The new year is an opportunity for a fresh start and often, some awesome running. This year has been different. The problems of 2018 have dragged on and are greatly affecting every aspect of my life including my running. In the new year, I should have felt that extra push to train and make 2019 the best, but with only one week in, it’s been hard and messy.
My husband works for a nonprofit that receives funding from the National Science Foundation. With the current government shutdown, we don’t know when his paycheck is going to dry up. We are heading towards uncharted territory and I have never been one to do well with that. Since his insurance is cheaper and better, we are both on his company’s plan making our healthcare one of the many things up in the air right now. And it seems like there is no end in site.
It’s hard to run and exercise when you are exhausted from the stress of a difficult situation such as this. I find myself moving slower, wanting to stay in, and generally allowing any excuse to be the one that has me skip a run. I am no stranger to anxiety and I need running for this very reason, but it is often the first thing to go when my life gets turned upside down.
This was my training last week:
Monday: 9.1 miles along BST trail in snow (~1800 feet of gain)
Tuesday: 6.5 miles up Grandeur Peak (~2500 feet of gain)
Wednesday: 7 miles up Millcreek Road (~1200 feet of gain) + Climbing
Friday: OFF (Should have run)
Saturday: 12.5 miles on Park City trails (~1300 feet of gain) + Climbing
Sunday: Hiking and sledding for 4-6ish miles
Total Mileage: ~38 Miles and ~7500 feet of gain
Overall, I feel deflated this week and I’m hoping for some good news in the next few days with regards to Frank’s job. Sydney (my cat) has been having some health issues but recently seems to have made a few big steps in the right direction. I’m glad to at least have that partially resolved.
My next two races coming up are Running Up for Air (RUFA) 24 hour and Zion 100. I feel like I’m not in the best of shape at the moment, but I’ll get back there, certainly by Zion. RUFA might be a bit of a slog which I’m prepared for. Since it will be mostly walking, I imagine it will be more of a mental battle than a physical one.
My goals for next week are to drink more water (I’m terrible at that) and do some more fast running. I need to feel my legs move.
It’s the first day of 2019 and I’ve been logging the miles! It was a cold day out in the mountains, but I got my first peak of the year! As I leap into 2019, I wanted to look back at what I liked most about 2018. Here’s a quick look at my year.
Best Race: Squaw Peak 50
Squaw peak is probably my favorite race I’ve ever run. It’s beautiful, wildly challenging, and you still get a full night of sleep (unlike Javelina Jundred). I also really enjoyed the 50 mile distance. The race itself was particularly well put on and the course was perfect. Although it does give over 10,000 feet of gain, it has a very high finishing rate and I attribute that to the awesome aide stations and volunteers. And although I did lose a few toenails in the weeks following, the race gave me the confidence needed to finish my 100-miler in October.
Best Run: Kings Peak in August
At 13,527 feet, Kings Peak sits as Utah’s crown. It’s a fantastic 28 mile trail through woods, alpine tundra, and skree fields. I met up with the Wasatch Mountain Wranglers to run it on a crisp and cool day in early August. I went alone and wasn’t entirely sure that I should go, but once I got out on the trail, I met people at my pace and stuck with them. It was a wonderful day. The route took me about 8 hours, which is a moderate pace and never felt too difficult (except at the end while I was struggling over loose rock). I did have many fantastic runs throughout the year, but this one certainly stood above the rest.
Favorite Trail: Pfeifferhorn Peak via Red Pine Lake
I had seen Pfeifferhorn from afar many times, but this summer was the first time I climbed it. It was a foggy day, unusual for Utah, but the conditions made the trail so much better. At the top, the fog cleared and we were able to see the Wasatch and the Salt Lake Valley. It was a beautiful route and a beautiful day. This is a trail that I’ll definitely do again this summer.
