Trail running and racing Arizona

Something just felt right when I saw an ad for the Black Canyon 100k trail race.  I wanted to know what trail running in Arizona was like!  The photos looked amazing and it was a great time of year for escaping from the long winters of New Hampshire.  The skiing is fun but it is also nice to go somewhere warm and feel the sun on my skin.

Bumble Bee Arizona trails
Arizona Trails

Unfortunately a muscle tear in my hip area turned into a huge pile of adhesions and sidelined me since October.  I would get better, get worse, think I was healed and then realized I wasn’t.  I thought I was in the clear until we did a hike on very unstable snow and two weeks before the race I was hobbling around in pain again.  Being stubborn I went to the race and sadly dropped at mile 20.

It was motivation to finally fix this issue so I ruled out a stress fracture and saw two body work specialists where I experienced very painful massage, active release and dry needling along with chiropractic adjustments.  I am feeling incredible now and wish I had gone sooner, although if I had been able to run I would never have taken up skimo so if I could turn back the clock I would not change a thing!

Sunset in Bumblebee Arizona
Fun in the desert!
Mayer Arizona

Arizona, this is probably my absolute favorite trail running destination so far!  The race was in February and typically the temperatures are a bit warmer than we had but it was still wonderful!  Normal daytime temperatures are in the 60’s with the night dipping into low 40’s.  For us we had 30-40 degrees during the day, 20’s at night and a snowstorm (not typical)

Cold at the Grand Canyon

We camped at the Bumble Bee Ranch in Mayer,  Arizona.  They were very nice there and the camping was in a small area that had nice bathrooms and showers.  The race course literally passed by the camping area.  It was a great place to spend a couple of nights.

Ryan running some of the Black Canyon course

The race was absolutely fabulous!  Jamil Coury is the race director as well as the CEO for Aravaipa Running.  This race was flawless, perfectly marked trails, excellent pre race information, enthusiastic volunteers, fully stocked aid stations and an incredible vibe!  I actually enjoyed the race so much, even with a DNF that I plan to be back!

What is it like trail running in Arizona?  What kind of scary animals are there?  Is Arizona all desert, does it have trees?  What does it feel like to run into a cactus?
Trail by the ranch
Cuddling with the mountain lion at Bumble Bee Ranch

Running in the desert is fun, there are killer views the whole time due to the lack of trees.  The variety of cacti is really cool and the terrain is quite runnable.  There are some technical sections but they are not too bad if you are used to running on rocks.  The terrain is rolling and all runnable.  I found it to be a great way to run a faster pace than I am used to in the White Mountains.  I prefer running mountains but I also love to be able to stride out and feel my legs just go!

Hiking in Sedona

Scary animals…we did not see any but the biggest hazards are poisonous snakes, bears, mountain lions, scorpions, killer bees and other insects that pack a punch.  We saw absolutely none of these and honestly, the only thing that hurt me was running into a cactus and that was not even too bad.  Aside from the initial sting I had no idea that I had spines stuck in my leg until I felt something hanging off my leg and looked down.  Pulling them out hurt more than getting stuck with them.

Grand Canyon after the snow
The Grand Canyon South Rim
South Rim of the  Grand Canyon

Arizona was really unique because it had so much variety!  You could go to Flagstaff and run mountains (avalanche danger was very high so we did not tag the highpoint Humphreys Peak).  Flagstaff had trees, mountains, snow and felt like home.  Sedona had drier air and a mix of cacti, small trees and beautiful red rocks.

We also travelled to the South Rim of the Grand Canyon and went down a few miles in the snow storm.  It did end up clearing up and we had great views!  I loved dropping down in the canyon and wished we had more time to explore the area.  There were trees there and very cool rock features.  The Lake Powell area was very desolate and pretty in it’s own way.  I am not sure trail running here would be too pleasant due to very dry and sandy conditions.  There was almost no plant life here but there were neat landmarks such as Antelope Canyon and Horshoe Bend.

Antelope Canyon
Horshoe Bend

February is a tough time of year to find open campgrounds and showers were even harder to come by.  Unless you have an RV you are not welcome to shower in any of the year round campsites that offer showers.  The national park campsites do offer coin operated showers.  Expect to pay for a National Park Pass and a $35 campsite fee.  Your National Park pass is good for 7 days so you will use it if you plan to see some sights.

To our surprise truck stop showers were the best find!  For $12 you get to take a clean shower in a huge stall that you can lock the door and there is no time limit.  Ryan and I took turns showering and were able to both take a shower for the $12.  It was a bit sketchy but I would take a truck stop shower again!

Antelope Canyon
More antelope canyon

Do not expect to be alone if you are doing any of the popular attractions such as the canyons, Horshoe Bend, etc.  There were thousands of people, multiple tour busses and the bathrooms were so disgusting I preferred to “hold it” than use them.  Even grocery store and gas station bathrooms were a disaster in the areas that offered more tourist type attractions.

I know this is disgusting but every single toilet in the Lake Powell area including some of the campground ones looked like this. This is not okay.
Lake Powell

The cost of visiting Arizona was reasonable.  Camping ranged from $10-35 a night and they all had nice tent sites.  Food was very affordable with the exception of Sedona which was much more expensive (plan to pay between $25-60 for dinner).  Breakfast and lunch were very affordable as well (except for Sedona which ranged from $15-20).  Sedona was beautiful and worth checking out.  Due to the time of year only one campsite was open just outside of Sedona, during the peak season there are a lot more to pick from.  We stayed at Manzanita campground and it was perfect!

