Adventuring, farming and finding my smile

My mountain playing peekaboo!
My mountain playing peekaboo!

It’s a beautiful day and I am on my back deck surrounded by yellow butterflies, blooming apple trees, peeping chicks and turkeys, three piggies romping around in their wooded pasture and our soon to be massive vegetable garden.  The sun is shining and the mountain is watching over my home which is a work in progress but starting to morph into our homesteading oasis.  Our homemade Kombucha is finally  ready for consumption and fresh rhubarb jam sits in the refrigerator after our first attempt at canning!  Mulch beds have been created, flowers planted, hummingbird feeders hung around the front yard and wildflower seeds tossed throughout the front yard are beginning to sprout.  Our home hadn’t been maintained in quite some time and we really want to add our own personal touches to the home, inside and out.  Slowly we are making changes and one day will have it tidy and well kept but for now I am learning to be patient while living in an ongoing project.  The last time I put this much effort into a home was when I bought my first house right before I graduated from college and instead of rushing through it, I am enjoying taking my time to discuss our dreams and goals and then slowly making it happen.

Trout fishing below my mountain!
Trout fishing below my mountain!
My mountain!
My mountain!
The piggies!
The piggies!

Of course this takes a lot of time, so does raising 8 turkeys, 6 guinnea hens, 51 New Hampshire Red Chickens, about 25 exotic show chickens and three pigs.  Toss in two kids, two dogs and two cats and we have our own little farm!  Taking care of these animals is incredible and I am really enjoying my new life!  The last few months have not been good and with some therapy and working hard to find peace again I feel like I am no longer at rock bottom and instead on a path to a new beginning.

The ducks!
The ducks!
The turkeys in trasport!
The turkeys in trasport!
My show chickens! Silkies, Polish, Sultans, Millies, and more!
My show chickens! Silkies, Polish, Sultans, Millies, and more!
New Hampshire Reds!
New Hampshire Reds!
Polish chick!
Polish chick!

I have been adventuring in the mountains again and loving the feeling of getting back my mountain legs.  I was a bit bummed out about having to cancel my Mount Hood trip due to terrible weather out west and getting an awful chest cold but the mountain will still be there and the money lost is only money which I can make again.  Ryan, the pups and I have been really doing some big days in the hills and one that really stands out as a new favorite is what I will call the Beautiful Loop.  This loop is 20 miles of ridiculous scenery, views and the longest waterfall I have ever seen!  The climbs are brutal and there was still some ice up high.  We started on the Bald Faces and finished on the Royces.  It was a great way to exhaust myself before flying down to North Carolina for a grand adventure with my friend Elizabeth.

 

My life partner
My life partner
Part of the beautiful loop
Part of the beautiful loop
waterfalls on the beautiful loop
waterfalls on the beautiful loop
More beautiful loop waterfalls
More beautiful loop waterfalls

Friday night I got to Elizabeths house around 8:45pm after work and we got up at 3am to catch our flight from Boston.  We landed and got right off the plane and picked up the rental car.  I had talked Elizabeth into doing some more US Highpointing with me and she agreed to do South and North Carolina during our trip.  When we got the map at the rental car counter I saw that Geaorgia’s high point was not far and that we could maybe tag that too.  Then Elizabeth grabbed the map and said that we might as well hit Tennesse.  At that moment I knew I was on vacation with the right person!  We stocked up on food from Whole Foods and drove to the high point of South Carolina and snagged the summit of Mount Sassafrass!  We laughed as we drove to North Carolina to tag Mount Mitchell and check in for the race.  We got our room key and drove up the mountain and took the paved path to the top!  High point number two was under our belts.  It was time to check in for the race and to our surprise the meeting was actually right off the back deck of where we were staying!  I ate a massive pasta meal and went to bed around 10pm.

Mount Mitchell, North Carolina High Point!
Mount Mitchell, North Carolina High Point!
Sassafras Mountain, SC High Point!
Sassafras Mountain, SC High Point!
Testing out the Life Straw on the beautiful loop!
Testing out the Life Straw on the beautiful loop!
My vacation buddy Elizabeth! Crazy New Hampshire Chicks!
My vacation buddy Elizabeth! Crazy New Hampshire Chicks!

We woke up at 3am and got to the race shuttle.  As soon as the sun gave us enough light to see the race began and we headed straight up a massive White Mountain style climb!  I was totally in my element!!  There were some really fast looking girls there and I just focused on staying steady.  I had been so focused on leg speed this winter that my mountain fitness was not quite where I wanted it to be.  I stood on top of the first climb happy and feeling at home in the rime ice and blustery conditions!  I felt so happy and took in the amazing views from the ridge as I ran back down off the mountain and to the bottom of a very fast descent.  My crappy memory bit me, I forgot they said we had to run up that climb and my heart sank!  It was over 5 miles back up to the top and there was a flock of fast girls hot on my tail.  I jogged, walked and focused on just having fun.  As I got up higher and back into the ice I was happy again and forgot that I was racing.  The ridge was incredible and I felt like I was in the White Mountains again.  I ran with various people along the way and focused on being steady.

Beautiful loop!
Beautiful loop!
More beautiful loop!
More beautiful loop!
SC High Point!
SC High Point!
From the top of SC!
From the top of SC!

The next descent was a hoot and when I hit the bottom I knew there was a really long climb ahead that the race director said was runnable.  I did not want to hear those words!  I ran the first part, and then it got slippery with leaves and I walked, and then ran and walked for miles.  By the time I got to the top I was rather tired of climbing and my calf started to seize up on me!  I saw the volunteers at mile 26 and grabbed some water for my pack and a few cookies for the last 8 miles.  I struggled on the flat field section but then my body came around and the descent was incredible!  I flew down the rocks laughing and smiling!  It was so beautiful and so much like home!  The course crossed a road and took us on a dirt and gravel path for a bit and then there was the finish line!  I was thrilled to run 7:33 on a course that was longer and had more elevation than last year!  And the bonus, I took first woman and 2nd overall!  I always question my fitness and it was nice to see that I am in a good place and this race confirmed that I need to stick with mountain running because when I run happy I have fun!  Elizabeth did incredible and we both were nicknamed “New Hampshire”.  People apparently thought our rock running was rather impressive and our ability to run in the icy trees was interesting.  We could only respond by saying that all we have to run on here is rocks and it’s always cold up high!

Quest for Crest 50k taken by Sean Blanton
Quest for Crest 50k taken by Sean Blanton
Quest for Crest 50k taken by Sean Blanton
Quest for Crest 50k taken by Sean Blanton
Quest for Crest 50k taken by Sean Blanton
Quest for Crest 50k taken by Sean Blanton
Mid race at Quest For Crest 50k, taken by Sean Blanton
Mid race at Quest For Crest 50k, taken by Sean Blanton

We got to bed nice and late and after doing some math discovered that we had to leave at 3am if we wanted to tag the high points of Tennesse and Georgia.  So, we got up early and got to Clingmans Dome just as the sun rose!  We only had 30 minutes to hike and take pictures of both high points so on tired legs we had to hustle!  After a quick tag of Clingmans we hopped in the car for another long drive to Georgia!  We got to Brasstown Bald and took the short hike up to the summit, took in the views and got back down to the car with barely enough time to get to the airport without missing our flight.  Luckily there was no traffic and we got there on time even though our flight was delayed.  It was just what I needed to feel renewed and to smile again!  I would like to call that trip the US Highpointing 50k sandwich!  It was absolutely delicious!!!

Tennessee High point!
Tennessee High point!
From the top of Tennessee!
From the top of Tennessee!
From the top of Tennessee!
From the top of Tennessee!
From the top of Tennessee!
From the top of Tennessee!
Brasstown Bald, Georgia High point!
Brasstown Bald, Georgia High point!
From the top of Georgia!
From the top of Georgia!
From the top of NC!
From the top of NC!

I came home and back to reality.  Luckily reality  isn’t all that bad!  I have the best job in the world and although tired I was thrilled to see my coworkers and my patients and have my weekly lunch with my friend Roberta!

Love my local trails!
Love my local trails!
Tennessee is so pretty!
Tennessee is so pretty!
But so is New Hampshire!
But so is New Hampshire!

My weeks have been busy and getting used to the waking up really early to take care of the critters and making sure they are all set at night is becoming easier.  Watching these animals grow and seeing our seeds sprouting is the coolest thing in the world!  When I retire from dental hygiene in about 13 years my goal is to focus on farming and helping communities establish farming programs that allow small farms to provide food for the communities and educate people on why supporting your local farmer is important and encourage people to shop locally as well as try their hand at gardening or raising animals.  I am very passionate about supporting locals and finding ways to make clean and healthy living available to everyone regardless of their income.  Maybe community bases programs where families in need can spend time helping to raise animals and crops on community farms in exchange  for food is a start?  Maybe establishing agricultural programs within the school systems is a way to teach our children that food should be raised ethically and with kindness and that farms do matter.

Canoe racing!!!
Canoe racing!!!

I have also realized that I absolutely love running but need more to keep me smiling.  Taking on new challenges is so much fun!  Ryan and I entered a canoe race on a whim after I bought a large fishing canoe and managed to win our division!  We both enjoyed doing something different and something that we had to work together as a team to do!  I am taking sailing lessons this summer with my friend Kristin with hopes of sailing the Carribean in a few years.  I have found a new fiddle teacher that has taught me how to play 4 songs  already and it’s so much fun learning from her!  Best of all I am back to running my mountains after work and on the weekends with my Ryan, Jack puppy, Bennett and friends.  If feels good and it makes me happy!

Running with my Ryan!
Running with my Ryan!

Racing is going to be tricky this year with the new farm.  Unless one of us stays behind it is really hard to get away, especially when the critters are so small.  We can’t leave the baby chicks and turkeys yet because they require so much care.  I am going to be focusing on FKT’s this summer that are local and racing locally during the farming season and after the slaughtering I plan to be able to do some travel races.  I am okay with that, I need balance in my life and variety.  I plan to be around for a very long time and I don’t plan to walk away from running but I do plan to venture out and try new things.

Silly Piggies!
Silly Piggies!
I love my pups!
I love my pups!
Jack puppy showing Bennett how to swim!
Jack puppy showing Bennett how to swim!
Trail hounds!
Trail hounds!

I want to thank my sponsors La Sportiva, JULBO USA and Choucas Hats for their support.  They make awesome gear that makes me happy and keeps me rubber side down in the mountains!  Thank you to my Ryan for working on our lives both individually and together.  We both have a lot on our plates right now and both realize that we are always a work in progress.  Thank you my Jack puppy and Bennett for being my fun little trail buddies and snuggle buddies at home!  Thank you to my friends for always listening to me, playing with me, giving me hugs when I need one and going on wild adventures with me!  Thank you to Jack Pilla for coaching me the best he can when I am a total mess and can barely get in my miles.  I have a long way to go but every day that passes brings me new joy and closer to feeling truly happy again.

Me and Ryan on our mountain!
Me and Ryan on our mountain!
Me and my pups on our mountain!
Me and my pups on our mountain!

Life isn’t easy, it’s work.  We are all a work in progress, we all have had something traumatic happen to us at some point along the way, we all have good days, bad days and days where you want to throw in the towel.  Thanks to my amazing friends who never give up on me, I tossed the bottle of pills I was going to take on a solo run in the woods and instead have been dealing with my stress head on.  When life punches me in the face I take a few breaths and focus on feeling my feet on the ground, my hands, feeling my breath coming in and out of my body, the air on my skin, my hair in my face.  Somehow something so simple brings me back into the moment and I can see that life really isn’t all that bad and I do have control over my happiness.

Sometimes you just have to paddle into the wind to get to the other side.
Sometimes you just have to paddle into the wind to get to the other side.
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Life’s never ending lessons

I was out running last week and two miles in I sat down and cried my eyes out.  I decided  I have had a good life and didn’t care if I took another breath of air.  I’ve accomplished enough, seen beautiful places and experienced wonderful friendships and adventures.  I looked deep within my soul and knew that this isn’t who I am, I want to live to be 100, and not just be alive, still be living and loving life!  I scooped up what pieces were left of my conflicting feelings of wanting it all to end peacefully at that moment as I take my last breath and the complete opposite of wanting my life to continue and be filled with love and adventure.  Gasping and crying, I chose to do my scheduled workout.  I ran down that hill and did my hill repeats at the best effort I could between tears and shallow breathing.  Why I kept running, I do not know.  It wasn’t fun but the thought of not running wasn’t fun either.  So many moments in my life ran through my mind as I put each foot in front of the other and listened to my breathing as it went from fighting back tears and gasps to the gentle rhythm I am so used to hearing on my runs.

