365 days of Runningpast40

My PRs will never garner attention or generate awards. But when I run, I am 100 percent me–my strengths and weaknesses play out like a cracked-open diary, my emotions often as raw as the chafing from my jog bra. In my ultimate moments of vulnerability, I am twice the woman I was when I thought I was meant to look pretty on the sidelines. Sweaty and smiling, breathless and beautiful: Running helps us all shine. A lesson worth passing along.” 
― Kristin Armstrong

Really not sure where to start. It has been a LONG time, since I have written. I really do not want to go into every tedious detail of 2020 or even 2021 for that matter. I am going to pick up with. . . well. . . what else? . . . RUNNING!!

I remember the first several weeks of Covid. SO much information. SO much fear. TOO much fear, TOO much (mis) information. I decided that I was gonna take any information, any fear, and any too much-ness to the road and to the trail. I spent several months, in 2020, March through July, running some very long, monotonous miles per week. I got on a roll and it was hard to stop. It was addicting to me. I ran between 75-100 mile weeks. A LOT. I can say this time spent was for my mental health. It did me good. It reminded me that I was made to run.

I had two races on my schedule for 2020, Georgia Death Race (GDR) in March and Zane Grey 100K in April. GDR was postponed and Zane Grey was cancelled. I trained, not knowing exactly what I was training for, just running really long weeks trying to figure this all out.

I decided to do as much racing as I could, because I was injury free and had a great endurance base. I searched out as many races as I could find, locally. Here’s some of the particulars.

GDR – November 2020, 68ish miles. GDR was moved to November 2020. There were course changes this year. Due to Covid restrictions, the course was changed to an out and back. The start time was later than the traditional 5AM start. We wore masks until the field spread out. The aid stations were the same for both out and back! Many of the volunteers worked the entire 24+ hours. MAN, by the time I got to the start line, I was SO excited and could hardly wait!! It had been a long eight months of wondering and being disappointed.

This version of GDR was less mileage overall, and more climbing than the traditional course. It was HOT and there were so many leaves! The attrition rate was crazy. Time cutoffs were extended, toward the end. I squeaked in my finish in 23:58! HA. TWO SECONDS before the original cutoff.

Cloudland Canyon 50m – December 2020. The was my first time running this race. So beautiful! The weather was perfect. There were a couple of changes to the course but I knew nothing different. We were knee deep in water in the first 6 miles! HA. The West Rim Trail was by far my favorite part of the course. I did not enjoy the stairs on the way down, but I LOVED them on the way back up to the top of the canyon. The waterfalls and expansive views were breath taking.

Sky to Summit 50K – January 2021. I signed up for this one, but I did not race it. It was farther than I wanted to drive by my self to/fro a race, and the weather was supposed to be very rainy. I withdrew. I am glad my money went to support this race.

Fierce Dragon 42m – February 2021. E P I C to say the least. This race shares a large portion of the GDR course. It is an out and back to Skeenah Gap with some “useless elevation miles” tacked on! Different course than November 2020! We had snow, which was beautiful. We had ice, which was terrifying. It was COLD and wet!! I think that this was the coldest that my hands have felt in a race. What a challenge. I got second place female behind my tough friend Liberty! She was the first female. To note, it was Liberty’s idea to run this one. HA. Fun race!

GDR – March 2021, 72ish miles – after I ran GDR in November, I decided to enter the wait list for this GDR. I would be able to run 2 GDRs in 5 months. To those of you keeping track. This was my 3rd finish. My goal is 5.

Zane Grey – April 2021 – The reason that I signed up for ZG in 2019 was because they changed the course from a 50 miler to an 100K. Well, that changed back because of Covid and I decided to defer to 2022. I want to run the 100K. I did not feel like running a race that I really did not sign up for. TBD. . . ZG 2022.

UTE 100m – August 2021 – TBD. I am signed up and training now to take this on. It will be the most challenging 100 milers that I have done to date. Cannot wait to write about it!

**These races, with the exception of Fierce Dragon are all Runbumtours race. The Race Director is Sean Blanton. I am grateful for the work he put in to make these races happen, when many races were being cancelled and deferred. His volunteers are top notch, the courses are some of the most beautiful places I have run and GDR is legendary.