Ryan in Sedona
Sedona

Overall I would recommend visiting Arizona for a winter escape!  The trail running is fun and the vibe in Arizona is really laid back!  Don’t let the overdevelopment of Pheonix concern you when you land.  It is a city, just like any other major US City.  The airport is easy to get in and out of and you will have plenty of places to stay just outside of the airport.  

Sedona

Grand Canyon
The La Sportiva Lycan was the perfect shoe for running the trails in Arizona.  It offered plenty of support and cushion while maximizing traction.  The clothing was perfect for the variety of conditions we encountered!  My Julbo Aerolite sunglasses with Spectron 3 lenses kept my eyes shaded from the sun, they are light and comfortable.
Running part of the Black Canyon course in my Lycans!

We plan to check out other parts of Arizona the next time we visit and can’t wait to share the experience!  I wish we had more time to run in Flagstaff but there is always another time to explore!   If you have any questions about our trip feel free to reach out!

The storm moving out of the canyon
Antelope Canyon

Trail Running the White Mountains

Have you ever wondered what it is like running in the White Mountains of New Hampshire?

I might be biased but living in the White Mountains is nothing short of incredible!  I have been to many places and the only place even remotely close to the trails and mountains in the Whites is Alaska.  If you want to experience the hardest terrain in the country then you need to visit New Hampshire and check out our mountains!

Fun photo shoot with Philbrick photography in the presidential range
Fun photo shoot with Philbrick photography in the presidential range
What are the trails like?  What kind of scary animals do you need to watch out for?  Can you camp?  Are there any races in the White Mountains?

The trails are loaded with rocks.  Honestly, you will be speed hiking most of it and as a result you really should not attempt to actually run the White Mountains until you are comfortable running on technical trails.  I started out by hiking the Whites and eventually transitioned to running them.  The weather is unpredictable and the trails are very rugged and remote.  Plan on the miles ticking by much slower than you are used to.

New Hampshire has bear, rare mountain lion sightings, moose (which are more dangerous than bear), black flies, mosquitos, deer flies and porcupine (more of a hazard for your curious pup)

Camping in the White Mountains is plentiful and most campgrounds are run by the Forest Service.  There are pay huts, shelters and platforms in the mountains but be sure to research them as some will require you to make a reservation or pay to stay.  There are camping rules that can be found at the White Mountain National Forest website.

The terrain in the White Mountains is very rugged

There are some great races in the White Mountains and if the runners can help to keep the trails clean during the race and be respectful to hikers there will be more!  Right now these are a few of the trail races in the White Mountains.  They are all wicked fun and well organized!

Mount Chocorua Race-   14 mile course with a mix of smooth single track, steep slabs, slippery rocks, significant elevation gain,  and killer views from the summit!

Kilkenny Ridge Race-a 26 mile traverse across the Kilkenny ridge which brings you to the top of two New Hampshire 4000 foot mountains.  There is a 50 mile distance that will be an out and back on the ridge.  A great mix of technical trails, great single track, summit views and beautiful forest!

Some of the trails have ladders and bridges

Randolph Ramble-a 10 kilometer-long, rugged, self-supported trail race through the Great North Woods in the mountain town of Randolph, New Hampshire, at the base of the Northern Presidentials.

Kismet Cliff Run- a five-mile race that navigates the rollercoaster trails of Cathedral and Whitehorse Ledges. A great mix of single track and double track with great views of Cathedral ledge and Echo Lake.  There is also a half marathon that takes you over North Moat Mountain which offers incredible views and strenuous climbing!

White Lake Ultras – A 6, 12, and 24 hour loop course around White Lake.  Not very techical but the 2.4 mile loop is very scenic and fun!  Camping right at the start/finish.

Cranmore Mountain Race-This race offers great single track, ski trails and a very well organized event!  It is about 6.2 miles long.

Loon Mountain race-Although this is not a technical course it is extremely steep and challenging with the Upper Walking Boss being the crux of the race.  The course is 6.6 miles long.  The views are incredible and it also serves as the mountain running championship race.

Some of the great views the White Mountains have to offer!
The snowfield on Jefferson
Is it expensive?  Do you need special gear?  What are the rules regarding dogs, trash, navigation in the White Mountains?  Do you need permits?

New Hampshire is not very expensive to visit and there are many great places to get food and drinks.  Our economy thrives on tourism so please visit the small local businesses!   One of our favorites is Delaneys in North Conway because they serve food until 11pm, have awesome American style food and drinks and have incredible sushi! You can’t go wrong with so many places to pick from!  Check out Peaches for breakfast, it is small but has wonderful breakfast food in a quaint setting!

The pups on the summit of Mount Chocorua
Pups love the mountains!

You do not need special gear to run the mountains but you will want to carry more than you think you need.  Plan to move around 2-3 miles an hour.  3-4mph is considered fast.  Be respectful of hikers and always be a good ambassador!  Most people will cheer you on and let you by if you are polite and give them plenty of notice that you are coming up on them.

Some of the more runnable terrain on Franconia Ridge
Clouds over the mountains

I think the La Sportiva Akyra is the best shoe for the White Mountains.  They offer killer traction and cushion.  You want to have good traction.  The rocks can be very slippery!  I always carry a windbreaker with me and a light pair of gloves and a light hat.  I have been in a snowstorm in the summer!  It can be 80 degrees down low and 30 up high, if a thunderstorm creeps up on you there may even be hail.

