them in person.  I was worried I would be missing out on socializing but instead I feel like my friendships are becoming more meaningful.

Chickens laying eggs! Look close, one of the nesting boxes has two hens in it!!!

Ryan and I have been in a wonderful place together and we both want to get our mountain fitness back and chase our wacky dreams of growing and raising our own food and living our lives in an unconventional way.  We have a great plan for our future and it is going to be really fun working together to make this happen!

I want to thank my sponsors for all of their support over the years: La Sportiva, Choucas Hats, JULBO USA and Boom Nutrition (use code FOLCIKSHARE5 for your discount at boom nutrition)  Thank you to my Ryan for literally going through hell and hitting rock bottom with me and instead of giving up and running away sticking it out with us and working so hard to fix what was broken.  I am really happy to feel like we are meant to be together.  Thank you to my Jack Puppy and Bennett for being the best little trail and snuggle bugs I could ever have.  They have given me so much joy and love.  Thank you to my friends for playing with me, listening with me and taking time out of your lives to share it with me.  Thank you to AJW for coaching me through a pretty wild year, I have no idea how it will play out but I am so blessed to even have an opportunity to experience so much over the next few months!  I am a very lucky girl and this time I am pretty sure I have got my sparkle back!

Look!!! The snow is melting down low and I can run on rocks now!

It has been too many years since I felt this way, don’t ever smash your skull open.  It really sucks and takes a long time to recover from it. Traumatic Brain Injuries are no joke.

Feel free to contact me kfolcik2@gmail.com as I am not going to be returning to social media for socializing.

The pups love the puddles!!

Your flame might turn into a smoky ember, hold onto hope and that ember will never extinguish.  Instead it will glow brighter each day and without warning it will burn bright inside your soul and bring you back to life.

Love isn’t always easy, but isn’t that what makes it fun! Time for us to get back in the mountains!

Running smart at the 2017 Boston Marathon

Ryan kept telling me that picking Boston for my sub 3 marathon was a huge risk because of the weather.  I decided to put all my eggs in one basket and spend the last six months training through endless snowstorms, ridiculous wind and frigid temperatures.  It was the hardest training cycle I have ever done.  Hitting my goal pace was rare but in the end I knew that if the conditions were right I would be able to check off that sub 3 marathon at Boston.

Earlier in the week the weather looked perfect!  It was supposed to be 45 degrees and have a 15mph tailwind.  If that were to happen I knew I could do it!  It would be tight based on where I was with my fitness, but with stellar conditions it would happen.

Ryan and I were in Boston on Easter Sunday and it was 90 degrees.  The forecast also changed for Monday with temperatures soaring into the high 70’s.  My heart sank a little but I was feeling really good and they predicted a 20mph tailwind and I hoped that would cool things down and push us toward the finish line.

I had a good dinner and strangely felt calm.  I was not nervous and I was really excited to be at Boston for the Marathon!  No matter what the outcome was I felt very proud to have been able to qualify for the race with such a great qualifying time!  Not everyone gets to run Boston, the qualifying times are stout.  No matter what I was ready to just have fun!

I woke up early and had a light breakfast and brought a bag of snacks and water to the start with me.  The security at the race was absolutely incredible and there was not one moment that I did not feel safe.  I got on the bus and struck up a conversation with a guy from Ohio who Nordic races and uses running to stay in shape for the ski season.

Me and my friend Jessica!!!

The bus driver took a few minutes before we left to explain the emergency protocol if we had to evacuate the bus which included being able to kick out the windows.  We were instructed to stay in our seats.  Halfway through the ride a guy started puking loudly into a ziplock bag.  The smell and sounds started to make a few of us gag.  It was going to be a long ride.  Then a small man ran up to the front of the bus telling the driver she had to pull over.  She asked him to sit down and he refused because he had to pee.  She picked up the radio and started telling police that there was an issue on our bus.  One of the other people on the bus offered him a water bottle to pee in and he refused.

We got off the highway and an officer came onto the bus to talk to the man.  He started throwing a fit about having to pee.  The officer basically gave him two options, get in the cruiser or pee in his pants.  The man grabbed the water bottle and went to the back of the bus to pee.

Once we got to the Athlete Village at the start I would be waiting for about 3 hours before the race began.  There were helicopters, police and soldiers everywhere.  There was a sea of porto potties and tents with food and water.  I took a moment to do a guided meditation at the Equinox tent.  It was really nice.

After a while we were directed toward the start of the race which was a mile walk from where the busses dropped us off.  We got into our corrals and some airforce fighter jets flew over to start the race.  Before I could process what was happening we were off, running down a long hill.  I tried to run a bit slower and hold back so I had some gas in the tank at the end.  My plan was to run 6:50 pace for the first 19 miles and pick up the pace at the end.

It was crowded.  It was like the Manchester Thanksgiving Day race but for 26.2 miles instead of 5 miles.  There were endless crowds of screaming spectators and the sea of runners was so thick that it was next to impossible to not bump into anyone or get bumped into.  I soon realized that running at my comfortable pace would be hard because I either had to slow up or speed up to get to an area where there would not be a collision.  I tried to stay off to the left where there were fewer people.  I still did not give up hope.

Kristine and Ashley snagged a photo during the race!

About 5 miles in the heat started wearing on me.  The sun felt like it was cooking me like an egg and that wind they predicted…there were so many people the air was stagnant.  Somewhere between miles 5 and 6 someone shit their pants and it was running down their leg.  Then right in front of me someone collapsed, unconscious and I tripped on him and caught myself on a runner in front of him.  I tried to stop and see if he was okay but the crowd behind me yelled at me to keep going and literally pushed me ahead.  I heard people yelling not to trample the down runner.

