Who does number two work for…..

Finally, after almost two years I feel normal again.  My injuries are doing great, my concussion is barely noticeable aside from some speech and memory issues and I am feeling strong!  Everything seems to be working like it should and it feels great!  Obviously I am worried about when the next injury or issue will pop up but I am staying positive and enjoying the fact that I can simply move without pain.  I have new racing goals this year and it’s simple-run happy and stay healthy.  I don’t need to podium, I don’t need to do the big fancy races, I need to run the courses that make me feel alive and I need to run because it’s something I love to do!  I also love the mountains and the challenge of technical terrain and relentless hills, so at this point in my life I guess I should call myself a mountain runner!  I do have aspirations of breaking 3 hours in a marathon someday and when the stars align I am pretty sure I can make it happen, but for now I am focusing on running in wild and high places!

Porky is back!
Porky is back!

Last weekend I was excited and strangely calm about racing the Breakneck 42k race.  It was the longest I would run since December and I had no idea where my fitness was.   I figured I would finish no matter what,  it just might be harder than planned!

Course photo by Mountain Peak Fitness
Course photo by Mountain Peak Fitness

I got out of work a bit early due to a patient cancelling which worked out really good because Ryan and I were able to get on the road sooner for our race that started at 7am on Saturday.  We didn’t get there until around midnight.  There was traffic and like a jerk I passed out in the passengers seat while Ryan drove.  In my defense I was fighting a small cold and I was up at 4am to get ready for work!  We finally found the camping area and set up the camper and rolled into bed for a couple of hours of sleep.  I never fall right asleep but this time I did.

Scrambling by mountain peak fitness
Scrambling by mountain peak fitness

I woke up not feeling sick or jittery like every other time I race.  I was strangely calm and actually excited about my first race of the season!  I got dressed and ready before making my way over to the check in.  I saw Ian and he gave me my race number.  Oh boy, he knows me too well, or it was just chance but I was #2.  By now if you don’t know that I have explosive diarrhea at almost every race I do then you haven’t read one of my race reports yet.  This has been an ongoing issue for so many years and it is getting better, just a tiny bit since becoming gluten free.  I laughed and so many jokes came to mind, I knew it would be a great day!

Great climbs by mountain peak fitness

We lined up at the start and it was peaceful.  It is always fun to see your friends from all over the place and catch up with them!  I was chatting away when the race started and realized I was all the way in the back, ooopppsss!!!  I wasn’t looking to charge but I did want to do my best so I ran straight through the brush on the side of the trail to find a place where I fit into a comfortable pace.  The temperature was perfect and so much cooler than the 87 degree days we had in St Johns!

Photo by Katherine Hawkins, great views and climb!
Photo by Katherine Hawkins, great views and climb!

I was having a blast, the trails were gnarly and the hills insane!  It was seriously like rock climbing on parts of the course and the views were killer!  I spent the first 16 or so mile running with an old friend that I hadn’t spoken to in years because of some hurtful things said to each other.  It was awkward at first but I figured we were running the same pace so why not apologize and start off where we left off.  We forgave each other and realized that life is too short for drama and bs and spent the next few hours laughing and chatting like old times!  It was wonderful and made me feel so at peace.

Me and Jack puppy by mountain peak fitness!
Me and Jack puppy by mountain peak fitness!

When we got to aid station 4 I ran through asking if there was a porto potty near by.  Ian ran up to me very concerned to see if I was okay.  I had been pinching off an explosion for about two miles and was not able to hold it off much longer so I blurted out “Number 2 has to take a #2, where are the toilets!?”  When I realized there were a bunch of people there now either laughing or vomiting from my potty mouth it was quite embarrassing.  I found that porto potty and blasted off as quickly as I could and in no time at all was back on the trail and headed out to tackle some more climbs!