You may want to cary a space blanket.  Two liters of water is wise and a filter or life straw. I love the MSR Trail Shot! There are some great lightweight filters out there!  Most water crossings are on maps but some routes can be very dry in the summer with very little to filter.  I carry a mid size running pack in the summer and a bigger one in the winter.

Winter can be a challenge with water.  Most water sources are frozen and bottles or packs can freeze.  We use a Platypus to hold water inside our packs and place it against our back to keep it from freezing.

Huntingtons Ravine

In the winter you will want a puffy jacket, hand warmers, warm mittens and hat and possibly an extra layer.  Carry more food than you think you need.  The huts have water and you can buy treats which can make you happy on a hot day or if you run out of food!  Bring cash.  The huts operate on a seasonal schedule so be sure to check to see if they are open.

There are no leash laws in the White Mountains–IF–your dog is friendly and under voice command.  Please leave your aggressive dogs at home or on a leash.  This has been an issue in recent years.  Most of the locals have very well behaved trail dogs and we don’t want to lose the privilege of them being able to enjoy mountain adventures with us.  Be sure to visit the dog bakery at Four Your Paws only which is by far the best pet store ever, plus it is locally owned and operated!  Celebrate your pups birthday there too, they will spoil your dog!

Dog Friendly Hiking Trails in New Hampshire. Unlike most states, New Hampshire allows dogs in its major national forest, the White Mountain National Forest. However, they must be under verbal command or restrained at all times. … Dogs are also allowed in most state parks, though not at picnic areas or beaches.

Going up Mount Chocorua
Are maps important?

You should always carry a map.   If you plan on going above treeline it helps with finding bail out routes during bad storms or white out conditions.

The White Mountains live by a Leave No Trace Ethic.  Please pack out everything including food scraps.  There has been an issue over the last few years with trash and feces with toilet paper/baby wipes on the trail.  Nobody needs to see that and the forest service is overwhelmed with trying to clean up the mess.  If you have to relieve yourself and need to know the rules follow this link.

You do not need permits but most trail heads require a parking pass which can be paid at the lot by cash or check.   You can buy a season pass or you can get a week pass.  

Above treeline in the clouds
This is a pretty standard trail in the White Mountains
What is the Hike Safe Card?  Are the mountains dangerous?  Where can I find out about trail conditions and weather?

The Hike Safe Card is an affordable rescue insurance plan that you can buy.  This is not going to cover being wreckless or negligence.  You still need to carry the appropriate gear, adequate food and water, a map, etc.  Cell phones do not work in most of the Whites so do not depend on that either.

You should never plan on a rescue and your goal should always be to get yourself out of a situation on your own.  There are many organizations in New Hampshire that teach mountain skills and if you are not comfortable venturing into the mountains yet take a course!  Remember each rescuer is a volunteer.  The Forest Service is under funded and can’t afford to keep up with the number of rescues they have had to deal with over the last few years.  Just be safe and take care of yourself and you will be fine!

The Mountains are beautiful!

There are some wonderful places to check the trail conditions and the weather.  Here are my favorite websites:

New England Trail Conditions: hikers and runners post trail conditions here all the time!

NOAA Recreational Forecast:Short term detailed forecast for various elevations.  Great for deciding which mountains to do based on winds, clouds and overall weather.

Higher Summits Forecast: This is perfect for the short term weather forecast on the higher summits.  Best for summits over 5000 feet!

See the Northern Lights: Yes, you can see the northern lights in New Hampshire!  The best times to see them are from late March-April and August-September

Philbrick Photography captured a 26 year long dream of mine on film! Northern lights in Jackson, NH
Best time to visit New Hampshire

The best time to visit New Hampshire is during the winter or summer.  The shoulder seasons can be very icy and the mountains can hold onto the snow even into June and the snow and ice can start in September.  There are only a couple of campgrounds open in the winter and many to choose from in the summer.

Mount Chocorua

You should put a trip to the White Mountains on your bucket list!  The trail races are a great way to follow a marked trail with aid stations so we hope you can come experience what the White Mountains have to offer!

It is so beautiful above treeline

 

Destination running

Ever since my first trip out west in 1997 I have loved traveling.  I love to explore new places that require me to use my body to get there.  It doesn’t matter if it involves mountaineering, hiking, mountain biking or trail running.  Getting out into the wilderness makes me so very happy!  It is so fun to see new critters, plant life, different rocks and dirt, different climates and colors!  It also allows me to take a break from our fast paced and social media based world.

Arikok running
Arikok running

I have been trying to figure out what method of social media I prefer.  I gave up blogging to do more Facebook and Instagram and found that Facebook is really not for me.  In an effort to simplify my life I am choosing to return to blogging and to use Instagram -@dangergirldh – to share photos of my adventures.

Ryan taking in the views
Iguana!

Last week I went to Aruba with Ryan for a quick escape from the very long New Hampshire winters.  This winter has been incredible since taking up skimo racing!  I have been snowboarding for over 20 years and learning to ski down a hill is challenging but one day I will be good at it!  Skiing up a hill though, that is totally addicting!

Photo by Cait Bourgault during Wild Corn Skimo race
Photo by Erik Howes during the wild corn skimo race

Have you trail run in Aruba?  Have you ever wondered what the trails are like?  Did you even know that trails do exist there?  Well, they do and they offer everything from technical singletrack to buttery smooth jeep roads!

