Wasatch Trail Runner Series

I currently (for one more week) live in a rather small town. It has all the small town charms and you pretty much end up knowing everyone pretty fast. As a runner, small towns have their perks; you’re way less likely to get hit by a car, you see a lot of the same people on the trails, and generally, most areas in town are very safe. In a week, I am moving to a metropolitan area of over 1 million. I imagine Salt Lake won’t have the small town charms of Manhattan, KS, however, I have already started to discover some of the major perks of being in a larger city.

I have found TONS of races around the Salt Lake area. As you all know, I am already signed up for the Utah Valley Marathon (there will be a giveaway for that next week in celebration of my move) and I am also running the Salt Lake Half Marathon. I also signed up for a fantastic race series put on by the Wasatch Trail Runners. It is a total of 9 races; all on Wednesday nights, and the races are either 4 or 8 miles on fantastic trail around the SLC area. There are points for each race and at the end of the season, they tally it up and declare a winner. I have no idea what the winner gets, but it sounds like a fun time to me.

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Isn’t this beautiful?! This is a pic from one of their races.

I have already purchased a trail race season pass and my first race with the Wasatch Trail Runners is on March 29. I will blog about each of these races and talk a little about trail running in one of the trail Meccas of the country. My race schedule for fall was very sparse which made it hard to have much blogging material. Now, it’s almost unlimited! I have no goals for these races. I’ll run them for fun and to hopefully meet other runners in the area (seriously guys, I need some friends out there).

Although I will miss many of the small town charms of Manhattan, KS, I am very excited to have a chance to meet some new running partners. I have a ton of trails to explore and an entire city to entertain me! I always have had trouble finding races in my area, and I am especially excited to have some on weeknights so my weekends can stay free for hiking and backpacking with Frank!

Have you ever run a race series? Is there any good trail running or racing near you? Have you participated?

BTW: If any of you are in the SLC area, definitely visit their website and consider signing up for the trail racing series package. It ends up being $13 per race, and really, you can’t beat that. Each race takes place at 6:30 pm and they are at a few different spots within a 45-minute radius of SLC. I’d love to meet some fellow runners and bloggers!

Running, Goals, and Some Unknowns

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Hey Everyone!

It’s been a long time since I’ve been running hard and training for anything specific. My last race, the Route 66 Marathon, was a bit of a flop largely because I walked to the starting line severely undertrained and a bit burnt out from my ultra. I am once again back on my feet and I am determined to get to a May marathon with some better training under my belt.

You may notice that I have not really committed to a specific marathon yet. Unfortunately, I will likely be unable to for a while. Frank and I are looking to move from Kansas and we are not really sure where we will be come May, but I am training to run a race on May 21, the day of the Colfax marathon. I will plan to run Colfax if I am still in Kansas, or if I am driving distance from Denver. I want to run a half marathon some time in March, but unfortunately, I am unable to say where or when it will be yet. It’s hard training without specifics, and it’s very hard living with so many unknowns in my future. I feel like I cannot commit to anything beyond about two weeks since we could hear back from somewhere at any time and we would have to be ready to go.

One thing is for sure, we are looking to move out west. I have spent my entire life in the flatlands of the US, and we have been looking to get to the mountains. The western half of the US is huge, so I feel confident (and hopeful) that something will turn up soon.

Looking ahead into the unknown of 2017, I do have a few goals that I believe are attainable.

  • PR my marathon

I honestly don’t care if it’s by 2 freaking seconds, I just want a PR. I will train for a 3:50 time, but come race day, I will be happy with anything that is a PR.

  • Run a sub 1:45 half marathon

Ok, this one is a little more specific. My last half was 1:47 and it was very comfortable. I was in one of my favorite places in the world, Estes Park, and I hope to go back there for that sub-1:45 in August. I definitely think this is within my abilities, but I will need to work for it.

  • Run a 50-miler

Last year I ran a 50K, and I can honestly tell you that it was the hardest thing I’ve ever done. However, those last few miles made everything worth it. I ran through the trails of Omaha with a giant smile of my face, so excited to be an ultra runner. Well, my new goal is to run a 50-miler, which I am hoping to do in the fall.

This week I will be getting back to my usual training updates, yoga posts, and random other things that make there way on to my blog. Thanks for being patient and waiting for me to be ready to train hard again.

And of course, here’s a picture of my favorite fur-ball.

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How do you deal with unknowns? Does change stress you out (it stresses me out)?

 

Why do you run?