Looking into the cabin on a hike!
Looking into the cabin on a hike!
beautiful flowers in the Caribbean!
beautiful flowers in the Caribbean!

My life has been great, but also filled with stress over the last few months.  I am struggling with trusting what people tell me, I am afraid that my entire life is a lie and worst of all I have been having debilitating panic attacks and not capable of sleeping more than a couple of hours without waking up covered in sweat with a racing heart.  I have a lot going on right now, some things I feel okay sharing publicly and some that I do not.  I saw my doctor for tons of blood work which all came back absolutely perfect and attempted to find a way to control my stress.  My weight has plummeted which is normal when I am undergoing stress and have dropped to an unhealthy 110lbs.  At 5’3″ I prefer to be over 115lb and feel better physically and emotionally being at that weight.   My workplace seems to be the only place I find peace because my job makes me happy but I also focus on providing my patients with the best dental experience I can offer and it takes my mind off of my own problems.  As soon as I walk out that door at work my mind goes back to all of the things that are creating stress in my life and I no longer feel at peace.

Running up to Tuckermans Bowl
Running up to Tuckermans Bowl
Island plants!
Island plants!
Taking it all in on an island adventure
Taking it all in on an island adventure

My doctor gave me anxiety medication to take and I am not interested in treating with medication but the quality of my life was crumbling away faster than I could handle.  I took the medication and spent the next few weeks feeling like I was in a drunken stupor.  It made me sick, affected my running, made working difficult and took away any happiness that I had left.  I was able to sleep and for that I was happy but decided to stop taking the medication and try some Kava root instead at night and after a talk with my doctor came off of social media and the internet.  Minimal visits to Facebook and other social media platforms seemed to be helping me sleep and feel happier but I felt like the medication took me back a few steps once I stopped and although I wasn’t dealing with feeling sick from the side effects I really believe it has been messing with my mind and giving me symptoms of depression.  I am a rationale person and I know that taking my life or wishing my life to end is certainly not who I am or who I want to be.  I have to ride this one out because a side effect of coming off of these medications is a feeling of sadness and hopelessness.  It really makes dealing with some of the stress in my life difficult and certainly gives me more panic attacks and sadness but I am determined to find my happy again and know I will.

It felt so nice to be wearing a tank top and sweating!
It felt so nice to be wearing a tank top and sweating!
Enjoying the sun on our skin!
Enjoying the sun on our skin!
Trying out paddle boards in the islands!
Trying out paddle boards in the islands!

I’ve been through this before with my post concussion issues and maybe this is a part of old injury or maybe a side effect of stopping the medication.  All I know is I feel like I am living outside of my body, watching my life fall apart as someone else living in my skin tears me apart and breaks me down.  As I watch my soul shatter I gather up the pieces and know that I can put them together with a little help, so I will once again seek out therapy with the hope of getting back to who I once was.  I’m not a quitter, I am strong and I will be okay.  I am no stranger to seeing a therapist and honestly think that having a benign party hear my scattered thoughts and worries is the best way for me to pick up my shattered pieces and put them back together again.  The beauty of seeing someone that does not know me is that they are able to look at what I am saying and see it without emotion and help me see it for what it is.

Making syrup!
Making syrup!
Camping in the islands!
Camping in the islands!
The piggies! Red, Pinky and Gizmo
The piggies! Red, Pinky and Gizmo in their training pen. Once they are taught about the fence they get a nice pasture to play in!
Starting the seeds!
Starting the seeds!

So enough of my pity party.  Although I do feel I have not been able to fully experience the joy I am capable of feeling I have had some incredible runs and adventures with many more in my future!  The trails here in the White Mountains are an icy death and I have gotten out on some adventures but even microspikes are not enough and we are swinging from trees like monkeys trying to navigate the icy trails!  So much road running has been good for the leg speed but I miss my mountain running!  I’ve shared some adventures this winter which included a winter presi traverse with wild winds, sunny blue skies and trails that glistened with ice, fun hikes with friends and the doggies, a trip to do some Caribbean trail running and started a small farming operation at our home.

Tom, Field and Willey slipperyness
Tom, Field and Willey slipperyness
Mike, Sue, Jack puppy and Bennett doing Tom, Field and Willey
Mike, Sue, Jack puppy and Bennett doing Tom, Field and Willey
Pressies!!
Pressies!!
Pressie Traversing!
Pressie Traversing!
Playing with Elizabeth!
Playing with Elizabeth!

I was planning on racing Breakneck again this year but with the new addition of some piglets, the puppy just being cleared for running and a need to get my head straight I decided to stay home next weekend and take care of the critters and go for a local adventure on some smaller snow free mountains!  Ryan and I are going to have to take turns with most of our races this year so that one of us is home taking care of the pigs and chickens while the other ventures off to a race.  Raising animals for meat is new to me and I am a very compassionate person so I may be vegetarian by the end of this journey but I a may not.  I eat meat and feel that knowing how my meat was raised is important enough for me to want to raise my own animals for food.  We are going to have meat and egg chickens and also pigs.   We also will have a very large vegetable garden, fruit trees and berry bushes.  We tapped some trees this winter and made some incredible maple syrup and plan to get some honey bees next year which would be amazing!  Ryan is the farmer and I am simply learning and appreciating raising my own food and feelings about raising animals to eat.

Island Running!
Island Running!
The ferry to our island adventure!
The ferry to our island adventure!

So many people have told me not to name the animals, not to get attached and to treat them like food.  I was ready to do that until the day we got the piglets.  Ryan found a local farmer and liked his attitude toward farming.  What surprised me was that he named his animals, he hugged the piglets and told them they would be okay as the squealed at the top of their lungs when he separated them from the litter.  I was in shock, why would someone be so compassionate towards animals that were bred to die for us to eat.  He explained he does not believe in castrating the piglets because of how traumatic it is for everyone involved and that he and his wife choose to give the animals a good life and treat them with respect and love.  Something inside me changed at that moment.

Evening running on the island
Evening running on the island
Dinner in the islands!
Dinner in the islands!
Dressed up for a fancy meal in an old sugar meal!
Dressed up for a fancy meal in an old sugar meal!

When Ryan and I got home and introduced the pigs to their new home I watched them, I sat with them and the next morning they allowed me to pet them.  They are fascinating to watch, the way they eat, sleep in a pile, interact with each other, dig in the ground, drink, scratch themselves on their shelter, bury themselves in the straw to sleep, the noises they make and how they like dogs.  They are such peaceful animals and after only a few days with them we decided to give them names.  I looked at them knowing that one day they would be sacrificed to be on my plate and vowed to love them and give them the best possible life I could provide for them.  Why not, they are giving their lives for us humans to eat.  The least I can do for them is give them a happy life full of love.  We all die and we all want to have a happy and fulfilling life before it ends, why should these animals have anything less?  It would be selfish of me to treat them poorly because I am afraid to love them only because I will be sad when they die.  Take it one step further and I feel that I should be the one to take their lives because I will be the one who gives them a life.  This is going to be an emotional adventure for me and when the day comes to sacrifice them I will be sad but I hope I am happy that they lived a beautiful life.  I am not afraid to get attached to them and I will make sure that wherever they end up taking their last breath that it will be done with respect and as humane as possible.

Snorkeling!
Snorkeling!
Coral!
Coral!
Fishies!
Fishies!
Sea Urchins!
Sea Urchins!
More fishies!
More fishies!

As for my running, it has actually been great!  I feel so strong and so healthy!  La Sportiva came out with some incredible new clothes and shoes for this year!  After taking the gear out on the trails I am so thrilled with how comfortable everything is!  The Akasha shoes are amazing, they offer traction and cushion which really takes mountain running to a new level of comfort and the clothing is so comfortable I have to keep looking down to see if I have any clothes on!  Zero chaffing, wicks better than anything I have ever run in and the sports bra is so comfortable that I don’t bounce and don’t feel like I am being squashed!  Julbo makes the Aero glasses which are incredible and don’t fog!  They are super comfortable and the Zebra lenses are very nice to have when running in varying conditions.  Of course I love my choucas hats, headbands and bandits!  My favorite neck gaiter is the polartec because it works in so many different weather conditions!

New Gear for running!!!!
New Gear for running!!!!
The cool things that can be found on the trails! This was before our fun bushwack!
The cool things that can be found on the trails! This was before our fun bushwack!

Bennett has been cleared to run and is really enjoying getting out on the trails with Jack puppy!  He is working on his 4 thousand footers and has a handful of them already!  They are such silly dogs and have so much energy!  I love my trail pups, they make playing in the woods so much fun and seeing them romping around on the trails makes me smile.

Going hiking!
Going hiking!

I want to thank my sponsors for providing me with such amazing equipment!  Your gear gives me the ability to go on wonderful adventures and perform the best I can while being comfortable!  Thank you to my coach Jack for dealing with me through the ups and downs of training and the emotional and physical roller coaster that it takes me through.  Thank you to my Ryan for joining me on so many adventures including the adventure through life.  Thank you to my friends for always being there to set me straight, make me smile and share adventures with me on and off the trail.  Thank you to my Jack puppy and Bennett for bringing me so much joy and joining me on so many adventures in the mountains!  Thank you to everyone who has given me the opportunities that I have had in my life, although I am going through a rough patch I do know that I am a very lucky girl and I will come out on the other side smiling and happy!  I have a lot of living left to do and only have 13 of my 50 US High Points so I can’t call it quits yet! Oh, and a few running races to explore!

Views from our run!
Views from our run!
Mutants on a wild adventure!
Mutants on a wild adventure!

Next up:  A weekend adventure of running new trails, a quick trip to attempt to climb Mount Hood, then a fun training race with a friend which will include some more US High pointing and then my first key race of the year!

Crabs in the sugar mill!
Crabs in the sugar mill!
Fancy doggie treats!
Fancy doggie treats!

When life beats you down, be strong.  Know that every mountain can be climbed, some with tools and some without.  If your climb gets technical then pull out that ice axe, grab that rope and get ready for a hell of a climb.  I’ve got out my crampons, axe, helmet, harness and axes for this one.   And remember,

“You cannot stay on the summit forever; you have to come down again. So why bother in the first place? Just this: What is above knows what is below, but what is below does not know what is above. One climbs, one sees. One descends, one sees no longer, but one has seen. There is an art of conducting oneself in the lower regions by the memory of what one saw higher up. When one can no longer see, one can at least still know.”-Rene Daumal

Me and my doggies on a hike! I'm going to be okay, I have to be because we have so many more adventures in our future together. :)
Me and my doggies on a hike! I’m going to be okay, I have to be because we have so many more adventures in our future together. :)

 

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Lacking self control

It’s been a long road to changing my body through physical therapy but it’s really been paying off and I feel stronger each day!  The cross training has made my running more enjoyable and I’m finding that it brings me an inner peace that running alone can’t give me.  It feels so good to hop on the bike, throw on a pack and go for a hike or lace up my running shoes and go for a run.  This winter has been pretty interesting with the lack of snow and abundance of ice.  It’s been a tough one for the pups with open river crossings that are higher than normal and trails that are glare ice!  It’s been tough for us humans too but at the same time fun to experience winter in a completely different way.

Me and Sam!
Me and Sam!
Running with Elizabeth and Kristine!
Running with Elizabeth and Kristine!

I made a promise to my coach that I would not race the Hyannis marathon and he intentionally kept my training in line with using it only as a training run.  My training has been going really well, my speed isn’t quite where it was last fall but it also wasn’t that far gone.  I would test out my new legs on some of my runs and was pleasantly surprised at how strong they felt!  I did a few fast runs and was excited to see that my speed is coming back and I am recovering better than I previously could!

Elizabeth crossing the river
Elizabeth crossing the river
Owls head attempt with Kristin and Elizabeth!
Owls head attempt with Kristin and Elizabeth!

I also have been trying really hard to take care of myself this winter with goals of not getting sick like I usually do.  So far it’s been pretty good!  The week of my marathon I came down with a sinus infection but I get them so often I was able to catch it early and got into the doctor who put me on some Augmentin  and within two days the pressure came down and I started feeling better, my tummy was feeling pretty upset from it but I made sure to eat a lot of yogurt and do the best I could to prevent it from debilitating me.