Ryan running by the ocean
Running from the California Lighthouse

The wildlife on the island is pretty low key with the rattlesnake being labeled as the top of the food chain in Aruba.  There were very few bugs the first week of April which was nice.  We saw donkeys, goats, lizards, iguanas, rabbits and there are bats.  They all seemed to leave us alone except for an Iguana at the beach checking out backpacks for food.

Pretty views of the ocean from up high!

Arikok national forest will cost you $11 per person to visit but there are many single track and double track trails that will take you up and over the highest peaks on the island and down to the ocean.  The maps are not accurate and there are many unmarked trails.  Most of the trails are not signed but have 4×4 wood poles with various colored stripes to mark the trails.  You will encounter cacti, divi trees and many plants with sharp prickers.  The island is mostly desert so expect it to be very dry.  Bring plenty of water because there is no shade and it is very hot!

Trails in Arikok
Trail in Arikok

Mount Jamanota, the highest point on the island is 189 meters high. It is pretty easy to navigate by sight so we were able to figure out which trails to take to the summit.  Mount Hooiberg which is not in Arikok but instead sits in a neighborhood is worth checking out.  It is only .2 miles from the parking lot to the summit and there are stairs that will take you to the summit which sits at 165 meters.  There are about 563 stairs that will take you to the summit which offers views of most of the island.  You will gain about 300 feet of elevation in .2 miles.

Hooiberg stairs to summit
Summit of Hooiberg

There were more trails by the California Lighthouse which consisted of dirt jeep roads that were quite flat and ran along the ocean but there were also many mountain bike single track trails that branched off of the jeep roads!  They were technical and on very rolling terrain.

Ryan running jeep roads

There is no camping on the island and most hotels are very large with very nice pools.  There was not much of a nightlife on the island when we went.  The majority of the people there were families with small children and elderly people.  The restaurants were all very good and the bars were fun (there were many pool bars) but the drinks were very weak.

 

Pool bar!
Pool Bar!

The beaches are all very clean and the water was a great place to cool off from the heat.  It was almost 90 degrees every day.  The water was very clear and the snorkeling offered some wonderful fish sightings with so many brightly colored ones swimming around!  There are strong currents in Aruba so stay close to shore if you are not a strong swimmer and even being a strong swimmer I did not feel comfortable with how pushy some of the snorkeling areas were. Baby beach was our favorite place to snorkel and if you go there be sure to get a drink and bite to eat at Big Mammas!  They made the best drinks on the island!

In front of Pure Ocean
By the Pier

Expect to pay between $20-$40 USD for your meals.  Drinks start at about $8.  Most appetizers started at $12.  Make reservations for any dinner you plan to have on the beach.  They have some incredible beach side dining that typically starts at 6pm but you are possibly not going to get a table if you do not have a reservation.

 

Crazy road in Arikok

You do not need to have a car but it really came in handy when trying to see the whole island.  There are many places that a car is tough to take through so it may be worth spending the extra money on the jeep if you are not comfortable on backcountry roads in a small car.  They also had many jeep and four wheeler tours which allow you to see a lot of the island.  We enjoyed seeing a bit less but trekking off the beaten path and seeing about 3 people during our ten mile run.

Snorkeling
Malmok snorkeling

Flying to Aruba from Boston is easy.  We took direct flights on Jet Blue which allowed us to fly out early and be on the island by noon and our flight out was not until 4pm so we got to do some stuff in the morning.  Most hotels will allow you to check out at noon which is plenty of time because you will need to be at the airport 3 hours prior to you departure.  Traffic is crazy so plan accordingly so you can be at the airport in time.  Customs is slow and takes a lot of patience to get through so eat up before you go.

Crazy swamp with cool birds
Swamp with cool birds

I would recommend Aruba for a trail running adventure.  It is very safe and not once did we feel worried about our safety.  Obviously avoid shady neighborhoods at night.  We found the locals to be either very friendly or very rude so just smile and be nice.  There were a lot of very rude tourists so I am sure some of the locals are tired of  mean people.

 

Trails in the desert

My La Sportiva Lycan shoes were awesome for the varied terrain in Aruba.  I wore my Julbo Aerolite sunglasses with Zebra Lenses which were perfect in the bright sun.  My La Sportiva clothing wicked away my sweat and helped keep me comfortable with zero chaffing!

If you have any questions about traveling to Aruba for some running feel free to reach out and I will do the best I can to help you plan your trip! kfolcik2@gmail.com

Happy running!

Running in my Lycans and Sportiva clothing!

Everything happens for a reason

I had big aspirations of a 24-26 hour finish at Grindstone 100 this year.  It was going to be the grand finale of my incredible season of running and racing!  My friend Sue and I drove down to Virginia and had a pretty hilarious drive down there.  She is way too much fun!

Larisa and I on a mountain run with the pups!
Sue and Kristin in the mountains!
Sue and I before the race!
A tired but beautiful day in the mountains!

On race day I had to suck it up because I was going to be facing one of my biggest fears (aside from airplanes, elevators and needles)…THE DARK—  We were welcomed by so many friends and it was such a pleasure to Clark and David again!  I felt so at home and excited to run!  It was very hot out, the hottest ever in the history of the race so my plan was ..HYDRATION..–WAH WAH WAH–Big mistake!

