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!
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!
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.
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.
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!
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!
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!
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.
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!
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!
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!
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!
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!
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.
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.
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!
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.
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!
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.
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.
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!
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.
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!
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!
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!
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!
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!
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!
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!
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!
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.
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…..
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.
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.
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.
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!
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!!!!!
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.
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.
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!
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!
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!
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!
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!
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!
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!
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!
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.
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!
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.
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!
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.
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!
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.
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!!!
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!
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!!!!!
“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
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!
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/
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!
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.
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.
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!
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 email@example.com
It is not the years in your life but the life in your years that counts. ~ Adlai Stevenson
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!
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!
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.
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 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!
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!
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.
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.
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!
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 firstname.lastname@example.org as I am not going to be returning to social media for socializing.
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.
Ryan kept telling me that picking Boston for my sub 3 marathon was a huge risk because of the weather. I decided to put all my eggs in one basket and spend the last six months training through endless snowstorms, ridiculous wind and frigid temperatures. It was the hardest training cycle I have ever done. Hitting my goal pace was rare but in the end I knew that if the conditions were right I would be able to check off that sub 3 marathon at Boston.
Earlier in the week the weather looked perfect! It was supposed to be 45 degrees and have a 15mph tailwind. If that were to happen I knew I could do it! It would be tight based on where I was with my fitness, but with stellar conditions it would happen.
Ryan and I were in Boston on Easter Sunday and it was 90 degrees. The forecast also changed for Monday with temperatures soaring into the high 70’s. My heart sank a little but I was feeling really good and they predicted a 20mph tailwind and I hoped that would cool things down and push us toward the finish line.
I had a good dinner and strangely felt calm. I was not nervous and I was really excited to be at Boston for the Marathon! No matter what the outcome was I felt very proud to have been able to qualify for the race with such a great qualifying time! Not everyone gets to run Boston, the qualifying times are stout. No matter what I was ready to just have fun!
I woke up early and had a light breakfast and brought a bag of snacks and water to the start with me. The security at the race was absolutely incredible and there was not one moment that I did not feel safe. I got on the bus and struck up a conversation with a guy from Ohio who Nordic races and uses running to stay in shape for the ski season.
The bus driver took a few minutes before we left to explain the emergency protocol if we had to evacuate the bus which included being able to kick out the windows. We were instructed to stay in our seats. Halfway through the ride a guy started puking loudly into a ziplock bag. The smell and sounds started to make a few of us gag. It was going to be a long ride. Then a small man ran up to the front of the bus telling the driver she had to pull over. She asked him to sit down and he refused because he had to pee. She picked up the radio and started telling police that there was an issue on our bus. One of the other people on the bus offered him a water bottle to pee in and he refused.
We got off the highway and an officer came onto the bus to talk to the man. He started throwing a fit about having to pee. The officer basically gave him two options, get in the cruiser or pee in his pants. The man grabbed the water bottle and went to the back of the bus to pee.
Once we got to the Athlete Village at the start I would be waiting for about 3 hours before the race began. There were helicopters, police and soldiers everywhere. There was a sea of porto potties and tents with food and water. I took a moment to do a guided meditation at the Equinox tent. It was really nice.
After a while we were directed toward the start of the race which was a mile walk from where the busses dropped us off. We got into our corrals and some airforce fighter jets flew over to start the race. Before I could process what was happening we were off, running down a long hill. I tried to run a bit slower and hold back so I had some gas in the tank at the end. My plan was to run 6:50 pace for the first 19 miles and pick up the pace at the end.
It was crowded. It was like the Manchester Thanksgiving Day race but for 26.2 miles instead of 5 miles. There were endless crowds of screaming spectators and the sea of runners was so thick that it was next to impossible to not bump into anyone or get bumped into. I soon realized that running at my comfortable pace would be hard because I either had to slow up or speed up to get to an area where there would not be a collision. I tried to stay off to the left where there were fewer people. I still did not give up hope.
About 5 miles in the heat started wearing on me. The sun felt like it was cooking me like an egg and that wind they predicted…there were so many people the air was stagnant. Somewhere between miles 5 and 6 someone shit their pants and it was running down their leg. Then right in front of me someone collapsed, unconscious and I tripped on him and caught myself on a runner in front of him. I tried to stop and see if he was okay but the crowd behind me yelled at me to keep going and literally pushed me ahead. I heard people yelling not to trample the down runner.