Most Used Gear: Salomon Pack
I went through multiple pairs of shoes, many different socks, and even switched out my spikes and trekking poles. The one piece of gear that remained constant was my Salomon Skin pack. It never chaffed, never bounced too much or hurt my shoulders. Basically it did everything it needed to do.
As anyone who knows me will know, I am a caffeine addict. I love coffee and tea. Unfortunately on a run, it’s not always so easy to get an extra boost when you need it most. While I was training for Javelina, I was looking for ways to take caffeine during the night, but not hurt my stomach. The Wasatch Running Company suggested Run Gum and I loved it! It comes in three different flavors, all of which are great. The little bit of sugar helps too and gives me something to look forward to when the miles get long. At Javelina, I never really felt sleepy and I largely attribute that to Run Gum.
Favorite Cross Training: Climbing
Unless you consider hiking as cross training (my physical therapist does not), I have never really been very good about doing other things besides running. I manage an okay yoga practice, but when the miles get high, my yoga practice tends to suffer. This year I really tried to remain consistent at some sort of cross training and found that climbing really works. It keeps me strong and mildly flexible and helps a lot with the mentality it takes to finish long ultras. I’m still a considerably better runner than I am a climber, but I’ve had a ton of fun going out and sending some routes.
With the end of 2018 quickly approaching, I’ve been looking back on a big year and looking forward to some more ultra-fun in 2019.
Since Javelina, my training has been pretty chill. I run when I want, don’t when I don’t. I have not done any substantial long runs in quite some time, but everything is about to change. I have some pretty big goals for 2019 and a lot of races. In 2018, I ran my first 100-mile race and I am hoping to get a couple more under my belt in the coming year. I have most of my races planned out and I’ll go ahead and list out a few goals that I have for each of them.
Running Up for Air (February 9-10)
This is a 24 hour timed race that climbs Grandeur Peak as many times as you can. The trail is about 6 miles long but climbs about 2500 feet each lap. I am not particularly good at climbing, but I wanted to challenge myself on this one. I am just hoping to avoid the mid-night lull that I had around 2:00 am at Javelina. I would love to get through 7-8 laps, but I am more concerned with keeping my mental state good and my food intake right. I’ll mostly be walking this one, so it should not beat up my legs nearly as badly as Javelina or even Squaw 50 did.
Zion 100 (April 21-13)
This is my main goal race for the spring. I need a qualifier for the Western States Lottery again, and although I am running another qualifier in the fall, I don’t want to rely on that one since it will be the toughest race I’ve ever run. Zion has similar elevation profile to Javelina and is not nearly as hot. My main goal is to finish, although I have another goal of PRing my 100 at it, which I think is very doable. This race goes through some of my favorite type of environment and with a bit of training, should be a pretty fun day out in the desert.
Squaw Peak 50 (June 8)
I had such a fun time at Squaw last year that I want to run it again. I’ll use it as kind of a tune up for my goal race in the fall. It has a rough elevation profile, which is something I definitely need to work on. I would love to run this race faster than I did in 2018, however, that definitely depends on how quickly I recover from Zion 100 in April. I’m hoping for a good day with little drama and just a finish with strong legs.
Bear 100 (September 27-28)
The Bear 100 is one of the most famous and most challenging races in Utah. With about 23,000 feet of gain, this race is going to take a lot of training and a good day. I don’t have any specific goals other than to finish the race. Bear is known for it’s tough elevation profile and fickle weather. It’s a pretty local race, so I’ll have tons of support and pacers to help me out. I might run a tune up race leading to it of 50 miles-100K, but heading into the fall, my main goal will be to finish Bear.
My non-racing goal for 2019 is to blog and vlog more often. I’ll try to post on the blog 1-2 times per week and to post on the vlog once every other week. I’ll include training updates, race reports, trails that I run and just thoughts about ultra-running in general.
I hope your year was as fun and exciting as mine. What are some of your goals heading into 2019?
I love the mountains, the trails, the desert, but at mile 70 of my first 100-mile race, I loved none of that. All I loved was my bed.