Sues pirate jokes for me!
One of Sues wonderful notes in my pack!
Photo by Chris Thompson – Dave Horton and I laughing about boogers or something!

I drank so much water and ate plenty of food.  At the start of the race my friend Sue sent me off with a hug and a silly note in my pack to make me smile.  There is no better crew person than Sue and she has been my very good friend for so many years!  I would see her in about 24 miles.

Right before the race!

We were off and I felt good, really good!  I ran with a big smile and when the sun set I felt so liberated and so excited to spend the next 12 hours in the dark!  I ran with people sometimes and alone sometimes.  I didn’t feel afraid and ran with such an incredible feeling of joy and confidence!

Sue being Sue !

I finally saw Sue and was in wonderful spirits!  She got me going again and I asked her for some pirate jokes at the next crew stop!  About 30 miles in I started to feel off.   I had not peed yet and I was getting a headache.  When I saw Sue I told her I was not feeling great and that it was just a rough patch.

Brad and I before the race! He was so nice he mailed my hat back to me!

The next several miles were a struggle.  I started to feel sick, my head pounded and I had a hard time picking up my legs.  My body did not want to move and I could feel myself swelling.  Something was wrong.  I tried eating more salt and at each aid station I became more disoriented and more uncomfortable.

Ryan and I on Owls Head!

By the time I got to mile 51 which was the turnaround I knew I had to stop.  Sue had me sit for a long time to make sure it was the right thing to do.  She knows me and when she told me it was okay to drop if I felt my health was declining I felt relief.  I sat for a few more minutes and still had not peed in over 13 hours at that point.  I walked over and called it a day.  Strangely I was not upset and I still try to figure out why I was so calm about dropping.

US Highpoint #21–West Virginia Spruce Knob!
US Highpoint #21–West Virginia Spruce Knob!

My blood pressure plummeted to 90/38 and I did not pee for almost 24 hours.  I was not well.  Good Ol’ Hyponaturemia–total rookie mistake!  Lesson learned the hard way! When I finally took my first pee I felt so happy!  But I was not feeling okay.  It was a long drive back to New Hampshire chatting with Sarah Keyes who is a nurse and my teammate about what to do and Sue called her doctor friend.  I wanted to make it home instead of going to a strange hospital.  I did get home and rested for a while before the peeing happened and I started to feel better.  My blood pressure rose to a normal number and I was happy.  Then I got a sinus infection from hell!  What a week to have off from work!

My new Camera!
Bennett!
Jack Puppy!

I stayed i good spirits about being sick and dropping from the race.  I honestly believe the Universe has a plan for us and when it is trying to tell us something it does so by forcing us to stop.  Tonight I felt a bit better and decided to try a run after work.  With the dark season here after work running means running in the dark.  Well….I grabbed my headlamp, shoes and pups and headed out the door for a run.  I WAS NOT SCARED!!!  I did not go to Grindstone to finish, I went to learn how to be brave, to face a fear that has crippled me for years and to become a stronger person!  I only ran a couple of miles because I am still sick but I could have run all night..in the dark!

Some of my photographs!
Some of my photographs!
Some of my photographs!
Some of my photographs!
Some of my photographs!

I want to thank my wonderful sponsors La Sportiva, Choucas Hats, JULBO USA and Boom Nutrition for all of their support!  I would never run for a company I didn’t absolutely love!  I want to thank Andy for being such a fabulous coach and friend!  Thank you to my Ryan, Jack Puppy and Bennett for being such great trail buddies!  Thank you to my friends for always being there for me on and off the trail.  Thank you to Sue for being yourself!  I am such a lucky girl and plan to spend the rest of the year dabbling in some local turkey trots or other shorter races and playing my fiddle!  I also took up photography and it has been an absolute joy being behind the lens of a camera!  Feel free to check out my facebook page https://www.facebook.com/kristinamarienaturephotography/

Or if you are interested in purchasing photo prints/products check out https://kristinamarie.smugmug.com  

I donate 10% of my proceeds to local areas that maintain trails near where the photo was taken.

Life is funny, somehow it all works out! It’s always going to be okay!

On the other side of fear is freedom

A muddy photo shoot with Philbrick Photography!

What an adventure!

Fun photo shoot with Philbrick photography!
Fun photo shoot with Philbrick photography!

What a summer this had been!  It’s been a bit too busy and a bit too fun!  I never thought I would be traveling to so many different places to run and climb mountains!  I struggle with wicked race anxiety and find that running races in places that I don’t know with people who are strangers seems to take the edge off!

Beautiful trees in Washington!
The flowers are amazing in Washington!
Being a Yeti at the lake

I love showing up to a race and not knowing anybody!  There is something really fun about meeting people for the first time.  There are new stories to share and there is also the mystery of where you will fall into the pack of runners.  I love looking around at everyone before the race starts, trying to figure out who most of my run will be spent with.  With ultras the days are so long that I typically have a chance to settle into a comfortable rhythm and enjoy chatting the hours away with someone I don’t know!

Ryan and I on the west coast!
Washington Coast
Washington Coast

I have been having an absolute blast running the White Mountains and doing so much training there!  I am also noticing that my actual running is starting to decline a bit from seeking out the elevation.  Just like life, running needs to be about balance and a trip to Washington state reminded me of that.

Fun photo shoot with Philbrick photography!
  • Fun photo shoot with Philbrick photography!

