Since my pressie Traverse life has been nothing short of crazy, fun, busy and full of the stress of living the traditional life while trying to still chase that ultimate dream of living that life full of adventure and fun! I’m not going to lie, that work thing can get in the way of being the best runner I can be and brings on the challenge of finding balance. Since almost all of us have to work to live the lives we crave I take comfort in knowing I am not alone and also know and understand how hard it is to come home after an exhausting day of work only to stare at pending miles looming over me, one last thing to do before showers, dinner and bed. Some days I get my miles in and others I do what I can and accept that this year may not be my fastest year but it is a year of doing what makes me happy and so far I have been accomplishing that goal!
I finally got the rest of the pictures from the Philbrick Photo shoot a few weeks back, it was so much fun to go from trail runner to fairy princess! I tossed in some pictures at the end of the blog post! It is really cool to be able to be athletic and feel beautiful. Something that took me a long time to learn was that you can be both, you don’t have to choose. Embrace being beautiful and strong. :)
So, the week after the Pressie Traverse I decided to attempt to race at Loon in the US Mountain Running Qualifier, big dreams but also knowing the reality that I had just done an extremely hard effort a week earlier would make for a tough race. I threw on a smile and embraced the pain and the fact that I had to walk most of the race! I ran about 2 minutes faster last year on a longer course! Hey, that pressie traverse was incredible, so it was totally worth sacrificing my race!
Wednesdays have been fun with the Harmony Hill Summer XC Series and it has become exactly what I had envisioned! There are families there together doing something fun and healthy, people making new running friends and so many smiles each week! There is nothing more fun than giving people a memory, one that I hope they hold onto for years to come.
Being on a mission to become the best mountain runner I can be I dragged Ryan out to the Adirondaks to join me on a test run of the Great Range Traverse and without any existing womens FKT on the route plans of establishing one. We got a really late start (12:30ish) and it was hot and humid. I don’t do very well in hot weather and was concerned with the heat, but once we started out on the trail I quickly learned that would not be my only challenge of the day.
My legs were fried from the last two weeks, I have not been able to recover as quickly as last year due to reduced mileage and honestly, I am just happy to be able to go out and do as well as I can considering the year I have had! I smiled and just embraced the pain! Ryan and I had a blast and as the terrain got more challenging I became more exhausted! This traverse is insane! The climbs are steep and very washed out, the descents are just as crazy and of course there are Gothics and Saddleback which scare the crap out of me! It took me forever to suck it up and get down those two mountains! Thank goodness my La Sportiva Bushido’s are so amazing, they have transformed my running this year and have made me less wimpy on rocks!
We stopped before Haystack to fill our packs with water and the cold stream water was amazing! It felt so good and really helped to cool me down. Before long we were on Haystack and I was so happy to be running toward Marcy which would be our final peak of the day! We tagged Marcy and made our way down to the Garden on completely exhausted legs (well, mine..not Ryans!) My final time was 7:15 and I knew I was capable of much better, on a cooler day and stronger legs. No matter what, I had a great day and was proud to push through so well with how tired my body was!
We took Jack puppy for a nice 10 mile hike the next day and then drove home to return to the daily grind. The next week was preparation for the Bear Brook Trail Marathon which is our first race and our favorite to direct! With the race going into it’s third year we have worked out many of the kinks and have managed to put together a fun and affordable event and this year our finishers award was local honey! We always recruit the best volunteers and without them our races would not happen.
Ryan and I marked the marathon course on Thursday and the Half Marathon course on Friday. For two people, that is a ton of work but we also strive to have the course marked very well and being obsessive about it the only way to mark it is to do it ourselves! Thank goodness we have some awesome people who help us remove the markings! That is a lot of running!
The race was an absolute blast and went very smoothly! We cannot wait until next year! We will be keeping the half marathon distance which is exciting!
After the marathon we picked up Ryans daughters and had a nice day at the beach and just enjoyed hanging out. The girls are so cute and his oldest is really taking a liking to running! She is really getting good with her technical trail skills and endurance! His youngest is liking mountain biking so we take turns with each activity!
After Bear Brook my legs were just shot from the previous 4 weeks and every easy run I did the week after was so exhausting! My legs were toast on every hill and my breathing erratic! I got out for a moderate paced trail run with my friend Tony and the La Sportiva rep who was in town and that run just whooped me! I took the next several days off from running with hopes of feeling good for Escarpment.
Ryan and I had the girls Thursday and Friday and dropped them off with their mom on Friday morning and came home to leave for New York. We started packing and then found out the race was actually Sunday instead of Saturday! OOOPPPSSS!!! So, we took the day to get caught up on sleep we hadn’t gotten in months. It was really hard for me to pull away from working constantly and to not do chores but once I let go of the worries of being lazy I dozed off and had a lovely nap!
We woke up Saturday and had an uneventful drive to the Catskills. We met up with the other runners at the pre race gathering at Dicks house. It was so nice to meet some new friends and see some old ones! Of course I was thrilled to see the woman who taught me how to run ultras, Sheryl Wheeler! I just admire her so much, this woman is so talented and so nice! Her list of accomplishments is long and she has such a beautiful energy that she brings with her everywhere she goes! Seeing her and her husband Dan always make me feel comfortable and I always learn something new from her!