Out Of (My) Control

I sat in my therapist’s office, legs and arms crossed, ready to get down to the business of ‘my life’. For some reason, I felt very irritable and almost argumentative on this day. . . restless. We spent most of the session following up from last week on the topic of selfish versus self awareness. Toward the end of our time, I was finding it really difficult to understand what she was asking me or to connect to what she was suggesting.

I was continuing to get stuck on the point of “that is mean and selfish”. She would ask me something and I would say, “that is mean and selfish”. She said,  “something is pulling you away from the truth and telling you that you are being ‘mean and selfish'”.

Really, all I could do was to cry. There is a very real inner voice that tends to be critical and negative and mean. It was not until the minute that she asked me about my critical voice that I realized many things in my life are out of control right now. I was able to discern in that moment that my inner voice is loudest when things in my life feel out of control.

When my life gets chaotic, I have running-thank God. In addition, (when life gets chaotic) I also have a critical inner voice. Is my inner critic loudest when several things in my life are out of my control? Why? Do I tend to overeat/eat poorly when things are out of control and then, my inner critic becomes loud? Does my inner critic encourage me to eat whatever I want because I ‘deserve it’ or because it will ‘make me feel better’, THEN, turn on me and call me fat and ugly for eating too much?

I’m very good at putting on a brave face. My internal struggle is just that, internal. There are many times as a coach, mother, wife, daughter, neighbor, friend that I put my thoughts/feelings to the side. It can be like I step into a different skin.

I did not realize, until this particular therapy appointment how my inner critic has turned the bull horn up in my head. I did not realize how many things I am juggling, with the assumption that I am controlling my life well. I did not realize how truly out of control so many different parts of my life were/are at the moment. The simple act of acknowledging that I have no control of several things in my life, muffled the bull horn.

After my appointment, I sat down and made a list of very specific things that I have absolutely no control over right now. Once I made the list and read it a few times, it helped to make sense of my behavior. It brought to light the places where my inner critic was encouraging me to ignore the realities, and it helped me to see where my inner critic was driving me to destructive behavior that it would shame me for in the end. Writing this list brought me out of my head.

  BECAUSE I care about people. BECAUSE being kind and unselfish is something I value. BECAUSE I have much to be thankful for. BECAUSE I am blessed with freedom and joy.  My Critical Inner voice chooses to attack me saying, “you are being mean and selfish”. “Mean and selfish” is new. “Mean and selfish” has become louder and louder and louder, as I have decided to speak up for myself and be brave for myself.

It takes courage to speak up for myself, courage to stand up for myself, courage to stop putting myself second.  There is a real fear of what might happen IF I DO stand up for myself, so I choose to accept behaviors from people rather than confronting those behaviors. I have no control over another person’s reaction.

Our deep desire to belong coupled with our fear of rejection can trigger our vulnerability and override our better judgement. Sometimes it may simply be that we let an issue fester with a colleague at work rather than addressing it. But the closer the relationship, the higher the stakes and the steeper the toll on our happiness. . . Not believing in your innate worthiness can cause you to settle for less than you want or deserve. –Margie Warrell, “Stand Up For Yourself: You Teach People How To Treat You”. Forbes.com

 

 

 

 

Things Tend To Scream When Dying

The moments where recovery feels the most painful are often the ones you are making the most progress, because it indicates you are actively challenging your demons. Keep on pushing forwards even when the eating disorder voice screams at you. Things tend to scream when dying. -Amalie Lee, “Redefining Healthy”

I had spent the past 20 years starving. Literally. Not just physically, but emotionally. I was tired of fighting, and so fucking tired of being hungry. -Amelia Boone, “Amelia Boone Opens Up About Her Eating Disorder.

Maybe, there’s two of me.

First, there’s me. . .  confident,  big goals, fun & arbitrary goals, dreams, pursuer of  dreams. The me who believes in the beauty and capability of others. The me who refuses to let others believe less of themselves or to let the lies they tell themselves become true. Constantly looking for, valuing, cherishing the qualities I see in people I’m closest to.

