Category Archives: Racing Recaps

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.



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!

Kodiak 100

Right decision? Wrong decision? No decision of your own, because you ‘timed out’? They all sting. . . I started at 8a on Friday morning and dropped at 9:15p on Friday night. There will be more! My hip felt great. My body felt great. I ran an easy 5 miles on Sunday, next to the ocean breathing though some tears. I will be okay.

The 45 miles of this trail that I ran was some the most beautiful places my feet have taken me.

The first 20.7 miles: The start of the race was in town. The first 5 miles was a climb to the first Aid Station. This part was mostly jeep road. It was beautiful and fragrant. The smell of pine and grand views of Big Bear lake. I was in a good place. I wore a tank and compression shorts. The weather was mild and a bit humid for CA. Part of the 100 mile field started at 8a. The (prize purse) 100 mile runners started at noon. If I were to guess, about 1/2 of the 100 milers ran with poles.

The clouds grew dark in places and the sun blazed through in others, on the way to mile 12.7. This was a crew spot/Aid Station and campground. I used the bathroom here (note-there were ample bathrooms along this course).

The next 8 miles were single track and rolling hills. This part was exposed with a fantastic breeze. I was doing a great job drinking and eating! Sounds of thunder and black clouds but no rain, yet!

Aid Station at mile 20.7: We were warned in the race briefing that section 20.7 miles-30.1 miles was going to be a long, technical, 10 miles to mile 30 and our next crew spot/aid station. Racers were told to make sure that they had enough food and water. I began this section at around 2:00p on Friday.

Miles 20.7-30.1: This section was no joke. It began with one sweet mile through a meadow then, about 6 miles down hill to The Siberia River and water stop. Finally, 3.8 miles up hill, 2000′.

The downhill for the first 2 of 6 miles was not bad, single track. . . but this soon turned into frustration! From miles 3 of 6 to 4 of 6, I was running on the side of the mountain–one side drop/one side mountain. This part was narrow and slippery because of the tiny rocks and powder-like dirt and gravel. It was difficult to find a rhythm here. Miles 4 of 6 down to the river were tough for any person over 5’4″ tall! The trail was lined with manzanita trees that created a tight canopy. I lost my hat at least 4 times. There were also trees over the trail that I had to either climb over or pivot under. I was stung by a wasp on this portion of the race (MANY runners were stung, some up to 8 times).

Finally! The River! I refilled my bottles, ate two popsicles, and began the 3.8 mile ascent to the next aid station/crew spot. (I will see my crew here for the first time all day.) I think it was around 3:00p. I had a wet arm sleeve around my neck, that I filled with ice at mile 20.7. Tough climb with switch backs and some steep sections. I felt okay. I slowed down, established a consistent cadence and pushed past many struggling runners. This topped out to a short road section and my crew!!

Aid station at 30 miles: I came into this section and told my crew that I wanted to sit, eat, change and be there for at least 20 minutes. That climb was tough and I was looking forward to taking my socks off, using an ice-cold wash cloth on my feet and on my sunscreen-ed body. It was about 4:30p. I asked for an aid station worker to douse my head with ice water. Felt. So. Good. I went back to my chair, sat and drank an ice cold chocolate milk. My crew handed me a short sleeve top and sport’s bra. I changed in the bathroom, while my crew got my pack ready to go. In 20 minutes, I was off to aid station 35. (Because of the time of day, start of the race, logistics of aid stations and crew stops, I needed to take both of my headlamps in my back, here.)

Miles 30-35: I took my time here, while I slowly ate my sandwich. . . little bits at a time. It felt good to be dry and cooled off. I noticed that I was really wet from sweat by the time I got to aid station 30. (Typically, I do not have to change clothes at all until it gets cold. When I run at altitude, there is usually little to no humidity. This day was different). I finished my sandwich and started to go to work, hiking up, hills, running down, declines.