Ryan and I on our Square Ledge Valentines adventure!
Ryan and I on our Square Ledge Valentines adventure!
That's not nature says Elizabeth!
That’s not nature says Elizabeth!

I’ve had some wicked fun adventures, one which really stood out was an attempt to do Owls head with Elizabeth and Kristin.  Winter is usually a great time to attempt owls head because you can take advantage of the bushwacks and frozen rivers.  Kristin is working on her NH48 and we were excited to take her up the mountain!  We started out on Lincoln woods and the trail was quite icy.  The black pond bushwack was unbroken and had a few inches of new snow that had been blasted with rain.  Elizabeth and I have been on the schwack many times and worked together to navigate while Kristin must have been wondering what the heck she got herself into!  Kristin asked how we knew where to go and Elizabeth grabbed a broken branch and pointed to it and said “This is not Nature” and walked ahead to point out another.  We had a pretty good laugh about navigating it and finally came out to the roaring river!

The river at Owls Head
The river at Owls Head
Ryan crossing a river on our Valentines Hike!
Ryan crossing a river on our Valentines Hike!

We hopped on the icy Lincoln Brook trail and everything was okay until we got to the first of two river crossings.  The first one had some ice on it but was pretty thin.  We carefully made our way across without incident.  Then we came upon the second one just before the Brutus Bushwack.  It was huge and there was ice under the raging river and was not really passable.  Kristin and Elizabeth crossed over by using a fallen tree.  Jack puppy was too small to follow Katahdin across the river so I stood partially in the water and passed him across to Elizabeth and then I crossed.  My La Sportiva Crossovers are incredible and there is nothing better than a waterproof shoe this time of year!

Choucas Hats makes a pony tail hat now!
Choucas Hats makes a pony tail hat now!
Bennett checking out the new Sportivas!
Bennett checking out the new Sportivas!
A fun hike to see the sunset from Mount Isreal with Ryan, Kale and Jack puppy and bennett!
A fun hike to see the sunset from Mount Isreal with Ryan, Kale and Jack puppy and bennett!

We got on the bushwack and it went from a thin layer of slippery snow to glare ice.  The pups had trouble, we had trouble and after taking some time to chat about what to do we decided this was not fair to our doggies, we would take much too long to summit and would be crossing the river in the dark and the sun was melting everything quickly which could make the river crossing impossible for us.  So, with less than a mile to get to the summit we turned around.  When we got back to the river we were very glad we did.

Dogs love the Dog Bakery in Conway!
Dogs love the Dog Bakery in Conway!
Bennett still hasn't learned how to not jump when cookies are involved!
Bennett still hasn’t learned how to not jump when cookies are involved!
Jack puppy waves for cookies!
Jack puppy waves for cookies!

In that short amount of time things had changed.  The water was higher and pushing harder.  Elizabeth crossed, but not without submerging her feet, I tried to step on some ice that was stable earlier and pass Jack puppy to Elizabeth and I fell in up to my knees in water and did not feel the bottom, my pack seemed to stop me!  My crossovers are awesome in water up to my ankles but to my knees, nope!  So, I got out and went to a different part of the river where I was able to pass Jack across and then I made my way through the ice and water.  Kristin was able to get across without getting soaked.  Elizabeth and I were both pretty happy to have on waterproof shoes because as long as we kept moving the water in our shoes stayed tolerably cold.  We got back to the cars happy that we were okay and our pups were okay.  We had enough gear to spend the night if we had to but were glad it didn’t come down to that!  It was a great day in the mountains that taught us all some lessons!

View from our road!
View from our road!
Me and Jack puppy!!!
Me and Jack puppy!!!

Then Ryan had his team over for a weekend of adventuring which was not as wild as hoped due to wicked high winds, trails being a disaster and lots of ice and rain.  We made the best of it and ended up doing a super fun backpack trip near the house and Bennett had his very first camping adventure!  The pups did great on the hike and in the tent!  We enjoyed a summit of Passaconway with beautiful weather and even a moose sighting on the trail!

Animals love the fire!
Animals love the fire!
Dirt road running!
Dirt road running!

Then there was the Hyannis Marathon.  I really didn’t know what to expect.  I felt strong and fit but have not been doing much for speedwork and instead have been working on building up my endurance and strength with my newly found glutes and hamstrings!  I made a promise to my coach to run at a 7:30 pace.  On race morning I wasn’t sure what to expect but there was a pretty competitive field and I wasn’t sure I could not try to run my best.  We had some friends over for the weekend and it was really nice to see them!  Ryan and I were tapering for the race so we weren’t able to hike with them although it looked like they had great weather!

Me and Jack puppy!
Me and Jack puppy!
Katahdin hiking!
Katahdin hiking!

I didn’t feel nervous at the race start but felt very unprepared.  Usually I have an idea of pacing, nutrition and strategy.  Today I was hoping to behave but as soon as the race started I wanted to fly.  I tried to keep it around 7 minute pace and when my first mile ticked off at 6:23 I knew I blew it.  Ryan was running the half and he ran up to me and told me to slow down.  I backed off a bit but found myself in a pack of runners working together to ward off the strong winds.  I have never run in a pack before and it was a bit clausterphobic but also a lot easier than being out there alone!  I stayed in the pack and we broke off into two groups, I fell back into a comfortable rythm with the second pack.  We stayed together until mile 11 and then I was off on my own.  A few people chatted with me and I liked the company.  People don’t seem to enjoy chatting at these road races and I get pretty lonely.  This course was stunning though and I really found the beaches that we ran by to be beautiful!

The end of the Hyannis Marathon!
The end of the Hyannis Marathon!

As I rolled through the start finish onto my second loop I felt a burst of energy!  I was feeling awesome, my tummy was okay and I was having fun!  The second loop was drastically different than the first.  There were hardly any people on the course and the wind was insane!  I pushed through it the best I could, smiling and enjoying the challenge!  It slowed me down a ton and I started ticking off sevens.  Well, that sub three was fading away quickly but I did find out I was in a solid 3rd place position and 1st and 2nd were coming undone but far enough ahead of me where I may not be able to catch them.  I ran well and strong until about mile 22-23 where my tummy started to turn.  I made sure that I was drinking from every water stop because of the antibiotics I was on and because it was really warm out!  It was such a beautiful day for a run, sunny and 50!  The winds were powerful but refreshing!  When my stomach turned I started sipping small amounts of Gatorade and chasing it with water.  It seemed to keep my energy level steady.

3:01:47!!! Great day at the Hyannis Marathon and a 3rd place finish!
3:01:47!!! Great day at the Hyannis Marathon and a 3rd place finish!

I also noticed that my energy became erratic as I was very focused on not having to take a bathroom stop and finishing the race in 3rd.  I was happy and I was having fun, but bummed out that my tummy had turned.  I turned it off and ran as strong as I could to the finish!  When I saw the finish chute I got choked up as usual and fought my tears of pride!  I don’t care how fast or slow I am or how long the race is, I am always so proud to cross a finish line.  There is such a long story associated with each one.  The finish line is last page in that story, what you wrote leading up to it is what matters!  For those seconds leading up to crossing that finish line I see the hard work, the sacrifices, the happy training runs, my friends, my coach , my family, my pups.  All of those memories and the ones I hold in my heart are with me during the race and right there in my heart when I finish.

Me and Ryan after our warmup before Hyannis!
Me and Ryan after our warmup before Hyannis!

Every person that toes that starting line has a story they wrote, people who helped them get there, good days, bad days and an adventure that will continue until they cross the finish line.  Nobody is alone on race day, everyone has a reason they are there and people in their lives who were there during the training, hard work and sacrifices.  First or last, be proud of the story you wrote and know that your race is the last chapter in that book.  Make it a good one and have fun, be the best you can be and always be proud that you completed your journey!  I have found that it’s fun to always have another goal on deck, something to look forward to, another journey and another story to write my way to the next finish line!

View down the street!
View down the street!

I want to throw out a huge thank you to my Sponsors La Sportiva, JULBO USA and Choucas Hats!  Your gear is amazing!  Thank you to my coach Jack and I am really sorry to have dissapointed you by not running at the pace you wanted me to.  I do think I learned a ton about myself, running a marathon and why you wanted me to hold back.  The good news is I will recover and I will listen to you next time!  Thank you to my Ryan, Jack Puppy and Bennett for being my best buddies on and off the trail!  Thank you to my friends for sharing so many great times together, your friendships mean the world to me!  I am a very lucky girl!

My doggies! Jack puppy and Bennett!
My doggies! Jack puppy and Bennett!
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Winter Wackiness!

One day it’s 50 and sunny, then the next it’s 34 and raining and then…SURPRISE!!!  It’s an unpredicted snow storm two days later!  It’s been a pretty mild winter and although my Nordic skis are crying and my snowshoes collecting dust I am not going to complain.  After last winter I will gladly take a winter where I can still run on trails but also be able to find some snow up high in the mountains!  I have been cleared for speed work and gave my racing legs a try at the Boston Prep 16 mile road race.

Me and Miriam at the Boston Prep!
Me and Miriam at the Boston Prep!
Photo by Dave Giberti Boston Prep Race
Photo by Dave Giberti
Boston Prep Race
Photo by Dave Giberti Boston Prep Race
Photo by Dave Giberti Boston Prep Race

I showed up at the race and saw my friend Miriam as I was checking in!  It was so long ago that I had seen her and she looked great!  We did a warm up run together and ran into Christin and Amy who were also running!  It was nice to see some familiar and friendly faces out there!  I had no idea what to expect and really just wanted to run a solid race.  My coach had given me a plan and I stuck to it.  The race went out fast…real fast!  I maintained a steady effort and focused on being able to run at the effort my coach had told me to.  I was feeling good and every time my watch ticked off another mile I was blown away with the pace!  This race is wicked hilly but strangely I think the steep descents were where I was able to make it happen!  I ran steady and ran strong.

Sunrise near the house!
Sunrise near the house!
My beautiful mountain!
My beautiful mountain!

As the miles neared the end of the race I started to catch a few girls and at the “magic mile” did just as I was told to do and  started to increase my effort.  I was shocked to find myself still feeling great and catching people!  The last two miles I was able to pass a few girls and knew they were hunting me down like lions so I pushed ahead at a very solid effort and rolled in just a few seconds ahead of the pack of super fast girls and a couple minutes behind Amy who blew our doors off with a stellar performance!  I placed second woman and was completely thrilled with my race and my body!

Bennett and Blackie by the stove!
Bennett and Blackie by the stove!
Bennett enjoying his pizza cookie!
Bennett enjoying his pizza cookie!
Jack puppy and bennett on a walk!
Jack puppy and bennett on a walk!

I have gone on some fun hikes with friends and am really enjoying getting out on the mountain bike, hiking and running!  The variety keeps things fun and I am absolutely loving the kettle bell workouts!  Bennett is hiking on the shorter hikes and can’t wait to get out on some big boy adventures when he is older.  It is tough with a puppy but so important to keep them at low mileage and intensity until they are done growing and to always make sure every hike or run is about them.  If one of them gets hurt or struggles that is the end of my adventure and I am okay with that because I love those little buggers!  The best thing is watching them have so much fun together!  Jack puppy loves having a friend to play will all the time and they are going to be awesome trail buddies someday!  My little jack puppy is recovering from a cut paw and swollen tonsils.  He will get better and start tearing up the trails again soon!

Kristin tagging the Hancocks!
Kristin tagging the Hancocks!
Kristin and I on the Hancocks!
Kristin and I on the Hancocks!

Last week inspired me to run the Boston Marathon!  I have never actually been to Boston aside from the airport and science museum.  My boss took me to the Yankee Dental Conference and I got to stay in Boston for a couple of days and he even took me for walks around the city after class where I got to see some pretty cool history and …THE FINISH LINE OF THE BOSTON MARATHON!!!  Well, I felt so much energy there and imagined myself crossing the finish line feeling proud and happy to have run this ledgendary race!  It was more than just a vision, I saw my finish, I felt the emotions of finishing and I knew that I was going to put in for the 2017 race.  Maybe that will be my marathon that takes me in under 3 hours,  just maybe it’s the one!  Either way, I can’t wait to finally be able to say yes when people ask me if I ran Boston and I want one of those finisher jackets!

Jack puppy likes the Hancocks!
Jack puppy likes the Hancocks!
Hiking the Hancocks!
Hiking the Hancocks!