    Fun photo shoot with Philbrick photography!

Ryan and I flew out and met up with our friend Rob.  It was hot, really hot out!  We drove down to the race and got our bib numbers. It was a perfect morning with so many happy runners checking in and getting their numbers!  After having our mandatory gear check we were ready to run the Volcanic 50k.

Hiking after the race
Hiking after the race!
Hiking after the race

We were off under summery skies and a nice crisp morning.  I went out a little bit too hard but backed off after realizing that I wasn’t going to be able to sustain that pace.  The trees were really pretty and there were so many flowers!  Then we popped out above the trees and were treated to amazing views of Mount St Helens and blistering sun and heat!

Ryan and I in the smoke from the fires in Canada
Rob gave us the grand tour!
And I got to swing from big trees!
Rob on the mountain!

I loved the big rocky sections and they felt so much like home.  I danced through them effortlessly trying to find the orange cones marking the course.  As we ran around the mountain we got to see incredible waterfalls, wild gullies, the blast zone and snow covered mountains!  It was amazing!

The mountains are wild in Washington!
So many flowers!
Hiking!

It was also really hot so whenever I came up on a river (which were very few) I went in, soaked my hat and my clothes and cooled down.  In one stream I fell and lost my sunglasses!

Photo by Runner Teri
Photo by Runner Teri
Photo by Runner Teri

At mile 12 I got passed by an incredibly talented girl who ran up the sandy hill like a gazelle!  I was so impressed by her running that I tried to keep up and was not able to match her strength.  She ran off into the distance as I settled back into my comfortable pace.

Checking out new trails near the house….so many prickers!

I had the pleasure of sharing many hours with a few really nice runners and we laughed about life, family, running, jobs and traveling.  It was really nice to share a good part of the run with such great people!

Look at the small egg the chickens laid!!

After the last boulder field we dropped back into the woods for one last descent to the finish line where I finished 2nd woman!  We were greeted with finishers glasses and a tent serving food and drinks!  We hung out for several hours chatting with everyone and really enjoying the Washington race scene!

Podium!
Podium!

After a perfect run on a perfect day Ryan, Rob and myself camped out in a nice camping spot below the mountain.  Rob was kind enough to show us around Washington even with the smoke from the forest fires.  It was a wonderful trip but I sure missed home and my doggies!

View from my beautiful mountain!
I love my trail pups!
Such a great year for foraging mushrooms!

I love travel races!  Where else can you do a run without trying to do the logistics of food, water and finding trail!  To run on a marked course with food, water and smiling volunteers offering to make your day special it is a no brainer!

For now I am going to enjoy some fun runs in the White Mountains that make me so happy!  There is nothing like what we have here and I feel so comfortable running these trails!

Ryan and I sailing!
I love sailing!

Thank you to my awesome sponsors La Sportiva, JULBO USA, Choucas hats and Boom Nutrition for all of their support.  Thank you to my coach Andy for dealing with my insecurities and doubts I have with my running and helping to learn more about myself as a runner. Thank you to my husband Ryan and my sweet pups Jack Puppy and Bennett for sharing so many miles and adventures with me!  Thank you to my friends for always being there for me, we really don’t get to see each other enough!  I am one very lucky girl!

My beautiful mountain!
sunset run to the top of my mountain!
My pups!

The secret to life is being able to appreciate the little things in life, to be happy with what we have.  Happiness is knowing that the universe has a plan for us and realizing the good times are just as awesome as the tough times.

The sun lit up the forest and the forest lit up my soul

26 hours of flying to run the most incredible 3 miles of my life!

Photo shoot with Philbrick Photography!
Photo shoot with Philbrick Photography!
Photo shoot with Philbrick Photography!

Alaska holds a very special place in my heart.  Ten years ago I fell in love, it felt like home.  With a slower way of life, very self sufficient people and the biggest outdoor playground I have ever seen the place fills my heart with so many wonderful things!  Seven years ago was the last time I was there and I began to wonder if the love I felt was time making it sweeter or if I really felt that way.  After going back, I realized how much I love Alaska.  I have made a wonderful life for myself here in New Hampshire and won’t be leaving but I will always feel like I belong in the wild, rugged and simple lifestyle of Alaska.

Bennett being cute on the mountain!
Ryan and Kale being silly

I have been trying to get into the lottery for Mount Marathon for a few years and finally this was my year to run it!  I have had a busy year and kept going back and forth between running it or not.  My friend Laura also got into the lottery and was giving me a nudge to give it a go.  As usual I was making my coach confused with my inability to make a decision on whether or not I was going so I decided that I would decide at the last minute whether or not I would hop on that plane!

Photo shoot with Philbrick Photography!
Photo shoot with Philbrick Photography!
Photo shoot with Philbrick Photography!

Alaska, about 26 hours of round trip flying to go run 3 miles.  People laughed at me and I kept wondering if it were actually worth it.  The course looked amazing but sometimes photos are taken at prime locations to make an event look better than it is.  I had to find out if it really were as crazy as it is made out to be.

View from Mount Marathon!
My beautiful mountain!

My goal over the next few years is to find the hardest and most challenging races in the world.  I want rocks, roots, steep hills, big mountains, all the things that are going to hurt!  I love running the mountains here in New Hampshire and keep looking for something similar to the terrain I train on!

You have to run up and down this…..

