I signed up for a 100 mile race in November, I must admit running 100 miles is not my favorite thing to do. I am not feeling like I am physically or emotionally ready to race it but I do feel like I am physically capable of finishing it, hopefully under 24 hours! My main goal of this race is to tag the high point of Alabama (which happens around mile 40) during the race! I have two friends who will be crewing and pacing me and hopefully making me laugh! My friend Sue will also be joining me to tag the high point of Florida on our way to the race! It is going to be an adventure!
I am struggling to feel ready to finish this race and need something greater than my own personal goals to finish and to run happy. I wanted to pick a cause to raise money for but there are so many causes that are close to my heart that I could not pick just one. I also know that money is tight for most of us so I wanted to find a creative way to do something to motivate me while doing something great for others!
I am a pretty lucky girl and have had an amazing life so far. I have had a lot of very kind people in my life, of course some not so kind but I have forgiven all of them. Forgiveness does not mean that I want them back in my life but I no longer allow them to hurt me.
So…I came up with this: What if for every mile I am to run each person promises to perform 1 random act of kindness! These do not need to cost money and they can be as simple as giving someone a compliment that looks like they need to smile or buying someone a coffee that is standing in line behind you! Use your imagination! So, I plan to run 100 miles, can you commit to 100 acts of kindness!? Money can’t buy happiness or fix problems but kindness can! I want this fundraiser to change lives, to make people smile and I want to hear about what you are doing to make others happy! Think about how nice the world would be if we were all kinder!
I had quite the week of adventure and really realized how lucky I am! I’ve been doing some great runs, super fun bike rides and even did a wild photo shoot with Philbrick photography which included rock climbing up a spire, camping in a small cave below the summit and standing on a spire in a dress! It’s been wild and this past weekend was my last big week of running and now it is just getting ready to show up and run 100 miles! Will you help motivate me to run with a smile!?
This summer has absolutely flown by! With working full time, farming full time and working with a running coach again I am tapped out and barely have the time to turn on my laptop! My day goes something like this: Wake up around 4am to the rooster, let out the birds and make sure the birds and pigs have food, gather eggs and check the gardens, make sure the dogs go to the bathroom and look up at the mountain with a huge smile. Clean the litter box, feed the dogs and cats, then feed myself. Drink half a pot of coffee with breakfast, brush the dogs fur and teeth, do the dishes and maybe laundry, vacuum, get ready for work, make lunch and walk out the door and look at my flowers, smile and drive to work.
I then stop and take my daily photograph of the mountain, drive to work and spend the next 9 hours at the best job anyone could ever have! It is an absolute joy, I love my co-workers, patients and boss! I always take off for my lunch hour and either swim in the lake, meet up with my friend Roberta, hit up the farmers market or practice my fiddle! The day ends and I drive home to take the hounds for a run. Ryan and I meet up before sunset to put the birds to bed, feed everyone and lock them up in their shelters for the night. Sometimes there is barn shoveling or taking an injured or sick bird to the rehab tub for some medical care and TLC. We come back in the house, tag team dinner, take showers and go to bed. That is life M-F. The weekends give us from sunrise to sunset to play, hit up the local farmers market and do chores around the house. Farming is so much fun and it doesn’t even seem like work! It is going to be really exciting when we have a freezer full of meat and all of our vegetables canned for the winter!
This lifestyle takes some adjusting but it is so awesome to be able to provide your home with food that you raised and grew! We treat our animals with love and respect and give them plenty of space to free-range and explore. Of course we have our regular paying jobs to fund this adventure but I love where I work and what I do so that doesn’t even seem like work!
This summer has been one of the most fun summers that I can remember! Kristin and I learned to sail and I went out and bought myself a small “pirate ship” to take people out on! We have sailed together and with friends and Ryan is even taking a liking to sailing! Kristin and I did end up trying a race and quickly learned that rocks are a bad thing to hit! We are okay, the boat got fixed and the pirate ship is back on the water!
There has been a lot of running, hiking, mountain and road biking, swimming and simply enjoying the amazing area we live in! Moving to the White Mountains has been the best thing that ever happened to me! Every day I look out my window and up at the mountain and wonder how I got so lucky! Getting my job in Wolfeboro (which is a wonderful town to work in!) changed my life in a way I only dreamed of! I make sure I put 150% into every day there because losing that job would be the biggest mistake I ever made and I will not risk it!
I’ve come to the realization that I have some serious permanent brain damage from my head injuries which I can live with but sometimes affect my life in not so good ways, but I am still here and can enjoy my life. It’s not that bad, I am just different now.
I have a new love for running and decided to hire a new coach because I stopped listening to Jack! I am working with Jeff Browning and his training methods are very different than what I am used to. I think it will be a bit before I start to see real changes in my running but so far I am loving the variety and training by time rather than miles. With my life being so busy training by miles really started to stress me out.
I had Lyme disease for the second time this summer and am recovered from that , I still have some residual tiredness but it will pass just like it did last time. My joints don’t hurt anymore which is really nice and I can run pretty well again too! Jack puppy is the one dealing with Lyme now but he seems to be feeling much better as he moves through his course of antibiotics!
My friend Carolyn had suggested I try to do more different races because I was getting bored with doing the same ones over and over so, I signed up for some travel races this year! My friend Elizabeth and I had a blast down south and then a few weeks ago I took off on my own to run the Skyline 50k in Utah and visit my brother, his wife and my nephew who is 2! The altitude killed me but the course was stunning! I walked when my headache was bad and ran when I could! The nausea kept me from eating and drinking but it was only 50k so getting through it wasn’t too bad! I barely pulled off a new women’s course record and then headed out to spend some time with my family!
It was awesome to see them and we took a nice bike ride on the bike path near their house! I miss them but totally understand needing to live where you are happy! I can’t wait to see them again! I have some more travel races in mind and just need to decide on which ones I want to do! It’s really fun to run in new places!
With fall in the air I am struggling to let go of summer but also looking forward to the change of seasons. New England is so awesome because of the constant variety in weather and seasons! Soon the mountains will be covered in frost, then snow and then the flowers and trees will come back to life again. It is a beautiful rhythm that reminds me that life itself is always changing. There is no plan, nothing is forever and you just have to hang on for the ride and appreciate the good things in life and push through the bad.
This year has been a roller coaster of emotions and it has not been an easy one for me. There has been a lot of struggle and earlier in the year I wasn’t even sure I would be here to see the change of seasons. Luckily I have a lot of wonderful people in my life who take time to talk to me, play with me and remind me that everything is going to be okay!
Thank you to my Sponsors La Sportiva, Choucas Hats and JULBO USA for their support this year! Your equipment just keeps getting better all the time! Thank you to Jeff for taking me on as a client even though I am a bit nuts! Thank you to my Jack puppy and Bennett for making me smile so much on the trail (and driving me nuts sometimes!). Thank you to my friends and my Ryan for being a part of my journey through life, you make me so happy! I am a very lucky girl!
It’s a beautiful day and I am on my back deck surrounded by yellow butterflies, blooming apple trees, peeping chicks and turkeys, three piggies romping around in their wooded pasture and our soon to be massive vegetable garden. The sun is shining and the mountain is watching over my home which is a work in progress but starting to morph into our homesteading oasis. Our homemade Kombucha is finally ready for consumption and fresh rhubarb jam sits in the refrigerator after our first attempt at canning! Mulch beds have been created, flowers planted, hummingbird feeders hung around the front yard and wildflower seeds tossed throughout the front yard are beginning to sprout. Our home hadn’t been maintained in quite some time and we really want to add our own personal touches to the home, inside and out. Slowly we are making changes and one day will have it tidy and well kept but for now I am learning to be patient while living in an ongoing project. The last time I put this much effort into a home was when I bought my first house right before I graduated from college and instead of rushing through it, I am enjoying taking my time to discuss our dreams and goals and then slowly making it happen.
Of course this takes a lot of time, so does raising 8 turkeys, 6 guinnea hens, 51 New Hampshire Red Chickens, about 25 exotic show chickens and three pigs. Toss in two kids, two dogs and two cats and we have our own little farm! Taking care of these animals is incredible and I am really enjoying my new life! The last few months have not been good and with some therapy and working hard to find peace again I feel like I am no longer at rock bottom and instead on a path to a new beginning.
