Category Archives: Racing Recaps

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!

Race Recap: Leona Divide 50

Ten Hours, nineteen minutes. 10,500′ climbing. 15:28 pace. Forty miles.

I signed up for Leona Divide 50. I finished Leona Divide 40 with a 50K medal. This was my fifth 50 and my hardest to date, climbs to 4000′ and temps in the high 80s to low 90s. The race director (RD) , Keira Henninger, sent an email out to runners a couple of days before the race to make everyone aware of the heat and to offer several suggestions for key places in the race to load up on drinks and ice. The RD specifically mentioned miles 17 to 26 to load up on ice and water because it was a long, exposed climb.

Miles 0-17.8 My goal with this section was to run it as fast as I could comfortably go. This would be the coolest part of the day and I took advantage of it. The start was about 2 miles uphill on the road. Then, double track trail that fed to single track for the rest of the race. The race started at 6:00a. You did not need a light at the start. I ran hard and was WAY ahead of my projected pace/time by mile 17.8. I did need to slow down. The climbs were not too steep or technical. For me, they were challenging because of the altitude.

Miles 17.8-27 I was happy to reach aid station #3, Aqua Dolce, mile 17.8. The cutoff time was 11:30a. I arrived at 10:15a. I took a few minutes to put ice in my hat, in my bra and around my neck in an arm sleeve.

This section was tough. It was 5.5 miles uphill and about 3-ish miles down. It was exposed except for the occasional oasis of shade. There was a breeze that blew every once in a while to cool my ice soaked body. The top of this climb went to around 4K. The climb to the top and the run down from the top required me to breathe deeply. I unbuckled my vest on the climbs to get a full breath of air.

Miles 27-33  Mile 28 was aid station #4, Bouquet Canyon Rd. The cutoff time here was 1:45p. I arrived at 12:30p. Great volunteers! They were fun and helpful, making light of an insane day. I restocked ice in my hat/bra/arm sleeve. I took a brief, ICE COLD sponge bath, put on sunscreen and loaded up my bottles with electrolyte and water. I do not remember much about this section. It was part of an out/back. Just remember more running up and more running down. The trails were beautiful and runnable. The downhill was sweet.

Miles 33-40  Aid station #5, Spunky Edison. This is where the race got tough for me. I was not mentally prepared to patiently suffer. When I reached this aid station it was about 1:45p. The cutoff here was 2:30p. They were out of ice and they had one container of cold water remaining. The rest of the drinks were warm. I was not prepared, mentally. I wasn’t sure how to process this,  and I started thinking about dropping to the 50K. I would still have to run back about 4 miles to the finish. I decided to move to the next aid station at mile 40, before making any decisions. It was an out/back. . . 7 out & 7 back, then 4 miles to the finish. THIS section was the toughest of the day because my body was hot. I was carrying 50 oz of water & electrolyte. I drank my electrolyte and one bottle of water. It was warm. (bleh)

There was plenty of runnable trail in this section, really ALL day the trail was runnable. My energy was low. My water was hot. I knew I needed to eat, especially if I was going to run back and finish 50. I started 1st on my sandwich, eating one tiny bite at a time. I chased it with a bit of hot water. I made it through 1/2 sandwich.

I occasionally confronted my desire to stop. . . 

“Do your feet hurt?”

“Do your legs hurt?”

“Are you vomiting?”

“Are you eating/drinking?”

“Are you hot?” **KIDDING!! I was hot!**

No. No. No. Yes. Yes. 

It was hard to stop thinking about the 7 miles back to the aid station that did not have ice or coke or cold drinks. I tried eating again. I did not really want to chew, so I slowly sipped 1/2 GU and followed it with more hot water.

I could see the aid station now at mile 40 (I could also see the trail back.) A very sweet, energetic lady came running up the trail to tell me that the aid station was waiting for me with ice and cold drinks. I started to cry. She couldn’t see the tears behind my sunglasses but she saw my mouth turn down and my lip quiver. I made it to the AS with time to spare. I hiked ALL 7 miles in 2 1/2 hours. I arrived at 4:30p. The cutoff was originally 4:30p, but it was extended to 4:50p.

It was too late. I decided a mile back that I was done suffering for the day. I gave up the fight. As soon as I walked into the AS, Sara asked me if I was okay. I said, “no, I’m done. I want to drop.” I think she could have convinced me or anyone could have helped to convince me to go on, but I could not convince myself. I got a ride to the start from a dad, crewing his daughter. I picked up my 50K medal and headed for my car.