Next, there’s me. . .

I’d like to ignore sad things;  grief, disappointment, overwhelming relationships, by eating or running (exercise) or not standing up for myself, advocating for myself.

The three biggest lies that my ED tried to convince me of. . .

  1. “If you focus on your weight, on the scale,  then, the sadness, shame and guilt will not bother you.” (I did not see my ED as the self-destructive coping skill that it is/was.)
  2. “I’ll help you to love your body and feel confident in clothes.” (Truth is I was an ‘equal opportunity’ body hater. . . at my highest weight and at my lowest weight.) I equated self love with the number (that I wanted to be) on the scale. . . “I will love myself when and if  I weigh______________ pounds.”
  3. “I will always be there for you, even when other people will not or can not.” isolation from people who care about me, living a dual existence with friends/family, lonliness that NO amount of time with people would cure, critical of myself

I can’t run away my feelings.

I can’t eat away my feelings.

I can’t ignore away my feelings.

“We wrongfully think that self-criticism will drive us into action. However, when we are harsh on ourselves, we become both the attacker and the attacked. – Dr. Kristin Neff

My therapist asked me, “What will happen if you let yourself feel sad?” My answers. . .

There’s too much to be sad about. It will be overwhelming to feel.

What if the sad won’t stop, because there is too much?

What if my sadness wants comfort and turns to food and I get fat?

 

 

Perfect

Run With Me

I’m learning to love myself, it’s the hardest thing I’ve ever done.

I’ll be the first to tell you that I am not perfect, not a perfect wife, not a perfect mom, not a perfect neighbor, not a perfect friend. Yet, I am also the first to demand perfection of myself. How does this manifest itself?

Truth. . .

  • As a coach, I’m the first to tell you that you should take care of your body: eat well, rest well, do not overdo your weekly mileage.
  • As a woman over 40, I’m the first to tell you that you are beautiful exactly as you are without diets, without starving yourself.
  • As a stay at home mom, I’m the first to tell you that you have one of the most important, sometimes thankless jobs. You have worth. Your hugs matter. Your dinners matter. Your time matters.
  • As a wife, I’m the…

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I Believe in You

Running has been my rhythm, my passion, my elixir, my antidote for over 18 years, from 10K on the road to 100 miles in the wilderness. Running has energized and empowered me. I want running to energize and empower others too. As a running coach, I get to work with all levels of people. It is fun! It is a privilege.

I am coaching 2 women right now who are training for their first 100 mile trail race. I could not love this more!!! I told these two that they are composed of “grit and grace”. It is grit that will get them across the finish line and grace that will give them pause and joy after they are finished. I will encourage them. I will listen to their highs and lows. I will provide them with the tools and the inspiration when life gets busy (and it does) and when training gets hard (and it will).

Do you have someone in your life that no matter your failures, no matter your setbacks, no matter your insecurities or your negative self talk. . . They refuse to give up on you. They just believe in you? 

There is something powerful that happens when you find someone who believes in you and believes in your dreams. They are the first person you want to call or to text or to cry to, because they are in it for you. They are in it with you. Gosh! I love this about coaching runners. It’s such a passionate thing for me. You put all you have into the time you spend training and balancing life. Such an adventure.

I am going to work on some blog posts to give you some incite into my process of coaching, into their process of training (with their permission, of course!) This will be fun!

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White Hot and Passionate

I began to realize how important it was to be an enthusiast in life. He taught me that if you are interested in something, no matter what it is, go at it al full speed ahead. Embrace it with both arms, hug it, love it, and above all become passionate about it. Lukewarm is no good. Hot is not good either. White hot and passionate is the only thing to be.

Ronald Dahl

In no particular order my white hot passions:

Running

Mental Health

Family

Eating Disorders

Lifting Weights

Cooking/Entertaining

Music

Part of perseverance is the constant discipline of trying to do things better, blending moments of deliberate practice that require you to stretch outside your comfort zone and apply all your effort to build the skills you need to master, with moments of flow that perfectly match your strengths to opportunity and allow for effortless performance.