Why do you run? I was asked that question after I finished my ultra last week. They had free massages, and of course I took advantage of that! I asked the masseuse if she ran, she said no and asked why I felt the need to run so far. Was it an addiction? I thought for a moment (while she was digging her elbow into my shoulder), it really isn’t an addiction. When I don’t run, I don’t feel like I NEED to run. I mean, I could stop. I don’t want to, but I could. So that just made me think… why do I run?

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The thing is, I feel most confident about myself when I am running. I feel even more confident when I am running far. When I was young, I used to look at my thick thighs and wish they were smaller. Now I look at them and thank them for carrying me 32 miles in less than 6 hours. Like seriously… how could I not be thankful and love my body when it can do something so amazingly cool.

Women have so much pressure to be skinny, or strong, or whatever. We are constantly being bombarded by advertising that is telling us that we need to be something different from what we are. In order to be liked, we have a set of rules to follow and our bodies must fit into a certain set of categories. We also must be able to identify the parts of our body we want to “work on” to make our butts perky, our breasts big, and our bellies flat. That way, we can go to the gym and do targeted workouts to make ourselves fit into society’s definition of perfect.

But many women have tiny breasts, or butts with cellulite, or thighs that jiggle. Whether anyone else notices it, we all have something that makes us self-conscious. In the last few miles of that ultra, I was not self-conscious at all. I was awesome. Every cell in my body… it was f*cking perfect. My poor posture, jiggly thighs, flabby arms and tiny boobs, they were all exactly how I wanted them to be. That body got me 32 miles and I felt amazing for it. When I run, I’m reminded that I have the body I want to have. My body is healthy, strong, and beautiful and I don’t need to work on anything. I just want my body to keep doing what it’s doing.

So, that’s what I answered with. Why do I run? Because it makes me feel confident and really good about my body.

The masseuse answered, “That’s definitely something I can jive with. Maybe I should try running.”

I hope she does.

I am an Ultramarathon Runner!

Yesterday was the day after my first ultramarathon, and I kind of felt like I got hit by a bus. Seriously, even my arms were hurting, which is pretty amazing given that I ran on my legs. I guess that’s to be expected. I did run nearly 32 miles. There were certainly moments that made finishing feel impossible, but I pushed through those and finished the race 25 minutes faster than my goal time. Honestly, towards the end I was only running because I wanted it to be done sooner. But the great thing about trails is that today, I am actually not sore. Like at all. The pounding on the legs is much less and the recovery is so much faster than a road race.

Oh and I got these sweet medals!

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I’m gonna be honest here, ultramarathons are hard… like crazy impossibly hard. I had rough patches that lasted miles, cramps that never seemed to end, and pain just about everywhere. This race made Colfax seem like a nice stroll through Denver. There is something crazy about seeing the marathon mark go by on your watch and know that you still have six miles to go. But it’s over and now I can officially say that I am an ultramarathon runner. I did it.

Once the race pictures are posted I will write a full recap of the race, but for now, I am basking in the glory of finishing such a big goal. I did some active recovery yesterday and went for a long walk with Frank around our neighborhood. Fall has fully set in, so we had some beautiful trees to gaze at.

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My goal walking into GOATZ was to finish the race, but not beat up my legs too bad, and I really feel like I achieved that. Today I am going to do an easy run and some yoga. I am less than a month out from Route 66, so I’m working on a quick recovery.

On the Eve of an Ultra

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If all goes well, by the end of this weekend I will be an ultramarathon runner, a title I’ve thought about for a long time. It’s been years since Western States hasn’t gone through my head nearly daily. I’ve done a lot to bring myself inches closer to that goal, but on Sunday, I will be getting 31.5 miles closer. On Sunday, I am taking the largest step forward I possibly can in making my goal my reality. Normally, I’d assume this would make me nervous… but it’s not. I don’t feel nervous at all. This feels like the natural progression of things, as if this is clearly what needs to happen.

For Colfax, I knew what my goals were, I knew how to play it and what I needed to do to have a great day. This time, things are a little less clear. I have no time goal. I feel like 6-hours is probably a pretty good estimate, but I won’t know much until I get to the trail. The race is made of three 10.5 mile loops, each of which has about 2000 feet of vertical gain. That is a lot more than I am used to covering here in Kansas and I don’t really know what will feel like a comfortable pace. This race is truly a wait and see. My only time goal is to go for a negative split, something I’ve never been able to do in a trail race.

I’ve gotten my gear together, my drop bags, food, and everything that I will need to cover the distance. All that’s left is a few slow miles and two nights of sleep before I toe the line in Omaha. Am I scared? Yeah, a little. But I am not nervous. I know I can do this and every time I think I can’t, I’ll remind myself of why I am here. This is the beginning of my journey to Squaw Valley. However Sunday goes, this is just the first step. I’ve always found that the hardest part of a run is simply getting out the door. Well, here I am, getting out that door.