Miles 35.5-45: 9.5 miles to the next aid station. This portion was beautiful. Mostly fire road (like Pine to Palm) and single track down to the aid station. This is where my low point occurred. I cried a bit. Then, looked up and out over the mountains upon mountains. It was breath taking in a grand way. In a way that is hard to describe. I was humbled and grateful.

I started this section at about 5:00p. The sun started to set at about 7:45p. I did not need a headlamp until about 8:30p. It began to get cold. I texted Byron at 8:00p and told him that I was having a hard time breathing in deep. I continued to drink and started to focus on running down hill and hiking up hill. Bit by bit, I made it off of the jeep road and back onto single track. I had approximately 1 1/2 miles to the aid station at Hanna Flats. By now, it had been dark for a while and I was cold. I was still having a hard time breathing deep.

Aid Station 45: I made it here at about 9:00p. I was worried because I had no cell service and last I told Byron, “having a hard time breathing deep.” The aid station worker asked if I was doing okay. I said, “no, not really.” I sat down, drank some hot broth and started to think about my situation.

  1. hard time breathing deep
  2. cold
  3. warm clothes at the next aid station, 7 miles away
  4. 2000′ climb to the top of Sugarloaf coming up. This was the highest part of the race, 10,000′.

What was most important? How do I feel? What can I do about it? Because of the four factors above, I decided to drop @ 9:15p. NOT an easy decision.

In my mind. . . I could slow down my pace and take my time to mile 52, but I was cold, and it was getting colder. The closest bag drop to from mile 30 was mile 52. I estimated that this 7 miles would take me at least 2 hours to hike. Also, if breathing was not normal at 7,200′ and mile 45, would it get worse at mile 70 and 10,000′? I was pretty decisive and not emotional about my choice. I asked the HAM operator to call my ride, and I dropped.

Race stats to mile 32. (My watched died at 32.)

distance: 32 miles

descent: 5600′

ascent: 5600′

pace: 15:32 minutes/mile

highest point: 7,700′

Live daringly, boldly, fearlessly. Taste the relish to be founding competition – in having put forth the best within you.

-Henry J. Kaiser

Next up? Georgia Jewel 100, September 22, 2018

Race Recap: Lookout Mountain 50, 2017

Well, it was cold, longer than previous years and fun. This race challenged my “fight game”. I was pretty wiped out emotionally and mentally from the week leading up to the race.

In 5 days. . .

  • 3 evening, school performances
  • 1 uncharacteristically horrible fight with my husband
  • 1 intense (to say the least) personal study session, Broken and Beloved, where I sat in some uncomfortable moments, regarding fear, loneliness, love, my inner critic.
  • 1 emotional and sad car ride to a therapy appointment
  • My 46th birthday!
  • 3 am wake up call on race morning.

I was looking forward to the time away. I was looking forward to the physical challenge. I was looking forward to an escape. . . AT LEAST 10 1/2 hours in the woods and then, a 2 1/2 hour drive home <sigh>.

It was freezing, but I was convinced that the day would warm up, it never did. I wore gloves, two shirts, shorts and tall socks all day long.

What’s new? I love to try new things at every race. This is the first 50-miler that I ran with only one handheld. I liked it. I was able to carry a bar and gel, in case I needed it. I ate at every aid station. I drank SPRING energy drink all day.

Miles 0-18.4 I think this section of the course is the most runnable. This year, I covered 18.4 miles in about 3.5 hours. It is mostly downhill, with the exception of a 3-ish mile climb up to Covenant College where the start/finish is located. The course was in great shape this year. Last year, it was wet, so running down to Craven’s was a bit sketchy. This year, it was cold and there were small random spots of ice, but I did not slip or fall. This year, they moved the second aid station from the area near the Lookout Mountain Nature Center and Preserve that used to be around mile 14-ish to “Blue Beaver” around mile 13.