Podium Shot by Mountain peak fitness
Podium Shot by Mountain peak fitness

I was alone for a bit and was still having fun but lonely.  Soon I got lost and started to backtrack and ran into two guys who would be my chatting buddies for a while!  One fell back and the other ran the next several miles with me as we slowly ran out of water and began fantasizing of water, coca cola and aid stations.  Every descent we hoped it would be there, but it wasn’t.  Instead there was another climb.  We got off course and lost for a bit but realized our mistake and found the trail after back tracking.  After an eternity we saw stairs and hoards of day hikers who were quite angry with the runners.  We realized what had been happening.  The hikers were mad so they turned arrows around and moved flags.  What they didn’t realize is that they could kill someone if they get lost and run out of food and water.  Please educate people on  how important it is to leave course markings alone.  It’s no different than stabbing them and watching them die.  On hot summer days when a runner is depending on an aid station at a certain mileage they can’t be sent down a trail to nowhere.  Just not good.

Jack puppy rolled in poop on our muddy and rainy, cold run.
Jack puppy rolled in poop on our muddy and rainy, cold run.

Anyway, we were thrilled to be at the aid station and get some pepsi (I really wanted coke!!!) and hugs from Lisa!  The aid station volunteers were awesome!  I even got a hug from Amy at the second one!  Oh and a hug on the trail from Elizabeth!  The day was just that happy!  With water in my body and only 4.3 miles to go I ran up that hill and power hiked the steeps.  I was on a mission.  At the top I was treated to amazing views and two new friends to run with!  We laughed and chatted our way to the last stretch where we charged to the finish line smiling and totally thrilled with running the hardest trail marathon any of us have ever experienced!  I finished first woman in a time of 6:25, must faster than my 8 hour goal!

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Ryan finished a solid 4th, Carlo 3rd and Ben and Ian literally sprinted to the finish to be within 2 seconds of each other.  The video of that finish is insane and Ben ended up winning that sprint!  Mountain Peak Fitness put together some incredible photos as well as others volunteering on the course.  Ian always puts on the best races and this one did not disappoint!  I never saw so many people completely wrecked yet smiling ear to ear with pride!  This race was 28.8 miles of pure bliss, the stars aligned and I had so much fun!  We got home at 2:30 am and I took the most incredible continuing education course on local anesthesia and dental pharmacology and in fact it was so good I didn’t even fall asleep!

Photo shoot picture for Choucas Hats!
Photo shoot picture for Choucas Hats!

Thank you to La Sportiva, the Bushidos rocked on that course!  Any other shoe would have destroyed my feet and taken away my confidence on the scrambles.  Thank you to Choucas Hats for a sparkly headband that kept the sweat out of my eyes!  Thank you Julbo USA for the Dust sunglasses that were much loved on the super sunny sections!  Thank you to UltrAspire for the Astral which is the best race pack ever!  Two liters of water never carried so well!  Thank you to my training partners, my friends, my coach Jack, my Jack puppy, my husband, stepdaughters and wonderful boss and coworkers for always believing in me and helping me smile!  Oh course I rocked my sparkly pink lip gloss and purple nail polish!  A girl needs to shine sometimes.  :) a great video that captures some memories! Thanks mountain peak fitness!

Jack puppy loves JULBO!
Jack puppy loves JULBO!
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Unplugged and recharged

Sometimes life gets a little crazy and for Ryan and I it got a little bit more than crazy. We have a lot on our plates and several life changes happening quicker than we can process them. Trying to cut back on the stress while starting a new business (well an old one with a new name) as well as trying to move to a new home can be a bit overwhelming. We have cut back on people and circumstances that bring us stress and unfortunately some things or people can’t just be removed from your life because they bring on so much stress so I decided we needed a break and some well deserved time together. Our honeymoon was the most stressful, expensive and insane adventure of my life and I wanted a do-over so…I convinced Ryan to join me on a tropical vacation to St Johns Island where it would be just us, no internet, no stress, no phones, no racing, no alarm clock, no itinerary and to be far away from anyone who likes to bring unwelcome stress or chaos into our lives.

