Friday Five 2.0: 5 Favorite Trails to Run in the Winter

Today is Friday and I figured I’d give the Friday Five 2.0 Linkup a try. I’ll go ahead and tell you my five favorite trails to run in the winter. Thanks to Running on Happy and Fairytales and Fitness for hosting the linkup.

Bonneville Shoreline Trail – As many miles or vert as I want

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View from the top of Wire Peak accessed by the Bonneville Shoreline Trail

This is my go-to trail that’s closest to my house and is probably where I get most of my weekly mileage. I can get in about any kind of run here. Mt Wire is along the trail if I want to cover a lot of vertical gain and plenty of miles in case I need a long run. The trail remains low enough throughout most of it to avoid snow and ice, even after the worst of storms. If it’s too snowy for the Bonneville Shoreline, it’s probably too snowy for any trail in the Wasatch.

Grandeur Peak Loop – 10 miles and 3200 feet of gain

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Beautiful views of the valley from the top of Grandeur Peak

The Grandeur loop climbs 3000 feet from a parking lot in the valley and comes back down the Church Fork trail in Mill Creek. If you run down the trail to Wasatch Blvd, you can loop the trail around back to the car. It’s only 10 miles, but it’s long and exhausting. It’s a really great loop if you need a challenging trail and a big climb. It can be done in almost any weather, although I would not want to take it on during a very bad storm.

Little Black Mountain – 8-9 miles and 2000 feet of gain

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View from the top of Little Black

Little Black rises up above the northern end of Salt Lake City. It’s not the biggest mountain, but when the temperatures drop, it’s a fun one to run. Normally in the spring and fall, I like to run it as a 14 mile loop, but in the winter, I run Little Black as an out and back to the peak. The trail can get a little icy at the top, and if it does, I’ll stop just short of the summit. It’s a great view of the Valley but is a gentle enough trail to allow for a fair amount of running both up and down the mountain.

Heughs Canyon Trail – 4.5 miles and 700 feet of gain

Heughs Canyon is great for a short easy day. The trail starts at the same trailhead as Mt. Olympus, but once Mt. Olympus really starts to climb, the trail splits off and levels a bit as it approaches the canyon and a waterfall. The trail is great in the winter except for the very end where it can get icy. Otherwise, the trail is fun, gives some pretty great views and is almost always fantastic regardless of the weather.

Pipeline Trail – Any Mileage up to 18 and little vert

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Every step leads to bigger and better views throughout the Pipeline Trail

The Pipeline is the flattest trail in the Wasatch. It starts in Millcreek Canyon and can be used to get to either Mt. Aire or to the Church Fork Trail up Grandeur Peak. The trail gives some great views of the canyon and can be used to get any mileage up to about 18 (unless you climb a mountain, where you could get much more mileage). Since the trail is so flat, there is almost no weather that will make this trail too snowy.

If you are ever in Salt Lake City or live in the area, check out some of these trails! Each offers awesome views and challenges, but are safe and fun for the crazy winter months. Thanks again to Running on Happy and Fairytales and Fitness for hosting the linkup.


Fairytales and Fitness

 

What are your favorite trails around you? Where do you go when the weather gets bad?

The Javelina Jundred

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Starting line of Javelina Jundred

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.

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Mile 70 of my first 100-miler

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.

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My middle-of-the-night outfit

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.

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Leaving the final aid station before the finish line.

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.

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The finish line

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.

I can’t wait to do it again.

Hiking in Mill Creek Canyon

Hey everyone!

I am still around, diligently training for the Javelina Jundred in October. It is 35 days until the race, so it’s really go time right now.

As you’ve probably noticed, I changed my blog name!  This has been a long time coming. I really wanted to refocus the blog on my mountain adventures and ultramarathons and since I do run in the Wasatch, I thought it was a fitting name. The Wasatch is my home and even when I am not actively running in them, they are there reminding me of why I love Salt Lake City so much.

Training for Javelina has been hard. Utah is still hot and I’ve lacked the mental focus it takes to get through the final stretch to the training. Luckily I’ve been healthy and without injury, but my confidence and mental strength has really taken a hit over the last few weeks. It’s hard to feel the never-ending task of training. I do find that the miles get easier, but my long runs just keep getting longer.

Earlier this week, I was feeling a little burnt out, so Frank and I went on a short hike in Mill Creek Canyon. The leaves have been changing and I needed to check out fall while it lasts.

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We are in peak color season!