-Angela Duckworth, Grit: The Power of Passion and Perseverance.

 

Grit is about having an ‘ultimate concern’-a goal you care about so much that it organizes and gives meaning to almost everything you do. And grit is holding steadfast to that goal. Even when you fall down. Even when you screw up. Even when progress toward that goal is halting or slow.

-Angela Duckworth, Grit: The Power of Passion and Perseverance.

Almost mid-July and I am beginning to remember why I love to run. Running is many things to me. It is fun. It is hard. I run with friends. I run by myself. I run because I need the quiet reassurance of footfalls and heartbeat. I run because sometimes it is the only outlet for my emotions, when I have a lack of words to put behind my feelings. I run to clear my head so that I CAN put words behind my emotions. I run to feel strong. I run to feel tired. I run deliberately. I run because I do have ultimate goals in mind. I run because training is a process for me that develops perseverance.

Stress and performance. Stress and training.

It is a fine line. . . training. . . stress . . . racing. We use stress in training to achieve a new level of fitness. Stress to the body, presented in training cycles or training stimuli can strengthen the body and take your body to another level.

What causes training to go wrong? When is the “stress of life” more than our bodies can handle on top of training stress? Is this called Overtraining Syndrome? Is it simply stress? I am not going to be able to answer all of these questions, but I will share my experience from this past year of training and racing.

Age, to me, is not the death sentence to your dreams. Just because our bodies age and change, does not mean that we cannot pursue things that seem out of reach. Quite the contrary. As I age, I have bigger dreams and the means to run full speed after them. The trouble sometimes is that I also have to balance my life with my pursuit. Not only am I pursuing my dreams, but my family is pursuing theirs.

Stress. . . I struggled for months to figure out what was wrong with my hamstring. Begging my PT for answers,  for help, for some magic. Then, 3 days before my 50K in Colorado, Dr. Price with Elite Orthopedics told me that I had a hip labral tear. The beginning of my race season, Pike’s Peak Ultra, a week from that appointment, with Kodiak 100, my “A” race for 2018, a month after Pike’s Peak.

My training was a struggle from July (2018) through September. I was training. I agonized a bit over running Pike’s Peak and Kodiak. I ended up taking one week off before Pike’s Peak and one week off before Kodiak. My hamstring was very inconsistent. There was nothing that made it a lot better. There was nothing that made it a lot worse. 

Dr. Price suggested a cortisone shot and I decided to do it. I have never had a cortisone shot, and I think that it was a good decision. It helped my hamstring. I asked Dr. Price about racing and he said that as long as I was trained and prepared that I could go for it, and I did. I finished Pike’s Peak 50K. I DNF’d Kodiak 100 at mile 45.

Exercise itself is a form of stress, which triggers changes that make your body stronger. But the system breaks down if you are chronically stressed, as chronic stress impairs your body’s ability to respond to acute stress—such as exercise—because its resources are essentially used up. “Ten Ways Stress Can Mess With Your Workout”

Stress kills motivation. A 2014 study20 in Sports Medicine came to the same conclusion—stress is likely to thwart your efforts at being physically active. This phenomenon proved especially true for older adults and those newer to their fitness schedules. Not exercising when your stress level rises is particularly unfortunate, because exercise is such an excellent stress-reduction tool.“Ten Ways Stress Can Mess With Your Workout”

There are many signs and symptoms of stress, and everyone is different, so one sign or symptom described by one athlete may not be what another athlete experiences. Ray and Weise-Bjornstal (1999) described seven categories in which an athlete may experience stress. These categories are: affective, behavioral, biological/physiological, cognitive, imaginal, interpersonal, and sensory (Ray and Weise-Bjornstal, 260). Each category has its own signs and symptoms. Affective signs and symptoms include: anxiety, anger, guilt, depression, shame and feeling sorry for oneself. Behavioral signs and symptoms include: sleeping disturbances, restlessness, aggressive behavior, alcohol or drug abuse, sulking, crying, poor performance, absenteeism, and clenched fists. Biological or physiological signs and symptoms include muscle tension, increased heart rate, indigestion, stomach spasms, pain and headaches.