We got dinner with Ian Golden who directs Cayuga and Virgil Crest (two races I absolutely love!) and then set up camp and got a good night of sleep. After a cup of coffee and a trip to the bathroom I was ready to race! I didn’t know what to expect but there were some talented ladies that I would be sharing the trail with and I was so excited! My nerves got the best of me and I wanted to vomit at the start. To make it even more spicy the lightning and downpours began as the race started! Nothing like running up a mountain in the pouring rain, trails so dark you almost needed a headlamp and thunder and lightning cracking all around you.
Sheryl and I ran up the hill laughing about the storm and she started having some issues with her contacts coming out from the rain. The trails were a muddy mess and I started to embrace the madness! I focused on getting up the first of what I thought were only two big hills. I would pay for my lack of course knowledge later in the day.
I felt strong and steady up the first climb, my calves screaming in pain all the way to the top. I had to stop to pee once and tie my shoelace another time. Once I got on the summit I knew it was time to put my faith in the Bushido’s and let it rip down the hill! I was flying and giggling like a kid! This course was the true definition of a trail race, nothing I have ever run has even come close to this race! I started to gain confidence and speed as I tore down the wet trail as fast as my legs would allow! I lept off a rock and into a corner of grass only to realize I jumped off a small cliff and found myself rolling down the side of a steep hill. Luckily there were trees to stop me. A few cuts and scrapes, a sore knee and a scramble back up onto the trail got me back on track. I slowed up a bit and paid a bit more attention to the trail and stopped goofing off so much!
I couldn’t help but embrace the day and every footstep I took! I charged up the next climb laughing and having a blast, thinking it was the last one of the day. A couple of guys passed me and I passed a couple of guys. The trail got steeper and slicker and after what seemed like eternity I stood on top of Black head with smiling volunteers who shouted out “Congratulations, you are the Queen of the Mountain!” Silly, but I got all choked up because I want to be a great mountain runner and it really made me feel good to hear those words! I took some water and charged down the trail laughing and smiling the whole way.
I got to the next climb and thought it would be small and runnable so I pushed hard, running up the switchbacks and manageable grade until I soon realized this climb was bigger than I hoped. I blew it! I charged too early and totally blew up hard. I walked the best I could with shaking legs and screaming calves. My whole body started to come undone at that point and I just prayed for strength. I smiled and embraced every bit of suffering, knowing that this was more than just a race, it was a training run and a part of my journey to becoming a true mountain runner. I pushed so hard, panting and wondering when I would get to the top. I saw some hikers and then…THE PLANE! I knew that the plane wreck meant a summit was around the corner. I took a deep breath and rolled into the aid station on top of the hill where I was cheered on by some awesome volunteers!
I knew I was fading and I knew there were a few very strong and fast women not far behind me. I pushed on down the trail running the best I could with my body completely obliterated. I was still having the time of my life and still moving forward! I was becoming clumsy and missed a few turns and made sure I paid attention to the trail after one moment of running straight into the forest! Then I started to struggle on even the easy climbs and had to walk them.
The trails were slick and the shoes were doing awesome! I smiled, knowing every step I took was one more toward that finish line. With two miles to go I jumped off a rock and landed wrong. I rolled my ankle so bad and felt a sharp pain in my ankle and along the top of my foot. I wanted to cry as I limped away as fast as I could. I didn’t want to get caught, I wanted to cross that finish line.
With one more deep breath I sucked it up, put on my big girl skirt and charged to the finish feeling like a drunken pirate with a peg leg. I had nothing left to give and was running on purely my love of running! I saw Dan near a ledge and he smiled, I cried at that moment. Dan is always so kind to me and hearing his words of encouragement made that pain disappear just long enough to cross that finish line with a time of 3:37 and being the first woman! I was thrilled with my race and a bit bummed about my time. I was really hoping to run under 3:30, but with the slick conditions, lack of course knowledge and lack of consistent training this year I am happy with what I did! Minutes later Raina and Sheryl came rolling through looking a lot better than I felt! These women are so strong!!!!! We were thrilled to all come in under 4 hours!
Ryan was at the finish line after a great race and some big crashes! It was awesome seeing our friends at the end of the race and a huge congrats to Sarah who got 4th at Bear Brook marathon last weekend and 5th at Escarpment this weekend! What a badass girl! (well, Karine and Jeff also ran Bear Brook last weekend and did awesome this weekend too!!!) So many of our other friends were there and we got to see some new ones too!
If you have not run Escarpment, put it on your list. This race embraces true trail running. No frills, all singletrack, great vibe at the finish, amazing volunteers, stout and friendly competition and an overall good time! Plus, to be in the presence of some incredible bad-asses who have run this race over 20 times was incredible! I will be back, and someday might be one of those old-time bad-asses that the kids look at and wonder how I am still out there.
A huge thank you to my sponsors La Sportiva, Choucas Hats, UltrAspire, JULBOUSA, Flora Health, First Endurance and Hypoxico for your support! Thank you to my coach Jack and my husband for guiding me on my journey to being a mountain runner! Thank you to my Jack puppy for being the cutest running partner ever! Thank you to my friends for always being there with a smile and a hug. Thank you to everyone who believes in me, this year has been such a roller coaster ride with so many ups and downs. I am learning a lot about life this year and what matters most. :)
I don’t know what the rest of the year will bring, this year is about being spontaneous and following my heart. Happiness should always come first, we live in a society that is so stressful and so focused on work. I miss the days of no computers, the days of having an answering machine and the days of keeping in touch with people by hanging out instead of text messaging and social media. Take a day to unplug once in a while. I am trying to decrease my time spent online. Not taking my phone to dinner, turning it off at night, maybe not responding right away to a message,…..whatever it takes to make me feel more free! :)