I did get on that plane and fly to Alaska.  My friends family allowed me to stay at their place and welcomed me as one of their own family members!  It was so wonderful and I even got to try moose for the first time!  Yes, it is delicious.

I just love Alaska!
Hiking in Alaska, we saw a bear and moose on this one!
Moose burger…yum!!!

Laura, Cory and myself hiked Mount Marathon two days prior to the race.  I am not going to lie, I was almost in tears when I got to the top and saw what I had to run down.  The climb was insane!  There was actual rock scrambling, 53% grade slippery slopes, knee deep scree, waterfalls, cliffs, plants that could leave me with cuts and blisters and huge bears!  Ok, I was really beginning to question the sanity of these Alaskans and wasn’t sure if I could even race this thing without dying!  I am pretty tough but this race cannot be described through words, photographs or video.

The course!
This is part of the race!!!

I prepared completely wrong for this race.  There was nothing that could have prepared me to train except for actually having run the course before.  I knew my goals of sub 60 minutes were not happening and I needed to get through the race and focus on where I can improve so I can chase that goal next year!

Jack puppy loves mountains!

Race day came and we went out wicked fast on the road.  My plan was to hang with the leaders to the cliffs to avoid the congo line that was inevitable.  There are no designated trails on the course.  You go up, tag the turnaround and go down.  I did get to the lower cliff in a fairy good position but these girls can climb!  I got stuck in a congo line above the cliffs and was not about to bushwack through the devils club so I could pass.  I took it as an opportunity to get my bearings and focus on what was ahead.  I began passing a few girls and when we hit the upper open slope we all scattered, taking different lines to the top of the course.

GOAT!!!
Beautiful glacier!
One of our hikes to a glacier

My breathing was fine, my legs could not go any faster.  I was not prepared for such a steep climb!  I was laughing the entire way in disbelief of how hard this course really was!  I hit the top and followed a girl down the steep scree chute which was not the one I practiced a couple days ago.  I was terrified!!!  I had never run anything like it and took it slow and cautious.  I started to get passed by so many badass Alaskan girls flying down the mountain at insane speeds!

Ha! The pavement was the only place I could hang!
We felt like bad asses! We both had so much fun!
Laura’s awesome family!

I tried to chase but almost ate it hard before my quads decided they were done.  They felt like they were going to blow through my skin and I was only 1/3 down the mountain!  By the time I got to the waterfall I was in so much pain but still laughing and smiling!  This race was everything I had hoped for plus some!  A couple of girls jumped over me as I gingerly made my way down the slippery waterfall, falling on my butt and I was in awe of their confidence and skills!  Finally I was coming down the cliffs, slipping and sliding down to the last section of scree where I was actually relieved to see the pavement!

Alaska is just so magical!

I opened it up and passed a bunch of girls who completely destroyed me on the descent!  I had to tap into the only resource I had and that was road speed!

I finished in 1:08, much slower than I hoped but I was glowing and so very happy!  I was the 43rd woman and I felt so ridiculously happy with my race!  We took an opportunity to go watch the men’s race and it was so amazing!  These people were falling, bleeding, getting back up and running with huge smiles!  I thought I was a mountain runner, the truth is that I am not yet a true mountain runner!  This race was inspirational and gave me the kick in the pants to really get myself in shape for this stuff!

Look at that descent!
Tight “trails” to the top!

I am going to start training to go back, I am going to find the hardest races I can and if that means not doing the fast high profile races I am okay with that.  I have loved mountains for over 20 years and that is where I belong!  I will be Alaska brave and strong and I do have a lot of work to do.  I will be smiling from this race for a very long time!

Ashley and Kristine running with me!
Sue and I biking!

I want to thank my incredible sponsors for their support!  Thank you La Sportiva, JULBO USA, Choucas Hats and Boom Nutrition!  Your gear allows me to perform my best!  Thank you to my husband and pups for playing in the mountains with me and sharing a wild ride through life together!  Thank you to my friends for so many great laughs and adventures!  Thank you to my coach Andy for helping me dream big and train smart!  Thank you to my boss for allowing me to have time to live my life outside of work, he is one of the kindest human beings I have ever met.  I am one very lucky girl!

My beautiful mountain!

Alaska, she is everything I try to be..wild…rugged..beautiful.  I can’t wait to bring my love to meet my love next July.  I think Ryan might fall in love with her as well.  Until then I have some serious work to do!

Photo shoot with Philbrick Photography!

 

The world didn’t end and I had a wonderful day!

Beautiful rainbow after the storm!
Mountain biking before the storm!

I tried to drop down to the 50k, the race director would not let me.  I tried to bail on the race because I felt like I wasn’t ready and I was tired of traveling.  My friend backed out of helping me with the 8 hour drive and when I told Ryan I was not going he said he would go with me.  I even tried to ask my coach if he thought I should drop out and he encouraged me to go have a fun training run.  None of the stars aligned in the events leading up to the race.  Our usual house sitter was unavailable with such short notice and we could not bring the pups.  Luckily two of my very good friends were able to help out in a pinch with the pups!

I love running from my house!

 

My anxiety was out of control and I really felt out of shape to try to run 100k.  I love the 50k distance and with anything longer than that I become very panicked about my fitness and ability to finish.  I have had some great training runs since Boston and am getting my mountain fitness back, but…It is not completely back and that worried me!

My Bennett!
My Jack puppy!