Miles 18.4-27.2 This section too is downhill for the most part. I am not sure why, but this is where I struggled the most. Just had a hard time getting into my rhythm. I had to go to the bathroom a few times, my foot hurt, my back hurt. . . wah, wah, wah, waah <sad trombone playing>. I got over it, but it was a struggle to stop thinking like a whiner. It was STILL cold. I kept my gloves and buff on.

Miles 27.2-36.4 This section took me from Lula Lake (27.2) miles to Long Branch II (36.4) Just a few changes to note here. Side note: I LOVE the sweet road section right before you get to Long Branch. 🙂 Okay. . . few changes. The aid station at Long Branch used to be located in the little parking lot, right before you begin the loop. NOW, the aid station is at a beautiful barn about a mile from the little parking lot. That was a small downer, when I arrived. :/  They served grilled cheese and hot soup and brown sugar bacon. Oh my word!!!!! I had all three. I prob had about 4 pieces of bacon. YUM!! Again, I was a bit “woe is me here”. I did not cry at all, just struggled to get myself running consistently here and in the previous section. I had the legs and the stomach and the fitness, but I did not have the drive.

Miles 36.4-50+ I looped back to Long Branch and grabbed more SPRING and grilled cheese. I can taste that grilled cheese, now. It was so, so good. It was still cold. I put my gloves back on and went to the bathroom. I started on my way and realized that I forgot my headlamp. I quickly ran back and put that on! My goal now was to make it back to the road, after the Lula section BEFORE the sun went down. This was a good motivator. And, I DID make it to the road. The last 4 or so miles of this race always seem long. There are many twisting and turning sections. <groan>. To my surprise I was running well, here. This is the first year out of three that I ran most of the last section. Crossed the line!!!

CLOSED the door on my 2017 racing, with a bang! It was not the finish time I was shooting for but I ran better than I had in the past. Next year, I will do better at “mentally tapering”. I think the week leading up to the race really had an effect on my racing. I am happy with my stats and I will probably run this race again in 2018!

Your 50 MILER time was 11:40:47

Your pace was 14:01/M

You were number 81 of 148 overall

You were number 3 of 5 in your age group 45-49


Mogollon Monster 100, my 32:20, 2017

"In a limitless world, why set your sights on the attainable? The prize within an arm's reach? Why not think a little bigger? Our expectations are the foundation for our accomplishments. The target you aim for is more than likely going to be the target you hit. You are worth more. You are capable of so much more than you give yourself credit for, but like anything, if you don't recognize and do something about it, the impact will be minimal."

-Eddie Pinero, "Setting Targets" Your World Within

Temps were outstanding: 85 for a high and 48 for a low. Delaina and I got up at 4:15a, and we were out the door at 4:45a. The Mogollon Monster 100 started at 6:00a after a brief race meeting. 

Food: I brought less of my own food this year, anticipating the “non sweet” race food. I mostly ate race food, quesadillas, ramen, peanut M&M’s, grilled cheese, a few oreos, peanut butter pretzels and Gatorade. I had some of my own food too, one chocolate/coconut GU, one cinnamon/white chocolate bar, one lemon cookie bar, 5 Skratch electrolyte mixes.

What I wore: Through mile 43, I wore compression shorts, sport’s bra and tank. Miles 43-78, I added a long sleeve, gloves, buff and compression socks. Miles 78-100, I got rid of the long sleeve, buff and gloves and put on a tank top. I wore my Hoka Challenger ATR 3’s. I had on my Ultimate Direction pack for all of my running, except miles 43-78. I had on a hat and my Suunto Ambit 3*.

*my Suunto lasted the entire 32 hours and 20 minutes with 32% battery life left.

New Things: Contrary  to popular belief that you should “not try anything new on race day”, I did and I do. . . . I ditched my pack for miles 43-78 and ran with two handhelds instead. I picked up my pack again for miles 78-100. I have never ran a race with two handhelds. It worked out fine, and it gave me a break.