The morning before classes I had the opportunity to wake up good and early and run along the Charles with Kelsey and Phil and I had an absolute blast running out there!  I saw so many other runners and best of all I got to hang out with Kelsey!  Then I met up with Dave who made Jack puppy a new food bowl and it was nice to see him too!  Overall my Boston experience was absolutely wonderful and I can’t wait to go back and run with thousands of other people with incredible stories that are taking them to such an amazing sounding race!

Me and Kelsey up early for a run!
Me and Kelsey up early for a run!
Boston before the sun comes up!
Boston before the sun comes up!
View from my room! Where are the trees and mountains......
View from my room! Where are the trees and mountains……

So, I have picked out some really fun races for this year and am excited to see new places!  I have a few US Highpoints I will be attempting this year and trying to hook up with friends who live near my travel races!  I also can’t wait to go to St Johns Island again for some island fun, try to climb Mount Hood and run some pretty tough races!

They tell me this sign is famous, I tried to get an autograph...
They tell me this sign is famous, I tried to get an autograph…
Phil, Kelsey and me on an early morning Boston run!
Phil, Kelsey and me on an early morning Boston run!
The dental convention
The dental convention

I want to thank my sponsors La Sportiva, Choucas Hats and JULBO USA for their support again this year and for making such incredible gear!  Thank you to Jessica, Melanie and Dr Middleton for fixing me and teaching me how to not be broken.  Thank you to Jack for coaching me so perfectly!  Thank you to my Ryan, Jack Puppy and Bennett for being my best buddies on and off the trail!  Thank you to my friends for spending time with me on and off the trail and always making me smile!  Thank you to my boss for giving me the best job in the world, I can’t believe I love being a dental hygienist again!  I am one very lucky girl and I can’t wait to see my little step daughters Zoe and Hannah soon, it’s been way too long!

Fueling up for a night run in the rain and 34 degrees!
Fueling up for a night run in the rain and 34 degrees!
Jack puppy doesn't like boo boos or being sick
Jack puppy doesn’t like boo boos or being sick

I am also starting to make my own body care products using food grade and natural ingredients that have zero chemicals in them!  I have finally perfected my lip balm recipe and have decided to start selling it to raise money to help me get to my races and adventures!  I have several essential oils to pick from and I can create the scent of your choice!  You can contact me for a list of oils that i have.  A donation of $25 will get you 5 hand made lip balms shipped to your door!  Kfolcik2@gmail.com for more information! Donation for races!

Home made lip balm! Contains Shea butter, coconut oil, beeswax, vitamin E Oil, Sweet Almond Oil and essential oils!
Home made lip balm! Contains Shea butter, coconut oil, beeswax, vitamin E Oil, Sweet Almond Oil and essential oils!

Make the best of every day and every situation you are in.  Believe that people can be good and always try to be the best person you can be!  Never give up on a dream and never forget to love with all your heart.  Life is a roller coaster and the only way to get through the low points is to use them as a way to fully appreciate the high points.  Smile, take care of your body, be kind to others, be humble, love deeply and don’t forget to floss your teeth.  🙂

My favorite mountain to run :)
My favorite mountain to run :)
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The year of adventuring!

As usual I am always rethinking my goals and where my life is and where it was and where I want it to go.  I’ve lived so many different lives and experienced so much in the 38 years since I came into this world.  The one thing that has always stayed with me is my need for adventure.  I feel like my running has become mundane, boring, and involved a lot of pressure.  Injuries pile up like toppings on an ice cream sundae (at least the kind of sundaes I eat!)  So, I continue to find balance and wholeheartedly that I can do it all and that I don’t have to give up one sport to excel in another.  I have spent almost a year now having intensive physical therapy sessions which include dry needling, massage therapy and chiropractic care.  It’s work, it’s time consuming and it works!

North slide adventure!
North slide adventure!
I love our home!
I love our home!
Rainbow on Christmas!
Rainbow on Christmas!
Our road!
Our road!
Awesome lighting !
Awesome lighting !
Bennets first 4k! Mount Jackson!
Bennets first 4k! Mount Jackson!
Mount Chocorua!
Mount Chocorua!
Mount Jackson
Mount Jackson
Bennet on Jackson!
Bennet on Jackson!
Jack puppy on Jackson!
Jack puppy on Jackson!
We live in such a pretty place!
We live in such a pretty place!

After the Cape Cod Marathon my physical therapist pointed out that I have been only using my lateral quads when running which explained why it felt torn after the race so she showed me how to use kettle bells and gave me body weight exercises.  As each week passed I felt different, my strength improved, my pants fit a bit tighter in the rear and my cardio/speed suffered as I adjusted to my changing body.  I’ve been riding mountain bikes again and hiking as well.  I’m strength training and trying to add some variety to my life!  Suddenly running became fun again, my mountain bike has been dusted off and I get to hike mountains again!  To motivate me to keep cross training I booked a trip to attempt to climb Mount Hood this year!  I started my high pointing adventure several years ago and this one will be my last glaciated peak which is bittersweet.  Glaciers are beautiful and magical.  They can be scary but there are not many left I and I feel so lucky to have been able to spend time on something that will one day be nothing more than a part of history.

A night out at the DCU center to see Cirque Du Soleil Toruk's first flight, amazing!!!!
A night out at the DCU center to see Cirque Du Soleil Toruk’s first flight, amazing!!!!
I taught the girls to sew and they made their own skirts!
I taught the girls to sew and they made their own skirts!
Roberta and the boys on my Birthday Christmas hike on Mount Chocorua!
Roberta and the boys on my Birthday Christmas hike on Mount Chocorua!
Me and My Ryan!
Me and My Ryan!
Photo by Joe Klomentovich
Photo by Joe Klomentovich

I had to bail on a few races this winter due to my coach and physical therapist feeling that I need to complete my transformation before doing speed work.  As I begin to use new muscles they are fragile and they will affect my gait so stressing them with speed work will lead to injury and set backs.  It is really hard to be patient but the other day I realized it was worth waiting for!  I had an amazing run where everything worked and nothing hurt!  So, I can finally start doing some speed work and getting back to performing the best that I can!  I also plan to continue to cross train because it is fun and opens up my circle of friends.  I can  never have too many friends, and the more variety I have in my life the more diverse my friends become!

The Tripyramids!
The Tripyramids!
The Osceolas!
The Osceolas!
My mitten eating Mount Chocorua!
My mitten eating Mount Chocorua!
Tom, Field and Willey adventure!
Tom, Field and Willey adventure!

Moving to the White Mountains has also changed my life tremendously!  It is much more affordable than where we used to live, closer to my incredible job and I can run mountains right from our house!  Each day I wake up grateful for everything I have!  Jack puppy has been absolutely loving his new home and we got him a baby brother named Bennett!  He is a border collie full of energy and is already a great hiking dog!  Jack puppy is a great big brother and is having fun showing him the ropes on the trail!

Meet Bennett!
Meet Bennett!
Mount Jackson
Mount Jackson
Bennets first 4k! Mount Jackson!
Bennets first 4k! Mount Jackson!
Mount Chocorua!
Mount Chocorua!
Jack puppy and Katahdin on Chocorua
Jack puppy and Katahdin on Chocorua
More birthday hiking!
More birthday hiking!

So much has happened since the Cape Cod Marathon but they are all great things!  It’s nice to be able to use the excuse of being too busy having fun to blog!  I’ve also decided that it is time to travel again and explore so I will be doing a variety of trips, races, runs, hikes and adventures this year!  I signed up for some of the toughest races I could find but also have that dream of pulling off that sub 3 hour marathon!  I know in my heart that if I do things right I can run mountains and maintain my road speed, it’s all about balance!  I may not be the fastest girl out there but I sure am one of the tough girls!

Me and my Ryan!
Me and my Ryan!
My birthday!
My birthday!
Me and jack puppy on my birhtday!
Me and jack puppy on my birhtday!

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Birthday hiking!
Birthday hiking!
Birthday hiking!
Birthday hiking!

It’s going to be a fun year and I can’t wait to snag a few more US High points and to run some wild races!  I want to thank La Sportiva and Choucas Hats for taking me back again this year!  I absolutely love their stuff and both companies have some sweet gear that is new this year!  I will be wearing my shoes, clothes and hats while racing, training and adventuring!  I want to thank my coach Jack Pilla for dealing with me still after almost 4 years of putting up with my roller coaster of a life!  Thank you to my Ryan, Jack Puppy, Bennett and Zoe and Hannah for making my life complete and being my best buddies on and off the trail!  Thank you to all my friends for the lunches, hikes, runs, adventures and other fun times together!

Up the North Slide!
Up the North Slide!
Getting ready for Mount Hood!
Getting ready for Mount Hood!
Up the north slide!
Up the north slide!
Down the south slide!
Down the south slide!
View from the North Slide!
View from the North Slide!
Jack puppy being cute!
Jack puppy being cute!
More of my Jack puppy!
More of my Jack puppy!
Jack puppy finishing his cookie!
Jack puppy finishing his cookie!

Life is as good as you want it to be.  Make your life good, fill your heart with love and always remember to seek out adventure!  Take care of your body, it’s the only one you have and if you treat it well it will take you on some amazing journeys.  🙂

Jim Liberty Cabin
Jim Liberty Cabin
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Sometimes the biggest win comes from deep within your soul where there are no finish lines to cross.

Since my first road marathon in 2013 I have been haunted by that 3:03 I ran at the Manchester Marathon.  I knew I wasn’t trained for the marathon and my goal was 3:30.  I was thrilled to exceed my goal but…..3 minutes shy of breaking 3 hours!  I thought I wouldn’t care but I did, so once I was able to get myself healthy again with the help of my physical therapists Mel and Jan, my massage therapist Jessica and my chiropractor Dr Middleton I told my coach I signed up for the Cape Cod Marathon because I thought it was flat.  I later found out it had some hills but I expected them to feel flat as a pancake.  I told close friends and didn’t make a big fuss over it because I wanted to quietly try to break 3 hours.  It was nothing more than a bucket list item that I wanted to check off.

Jack puppy eating his present from Mike and Sue for finishing his NH 48
Jack puppy eating his present from Mike and Sue for finishing his NH 48
Jack puppy and Cooper sharing balogna on Cabot!
Jack puppy and Cooper sharing balogna on Cabot!
Jack puppy finishing his NH 48 on Mount Cabot during a Killkenny Ridge Traverse
Jack puppy finishing his NH 48 on Mount Cabot during a Killkenny Ridge Traverse

Of course I didn’t listen to my coach.  I signed up for a 50 miler about 6 weeks out which meant I would have to recover for 2 weeks and that left me with only 2-3 weeks of marathon training.  I also couldn’t resist hitting the trails with friends because it was so much more inviting than pounding the pavement alone.  I even did a Killkenny ridge traverse with Ryan, Adam, Cooper and Jack puppy where Jack puppy finished his NH 48 and celebrated with some Bologna!  I figured my weekly track workout would be enough to get me to my goal and ran dirt roads in place of paved roads.  The trails from our house are quite rugged but I train based on effort so I just assumed it wouldn’t really matter what kind of surface I ran on.

I also took some time to continue painting rooms in the house and we had someone refinish the floor so working on the house made getting in the miles a bit tougher too!

New wash room floor!
New wash room floor!
New dining room floor
New dining room floor
Living room before
Living room before
Living room before
Living room before
Living room after
Living room after
Living room after!
Living room after!

I also started riding mountain bikes with my friend Kristin which has been a very nice change and a weekly escape from always running!  I also run with my friend Elizabeth after work which is always fun (except when I tripped on and landed in a dead carcass on a night run-that’s right, I fell into a dead carcass and got blood and guts on me) and when my friend Abbey can join me on the track I would try to keep up with her while she completely kicks my ass during the speed sessions!  I usually run with Ryan a few days a week and Jack puppy joins on almost every trail run!

View from sandwich dome!
View from sandwich dome!
Hiking with my friend Kristin!  Sandwich Dome!
Hiking with my friend Kristin! Sandwich Dome!
Me and Kristin on Sandwich dome!
Me and Kristin on Sandwich dome!

I honestly could not wait for my marathon so that I could get back into the mountains.  It killed me to look out our window every morning and see the mountain and not be running up it!  I had turned down fun mountain runs with friends to go run solo on the road and do speed workouts as well as work on my nutritional strategy.  As the race got closer I became more nervous!