This would be how the race would progress.  I started seeing more people collapse from the heat and get dragged off the course while volunteers tried not to get trampled.   People were crapping themselves and vomiting profusely.  I started to have issues with the heat and by mile 6 decided I was no longer going to pursue breaking 3 hours and instead wanted to run smart and not join the people collapsing from the heat.  I wanted to finish the race.

Abbey, Ashley and Kristine on my last run before the race! We like to call ourselves the fabulous four

I did cry a bit because I spent so much time trying to get ready for this race and letting go was not easy.  I took some deep breaths in and looked at the cheering spectators, the silly signs and decided I was going to fully enjoy the Boston experience.  As I made the decision I felt something wet on my left leg and realized a guy to the left of me pulled out his crank along the right side of his shorts and started peeing while running.  I was getting a golden shower, it was nasty!  I got frustrated and sprinted ahead while wondering how he could do that.  I can’t pee while I am running that fast!

The water stops were tough and I missed a few.  It was total chaos and felt like being in the center of a mosh pit.  There were ankle deep piles of cups that I had to trip on and run through and over.  There were plastic bottles and garbage everywhere that I tripped on.

At one aid station I grabbed five cups of water because i missed the last one and a runner started calling me an asshole.  I felt bad but I was hot and there was plenty of water for everyone.

Then there were the tongue depressors with Vaseline. I thought what a nice idea until I looked at what was happening.  People were scraping their ass cracks with the stick and covering it with poop and tossing the poop covered sticks on the ground.  It was so disgusting!  Every time I ran through one of these foul Vaseline stations I tried not to stop on all of the poop covered sticks on the ground.  I feel bad for whoever had to pick those up.

The carnage continued as the race went on and people were literally dropping like flies.  The spectators kept on cheering and bringing smiles to my face!  I loved the little kids and must have high fived at least 1000 kids!  I even took some popsicles and stuck them in my bra and shorts to try to keep myself cool.

Then there was the famous Wellesley college where the girls were holding out signs asking for kisses.  I figured this was my only Boston marathon so why not get a kiss.  I ran up to a girl with a sign asking for a kiss and gave her what she asked for!  Don’t worry, I kept it classy, no tongue!  Everyone was laughing and I ran away giggling.

before the race

People started handing runners beers and I thought about it but figured I would wait until the last mile and figured it would be funny to cross the finish line with a beer in hand.  I had to treat this race like the party it was!

Heartbreak hill was a little bump compared to what we have to deal with in New Hampshire and I was very happy that it was short and not steep.  In that heat I was looking for the path of least resistance.

As I got closer to the finish I was really proud of sticking it out and running smart.  I was certainly feeling dehydrated from missing a couple of water stops but I ran in smooth like butter toward the end. I wanted to grab a beer from someone but at that point the spectators were barricaded from the runners and I just enjoyed the screaming people as I entered the last few hundred feet before crossing the finish!  I saw Ryan and his dad and was ready to be done.

I was getting my finisher medal when I started to shiver and get cold.  I got an instant headache and was sent to the medical tent where they got me warm and comfortable.  They sent me away with a Gatorade and some water.

view from the fancy hotel! They came into our room to ask if we wanted to be tucked into bed….

My finish time was 3:12:43 and was the 8th New Hampshire woman.  It was my slowest marathon ever.  I was not happy with my time, but I was very happy with my race.  I ran smart and took care of myself.  I allowed myself to slow down and not has serious issues from the heat.  Not once did I have GI issues and my legs felt pretty good aside from some cramps from being dehydrated.  It was a wonderful experience and I don’t think that running with 32,000 people is my thing.  I would not have changed a thing and I learned a lot about myself and running marathons that day.  I will break 3 hours in a marathon, but it will be on a cooler day at a quaint little race that nobody has really heard of.

So, for now I am thrilled to be getting back in the mountains where I belong and the best part about not being able to run fast is that my legs feel so much better than they usually do after a race!  I will recover quicker.  I am happy for the journey and the ending was a good one.  It is time to pick up my pen and start writing the next chapter in my book.  It’s going to be called “Mountain Running”

I want to thank my sponsors La Sportiva, Choucas Hats, JULBO USA and Carboom for all of their support.  I want to thank my friends for helping me stay motivated and stick out my training.  I want to thank Ryan for his patience during my six month stint of being a “roadie” and for being at the race with me.  I want to thank my pups for dealing with running on the roads with leashes and harnesses when I could not get in the woods.  I also want to thank Andy Jones Wilkinson for helping me finish out my training, he has become a very good friend.

I am still basically off social media, feel free to message me through Facebook or email kfolcik2@gmail.com.  Thank you for following my jouneys!

My dream isn’t over, it has just begun.

my mountain!!!!

 

Learning to live in the moment

Life is full of so many ups and downs.  It also seems to fly by so quickly.  I personally have found myself spending too much time on the computer and not enough time enjoying down time.  After ending up sick from stress and under the advice from several people I finally decided to research mindfulness.  I picked up a wonderful book and spent an entire day reading the entire book.

Jack puppy loves his beard
Ryan trying to round up the hounds for a picture!

The book was life changing.  I started to sit quietly and look around at my surroundings.  It was hard because my first instinct was to hop on Facebook and mindlessly scroll through the posts and chime in as well as post my own stuff.  I had to get over my addiction to social media so I started counting things.  I counted the stairs, the ceiling tiles, the floor boards, etc.  It wasn’t exactly mindfulness but it was helping me not pick up the cell phone.

