A Look Back at 2018

Happy New Year Everyone!

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We all looked so cute for New Years Eve!

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

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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

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Red Pine Lake Trail as the fog rolled in

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

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Me in my trusty 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.

Most Used Running Fuel: Run Gum

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

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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.

Total Mileage: 2,040 miles

Total Vertical Gain: 285,098 feet

What are some of your favorites from 2018?

Weekend Adventures!

Hey Everyone!

I had a great weekend! Here’s what we were up to!

Friday

I didn’t get back from work until pretty late, but Frank and I immediately went out to Red Butte Canyon for some trail running (me) and mountain biking (him). I mostly ran along the Bonneville Shoreline Trail that runs from Provo to Ogden and is pretty much a 5 minute drive from my house. Frank stayed on his bike, but I managed to get in a few miles and a whole lot of vert!

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Not a bad view for right outside a major city!

After the run, we went home and made dinner and watched Louis CK skits. It was a pretty chill night.

Saturday

A while back, I saw an ad for the Ogden Climbing Festival at the climbing gym that we go to. They had a series of workshops, talks, free climbing, and a trail maintenance day. Of course I signed Frank and I up for the event. Saturday morning, we woke up early and went up to Ogden to help out some trail maintenance. Although we didn’t get a huge amount done due to weather, I did win a raffle for a pretty sweet rain jacket by a SLC based company.

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It was a beautiful view with some not so beautiful weather.

Frank and I hiked a little bit before the workshops along the Pine View Trail.

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At 1:00, I took a workshop called Traditional Gear Placement and Natural Anchors. I learned a great deal, but unfortunately it was cut short by some pretty bad lightening. I gotta say, being stuck on the side of a mountain during a thunderstorm is not at all ideal.

The storm passed, so Frank and I hiked along some trails behind the Red Butte Garden with our friend Areli. Afterwards we all went back to our place for spring rolls!

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Sunday

Frank and I woke up to a bit of a winter wonderland. I think Salt Lake was having it’s last (hopefully) go at winter. We took the opportunity to grab the snowshoes and go for a beautiful hike.

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SO MUCH SNOW!!!

In total, we did about 7 miles with over 3000 feet of elevation gain. Not too shabby!

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Beautiful views throughout the trail!
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The snow covered Lake Blanche was looking very beautiful.

That was pretty much our weekend! It’s never boring out here in Utah!

How was your weekend? Did you get outside at all?

Weekend Adventures: Exploring the Kansas Underground

This weekend Frank and I did a little bit of everything! I paced a half marathon, we met up with the Kansas Speleological Society and went scouting for some caves on the Kansas Oklahoma boarder and went on a hike out at the Tallgrass Prairie. Basically, we had a great time.

Friday afternoon, Frank and I went straight down to the Tallgrass Prairie National Preserve for a 6-mile hike. The preserve is managed by the National Park Service and is probably some of the best hiking in Kansas. It has approximately 40 miles of marked trail where you can get rather far out into the Prairie. After Friday’s hike, we have officially covered all of the trails in the park!

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Nabbing the last trail at Tallgrass Prairie National Preserve

We got home in time to go on a bike ride with some friends and tried to hit the hay early. I had an early wake up the next morning for the Bill Snyder Highway Half Marathon!

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Bringing my group in to the finish line!

Saturday morning, I was up and ready to pace some people to their half marathon goals! I’ll write up a recap of the experience, but it was tons of fun!

After the race, Frank and I loaded up into the car for the Kansas Speleological Society (KSS) meeting in southern Kansas. We have done a lot of caving in the past, and really the only way to get access to new caves is to join one of these groups. Kansas isn’t known for good caving, but it has some stuff here or there. Luckily for me, I enjoy going into very small and tight caves, which is probably all that Kansas has. We spent Saturday afternoon out on a pasture, digging up sinkholes in hopes of finding new and unexplored caves. We found one with potential, but we still don’t know if it goes anywhere.

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Since I was the smallest of the group, I was sent in to see if the sinkhole lead to a cave.

In the evening, we camped out at a recreation and fishing area. Although Kansas is not overwhelmed in public land, it does have plenty of state recreation areas where there is free camping. We definitely take advantage of this Kansas perk.

The next morning, a few of the members of the KSS offered to take us to a cave on the Kansas-Oklahoma boarder. They were not too sure how far back it went and warned us that it was a wet and miserable crawl. We usually are not too picky about caves, so we took them up on the offer. This cave was a little deceiving. It had a big beautiful entrance, which lead to a tiny hole with flowing water. Frank and I loaded up with flashlights and kneepads and dove right in. I gotta say, this was probably the most miserable cave I’ve ever been in. I was face down and crawling in mud and water up to my elbows. Every time I thought “well, this can’t get any worse”, it actually would. There was even a section where we had to swim through cold and murky cave water. I always prefer dry caves, but I absolutely HATE swimming in a cave. The hole went about 1000 feet back and after an hour of army crawling through the miserable cave mud, we turned back. It’s always a joyful experience to see the literal light at the end of the tunnel when you’re in a wet cave.