I have been adventuring in the mountains again and loving the feeling of getting back my mountain legs. I was a bit bummed out about having to cancel my Mount Hood trip due to terrible weather out west and getting an awful chest cold but the mountain will still be there and the money lost is only money which I can make again. Ryan, the pups and I have been really doing some big days in the hills and one that really stands out as a new favorite is what I will call the Beautiful Loop. This loop is 20 miles of ridiculous scenery, views and the longest waterfall I have ever seen! The climbs are brutal and there was still some ice up high. We started on the Bald Faces and finished on the Royces. It was a great way to exhaust myself before flying down to North Carolina for a grand adventure with my friend Elizabeth.
Friday night I got to Elizabeths house around 8:45pm after work and we got up at 3am to catch our flight from Boston. We landed and got right off the plane and picked up the rental car. I had talked Elizabeth into doing some more US Highpointing with me and she agreed to do South and North Carolina during our trip. When we got the map at the rental car counter I saw that Geaorgia’s high point was not far and that we could maybe tag that too. Then Elizabeth grabbed the map and said that we might as well hit Tennesse. At that moment I knew I was on vacation with the right person! We stocked up on food from Whole Foods and drove to the high point of South Carolina and snagged the summit of Mount Sassafrass! We laughed as we drove to North Carolina to tag Mount Mitchell and check in for the race. We got our room key and drove up the mountain and took the paved path to the top! High point number two was under our belts. It was time to check in for the race and to our surprise the meeting was actually right off the back deck of where we were staying! I ate a massive pasta meal and went to bed around 10pm.
We woke up at 3am and got to the race shuttle. As soon as the sun gave us enough light to see the race began and we headed straight up a massive White Mountain style climb! I was totally in my element!! There were some really fast looking girls there and I just focused on staying steady. I had been so focused on leg speed this winter that my mountain fitness was not quite where I wanted it to be. I stood on top of the first climb happy and feeling at home in the rime ice and blustery conditions! I felt so happy and took in the amazing views from the ridge as I ran back down off the mountain and to the bottom of a very fast descent. My crappy memory bit me, I forgot they said we had to run up that climb and my heart sank! It was over 5 miles back up to the top and there was a flock of fast girls hot on my tail. I jogged, walked and focused on just having fun. As I got up higher and back into the ice I was happy again and forgot that I was racing. The ridge was incredible and I felt like I was in the White Mountains again. I ran with various people along the way and focused on being steady.
The next descent was a hoot and when I hit the bottom I knew there was a really long climb ahead that the race director said was runnable. I did not want to hear those words! I ran the first part, and then it got slippery with leaves and I walked, and then ran and walked for miles. By the time I got to the top I was rather tired of climbing and my calf started to seize up on me! I saw the volunteers at mile 26 and grabbed some water for my pack and a few cookies for the last 8 miles. I struggled on the flat field section but then my body came around and the descent was incredible! I flew down the rocks laughing and smiling! It was so beautiful and so much like home! The course crossed a road and took us on a dirt and gravel path for a bit and then there was the finish line! I was thrilled to run 7:33 on a course that was longer and had more elevation than last year! And the bonus, I took first woman and 2nd overall! I always question my fitness and it was nice to see that I am in a good place and this race confirmed that I need to stick with mountain running because when I run happy I have fun! Elizabeth did incredible and we both were nicknamed “New Hampshire”. People apparently thought our rock running was rather impressive and our ability to run in the icy trees was interesting. We could only respond by saying that all we have to run on here is rocks and it’s always cold up high!
We got to bed nice and late and after doing some math discovered that we had to leave at 3am if we wanted to tag the high points of Tennesse and Georgia. So, we got up early and got to Clingmans Dome just as the sun rose! We only had 30 minutes to hike and take pictures of both high points so on tired legs we had to hustle! After a quick tag of Clingmans we hopped in the car for another long drive to Georgia! We got to Brasstown Bald and took the short hike up to the summit, took in the views and got back down to the car with barely enough time to get to the airport without missing our flight. Luckily there was no traffic and we got there on time even though our flight was delayed. It was just what I needed to feel renewed and to smile again! I would like to call that trip the US Highpointing 50k sandwich! It was absolutely delicious!!!
I came home and back to reality. Luckily reality isn’t all that bad! I have the best job in the world and although tired I was thrilled to see my coworkers and my patients and have my weekly lunch with my friend Roberta!
My weeks have been busy and getting used to the waking up really early to take care of the critters and making sure they are all set at night is becoming easier. Watching these animals grow and seeing our seeds sprouting is the coolest thing in the world! When I retire from dental hygiene in about 13 years my goal is to focus on farming and helping communities establish farming programs that allow small farms to provide food for the communities and educate people on why supporting your local farmer is important and encourage people to shop locally as well as try their hand at gardening or raising animals. I am very passionate about supporting locals and finding ways to make clean and healthy living available to everyone regardless of their income. Maybe community bases programs where families in need can spend time helping to raise animals and crops on community farms in exchange for food is a start? Maybe establishing agricultural programs within the school systems is a way to teach our children that food should be raised ethically and with kindness and that farms do matter.
I have also realized that I absolutely love running but need more to keep me smiling. Taking on new challenges is so much fun! Ryan and I entered a canoe race on a whim after I bought a large fishing canoe and managed to win our division! We both enjoyed doing something different and something that we had to work together as a team to do! I am taking sailing lessons this summer with my friend Kristin with hopes of sailing the Carribean in a few years. I have found a new fiddle teacher that has taught me how to play 4 songs already and it’s so much fun learning from her! Best of all I am back to running my mountains after work and on the weekends with my Ryan, Jack puppy, Bennett and friends. If feels good and it makes me happy!
Racing is going to be tricky this year with the new farm. Unless one of us stays behind it is really hard to get away, especially when the critters are so small. We can’t leave the baby chicks and turkeys yet because they require so much care. I am going to be focusing on FKT’s this summer that are local and racing locally during the farming season and after the slaughtering I plan to be able to do some travel races. I am okay with that, I need balance in my life and variety. I plan to be around for a very long time and I don’t plan to walk away from running but I do plan to venture out and try new things.
I want to thank my sponsors La Sportiva, JULBO USA and Choucas Hats for their support. They make awesome gear that makes me happy and keeps me rubber side down in the mountains! Thank you to my Ryan for working on our lives both individually and together. We both have a lot on our plates right now and both realize that we are always a work in progress. Thank you my Jack puppy and Bennett for being my fun little trail buddies and snuggle buddies at home! Thank you to my friends for always listening to me, playing with me, giving me hugs when I need one and going on wild adventures with me! Thank you to Jack Pilla for coaching me the best he can when I am a total mess and can barely get in my miles. I have a long way to go but every day that passes brings me new joy and closer to feeling truly happy again.
Life isn’t easy, it’s work. We are all a work in progress, we all have had something traumatic happen to us at some point along the way, we all have good days, bad days and days where you want to throw in the towel. Thanks to my amazing friends who never give up on me, I tossed the bottle of pills I was going to take on a solo run in the woods and instead have been dealing with my stress head on. When life punches me in the face I take a few breaths and focus on feeling my feet on the ground, my hands, feeling my breath coming in and out of my body, the air on my skin, my hair in my face. Somehow something so simple brings me back into the moment and I can see that life really isn’t all that bad and I do have control over my happiness.
I was out running last week and two miles in I sat down and cried my eyes out. I decided I have had a good life and didn’t care if I took another breath of air. I’ve accomplished enough, seen beautiful places and experienced wonderful friendships and adventures. I looked deep within my soul and knew that this isn’t who I am, I want to live to be 100, and not just be alive, still be living and loving life! I scooped up what pieces were left of my conflicting feelings of wanting it all to end peacefully at that moment as I take my last breath and the complete opposite of wanting my life to continue and be filled with love and adventure. Gasping and crying, I chose to do my scheduled workout. I ran down that hill and did my hill repeats at the best effort I could between tears and shallow breathing. Why I kept running, I do not know. It wasn’t fun but the thought of not running wasn’t fun either. So many moments in my life ran through my mind as I put each foot in front of the other and listened to my breathing as it went from fighting back tears and gasps to the gentle rhythm I am so used to hearing on my runs.