Cognitive signs and symptoms are frustration, worries, distortion, exaggeration, unrealistic performance expectations, self-defecting statements and self handicapping. The imaginal signs and symptoms include images of failure, images of reinjury, flashbacks of being injured, images of helplessness, and images of embarrassment. The interpersonal signs and symptoms include withdrawal, manipulation and argumentation. The last category, sensory, includes tension, nausea, cold sweat, clammy hands, pain and butterflies in the stomach (Ray and Weise-Bjornstal, 260). There are many signs and symptoms of stress, which are not all experienced by each person, and each person can experience a variety of signs and symptoms. -United States Sport’s Academy, “Stress and Anxiety in Athletes”

Sports performance is not simply a product of physiology (for example stress and fitness) and biomechanical (for example technique factors) but psychological factors also play a crucial role in determining performance. However, every athlete has a certain stress level that is needed to optimize his or her game. That bar depends on factors such as past experiences, coping responses and genetics. Stress during sports, as in anything else in life, may be acute, episodic or chronic. For the most part in sports, it is episodic, whether during a competitive match between friends, or a championship game. While acute stress may actually act as a challenge, if not harnessed, it can evolve to not only an episodic stressor that can affect one in the long term, but can also hamper one’s play. -Ashwani Bali, “Psychological Factors Affecting Sport’s Performance”

I went through a period of time where I felt like I was in constant “fight or flight” mode. EVERY problem, big or small, significant or minor, triggered a “fight or flight” response. It was exhausting.

It is difficult to differentiate between over training syndrome and (excessive) stress. If you look up the symptoms of each they are almost identical. Trying to maintain a high level of training PLUS saying “yes” to more things than I could handle, caused a significant stress response in me. I grew tired in the physical sense and the weary sense.

After my finish at Georgia Jewel 100. . . I was tired. It was time to  r e s t, really rest. Take the time off that I rarely need to or want to. AND, I was actually looking forward to less. I sat on the bike and did some light strength training, mostly bodyweight exercises until the end of November. I did run on occasion.

It’s December. . . I hired a coach for Georgia Death Race (GDR). I started back with my strength coach. I am feeling rested. I am feeling good. My hamstring has been a complete NON ISSUE. I am still pinching myself about this. It just seemed like it would never change. I have been working hard running and my body is loving it.

Stress and overtraining are different for every athlete. Not always easy to define or determine. Pay attention to your body. Pay attention to your emotions. Pay attention to your mind.

 

Marriage. My Double Decade!

“When over the years someone has seen you at your worst, and knows you with all your strengths and flaws, yet commits him- or herself to you wholly, it is a consummate experience. To be loved but not known is comforting but superficial. To be known and not loved is our greatest fear. But to be fully known and truly loved is, well, a lot like being loved by God. It is what we need more than anything. It liberates us from pretense, humbles us out of our self-righteousness, and fortifies us for any difficulty life can throw at us.”
Timothy Keller, The Meaning of Marriage: Facing the Complexities of Commitment with the Wisdom of God
 This song by Lady Gaga, “Is That Alright?” gave me pause. The first time I heard it, I had to repeat and repeat. I sat in silence and listened. I could see in pictures my dating story to my marriage story play out in the words.  It is a story that communicates my hopes from beginning to now. . .
Life is so simple
A little boy, a little girl
Laughing and loving
Tryin’ to figure out the world
Growing up. Dreaming. Living.
It felt like summer
When I kissed you in the rain
And I know your story
But tell me again
Nothing you say wouldn’t interest me
All of your words are like poems to me
I would be honored if you would take me as I am

Dating Byron. Taking more time to look a certain way. Mostly, giving him the best of me. Lots of letter writing and cards. Expressing how I feel. Fear. Joy. Tears. Not wanting to be apart. 

I want you
To look right in my eyes
To tell me you love me
To be by my side
I want you
At the end of my life
I wanna see your face when I fall with grace
At the moment I die
Is that alright?
Is that alright?
I wanted this before I ever knew Byron. I wanted this when I was a little girl. I wanted this when we were dating. I wanted this when we were newly married. 