I had been running for about 20 hours at this point. I had taken a conservative approach to my race and weathered the 100 degree heat of the day. At mile 60 I was sure that I was going to finish this race and by mile 70, every doubt imaginable had creeped into my mind. I wondered what business I had thinking that I could finish 100 miles. I had only ever run 50! Javelina Jundred is known for its deceptively low finisher rate and I had taken this race on without enough experience nor the mental strength to get it done.
So, there I sat, at mile 70 in the Jackass Junction aide station. A medic handed me a barf bag but offered little sympathy. I leaned over the bag as they reminded me that I’d only feel better if I ate.
Eating was very possibly the last thing I wanted to do.
People came into the aid station, laid down on the cots and told the medic they were done. Others were asleep, surely no longer able to go on to finish the race. The pull to quit was hard to resist especially when someone with a car ready to head back to the start line was asking me what I wanted to do.
I had Frank, my husband, with me by this point as my pacer. He assured me I was not going to quit. I told him that I needed to lay down for 10 minutes and then I promised that I would eat. The medic watched me as I curled up on the cot, I could tell that he was sure that my race was done. I layed there thinking of the 30 miles I still had to get done and suddenly I understood every person who has ever DNF’ed at the end of an ultra. After doing 70 miles, every mile felt like an eternity. All I wanted was to sleep.
After 5 minutes, Frank nudged me awake. “Come on, let’s go”. I shoved some watermelon down, a few pieces of banana and asked the medic “Am I going to feel this nauseous the rest of the race”?
“Probably.” He responded.
“I guess I can live with that.” I said, finally standing up from the cot.
I put the headlamp back on my head, added a few layers and after over an hour of feeling bad for myself and contemplating giving up, I left Jackass Junction to finish the race.
Frank and I ran through the darkness of the desert, singing Backstreet Boys songs, and looking for other headlamps in the night. Few were left. I could really tell that the race field had thinned out. Many of us hadn’t continued.
Javelina Jundred is a looped course with five 20-mile loops that bring you to the four aid stations in the desert, including one that is near the cars. Each station has a theme, and they are all pretty comfortable, which is a problem for anyone contemplating a DNF (Did Not Finish). As we neared Coyote Camp, I could hear a few howls in the distance. It was surreal to be out there so late in the night.
We breezed through the aid station and made our way back to the start/finish line where my crew captain, Lindsay, was worrying that I was about to come in to DNF. I recently had the realization that at the rate I was going, I would have to deal with the heat again on Sunday morning after a nearly 100 degree day on Saturday. I entered the aid station in tears, but I wasn’t quite ready to give up.
The problem with running 100 miles is that running 80 miles is really far, but you still have 20 left. For the first time, deep into my race, I finally understood why a person would quit a 100 mile race after having already gone over 70 miles. I realized that when running 100 miles, a finish is no more guaranteed at mile 90 as it is at mile 1. Anything can happen and the further you are along in the race, the more likely something will.
In the aid station, we took off my shoes to check on my blisters. My feet looked like I had been badly burned. I had giant, pus filled blisters between every toe, on my heels, and on the pads of my feet. With my shoes off, I could no longer fit my swollen feet back into my normal size and for the last 20 miles, I had to borrow Lindsay’s shoes which were a full size larger than mine.
After tears, and a little food, I left the aid station for my final lap with my pacer Kay Kay. I didn’t know her previously to the race, so it was nice to hear her stories about running and other ultras she had crewed.
The sun came up, and once again I was subjected to the heat of Pheonix, AZ, but unlike before, I knew I didn’t have to weather it for long. I was less hesitant than on Saturday. I realized that I had already been through the worst of it. As we came into Jackass Junction one last time, I saw the same medic that tried to convince me to eat in the night. He was surprised to see me at all. No other runners had laid down on a cot and gotten back up to finish the race.