My life has been great, but also filled with stress over the last few months. I am struggling with trusting what people tell me, I am afraid that my entire life is a lie and worst of all I have been having debilitating panic attacks and not capable of sleeping more than a couple of hours without waking up covered in sweat with a racing heart. I have a lot going on right now, some things I feel okay sharing publicly and some that I do not. I saw my doctor for tons of blood work which all came back absolutely perfect and attempted to find a way to control my stress. My weight has plummeted which is normal when I am undergoing stress and have dropped to an unhealthy 110lbs. At 5’3″ I prefer to be over 115lb and feel better physically and emotionally being at that weight. My workplace seems to be the only place I find peace because my job makes me happy but I also focus on providing my patients with the best dental experience I can offer and it takes my mind off of my own problems. As soon as I walk out that door at work my mind goes back to all of the things that are creating stress in my life and I no longer feel at peace.
My doctor gave me anxiety medication to take and I am not interested in treating with medication but the quality of my life was crumbling away faster than I could handle. I took the medication and spent the next few weeks feeling like I was in a drunken stupor. It made me sick, affected my running, made working difficult and took away any happiness that I had left. I was able to sleep and for that I was happy but decided to stop taking the medication and try some Kava root instead at night and after a talk with my doctor came off of social media and the internet. Minimal visits to Facebook and other social media platforms seemed to be helping me sleep and feel happier but I felt like the medication took me back a few steps once I stopped and although I wasn’t dealing with feeling sick from the side effects I really believe it has been messing with my mind and giving me symptoms of depression. I am a rationale person and I know that taking my life or wishing my life to end is certainly not who I am or who I want to be. I have to ride this one out because a side effect of coming off of these medications is a feeling of sadness and hopelessness. It really makes dealing with some of the stress in my life difficult and certainly gives me more panic attacks and sadness but I am determined to find my happy again and know I will.
I’ve been through this before with my post concussion issues and maybe this is a part of old injury or maybe a side effect of stopping the medication. All I know is I feel like I am living outside of my body, watching my life fall apart as someone else living in my skin tears me apart and breaks me down. As I watch my soul shatter I gather up the pieces and know that I can put them together with a little help, so I will once again seek out therapy with the hope of getting back to who I once was. I’m not a quitter, I am strong and I will be okay. I am no stranger to seeing a therapist and honestly think that having a benign party hear my scattered thoughts and worries is the best way for me to pick up my shattered pieces and put them back together again. The beauty of seeing someone that does not know me is that they are able to look at what I am saying and see it without emotion and help me see it for what it is.
So enough of my pity party. Although I do feel I have not been able to fully experience the joy I am capable of feeling I have had some incredible runs and adventures with many more in my future! The trails here in the White Mountains are an icy death and I have gotten out on some adventures but even microspikes are not enough and we are swinging from trees like monkeys trying to navigate the icy trails! So much road running has been good for the leg speed but I miss my mountain running! I’ve shared some adventures this winter which included a winter presi traverse with wild winds, sunny blue skies and trails that glistened with ice, fun hikes with friends and the doggies, a trip to do some Caribbean trail running and started a small farming operation at our home.
I was planning on racing Breakneck again this year but with the new addition of some piglets, the puppy just being cleared for running and a need to get my head straight I decided to stay home next weekend and take care of the critters and go for a local adventure on some smaller snow free mountains! Ryan and I are going to have to take turns with most of our races this year so that one of us is home taking care of the pigs and chickens while the other ventures off to a race. Raising animals for meat is new to me and I am a very compassionate person so I may be vegetarian by the end of this journey but I a may not. I eat meat and feel that knowing how my meat was raised is important enough for me to want to raise my own animals for food. We are going to have meat and egg chickens and also pigs. We also will have a very large vegetable garden, fruit trees and berry bushes. We tapped some trees this winter and made some incredible maple syrup and plan to get some honey bees next year which would be amazing! Ryan is the farmer and I am simply learning and appreciating raising my own food and feelings about raising animals to eat.
So many people have told me not to name the animals, not to get attached and to treat them like food. I was ready to do that until the day we got the piglets. Ryan found a local farmer and liked his attitude toward farming. What surprised me was that he named his animals, he hugged the piglets and told them they would be okay as the squealed at the top of their lungs when he separated them from the litter. I was in shock, why would someone be so compassionate towards animals that were bred to die for us to eat. He explained he does not believe in castrating the piglets because of how traumatic it is for everyone involved and that he and his wife choose to give the animals a good life and treat them with respect and love. Something inside me changed at that moment.
When Ryan and I got home and introduced the pigs to their new home I watched them, I sat with them and the next morning they allowed me to pet them. They are fascinating to watch, the way they eat, sleep in a pile, interact with each other, dig in the ground, drink, scratch themselves on their shelter, bury themselves in the straw to sleep, the noises they make and how they like dogs. They are such peaceful animals and after only a few days with them we decided to give them names. I looked at them knowing that one day they would be sacrificed to be on my plate and vowed to love them and give them the best possible life I could provide for them. Why not, they are giving their lives for us humans to eat. The least I can do for them is give them a happy life full of love. We all die and we all want to have a happy and fulfilling life before it ends, why should these animals have anything less? It would be selfish of me to treat them poorly because I am afraid to love them only because I will be sad when they die. Take it one step further and I feel that I should be the one to take their lives because I will be the one who gives them a life. This is going to be an emotional adventure for me and when the day comes to sacrifice them I will be sad but I hope I am happy that they lived a beautiful life. I am not afraid to get attached to them and I will make sure that wherever they end up taking their last breath that it will be done with respect and as humane as possible.
As for my running, it has actually been great! I feel so strong and so healthy! La Sportiva came out with some incredible new clothes and shoes for this year! After taking the gear out on the trails I am so thrilled with how comfortable everything is! The Akasha shoes are amazing, they offer traction and cushion which really takes mountain running to a new level of comfort and the clothing is so comfortable I have to keep looking down to see if I have any clothes on! Zero chaffing, wicks better than anything I have ever run in and the sports bra is so comfortable that I don’t bounce and don’t feel like I am being squashed! Julbo makes the Aero glasses which are incredible and don’t fog! They are super comfortable and the Zebra lenses are very nice to have when running in varying conditions. Of course I love my choucas hats, headbands and bandits! My favorite neck gaiter is the polartec because it works in so many different weather conditions!
Bennett has been cleared to run and is really enjoying getting out on the trails with Jack puppy! He is working on his 4 thousand footers and has a handful of them already! They are such silly dogs and have so much energy! I love my trail pups, they make playing in the woods so much fun and seeing them romping around on the trails makes me smile.
I want to thank my sponsors for providing me with such amazing equipment! Your gear gives me the ability to go on wonderful adventures and perform the best I can while being comfortable! Thank you to my coach Jack for dealing with me through the ups and downs of training and the emotional and physical roller coaster that it takes me through. Thank you to my Ryan for joining me on so many adventures including the adventure through life. Thank you to my friends for always being there to set me straight, make me smile and share adventures with me on and off the trail. Thank you to my Jack puppy and Bennett for bringing me so much joy and joining me on so many adventures in the mountains! Thank you to everyone who has given me the opportunities that I have had in my life, although I am going through a rough patch I do know that I am a very lucky girl and I will come out on the other side smiling and happy! I have a lot of living left to do and only have 13 of my 50 US High Points so I can’t call it quits yet! Oh, and a few running races to explore!
Next up: A weekend adventure of running new trails, a quick trip to attempt to climb Mount Hood, then a fun training race with a friend which will include some more US High pointing and then my first key race of the year!