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The entrance to the most miserable cave in the world.

When we got back to the car, we dried off and headed home. Overall, a successful weekend! Plus, after living in Kansas for a year, I finally made it back into a cave!!

How was your weekend? Any fun adventures?

By the way, I am going to be adding some more posts to my Weekend Adventures series including some “How tos” on backpacking, climbing, and caving.

Weekend Adventures!

Happy Monday Everyone!

I had a crazy fun weekend and a great week of training. I’ll update you on how the training went in my recap, but for now, I am going to tell you all about my weekend adventures. I figured that since Frank and I spend every weekend on some sort of adventure, I should start a blog series on what we do and where we go. This series will be very photo heavy interspersed with what we were up to!

Most weekends are spent backpacking, hiking, climbing, trail running, or some sort of outdoor activity. This weekend, we did a little bit of everything! Frank, our friend, Ben, and I took Friday off from work and drove out to Arkansas Thursday night for some sweet sport climbing and hiking in the Ozark Mountains.

We made it to Horseshoe Canyon Ranch in the AM and went straight out to some of the more popular climbing spots in the canyon. Now, before I was a distance runner, I was a climber. In fact, distance running was a way to get me in better shape for mountaineering. Soon, running became my main passion, but being able to climb all day is still pretty awesome.

Ben made it up his first climb EVER!! I was super happy to see him enjoy the climbs the way I do!

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After a full day of climbing, we went for a short hike through the Buffalo River Gorge. If you are ever in the southern Midwest, this is a place you HAVE to go!

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It doesn’t get much better than this!

We got back to the ranch just before dark, hung out with some goats (they had like 100 baby goats), and went to bed.

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The hills were covered in tents and dirtbag climbers.

Saturday morning and afternoon was filled with some of the tallest climbs I’ve ever done. These walls were about 85 feet tall and had some of the most fantastic views from the top. We climbed until our arms tired out and went back to the Buffalo River Gorge for the National Park Service Centennial Concert.

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This route went WAY higher than I am right there!

The concert was packed, and in such a beautiful place.

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Frank and I were making some faces at each other during the concert… also that guy behind us…
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Tons of people made it out for the concert!

Post concert, we packed up our backpacks and hiked into the woods a few miles to find a campsite. The Buffalo River Gorge is right up against a National Forest, where there is free camping all along the trail. All National Forests have free camping in the wilderness, so if you are ever in a pinch, it’s a good place to make an overnight stop.

We woke up Sunday morning with the sunlight coming in. I tried to stay asleep in my bivy, but Frank was not having it.

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To cut on weight and mass, I use a bivy instead of a tent. They are waterproof and super easy to set up and take down.

Before heading back to Manhattan, we went for a hike to a cave at the Lost Valley Trail. The Ozark Mountains are filled with great little spots, but this one was just fantastic. There were natural bridges, three caves (one had a waterfall inside), and a ton of scenic overlooks to view the valley.

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Crawling out of a cave.
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Frank and Ben beneath the Natural Bridge.

After the hike, we ate some lunch and made the 6 hour trip back to Manhattan, KS. Although we expected this to be a rather uneventful ride, as we got close to town, we heard on the radio that a tornado had touched down just west of town. The roads were quiet except for the occasional storm chaser vehicle driving by (good sign, right?). We stopped to overlook some of the crazy weather, but were advised that if we wanted to get back to Manhattan, that we should do so immediately. We made it back and into the basement, but the warning was lifted about 15 minutes later. Aside from some flooding, Manhattan made it through the storm untouched.

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Rather ominous looking clouds over Manhattan, KS.

So, we did a little bit of everything this weekend! I even managed to squeeze in some miles between our adventures. How was your weekend? Did you go on any adventures?

Colfax Marathon Training Week 14

Thanks everyone who listened to my complaining last week and gave me encouraging words as I was heading into a race week. I spent a lot of my training unsure if maybe something was wrong with my legs or if I was on the verge of an injury. I am still having the extreme soreness, but I think it’s getting better. I’ve been making a gentle yoga practice a real priority while also trying to cut back on my mileage a bit to give my legs a rest. I am under four weeks out from my first marathon and this next week is my peak mileage week.

This was my week:

M: Total Rest Day – did a lot of whining though

T: 6 miles – easy pace + yoga

W: 8 miles – 5 at goal MP tempo + strength training

T: 6 miles – easy pace + yoga

F: yoga

S: 13.1 trail race + biking

S: 10 miles hiking

Total Running: 33 miles + 10 hiking

Last week started with a lot of nervousness and hesitation. I was having a nerve-like pain going down the outside of both of my legs causing weakness that felt almost like my legs were going to buckle out. It was very strange and not anything I’d ever felt before. I was supposed to hit some pretty high mileage last week, but since I had a race, and this weird pain, I decided to cool it and air on the side of caution.