We took off from the aid station one last time. The miles ticked by and I started getting oddly emotional. I was crying, wanting to sleep but I was also ticking by the fastest miles I had run all race. Suddenly I was seeing sub-9:00 miles (which is not slow in a 100-miler). I passed others walking to the end with tears streaming down my face and I knew that I was going to finish. Every mile was faster than the previous and as I started to see the final aid station I broke out into an all out sprint. I crossed the finish line and was handed my belt buckle. All of the effort and exhaustion was finally done.
Finishing a 100-mile race and a Western States qualifier has been a goal of mine for a long time. It wasn’t until recently that I had the confidence to sign up and attempt such a huge undertaking. I’m glad that I did. I learned a lot about running, myself, and ultramarathons in general, but most importantly, I learned that anyone can run an ultra. Finishing 100 miles takes no more physical strength than a marathon does, but it does take more mental strength. I’m not sure where you find the mental strength, and I have no idea where I found mine, but even in the darkest moments in my own head, I did.
Running 100 miles was wonderful, terrible, exhausting, exhilarating, and quite possibly the greatest thing I’ve ever done.
It’s been a while since I’ve updated you on what’s going on in my running life. As you know, since the beginning of the year I have been training for the Squaw 50-miler. It’s a tough race through the Wasatch Mountains and gains about 14,000 ft throughout the course. To say that I am nervous is an understatement. I have no time goals and only want to finish the race while staying happy and healthy. I am done with my training and now I am tapering until June 2! Stay tuned for more updates.
Those of you that watch my youtube channel know that I have signed up for the Javelina Jundred in October. It’s not going to be easy, but after Squaw 50, my only focus will be to train in a way that gets Javelina done. It’s a nice runable course, which generally plays to my strengths, but don’t get me wrong. I am still scared. Although I did sign up, I still feel as though I have no business running 100 miles, but I’m not sure anyone does.
I’ll post again about my prerace thoughts heading into Squaw 50, but if you want to see some more info about my training and how things have been going, check out my youtube series, Training for 100. Here are my two latest videos.
Running the Bonneville Shoreline Trail:
Oh, and of course, here are a few pics from the trails in SLC.
What are you training for? Do you have any goals this summer?
I had a really good week of training! I hit about 6000 feet of vert over 40 miles of running and 8 miles of cross country skiing. It felt good and it was awesome to get out and ski a bit. Despite the rather mild winter we’ve been having, it was a really great time!
I am not a particularly good skier, and spent a substantial amount of time on my butt. Most of the first 4 miles were uphill, which meant the 4 miles back were all downhill. I took a few good falls (by a few, I mean like 10), but check out this video of me really owning that downhill!
I got a long run in of just 12 miles. I am still working up to the longer mileages for this training cycle. The real problem I am facing is that in order to get the vertical gain I need, I have to run on trails. And that just takes so much longer. While heading up some of the bigger peaks around here, I end up hitting 25-30 minute miles. It’s just impossible to get really long runs in like that. I may have to start doing the longer days on road.
This week my goal is to hit 10,000 feet of vertical gain. In order to get that done, today I went up Mt Wire, a rather knarly peak on the north side of town.
It was definitely a difficult trek. I clocked over 2000 feet of gain in the first 1.8 miles of the run. It was hard and my calves burned, but the view at the top was certainly worth it.
From the peak, my friend, Dan, and I ran along the ridge to another peak called Red Butte. I always struggle with ridges and I get pretty scared on the thinner ones. We took it slow and steady.
As we were coming down, we got some cool sunset views. When it comes to scenery, Utah doesn’t disappoint.
So far so good for the week.
Also, I am officially signed up for Squaw 50-miler, which has 14000 feet of gain, so I better get to it! I am certainly getting nervous about this race. Luckily I still have over 5 months of training to go. I’m really not sure what to expect or how to train for it. Honestly, my main goal is to just get to the start line with no injuries.
Oh and here’s a selfie with Elly!
Have you ever hiked/ran up a mountain? Do you like trail running or road running (I love both)?