Ryans dad still running races in his 80's!
Ryans dad still running races in his 80’s!
Track hell
Track hell

We had not seen the girls in a long time and missed them terribly.  Finally their mom let us see them and because it happened to be the weekend of my race we were thrilled to bring them with us!  They have never seen a road running race and we thought it would be nice for them to see people doing amazing things!  On the way to the race Hannah told us how she was telling her friends that her dad and step mom were strong.  Her friend said that she believed her dad was strong but didn’t believe that a mom could be strong.  I knew at that moment I was going to be strong for my girls and I told them they would see some very strong women at the race.  They asked me if I was going to win and I told them I was not going there to win and probably would not win but I wanted to run in under 3 hours.  They had no idea what running in under three hours meant, and they don’t need to at their young ages.  Ryan and I try to teach the girls to focus on having fun and enjoying the journey instead of being competitive.  They are way too young to be taking competition to the next level and instead should just be doing things for fun.

My last road run before the marathon.  I crewed Ryan at the Bradbury 50 mile where he was the first finisher!
My last road run before the marathon. I crewed Ryan at the Bradbury 50 mile where he was the first finisher!  Photo by Tamerella’s photographs
Katahdin just loves the water!
Katahdin just loves the water!
A run with Elizabeth and Katahdin on a beautiful day!
A run with Elizabeth and Katahdin on a beautiful day!

We got my BIB number and went to the Cape Wind Resort which ended up being awful.  They put two cots in the room with springs poking through and promised cookware in the kitchenette and there was none so we had to buy pots and pans.  We were on a budget which is why we got a room with a kitchen!  I was quite nervous about the race and tried to doze off but the person in the room next to us woke up every 3 hours to smoke and hack their brains out.  Jack puppy barked when he heard them outside and the smoke smelled so bad coming in the room so we had to close the window, but they were so noisy all night.  I got up exhausted and frustrated but at that point all I could do was move on with the day.

Double rainbow!
Double rainbow!
Track hell
Track hell

We got to the race start and ran into Karen and Dima and wished each other luck!  I gave hugs and kisses to Ryan, the girls and Jack puppy and stood at the starting line, up front shaking like a leaf.  Eric looked over at me and we wished each other luck.  Then after the national anthem the cannon went off and we were flying…way too fast!  We were somewhere around 6:20 pace and I slowed up around mile 3.  I tried to run off effort and was pleasantly surprised with how good I felt ticking off 6:30-6:44 pace.  I questioned my ability to maintain it but I could talk, laugh and smile so I went with it!  Honestly the flats felt great and my body was being nice to me!

More running from the house!
More running from the house!
My last long road run before the race
My last long road run before the race
I have some sweet roads to run on!
I have some sweet roads to run on!

I could see the lead woman and she was cookin!  A guy Andrew ran with me for a while and talked to me about the course and taught me a few things about the marathon as he had several under his belt.  I would choke on the water at the water stops but tried to keep running.  I was thrilled to see 1:28 at the half mark which was exactly where I wanted to be.  Around mile 14 the hills started and my pace began to slow on the climbs.  I tried to make up time on the descents and then it happened, my quads started to kill!  I had to slow up on the descents so I tried to rev my cadence and effort on the hills but I struggled to hover around 7 minute pace.  I had a moment of negativity where I questioned stopping and thought how ridiculous it was to be worrying about seconds!  In a trail race I can completely blow it and make up time but on the road it’s so consistent that  missing pace by a second or two can completely rip that goal away from you.

Ryan and I ate our way through the Fryeburg fair!  I ate way more than Ryan and indulged in multiple fried delicacies.
Ryan and I ate our way through the Fryeburg fair! I ate way more than Ryan and indulged in multiple fried delicacies.
Being a turkey at the Fryeburg fair
Being a turkey at the Fryeburg fair

I caught up with the first woman around mile 15 and we chatted a bunch as I kept asking the group I was with if we were on sub 3 pace.  They assured me we were in a great spot.  The woman also had said she ran a 50k the week before which absolutely blew my mind!  I wanted the girls to meet her after the race because I wanted them to see how strong she was to run two long and hard races within a week!  I got choked up and thought of the girls and how I wanted to be strong for them and show them that their friends were wrong.

I just love the mountains!
I just love the mountains!
My girls!
My girls!

I don’t know what happened but around mile 19 I became a different runner.  I was in so much pain yet still held onto a respectable pace.  The flatter miles in the 6:40’s, the hilly ones in the low 7’s and then there were the two windy miles where I ticked off a 7:28 and 7:38.  When I saw those two miles I was crushed.  I tried to do the math and realized sub 3 was about to become impossible.  I started to feel my body want to shut down and saw three flashes of white stripes in my vision and wondered if I were having a stroke.  The last time I experienced something like this was at Cranmore when I collapsed at the finish.  I was going to finish in 3 hours or push myself to collapsing, there were no other options.  I didn’t care that I was in the lead because that is not why I was there.

My beautiful family! Photo by Bob Haskill/Falmouth Track Club
My beautiful family! Photo by Bob Haskill/Falmouth Track Club
My first marathon win at my second marathon!  I wanted so badly to break 3 hours!  So proud to pull this off though!  Photo by Bob Haskill/Falmouth Track Club
My first marathon win at my second marathon! I wanted so badly to break 3 hours! So proud to pull this off though! Photo by Bob Haskill/Falmouth Track Club
Finish line!  Photo by Steve Haines/Cape Cod Times
Finish line! Photo by Steve Haines/Cape Cod Times
Mile 24-photo by Rick Chandler
Mile 24-photo by Rick Chandler

The pace bike was with me and I don’t have much memory after mile 23 but at some point I do remember telling him I wanted to cut my legs off.  I turned the very last corner and saw the clock at 2:59 and ran as hard as I could, my legs so sore they didn’t feel like they were a part of my body.  When I saw it hit 3:00 I was crushed.  I didn’t let up but instead decided that clock was not going to hit 3:01.  With so many emotions, so much pain and so much excitement for the race to be over I grabbed the finish tape and held it high over my head for my step daughters to see!  I ran that race for them and was very proud of winning although I didn’t feel that my time deserved a win.  I am very hard on myself and I was not upset, just couldn’t believe I have to run another marathon now to try for sub 3!  I crumpled up the finish tape and walked over to the table full of Gatorade cups and just kept drinking them, one right after another while apologizing for being such a slob.  I was thirsty, most of the Gatorade and water I had during the race ended up in my nose or eyes.

Philbrick Photography photo shoot, with my Ryan!
Philbrick Photography photo shoot, with my Ryan!

As I finished my disgusting display of stuffing my face I realized there were people there with notepads and cameras.  I just wanted to hug my family and kept looking at them on the other side of the gate!  I was going to give the finish line banner to my step daughters but the race officials took it away and said it wasn’t for me to keep!  It was so funny because winning a trail race usually involves a few people kicking around and then lying on the ground staring at the sky.  This was so outside of my element and not what I expected.  After asking me a bunch of questions the reporters let me bring them over to my family and one of them got a great picture of us!  As an added bonus I won some loot and found out I finished 5th overall!

Philbrick Photography Photoshoot
Philbrick Photography Photoshoot
Philbrick Photography Photo Shoot
Philbrick Photography Photo Shoot
Philbrick Photography photo shoot, with my Ryan!
Philbrick Photography photo shoot, with my Ryan!
Philbrick Photography Photoshoot
Philbrick Photography Photoshoot

It was a bittersweet day!  I went there with one goal which I didn’t achieve but instead a surprise win!  Honestly I would have traded that win for a sub 3 hour finish, but heck, I can check off a marathon win from my bucket list even though that was never on the list!  I was extremely proud at how strong and smart I ran.  I could not have executed a more perfect race and those 16 seconds, my watch got 26.4 miles so….in essence I did break 3 hours but I will be back to try another race that is flatter and I will try my hardest to do the full 16 weeks of training instead of only 3.  Anyone that can run under 3 hours is a total badass in my book.  The dedication, training and sacrifice needed to pull that off is amazing!  I could barely walk the day after the race!

I love my Jack puppy so much!  Best trail buddy ever!
I love my Jack puppy so much! Best trail buddy ever!

This week is a week of super easy running, biking and a lot of eating and relaxing.  It is time to put some weight back on (I ate like a pig and still lost way too much weight from the training) and enjoy the off season with some nordic and backcountry skiing, snowshoe running, hiking mountains and spending time with friends and family!

Philbrick Photo Shoot
Philbrick Photo Shoot

The biggest win of the year for me was realizing that being fast isn’t important to me but instead having fun and being a good role model to my steppies.  I want to teach them to never stop having fun, to do things that make them happy and to understand that they can have anything they want if they work hard and put in the effort to make it happen.  I want them go grow up to be strong women who can support themselves and get involved with someone because they want that person in their life, not because they need them.  The only way we can change the world is by teaching our children through our actions.

Beautiful commute to work!
Beautiful commute to work!

I want to thank my sponsors La Sportiva, JULBO USA, Choucas Hats and UltrAspire for their support, your products are absolutely wonderful!  Thank you to my coach Jack for putting up with me and working so hard to keep me on track.  Thank you to Ryan and Jack puppy for being my partners in life on and off the trail!  Thank you to Zoe and Hannah for accepting me into their lives and loving me.  Being a step mom is not the easiest role but our relationship over the last few years has become full of love!  These girls have given me the gift of motherhood and I love it!  Thank you to my awesome and fun friends, my girl friends know how to have fun on and off the trail!  I treasure our time together and thank you for taking time out of your life to spend it with me.  I am a ridiculously lucky girl!  🙂

Always be strong, inside and out!  Photo shoot with Philbrick Photography
Always be strong, inside and out! Photo shoot with Philbrick Photography
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Celebrating the dawn of a new day

The last month has been full of emotion, both happy and sad.  I have had so many incredible adventures in the mountains with friends running and riding mountain bikes again!  I’ve been working on my mountain running skills while still trying to chase that goal of a sub three hour marathon in October.  I sure hope I tag that one because road running is just not for me and I don’t want to have to pound the pavement again to train for another one!

Photo by Philbrick Photography-Titled the Dawn of a New Day
Photo by Philbrick Photography-Titled Celebrating the Dawn of a New Day

 

Hike with my mom and dad and Jack puppy on the Ledge Loop from White Ledge Campground!
Hike with my mom and dad and Jack puppy on the Ledge Loop from White Ledge Campground!
My Ryan, Zoe and Hannah!
My Ryan, Zoe and Hannah!
Jack puppy loves his mountain!
Jack puppy loves his mountain!

 

Hiking with Jane and Friends on the Flags on the 48 day!  We did Franconia Loop.  Jane is who married us!
Hiking with Jane and Friends on the Flags on the 48 day! We did Franconia Loop. Jane is who married us!
Flags on the 48!
Flags on the 48!

I have been training for Virgil Crest 50 as well as the marathon and really loved getting in the mountains for some crazy hard days!  Ryan and I pulled off an overall FKT of the swan song loop a few weeks ago which was one of the hardest adventures I have ever had in the White Mountains! I still wonder how 31 miles can take 13 hours and 25 minutes to complete!  Ryan asked me if I wanted to do something hard in the mountains so I said yes and off we went!

laundry room before
laundry room before
Laundry room after!  Still needs floor tiled but coming along!
Laundry room after! Still needs floor tiled but coming along!

As usual we got a late start and made our way up Kings Ravine laughing at the rocks and taking in the views.  Once up on the ridge we went over to Adams and then down to the buttress trail where we entered the Great Gulf and then climbed the very steep Great Gulf Trail where we surprised a guy taking a crap on the side of the trail.  Maybe he should think about where he poops next time!

Philbrick Photo Shoot
Philbrick Photo Shoot
Philbrick Photo Shoot
Philbrick Photo Shoot

After we got over the headwall we stood on top of Mount Washington and stuffed our faces with Whoopie Pies, Coke, Hotdogs, Pizza and refilled our hydration packs.  We went down the Tuckermans ravine trail and were treated to beautiful views!  Once down lower we went up the Boot Spur Link Trail and to the Boot Spur trail and then down to Pinkham notch where we once again refilled our water.