When life beats you down, be strong. Know that every mountain can be climbed, some with tools and some without. If your climb gets technical then pull out that ice axe, grab that rope and get ready for a hell of a climb. I’ve got out my crampons, axe, helmet, harness and axes for this one. And remember,
“You cannot stay on the summit forever; you have to come down again. So why bother in the first place? Just this: What is above knows what is below, but what is below does not know what is above. One climbs, one sees. One descends, one sees no longer, but one has seen. There is an art of conducting oneself in the lower regions by the memory of what one saw higher up. When one can no longer see, one can at least still know.”-Rene Daumal
It’s been a long road to changing my body through physical therapy but it’s really been paying off and I feel stronger each day! The cross training has made my running more enjoyable and I’m finding that it brings me an inner peace that running alone can’t give me. It feels so good to hop on the bike, throw on a pack and go for a hike or lace up my running shoes and go for a run. This winter has been pretty interesting with the lack of snow and abundance of ice. It’s been a tough one for the pups with open river crossings that are higher than normal and trails that are glare ice! It’s been tough for us humans too but at the same time fun to experience winter in a completely different way.
I made a promise to my coach that I would not race the Hyannis marathon and he intentionally kept my training in line with using it only as a training run. My training has been going really well, my speed isn’t quite where it was last fall but it also wasn’t that far gone. I would test out my new legs on some of my runs and was pleasantly surprised at how strong they felt! I did a few fast runs and was excited to see that my speed is coming back and I am recovering better than I previously could!
I also have been trying really hard to take care of myself this winter with goals of not getting sick like I usually do. So far it’s been pretty good! The week of my marathon I came down with a sinus infection but I get them so often I was able to catch it early and got into the doctor who put me on some Augmentin and within two days the pressure came down and I started feeling better, my tummy was feeling pretty upset from it but I made sure to eat a lot of yogurt and do the best I could to prevent it from debilitating me.
I’ve had some wicked fun adventures, one which really stood out was an attempt to do Owls head with Elizabeth and Kristin. Winter is usually a great time to attempt owls head because you can take advantage of the bushwacks and frozen rivers. Kristin is working on her NH48 and we were excited to take her up the mountain! We started out on Lincoln woods and the trail was quite icy. The black pond bushwack was unbroken and had a few inches of new snow that had been blasted with rain. Elizabeth and I have been on the schwack many times and worked together to navigate while Kristin must have been wondering what the heck she got herself into! Kristin asked how we knew where to go and Elizabeth grabbed a broken branch and pointed to it and said “This is not Nature” and walked ahead to point out another. We had a pretty good laugh about navigating it and finally came out to the roaring river!
We hopped on the icy Lincoln Brook trail and everything was okay until we got to the first of two river crossings. The first one had some ice on it but was pretty thin. We carefully made our way across without incident. Then we came upon the second one just before the Brutus Bushwack. It was huge and there was ice under the raging river and was not really passable. Kristin and Elizabeth crossed over by using a fallen tree. Jack puppy was too small to follow Katahdin across the river so I stood partially in the water and passed him across to Elizabeth and then I crossed. My La Sportiva Crossovers are incredible and there is nothing better than a waterproof shoe this time of year!
We got on the bushwack and it went from a thin layer of slippery snow to glare ice. The pups had trouble, we had trouble and after taking some time to chat about what to do we decided this was not fair to our doggies, we would take much too long to summit and would be crossing the river in the dark and the sun was melting everything quickly which could make the river crossing impossible for us. So, with less than a mile to get to the summit we turned around. When we got back to the river we were very glad we did.
In that short amount of time things had changed. The water was higher and pushing harder. Elizabeth crossed, but not without submerging her feet, I tried to step on some ice that was stable earlier and pass Jack puppy to Elizabeth and I fell in up to my knees in water and did not feel the bottom, my pack seemed to stop me! My crossovers are awesome in water up to my ankles but to my knees, nope! So, I got out and went to a different part of the river where I was able to pass Jack across and then I made my way through the ice and water. Kristin was able to get across without getting soaked. Elizabeth and I were both pretty happy to have on waterproof shoes because as long as we kept moving the water in our shoes stayed tolerably cold. We got back to the cars happy that we were okay and our pups were okay. We had enough gear to spend the night if we had to but were glad it didn’t come down to that! It was a great day in the mountains that taught us all some lessons!
Then Ryan had his team over for a weekend of adventuring which was not as wild as hoped due to wicked high winds, trails being a disaster and lots of ice and rain. We made the best of it and ended up doing a super fun backpack trip near the house and Bennett had his very first camping adventure! The pups did great on the hike and in the tent! We enjoyed a summit of Passaconway with beautiful weather and even a moose sighting on the trail!
Then there was the Hyannis Marathon. I really didn’t know what to expect. I felt strong and fit but have not been doing much for speedwork and instead have been working on building up my endurance and strength with my newly found glutes and hamstrings! I made a promise to my coach to run at a 7:30 pace. On race morning I wasn’t sure what to expect but there was a pretty competitive field and I wasn’t sure I could not try to run my best. We had some friends over for the weekend and it was really nice to see them! Ryan and I were tapering for the race so we weren’t able to hike with them although it looked like they had great weather!
I didn’t feel nervous at the race start but felt very unprepared. Usually I have an idea of pacing, nutrition and strategy. Today I was hoping to behave but as soon as the race started I wanted to fly. I tried to keep it around 7 minute pace and when my first mile ticked off at 6:23 I knew I blew it. Ryan was running the half and he ran up to me and told me to slow down. I backed off a bit but found myself in a pack of runners working together to ward off the strong winds. I have never run in a pack before and it was a bit clausterphobic but also a lot easier than being out there alone! I stayed in the pack and we broke off into two groups, I fell back into a comfortable rythm with the second pack. We stayed together until mile 11 and then I was off on my own. A few people chatted with me and I liked the company. People don’t seem to enjoy chatting at these road races and I get pretty lonely. This course was stunning though and I really found the beaches that we ran by to be beautiful!
As I rolled through the start finish onto my second loop I felt a burst of energy! I was feeling awesome, my tummy was okay and I was having fun! The second loop was drastically different than the first. There were hardly any people on the course and the wind was insane! I pushed through it the best I could, smiling and enjoying the challenge! It slowed me down a ton and I started ticking off sevens. Well, that sub three was fading away quickly but I did find out I was in a solid 3rd place position and 1st and 2nd were coming undone but far enough ahead of me where I may not be able to catch them. I ran well and strong until about mile 22-23 where my tummy started to turn. I made sure that I was drinking from every water stop because of the antibiotics I was on and because it was really warm out! It was such a beautiful day for a run, sunny and 50! The winds were powerful but refreshing! When my stomach turned I started sipping small amounts of Gatorade and chasing it with water. It seemed to keep my energy level steady.
I also noticed that my energy became erratic as I was very focused on not having to take a bathroom stop and finishing the race in 3rd. I was happy and I was having fun, but bummed out that my tummy had turned. I turned it off and ran as strong as I could to the finish! When I saw the finish chute I got choked up as usual and fought my tears of pride! I don’t care how fast or slow I am or how long the race is, I am always so proud to cross a finish line. There is such a long story associated with each one. The finish line is last page in that story, what you wrote leading up to it is what matters! For those seconds leading up to crossing that finish line I see the hard work, the sacrifices, the happy training runs, my friends, my coach , my family, my pups. All of those memories and the ones I hold in my heart are with me during the race and right there in my heart when I finish.
Every person that toes that starting line has a story they wrote, people who helped them get there, good days, bad days and an adventure that will continue until they cross the finish line. Nobody is alone on race day, everyone has a reason they are there and people in their lives who were there during the training, hard work and sacrifices. First or last, be proud of the story you wrote and know that your race is the last chapter in that book. Make it a good one and have fun, be the best you can be and always be proud that you completed your journey! I have found that it’s fun to always have another goal on deck, something to look forward to, another journey and another story to write my way to the next finish line!
I want to throw out a huge thank you to my Sponsors La Sportiva, JULBO USA and Choucas Hats! Your gear is amazing! Thank you to my coach Jack and I am really sorry to have dissapointed you by not running at the pace you wanted me to. I do think I learned a ton about myself, running a marathon and why you wanted me to hold back. The good news is I will recover and I will listen to you next time! Thank you to my Ryan, Jack Puppy and Bennett for being my best buddies on and off the trail! Thank you to my friends for sharing so many great times together, your friendships mean the world to me! I am a very lucky girl!