View to beach from campground
View to beach from campground

The adventure started with getting pedicures and manicures with my friend Michelle the two days before Ryan and I left. It was great to see her so happy and spend some time together just laughing about life and catching up on the last few months since we have seen each other! It was awesome and then I raced home to pack for the trip. Ryan dropped Jack puppy off at Pet A Gree the next day while I was at work and he was working on getting the new business going.

My coworker Nancy had just gotten back from the island and gave me the best gift ever, a trail map to the island! We kept that thing with us the whole trip like it was the most precious piece of paper we ever had! I came home and we ate dinner and got a couple of hours of sleep. We left the house around 2am and made our way to Boston to catch our 6am flight. It was snowing and cold and it made leaving that much sweeter.

High pointing!
High pointing!

We boarded the plane and I had my usual panic attack. I really struggle with flying, it’s pathetic but somehow pretty funny. I try to keep the swearing to a minimum in case there are little kids around but I have a really hard time with the takeoff portion of the flight. It makes me feel like I am being squished and I can’t stand not being able to escape if I want to. Ryan is a good sport and holds my hand and always tells me it will be okay. I like how he makes me feel safe. After what felt like eternity we were in JFK and only had 15 minutes to catch our next flight! We ran to the terminal and made our flight and then it was time for another takeoff! Once again Ryan held my hand and we were off to a warmer place and a new adventure! This flight took forever but when we landed on that short runway at St Thomas the whole plane cheered with joy that they were going to a beautiful place.

the ferry
the ferry

 

I wasn’t super impressed with St Thomas because of how crowded it was. We got our rental car and realized that they drive on the left side of the road. I took out the full coverage insurance for that trip. We made the long drive to the car ferry that would take us to St Johns Island which would be our home for a few days. The ride was spectacular and I have never seen water so blue or clear! The untouched mountains surrounded us and there were so many of them poking up out of the ocean! We smiled and knew that this was going to be a good trip. Our phones were off and we were disconnected from everything back home. It was a struggle for a few minutes but then we didn’t care.

high pointing
high pointing

 

We drove to our campground at Cinnamon Bay and were so lucky to be given one of the best sites on the beach! We were just a couple hundred feet from one of the most beautiful beaches we have ever seen! We set up our tent and camp and took off for a run on some trails across from the campground. It was 28 degrees when we left and when we went for our run it was 87 degrees. That was a bit of a shock for us! The trails were absolutely amazing and we got some killer views of mountains and blue water! We smiled, this was just what we needed! After working up quite the sweat on a few miles of mountains and rocks we threw on our bathing suits and went for a swim right from our campground. It was beautiful and so much fun!

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We relaxed for a while on the beach and then got showered up and headed into town for some happy hour drinks and some dinner! The next few days were a blur, we ran some incredible trails-about 30 miles of them! These trails took us up and over mountains, out to beautiful blue beaches where we took a swim to cool down, some took us to a local fruit stand where we bought fresh fruit to get us back over the mountain and we even tagged the high point of St Johns, Bordeaux mountain! Each day was an adventure, a different trail, a different beach and an array of wildlife along the way!

coconut drink!
coconut drink!

We saw deer, hummingbirds, crabs, weasels, doves, donkeys, goats, chickens, black cats, hermit crabs rolling down the hills and probably more I forgot about! The plant life varied and had everything from tropical flowers to palm trees to cactus! We got to swim along beautiful coral reefs that sparkled under the sunlight with brightly colored fish, neon coral, stingrays, pelicans, sea turtles and more!

pelicans
pelicans

 

This was the coolest adventure! We lost track of time and what day it was. We woke up whenever we felt like it and every morning I went for a walk on the beach. What was funny is that there were several smoothie places to go to after the run but instead of protein powder they came with Rum. That was a bit different! We didn’t spend much time in town and spent almost all of our time on the trail, in the mountains or in the water. The roads to go anywhere were absolutely hilarious and so full of twists and turns! The dinners were great and we tried all sorts of rum concoctions including one inside a coconut! We even got to drink fresh coconut water!