This would be how the race would progress. I started seeing more people collapse from the heat and get dragged off the course while volunteers tried not to get trampled. People were crapping themselves and vomiting profusely. I started to have issues with the heat and by mile 6 decided I was no longer going to pursue breaking 3 hours and instead wanted to run smart and not join the people collapsing from the heat. I wanted to finish the race.
I did cry a bit because I spent so much time trying to get ready for this race and letting go was not easy. I took some deep breaths in and looked at the cheering spectators, the silly signs and decided I was going to fully enjoy the Boston experience. As I made the decision I felt something wet on my left leg and realized a guy to the left of me pulled out his crank along the right side of his shorts and started peeing while running. I was getting a golden shower, it was nasty! I got frustrated and sprinted ahead while wondering how he could do that. I can’t pee while I am running that fast!
The water stops were tough and I missed a few. It was total chaos and felt like being in the center of a mosh pit. There were ankle deep piles of cups that I had to trip on and run through and over. There were plastic bottles and garbage everywhere that I tripped on.
At one aid station I grabbed five cups of water because i missed the last one and a runner started calling me an asshole. I felt bad but I was hot and there was plenty of water for everyone.
Then there were the tongue depressors with Vaseline. I thought what a nice idea until I looked at what was happening. People were scraping their ass cracks with the stick and covering it with poop and tossing the poop covered sticks on the ground. It was so disgusting! Every time I ran through one of these foul Vaseline stations I tried not to stop on all of the poop covered sticks on the ground. I feel bad for whoever had to pick those up.
The carnage continued as the race went on and people were literally dropping like flies. The spectators kept on cheering and bringing smiles to my face! I loved the little kids and must have high fived at least 1000 kids! I even took some popsicles and stuck them in my bra and shorts to try to keep myself cool.
Then there was the famous Wellesley college where the girls were holding out signs asking for kisses. I figured this was my only Boston marathon so why not get a kiss. I ran up to a girl with a sign asking for a kiss and gave her what she asked for! Don’t worry, I kept it classy, no tongue! Everyone was laughing and I ran away giggling.
People started handing runners beers and I thought about it but figured I would wait until the last mile and figured it would be funny to cross the finish line with a beer in hand. I had to treat this race like the party it was!
Heartbreak hill was a little bump compared to what we have to deal with in New Hampshire and I was very happy that it was short and not steep. In that heat I was looking for the path of least resistance.
As I got closer to the finish I was really proud of sticking it out and running smart. I was certainly feeling dehydrated from missing a couple of water stops but I ran in smooth like butter toward the end. I wanted to grab a beer from someone but at that point the spectators were barricaded from the runners and I just enjoyed the screaming people as I entered the last few hundred feet before crossing the finish! I saw Ryan and his dad and was ready to be done.
I was getting my finisher medal when I started to shiver and get cold. I got an instant headache and was sent to the medical tent where they got me warm and comfortable. They sent me away with a Gatorade and some water.
My finish time was 3:12:43 and was the 8th New Hampshire woman. It was my slowest marathon ever. I was not happy with my time, but I was very happy with my race. I ran smart and took care of myself. I allowed myself to slow down and not has serious issues from the heat. Not once did I have GI issues and my legs felt pretty good aside from some cramps from being dehydrated. It was a wonderful experience and I don’t think that running with 32,000 people is my thing. I would not have changed a thing and I learned a lot about myself and running marathons that day. I will break 3 hours in a marathon, but it will be on a cooler day at a quaint little race that nobody has really heard of.
So, for now I am thrilled to be getting back in the mountains where I belong and the best part about not being able to run fast is that my legs feel so much better than they usually do after a race! I will recover quicker. I am happy for the journey and the ending was a good one. It is time to pick up my pen and start writing the next chapter in my book. It’s going to be called “Mountain Running”
I want to thank my sponsors La Sportiva, Choucas Hats, JULBO USA and Carboom for all of their support. I want to thank my friends for helping me stay motivated and stick out my training. I want to thank Ryan for his patience during my six month stint of being a “roadie” and for being at the race with me. I want to thank my pups for dealing with running on the roads with leashes and harnesses when I could not get in the woods. I also want to thank Andy Jones Wilkinson for helping me finish out my training, he has become a very good friend.
I am still basically off social media, feel free to message me through Facebook or email email@example.com. Thank you for following my jouneys!