Ryan got a Ukulele!
Eastern States 20 mile race,photo by Global Click Photography

I started running and focusing on the moment.  I listened to my breathing, my steps, looked around.  I allowed myself to feel my legs hurt, to feel the cold air on my skin.  I started to pay attention to my body and how it felt while sitting.  I took my time doing mundane tasks such as washing dishes and doing laundry.  Instead of thinking about what I had to do next or having my phone in one hand and the other hand washing the counter I began thinking only about what my current task was.  I stopped multitasking and it felt like I was the laziest person ever.  I am the queen of multitasking and to only do one thing at a time was brutal!

Me in the chair having a snack! We got a foot of snow the day before we flew out!
Ryan snowboarding

Interestingly, time started to pass slower.  I felt a calmness come over me that I have not felt in years.  I ran the Eastern States 20 miler as a tuneup for the Boston Marathon and chose to practice mindfulness during the race.  I ran most of the race with Phil and we chatted the miles away but would also take time to look around, notice what we were doing, how our legs felt, look at the ocean and just take it all in.  I went out a bit too hard and struggled to hold on for the last few miles but still pulled off a 6:47 pace which I was thrilled with!  Somehow I finished 3rd woman which was unexpected and awesome!

Our tent!
Walking to the campsite!
Riding the dingy to sandy spit!

Ryan and I then took a couple of days to go to the Caribbean (one of my favorite places!) and this year camped on the beach at Jost Van Dyke.  I love rolling out of the tent in the morning and looking at the sun rise over the ocean.  We did some hiking and snorkeling and most importantly spent time relaxing and being unplugged.  No cell phones and it was wonderful!  The highlight of the trip was renting a small dinghy and going out to Sandy Spit and Foxys Taboo.  It was a very much needed couple of days in a warm and sunny place.

Sandy Spit!
High point of Jost Van Dyke

When we returned I decided that I would take a break from social media and only post the occasional blog post.  I don’t know if this is a permanent life change or if I will go back to being a post-a-saurus but for I am happy spending less time on the internet and more time playing my fiddle, spending time reading, or just sitting down with Ryan and the pups and letting time pass slowly.  I have a very busy life and do not want to have stress kill me.  I am working really hard to let things roll of my shoulders and pass.

More snow!!!???
Miss my mountain trails!

As for Boston, the marathon is only a week away and I am ready!  Whether I break 3 hours or not I will still have fun.  I have a wicked exciting year of mountain racing and running and am going to enjoy every bit of the training!  It has been a long 6 months of training for something that does not make me happy.  I feel like a caged animal and I like it because when I get back in the mountains where I belong I will appreciate it so much more!  We don’t realize how much we take for granted until what we love is taken away from us.

We skied when we got home…

Thank you to my incredible sponsors La Sportiva, JULBO USA, Choucas Hats and Boom Nutrition for their support.  Thank you to Ryan for being a part of this wild adventure through life and for believing that we don’t need to live a cookie cutter life, thank you to my friends for taking time out of your lives to share it with me, thank you to my pups for being so much fun on and off the trail.  Seven more days until I am sharing 26.2 miles with 30,000 other runners and a bazillion spectators.  There better be a cheesecake waiting for me at the finish!  🙂

I won’t be checking Facebook comments but feel free to message me through Facebook or email me at kfolcik2@gmail.com.

My mountain!

Barely hanging on

For the last five months I have dedicated my life to something I don’t even like.  Right after Pinhoti I began the preparation for the Boston Marathon.  I felt like I was betraying who I am, but trying to actually stick with a marathon plan is my first goal and trying to break 3 hours in a marathon is my second goal.  I never gave an honest effort, or really any effort to train for a road marathon and have hovered so close to the 3 hour mark it drove me crazy!  One day I decided Boston was where I really wanted to put in once last ditch effort at the sub 3 marathon and I honestly did not think I would have lasted this long.

View from my road run..my mountain!
Track running with snow…

I have 4 weeks to go.  The last 5 months have been hell.  I try so hard to tell myself on every run why I am doing this.  I tell myself to have fun and I can usually muster up some sort of fun but deep in my heart I feel my body losing it’s mountain fitness and gaining road fitness.  For my goal this is a wonderful thing, for my heart and soul it is killing me.  The very essence of my soul dies a little each day I choose to stick to the plan, but I also become stronger as my desire to get back in mountains grows stronger!

My beautiful mountain!

I have gone mad, made myself sick and my anxiety is unbearable.   The shoe company I run for doesn’t even make road shoes, I am a mountain runner, why would I do this!?

I guess when you go to the walk in with severe chest pain they hook you up to machines and take your blood. Six hours to find out it is really bad acid reflux from stress

I have one more month left, one more long run, a few more tune up runs and then the big day.  Tonight I realized that this training has taken so much away from me including my happiness.  I also realized this training has given me hope and has proven that I am capable of absolutely anything.  I decided tonight that running sub 3 hours was never the real purpose of what I have done to myself but instead I needed to see what I was made of.  I put in the work, I sacrificed and even before I stand at the starting line I have already succeeded.  Sometimes life has a really funny way of teaching us things about ourselves.

Nips on the summit. Seeing I barely get in the mountains with this road running!!!
Jack puppy on one of the few mountain days!
One of my very few mountain days. Bennett likes mountain days!