Some old ruins
Some old ruins

By the time we started to miss home we were a day away from leaving the island. It was a perfect amount of time to be there. It was hot, it was sunny and it was everything we had dreamed it would be! We are not really hotel or resort people so camping and having the ability to travel safely on the trails was perfect! We were shocked at how much water we drank on the runs and how hot it could be there! It was wild!

Ram head point
Ram head point

I drank almost 2 liters of water on every run and was glad I brought my UltrAspire Astral with me (get yours by following this link http://ultraspire.com/products/?uaa=34 and entering the code uaa3410 for a discount! ! I also used the La Sportiva Bushido’s for most of the runs because of how rugged the trails were. The Julbo Dust sunglasses were my go to eye protection and of course I wore a different shiny Choucas FIT headband each day! We didn’t need much for clothes, tank tops and running skirts were more than enough with that heat!

our campsite!
our campsite!

 

On our last day we did one more run, one more snorkel with sea turtles and headed back to St Thomas for a redeye flight home. It was one of the best vacations I have ever had, and my legs reminded me today that it was also great training for my racing season which kicks off next weekend! The best part of turning the phone back on was seeing that our offer was accepted on our dream home in the White Mountains, now we just have to have it pass inspection. I think this is going to be a wonderful year for us! I hope we get that house, Zoe was so excited to possibly live there and breaking the news to her that it will be our home is going to be amazing so I hope it all works out!

 Incredible view from a run
Incredible view from a run

I want to thank my sponsors for being so supportive- LA Sportiva, Choucas Hats, UltrAspire and JULBO USA. Also a huge thank you for my boss for giving me a wonderful job that allows me to love what I do and who believes in working hard and playing harder. I would not have been able to do this trip without you giving me such an incredible job! Thank you for Ryan for joining me on one of the best trips of my life, I feel so happy and at peace with our place in life right now! Thank you to Jack puppy for being my running buddy and snuggle bug! Thank you for my friends who run with me and share miles and stories with me on and off the trails! Thank you to Zoe and Hannah for coming into my life and teaching me about patience and how to be the best role model I can be. I hope that someday you become strong and independent women. Thank you to my coach Jack for kicking my ass again and thank you to everyone who puts a smile on my face each day!  Thank you to Nancy for the map and all my friends who gave me advice on this trip! I have a lot to be happy for! Make sure you take some time each day to sparkle, you deserve it! :)  Next up is my first race of the season, Breakneck 42k this upcoming Saturday.   Let’s see if I can get through it without being broken!  ;)

View trip pictures here:

beach time
beach time
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This picture, to me really expresses my past, my future and my passion to make my dreams come true.. Photo by Jay Philbrick Victoria Philbrick. Photo Property of Philbrick Photography

You are the only one who can change your life

I have been really happy lately and it’s absolutely wonderful!  I also have a lot of life changes that may possibly happen, but I have to be patient and wait while going through the motions.  It’s really hard to not just get overly excited and bounce around like a crazy person dreaming of the future and the next big chapter in my book of life!  Ryan and I are trying to move into the White Mountains and are dreaming of what it will be like and praying that our offer gets accepted and we make it to a closing that takes us from a beautiful log home that we designed to an old fixer-upper in the middle of where we belong.  If we get this house, I know it will be our forever home…and we hope to have a lot of visitors to spend time with us up there!  It will bring me closer to my amazing job and Ryan is branching off on his own and starting his very own business www.RWPWLLC.com which we hope becomes a huge success!  Sometimes the best part of a dream is not the final outcome but instead the journey to get there.  We have a stellar journey ahead of us!

Running happy!
Running happy!

So, with all the new changes and even though I am feeling more at peace and happier than I have in a very long time I am struggling with anxiety (which I have dealt with for years) and not being able to sleep.  I am having some help from my doctor with my sleep issue and it feels good to actually wake up feeling rested!  It’s only temporary which is good.