Ryan and I had a very uneventful drive to the race, set up the tent and went to pick up my race packet.  Ryan was supposed to crew and pace me but he was getting the itch to race.  He asked the race director if there were any no shows and we got an answer that was completely unexpected.  Ryan handed over a check and I lost my crew and pacer!  I was honestly okay with it and had to laugh because everything that was supposed to be with this race changed. It was a good reminder that life doesn’t always happen as planned.

Jack puppy!
Bennett!

We got a big dinner and settled in for a great night of sleeping.  The forecast was for 73 degrees and sunny.  When we started the race with headlamps at 5am it was 41 degrees and pouring rain.  Hmmmm…..

There is something so special about spring!

I wore my La Sportiva wind shirt and arm sleeves.  It was pretty raw out!  The race started and my plan was to go easy and try to pace myself well.  We ran up the rocky hill slipping and sliding in the Pennsylvania mud that was like Axel grease!  I took a good digger but got right back up and kept plugging away at the climb.  On the descent I felt really good and floated down the hill dancing over the roots and rocks.  It was here that I took the lead.  She was extremely fit and strong looking so I knew at around 40 miles she would be chasing me down like a mountain lion.

My beautiful mountain!

I ran with a fun group of guys and we laughed about the usual stupid crap that people discuss in ultras.  I was feeling the burn in my legs and just kept my pace comfortable because I knew it would be a long day.

Running Case Mountain, my old stomping grounds and where it all began!
A beautiful hike on a rainy day

Around mile 8 I came up on Ryan who was walking.  He had been up with the lead pack and after racing a 50 miler two weeks prior he wasn’t in the mood for hammering it out, so he hung back to run with me!  A small group of us spent several miles together chatting and laughing.  The course was so ridiculously beautiful and challenging!  It was also soaking wet with our feet constantly buried in a mud puddle, stream or river crossing.  The macerations on my feet started and a couple of massive blisters were sloshing around in my shoes.

Getting my drop bag supplies at mile 35!
Photo by Bob Drazba

I ignored the pain and focused on moving forward.  Ryan and I enjoyed being together and spending time getting to know some really nice people!  One of them made my day by telling me that his 10 year old daughter Bailey saw a picture of me and wanted to go running with the braids and sunglasses I have.  It made me melt, hearing that was so special!

Crazy Hail Storm!

About halfway through the race the group started to break apart, some pulling ahead and some falling behind.  Soon it was only my Ryan and myself sharing miles, conversation and motivation to keep going.  I had some wicked low points and we laughed about how much pain and suffering the human body can withstand!  Ultrarunning is so amazing just for that reason!  Seriously, who runs that far!!!!!

One of my favorite trails by the house
My beautiful mountain in the clouds

The sun came out and it started to get quite hot, and along with the heat our ability to eat solid food started to wane.  The only thing my stomach could tolerate was the CarBoom energy gels.  It was hard to force myself to eat but once I got it down it did not make me sick but instead gave me the energy I needed to keep going.  I had been eating a lot of aid station food and I think around mile 50 it really caught up with me.

Having a blast at Worlds End 100k
Photo by Tony Mattucci

We rolled out of the mile 50 aid station and heard the volunteers cheering loudly for a runner that came in.  I suddenly got it in my head that it was the next female chasing me down.  I didn’t want to get caught with only 13 miles to go and in an ultra that is usually where the game is lost.

My poor feet!
My feet!
My poor feet from the race!

I pushed hard, real hard.  I jammed up and down the hills the best I could.  I did not look back but I listened for any sign of someone behind us.  At the aid station with 6 miles to go there were a bunch of very enthusiastic volunteers and we filled up on water and rolled out of there quickly!  To our surprise there was one more aid station where there was only 5k left to finish!

Case Mountain Trails!
That tree at Case Mountain!
The falls at case mountain

Ryan gave me a kick in the pants when I started to cry that I didn’t want to lose the race with 3 miles to go.  I had not been looking at my watch and did not want to know the time.  I pushed as hard as my little legs would take me and smiled because my Boston Marathon training was helping me out so much on this runnable terrain before the finish.  Ryan told me to stop crying and just go.  I did and rolled into the finish line first woman and set a new course record by just over an hour!

My cute nephew Jarek with the poop pillow I bought him…bad auntie 🙂

I had to thank the race director for not letting me drop down to the 50k.  I was so incredibly happy with how smart I ran and very happy that Ryan and I shared so many wonderful miles together on the trail!  I asked if the prize was an axe so that the winner could cut their legs off, I think the race director thought I was a wacko!

My prize! An axe so I could cut off my sore legs!

I want to thank my sponsors La Sportiva, Choucas Hats, Julbo USA and BoomNutrition for their support.  I want to thank Andy for dealing with me being such a pain to coach.  I want to thank my friends for training with me, hanging out with me and helping me through the good times and the bad.  I want to thank my Ryan for taking a weekend to do something for me on a whim and making me smile for so many miles!  I want to thank my Jack Puppy and Bennett for being such wonderful trail running buddies and of course snuggle buddies!  I am such a lucky girl!

My beautiful mountain!
There are some things in life that remind us to be true to ourselves, to be humble and to be kind to others. This note meant so much to me.

If you are looking for a fast paced White Mountain adventure go to www.redlineguiding.com and hire myself or Ryan to be your trail running guide!

There is only one happiness in this life, to love and be loved. -George Sand

 

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!

An ordinary girl living a not so ordinary life

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