Life is full of so many ups and downs. It also seems to fly by so quickly. I personally have found myself spending too much time on the computer and not enough time enjoying down time. After ending up sick from stress and under the advice from several people I finally decided to research mindfulness. I picked up a wonderful book and spent an entire day reading the entire book.
The book was life changing. I started to sit quietly and look around at my surroundings. It was hard because my first instinct was to hop on Facebook and mindlessly scroll through the posts and chime in as well as post my own stuff. I had to get over my addiction to social media so I started counting things. I counted the stairs, the ceiling tiles, the floor boards, etc. It wasn’t exactly mindfulness but it was helping me not pick up the cell phone.
I started running and focusing on the moment. I listened to my breathing, my steps, looked around. I allowed myself to feel my legs hurt, to feel the cold air on my skin. I started to pay attention to my body and how it felt while sitting. I took my time doing mundane tasks such as washing dishes and doing laundry. Instead of thinking about what I had to do next or having my phone in one hand and the other hand washing the counter I began thinking only about what my current task was. I stopped multitasking and it felt like I was the laziest person ever. I am the queen of multitasking and to only do one thing at a time was brutal!
Interestingly, time started to pass slower. I felt a calmness come over me that I have not felt in years. I ran the Eastern States 20 miler as a tuneup for the Boston Marathon and chose to practice mindfulness during the race. I ran most of the race with Phil and we chatted the miles away but would also take time to look around, notice what we were doing, how our legs felt, look at the ocean and just take it all in. I went out a bit too hard and struggled to hold on for the last few miles but still pulled off a 6:47 pace which I was thrilled with! Somehow I finished 3rd woman which was unexpected and awesome!
Ryan and I then took a couple of days to go to the Caribbean (one of my favorite places!) and this year camped on the beach at Jost Van Dyke. I love rolling out of the tent in the morning and looking at the sun rise over the ocean. We did some hiking and snorkeling and most importantly spent time relaxing and being unplugged. No cell phones and it was wonderful! The highlight of the trip was renting a small dinghy and going out to Sandy Spit and Foxys Taboo. It was a very much needed couple of days in a warm and sunny place.
When we returned I decided that I would take a break from social media and only post the occasional blog post. I don’t know if this is a permanent life change or if I will go back to being a post-a-saurus but for I am happy spending less time on the internet and more time playing my fiddle, spending time reading, or just sitting down with Ryan and the pups and letting time pass slowly. I have a very busy life and do not want to have stress kill me. I am working really hard to let things roll of my shoulders and pass.
As for Boston, the marathon is only a week away and I am ready! Whether I break 3 hours or not I will still have fun. I have a wicked exciting year of mountain racing and running and am going to enjoy every bit of the training! It has been a long 6 months of training for something that does not make me happy. I feel like a caged animal and I like it because when I get back in the mountains where I belong I will appreciate it so much more! We don’t realize how much we take for granted until what we love is taken away from us.
Thank you to my incredible sponsors La Sportiva, JULBO USA, Choucas Hats and Boom Nutrition for their support. Thank you to Ryan for being a part of this wild adventure through life and for believing that we don’t need to live a cookie cutter life, thank you to my friends for taking time out of your lives to share it with me, thank you to my pups for being so much fun on and off the trail. Seven more days until I am sharing 26.2 miles with 30,000 other runners and a bazillion spectators. There better be a cheesecake waiting for me at the finish! 🙂
I won’t be checking Facebook comments but feel free to message me through Facebook or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
For the last five months I have dedicated my life to something I don’t even like. Right after Pinhoti I began the preparation for the Boston Marathon. I felt like I was betraying who I am, but trying to actually stick with a marathon plan is my first goal and trying to break 3 hours in a marathon is my second goal. I never gave an honest effort, or really any effort to train for a road marathon and have hovered so close to the 3 hour mark it drove me crazy! One day I decided Boston was where I really wanted to put in once last ditch effort at the sub 3 marathon and I honestly did not think I would have lasted this long.
I have 4 weeks to go. The last 5 months have been hell. I try so hard to tell myself on every run why I am doing this. I tell myself to have fun and I can usually muster up some sort of fun but deep in my heart I feel my body losing it’s mountain fitness and gaining road fitness. For my goal this is a wonderful thing, for my heart and soul it is killing me. The very essence of my soul dies a little each day I choose to stick to the plan, but I also become stronger as my desire to get back in mountains grows stronger!
I have gone mad, made myself sick and my anxiety is unbearable. The shoe company I run for doesn’t even make road shoes, I am a mountain runner, why would I do this!?