An old picture, that smile represents me walking away from a rocky past and into a beautiful future.
An old picture, that smile represents me walking away from a rocky past and into a beautiful future.

The anxiety is bringing on some PTSD from my past and triggering a lot of memories, both wonderful and bad.  I had a tough life, most of us have.  I do feel though, that I need to share my story and I want to help others who are going through or have gone through what I have.  I am not perfect, never was, never will be.  That’s okay because each day I try my best to be the best person I can.

Photo property of Philbrick Photography
Photo property of Philbrick Photography

My childhood was stressful, I got tormented and picked on at school.  I was bullied and called terrible names.  I was just different and I was also very young for my grade.  Getting awards at school for being the shortest, having the longest hair, being the most shy or the cutest don’t really boost anyones self esteem.  It was nice to win something but I always admired those with the awards for being athletic, smart, tall, popular, etc.  I had a couple of friends and people who liked me and I will always treasure their friendship.  As I got older there were days I wished I would just die because most of the school picked on me and it was torture to go there every day.

This is one of the guides on my Denali ascent.  He passes away this week when a cornice broke.  He and his wife were incredible guides, so sad
This is one of the guides on my Denali ascent. He passes away this week when a cornice broke. He and his wife were incredible guides, so sad

Eventually I found myself working at McDonalds where I made some friends and had a lot of fun with them.  Sometimes too much fun if you know what I mean.  I learned to party, I fit in with that crowd.  They were fun and they liked me.  As I got closer to graduation things started to change a bit and that is when the next chapter began.  I soon ended up in an extremely abusive relationship that I would have for 3 years.  I will spare you the details but I endured horrible sexual and physical abuse along with threats and constantly being told nobody else would like me so I should just be glad someone likes me.  When you are that young you will believe anyone who tells you that stuff.  The only good thing that came out of that relationship was that he taught me how to mountain bike and it became my escape and outlet from reality.

Me, Ryan and Jack puppy!
Me, Ryan and Jack puppy!

I graduated high school at 17 and my parents could not afford to put me through college. I thought it was just for rich people. So my mom sat me down and opened up the local job ads. We circled everything that would train on the job. I was making $4.24 an hour at McDonald’s and waiting tables at night. A dentist hired me to dental assist for $5.25 an hour and I thought I was loaded! I even got to look cool wearing scrubs. A few years later I took a job closer to home with an incredible doctor and far better pay with benefits who one day looked at me and said I needed to go to college for dental hygiene.  My coworkers also started making me realize that I was in a terrible relationship.  One day he finally dumped me, it was the best day of my life.

Me and my jack puppy!
Me and my jack puppy!

The other hygienists encouraged me to go to school and start my new life. I was 21. Terrified and excited I took my SAT test, sent out applications and applied for student loans. I got accepted to the university of new Haven and with tears in my eyes left my full time job to pursue an education.

Photo Property of Philbrick Photography
Photo Property of Philbrick Photography

I had a new boyfriend who was fun, too fun.  We loved to ride bikes and party hard.  I drank too much, smoked too much weed and even got addicted to ecstasy.  I would frequent raves and found myself living a life that would most likely leave me dead.  One day he told me with tears in his eyes that I had a drug problem and begged me to stop, so I did.  I thought he had a drug problem so when he told me I had one it must have been bad.  Just like that my party days were over and I went through months of withdrawals trying to overcome the physical and emotional addiction to that drug.  Every day I wanted it, certain smells and sounds brought on a strong craving but I stayed focused on my goals and after several years was finally over my cravings.

The kids decided to dress up the bunnies.....
The kids decided to dress up the bunnies…..