So, in 4 weeks I will join a bazillion other runners at a race that I have absolutely no business being at.  I am going to put on my La Sportiva race kit and do my thing.  I am going to have fun and I am going to spread my wings and fly. As soon as I cross that finish line I will no longer need to fly, I will be back dancing in the mountains where I belong and where my heart and soul shine.

More road running, you can see my smile is so real…..

Thank you so much to my sponsors La Sportiva, Choucas Hats, JULBO USA and Carboom for your support on this crazy journey!  Thank you to my friends and family for understanding and for watching me lose my shit and come undone.  I have gone way too long without my “mountain therapy”.  Your encouragement along the way has helped me stay strong.  I am a very lucky girl and I can’t wait to dance again.

Photo by Philbrick Photography

Gotta finish what I started…

In 2013 I ran my first road marathon after having to bail on my plan to run Pinhoti 100.  I just didn’t have the means to get down there and about a month before the 100 I switched over to marathon training. My coach had me hammer out some track workouts and the plan was to finish the marathon in 3:30.  When I crossed the finish line in 3:03:32 I was shocked and of course wanted to join the sub 3 hour marathon finishers club!  Well, a few weeks later I smashed my head open trail running and the next few years were brutal.

Painted my mountain with Ashley and Kristine!!
Road runs near my house are pretty!
My mountain from the window in the house!

My training was inconsistent and I dealt with headaches and depression.  It wasn’t until 2015 that I started to feel like my old self again.  I signed up for the Cape Cod Marathon and instead of doing the road runs my coach told me to do I kept on trail running until about a month before the marathon.  I was so mad at myself when I ran 3:00:16 because I knew that if I had actually done the work I could have gone sub 3.  I tore my quad during that marathon and in the winter tried the Hyannis Marathon against the advice of my physical therapist and ran a 3:01:47.

Making syrup from trees in the yard!
Road running with Ashley, Kristine and Abbey!!
I do actually enjoy track workouts!
I love where I live!

Breaking 3 hours matters to me so I signed up for the Boston Marathon with the hopes of running along side a bazillion runners and having thousands of crazy spectators would give me the ability to break 3 hours.  I committed to this and have been doing road runs, even on the snowiest, windiest and coldest days.  My pace has been hard to nail in these conditions and I haven’t raced since Pinhoti in November!  I have no idea where I stand at this point and it is nerve wracking.

Zoe proud to win so many tickets at Fun Spot!
Hannah with her prizes from Funspot!
My boss spoils us rotten at work! I have the best job ever!

There are days where I just want to bail, go play in the mountains and forget even going to Boston, but I have been trying this time and with only 5 weeks to go I know I can stick it out!  My heart is in the mountains and I am not going to lie, I can’t wait to get back to where I belong.  I am a mountain runner.

My beautiful mountain!
Bennett enjoys post run naps!
Jack puppy loves being warm after his runs!

I do believe that attitude is so important with everything in life and I am doing my best to smile, to enjoy the hard tar surface and the sound of my feet smacking the pavement while dodging cars, being harassed by idiot guys who have nothing better to do than yell offensive comments out their window,  breathing fumes and feeling my body suffer from running on a crowned surface.  I am fortunate to live in an area where there are very few cars but I also live in an area where there are a ridiculous amount of hills!  What is stressing me out is the fact that hitting my actual marathon pace has been tough.  The track finally melted out the other day and it felt good to see what I had in me!

Ryan and Mike on Signal Ridge!
Jack puppy likes fire towers!
Bennett likes winter!

I do absolutely love track workouts because they are consistent.  I can generally lay out a solid pace and hold it there.  I love the variety of workouts the track has to offer and there is nothing to do except count laps.  It is numbing and strangely offers my mind a temporary silence from the never ending thoughts rolling through my head.  I can’t let my mind wander, I will forget which lap I am on!

Photo shoot with Philbrick Photography! Mindy and Eric Randall helped make it happen!
Photo shoot with Philbrick Photography! Mindy and Eric Randall helped make it happen!
Photo shoot with Philbrick Photography! Mindy and Eric Randall helped make it happen!

So, I am going to give it all I have and stick with the Boston training!  I have some great friends coming to cheer me on which makes me feel so loved!  I am pretty sure that I have decided this to be my last road marathon, even if I don’t break 3 hours.  But…………I also said I would never run another 100 mile race.  Sub 3 or not I will be there smiling and bringing whatever fitness I have on race day.  I will finish the race knowing I tried and on April 18 I will finally be able to get back in the mountains!  (realistically after I recover)

Bennett actually sitting still for a second!
Jack puppy snoozing

I want to thank my sponsors La Sportiva, Choucas Hats, JULBO USA and CarBoom nutrition for their support!  It means so much to me that these companies help me to be the best runner I can be!  Thank you to my friends and my Ryan for sharing so many miles together and so many smiles!  Thank you to my Jack Puppy and Bennet for being the best trail buddies and snuggle buddies ever!  Thank you Jay Philbrick for sometimes taking me away from my running clothes and making me feel like a beautiful princess!  I am one very lucky girl!

Some days the suns shines bright and makes everything feel okay, but it is the dark and cold days that build character and help you understand who you really are and what you are made of.

The art of relaxing

Anyone that knows me can attest to my always on the go and non stop personality.  In so many ways it is a wonderful trait to have, but it also is my biggest demon.  I have struggled with anxiety for as long as I can remember.  I took a continuing education course last month and it opened my eyes up to the fact that I mask my anxiety with staying busy.  When I have times to sit, I have time to think and it drives me crazy.