Miles 0-6 were a gradual ascent with rocks and switch backs. I started near the back and ran behind 2 runners from Colorado. The were running/hiking conservatively. I stuck with them for a while and moved in from of them about mile 3.

Miles 6-10.3 were a gradual decline to mile 10.3, where I would first see Delaina (my crew) at the Geronimo I aid station. More switch backs down, some steep. I stopped at the aid station, briefly, for refills of food/drink. This part of the trail was mostly exposed. The weather was great. The sun was out and a cool breeze was blowing.

Miles 10-20.3 started with a two mile climb. This was the most exposed portion of the trail. It felt warm here. Parts here reminded me of Zion. I arrived at Washington Point I aid station. Delaina refilled my drinks and restocked my food. She also gave me ice for my hat and for the arm sleeve that I wore around my neck.

Miles 20-26 began with a STEEP (understatement) climb up a rocky ascent (this will be repeated again at mile 43). I’m estimating a 20%+ incline up.  Once up top, it was more climbing, on a forest service road to Houston Brothers I aid station. I would have liked more ice for my hat and sleeve at this aid station but they did not have enough to spare.

Miles 26-43 were some of my faster miles. SWEET single track on the plateau and a break from the rocks. The forest was dense at the top. It was beautiful. In this section, I ran for a while with the course designers and former race director’s, Jeremy and Noah (brothers) and Jonathon. These miles took us through two aid stations and back down the steep, rocky hill we climbed to Washington Park II aid station. 

I started to have a bit of a mental struggle around mile 40. My stomach was a nauseous and I was thinking about how nice it would be to go to sleep in a bed and not run all night. I cried. I think that the elevation on top of the plateau and the faster running may have contributed to the nausea. I told myself that I would be able to sit down for the first time in the race at mile 43. I would let myself rest and eat. The nausea would go away. 

At this point, I was approximately 1 1/2 hours ahead of my projected time. My pacer was not there, yet, I had to wait. (I found my pacer, Maria, on the Aravaipa FB page. She agreed to pace me ALL NIGHT for 35 miles!!!! I was pretty lucky to find her). 

<<blister intervention: it was here at mile 43 that I decided to pop my one and only blister on my big left toe. One of the EMT’s walked over and offered to help. I decided to let him, because I was still waiting on my pacer. I popped it with a safety pin from my race bib, and I had started draining it. They decided to scrub it with a disinfectant soap. (yes scrub). That hurt. Then, they used a large syringe to poke into my blistered toe in order to further drain it. They used that d@%m needle twice. It hurt like heck!! They topped it off with an alcohol wipe, mummy wrapped it and sent me on my way. OUCH.>>

My pacer, Maria, arrived. I changed into a long sleeve, put on a buff, gloves and headlamp. We were off. BACK up the rocky, steep, 20%+ climb to the top of the plateau. We’d stay here all night, until sunrise, running at around 7,100′-7,800′. 

Miles 43-78, these miles covered all of my night running and four aid stations. Delaina went home to sleep. Our house was about 20 minutes away from the Washington Park aid station. Delaina would be back at 5:30a. 

Maria and I left the aid station around 7:30p and returned around 6:30a. Our night segment was pretty uneventful. It did get colder on the rim at night. We made sure to eat hot soup and hot food at each aid station. I was tired but moving well. I was slowing down on the climbs but cruising the downhill and flat miles. We heard elk and coyotes but only saw a mouse and a bunny. The sun started to rise at 5:30a. It was beautiful and windy on the plateau. I was looking forward to a change of clothes, food and the last 22 miles. 

Miles 78-88 at this point I was so happy to have made it through the night! I came into the aid station and grabbed a change of clothes from Delaina. She fed me some more quesadillas, and I ate some peanut M&M’s. This section was “rolling” and exposed. It ended with a downhill into Geronomo aid station II. It was warm, but the breeze was cool and felt great. I tried to run/hike this section but it turned out to be only a power hike. My toe was in a lot of pain and I continued to hit it on an occasion rock, AGH!! I passed a few runners on this section. I still had my music. There were moments of tears, mostly out of frustration. If my toe was not so irritated I could have done some running. My body felt good. 