Leona Divide: Why run?

  • Fantastic Volunteers, very organized
  • Sweet, runnable trails, not technical
  • Easy to get to from LAX
  • Awesome muscle (race) shirt!


  • -NOT easy for this TN girl at the end of April. In some ways it was more challenging than Pine to Palm (P2P)
  • -Hotter for longer, completely exposed all day in the sun
  • -Minor elevation, up to 4K. The top of the climbs and the top of the downhill was hard. P2P was at the end of August. I trained all summer in the heat and humidity. This helped prepare me for the elevation at P2P.
  • +I did a great job drinking. I knew with the heat and altitude that I needed to drink to avoid dehydration. I think, overall, I drank more than 2+ gallons in 10 hours.
  • -Eating was worse than I thought. GOSH. I ate 1 zbar, 1 1/2 turkey/cheese sandwiches, two handfuls of peanut butter pretzels, one pack of GU watermelon chews. 4 mini peanut butter cups, some watermelon, 1/2 GU, ginger ale, and 4 mini ginger cookies.

Race Recap: Music City Trail Ultra 12K (guest post)

Trail Race Virgin

My first official trail race . . . 7 to 8 miles (Hardwin Adventures race which apparently makes the race mileage a bit, fluid, shall we say?) didn’t seem like that big of a deal.  I mean, I’d done training runs of that distance in Percy Warner a couple of times and felt fine so I really went into it more excited than nervous.  Honestly, I didn’t really care how long it took me, I was really just looking forward to some uninterrupted time on the trail in the woods.

I showed up a bit early the morning of the race to pick up my number and get my bearings.  I was running this race alone, but ran into some acquaintances at the start which was fun.  As I dug a handful of rusty safety pins out of the zip-loc bag full of pins provided and crumpled up my race number (only newbies leave it clean and pristine, right?), I had flashbacks to road bike racing days and started to feel some of those old pre-race jitters.  I told myself I was just here to “run” and not “race” and I just needed to simply enjoy being in the woods for a few hours without needing to feed or clean anyone else (Mom of 3, 7 and under, #reallife).

The participants lined up at the start and pledged their commitment to giving their all and running with humility and respect for the land and their fellow runner which of course made me choke back a sob because #waterworks ever since birthing aforementioned children.  Then just like that, we were off!  After a brief stint in an open field we started a climb.  Not a bad climb, really, but the crowd made it feel like I was in a ride line at Disney.  Now, if you don’t know me, you must know that I don’t really like to walk or hike when I trail run, I like to run everything – albeit very slowly at times – so this queue was frustrating to me at first.  I felt like I could have run this climb if it hadn’t been so crowded but I just sort of settled in and hiked and coached myself by remembering that this would save me some energy for later.

The initial climb led us up to a brief ridgeline where the crowd thinned out.  Before long we came to our first significant challenge . . . a descent and subsequent ascent that required sideways footing and the occasional bracing of self with a hand on the hillside.  This part was crazy steep!  If I’d tried to run down (which I didn’t see anyone do), I feel certain I’d have tumbled head-over-heels cartoon style to the bottom.  The ascent on the flip side was nearly as daunting.  It was not runnable for me (Boo.  See previous note, regarding me not liking to walk/hike) but I went into the race knowing that, so I was truly okay with hiking and had fun passing a few people who had to stop to catch their breath.  All this ascending and descending was further complicated by thick mud resulting from rain overnight that was covered by a heavy layer of fallen leaves.  These things worked together to make it less of a trail race and more of an adventure race for me.

After the steep ascent and descent the rest of the course fell into a regular rhythm of jeep roads punctuated here and there by climbs and descents of varying degrees of difficulty.  My least favorite section was another steep descent down a trail-less hillside coated in thick mud covered with inches of dead leaves to a creek at the bottom followed by a climb with roughly the same conditions just on the other side.  Really, nearly the entire course was like this which made it not my favorite, to be honest.  Once I came to the first aid station across the creek I knew I had only about 3 miles left and I felt sort of home-free because the race manual had described this section of the 12K to be where you could really start to pick up some speed to the finish.  Maybe I read that wrong, but I did not find that to be true.  There was still much climbing to be done and I feel like when I wasn’t on a gravel jeep road, I was on one of the plentiful trail-less sections of the course guided by little multi-colored flags sunk in the thick mud and leaf icing on the cake that was the Music City Trail Ultra.