Bennett loves playing in the snow! He is trying to herd us!
Jack puppy loves the snow in his beard! He loves his sporty fleece jacket too!

I have spent years in and out of therapy learning to make peace with my troubled past and trying to make peace with my chaotic mind.  The last year has been the biggest emotional struggle of my life and there were a couple of people who managed to make my life hell, until I found the courage to tell them how their inappropriate actions were affecting my marriage, my life and my own well being.  Bottom line is the last year has taken away my self-esteem, my love for myself and made me question who is lying to me and who is being honest.  Combine these toxic people with my anxiety and it is a recipe for disaster.

Boston training on snowy roads!
This is how we train for the Boston Marathon in New Hampshire!

I have chosen to forgive people but also to keep certain ones out of my life.  I have chosen to use my running and my love for the mountains as therapy and I have chosen to keep my true friends close.  I think the best part of getting older is realizing that life is too short for bullshit, and learning that it is okay to slow down.

Jack puppy gets bored when he can’t run

I have found myself having almost no downtime and it was beginning to affect my health and my happiness.  I am trying this relaxing thing, it is hard to look at all the chores I could be doing and just sit.  It is hard to let my mind wander and force myself to stop worrying about all the things that could be and most likely won’t be.  I need to work on myself and slowly I am falling in love with myself again.  I have re-visited one of my favorite books called “Embrace your magnificence” and it is helping to remind me that I can’t be happy until I do actually know that I am special and I deserve to love myself.  We all need to love ourselves.

It is very rare to see Bennett snoozing!

So, blogging has been something I haven’t been inclined to do for a while because I allowed certain people and circumstances to hurt me.  I was afraid of causing tension and afraid of people hating me.  Well, let them hate.  I don’t need everyone to like me, I simply need good people in my life.

Jack puppy rolled in human poop!
Jack puppy thinks the poop smells awesome, I don’t agree

 

Sitting here in the snowstorm waiting to go our for a ski on our local trails is feeling pretty good.  I have done some small chores and will save the shoveling for later.  It is all about peace, balance and mountain therapy right now!

Boston Sunrise! Great way to spend the morning before sitting in classes all day!
Running in Boston before class!
Sunrise in Boston on my morning run with my friend Mike!

I am registered for the Boston Marathon and I have two goals, have fun and break 3 hours.  With the snowstorms and slick roads my training has not been what I had planned so I made peace with winter and decided that even if I don’t break 3 hours I tried my best and will move on from the marathon and get back into the mountains where I belong!

Boston running!
Mike enjoying the sunrise! He gave me an early morning tour of Boston! So pretty!

Between a full time job, having a small farm and having a rigorous training schedule I don’t have much down time so I am working on taking at least one day a week to do nothing other than run, take care of the farm animals and just relax.  I am starting to enjoy it!

Wicked cold hike on the Wildcats!
My mountain!
Waumbek with Ashley, Kristin, Kristine and the pups!

Our mountains are finally starting to turn white and for the first time in a few years there is trail breaking to do!  The nordic skiing is phenomenal and on certain days the snowmobile trails are sweet for running on with and without snowshoes!  There is something so magical about winter!  Everything becomes more playful and more beautiful.  Of course it also makes our upcoming trip to the Caribbean even more exciting!

my mountain!
winter is so pretty!!

 

The pups love the snow but winter is tough for them.  We don’t take them out if conditions are too rough or if it is too cold.  Every adventure we take them on is about their safety and well being so if something is going to be tough for us they have to deal with taking a zero day (which also means zero sleep for us!)

Hannah and Ryan! Glow Bowling
Me and Zoe! Glow bowling!
Beautiful running at night!
Sweet clouds near Passaconway and Whiteface

I am excited about this year.  My racing is all about having fun and seeing new places.  I want to be the best athlete and best person I can be!  I could not imagine living in a better place to train for mountain running and am excited to go on many more adventures this year!

Bennett tags Kinsmans
Mike on the Kinsmans!
Jack puppy and Bennett on the Kinsmans!
Winter can be so pretty!

I want to thank my 2017 sponsors: La Sportiva,  Julbo USA, Choucas Hats and Boom Nutrition.  I love all of their products because they keep me running happy!  I don’t feel deserving of the amount of support they give me but I am so darn thankful that they give me an opportunity to represent them!  Thank you to my coach Jeff Browning for helping me train through this wild winter!  Thank you to my friends for being there for me, sharing adventures with me and being such a wonderful part of my life!  I hope my friendship means as much to you as yours means to me.  I am excited to enjoy 2017 as much as possible and to learn the art of relaxing and loving who I am.

Bennett love his mountain!
Jack puppy loves his mountain!
Enjoying the mountains with Ryan!

 

On the other side of fear is freedom

From the top of my mountain!

On the other side of fear is freedom-I love that quote, it is one I keep close to my heart.  I have a lot of things that scare me and this past year was a year of trying to make peace with at least a few of these fears.  I somehow have convinced myself that I am going to live to be over 100 so that means that I am not going anywhere for a long time!  This belief has helped me to look at my fears and realize that I can work to overcome many of them and that once I do I will become more free with each day that passes.

Moosilauke summit with friends! #explore4chad

2016, it had been a wonderful year and a difficult year.  I had a lot of personal challenges and major life decisions to make.  I learned about who my real friends were and also learned a bit about myself.  It was a year of travel, adventure, trying new things and overcoming my fears!

I love fresh eggs from our chickens!