Miles 88-95 HOME STRETCH! This section had more ascent than decent and more rocks!!!  I came into Geronimo and briefly stopped.  I did not want to sit down or stay too long because my legs felt good and there was not anything I knew to do for my toe at this point. So, Delaina was quick to get me going. Little did I know, the surprise I was in for, right before the aid station at mile 93/95!!! GLAD I was unaware of the difficulty! This section was mostly shaded. We were running with the 35K racers for most of this. (let me tell you, this is one heck of a 35K!!)

The surprise? A ridiculous, not even laughable, because it was so steep, switch back climb to the aid station. Guys!!! At times this was so steep that I had to use my hands. I did have to pause several times here to catch my breath. It was tough. Once at the top, I thought I had 5 miles until the finish. The ladies at the aid station told me that I had 5 to the Pine Trail Head and then, 2 miles to the finish. I almost did not believe them. I just wanted to be done!! Tears again and again. 

Miles 95-101.5ish mostly downhill and mostly rocky and forever. 😦 At this point in the race my watch was off by about 12 miles. It dropped the satellite many times over the course of 101 miles. So, I was relying on my time estimation to know when I was close to the trailhead. Every turn. . . every straightaway. . . every climb. . . “was I there yet? Can I be there already?” The tears flowed a bit here, because it was over. I made it. I finished. 

Then, I saw Delaina. I could NOT have been more happy to see her!! HA! I was there. I was done. She was so happy to see me. She was happy to see me for all of my 32:20 hours. I was MORE happy to see her this time. We walked the last 1.5ish miles to the finish. Closer to my ‘5 GUYS’ burger and fries. Closer to my shower. Done and Done (as Teresa would say to me.) It was a good feeling. Other than my toe, I felt good! What a race! 

I would definitely recommend this race. It was tough, beautiful and exciting. Logistically, It is an easy race to crew and pace. The volunteers were top notch. The race directors had things planned and executed well. Cannot say enough good things about it. I would not change a thing. 



Race Recap: Chattanooga Mountains Stage Race

“Remember what Bilbo used to say: ‘It’s a dangerous business, Frodo, going out your door. You step onto the road, and if you don’t keep your feet, there’s no knowing where you might be swept off to.”” — J.R.R. Tolkien


I had no intention of running this race. I signed up the Wednesday before I ran. I was  coming off of a race in CA, Leona Divide 50, where I dropped at mile 40. I left Leona with a tender right hip that was diagnosed a few weeks later as “hip tendonitis”.

3 training weeks prior to signing up:

  • May 22-27: 46 miles
  • May 29-June 3: 67 miles
  • June 5-10: 56 miles

Tried a few new things: The adage goes, “don’t try anything different on race day.” Sometimes, I say, “why not?” I packed my running vest, but I chose to run with only one handheld. I drank SPRING electrolyte drink the entire time. I did not cramp. My hands did not swell, and my stomach felt great the entire time. I did not use water. I used only SPRING. I ate gels, peanut butter pretzels and a few cups of trail mix, each day. This was a big change up for the weekend.

Weekend Mantras: My thoughts for this weekend? “Run now, hurt later”, “let me be weak, so that God can fill me with his strength”, “Each day is new and it is only 20 miles more”, “Use each day to prepare you for the next”.

Songs on repeat:

  • “Out Of The Woods”, Taylor Swift
  • “Thank You”, Alanis Morrisette
  • “Patience”, Guns & Roses
  • “Good Life”, OneRepublic
  • “It Is Well”, Bethel Music
  • “Castle On A Hill”, Ed Sheeran

It was a very good running weekend for me! Some of my best, aggressive, joy-filled running.