It’s kind of funny . . . another thing about me is my covert competitiveness.  I like to think I’m “only competing against myself” and just “trying to do my best” and while that’s true . . . . towards the end, I came across an acquaintance I’d chatted with at the beginning.  Given her experience and my lack thereof, I didn’t figure I’d see her at all after the start but here she was.  All of a sudden it turned into a race for me.  I tried to block out thoughts of “I must pass her, she cannot beat me” and tell myself I didn’t care who crossed the line first but she was so close.  I noticed she walked the hills so I became determined to jog them if at all possible.  At some point, I came up on her and she seemed surprised to see me.  Then I passed her and didn’t see her again until sever minutes after I’d crossed the line.  So, maybe I am a bit competitive.  Could be genetic.

Takeaways from my first race . . .

  1. This race was tough but my training had me really well prepared for the challenge of it.  Thanks Coach McClain.
  2. This race was not my favorite, but it was accurately described by the organizer and I feel like he did a fantastic job with the event. The course was really well marked, swag was fun and the atmosphere was chock-full of comradery.  Bonus points that it was really close to home!
  3. I literally crossed the line looking forward to my next race, whatever that will be. I’d really like one that has you on actual trails, though, not trail-less flag marked hillside.  I will say – this is not the fault of the organizer and I don’t feel like the event was mis-represented in any way, shape or form.  I just really enjoy gliding up and down packed trails.  I’m cool with obstacles but this course was just too fraught with less than ideal topography and conditions for me to call it a favorite.
  4. This is one time I can say without hesitation that I gave everything I had. Oftentimes out of fear of failure I find myself sub-consciously holding back a bit.  Not here, folks.  When I crossed that line I did it with my last ounces of energy.  That, my friends, is a pretty cool feeling.


Race Recap: Lookout 50, December 2016


Stick to a task ’til it sticks to you. . . for beginners are many, but finishers few.

-Thomas S. Monson


Tough day on Lookout Mountain 50 for many. I finished in 11:45, one hour, two minutes slower than last year. Here are a couple of comparison stats from last year to this year.

This year, I ran without a safety runner and without a crew. All the miles mentioned are approximate.

Lookout 50 2015

  • 174 finishers (145 men and 29 women)
  • Finish Line 1, 21/22 miles, my split was 4:24
  • Finish Line 2, 50 miles, my split was 6:19
  • Finish time 10:43

Lookout 50 2016

  • 137 finishers (99 men & 38 women)
  • Finish Line 1, 21/22 miles, my split was 4:21
  • Finish Line 2, 50 miles, my split was 7:29
  • Finish time 11:45
  • DNF: 13 men & 7 women
  • DNS: 29 men & 20 women (approximately)

The start & weather Lookout starts at Covenant College in GA at 7:30 am EST. It is a wide open, short road section through a portion of campus until you come to the trail head. At the trail head, there’s a brief slow down as everyone files onto the trail and patiently head single file onto the single track. 🙂

The weather forecast changed 5 times, leading up to race morning. As of race morning, showers would start around noon. The temperature started at 38 degrees and would climb to a high of 70 at 3:00 pm, with intermittent showers. As I mentally prepared for the race in the days leading up to the start, I planned to expect rain.

Miles 0-8 ran by feel. This first section to AS 1 (aid station 1) is mostly downhill and very runnable. This year, it seemed like runners were being a bit more cautious with the wet leaves and wet rocks. I hung with most of the crowd for about 4 miles, and then decided to move around runners and find my sweet spot. At about mile 5 1/2, you hit a steep climb, then, a switch back decent to a jeep road. LOVE, LOVE this section. I def pushed my pace here. I ran hard to AS2, felt good. I stopped to refill my bottles. I wanted to stay well hydrated, especially as temps would be rising as the day went on. (Last year, I did not stop here at all.)

Miles 8-15 another quick, runnable section. I definitely had my sweet spot. I did not feel like chatting or running with anyone. This is where I put one ear bud in and just ran. 🙂 It felt good. This section overall is slightly downhill with some rollers here and there. This group of miles to enjoy running on. The next section has a long climb back up to the start/finish. I stopped to fill my bottle here too and grab a few fig newtons. (Last year, I did not stop here.)