One day it’s 50 and sunny, then the next it’s 34 and raining and then…SURPRISE!!! It’s an unpredicted snow storm two days later! It’s been a pretty mild winter and although my Nordic skis are crying and my snowshoes collecting dust I am not going to complain. After last winter I will gladly take a winter where I can still run on trails but also be able to find some snow up high in the mountains! I have been cleared for speed work and gave my racing legs a try at the Boston Prep 16 mile road race.
I showed up at the race and saw my friend Miriam as I was checking in! It was so long ago that I had seen her and she looked great! We did a warm up run together and ran into Christin and Amy who were also running! It was nice to see some familiar and friendly faces out there! I had no idea what to expect and really just wanted to run a solid race. My coach had given me a plan and I stuck to it. The race went out fast…real fast! I maintained a steady effort and focused on being able to run at the effort my coach had told me to. I was feeling good and every time my watch ticked off another mile I was blown away with the pace! This race is wicked hilly but strangely I think the steep descents were where I was able to make it happen! I ran steady and ran strong.
As the miles neared the end of the race I started to catch a few girls and at the “magic mile” did just as I was told to do and started to increase my effort. I was shocked to find myself still feeling great and catching people! The last two miles I was able to pass a few girls and knew they were hunting me down like lions so I pushed ahead at a very solid effort and rolled in just a few seconds ahead of the pack of super fast girls and a couple minutes behind Amy who blew our doors off with a stellar performance! I placed second woman and was completely thrilled with my race and my body!
I have gone on some fun hikes with friends and am really enjoying getting out on the mountain bike, hiking and running! The variety keeps things fun and I am absolutely loving the kettle bell workouts! Bennett is hiking on the shorter hikes and can’t wait to get out on some big boy adventures when he is older. It is tough with a puppy but so important to keep them at low mileage and intensity until they are done growing and to always make sure every hike or run is about them. If one of them gets hurt or struggles that is the end of my adventure and I am okay with that because I love those little buggers! The best thing is watching them have so much fun together! Jack puppy loves having a friend to play will all the time and they are going to be awesome trail buddies someday! My little jack puppy is recovering from a cut paw and swollen tonsils. He will get better and start tearing up the trails again soon!
Last week inspired me to run the Boston Marathon! I have never actually been to Boston aside from the airport and science museum. My boss took me to the Yankee Dental Conference and I got to stay in Boston for a couple of days and he even took me for walks around the city after class where I got to see some pretty cool history and …THE FINISH LINE OF THE BOSTON MARATHON!!! Well, I felt so much energy there and imagined myself crossing the finish line feeling proud and happy to have run this ledgendary race! It was more than just a vision, I saw my finish, I felt the emotions of finishing and I knew that I was going to put in for the 2017 race. Maybe that will be my marathon that takes me in under 3 hours, just maybe it’s the one! Either way, I can’t wait to finally be able to say yes when people ask me if I ran Boston and I want one of those finisher jackets!
The morning before classes I had the opportunity to wake up good and early and run along the Charles with Kelsey and Phil and I had an absolute blast running out there! I saw so many other runners and best of all I got to hang out with Kelsey! Then I met up with Dave who made Jack puppy a new food bowl and it was nice to see him too! Overall my Boston experience was absolutely wonderful and I can’t wait to go back and run with thousands of other people with incredible stories that are taking them to such an amazing sounding race!
So, I have picked out some really fun races for this year and am excited to see new places! I have a few US Highpoints I will be attempting this year and trying to hook up with friends who live near my travel races! I also can’t wait to go to St Johns Island again for some island fun, try to climb Mount Hood and run some pretty tough races!
I want to thank my sponsors La Sportiva, Choucas Hats and JULBO USA for their support again this year and for making such incredible gear! Thank you to Jessica, Melanie and Dr Middleton for fixing me and teaching me how to not be broken. Thank you to Jack for coaching me so perfectly! Thank you to my Ryan, Jack Puppy and Bennett for being my best buddies on and off the trail! Thank you to my friends for spending time with me on and off the trail and always making me smile! Thank you to my boss for giving me the best job in the world, I can’t believe I love being a dental hygienist again! I am one very lucky girl and I can’t wait to see my little step daughters Zoe and Hannah soon, it’s been way too long!
I am also starting to make my own body care products using food grade and natural ingredients that have zero chemicals in them! I have finally perfected my lip balm recipe and have decided to start selling it to raise money to help me get to my races and adventures! I have several essential oils to pick from and I can create the scent of your choice! You can contact me for a list of oils that i have. A donation of $25 will get you 5 hand made lip balms shipped to your door! Kfolcik2@gmail.com for more information! Donation for races!
Make the best of every day and every situation you are in. Believe that people can be good and always try to be the best person you can be! Never give up on a dream and never forget to love with all your heart. Life is a roller coaster and the only way to get through the low points is to use them as a way to fully appreciate the high points. Smile, take care of your body, be kind to others, be humble, love deeply and don’t forget to floss your teeth. 🙂
As usual I am always rethinking my goals and where my life is and where it was and where I want it to go. I’ve lived so many different lives and experienced so much in the 38 years since I came into this world. The one thing that has always stayed with me is my need for adventure. I feel like my running has become mundane, boring, and involved a lot of pressure. Injuries pile up like toppings on an ice cream sundae (at least the kind of sundaes I eat!) So, I continue to find balance and wholeheartedly that I can do it all and that I don’t have to give up one sport to excel in another. I have spent almost a year now having intensive physical therapy sessions which include dry needling, massage therapy and chiropractic care. It’s work, it’s time consuming and it works!
After the Cape Cod Marathon my physical therapist pointed out that I have been only using my lateral quads when running which explained why it felt torn after the race so she showed me how to use kettle bells and gave me body weight exercises. As each week passed I felt different, my strength improved, my pants fit a bit tighter in the rear and my cardio/speed suffered as I adjusted to my changing body. I’ve been riding mountain bikes again and hiking as well. I’m strength training and trying to add some variety to my life! Suddenly running became fun again, my mountain bike has been dusted off and I get to hike mountains again! To motivate me to keep cross training I booked a trip to attempt to climb Mount Hood this year! I started my high pointing adventure several years ago and this one will be my last glaciated peak which is bittersweet. Glaciers are beautiful and magical. They can be scary but there are not many left I and I feel so lucky to have been able to spend time on something that will one day be nothing more than a part of history.
I had to bail on a few races this winter due to my coach and physical therapist feeling that I need to complete my transformation before doing speed work. As I begin to use new muscles they are fragile and they will affect my gait so stressing them with speed work will lead to injury and set backs. It is really hard to be patient but the other day I realized it was worth waiting for! I had an amazing run where everything worked and nothing hurt! So, I can finally start doing some speed work and getting back to performing the best that I can! I also plan to continue to cross train because it is fun and opens up my circle of friends. I can never have too many friends, and the more variety I have in my life the more diverse my friends become!
Moving to the White Mountains has also changed my life tremendously! It is much more affordable than where we used to live, closer to my incredible job and I can run mountains right from our house! Each day I wake up grateful for everything I have! Jack puppy has been absolutely loving his new home and we got him a baby brother named Bennett! He is a border collie full of energy and is already a great hiking dog! Jack puppy is a great big brother and is having fun showing him the ropes on the trail!
So much has happened since the Cape Cod Marathon but they are all great things! It’s nice to be able to use the excuse of being too busy having fun to blog! I’ve also decided that it is time to travel again and explore so I will be doing a variety of trips, races, runs, hikes and adventures this year! I signed up for some of the toughest races I could find but also have that dream of pulling off that sub 3 hour marathon! I know in my heart that if I do things right I can run mountains and maintain my road speed, it’s all about balance! I may not be the fastest girl out there but I sure am one of the tough girls!