Swan Song Loop
Swan Song Loop
Swan Song Loop
Swan Song Loop
Swan Song Loop
Swan Song Loop
Leslie and John on Tuckerman Trail
Leslie and John on Tuckerman Trail

We headed up the trail into Huntington Ravine trail which always scares the crap out of me!  We got into the Alpine Garden where we saw a porcupine and then made our way to the Wamsutta trail which was beautiful and so steep!  After that we were back in the Great Gulf and it was just starting to get dark.  Half way up the Madison Gulf Trail we had to pull out our headlamps and once we got on the ridge there were so many stars and the moon was huge!  We stopped in the Madison Hut to buy some Lemonade and refill our packs before making our way up to the top of Madison and down the Watson Path to Brookside Trail and back to Appalacia!  It was a ridiculous amount of climbing and descending and we laughed the whole day!  We ran into multiple friends throughout the day which made the adventure even more fun!  If you are ever feeling adventurous this loop is for you!

Mount Washington chowing during Swan Song Loop
Mount Washington chowing during Swan Song Loop
Swan song loop makes me hungry!
Swan song loop makes me hungry!
swan song loop
swan song loop
Alpine Porky!
Alpine Porky!

This last weekend after a week of very little sleep and a lot of worrying about my dad my mom told me to go race and enjoy my weekend.  There was nothing I could do for my dad, he needs to sleep and rest and having me down there would keep him up.  It kills me to not be there but I also know he needs this time to rest.   My boss is incredible and told me I could leave at any time to see my dad which really took a lot of stress off of me.

Track hell workout!
Track hell workout!
Got it done then went swimming!
Got it done then went swimming!
Jack puppy took a dip in the mud
Jack puppy took a dip in the mud

By Thursday I was completely exhausted and ready for the week to be over.   I had a four day weekend and was looking forward to spending it trying to make my legs hurt more than my heart.  Well, the adventure kicked off a bit earlier than expected!  A call from our friend who is an amazing photographer brought a new adventure to the weekend!  We would carry huge packs with 50+ pounds of camera gear, dresses and sleeping bags to the top of South Moat for a series of photos.  Sunset, Milky Way and Sunrise.  Basically very little sleep but some opportunities for killer shots!

Philbrick photo shoot
Philbrick photo shoot

We had fun, the wind was making it quite challenging and trying to balance on rocks in heels and dresses in the wind was not easy but we also got some good ones with bare feet.  It was so fun and Jack puppy even slept in my sleeping bag with me!  After the sun came up and we were done shooting we all hiked back down and Ryan and I headed home with the Jack puppy to make the long drive to NY to race Virgil Crest.

Farmers market!!!
Farmers market!!!

I would be racing the 50 mile which I decided would determine whether I run that distance again or just keep it under 50k.  My two goals were to not have to crap a bunch and to make my legs hurt more than my heart.  I was a bit nervous but with so much on my mind it helped make me feel more calm about running.  Our friend Tony was attempting his first 100 and Ryan would help crew Tony with his wife Lise and friend Heather until our friend Scottie got to mile 50 and then Ryan would pace Scottie and I would take a nap for a bit and the crew and pace Tony until the last 11 miles where Heather would pace him to the finish.  We were surrounded by friends, I had gotten to talk to my dad and I was feeling happy.

Before Virgil, photo by Mountain Peak Fitness
Before Virgil, photo by Mountain Peak Fitness
Photo by mountain peak fitness
Photo by mountain peak fitness

The race started in the dark and I just smiled, I was excited to be there surrounded by so many people ready to take on an adventure.  We all had different paths to get to where we were and I really enjoyed making new friends during the run!  We got to the first aid station pretty quickly and Ryan took my headlamp and off I went yapping and laughing away with other runners!  I did have moments where I cried as I felt selfish for being at the race instead of with my dad.  My parents wanted me there instead of in CT.

Kismet Cliff run podium
Kismet Cliff run podium

I thought of Zoe and Hannah a lot during the race and wished they were there with me.  We don’t see the kids enough and it’s so hard now that they are further away and on the weekends they are in so many activities that we may end up only seeing them during school vacations.  I got sad thinking about how much I missed them and also happy that they are in my life and that we have such an incredible relationship!  I am so lucky to have two little kids in my life that I love so much and they seem to love me too!

My buddies! Photo by Mountain Peak Fitness
My buddies! Photo by Mountain Peak Fitness

I thought of my life and how my journey had taken me to that moment and I focused on the trail and where I was and I just took in the sound of my breathing, the beauty of the trail and enjoyed hearing stories from other runners I shared some miles with.  One of them was a combat veteran who served overseas and decided one day to turn his drug and alcohol addiction into an addiction for living a healthy lifestyle.  I thanked him for defending our freedom and we chatted about life and kids and running.  We both decided wars should be fought through a good trail run or a game of golf.

Scottie and Ryan headed into the night! Like twins!  Photo by Mountain Peak Fitness
Scottie and Ryan headed into the night! Like twins! Photo by Mountain Peak Fitness

I was alone again on the trail and had many moments of crying because I was so happy to be there and so sad that my dad was sick.  I smiled when I saw the running magazines scattered around on the trail and when I got into the turnaround I was greeted with smiling volunteers who were so eager to make sure I had what I needed before heading back down the trail.

My first Virgil Adventure, stuffing my face
My first Virgil Adventure, stuffing my face
This years Virgil Crest--still stuffing my face! Some things never change
This years Virgil Crest–still stuffing my face! Some things never change

I had pooped twice before the turnaround but it was solid and didn’t make me feel sick.  I hoped that the last 25 miles would treat me well.  I accidentally blew by a turn and ran down a huge hill only to realize I went the wrong way and I looked at my watch and saw the mileage and ran back to where I messed up.  Bonus miles!!!!  I ran 3/4 miles extra and panicked a bit.  I pushed a bit harder than I should have and ended up with my legs being a bit sore.

Me and Natalie!  Silly girls we are! Photo by Mountain Peak Fitness
Me and Natalie! Silly girls we are! Photo by Mountain Peak Fitness

By the time I got to the alpine loop it was very hot and humid and the descents were killing my knees!  I was coming undone and had hit a really dark place.  I wanted to quit and I questioned my sanity.  I got hungry and reached into my pack and found some power pellets and smiled and cried at the same time.  They made me think of Chad who died suddenly last year on a trail run.  I chewed them and cried.  I talked to Chad, he was with me and he was going to get me through the rest of my run.  I dried my tears and ran that alpine loop with another runner that I had caught up with.  We chatted a bunch and soon found ourselves catching another guy who was starting to struggle with the heat as well.

Swan Song loop, photo by Leslie ODell
Swan Song loop, photo by Leslie ODell

That aid station could not come fast enough.  I drank apple cider, gingerale and Tailwind.  I ate fruit and potato chips and refilled my hydration pack again.  I didn’t want to leave but knew I had to finish.  I ran the best I could focusing on the next aid station.  I was dehydrated and starting to struggle with labored breathing and a spike in my heart rate.  My legs were getting sore and I was certainly feeling the pack carry from the day before.  The lack of sleep all week was finally catching up to me and I could feel my body starting to fail.  I peed once and it looked like Coke.  I knew that was bad.  I was drinking and taking electrolytes and trying to run based on effort.  I thought of my dad and how much pain he has been in and decided that whatever I was going through would be nothing compared to what he was feeling.  I ran the rest of the race for my dad because he couldn’t be outside enjoying his favorite time of year.  He loves hiking in the fall and now he was at home in bed with severe pain that he didn’t have an answer to.  I hoped I would see Ryan at the last aid station to give him a heads up that I might be a medical emergency at the finish but when I got to the aid station and didn’t see him I was glad  he wasn’t there because I would have probably dropped.

Outtake from Philbrick photo shoot!  OMG,,you should have seen the ones I had to wear heels for!
Outtake from Philbrick photo shoot! OMG,,you should have seen the ones I had to wear heels for!

I had to finish, I had 6.3 miles to go so I ate, drank and ran.  I did a lot more thinking and a lot more crying.  I thought about my life and all the wonderful things I have done.  I thought about my family and how much I love them.  I thought of my 86 year old grandmother that had surgery last week and pulled though like a champ and I thought about my dad and prayed that he live a long healthy life.  When I thought I was going to collapse on the trail from the heat the rain came and cooled me off.  It was exactly what I needed at that moment!  I felt renewed and refreshed as I ran down the last hill to the paved path that would eventually end my run with a womens  win (4th overall) and a 9:21 for a time!  That was a huge PR on the course because last time I ran an 11:53!! I crossed that finish line so happy!  Both goals were accomplished, I did not poop the whole time and my legs hurt way more than my heart.  Ryan gave me a hug and Jack puppy gave me puppy kisses.  Then Ryan gave me a huge bottle of electrolytes to drink as I sat and waited for Scottie to show up and Ryan to take off with him into the last 50 miles of his adventure.

The darn guardrail! Photo by Lise and Heather!
The darn guardrail! Photo by Lise and Heather!

I showered and tried to take a nap but it was not going to happen.  When I had turned on my phone I saw a text from my mom that dad was back in the emergency room.  My heart sank and I just wanted to drive to CT.  She told me they were doing tests on him.  I took a shower and headed back to meet Lise and Heather earlier than planned because I needed to be around friends to keep my mind busy. I would not be able to sleep worrying about my dad.

Post race massage, photo by mountain peak fitness
Post race massage, photo by mountain peak fitness

I  hung out with Lise and Heather and got to see Tony come through the mile 50 point and head back out with a smile!  By the time we saw him at mile 56 he was not in a good way and was struggling with GI issues.  We tried to talk him into continuing but he knows his body and what he can tolerate.  He called it a day and either way we were proud of him for giving it a try!  Just as we got to the cars the skies opened up and it poured with lightning and a huge temperature drop.  I thought of everyone still out there.

My boys!
My boys!

We went back to the room and I was texting with my mom until almost 3am when she said they were released from the hospital with a referral to a neurosurgeon and some meds.  Finally they found something wrong and something they could try to fix.  I fell asleep for a couple  hours and then woke up to go see Scottie finish.  Sadly I missed his finish but he finished strong and Ryan had fun pacing him!

Bunch of race hippies-photo by mountain peak fitness
Bunch of race hippies-photo by mountain peak fitness

I really enjoyed hanging out with so many friends over the weekend!  I think one of the highlights of the weekend was actually being able to stick around to watch the last finishers.  They were the toughest people out there.  To be out on the course for almost 36 hours and endure such extreme temperature changes and weather and still persevere earns a lot of respect.  They had that 100 mile shuffle going, that dazed look and a fire in their eyes that burned so bright!  The tired smile that told a story that only they will know really brings a new meaning to the word badass.  These guys and girls are tough.

Photo by mountain peak fitness, post race electrolytes
Photo by mountain peak fitness, post race electrolytes

Ryan and I had a great dinner with friends after a fun time at the waterpark!  It was an incredible weekend and I am going to keep praying for my dad to be okay.

Running
Running

I want to thank my sponsors La Sportiva, JULBO USA, UltrAspire and Choucas Hats for their support and incredible gear!  You make running comfy!  Thank you to my coach Jack for dealing with my never ending change of plans!  Thank you to my Ryan, Jack puppy, Zoe, Hannah and friends for sharing so many trail miles together on foot and on bike!  Thank you to Jay Philbrick for always making me feel like a mountain princess!  It’s fun to play dress up sometimes!  Thank you to Ian Golden for being so awesome and making courses that are truly unique and fun!  Thank you to the volunteers for being out there and taking care of us runners!  Thank you the Mountain Peak Fitness/ Red Newt Racing crew for being so welcoming to me and allowing me to be an unofficial member!  And thank you to everyone that is a part of my life.  I am so lucky to be surrounded with such incredible people!

Run near house!
Run near house!

I never walk away from an ultra the same.  I had so much time to think about things and of course figure out life a little bit more.  Humans are creatures of habit and addiction and we need to take the time to listen to each other and help each other find healthy habits and addictions not through lecturing but instead through love and listening.  We have a lot of very unhappy people these days and I fully believe that our electronic and instant gratification lifestyles have removed the very essence of human life.  Patience, love, spending time with people in person and allowing ourselves to play even as an adult.  These things need to change.  The small little world of running long distances in the world breaks you down to the simplest existence and for most of us it makes us kinder to one another and shows us that life isn’t always about being on top but instead working together to give each other wings to fly.  Do something nice for yourself today and something nice for someone else.  I can guarantee when both are done you will smile inside and out!

Check out this podcast if you get a chance!  🙂  One of the highlights of my summer!  http://iancorless.org/2015/07/03/scott-jurek-and-the-at-appalachian-trail-fkt/

Me, Ryan and Jack puppy in the mountains
Me, Ryan and Jack puppy in the mountains
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Back to my roots and where I belong

I am still in shock that a move could change my life and my attitude.  Ever since we have moved to the mountains I have found so much peace, so much joy and feel like I am finally back where I belong-in the mountains.