Getting Ready to go Ultra

Thanks everyone for all of the supportive comments last week after my update. I am in the final week before my race, and to say that I am nervous is an understatement. Running 31.5 miles wont be easy or pretty, but I think I can get it done. I still have some last minute details to get through, and I am not entirely sure what I am going to eat on the course (I know, a little late, right?). Most things I’ve tried, besides GU packets, bother my stomach and I really don’t see myself being able to down GU for 6+ hours.

Last week, my iPod shuffle kicked the bucket on a run. It’s been my running partner for some time now and I was quite devastated when I realized that my sweat had killed it. Fortunately for me, AudioFlood makes an awesome waterproof version of the shuffle. It came in yesterday, just in time to have some music during my race! I’ve been downloading music from the library and itunes to make sure that I have plenty to listen to for the many hours that I will be running in Omaha this weekend.

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So, now I’m pretty feeling ready! At least as ready as one feels before they take on their first ultra marathon…

And since you haven’t seen how Elly is doing for a while, here’s a beautiful pic of her from yesterday.

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Do you run with music? What player do you use? Any song suggestions for my race?

Long time, no see!

It’s been a while… hasn’t it! I hope everyone has been doing well during my absence. I’ve been reading blogs here and there, but I really haven’t had the urge to write, until now. I don’t know if I am back back, but I am relatively back. A lot has changed since the last time I wrote, so I’ll let you know what’s up.

Last you heard from me, I was fresh off a new half marathon PR and was about to run Chicago. I was prepping a 10K and was gearing up for a marathon PR attempt.

Well, I PRed that 10K! I got an age group win and even my picture in the newspaper!

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I, unfortunately, didn’t run Chicago, though. I know that may come as a surprise. I was certainly ready for the race, and was not injured, but I was just not feeling it. I didn’t have a real passion for the race and I knew that the overall cost of going out there was going to be huge. I just didn’t see the point in heading out to a race that I wasn’t terribly passionate about.

So, what am I doing? A lot of trail running. 

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Hanging out with turkeys on the trail
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Running in the Adirondacks in NY
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Stopping at waterfalls in Colorado

As most of you know, I am hoping to get into the ultra running scene with the intention of one day running the Western States 100. Crazy plans, I know. And up until recently, it’s just been this thing that I talk about (to everyone) and never actually make any moves towards doing it. I became frustrated with that model and started looking up Western States qualifying races. It turns out that you need to run a 50K to sign up for most 100K’s. So, that’s what I am doing. On Oct 23, I will be running the GOATZ 50K in Omaha. Frank will be there to help “crew” me, although I doubt I’ll need much crewing for a 50K. My only goal is to finish the race, which qualifies me for many of the WS qualifying 100K’s. I haven’t picked out a race yet, but I do have a few in mind. Finally, I feel like I can actually say that I have made a step towards running my dream race. I want to make Western States a reality, and I actually feel like I am actually doing it (or at least trying).

As crazy as that sounds, I have more planned. I have been putting a lot of work and training into running a road marathon. I also know that there is a PR in me somewhere, so I am going to go for it. I’ll be headed to Tulsa on Nov. 20 for the Route 66 Marathon. Because I will want to PR and run hard at that race, I will keep GOATZ easy (and try really really hard not to get competitive). To qualify for most 100K’s, you only need to finish a 50K. Needless to say, there will be a lot of walking in Omaha in order to not trash my legs. I already have a few 20-milers under my belt, and I have one more before I start the taper for Route 66. I feel pretty ready to hit the roads to race.

That’s what’s new for me! What’s new with you? Any big races coming up (or just over)?

When Mountains Call

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I was sitting on the side of Grand Teton, with a heavy pack, hurt knee, and a generally tired body when a thin, wiry blonde woman ran by me at record speed. She had a tiny pack with only water and food and she made getting up that mountain look effortless. I had been a competitive runner in another life, but was then just another hiker, defeated by a mountain I would not climb. The girl bounced away and all I could think about was how I wanted that to be me… that one day, I would run the trails, up the mountains, with that same ease.

This was my first introduction to trail running, and distance running in general. I had always been a sprinter and had confined myself to the 400 & 800 m distances. After high school, I had stopped running and it would be years before I would return. In reality, I only made it back because climbing mountains is hard and you need to be in wildly good shape to do it.