I have one more month left, one more long run, a few more tune up runs and then the big day. Tonight I realized that this training has taken so much away from me including my happiness. I also realized this training has given me hope and has proven that I am capable of absolutely anything. I decided tonight that running sub 3 hours was never the real purpose of what I have done to myself but instead I needed to see what I was made of. I put in the work, I sacrificed and even before I stand at the starting line I have already succeeded. Sometimes life has a really funny way of teaching us things about ourselves.
So, in 4 weeks I will join a bazillion other runners at a race that I have absolutely no business being at. I am going to put on my La Sportiva race kit and do my thing. I am going to have fun and I am going to spread my wings and fly. As soon as I cross that finish line I will no longer need to fly, I will be back dancing in the mountains where I belong and where my heart and soul shine.
Thank you so much to my sponsors La Sportiva, Choucas Hats, JULBO USA and Carboom for your support on this crazy journey! Thank you to my friends and family for understanding and for watching me lose my shit and come undone. I have gone way too long without my “mountain therapy”. Your encouragement along the way has helped me stay strong. I am a very lucky girl and I can’t wait to dance again.
In 2013 I ran my first road marathon after having to bail on my plan to run Pinhoti 100. I just didn’t have the means to get down there and about a month before the 100 I switched over to marathon training. My coach had me hammer out some track workouts and the plan was to finish the marathon in 3:30. When I crossed the finish line in 3:03:32 I was shocked and of course wanted to join the sub 3 hour marathon finishers club! Well, a few weeks later I smashed my head open trail running and the next few years were brutal.
My training was inconsistent and I dealt with headaches and depression. It wasn’t until 2015 that I started to feel like my old self again. I signed up for the Cape Cod Marathon and instead of doing the road runs my coach told me to do I kept on trail running until about a month before the marathon. I was so mad at myself when I ran 3:00:16 because I knew that if I had actually done the work I could have gone sub 3. I tore my quad during that marathon and in the winter tried the Hyannis Marathon against the advice of my physical therapist and ran a 3:01:47.
Breaking 3 hours matters to me so I signed up for the Boston Marathon with the hopes of running along side a bazillion runners and having thousands of crazy spectators would give me the ability to break 3 hours. I committed to this and have been doing road runs, even on the snowiest, windiest and coldest days. My pace has been hard to nail in these conditions and I haven’t raced since Pinhoti in November! I have no idea where I stand at this point and it is nerve wracking.
There are days where I just want to bail, go play in the mountains and forget even going to Boston, but I have been trying this time and with only 5 weeks to go I know I can stick it out! My heart is in the mountains and I am not going to lie, I can’t wait to get back to where I belong. I am a mountain runner.
I do believe that attitude is so important with everything in life and I am doing my best to smile, to enjoy the hard tar surface and the sound of my feet smacking the pavement while dodging cars, being harassed by idiot guys who have nothing better to do than yell offensive comments out their window, breathing fumes and feeling my body suffer from running on a crowned surface. I am fortunate to live in an area where there are very few cars but I also live in an area where there are a ridiculous amount of hills! What is stressing me out is the fact that hitting my actual marathon pace has been tough. The track finally melted out the other day and it felt good to see what I had in me!
I do absolutely love track workouts because they are consistent. I can generally lay out a solid pace and hold it there. I love the variety of workouts the track has to offer and there is nothing to do except count laps. It is numbing and strangely offers my mind a temporary silence from the never ending thoughts rolling through my head. I can’t let my mind wander, I will forget which lap I am on!
So, I am going to give it all I have and stick with the Boston training! I have some great friends coming to cheer me on which makes me feel so loved! I am pretty sure that I have decided this to be my last road marathon, even if I don’t break 3 hours. But…………I also said I would never run another 100 mile race. Sub 3 or not I will be there smiling and bringing whatever fitness I have on race day. I will finish the race knowing I tried and on April 18 I will finally be able to get back in the mountains! (realistically after I recover)
I want to thank my sponsors La Sportiva, Choucas Hats, JULBO USA and CarBoom nutrition for their support! It means so much to me that these companies help me to be the best runner I can be! Thank you to my friends and my Ryan for sharing so many miles together and so many smiles! Thank you to my Jack Puppy and Bennet for being the best trail buddies and snuggle buddies ever! Thank you Jay Philbrick for sometimes taking me away from my running clothes and making me feel like a beautiful princess! I am one very lucky girl!