Cory, Laura, Ryan and I on a Chororua/sisters traverse!
Cory, Laura, Ryan and I on a Chororua/sisters traverse!

I fell in love with mountains years ago and have hiked them, biked them, snowboarded, climbed them and ran them.  My favorite sport was mountaineering but deep inside me I wanted to figure out a way to move quicker in the mountains so that I could see more.  Hauling around 65lbs of gear just didn’t seem right but I wanted to see wild places and scale tall icy peaks so that is what I did.

The run with Jessica!
The run with Jessica!
Mushrooms on a run with Jessica on Passaconway and Whiteface!
Mushrooms on a run with Jessica on Passaconway and Whiteface!

Once I lost my climbing partner I felt like climbing was suddenly a part of my past and I longed to play in the mountains again.  I took up trail running and dabbled in running mountains when I could get up north but after achieving most of my running goals and having a really tough year in 2014 I felt like my inner flame turned into a burning ember.  My runs got boring and felt like a chore, motivation to get my runs in dwindled and racing felt like a burden.  My commute to work was long and boring and we spent so much time driving-driving to distant races, driving to the mountains, driving to and from the kids mothers house, driving, driving, driving.

Jack puppy and Ryan on Chocorua!
Jack puppy and Ryan on Chocorua!
Me on Chocorua!
Me on Chocorua!
Cory and Laura on Chocorua!
Cory and Laura on Chocorua!

When I walked into our new home for the first time I felt that fire burn a bit brighter and having the mountain looming over the house and only 5 miles from the door to the summit I started to feel complete.  The dirt road running here is amazing, there are endless snowmobile, ski and mountain trails right from the door, incredible wildlife and a feeling of serenity.

More farmers market flowers
More farmers market flowers
Farmers Market Flowers
Farmers Market Flowers

I’m not sure how much racing I am going to be doing from now on.  I am obsessed with playing in our local mountains, seeing how many miles I can cover in a day, exploring, finding swimming holes and spending time relaxing on our deck.  I feel like every run becomes a new adventure and instead of seeking out starting lines and finish lines I am creating my own!  I don’t feel like I need to prove anything to anyone and I certainly don’t feel like I need to compete.

Me and Jack puppy enjoy our mountain runs together!  He tagged Madison and Adams with me and now his only NH 4k left to do is Cabot!
Me and Jack puppy enjoy our mountain runs together! He tagged Madison and Adams with me and now his only NH 4k left to do is Cabot!
Fun in the pressies!
Fun in the pressies!

Moving here has changed my running, flat runs are rare and pavement is quite minimal!  I love pondering routes from the house while staring at the map trying to figure out how to link more mountains to my runs!  It’s become a game and running has become pure bliss!

My mountain!
My mountain!
Me and my mountain!
Me and my mountain!
My mountain and lake!
My mountain and lake!

I look forward to the local Farmers Market where I find beautiful flowers and local meat and produce that is so yummy!  I love my job where I get to swim and tan during my lunch break and I even got to do my beach day with my friend Christine where we relaxed by the ocean and she watched me pig out on  mass quantities of food!  I’m still doing physical therapy and dry needling along with massage and feel that I am getting healthier each day!

Dining room before
Dining room before
Dining room after, still  needs the floors refnished and wood stove installed!
Dining room after, still needs the floors refnished and wood stove installed!

So although I won’t be spotted at races as much I will be silently creating new loops, testing my skills on mountain terrain and training to be a badass mountain girl!  I feel like I have gone back to that place in time where I didn’t compare myself to others and only focused on finding amazing adventures.  I am not sure I can be much more content with my life than I am now and I hope it continues to stay that way!

My mutants with over 400 white mountain miles and they are still in awesome shape!
My mutants with over 400 white mountain miles and they are still in awesome shape!

I want to thank my sponsors La Sportiva, UltrAspire, JULBO USA and Choucas Hats for their understanding and providing me with amazing equipment that allows me to play hard in the hills!  Thank you to my coach Jack for putting up with my nonsense and keeping me on track with my training, even when I don’t know what I am training for!  Thank you to my Ryan and Jack puppy for so many incredible trail miles together and thank you to my friends for joining me on so many adventures!  I sure am a very lucky girl!

Lunchtime swims and tanning!
Lunchtime swims and tanning!

It takes a lot of hard work and persistence to make your dreams come true and sometimes a lot of low points in your life to make you open up your eyes and realize what makes you happy!  We all deserve happiness!  🙂

Jack puppy loves mountains!
Jack puppy loves mountains!
Why I love where I live!
Why I love where I live!
sunset running
sunset running
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Pinch me, I must be dreaming!

I can remember my first adventure up Mount Chocorua.  My exact words afterwards were: We salvaged our weekend by hiking up mt chocorua. The only bad part was a nasty sprained ankle I got from running and jumping off a wet log into a wet corner! Then it really started raining buckets with thunder and lightning! It really was a great mountain!!! 🙂

My first summit of Mount Chocorua June 2008
My first summit of Mount Chocorua June 2008

I remember that car ride home with a five pound bag of ice on my ankle as it continued to swell.  It was a lovely day but too wet for rock climbing that June 2008.  We stood on top and looked at the clouds and then, in hiking boots decided to run down.  I was having a blast and my partner told me to be careful because I was being wreckless.  With my usual smile I laughed and said I only have two modes: fun mode and careful mode and I was having fun!  Not ten seconds went by and I jumped off a log on the piper trail and got my very first ankle sprain.  Instantly it swelled and I thought it was broken.  With assistance and tears in my eyes I hobbled out in a horrible lighting storm with torrential rain.  That mountain would be my favorite mountain from that day forward.  I even did the Hammond Trail that winter and had a blast!  That would be my last ascent of the mountain for the next 7 years and every time I drove by it on my way up north I smiled and told myself I would climb it again.  Never in my wildest dreams did I imagine living 4.9 miles from the top of that beautiful mountain and look at it looming above my house every morning while I drink my tea or coffee.

Another mountain peak fitness photo on the summit of mount Chocorua
Another mountain peak fitness photo on the summit of mount Chocorua
Mountain Peak Team run up Chocorua!  They let me join!  Photo by Mountain Peak Fitness
Mountain Peak Team run up Chocorua! They let me join! Photo by Mountain Peak Fitness
Elizabeth and I on top of Mount Chocorua on a 16 mile adventure run!
Elizabeth and I on top of Mount Chocorua on a 16 mile adventure run!
Me and Bridget randomly ran into each other on the summit of Mount Chocura on my run to meet my parents at White Ledge Campground!
Me and Bridget randomly ran into each other on the summit of Mount Chocura on my run to meet my parents at White Ledge Campground!
Jack puppy climbing Mount Chocorua!
Jack puppy climbing Mount Chocorua!
Ryan and I on top of Mount Chocorua after work!
Ryan and I on top of Mount Chocorua after work!

I haven’t blogged in a while and it certainly hasn’t been because of lack of adventure, this summer has been nothing short of amazing!  My job is pretty amazing and I plan to stay there for the rest of my career as a dental hygienist.  I have never looked forward to going to work.  I work for the most wonderful boss, incredible dentist and have unbelievable nice and fun co-workers.  It also helps that I get to swim at the lakes during my lunch break, take in breathtaking views while sipping my iced coffee or having lunch with friends on the beach!  I’m pretty darn lucky but a part of me feels the turn my life has taken is more than just luck but instead hard work and persistence.  I’m stubborn and I know how to work hard, but also dream big and play as much as I can.

Guest room before
Guest room before
Guest room after
Guest room after
Hannah bedroom before
Hannah bedroom before
Hannah’s room after
Zoe Bedroom before
Zoe Bedroom before
Zoe’s bedroom after
Bathroom before
Bathroom before
Bathroom after
Bathroom after
Bathroom after
Bathroom after

So, what has happened since June?  First of all I moved!  Ryan and I found an incredible home in the White Mountains at the base of Mount Chocurua.  We run mountains after work!!!  It’s simply amazing!  The wildlife here is incredible and my commute to work is 30 minutes shorter!  We have bear, moose, porcupine, bunnies, coyotes, hummingbirds and many more I am sure we haven’t yet seen!  It’s not the fancy log home we had before but instead is a beautiful home that needs some updating and lots of love!  I have years of experience renovating homes and working in construction so luckily I enjoy fixing houses!  When I am not working, running or being a mom and wife I am painting, replacing appliances and fixtures and making our home represent our own flair and style!

Going up Old Speck with Scott Jurek!
Going up Old Speck with Scott Jurek!
Pack shenanagans with Jenny, Nate and Ryan during the Scott Jurek adventure!
Pack shenanagans with Jenny, Nate and Ryan during the Scott Jurek adventure!
Mahoosics muling for Scott
Mahoosics muling for Scott
Reaching the NH/ME border with Scott, Ryan, Nate and Cory!  What a motley crew!
Reaching the NH/ME border with Scott, Ryan, Nate and Cory! What a motley crew!

The weekend we were supposed to move Ryan received a phone call from Scott Jureks crew to help out on the Appalacian trail record attempt and they wanted us for the Mahoosics section!  We literally dropped everything and Ryan, Cory, Nate and myself rallied out to meet Scott and his crew to spend two amazing days being a part of an incredible pursuit!  We muled for Scott carrying packs with camping gear, food, water filters and supplies and kept him company on the trail.  I knew nothing about him when we started and by the time we parted ways he became an inspiration.  His wife, crew and himself were funny, polite, motivated and really did a wonderful job of balancing the need for moving forward and taking time to sign autographs, pose for photos and accept trail treats from fans.  I am not sure I could have been so gracious when things got so tough and so close to not getting that record but they did it beautifully while utilizing local runners along the way to help guide him along the Appalachian trail!  I cannot imagine the people they met, the experiences they had and the challenges they faced.  Two days was only a small glimpse into something so huge and it was one of the greatest adventures of my summer!  I would love to share details of the journey but I honestly feel that my duty was to be in the background and help him stay focused, fed and hydrated and not to share a story that is not mine to write.  I never read his first book, but I am dying to read his next.  🙂

Mindy gets her 4 time finisher shirt!
Mindy gets her 4 time finisher shirt!
Jessica at Bear Brook after she hiked out from dancing on the mountain!  Hannah with us!
Jessica at Bear Brook after she hiked out from dancing on the mountain! Hannah with us!
Race directing is serious business!  Photo by Carolyn Shrek!
Race directing is serious business! Photo by Carolyn Shrek!

The weekend after that we hosted the Bear Brook Trail marathon and half which is always a blast and was in its 4th year!  What an incredible day!  Tony, aka Fish Stick helped Ryan and I with so much race prep and breakdown I can’t even figure out how to thank him for what he did.  Jessica helped us mark the half course, she was also running it two days later!  Tony not only helped with the half but the day before he ran the full he helped us mark the rest of the course and load and unload the box truck.  He then ran the race and after he finished went back out to volunteer at an aid station and then go find a lost runner on the trail and finish the race with her.  The dude is an animal!  Our friend Jessica finished the race and went back out on the course to dance in a banana costume while carrying a boom box!  I have some pretty sweet friends!  We had a couple of friends run the course before the race to check course markings and somehow on race day rounded up over 20 volunteers after all but three bailed on me the morning of the race.  Please volunteer at a race, even if it is for just a couple of hours!

Going up Whiteface after the Vertical K!
Going up Whiteface after the Vertical K! Photo by Mountain Peak Fitness
Vertical K Race!  Leslie ODell took the photo!
Vertical K Race! Leslie ODell took the photo!

We had a few people finish the marathon for the fourth time and they earned some very special sweatshirts!  We hope to give out more 4 time finisher shirts next year!  The kids had fun watching the runners finish the race and we put them to work handing out the finishers awards which were local jams this year!  Then they got to see the new house and were so excited to have their own bedrooms!  Keep the race on your calendar!  July 9, 2016!

Tony on a 20 mile adventure near the house!
Tony on a 20 mile adventure near the house!

Then the next weekend the MPF/Red Newt racing team came over for a few days of fun!  We did some stellar runs from the house and really enjoyed having house guests over!  We had some great meals, great runs and some great laughs!