We started at the Mt. Aire Trailhead at Elbowfork in Millcreek and took the Lamb’s Canyon Trail to pass (affectionately known as Bare Ass Pass).

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View from Bare Ass Pass

The trail meanders through the woods on a south facing slope. It’s pretty steep and gave us about 1,400 feet of gain.

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Normally wildlife is pretty scarce in the Wasatch, but we did manage to see a couple of grouse running down the trail.

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Overall it was a 3.3 mile hike and only took us about 1:20 minutes to do.

What do you do when you just don’t feel like running?

Squaw 50 Vlog Recap

Better late than never, right?

Sorry about my lateness! I made a vlog talking about the Squaw 50. Check it out and hear about running a 50-miler for the first time. It was a great race and I am so glad that I did it. Honestly, I am not-so-secretly planning my return next year. 🙂

Click “like” and Subscribe for more updates as I trail for the Javelina Jundred.

I ran over 50 miles: Squaw Peak 50 Recap

I am three days out from the Squaw Peak 50-miler.

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I learned a lot. Not just about myself, but about running in general. The thing is, there is a certain amount of athleticism to run a marathon, or even a 50K. You train hard, you eat well and you don’t hit the dreaded wall. But when you are running for 12+ hours, you hit many walls and then you work your way back to many high points. You swing violently moment to moment, like an angry child that suddenly smiles. Every step of the way beyond the marathon mark was because I told myself I could do it. And I did. The thing is, anyone can run a 50-miler but the only thing that will stop them is truly knowing that they can do it. There were times I was barely moving at all, walking up hills when all I wanted was to sleep and there were moments of glory, where I was dropping sub-8 minute miles after already having 47 miles on my legs. Looking at your watch and seeing 28 miles and knowing that you have 22-ish to go is horrible and demoralizing and wonderful all at the same time. I’ve never been so tired in my life, but at the same time, I’m not sure I’ve ever felt more present.

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The real lesson I learned from this race was my tendency to always look to the future. Mile 39 started a massive hill, climbing 3000 feet before making the 12 mile descent to the finish line. I would constantly find myself looking up, seeing little progress and immediately becoming discouraged. My pacer, Dan, would remind me to look down and just keep moving, that it would be over soon. And when I focused on the task at hand, I felt great, but when I looked to the height of the mountain, to the future, the work still to be done was daunting. Everything about running that far is daunting, but it can be done. Running 50 miles is nothing but a lesson in remaining present to the moment you are in and in the consequences of swaying away from the present moment.

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There were high points where I passed other racers, feeling strong and ready to take on every mile. Despite the pain in my feet from massive blisters, I managed to finish the final 4 miles in under 32 minutes, averaging just under 8 minutes per mile. I was flying into the finish, passing everyone in my path and sneaking under 13 hours. As the final miles ticked by I knew I could run forever. The finish line could have been in Nevada, and I would have found it. It’s that kind of mental strength that can pull you out of any low in any situation. It’s in that place that I will need to go to finish the Javelina Jundred in October.

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Running an ultra has far more to do with what is within you than what your body is capable of. I’d heard many times that the first 26 miles were physical and the rest were mental and that couldn’t have been more true. But the thing is, everything is temporary. Happiness, sadness, pain, elation, excitement and disappointment all happen but becoming attached to those feelings is what will do us in. Running 50 miles forced me to let go and run my race and my mile.

I was made for this.

And so were you.

If you are someone who has ever thought about running 50 miles and haven’t because you think you are too slow or that you can’t go that far, believe me, you can do it. One foot in front of the other is all that is needed to finish. No speed, no secrets, just determination.

In the next day or so, I’ll post a video recapping the race and getting into some of the specifics. Thanks for supporting me in my crazy ideas, there are more to come.

Javelina Jundred, here I come!

Training Update: 2 weeks until Squaw 50

Hey Everyone!

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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.

Training talk:

Running the Bonneville Shoreline Trail:

Oh, and of course, here are a few pics from the trails in SLC.

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What are you training for? Do you have any goals this summer?

Vlog Series Episode 1: Training for 100

Hey Guys!

Let’s just cut to the chase. I signed up for the Javelina Jundred in October. It’s gonna be a wild ride from here to that finish line and I am starting a vlog all about my training and the trails I run outside of Salt Lake City. Check out my first episode where I talk a little about why I am running Javelina. Click like and subscribe to follow me on the journey!

Training for St. George… kinda

Today is the official start of my training for St. George and my workout was to walk/run 5 miles…

You may be wondering what happened since the last time you heard from me. I was on track to start training for a BQ attempt (I still am, just much more hesitantly). Well it’s a bit of a long story and it starts over a year ago while training for Colfax.