I think the one thing that stuck with me every day was my beautiful mountain.  I look at that mountain every day and no matter what the weather is, that mountain stands strong and never moves or breaks.  I look to the mountain for strength and hope to be that solid.  I climb the mountain for physical strength and a hope of becoming a better athlete each day.

Fat biking with my Ryan!

I took on a few too many challenges this year and learning to farm was a big one that makes me really happy but sometimes is a bit stressful.  There is nothing better than raising your own food, to eat something that you grew, raised, slaughtered, canned.  For me, it brings a new meaning to what I eat.  Food is no longer just something I take for granted, I now appreciate everything I eat.

Plaque in the fire tower
My mountain from the fire tower!

 

My running was incredible this year!  I don’t remember the last time I felt this good!  I took a liking to cross training and found myself with fewer running injuries!  I have lofty goals for myself but am slowly finding that I also want to just get out there and do it all!  My running took me all over the country in 2016 and it was a fun year of travel races!  This year will be focused on staying local and then maybe in 2018 get back out there seeing more new trails and races!

Lunch xc skiing with my friend Roberta!
Night running with my girlfriends Ashley and Kristine

Today was one of my first long runs to get ready to run Boston.  We have had an incredible winter with so much snow and it is impossible to keep me from heading to the mountains to play, throwing on my skis to explore and just having fun enjoying the change of activities that winter brings!  Fat biking has become one of my favorite activities on the snowmobile trails!  I have been driving my coach nuts with my lack of obedience and honestly with the frequent storms the roads just don’t feel safe to me.  Thank you to my coach Jeff Browning for dealing with my nonsense!

My birthday hike on Christmas!
My birthday hike on Christmas!

I have a fun crew that I run with after work at night and we hit the roads in our reflective gear and headlights.  These girls are so much fun that we chat the miles away, even on those single digit nights!

Last night I woke up to pouring rain completely ruining our beautiful snow.  I was not looking forward to running on the roads and knew the trails would be a mess.  I put my head back into my pillow and fell back asleep.  When I woke up again I opened my eyes to see a small patch  of blue sky and smiled.  After making a massive stack of pancakes and stuffing myself the sun came out and so did my mountain.  It was really warm out and I felt ready to run!

There is nothing more fun than hanging out with friends in the mountains!
the skies were amazing and the snow beautiful!

Our road is icy and the first part of the run was slick but so pretty.  When I hit the pavement I felt great and enjoyed looking around at the fields, the mountains, the sparkling wet snow.  I could hear snow falling from the branches in the woods.  I started to feel very happy and my legs moved with ease.  It was such a beautiful run, one of those that is so spiritual that at the end I felt like I was one with the universe.  My world was shimmering around me and I was right there in the middle of it with a smiling heart.

Night running with my pups Jack puppy and Bennett!
Hanging out with Elizabeth on my birthday!

These are the times when I know why I run, this is my therapy.  There is no better medicine for a busy mind than getting outside and taking in large calming breaths of fresh air.   I came home feeling so refreshed and took some time to help with shoveling out the barns and just watching the chickens scratching around in their new shavings.  They came running in the barn to scratch around and see if there is anything good in the clean shavings.  I throw out some scratch grain to make it fun for them and loose myself in watching them living such a simple existence.

View from Carrigan!

Why can’t we live simply, why do we have to do so much?  I am finding myself trying harder each day to pull away further from what society tells me I should do and closer to what my heart tells me to do.  I want to farm, live off the land, feed people healthy food.  I want to play in the mountains, enjoy adventures with my Ryan, Jack puppy and Bennett.  I want more time but right now I need more money.  I am very fortunate to have a job that I love that provides me with the ability to live my life but I still find myself needing more time.

Jack puppy loves the Carters!
Bennett’s first time on the Carters!

The more stressed I become the more I need my exercise.  The more I exercise the more I love the outdoors.  Being fit has given me so much more than just being able to run.  It has given me the ability to escape from life for a little bit and travel under my own power to some of the most incredible places I have ever seen!  It has given me beautiful friendships and a zest for life that I never had prior to living an active life!

Another amazing photo shoot with Philbrick Photography!

I am very excited to announce that I will be representing La Sportiva again in 2017!  They make the best shoes for mountain running and their clothing is so comfortable I have to keep checking to see if I have any clothes on when I run!  It is so soft, breathes so well and never feels constricting.  My favorite shoe is the Akasha because it has cushion and traction which I need to move fast in the White Mountains!  I am also once again representing Choucas Hats who now makes hats with pony tail holders!  These hats and headbands are my go to piece for every run!  Thank you so much for letting me be a part of your companies!

Beautiful sunset
Beautiful run by the river

I guess I should have a goal for 2017.  It is to continue my journey towards financial freedom, inner peace and being the best person and athlete that I can be!  I hope to build the farm and someday establish community programs where people can exchange time learning to grow their own food in exchange for healthy food.  I would love to see small local farms providing for their communities and communities helping these farms grow.  We all deserve to eat healthy!  Happy New Year!

Good Morning My Beautiful Mountain!

 

Sometimes magic does happen

It has been 4 years since I ran a 100 mile race.  It is not my favorite distance and the training involved in finishing one of these things is intense.  I had signed up for Pinhoti 3 times and 2 of them I had been injured and unable to race.  The third time was going to happen but I was nervous.  I had a great year of running but also had a great year of farming and sailing which meant low mileage.  It was also a transitional year for me with hiring a new coach because I stopped listening to my old coach.  It was a nice change but my mileage was not able to get up to more than 50 miles a week due to my busy life.