Hike with my mom and dad and Jack puppy on the Ledge Loop from White Ledge Campground!
Hike with my mom and dad and Jack puppy on the Ledge Loop from White Ledge Campground!

Then there was the Whiteface Vertical K and Sky Marathon in June and that was a hoot!  The Vertical K was a blast and as much as I felt like I was going to die I kept on smiling!  It was a beautiful sunny day and then we went on to summit Whiteface!  The race was hilarious because I thought I was at the top and then sprinted a girl and passed her only to realized the top was further away and I couldn’t hold on and had to walk to the finish!  Ha!  The sky marathon was hilarious because it poured so hard, was windy and cold and still a blast romping through knee deep mud and overflowing rivers!  As much as it hurt it was fun!  My La Sportiva Mutants were certainly the shoe for that race!

Awesome 30 mile day in the Pemi with Amy and Jack puppy!
Awesome 30 mile day in the Pemi with Amy and Jack puppy!

The last few weeks have been a blur!  I have been running with friends, Ryan and I have had several house guests over and we have been enjoying showing the kids around their new home town!  (well at daddys house!)  I was on vacation last week so I even painted their rooms with the colors they picked out!  One room looks like a watermelon and the other a Kawasaki KDX room!

The girls at storyland
The girls at storyland
Hannah's birthday cake I made!
Hannah’s birthday cake I made!

I am not sure I have ever felt so happy or content in my life.  It feels complete and even better I am running so happy!  I love mountains and every day can be a mountain run for me!  No more driving on the weekends to the mountains!  The only driving we have to do is 10 hours of driving to get the girls and bring them back to their moms because she won’t help us out.  It is not easy for us but we love them and someday they will understand the sacrifices we made to give them wonderful memories and stability.  For now all they need to know is that they are loved unconditionally and that we just want to help them grow into responsible and independent women who live healthy lifestyles.

My lunch breaks!
My lunch breaks!

I have totally fallen head over heels with running and this move is what I needed to remind me why I started running!  This is pure bliss, every darn minute of it!  And finally people come to visit us!  I love house guests and fun runs with friends!  My heart is smiling so big every day!

Me and my Jack puppy!
Me and my Jack puppy!
Me and my Jack puppy having fun in the mountains!
Me and my Jack puppy having fun in the mountains!

As for my health, it is much better!  I have had and am still having extensive physical therapy and also massage treatments.  If you live in NH and need an incredible massage therapist who also does the Gasha tool thing check out Jessica Goldman in Dover.  My physical therapist Mel is in Epsom and she is helping me to strengthen the glutes I lost and learn how to run like I used but…and maybe even better!  Right now we are doing dry neddling and it is awesome! I didn’t take care of myself last year and this year my goal is to be healthy and strong while maintaining happiness!  I am hoping to be ready for Virgil Crest 50!

My little Zoe is getting so big!
My little Zoe is getting so big!

I want to thank my sponsors La Sportiva, Choucas Hats, UltrAspire and JULBO USA for their support!  Your equipment makes me run happy and is helping me become the mountain runner I hope to be someday!  Thank you to my friends for running with me and always being there for me!  Thank you to my boss for hiring me and giving me the best job ever!  Thank you to my husband and little steppies Zoe and Hannah for bring so much joy into my life.  I am so thankful for the life I have now, the life I have lived and the life I hope to live!  I feel like I have found where I belong and who I want to be.  🙂

Jack puppy, Cooper and Cory on Waumbek!
Jack puppy, Cooper and Cory on Waumbek!
Jack puppy climbing Mount Chocorua!
Jack puppy climbing Mount Chocorua!

Dream bigger than your wallet, Live bigger than your dreams and never stop improving your life.  You only live your life once and only you can decide what you want to do with it.  So throw on some shiny pink lip gloss, roll yourself in glitter and sparkle on!

Home, I can't believe this is for real!
Home, I can’t believe this is for real!
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Finding balance on and off the trail

My journey towards balance and health that encompasses my mental, physical and spiritual well being continues. It is interesting to me, it takes only a second to get injured and can take years to fully recover. Last year was tough, I didn’t take care of myself, I struggled with being 15 lbs heavier and much slower than the previous year. I pushed myself hard to get back into the mountains only to find myself injured again and again. After my presi traverse FKT I found myself slowly getting weaker and weaker. I didn’t give myself time to slowly recover from the concussion and instead hammered myself into snowshoe racing shape, then forced myself to get through Cayuga quite untrained and had a hit or miss kind of year. Of course I miss being fast and feeling strong on my runs and at my races! I am only human and want to be the best I can be in all aspects of my life. Combine my struggles last year with Ryan and I both having a hard time finding jobs and things got quite stressful. I prayed every night to hit rock bottom because only then can I start to rebound. When I finally gave up after several interviews and resumes sent with no responses I landed the most amazing job I have ever had! Something felt right and I knew it was time to turn my life around.

Me and the girls on Welch Dickey!
Me and the girls on Welch Dickey!

It was a rough winter and Ryan and I barely scraped through while he pieced together work that rarely panned out and we still had bills to pay and a ridiculous amount of child support that he had to dish out to his ex. To top it off we still have to buy them clothes, toys and living expenses at our house plus we do all the driving. Broke is an understatement and I was very fortunate to have such an incredible job that pulled us through the winter. After months of discussion we both agreed it would be best for Ryan to take a chance at owning his own business and that it was time to sell our house and move to a less expensive location which would shorten my commute and bring us closer to the mountains. So we financed a ton of equipment and started advertising.  We figured we would try to get Ryans business focused in the Lakes Region so his drive would be shorter. The only thing that would be longer is the drive to get the kids. Our 4 hours of driving on the weekends will become 8 hours of driving to see the girls, but to us they are worth it. Someday they will understand how much we sacrificed to have them in our lives.
This year started out great and then my weakness in my climbing quickly progressed to severe pain in my hip which stopped my running but introduced me to skate skiing. Jessica is an amazing massage therapist who ran across the country last year and understands runners and she got me running again. My chiropracter and Jessica both work to help get me aligned again. As she kept working through the layers of adhesion’s, spasms and weak muscles I began to start changing my gait and feeling better. I still wasn’t quite right and ended up in the pelvic medicine group where I learned I have endometriosis among other issues. So, they referred me to a physical therapist who specializes in pelvic floor physical therapy.

The girls were 5 and 6 here!
The girls were 5 and 6 here!

I felt like I opened up Pandora’s box and felt guilt for spending so much time and money on myself. Along with working with three therapists and a doctor I am working with my coach Jack. My physical therapy has become rather invasive and we found adhesion’s from my pubic bone injury and other issues that could only be treated with therapy from the inside. Talk about being embarrassed. This therapist is incredible! She makes me feel comfortable and not only works on the obvious but every time one of my caregivers fixes one issue another comes up and she tackles that one right away. We started with a back issue that progressed to a hip issue that is now a knee and calf issue that is turning into an Achilles issue. The good news is that it seems to be working its way down my body and yesterday for the first time my therapist had me laying out on the table and was thrilled that my hips finally released!
She also found that my left glute was far more developed than my right and that my hips are extremely weak so she gave me multiple exercises to practice that are so simply yet so hard. I will be seeing my massage therapist, chiropractor and physical therapist for a few more month along with the mental health therapist. It seems so selfish but also something I need. My running is not fast yet but for the first time in several years I have zero lower back pain and today I felt like my hips were loosened up. My gait is changing and my running will change. Adapting to my new body will take time and learning to rebuild atrophied muscles will take months. Running is teaching me about patience and this year I have to focus on being healthy and building up a base before trying to build up speed. Yesterday I had a rough run, today I had an incredibly enjoyable run! It will take time but I will be the runner I want to be!

The girls love swimming~
The girls love swimming~

As for life events last week I ran a 5k PR on a downhill course but still pulled off an 18:41 in heat, humidity and sore lungs from a sinus infection the week before. I was beyond thrilled (and wanted to die!) and it really motivated me to want to keep trying to get back to my old running self! I enjoyed having so much competition! I saw so many friends there and my father in law also celebrated his birthday (82!) by running the race! It was so much fun! Now I want to join my friends in breaking 18 minutes in the 5k distance!
Over the weekend I went for a great hike with my steppies! These kids are so darn cute and I can’t believe how big they are getting! I don’t want them to grow up too fast, looking at pictures from two years ago made me get teared up. They were so little! My baby girls are growing up too fast!
We had a great weekend with the girls and are looking forward to spending next weekend with them! Life is about finding balance and I have a long way to go. We are moving, working, training, raising a family, paying the bills and trying to stay calm and happy. Some days are tougher than others but each day brings us closer to our dreams and our goals. Both of us are taking the time to take care of ourselves so that we can be good role models for the kids and be healthy for a long time. We dug a pretty deep hole and are slowly climbing out of it! Every day a new light shines upon us and I know that taking the time to appreciate the little things in life are what matter the most.

Jack puppy loves swimming!
Jack puppy loves swimming!

Let me finish with this:
The hardest part about getting older is realizing that nothing lasts forever. When we are young we feel like there is so much time and we are consumed with the future. From the moment we can talk people ask us what we want to be when we grow up and then the wheels start turning. Then there is television, background noise, mom and dad rushing us out the door to go to school and then they hustle out of the house to get to work. It’s a mad dash to get the kids from school and get them to their game, event, etc. Dinner ends up being in the car and by the time everyone gets home its showers, tooth brushing and flossing and then off to bed. We wake up and do it all over again.
Weekends come and we rush off to be busy again. Phones are dinging like crazy with text messages, emails, skyping, facebook, etc. The kids see us juggling our lives, struggling to pay the bills, saving for braces, for college tuitions, saving for retirement, always looking toward the future. We have lost touch of how to live in the moment. We do not allow our minds to be quiet, or even to allow us to take a break. We are busy, tired and we are stressed and we don’t even take the time to take care of ourselves.

Welch Dickey!
Welch Dickey!

Today I saw a 17 year old kid in my chair. He was tired, stressed and not taking care of himself. He had high blood pressure and said he didn’t even have time to brush his teeth every day and flossing…well that wasn’t happening either. I asked him how he could be so busy and he said he has to leave at 6:30 am to be at school and then he also works three jobs. He likes making money and he is trying to decide if he wants to go to college or just keep working. He doesn’t even have the time to think about what he wants to do with his life. I looked in his eyes and I saw myself at 17. I worked several jobs, I was busy and I wanted to make money.
My heart ached for the kid and it got me thinking. Why do we allow ourselves to live this way? A few years ago I realized that nothing lasts forever. Loved ones die, dreams come to life and then fade away, the best moments of your life pass by and you are constantly going up and down with the good and the bad. Growing up taught me to stop thinking about my future so much. The truth is I am slowly working my way closer to death, I will not last forever and my time is running out.

Me and my Ryan!
Me and my Ryan!

Money comes, money goes. We make money to spend money. I look back and I spent money on some pretty stupid stuff, things that don’t matter and things I don’t even remember buying until I see it lying in a bin somewhere in the basement. But my memories, those stay with me every second that passes. I have learned to take a few minutes each day to enjoy the beauty of a sunrise, the smell of a flower, the feeling of the sand between my toes and even embrace the things that make me sad. These moments have become memories for me.
I disappear during my lunch break at work to do something for myself. Sometimes I hit the gym, sometimes I fall asleep in my car or on the docks, some days I dip my toes in the water, no matter what it is I take that hour to live in the moment. It makes a difference and makes me feel better about how I spend my time.
It makes me sad when I look around at how we are always in a rush and I am often guilty of it too. But look at your life, look at what you are teaching your kids and look at what really matters. Your kids can pay for their own college, your retirement fund can grow nicely if you live simply, your memories will last longer than that piece of junk you bought, and the time you spend to take care of yourself will allow you to truly live your life. Your health matters…physically, emotionally and spiritually. Take some time to think about where you are right now. What do you see, what do you smell, what do you hear?

25 mile road run!
25 mile road run!

I don’t have the answer to finding that perfect balance and it is hard to live stress free in such a crazy world. For now I am starting by taking time each day to take care of myself by eating well, exercising and finding time to meditate. It is helping me to find more peace and to enjoy my life one minute at a time instead of always looking into the future. Of course I will still dream, still save for my retirement and plan ahead but I will also take the time each day to fully appreciate what I do have and the beautiful gifts around me

Me and Jack puppy on a rainy Pawtuckaway run!
Me and Jack puppy on a rainy Pawtuckaway run!
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An ordinary girl living a not so ordinary life