I returned home from my failure on Grand Teton and read all that I could about trail running. I read Born to Run, and Eat and Run and was convinced. Eventually… one day… no matter how long it would take me… I vowed to run trails and ultras. For years, I followed the ultra running scene, never partaking, but just as an idle spectator. As I watched, I would run further and further. The evolution from sprinter to marathoner happens slowly and I took my time. I would sign up for trail runs here or there and usually do really well. My heart was in it and it was where I really felt free. As I ran my first trail half marathon, for the first time I felt like that girl, bouncing down the trails, light on her feet without a care in the world.

I ran my first marathon and walked away feeling great. I loved everything about it… the lifetime’s worth of emotions in less than four hours, the real ownership of the race, the fact that it was not easy and I had to work hard to get there. Road marathons are fun, exciting, exhausting, and so many other things… but really, they are not enough. There is something truly special about running through the woods, over hills, while pushing your body as far as you possibly can and maybe even a little further. Trail runs are so solitary, yet you feel so completely connected to nature. That is exactly where I should be.

Four years ago, sitting on the side of Grand Teton, I knew that I could run high and far… but I also knew that it would take time. I have been patient, slowly upping my mileage and base and pushing myself to my edge, never passing it. But I will be an idle watcher no more. I have finally decided to put that fire beneath my feet.

If the world could go exactly as I want it to, this post would be the beginning of an eventual quest towards the Western States 100, the granddaddy of ultramarathons. I can’t tell you that it will go that way, since they have a lottery process that is tough and I may never get picked. Also, it is 100 miles and I don’t know that I could train up to that. I will tell you that this post will be the beginning of a quest towards a 50K and maybe even a 50-miler. After Chicago, I will transition towards running on trail and on hills. I’ve finally grown tired of watching from the sidelines.

So, there it is. I have put it out into the universe. A goal. A dream. It’s a scary one to speak, but really, would it be worth doing if I weren’t scared?

Probably not.

Colfax Training Week 17: The Countdown is On!

Well… I made it! It is officially race week. I have finished the 2nd week of my taper and I head into the last few days of preparation before I leave for Denver on Thursday. I feel a lot of different emotions including excitement and fear, but, most of all, I’m just happy that I made it this far. Baring any absolute disasters on Sunday, this time next week, I will be sore, but I will be a marathoner.

This Week’s Training:

M: Rest + Yoga

T: 4 miles easy + Yoga

W: Rest + Yoga

T: 3ish miles easy – no watch + Yoga

F: 6 miles Tempo + Yoga

S: 10 miles LSD

S: 5 miles easy trail run

Total: 28ish miles

 It was a good week that felt okay. My easy runs were slow and they were probably the highlight of my week. On Tuesday I ran the Linear Trail and was feeling like I had to hold myself back from going too fast and Thursday I forgot my watch at home, so I just ran without it.

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Having fun on the Linear Trail.

Sunday evening, I decided that I was sick of running around my town and hit up a small park called Top of the World. I’ve been struggling a lot with finding motivation to run, so I figured that since trails are always a happy place for me, that I should be able to find some motivation there. And I did! I took it pretty chill and even stopped to talk to a few of my friends that I bumped in to. It was definitely the highlight of my week.

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What’s a run without a selfie?

I struggled through my tempo run with some stomach issues. I ate some spicy food about 40 minutes before the run and it definitely came to haunt me. I still managed to keep it at pace, but I must say, it did not feel pretty!

My long run was a bit of a slog. I ran from my house to the campground a few of my friends were staying at that night. I had a rather packed Saturday and couldn’t get out until around 3:00 pm, when it was over 90 degrees. I took a small backpack of water, since I knew that I wouldn’t come across any water fountains, but it was still rough. I got pretty overheated and stopped a few times. Honestly, it has been pretty hard to not let this run hurt my confidence going into Colfax.

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Long, sunny, and hot… These country roads did me no favors on my long run.

The week had some ups and downs, but that doesn’t matter. It is race week!!! I have a few more short runs before I walk up to that starting line in Denver on Sunday. Oh! And I seem to have gotten lucky with the weather… It’s predicted to be cloudy with a low of 45 and a high of 68. The race begins at 6:00 am, so that sounds a lot like perfect marathon weather to me!!

I’ll be posting later this week about goals for the race and athlete tracking. Hope you all had a great weekend! Any goal races coming up?

Free State Trail Race Recap

On Saturday, I ran the Free State Trail Race Half Marathon. It was a pretty tough and technical trail race in Clinton State Park with tons of rocks just waiting to take out some ankles, knees, and anything else you can fall on. Luckily for me, I did not fall! This race was everything I could have hoped for.