I worked seven different jobs at a time, took out $101,000 in student loans and paid the living expenses for myself and that boyfriend at the time who couldn’t hold a job. I was so poor that I would steal food from the school cafeteria to eat. An angel found out and would give me non perishable food every 30 days. This was the beginning of me doing charitable work, once I was able to i promised myself I would help others in need who are truly trying. I wanted to walk away sometimes but the thought of repaying student loans and not getting a degree kept me so focused. Four years later I did it, I graduated, bought a house and got a new boyfriend who eventually told me he never loved me when we were at 18k foot camp the day before I stood on top of Denali.  That trip was bittersweet and turned the page on another chapter of my life while starting a new one that was full of the unknown.

Mountains!!!!
Mountains!!!!

I know this is a lot of information to share but I want people who struggle with things that I have struggled with can persevere.  Resilience  and motivation can take you anywhere and you are never stuck in any situation.  You can change your life.  I have about 6-8 years of therapy that I have gone through which helped me understand that I can’t blame others for what has happened to me and to accept my past as a part of who I am today.  I have to ask myself each day if I like who I am and for years the answer is yes.  I am not the weak girl that I used to be.  I am a strong woman with a past that is both violent and wonderful and I am okay with not being perfect and not having a clean past.  I want you to know that it is okay to not be perfect, that you can change your life and that you should never blame anyone or anything for your problems.  Face them, accept them and learn from them.  I honestly believe that my past has given me the ability to be compassionate, to love deeply and fully and to believe in not only my dreams but the dreams of others.  If you are in a situation that you need to leave or change, do not be afraid.  There is help.  My only regret in life is not reporting that person who abused me because if I did he would not have been able to go on and hurt others.

Photo property of Philbrick Photography
Photo property of Philbrick Photography

So that is the short version of my story!  Let me share a bit about running!  It’s been amazing!  I am running pain free thanks to Jessica Goldman Massage Therapy out of Dover, NH.  This woman not only finds and fixes your issues, she educates you on your body and how to take care of it!  Having suffered from a very bad concussion for over a year she also is knowledgeable on that and has special features she adds to her massage for people who suffer from a TBI.  I also frequent Dr Middleton in Dover who is the most amazing chiropractor in the world and between the two of them I feel amazing!

I have had some amazing mountain runs with friends and of course my Jack puppy and also have been sharing some intense and fun road miles with friends!  Abbey, Melinda and Scott have joined me on some spirited runs and Ryan and Nate have even allowed me to tag along on some of their adventures!  I need socialization on my runs, they make it so much more fun!  I am hoping to reconnect with Emily and the crew for some fun runs as well!

Hannah bumming a ride from hikers during a hike
Hannah bumming a ride from hikers during a hike

The kids have been great and Zoe is really taking a liking to running!  She ran the last 1.5 miles with me at the end of a fartlek run and it was so cute!  She asked so many questions and really had fun, the kid ran in boots which was even funnier!  She jumped out of the truck when Ryan drove by and stopped to chat and asked if she could run home with me…how could I say no!  She said she wants to run the mountains someday with me and daddy and it made my heart melt.  Hannah is certainly the artistic one in the family and the kid writes songs and draws pictures that are amazing!  We try to never push the kids and to allow each of them to sink their hearts into what they love, Zoe loves the outdoors and adventure, Hannah loves art and music.  We have such a wonderful relationship with these girls and they make me so happy (while certainly testing my patience at times) but that is what kids do.  I love them both so much!

Photo property of Philbrick Photography
Photo property of Philbrick Photography

On my days off I have also had the incredible opportunity to do some killer photo shoots with the Philbricks.  They are way too fun to work with and make me feel like a princess!  Every girl deserves to be beautiful and sometimes they can just capture moments that speak so loudly without saying a word.

I have a race coming up in a few weeks and although I am nervous I am actually quite excited to see where my fitness is!  I am working with my coach Jack again and finding the new challenges he provides me with so much fun!  I am running strong and consistently and hitting the gym 3-4x a week as well.  I feel strong, but more importantly I feel happy!  Ryan and I have a romantic adventure coming up real soon and I think it will be wonderful to spend some time together without any distractions.  Think running through tropical trails to snorkeling in clear blue water and sleeping in a tent under a palm tree.  Maybe sipping on a nice umbrella drink while watching the sun set….Ya, we are going to have a spectacular time!