Hiking into the eaglet! Photo property of Philbrick Photography
Hiking into the eaglet! Photo property of Philbrick Photography
Racing the Randolph Ramble with Ryan
Racing the Randolph Ramble with Ryan

Jeff and I had a pretty grim conversation the week of the race where he said I could just bail on the race.  I have had a very tough few weeks in my personal life and was so sad that I could not eat without throwing up.  I lost 7lbs in a weekend and was not feeling too good.  I told him that at this point it would be therapeutic to run 100 miles and at least I could get my legs to hurt more than my heart.  What is more suffering when you are feeling so down.

Behind the scenes on the Eaglet! Photo property of Philbrick Photography
Behind the scenes on the Eaglet! Photo property of Philbrick Photography
Marc on the Spire! Photo property of Philbrick Photography
Marc on the Spire! Photo property of Philbrick Photography
Climbing the Eaglet! Photo Property of Philbrick Photography
Climbing the Eaglet! Photo Property of Philbrick Photography
Belaying the Eaglet Photo Property of Philbrick Photography
Belaying the Eaglet
Photo Property of Philbrick Photography

I like Jeff, he is realistic and does not blow smoke up your ass.  My original goal was to challenge the course record but with my current fitness level just finishing the thing would be a challenge.  I really wanted to break 24 hours and he told me I could maybe do that but instead to focus on healing and having fun.  He told me to walk all the uphills for the first 80 miles and just enjoy the journey!  I had two great girls flying in to help me finish that race and knew that they would not let me quit.  I felt really happy going into the race without a race mentality.

Best damn Barbecue ever!!!
Best damn Barbecue ever!!!
Florida High Point with Sue!!
Florida High Point with Sue!!
Florida High Point!
Florida High Point!–#18!

The week before the race I couldn’t resist running a local mountain 10k in the fresh snow!  I ran the Randolph Ramble and had an incredible run!  It was a great warmup for my upcoming 100 miler!

We found cotton blowing around like tumbleweeds!
We found cotton blowing around like tumbleweeds!
Fresh Mullet! Sign us up!
Fresh Mullet! Sign us up!

Sue and I flew down to Florida and drove north to summit Britton hill in Florida which is the highpoint!  We had to stop along the way for some amazing barbecue and realized that New England does not know how to barbecue!  At a whopping 345 feet we really struggled with the altitude!  It was absolutely hilarious and then we drove north to Alabama to check in for the race.

Pinhoti race! Photo by We Run Race Photos
Pinhoti race! Photo by We Run Race Photos
Pinhoti race! Photo by We Run Race Photos
Pinhoti race! Photo by We Run Race Photos
Pinhoti race! Photo by We Run Race Photos
Pinhoti race! Photo by We Run Race Photos

After checking into our hotel we showed up for the prerace meeting with growling tummies and I was a hog and the first person to the buffet.  I won that race!!!  We filled up and I went to bed and Sue went to get Sarah at the airport.  I woke up at 3am and had no nerves which allowed me to actually eat before the race!  Sue took me to the bus and I laid down for the two hour drive to the start.  It was freaking cold out and I found a car that still had a warm engine and pressed my shivering body against it.  A girl who finished Grindstone in the hurricane came over and gave me her jacket to wear.  I was so happy for her generosity as it helped me out so much!

Where the dress and the spire become one! Photo property of Philbrick Photography
Where the dress and the spire become one! Photo property of Philbrick Photography

We started the race and it was literally like a 5k!  I started out 3/4 of the way back and got stuck in 3 Congo lines on the single-track for about 3 miles.  There were about 80 people in these lines and myself and another guy slowly worked our way past everyone and found serenity in the quiet forest.  It was really pretty and I made sure to walk every uphill.  I looked around and when the sun shone through the trees it lit up the smoke from the forest fires and I felt like I was going to start seeing fairies and butterflies!  It was so magical!

I spent the next several miles running and laughing my ass off with two hilarious dudes that had the best southern accents!  We had the usual poop, puke and chafe conversations that happen in these races.  One of these guys started getting sick and they stayed back at the aid station at the dam and I moved forward.

Sarah crewing!
Sarah crewing!

I was starting to feel good and was walking very efficiently up the hills and jogging the flats and downs!  I ran with two super nice girls for a while before pulling ahead on a climb.  We wished each other luck and I was alone again.  I was happy and doing really well with hydration and nutrition but it was getting really hot and humid out.  I focused on the beautiful forest and sweet ridgeline views!  Before I knew it I was on the top of the high point of the course.  Sarah and Sue were there and told me the high point of Alabama was actually a half mile away which would add another mile.  I sadly said I would pass on hitting it and resupplied.

Sarah crewing!!
Sarah crewing!!

My nutrition this race was very different.  I did not have any sugar and kept one pouch in my pack full of random things like pickles, potatoes, banana chips, salted plantain chips, coconut chunks, chips, toast and dried tart cherries.  This is called my “nasty sack” and it has been very good to me at my races this year.  Everything gets soggy and tastes blend together but somehow when I am racing I don’t care how gross it is!  I started to struggle with getting gels down and got a bit of nausea which led to me not drinking enough and I got a bad headache and sore kidneys.  I knew I messed up on hydration.  I wanted darkness to come so that I could have cooler temperatures and regroup.

Rolling into the finish!
Rolling into the finish!

I got lost coming off the high point and then got back on track after a guy yelled down to me that I was off course.  I was so happy to see Sue and Sarah at the next aid station with huge smiles!  They helped me get regrouped and I would see them again at the next aid station to pick up Sarah as my pacer from mile 55-85 because that was the tricky part of the course to navigate.