The night before the race, I outlined my goals in my Believe training journal. I had some secrets that I was keeping:

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I dream big.

I usually place pretty well at trail races. I’m generally not afraid of the downhills, so I take them hard, and I am good at technical running. Although I don’t usually place, even in local 10Ks, I usually make a good go at trail races. So I went in to this race like it was a race.

The starting line was pretty chill. There were definitely a good amount of people, but I wasn’t sure who was for the marathon and who was running the half marathon. I decided to just try to get towards the front and latch on to the leading girls. The race began on about a mile of road, so we took it pretty quick. I felt comfortable, and I knew that I had to stick with the leading girls if I wanted to place. The second mile took us through a hilly grassland that had good footing and was pretty easy to keep a fast pace. We were holding around a 7:40/mi pace and I was running with a pack of about 5 girls. We were chatting and laughing about how hard the 100k must be (there was also a 100k going on at the same time).

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The race quickly made it to some pretty rocky single track trail. I reiterated my ultimate goal in my head a few times that I needed to keep my ankles healthy to get to the start of Colfax, so I let 4 girls go ahead of me while I slowed a bit to get better footing. The trails were beautiful and were relatively flat, but so rocky that it was not always possible to run.

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I made it to the first (of 2) aid stations in 4th place. I stopped, got my water bottle filled and took off as quick as I could. At the aid station two girls passed me, so I pushed hard to catch up. It didn’t take too long, but I passed them both on a downhill and pushed hard to get out of sight. Once I knew they were gone, I held back a bit and did some easier running.

About 8 miles into the race, I came to a beautiful section of trail with giant rocks along the reservoir. The sun was coming out from the clouds and it was just a fantastic sight. The trail, however, was totally not runnable. I worried about taking a bad fall or turning my ankle, so I just walked. This went on for about a half mile as I tried to power hike through these sections. Finally, the trail lead to a rather steep (for Kansas) uphill and to a water station at mile 9. I knew at this point I was in 4th place, but there was a girl who was right behind me. The aid station was packed and there was talk about people falling on a few rocks and being pretty badly cut up. As they said this, a guy came running up with his knees covered in blood. It was a pretty gruesome sight and I was quite thankful that I decided to walk that rocky section.

I left the aid station and one girl had gone ahead of me. Now I was in 5th place with around 3 miles to go. I stayed back far enough to keep the 4th place girl in sight, but wasn’t feeling ready to make my move yet. At this point, I didn’t think placing in the top 3 was possible, so I was just conserving energy to get through the race and get back to training for Colfax. At mile 11, the 4th place girl slowed up a bit, and let me pass her. I figured at this point that I was going to finish in 4th place and was pretty happy about that.

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Well into the 12th mile, I saw the 3rd place girl running and looking pretty tired. I tried to calm my excitement and stayed a bit behind her so I could gather my energy. I saw a particularly wide downhill and figured that was my chance and I blew by her and sprinted away. I wanted to make sure that I looked strong and got out of sight fast, since I really didn’t want to sprint into the finish line.

I started to see a lot of people around, so I figured I was getting to the end. There was a final uphill spot and then I saw the finish line. I pushed through, tried to look slightly decent for the finish line pic (cause I always look like a crumpled mess) and finished the race in 2:08:45.

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Definitely a personal worst (by over 10 minutes) on a very tough single track course. As I crossed the finish line, someone handed me a medal and a sweet little trophy for getting 3rd place female. There was no podium or anything, and I gotta say, I was a little bummed about that. Unfortunately, Frank was in the bathroom when I came in, so he didn’t see me cross the finish line. He was pretty excited to see my trophy though! Oh, and I definitely hit my “A” goal!

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Overall, this was a great race. The race was put on by a trail running group called Psycho Wyco based out of Kansas City. They had a cute T-shirt and medal and I thought the no frills attitude to the race was pretty nice.  Also, the pictures were FREE!!! I love that! I would have rather had more aid stations, since there were a few times that I wanted water, but there was none available. Most people brought larger water bottles than me, so that might explain the lack of support (there were no water cups on the course). I am definitely going to sign up for more races by this group.

I had a ton of fun actually racing! Usually, I am just racing my previous times, but it is fun to go out there and actually race other people. I think you will see me doing a lot more trail races in the future, since I do have a ton of fun at them. I am super happy that I did this race without too much trouble, without tapering, and without a hiccup in my training for Colfax. I think I gained a lot of confidence at this race and I feel ready to coast right on over to my first marathon!