It’s going to be a fun year and I can’t wait to snag a few more US High points and to run some wild races! I want to thank La Sportiva and Choucas Hats for taking me back again this year! I absolutely love their stuff and both companies have some sweet gear that is new this year! I will be wearing my shoes, clothes and hats while racing, training and adventuring! I want to thank my coach Jack Pilla for dealing with me still after almost 4 years of putting up with my roller coaster of a life! Thank you to my Ryan, Jack Puppy, Bennett and Zoe and Hannah for making my life complete and being my best buddies on and off the trail! Thank you to all my friends for the lunches, hikes, runs, adventures and other fun times together!
Life is as good as you want it to be. Make your life good, fill your heart with love and always remember to seek out adventure! Take care of your body, it’s the only one you have and if you treat it well it will take you on some amazing journeys. 🙂
Since my first road marathon in 2013 I have been haunted by that 3:03 I ran at the Manchester Marathon. I knew I wasn’t trained for the marathon and my goal was 3:30. I was thrilled to exceed my goal but…..3 minutes shy of breaking 3 hours! I thought I wouldn’t care but I did, so once I was able to get myself healthy again with the help of my physical therapists Mel and Jan, my massage therapist Jessica and my chiropractor Dr Middleton I told my coach I signed up for the Cape Cod Marathon because I thought it was flat. I later found out it had some hills but I expected them to feel flat as a pancake. I told close friends and didn’t make a big fuss over it because I wanted to quietly try to break 3 hours. It was nothing more than a bucket list item that I wanted to check off.
Of course I didn’t listen to my coach. I signed up for a 50 miler about 6 weeks out which meant I would have to recover for 2 weeks and that left me with only 2-3 weeks of marathon training. I also couldn’t resist hitting the trails with friends because it was so much more inviting than pounding the pavement alone. I even did a Killkenny ridge traverse with Ryan, Adam, Cooper and Jack puppy where Jack puppy finished his NH 48 and celebrated with some Bologna! I figured my weekly track workout would be enough to get me to my goal and ran dirt roads in place of paved roads. The trails from our house are quite rugged but I train based on effort so I just assumed it wouldn’t really matter what kind of surface I ran on.
I also took some time to continue painting rooms in the house and we had someone refinish the floor so working on the house made getting in the miles a bit tougher too!
I also started riding mountain bikes with my friend Kristin which has been a very nice change and a weekly escape from always running! I also run with my friend Elizabeth after work which is always fun (except when I tripped on and landed in a dead carcass on a night run-that’s right, I fell into a dead carcass and got blood and guts on me) and when my friend Abbey can join me on the track I would try to keep up with her while she completely kicks my ass during the speed sessions! I usually run with Ryan a few days a week and Jack puppy joins on almost every trail run!
I honestly could not wait for my marathon so that I could get back into the mountains. It killed me to look out our window every morning and see the mountain and not be running up it! I had turned down fun mountain runs with friends to go run solo on the road and do speed workouts as well as work on my nutritional strategy. As the race got closer I became more nervous!
We had not seen the girls in a long time and missed them terribly. Finally their mom let us see them and because it happened to be the weekend of my race we were thrilled to bring them with us! They have never seen a road running race and we thought it would be nice for them to see people doing amazing things! On the way to the race Hannah told us how she was telling her friends that her dad and step mom were strong. Her friend said that she believed her dad was strong but didn’t believe that a mom could be strong. I knew at that moment I was going to be strong for my girls and I told them they would see some very strong women at the race. They asked me if I was going to win and I told them I was not going there to win and probably would not win but I wanted to run in under 3 hours. They had no idea what running in under three hours meant, and they don’t need to at their young ages. Ryan and I try to teach the girls to focus on having fun and enjoying the journey instead of being competitive. They are way too young to be taking competition to the next level and instead should just be doing things for fun.
We got my BIB number and went to the Cape Wind Resort which ended up being awful. They put two cots in the room with springs poking through and promised cookware in the kitchenette and there was none so we had to buy pots and pans. We were on a budget which is why we got a room with a kitchen! I was quite nervous about the race and tried to doze off but the person in the room next to us woke up every 3 hours to smoke and hack their brains out. Jack puppy barked when he heard them outside and the smoke smelled so bad coming in the room so we had to close the window, but they were so noisy all night. I got up exhausted and frustrated but at that point all I could do was move on with the day.
We got to the race start and ran into Karen and Dima and wished each other luck! I gave hugs and kisses to Ryan, the girls and Jack puppy and stood at the starting line, up front shaking like a leaf. Eric looked over at me and we wished each other luck. Then after the national anthem the cannon went off and we were flying…way too fast! We were somewhere around 6:20 pace and I slowed up around mile 3. I tried to run off effort and was pleasantly surprised with how good I felt ticking off 6:30-6:44 pace. I questioned my ability to maintain it but I could talk, laugh and smile so I went with it! Honestly the flats felt great and my body was being nice to me!
I could see the lead woman and she was cookin! A guy Andrew ran with me for a while and talked to me about the course and taught me a few things about the marathon as he had several under his belt. I would choke on the water at the water stops but tried to keep running. I was thrilled to see 1:28 at the half mark which was exactly where I wanted to be. Around mile 14 the hills started and my pace began to slow on the climbs. I tried to make up time on the descents and then it happened, my quads started to kill! I had to slow up on the descents so I tried to rev my cadence and effort on the hills but I struggled to hover around 7 minute pace. I had a moment of negativity where I questioned stopping and thought how ridiculous it was to be worrying about seconds! In a trail race I can completely blow it and make up time but on the road it’s so consistent that missing pace by a second or two can completely rip that goal away from you.
I caught up with the first woman around mile 15 and we chatted a bunch as I kept asking the group I was with if we were on sub 3 pace. They assured me we were in a great spot. The woman also had said she ran a 50k the week before which absolutely blew my mind! I wanted the girls to meet her after the race because I wanted them to see how strong she was to run two long and hard races within a week! I got choked up and thought of the girls and how I wanted to be strong for them and show them that their friends were wrong.
I don’t know what happened but around mile 19 I became a different runner. I was in so much pain yet still held onto a respectable pace. The flatter miles in the 6:40’s, the hilly ones in the low 7’s and then there were the two windy miles where I ticked off a 7:28 and 7:38. When I saw those two miles I was crushed. I tried to do the math and realized sub 3 was about to become impossible. I started to feel my body want to shut down and saw three flashes of white stripes in my vision and wondered if I were having a stroke. The last time I experienced something like this was at Cranmore when I collapsed at the finish. I was going to finish in 3 hours or push myself to collapsing, there were no other options. I didn’t care that I was in the lead because that is not why I was there.
The pace bike was with me and I don’t have much memory after mile 23 but at some point I do remember telling him I wanted to cut my legs off. I turned the very last corner and saw the clock at 2:59 and ran as hard as I could, my legs so sore they didn’t feel like they were a part of my body. When I saw it hit 3:00 I was crushed. I didn’t let up but instead decided that clock was not going to hit 3:01. With so many emotions, so much pain and so much excitement for the race to be over I grabbed the finish tape and held it high over my head for my step daughters to see! I ran that race for them and was very proud of winning although I didn’t feel that my time deserved a win. I am very hard on myself and I was not upset, just couldn’t believe I have to run another marathon now to try for sub 3! I crumpled up the finish tape and walked over to the table full of Gatorade cups and just kept drinking them, one right after another while apologizing for being such a slob. I was thirsty, most of the Gatorade and water I had during the race ended up in my nose or eyes.
As I finished my disgusting display of stuffing my face I realized there were people there with notepads and cameras. I just wanted to hug my family and kept looking at them on the other side of the gate! I was going to give the finish line banner to my step daughters but the race officials took it away and said it wasn’t for me to keep! It was so funny because winning a trail race usually involves a few people kicking around and then lying on the ground staring at the sky. This was so outside of my element and not what I expected. After asking me a bunch of questions the reporters let me bring them over to my family and one of them got a great picture of us! As an added bonus I won some loot and found out I finished 5th overall!