Those of you who have followed me for some time may remember that when in peak training for Colfax, I started getting a tingly feeling down my right leg. I could feel the sensation all the way from my glute to my pinky toe. I went to the doctor, and they said it was likely a herniated disc and that I needed to rest. Well after Colfax I did just that. I rested a lot. I fact, I never really got my mileage back up.

Fast forward to a few weeks ago… I was just starting to hit 35 mile weeks when the feeling came back on my left side, but with a lot more intensity. It was so bad that I couldn’t sleep and was having trouble pushing the clutch down in my car. It was completely miserable and was kinda scaring me a bit. I mentioned this to one of the Physical Therapists at my job and he offered to treat me (for free!!!). To be honest, I felt like I had no other choice. The pain was rather excruciating.

After pushing and yanking on me for a while, he concluded that this was not a herniated disc, but piraformis syndrome. This is a notoriously difficult injury to treat, and given how long I’ve been experiencing it (over a year), it’s going to be a long road for me. He suggested that I take a few weeks off (I had already) and work on core strength and do some dry needling. Well… over the past week I’ve started to walk/run. I walk for 0.2 miles and then run 0.8. This morning was the first time I ran without any pain at all since Colfax. I felt weak, out of shape, and overall, pretty terrible… but I was not in pain.

It’s only been a few weeks and I know that it’s not fixed. Driving still gives me a substantial amount of pain, but I am getting better. The PT didn’t think there would be any reason for me not to do St. George and he even said that my crazy ideas of running a 100K next year are not all that crazy, at least not for my injury (he thought they were crazy ideas in general, but that my body should be able to handle it).

So… that’s my update. I’m getting better, slowly. I’m running, slowly. This is a long and difficult process, but I am going to come out on the other side.

Also, given the amount of core work I do every day for this injury, I’ll likely have a sweet looking 6-pack.

And in case you were wondering, Elly has settled in quite nicely to the Utah life.

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Weekend Adventures in Arches NP

Happy Monday everyone! I hope you had a great weekend. Here’s what Frank and I were up to.

Friday after work, we picked up a friend of ours (yes, we made a friend in Salt Lake City!) and drove down to Moab for a few canyons and a science march. We spent the night camping and woke up at 5:30 for an early start in Arches National Park.

By about 9:30 am, the crowds in Arches are pretty wild, so we made it to the trailhead at 7:00 and hiked into a beautiful canyon called U-Turn.

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U-turn is a pretty nice beginner canyon with a 95-foot repel at the end.

Since Frank works as an ecologist, after the canyon we made sure to go to a science march in Moab. Despite the very small population size, there were over 200 people in attendance. We grabbed a few signs showing our support for Bear Ears National Monument and for land conservation. It was great to see so many people in support of science and conservation.

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After the march (and lunch), we hit up an incredibly beautiful canyon called Medieval Chamber. This canyon had all of the best things Utah has to offer, slots, and arches. The end had us repelling next to a giant arch, with a rather big audience at the bottom.

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The awesome 100-ft repel between the canyon walls and Morning Star Arch
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My audience as I came down the repel… pretty weird.

After the long trek back to the car, we watched the sunset at Dead Horse Point and ate some tacos. Pretty much a perfect end to a perfect day.

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Areli working on some dinner.
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Frank and I at the Dead Horse Point Overlook

The next morning we got up at a more reasonable 7:00 am and quickly packed up to get back into Arches NP for one more canyon.

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Frank had some pretty great morning hair.

Elephant Butte is the highest point in the park, but in order to summit, you need to repel down 100 ft into a canyon that leads to the summit. It’s a fantastic route and definitely had some pretty epic photo ops.

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Coming down the 100-ft repel into the canyon leading to the summit.
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Frank on the last repel down Elephant Butte.

After Elephant Butte, we hopped on the road and made it back to SLC early enough for me to go for an easy 5-mile run.

Next weekend I’ll be back in Moab for some more canyons and some climbing. I feel like I basically live in Moab!

How was your weekend? Have you visited any National Parks lately? What is the closest one to you?

Training Update: Base Building

I feel like my blog has turned into an ode to how much I love Utah.

But seriously, I really love Utah.

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It’s just too pretty here.

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.

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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.

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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:

M: Off

T: 5 miles + climbing + yoga

W: 10 miles + yoga

T: Off

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.

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Sydney and I were disturbing Frank while he tried to sleep.