Since you last heard from me, a lot has happened. I ran the St. George Marathon with a 15 minute negative split and a 10 minute PR and I ran the Antelope Island 50K and came in 7th for women. It was a good year for racing, but not always a good year for running. I was hurt on and off and went through PT for both Piriformis Syndrome and my right ankle. It made me inconsistent and although I ran PRs and raced well, I certainly didn’t live up to my potential.
I’m hoping that this year will be different. I have a lot of plans and I’m ready for some really really big things. Actually, one super big thing. After years of talking about getting my name in the Western States Lottery, my goal for 2018 is to actually do it. This means I have some serious training to do and a lot of mountains to run up. I am also still absolutely petrified of the distance. With a few other races before the big one, I am hoping that I’ll toe the line of the Never Summer 100K without too much fear.
These days, I’ve become less of a road runner and more of a mountain runner. I spend my runs trying to get 2000+ feet of vertical gain and I do a lot of power hiking. I still sometimes do tempo runs and track workouts, but my goals have changed a lot. The track doesn’t get you ready for 13,000 feet of gain in a single race… only mountains can do that. Luckily for me, living in Salt Lake City, I have an abundance of mountains.
I have 5 races on my calendar for 2018 and I’ll blog as I train for them.
Antelope Island 50K – March 24 Salt Lake City Marathon – April 21 Squaw Peak 50-miler – June 2 Never Summer 100K – July 28 St. George Marathon – Oct 6
Join me as I train, race, hike, and get myself ready to run 64.2 miles in one day. It’s going to be a journey for sure!
Also, Elly is doing great, too! She’s not quite as excited for my ultramarathons. It means less cuddle time.
Do you have any big goals? What running goals scare you the most?
I had a bit of a breakthrough at PT this week. I was told to give my legs a try and go for a run. So I did… And it seems like everything is going pretty well. I can still feel the sciatic pain on uphills, but for the most part, things are looking up. Running on road feels a little weird, but not painful. Luckily, I live in SLC where there are tons of trails. I’ve mostly been sticking to those.
This week was definitely the first in a long time that made me think that I could run a good marathon time relatively soon. It’s basically a miracle that I’ve healed so fast, so I am not totally convinced yet that I am tI’m not taking on any speedwork for a while, but that’s ok. For now, I just need to get my endurance back.
This was my week:
Monday: Went to PT (I’m usually pretty tired after that so I don’t run)
Tuesday: 5.1 miles running and walking with overall 10:31 pace (on road) + Bikram Yoga
Wednesday: 6.4 mile trail race 11:51/mi with 1600 ft gain
Thursday: Went to PT + Bikram Yoga
Friday: Easy 3.1 miles on road (10:36/mi)
Saturday: 3.4 easy on dirt road (10:44/mi) w/ 400 ft of gain
Sunday: 12.3 miles (10:30/mi) w 1100 ft of gain
Total: 30 miles w/ 3400 ft of gain
The long run was the real test and except on a few uphills, I got no pain at all from my leg or back. Here are a few pics from the run (and yes, that’s me in the background freaking out about the snake).
I’d say that it was a rather good week. Lately, I’ve been feeling like I’m making a transition from roads to trail. It’s easy to get trail mileage here since the mountains are so close. I’m learning a lot about myself during this injury, but most of all, I’m learning that my favorite type of running is on trail. St. George Marathon might be my last road race for a while and, assuming my injury is settling down, I have a few wild plans in mind for some awesome trail races.
This week has started off to a good start. Check out the video I made on my run this afternoon on the Pipeline Trail!
Hope your training is going well! Have you ever had an injury that sidelined you for a long time? What did you do to stay active while you healed?
Goals. They can be big, and scary, and impossibly hard. As runners, we often set manageable, small, tiny goals that are reachable. We set goals that we can wrap our heads around. But sometimes, we should be setting goals that are maybe a reach, something that even on a perfect day may not happen. Failure is part of the game, and often times, I set soft goals that I can reach even on an okay day.