It was a bittersweet day! I went there with one goal which I didn’t achieve but instead a surprise win! Honestly I would have traded that win for a sub 3 hour finish, but heck, I can check off a marathon win from my bucket list even though that was never on the list! I was extremely proud at how strong and smart I ran. I could not have executed a more perfect race and those 16 seconds, my watch got 26.4 miles so….in essence I did break 3 hours but I will be back to try another race that is flatter and I will try my hardest to do the full 16 weeks of training instead of only 3. Anyone that can run under 3 hours is a total badass in my book. The dedication, training and sacrifice needed to pull that off is amazing! I could barely walk the day after the race!
This week is a week of super easy running, biking and a lot of eating and relaxing. It is time to put some weight back on (I ate like a pig and still lost way too much weight from the training) and enjoy the off season with some nordic and backcountry skiing, snowshoe running, hiking mountains and spending time with friends and family!
The biggest win of the year for me was realizing that being fast isn’t important to me but instead having fun and being a good role model to my steppies. I want to teach them to never stop having fun, to do things that make them happy and to understand that they can have anything they want if they work hard and put in the effort to make it happen. I want them go grow up to be strong women who can support themselves and get involved with someone because they want that person in their life, not because they need them. The only way we can change the world is by teaching our children through our actions.
I want to thank my sponsors La Sportiva, JULBO USA, Choucas Hats and UltrAspire for their support, your products are absolutely wonderful! Thank you to my coach Jack for putting up with me and working so hard to keep me on track. Thank you to Ryan and Jack puppy for being my partners in life on and off the trail! Thank you to Zoe and Hannah for accepting me into their lives and loving me. Being a step mom is not the easiest role but our relationship over the last few years has become full of love! These girls have given me the gift of motherhood and I love it! Thank you to my awesome and fun friends, my girl friends know how to have fun on and off the trail! I treasure our time together and thank you for taking time out of your life to spend it with me. I am a ridiculously lucky girl! 🙂
The last month has been full of emotion, both happy and sad. I have had so many incredible adventures in the mountains with friends running and riding mountain bikes again! I’ve been working on my mountain running skills while still trying to chase that goal of a sub three hour marathon in October. I sure hope I tag that one because road running is just not for me and I don’t want to have to pound the pavement again to train for another one!
I have been training for Virgil Crest 50 as well as the marathon and really loved getting in the mountains for some crazy hard days! Ryan and I pulled off an overall FKT of the swan song loop a few weeks ago which was one of the hardest adventures I have ever had in the White Mountains! I still wonder how 31 miles can take 13 hours and 25 minutes to complete! Ryan asked me if I wanted to do something hard in the mountains so I said yes and off we went!
As usual we got a late start and made our way up Kings Ravine laughing at the rocks and taking in the views. Once up on the ridge we went over to Adams and then down to the buttress trail where we entered the Great Gulf and then climbed the very steep Great Gulf Trail where we surprised a guy taking a crap on the side of the trail. Maybe he should think about where he poops next time!
After we got over the headwall we stood on top of Mount Washington and stuffed our faces with Whoopie Pies, Coke, Hotdogs, Pizza and refilled our hydration packs. We went down the Tuckermans ravine trail and were treated to beautiful views! Once down lower we went up the Boot Spur Link Trail and to the Boot Spur trail and then down to Pinkham notch where we once again refilled our water.
We headed up the trail into Huntington Ravine trail which always scares the crap out of me! We got into the Alpine Garden where we saw a porcupine and then made our way to the Wamsutta trail which was beautiful and so steep! After that we were back in the Great Gulf and it was just starting to get dark. Half way up the Madison Gulf Trail we had to pull out our headlamps and once we got on the ridge there were so many stars and the moon was huge! We stopped in the Madison Hut to buy some Lemonade and refill our packs before making our way up to the top of Madison and down the Watson Path to Brookside Trail and back to Appalacia! It was a ridiculous amount of climbing and descending and we laughed the whole day! We ran into multiple friends throughout the day which made the adventure even more fun! If you are ever feeling adventurous this loop is for you!
This last weekend after a week of very little sleep and a lot of worrying about my dad my mom told me to go race and enjoy my weekend. There was nothing I could do for my dad, he needs to sleep and rest and having me down there would keep him up. It kills me to not be there but I also know he needs this time to rest. My boss is incredible and told me I could leave at any time to see my dad which really took a lot of stress off of me.
By Thursday I was completely exhausted and ready for the week to be over. I had a four day weekend and was looking forward to spending it trying to make my legs hurt more than my heart. Well, the adventure kicked off a bit earlier than expected! A call from our friend who is an amazing photographer brought a new adventure to the weekend! We would carry huge packs with 50+ pounds of camera gear, dresses and sleeping bags to the top of South Moat for a series of photos. Sunset, Milky Way and Sunrise. Basically very little sleep but some opportunities for killer shots!
We had fun, the wind was making it quite challenging and trying to balance on rocks in heels and dresses in the wind was not easy but we also got some good ones with bare feet. It was so fun and Jack puppy even slept in my sleeping bag with me! After the sun came up and we were done shooting we all hiked back down and Ryan and I headed home with the Jack puppy to make the long drive to NY to race Virgil Crest.
I would be racing the 50 mile which I decided would determine whether I run that distance again or just keep it under 50k. My two goals were to not have to crap a bunch and to make my legs hurt more than my heart. I was a bit nervous but with so much on my mind it helped make me feel more calm about running. Our friend Tony was attempting his first 100 and Ryan would help crew Tony with his wife Lise and friend Heather until our friend Scottie got to mile 50 and then Ryan would pace Scottie and I would take a nap for a bit and the crew and pace Tony until the last 11 miles where Heather would pace him to the finish. We were surrounded by friends, I had gotten to talk to my dad and I was feeling happy.
The race started in the dark and I just smiled, I was excited to be there surrounded by so many people ready to take on an adventure. We all had different paths to get to where we were and I really enjoyed making new friends during the run! We got to the first aid station pretty quickly and Ryan took my headlamp and off I went yapping and laughing away with other runners! I did have moments where I cried as I felt selfish for being at the race instead of with my dad. My parents wanted me there instead of in CT.
I thought of Zoe and Hannah a lot during the race and wished they were there with me. We don’t see the kids enough and it’s so hard now that they are further away and on the weekends they are in so many activities that we may end up only seeing them during school vacations. I got sad thinking about how much I missed them and also happy that they are in my life and that we have such an incredible relationship! I am so lucky to have two little kids in my life that I love so much and they seem to love me too!
I thought of my life and how my journey had taken me to that moment and I focused on the trail and where I was and I just took in the sound of my breathing, the beauty of the trail and enjoyed hearing stories from other runners I shared some miles with. One of them was a combat veteran who served overseas and decided one day to turn his drug and alcohol addiction into an addiction for living a healthy lifestyle. I thanked him for defending our freedom and we chatted about life and kids and running. We both decided wars should be fought through a good trail run or a game of golf.
I was alone again on the trail and had many moments of crying because I was so happy to be there and so sad that my dad was sick. I smiled when I saw the running magazines scattered around on the trail and when I got into the turnaround I was greeted with smiling volunteers who were so eager to make sure I had what I needed before heading back down the trail.
I had pooped twice before the turnaround but it was solid and didn’t make me feel sick. I hoped that the last 25 miles would treat me well. I accidentally blew by a turn and ran down a huge hill only to realize I went the wrong way and I looked at my watch and saw the mileage and ran back to where I messed up. Bonus miles!!!! I ran 3/4 miles extra and panicked a bit. I pushed a bit harder than I should have and ended up with my legs being a bit sore.
By the time I got to the alpine loop it was very hot and humid and the descents were killing my knees! I was coming undone and had hit a really dark place. I wanted to quit and I questioned my sanity. I got hungry and reached into my pack and found some power pellets and smiled and cried at the same time. They made me think of Chad who died suddenly last year on a trail run. I chewed them and cried. I talked to Chad, he was with me and he was going to get me through the rest of my run. I dried my tears and ran that alpine loop with another runner that I had caught up with. We chatted a bunch and soon found ourselves catching another guy who was starting to struggle with the heat as well.