I made it to mile 55 about 30 minutes after darkness came and was so happy to have my pacer!  I am afraid of running alone in the dark and honestly didn’t know how I would manage miles 85-100 alone but I was also very excited to see if I could be brave!  She was there with a smile and Sue and Sarah got my pack ready with water and filling my nasty sack with the variety of unsweetened oddities.  I was not getting vomiting or diarrhea which was nice!  We left the aid station pretty fast and I started to wonder if it would bite me.  Well, it did.

Rapeling from the spire! Photo property of Philbrick Photography!
Rapeling from the spire! Photo property of Philbrick Photography!
Prettiest buckle ever!
Prettiest buckle ever!

I hadn’t peed in hours and was feeling very sick from being dehydrated.  Sarah had me take salt and keep drinking.  I walked a bunch but slowly I started to come alive and after a while I was peeing so much!  She helped me ride that line between pushing too hard and not hard enough.  It really motivated me and at times when it really hurt I was just quiet and let her do the talking.  My feet were blistered pretty bad and every step caused a twinge of pain.  I had fallen twice and my knees were beat up but I kept on moving forward.

The aid stations were amazing, one was playing the song Ryan won me over with and I had to stick around and listen to it with a smile!  Then at night they were so awesome, lit up with lights, loud music, televisions, a full spread of food that I wished I could have eaten and incredible volunteers!  It was like a beautiful oasis in the middle of nowhere!

Finding out my time and 2nd place finish!
Finding out my time and 2nd place finish!
Finding out my time and 2nd place finish!
Finding out my time and 2nd place finish!
Finding out my time and 2nd place finish!
Finding out my time and 2nd place finish!

When I run 100’s I feel so helpless yet so strong.  Having people with smiles helping you stay motivated, strong and happy is amazing!  Every time I saw Sue and Sarah I could not believe they were taking time out of their lives to help me.  Running something that long really teaches you gratitude for others kindness.

We made it to mile 85 where I would test my mental grit with running alone at night.  It was 2:08 am, my watch died and I had 15 miles to go.  I sunk away into the darkness and heard coyotes off in the distance.  I kept thinking of the next aid station which was unmanned and then seeing everyone again in 10 miles.  The smell of the forest fires was so soothing.  It reminded me of campfires and it made me feel so at peace.  My feet were quite sore and my legs were not happy but I was almost done!  Quitting was not an option.

Me, Sue and Sarah! We earned this one! What great friends!
Me, Sue and Sarah! We earned this one! What great friends!

After a while I came into the last aid station with plenty of time to break 24 hours!  I asked Sarah to run the last 7 miles with me and she couldn’t.  I was so broken down at that point and both Sarah and Sue came over and smiled and gave me hugs.  I walked up to the aid station with tears of joy in my eyes.  I could not believe I was going to break 24 hours!  When the aid station volunteers told me I did not have 7 miles left but instead only 5 and I sobbed.  I thought they were lying to me but the thought of only having 5 miles left made me feel so many emotions!  I was sad it was almost over but also so happy it was almost over.  Sarah helped me stuff my nasty sack with the only two things I could eat at that point chips and pickles.  They told me to go and I ran the best I could!

Tagging Alabama high point #19 after the race!
Tagging Alabama high point #19 after the race!

The single-track was a bit tricky to follow in parts but soon enough I was on the pavement which meant 3 miles to go.  I did not know what time it was and that pavement was uphill.  Sarah was about a mile and a half from the finish and ran with me to the track where I crossed the finish line before the sun woke up!  I broke 24 hours and found out I was the second woman!!!!!  I asked what my time was and they told me 21:54!!!  I did not believe them!  I asked them if they messed up because of the time change but they said no!  I was in complete shock and so freaking happy to not only break 24 hours but to have a 100 mile PR by 3 hours!!!  The best part was now we had enough time to go back and have me tag the high point of Alabama!  I planned on finishing at 1pm so I booked us flights at 7pm!

My feet blistered and got bloody!
My feet blistered and got bloody!

We took showers, got breakfast and I got highpoint #19!  We got a hotel to sleep in before flying out and I pounded down a jar of Nutella to celebrate!

I have so many people to thank for helping me finish that race!  Thank you my sponsors La Sportiva, JULBO USA, and Choucas Hats!  Thank you to my coach Jeff Browning for training me so well and never blowing smoke up my ass!  Thank you to Sue and Sarah for being my angels out there during the race, I don’t think I could ever repay you for helping me out so much!  Thank you to my Ryan, my pups, my friends for always being there for me on and off the trail!  Thank you for the inspiration, the encouragement, the happy memories you all have given me.  I had a lot to think about there and I decided this will probably not be my last 100 mile race like I said it would be.  Not having GI distress and feeling so good made this race about simply moving through the woods and taking care of myself.  I am so damn lucky to have so many amazing people in my wacky life!

Photo Property of Philbrick Photography
Photo Property of Philbrick Photography
Photo Property of Philbrick Photography
Photo Property of Philbrick Photography
Photo Property of Philbrick Photography
Photo Property of Philbrick Photography

And you can view the entire set of pictures including behind the scenes shots from my Eaglet Spire photo shoot with Jay Philbrick here!

https://www.flickr.com/photos/kfolcik/albums/72157674614961052

Photo Property of Philbrick Photography
Photo Property of Philbrick Photography

 

 

An ordinary girl living a not so ordinary life

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