Friday, Stage 1: Raccoon Mountain. Per my watch, 1800′ ascent and 2:55. By far the fastest day. Our weather was decent, 70s, cloud cover and humid. (I love running in the humidity, in case you were wondering 🙂 ) The time cutoff for this day is 4 hours. I am confident that all the runners who I run with could finish this day in 4 hours. The trail is nice and the ascent is almost half of what you will experience on the next two days.

My goal for this day was to run by feel. I was not going to look at my watch and tell myself to slow down. I ran hard. I breathed hard. Gave it almost all that I had. I saved some for the next day.

Saturday, Stage 2: Lookout Mountain. Per my watch, 2800′ ascent and 4:03. This was the hardest day for me. The weather was good, again! The temps were in the mid 70s. The time cutoff for this day was five hours. The cutoff was extended by fifteen minutes on race day.

I think this day felt more humid than Friday, or it could have been that I was running for one hour and eight minutes more?! My body felt great at the start of this day!! I was running with a handheld and gels for this day. I decided to run in a sport’s bra and shorts today. We started and finished at the Lula Lake trailhead. This course seemed quite different to me than the Lookout 50 course, and I LOVED it. There were a few crazy climbs!! My strength is definitely on the climbs. I push the hiking hard. I do not use the climbs to catch my breath or eat. I use them to push past those who are using them to catch their breath/eat. (Get on the treadmill and practice this type of hiking!! Ask me for specifics.)

Oh my word! I think it might have been the last 1-2 miles of this day that we descended to the falls and then, hiked a crazy steep section back up from the falls!! LOVED it. This is the day that I cried a bit. 🙂 I breathed hard the entire time. I ran hard. I hiked hard. My fav song for this day was WEAK by AJR.

This was a tough day for a lot of runners. The food at the end was good. I did not leave right away. I spent some time talking with fellow runners and helping out a runner or two with nausea and heat exhaustion.

I believe this would be the most challenging day of the 3 for any runner because of the time cutoff, steep climbs and the final miles, down to the waterfall and back up.

Sunday, Stage 3: Signal Mountain. Per my watch, 3200 ascent, 4:17. This was my favorite day. Most technical day. Most climbing. LOTS of rocks. In places, this course reminded me of Savage Gulf or the gorge section at Fiery Gizzard. The cutoff for this day was five hours and thirty minutes.

Signal Mountain provided the BEST views, LOTS of briars, poison ivy. . . cuts and scrapes. I enjoyed weaving in and out of the overgrown trail. It felt like I was running away. . . It felt like I was being chased. . .

My heart rate and breathing rate were well under control on this day. I think the mix of climbs and rocks kept my heart rate down, so that I could run well on the runnable spots.   Again, the climbing was in my favor. The scrambling over rocks was also something I enjoyed and there was plenty of it!

One of my fav parts of this day was the “break” in trail from about mile 11.4 at Signal Point, past the assisted living facility, Alexian Village of Tennessee. It was a small break, after a steep stair climb on a paved road. 🙂

I think this day is challenging but in a different way from Lookout. It is a slower day because of the technical trail. It takes a mindset of “just keep moving”. It would be easy to slow down and get discouraged on the rocks.

The run to the finish line from the last aid station is totally doable, mostly double track, non-technical. Great finish to the last day of running.

A few things: I would recommend this race, if it fits into your training schedule. Running with a handheld is doable in this race. Each day is different. Focus on each day. I chose not to hold back on any day. I looked at this race as 20 miles each day, NOT a total of 60. Plan on hanging out a bit after. The people are fun. It is fun to share stories and meet new people.


Female WINNER of the Hillbilly Half, Her Story

And our first place female runner, from Franklin, Tennessee, 15 years old, with a time of 1:37….Kathryne Hirt!! The announcer said. I couldn’t help thinking, how on earth did I get here?