That aid station could not come fast enough. I drank apple cider, gingerale and Tailwind. I ate fruit and potato chips and refilled my hydration pack again. I didn’t want to leave but knew I had to finish. I ran the best I could focusing on the next aid station. I was dehydrated and starting to struggle with labored breathing and a spike in my heart rate. My legs were getting sore and I was certainly feeling the pack carry from the day before. The lack of sleep all week was finally catching up to me and I could feel my body starting to fail. I peed once and it looked like Coke. I knew that was bad. I was drinking and taking electrolytes and trying to run based on effort. I thought of my dad and how much pain he has been in and decided that whatever I was going through would be nothing compared to what he was feeling. I ran the rest of the race for my dad because he couldn’t be outside enjoying his favorite time of year. He loves hiking in the fall and now he was at home in bed with severe pain that he didn’t have an answer to. I hoped I would see Ryan at the last aid station to give him a heads up that I might be a medical emergency at the finish but when I got to the aid station and didn’t see him I was glad he wasn’t there because I would have probably dropped.
I had to finish, I had 6.3 miles to go so I ate, drank and ran. I did a lot more thinking and a lot more crying. I thought about my life and all the wonderful things I have done. I thought about my family and how much I love them. I thought of my 86 year old grandmother that had surgery last week and pulled though like a champ and I thought about my dad and prayed that he live a long healthy life. When I thought I was going to collapse on the trail from the heat the rain came and cooled me off. It was exactly what I needed at that moment! I felt renewed and refreshed as I ran down the last hill to the paved path that would eventually end my run with a womens win (4th overall) and a 9:21 for a time! That was a huge PR on the course because last time I ran an 11:53!! I crossed that finish line so happy! Both goals were accomplished, I did not poop the whole time and my legs hurt way more than my heart. Ryan gave me a hug and Jack puppy gave me puppy kisses. Then Ryan gave me a huge bottle of electrolytes to drink as I sat and waited for Scottie to show up and Ryan to take off with him into the last 50 miles of his adventure.
I showered and tried to take a nap but it was not going to happen. When I had turned on my phone I saw a text from my mom that dad was back in the emergency room. My heart sank and I just wanted to drive to CT. She told me they were doing tests on him. I took a shower and headed back to meet Lise and Heather earlier than planned because I needed to be around friends to keep my mind busy. I would not be able to sleep worrying about my dad.
I hung out with Lise and Heather and got to see Tony come through the mile 50 point and head back out with a smile! By the time we saw him at mile 56 he was not in a good way and was struggling with GI issues. We tried to talk him into continuing but he knows his body and what he can tolerate. He called it a day and either way we were proud of him for giving it a try! Just as we got to the cars the skies opened up and it poured with lightning and a huge temperature drop. I thought of everyone still out there.
We went back to the room and I was texting with my mom until almost 3am when she said they were released from the hospital with a referral to a neurosurgeon and some meds. Finally they found something wrong and something they could try to fix. I fell asleep for a couple hours and then woke up to go see Scottie finish. Sadly I missed his finish but he finished strong and Ryan had fun pacing him!
I really enjoyed hanging out with so many friends over the weekend! I think one of the highlights of the weekend was actually being able to stick around to watch the last finishers. They were the toughest people out there. To be out on the course for almost 36 hours and endure such extreme temperature changes and weather and still persevere earns a lot of respect. They had that 100 mile shuffle going, that dazed look and a fire in their eyes that burned so bright! The tired smile that told a story that only they will know really brings a new meaning to the word badass. These guys and girls are tough.
Ryan and I had a great dinner with friends after a fun time at the waterpark! It was an incredible weekend and I am going to keep praying for my dad to be okay.
I want to thank my sponsors La Sportiva, JULBO USA, UltrAspire and Choucas Hats for their support and incredible gear! You make running comfy! Thank you to my coach Jack for dealing with my never ending change of plans! Thank you to my Ryan, Jack puppy, Zoe, Hannah and friends for sharing so many trail miles together on foot and on bike! Thank you to Jay Philbrick for always making me feel like a mountain princess! It’s fun to play dress up sometimes! Thank you to Ian Golden for being so awesome and making courses that are truly unique and fun! Thank you to the volunteers for being out there and taking care of us runners! Thank you the Mountain Peak Fitness/ Red Newt Racing crew for being so welcoming to me and allowing me to be an unofficial member! And thank you to everyone that is a part of my life. I am so lucky to be surrounded with such incredible people!
I never walk away from an ultra the same. I had so much time to think about things and of course figure out life a little bit more. Humans are creatures of habit and addiction and we need to take the time to listen to each other and help each other find healthy habits and addictions not through lecturing but instead through love and listening. We have a lot of very unhappy people these days and I fully believe that our electronic and instant gratification lifestyles have removed the very essence of human life. Patience, love, spending time with people in person and allowing ourselves to play even as an adult. These things need to change. The small little world of running long distances in the world breaks you down to the simplest existence and for most of us it makes us kinder to one another and shows us that life isn’t always about being on top but instead working together to give each other wings to fly. Do something nice for yourself today and something nice for someone else. I can guarantee when both are done you will smile inside and out!
I am still in shock that a move could change my life and my attitude. Ever since we have moved to the mountains I have found so much peace, so much joy and feel like I am finally back where I belong-in the mountains.
I fell in love with mountains years ago and have hiked them, biked them, snowboarded, climbed them and ran them. My favorite sport was mountaineering but deep inside me I wanted to figure out a way to move quicker in the mountains so that I could see more. Hauling around 65lbs of gear just didn’t seem right but I wanted to see wild places and scale tall icy peaks so that is what I did.
Once I lost my climbing partner I felt like climbing was suddenly a part of my past and I longed to play in the mountains again. I took up trail running and dabbled in running mountains when I could get up north but after achieving most of my running goals and having a really tough year in 2014 I felt like my inner flame turned into a burning ember. My runs got boring and felt like a chore, motivation to get my runs in dwindled and racing felt like a burden. My commute to work was long and boring and we spent so much time driving-driving to distant races, driving to the mountains, driving to and from the kids mothers house, driving, driving, driving.
When I walked into our new home for the first time I felt that fire burn a bit brighter and having the mountain looming over the house and only 5 miles from the door to the summit I started to feel complete. The dirt road running here is amazing, there are endless snowmobile, ski and mountain trails right from the door, incredible wildlife and a feeling of serenity.
I’m not sure how much racing I am going to be doing from now on. I am obsessed with playing in our local mountains, seeing how many miles I can cover in a day, exploring, finding swimming holes and spending time relaxing on our deck. I feel like every run becomes a new adventure and instead of seeking out starting lines and finish lines I am creating my own! I don’t feel like I need to prove anything to anyone and I certainly don’t feel like I need to compete.
Moving here has changed my running, flat runs are rare and pavement is quite minimal! I love pondering routes from the house while staring at the map trying to figure out how to link more mountains to my runs! It’s become a game and running has become pure bliss!
I look forward to the local Farmers Market where I find beautiful flowers and local meat and produce that is so yummy! I love my job where I get to swim and tan during my lunch break and I even got to do my beach day with my friend Christine where we relaxed by the ocean and she watched me pig out on mass quantities of food! I’m still doing physical therapy and dry needling along with massage and feel that I am getting healthier each day!
So although I won’t be spotted at races as much I will be silently creating new loops, testing my skills on mountain terrain and training to be a badass mountain girl! I feel like I have gone back to that place in time where I didn’t compare myself to others and only focused on finding amazing adventures. I am not sure I can be much more content with my life than I am now and I hope it continues to stay that way!
I want to thank my sponsors La Sportiva, UltrAspire, JULBO USA and Choucas Hats for their understanding and providing me with amazing equipment that allows me to play hard in the hills! Thank you to my coach Jack for putting up with my nonsense and keeping me on track with my training, even when I don’t know what I am training for! Thank you to my Ryan and Jack puppy for so many incredible trail miles together and thank you to my friends for joining me on so many adventures! I sure am a very lucky girl!
It takes a lot of hard work and persistence to make your dreams come true and sometimes a lot of low points in your life to make you open up your eyes and realize what makes you happy! We all deserve happiness! 🙂