❤️ I just realized, only recently because I’ve spent my time praying, thinking, reflecting and sharing, on marriage THAT I WANT THIS NOW MORE THAN EVER.

I hope you’re still with me

When I’m not quite myself
And I pray that you’ll lift me
When you know I need help
Byron has been. He has a very large heart. He loves me and I know that.
It’s a warm celebration
Of all of our years
I dream of our story
Of our fairy-tale
Family dinners and family trees
Teachin’ the kids to say, “Thank you, ” and, “Please”
Knowin’ if we stay together that things will be right
Let’s be honest. . . I think there’s been equal time in ‘cold disgust’ (being selfish and ‘putting up’). I dreamed of THE fairytale not my marriage. Marriage has never been easy. There have been seasons of contentment with each other, seasons where we are tag-team parenting, briefly seeing one another and seasons where I think we both needed a break from each other’s selfishness.

UN-TEACHING the kids to say shut up, butt, stupid, dummy, ugly. . . K I D S. Boy do they change the dynamic. Knowing, I committed to this marriage and it is a covenant. . . I can’t go. . .

I want you
To look right in my eyes
To tell me you love me
To be by my side
I want you
At the end of my life
Wanna see your face when I fall with grace
At the moment I die
Is that alright?
Is that alright?
Is that alright?
I do not want to be alone. I do not want to start over. I don’t want to pretend things were never done or said. I have a lot right now and I may not show it but it feels safe. My marriage feels like a safe place for my tears and thoughts and laughter. 

For me. Working on my marriage means pursuing the God of my heart to satisfy the deepest of longings. To love Byron, knowing that I am completely loved by God. 

 

Georgia Jewel 100

This was not the race I prepped for. This was not the prep I had in mind for a 100 mile race. My “A” race this year was Kodiak 100 in Big Bear, CA, August 17-18, 2018. This race did not go as planned, and I dropped at mile 45.

Two days later. . . at the LV airport. . . I signed up for the Georgia Jewel 100 (September 22, 2018) at the urging of my husband. I prefer to train in the heat and humidity of the South and to race in the altitude and cool air of the West. So, this would be something different. I decided that because it was close to home, and $200. That I would sign up. If I decided that I would not be able to race in 4 weeks, I would only be out $200.

Lead up to the race:   I rested for a week after my DNF (45-miler).

  • August 20-26–39 miles
  • August 27-September 2–16 miles. UGH! I pulled my hamstring!!
  • September 3-Sept 9–walk 15.5 miles/run 30 miles
  • September 10-Sept 16–41 miles
  • September 17-Sept 21–rode the bike
  • Sept. 22-23–race day 100 miles

Logistics: The trip from Franklin to Dalton, GA was about 3 1/2 hours. Our hotel was 1/2 mile from the race start. The room was nice and this gave my crew a place, close, to nap and shower as needed throughout the next two days.

Drama: This race was not short of drama for me. I dislike drama. My two crew members/pacers were first rate, cool as cucumbers, happy, fun. I COULD NOT have finished this one without their consistent, calm reactions to my ‘drama’.

  • around mile 16 I fell, slid off the trail and came to a stop with my head against a rock. The hit jarred my jaw. I sat for a minute. Thought to myself, everything seems okay. “Surely, my head is not bleeding from that!” I put my hand to my head. I was bleeding. The blood covered my hand. I took my tank off and used it to put pressure on my head and I walked for a while.
  • around mile 93, I started my period. REALLY?! This was laughable. I was not necessarily expecting it but in hind sight it helped to explain my ‘sleepy’ tiredness and the fact that I had to poop, like 5 times!! (In my past two 100s, I was not tired in the sleepy sense. I also rarely have to poop in a 100-miler. I usually do that before and after.)
  • around mile 96, I could not squat fast enough to pee. I peed on myself. The worst part about this was the instant pain from the extreme chaffing I had from my pubic bone to the top of my thighs. I took my tank off and tucked it into my shorts. I did my best to situate it so that it did not look like I had a bulge in my compression shorts!!!  HA.