As usual, my easy days were a struggle and my tempo run was fantastic (why is easy so hard?!). Even though I was having the weird feeling in my legs, I still held the pace fine and without too much effort on my lungs. This gave me a lot of confidence that a 9:00/mi pace will be okay at Colfax. I started to wonder if this feeling in my legs is just mental (I’m still not entirely sure that it’s not).

On Thursday I went for my sports massage. I gotta say, that was an incredible experience. The massage therapist tortured my legs for a while, but at the end asked me if I knew that I tend to kick my right foot out to the side while I run (he could tell by the “imbalances” in my muscles on that leg). Of course, I did know all about this. I’ve seen it in pictures and video of my running. Basically, he made a total believer in me of sports massage and of his knowledge of anatomy. It definitely helped the weakness and pain in my legs a lot, but it didn’t take it completely away. While practicing yoga, I came out of a handstand a little funny and felt it again, so it’s not gone, but it certainly got better.

I took a day off heading into my race on Saturday and was feeling reasonably refreshed. The race was AWESOME and those of you who follow me on twitter already know what happened. I’ll save the story for my race recap. But I will leave you with this photo:

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So… that happened. 😉

Frank and I went biking after the race for a few hours and then camped at a state park close to the race. The next day I woke up pretty sore, so instead of running, we just hiked about 10 miles through some of the hilly grassland prairie.

This week is the peak of my training. I’ll see how many miles I get in, it really depends on how I am feeling and holding up. I’m getting very excited about the taper, but the last 20-miler is definitely sitting heavy on my mind. My goal is to make it through with healthy legs so I can taper and be ready for Colfax in less than 4 weeks (really?!?).

Congrats to everyone that ran Boston yesterday! I hope you had a great time!

How do you mentally prepare for really high mileage weeks? Do you look forward to the taper?

Colfax Marathon Training Week 11: Cutback and Questival

Happy Monday Everyone!!

This week was a bit of a nutty one, although it was a cutback week on my mileage. I gotta say, I wasn’t too sad about not running once I saw a bunch of snow in our forecast. I absolutely hate running in snow. Even though I cut back in mileage this week, I still had a “race” of sorts to do on Friday night/Saturday. I kept the mileage this week low because Frank and I participated in a 24-hour adventure race in Dallas with two of our friends, which included a lot of running. Even though we were out-of-towners (we live in Manhattan, KS which is about 7 hours from Dallas), we still rocked the race. Recap will be coming soon… but trust me, it was pretty weird.

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The Batllama Questival Team – only like 3 hours in and Ben is already asleep.

Monday: 5.5 Miles at Recovery Pace + Yoga

After a long day of work, I did an evening run with a few friends that are training for their first half marathon. We kept it slow and steady, especially since I was recovering from a pretty tough tempo session the day before. My legs felt a little heavy and overused, so I knew that this cutback week was going to serve me well.

Tuesday: 5.1 Miles at Goal Half Marathon Pace + Yoga

I felt good starting on this run, but I started to notice some pretty nasty stomach pain that I was having. I didn’t think too much of it and just kept chugging along. Eventually, it just got too bad and I dipped into the local running store to use their bathroom. Unfortunately, I had my period… Weird for me to be a few days early, but whatevs (sorry for the TMI, but we’re all runners here… and mostly women). I was happy to see that the stomach issues were not actually stomach related. I tried to up the pace and get back to my car ASAP. I did a little yoga in the evening and that made me feel a lot better.

Wednesday: Rest Day

 Thursday: 12 mile Long Run

I guess when you get to the point where you are doing 18 and 20 mile runs, 12 miles just doesn’t seem that far. This run didn’t even feel like a long run. I kept the pace slow, but was surprised by how short 12 miles felt. Like seriously, 12 miles used to be ridiculously long!! Now, it’s just a normal no big deal run. The pace was a little faster than I would have liked. Around mile 6, the KSU men’s cross country team came up from behind me and took off into the distance. My competitive spirit kicked in a little and I upped the pace to keep up (like yeah right)… after about a half mile I tried to slow it way down. It took me another mile or so to get my pacing right and I kept it slow for the rest of the way home.

Friday: Questival Begins

I have no idea how much running I was doing, but we were running from challenge to challenge. We also slept for maybe two hours. I am going to write a full recap of this soon, but this is a short list of some of the more crazy things that happened:

  1. This picture:
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When dragonflies attack?

2. A cop coming to kick us out of a state park after dark – while we were having a peanut butter explosion in the car

3. I sang Bohemian Rhapsody in the middle of down town Dallas with my headphones in as loud as I could and embarrassed my entire team (this was a liberating experience)

4. I ran 1 mile on a trail in one of my nicest dresses

5. We cheered on a random baseball team with signs and everything at a city park

I’ll give you that much for now… more to come in the recap, but we did like over 50 things.