Miles 15-21/22 Easily one of my favorite sections. I LOVE to hike uphill. There’s a short, steep climb out of AS2, then, rolling hills to the 3 mile climb back up to the start/finish. It is a great feeling to pass people HIKING. The climbing felt easier than last year. Still going by feel and not looking at my watch. I arrived around noon, and I was hungry. I stopped to refill my bottles with water and Gnarly electrolyte drink. I really like the Gnarly drink, WAY better than HEED and better than GU Roctaine. I needed to eat. I grabbed a bagel with almond butter and honey out of my drop bag. I ate it all while walking out of this AS3.

Miles 21/22-30 This section of the course is also the last 8 miles of the race. I thought this section was marked better than last year. The section is mostly downhill with a few short climbs and rollers. This section has a creek crossing. You do not have to get your feet wet, if you cross on the rocks. At about mile 30, you arrive at AS4. This is one of my favorite AS’s. It is right by the waterfall. The group of volunteers here is a lively bunch! LOVE it!

Miles 30-34 The most memorable part of this section is the rope climb!! Here, I saw Jobie Williams (one of the course photographers & a friend of mine). It was really good to see him. He humored me and let me go back down the rope so that we could stage a shot climbing back up. 🙂 This section also provides a great view and nice, runnable bluff portion. Toward the end of this section, you are able to see and cheer on the leaders, as they are running to the finish. It is cool to see how hard they are working.

I still felt good and was running by feel. Last year, I started watching my pace here, anticipating the time with my safety runner, Kevin. I walked more of this part last year. This year, I did not have a safety runner. I was not sure how the next section would go. It entered my mind that I would be doing it alone. This might be the place when I asked myself, “what is your why today?” I needed to be reminded, because I was getting ready to run the rest on my own.

The last 1/2 mile of this section is on the road to the Long Branch AS4 & AS5. This is where you can stretch out your legs and RUN!

Miles 34-38 This is the spot last year when my stomach went downhill FAST. Last year, I suffered from this point to the finish. This year, it was different. My stomach did not bother me at all. This AS is called Long Branch, you visit it at miles 34 and 38. You can have a drop bag here. I stopped here, dropped my pack, grabbed a water bottle, some food and took off. This is a 4 mile loop. It was a nice break to drop my pack and run/hike with just a water bottle.

I do not remember much of this section from last year. I think I was kind of out of it and suffering with my stomach. I was lucky to have a safety runner, last year. This section was pretty. A lot of runners will tell you that this is their least favorite section because it is difficult to get a rhythm on the single track. I disagree. I would tell you to look forward to this. 🙂

Done with the loop and back to mile 38. (sigh) I did it. 🙂 KEVIN-you’d be proud of me here. I ran more than I walked. I put my jacket back on, put my pack back on, filled my bottles, put my headlamp in my pack, grabbed several pieces of frosted Christmas cookies, and smiled as I headed out. FINISH TIME!!

This is when the fog started to roll in thick, and there was a 5 minute downpour.

Miles 38-43 These are the same miles that I ran to get to Long Branch. I started hiking with a friend, here. I cannot remember his name. This is also where we got a bit lost, by about 1/4 mile. The fog was pretty thick, and it was raining. We missed the flag we needed to follow to get off the road and back on single track. GLAD that we noticed that sooner rather than later. (phew)

Back down the rope to one of my fav Lookout AS’s!! At this point, there were 3 of us together, me and two guys. We dropped down the rope to the last AS before the finish!! By this time, the atmosphere was a bit more lively. Last year, they had whiskey shots here. This year? Nope. I asked them if it was against the rules, this year. They quickly told me no that they make the rules out here! They just did not have whiskey. 🙂

All 3 of us were ready to finish!

Miles 43-50 “Are we there, yet?!” We power hiked almost the entirety of this section. It was getting dark here, and we put on our headlamps. The fog made it difficult to see with our headlamps on our heads. It was like driving in the fog, with the fine mist falling. To see better, we had to carry our headlamps. This section has lots of rocks and roots. It is okay to navigate in the light at mile 23, but it beats you up in the dark at mile 46!!

It was a grind. LOTS of hiking. Some running.

With a mile to go, I told the guys that we had to run across the finish line (Kevin). They weren’t convinced. With about 1/2 mile to go, I said, “I think we can run now.” We ran a bit. We slipped on a hill, going down in the mud. We started walking. I saw the finish. I started RUNNING. I crossed first in 11:45!

Happy 45th birthday to me!!!

83 out of 137 overall

16 out of 38 women

4 out of 7 in my age group

Hungry. Satisfied. Thankful. Finished.