 The summer before seventh grade, I made the decision to start running. I got up every morning and ran 1.5 miles. When I began, I could barely even make it to the corner of my street without stopping, and I really hated it. But I was determined. And when I’m determined, there’s so stopping me. Little did I know that in just a couple of years that I would run to relax.
Fast forward to freshman year of high school. I decided to run cross country instead of playing volleyball. This turned out to be one of the best decisions I could make! The team was more than a team, it was a family. The coaches were very nice and encouraging, but between you and me, could have done some more actual coaching. I made so much progress as a runner, falling more and more in love with running,  every day. By the end of the season, my 5K race time was about 21 minutes. Even thought the season was over, I ran every day, and not just a little bit. I was running 7 miles a day, and boy did I pay for that. I ended up with a stress fracture in my hip, which took two months to heal. Any runner knows that not running for two months is torturous, and it was hard.
I signed up for my first half marathon, THIS June, with my sister, and part of me thought I wouldn’t be able to do it. But, my hip healed in perfect timing. I had a couple weeks to get back into shape, and then my training officially started. I used the Hal Higdon Intermediate 2 plan. To be completely honest, most of the time I didn’t follow the plan. I almost always ran more than I needed to. And rest days? I hardly took them, unless the weather was too bad. I made sure to cross train, running 3.5 miles and doing a 30-40 minute ab workout on the same day. I also made sure that all of my runs included hills, which was not hard to do, living in Middle Tennessee.
My favorite part of training was the long runs. As an endurance athlete, I live for and love running long. The farther I ran, the happier and better I felt. As my runs progressed into the 9 mile and above range, I started to experiment with fueling. I tried raisins (not the best for me since they took more work for my body to digest) and GU energy gels. At first, I was hesitant to put something artificial into my body, but I soon realized that they were the best for me. And the flavors covered every base! Fruit-y, chocolate-y, coffee-y, and even maple bacon! These long runs did mean, however, that my training was coming to an end. And training coming to an end meant one very exciting thing: THE HALF MARATHON!!!!!
This brings us to June 3rd, 2017. My half marathon of choice was the Hillbilly Half. It would begin at 6:30a, which meant I had to wake up a little after 5:00a. I had learned from my training runs that I did not need much for breakfast, so I had Greek yogurt and mixed some Honey Bunches of Oats into it about an hour before running. I made sure to pack extra clothes and shoes, as well as my water bottle and energy gel. I was so excited, and a little bit nervous. So as every runner does, I made a last minute trip to the (disgusting, smelly, gross, etc) port-a-potty before the race began.
All my training was leading up to this moment. And with a ‘bang!’ it began. I weaved between people, moving around them left and right, for quite a few miles. After a while I found my pace, and maintained the same speed. Sticking true to its name, the course was constantly going up and down. It seemed like as soon as we ran down hill, there was another hill waiting for us. I ran by myself for most of the race.
About 3/4 of the way through, I ran alongside a guy going about my pace. We didn’t say anything to one another, but both of us knew we were using each other as a pacer. When we hit another hill, I took the lead. For the last 5K, I sped up. As I hit the last couple water stations and “hecklers” (volunteers dressed up as hillbillies to encourage and to entertain runners), the volunteers were cheering me on loudly, screaming “you go girl!” It made me wonder, was I the first female? And I was! As I rounded the corner to cross the finish line, I saw my mom screaming for me, and the men at the finish pulling the banner across for me to run through it. After I crossed, I got my medal and, best of all, my fresh Georgia peach from the amazing Peach Truck.
After the race, I snacked on some fruit, waiting for the awards to begin. It felt like forever.  When my category was announced, I was ecstatic to have won my very first half marathon at age 15. For the rest of the day, I was on a high, smiling whenever I thought about that morning.
Right now, I’m training for my second cross country season. My goal is to qualify for the state meet this year. Looking ahead, I want to run in college, but have no idea where yet. I love running, and cannot wait to see where it takes me!