Saturday: Questival Ends (7 pm), 3.5 mile run at easy pace + 1 mile trail run (in a dress)

After running in a dress, I understand why running clothing companies make their clothes the way they do. After only one mile, I felt sticky and incredibly gross. Frank and I also ran 3.5 miles on the KATY trail through downtown Dallas. This is a beautiful trail and if you are ever in Dallas, you should check it out.

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Team Batllama getting up close and personal with a statue of Mark Twain

Sunday: Hiked and Drove Home

After a long day, we camped in a state park in Oklahoma and went hiking the next morning. Pretty uneventful.

Total Miles: 27 + running around for Questival

Overall, it was a nice and easy week of running. I think I got my sleep schedule back on track, so this week will be back up to high mileage. I have my first 20-miler on Friday. I am a little nervous because this week and the next one are pretty intense on the mileage. If I make it through this… I am basically there. I’ll only have one recovery and one last tough week before starting the taper. Seriously… this whole Marathon thing is getting very real!!

How was your week? Did you race this weekend? How do you usually feel at peak marathon training?

Colfax Marathon Week 9: Halfway There

Happy St. Patrick’s Day everyone!!!

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I have reached the halfway point of my training plan. That means the Colfax Marathon is less than 9 weeks away and while I’m certainly not ready to go out and run it tomorrow, I do feel like running it is possible… eventually. I had a great week of training with the highest mileage I’ve ever run. I hit my paces, kept things feeling strong, and ate like everything ever in my house. Seriously, marathon training is bad for my food bill.

In all honesty, I feel like the time has passed way too fast. When I started training, the race felt forever away, but now it’s coming up. My first 20-miler is in about two weeks and things are getting real. In reality, I only have 4 more runs left that are over 14 miles before the taper. It’s amazing how much my definition of “running really far” has changed during this training cycle.

Monday: 6 miles Goal MP Tempo

This was a pretty uneventful run. I kept it at the right pace and it felt easy and short. I went around town and dragged Frank out with me for 3 miles of it. I was still a little sore from the backpacking trip, but my legs warmed up really fast and the soreness went away right after the run. I did some yoga after to keep myself from feeling too tight. That was it. Easy peasy.

Tuesday: 6.2 Hills + Some intervals

I was planning on doing an easy run, but I woke up feeling great. I decided to go out and do some hills and intervals. I warmed up for about a mile, went up and down a pretty sizeable hill four times and then did some intervals on tired legs. I ran around a park near the hill that is just over a quarter of a mile and used that as the interval. I ran 4 times around at a comfortably fast pace (we’ll call it 5k pace) and in between ran around the park at a very easy pace. I managed a negative split on the intervals with my final interval being the fastest, which was impressive given how tired my legs were feeling from the hills. I ran home to cool down.

Wednesday: 6 miles easy

This was just a chill run at a chill pace. I didn’t feel sore from the day before, so this felt nice and easy. I decided after to go to my friend’s fitness class, where she subsequently kicked my butt using kettle bells. I must say, I was not meant to be a weight lifter! I did some yoga after to stretch out so I wouldn’t be sore the next day.

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Bit of a gloomy day

Thursday: Rest! Did some yoga though

 Friday: 8 miles Goal MP Tempo

I went for a 1 mile warm up and then did 6 miles at goal MP. There were some hickups here or there because I was going over a hilly area of town, but I basically kept the pace controlled and close to pace. In the middle of the run, my mom called, so I talked to her while I ran. I’m pretty sure everyone running by thought I was insane, but whatevs. It’s like having a running partner when you run while talking on the phone!

Saturday: 16 miles LSD

Always the most important and hardest to get out the door run of the week. I went out in the morning despite the gloomy weather to check out some new terrain around town. I went down a few roads I had never seen, which turned out to be kind of hilly. Overall, it was a pretty good run, however, I did have a weird pain in my foot. I decided afterwards to retire the shoes (I have no idea how many miles were on them) and switch them out for the shiny new pair in my closet. So far, everything feels great again!

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Frank came for a few miles on his bike and snapped this pic.
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Check out these shiny new shoes!!!

Sunday: Rest – Went camping Saturday night and hiking Sunday morning!

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Frank and Ben hanging by the campfire

Total Mileage: 42 miles (Holy Cow!!)

So there you have it! I had my biggest week yet and it is followed by another big week… but so far everything is going great. Luckily I do have nice cut back coming up and I am looking forward to it!

How has your St. Pats day been? Do you have plans to celebrate tonight (I will be hanging out with a few friends as their DD, since I am afraid any amount of alcohol is going to completely derail my training)?