More important than choosing the goal is realizing that you are capable of something really really big. When toeing the line of my first marathon, I remember being filled with self-doubt, but as the miles ticked on, I realized that I was a lot stronger than I gave myself credit for. I have been a runner for a long time and lately, I have been feeling ready for something huge. For some reason, self-doubt seems gone and marching forward, I feel like I am capable of something harder than I have done before.
In October, I am running the St. George Marathon, and my goal is to run a Boston Qualifier (3:35).
I signed up for St. George with this goal in mind, but I was debating putting it on the blog at all. St. George is a downhill course that is known for it’s BQs. Yeah, I know a few of you are laughing right now. Given my past times, this is a reach. But I know that my obstacles are not physical. Every time I truly believe that I can be faster, I am. I don’t know where that wall is, and maybe it’s somewhere like 3:40, but by going for that qualifier, I’ll find that wall and I’ll know for sure. My shorter distance (5K and 10K) times reflect that this is within my abilities. St. George gives me the opportunity to find out if that is true.
I am not afraid of failure and I am not afraid of pain. There is no doubt in my mind that going for this goal will be unbelievably painful but that’s fine. I can handle that. And if I fail, I’ll just do it again.
I will be using a training plan by Sage Running. It focuses on making sure that I get the appropriate amount of rest between hard workouts, but it will also be pretty high mileage at it’s peak. Luckily, the plan is easily adjustable if I do run into any over training problems (which I often do because my job is very physical as well). My mantra over the next few months is to trust the training plan. Training officially starts on June 19 and until then I am just base building and getting stronger.
Am I nuts? Yeah, probably, but really, why be afraid of failure? October 7 is going to be a glorious day either way. Maybe this is corny, but all I have to do is believe.
I feel like my blog has turned into an ode to how much I love Utah.
But seriously, I really love Utah.
Anyways… this is a running blog and I do have some running coming up. As a few of you already know, I am not running the Utah Valley Marathon due to my injury from a few weeks back. I am still coming back from the injury and my mileage is pretty low at the moment. Instead, I am hoping to do the half.
Despite my setbacks so far in 2017, I am hoping to have at least one really good race in the fall. I signed up for the St. George Marathon in October and will be going for a very significant PR there. I know that it seems early to say that I am going for a good time, but St. George is a downhill course that is known for shaving many minutes of marathon times. The race goes through some of the most beautiful parts of southern Utah and generally draws a big crowd.
Training for St. George will start in June, so I have a few months of base building and strengthening before I start. I want to have my ankle in tip top shape before I start, so I am keeping my mileage pretty low and doing a lot of cross training to make sure that I don’t aggravate it more. I also imagine that some upper body and core strength won’t hurt in making me a faster runner.
That being said, this was my training last week.
M: 4.3 miles at easy pace + 6 mile hike at Ferguson Canyon
T: 4 miles at marathon pace (8:55/mi) + Climbing at the gym
W: Yoga + Climbing at the gym
T: 6ish miles no watch
F: Yoga + 4 miles on trail 800 ft vert
S: Hiked ~7-8 miles
S: Snowshoed 8 miles
Total: 18 ish miles running + 22 miles hiking
Apparently I hiked a lot more than I ran this week. It might be that way for a little while since walking does not hurt my ankle at all. The snowshoe hike did not feel 100%, but everything else felt good. I’m excited to get my strength back, but I am definitely taking my time getting there. These are my plans for this week:
T: 5 miles + climbing + yoga
W: 10 miles + yoga
F: 5 miles + Yoga
S: 4 miles + hiking
S: 4-6 miles + hiking
Of course that mileage is all ankle dependent, but we’ll see how it goes. How is your training going? Have you picked out any races for the fall?
Sydney Update: She seems totally fine. She’s been a little needier than usual, but seems to be back to her usual self. I’m still kinda confused about what happened, but she seems much much better.