My pacers/crew: Mary and Kathy were the highlight! These two did not skip a beat. They are made from the same calm, collected mold!! They both crewed me and paced me. They let me cry. They let me sit. They let me feel sorry myself, B R I E F L Y.

(at mile 19) “Guys, I hit my head and I am bleeding. . . “

Kathy, “It looks okay.”

Mary, “It will clot.”

(at mile 43) “Kathy, I think I want to be finished.”

Kathy, “Okay. Let’s finish the next loop and then, make that decision.”

Kathy and Mary are seasoned ultra runners. I think it was challenging to crew and pace, because they did not get to rest much, if at all. They were always on. These two were probably 50% of the reason that I finished this one.

This race was an easy one to crew and pace. Miles 42-71 start and end at the same aid station. There are 2 loops to complete, 2 times each. Mary paced me for 1 of loop 1 and 1 of loop 2, miles 50-63. Kathy paced me for 1 of loop 2, plus the distance to Snake Creek aid station, miles 63-81. BOY, it was great to have them both. I moved faster with them, then if I were on my own.

The course: I loved the early start. This course was pretty. This course was tough. This course was fun! LOTS of ups and downs. The Keown Falls section was the toughest part in my opinion, not the first time through during the daylight hours, but the second time through during the night! Wow! Tough. I think one of the best running sections for me was the part of the course from miles 42-71. You have four loops to run, before heading back to the finish. These were very runnable miles.

The aid station at Dry Creek was fantastic, after each loop, the runner came back to the same spot. They had a bathroom and my favorite aid station food, almond milk, peanut butter, banana smoothies. YUM!

N E V E R give up. The last 10 miles were so hard. I cannot tell you how many times I was ready to stop. Thank you to sweeper extraordinaire, Ginny Kelly!! (Is there a moment when she in not a spirit of joy?) She helped me keep moving forward.

And there I was D F L.

 

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Thank you to Jenny Baker for an exceptional race. Well run. Well organized. Well staffed. Great race. Put it on your race calendar!!

Race Report: Pike’s Peak 50K

I chose this race back in February, after my trainer, David, suggested that I travel to the “Garden of the Gods” in Colorado Springs, CO to run at altitude for a weekend in order to prepare for the altitude at Kodiak 100.

I decided to see if there was a race to run rather than just go out and run for training. I found Pike’s Peak Ultra, 50M, 50K, 30K. It fit perfectly into my training schedule, climbed to a height of 11,200′, started at 6,800′ and averaged between 8000-8500′. The total gain in climbing was approximately 9000′ in 15 of the 31 miles. (half up/half down)

It was easy to get to the start. It started and finished at Bear Creek Regional Park in Colorado Springs. Plenty of parking and plenty of bathrooms at the start. They staggered the start, 50 milers started at 6:00a, 50K at 6:30a, 30K at 7a.

I hiked and jogged the first 7 miles. These trails were a mix of scree-lined double track, fire road and beautiful single track. Aid Station one was at mile 7.5. This is also where the 50K and the 30K split. The next section continued uphill to the highest point for me at 11,200′. This is the highest altitude that I have ever ran at.

Woo Boy! The hike up to 11,200′ was slow and go. I was proud of myself for not stopping. I did not need to catch my breath. I took it easy and maintained a steady cadence. This got me to the top. It was very cool to look down at my watch and see 11,240′.

If you know much about me as a runner, you know that I LOVE uphill climbing/repeats. Downhill? Not so much. 

Now the descent to the finish, approximately 15.5 miles. The first 8 miles was mostly single track, steep in many places. The single track ended at a jeep road (very similar to Frozen Head in grade and look). One last aid station and the jeep road dumped to a paved road. The last 7 miles was the same as the first 7 miles. The road ended at the Park trail, that lead to the finish line.

Hardest place in the race for me: The entire descent! HA. Really, mile 20 was a low spot, but I at some bacon-wrapped potatoes and bounced back! The last 4 miles were complete with a thunder and hail storm. I love this stuff.

I would highly recommend this race!! Easy to fly to Colorado Springs. The race had fantastic volunteers, great aid stations, plenty of parking and it was well organized. I had a great time and may go back and run the 50 one day. It would be tough!