Everything you need for an island vacation!
Everything you need for an island vacation!

It was quite a ride but I love what I do and where I work and am excited to continue my wild ride through life with my Ryan. Life is only what you make it and it is all about choices and taking chances. I had an incredible boss who taught me that anything is possible if you work hard and somehow found another one just as awesome!   Also, being the first in my family to go to college opened up doors for my brother who is a successful college graduate and owns his own business, my sister who is a successful pilot that has her own business now and my mom who even went to school to become a medical assistant. Never be afraid to make your dreams happen, you are never too old!  I’m damn proud to send in my student loan payment each month, it represents my hard work to have a career that I love and the fact that I can do it on my own!  Never look at student loans as a burden, instead look at them as a reminder of where you are today.

pretty sunrise from the house
pretty sunrise from the house

I’m really excited about this running season.  I have some ambitious but reasonable goals and am really focusing on balance with everything in my life.  Without balance life becomes chaotic.  I will overcome this temporary battle with PTSD and when I get to the other side there will be an incredible new chapter of my life to be written!  Within the next month I hope that Ryan and I are well on our way to the big move and wonderful life change together.  If it happens I will be sharing a lot of happy posts!  Pray for us, this is going to be good!

This picture, to me really expresses my past, my future and my passion to make my dreams come true.. Photo by Jay Philbrick Victoria Philbrick. Photo Property of Philbrick Photography
This picture, to me really expresses my past, my future and my passion to make my dreams come true.. Photo by Jay Philbrick Victoria Philbrick. Photo Property of Philbrick Photography

I want to finish by thanking my incredible sponsors for sticking with me through a really tough 2014.  You have no idea how much it means to me.  La Sportiva, your shoes and clothing are amazing!  UltrAspire, you make the most incredible hydration products around!  Choucas Hats, what can I say, when a girl needs to shine you know how to make it happen!  Fashionable and functional is what it is all about!  Julbo USA, I love your sunglasses, they don’t bounce, they look great and they protect my eyes on my crazy mountain adventures!  Dion Snowshoes, there is no better snowshoe on the market, my Dions have covered so many miles in the White Mountains and bring me such a huge smile!  Also wicked huge thank yous to Jack for taking me back on and coaching me, my friends for sharing so many miles and stories with me, my Ryan and Jack puppy for being a part of my dream and sharing so many incredible trail miles together, my step daughters Zoe and Hannah for teaching me patience and making me laugh and to everyone who inspires me and believes in me!  Sparkle on my friends!  :)

 

 

My nephew Jarek!
My nephew Jarek!
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Choose your attitude

It’s been a while and there were a lot of bumps in my road, let’s just call it confetti.  The old saying that sometimes something that seems really bad is a blessing is disguise turned out to be true!  I had been feeling weak since last summer when climbing hills and that continued to turn into hip pain on and off and then pain on my hikes and run, then it was killing me at the snowshoe race in Canada and finally on a run of Mount Waumbek I was reduced to tears as I finished the run.  I was in so much pain that I swore I had a stress fracture in my hip.   I was able to squeeze in a fun photo shoot with Philbrick Photography but was in pain the whole time and it was ridiculously cold too!  It is always a pleasure to work with Jay and Vickie, they are incredible at what they do!

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Me and Jack Puppy on Franconia Ridge!

 

Trying to get an appointment with the doctor was a nightmare and I had to wait 3 weeks.  So, I turned to my chiropractor who kind of helped but could not make it better and finally a massage therapist who happened to also be the woman that ran across the country last year self supported.  I was so excited to meet this total badass and see if she could help me feel better.  I hadn’t been able to sleep because of the pain, had to halt my training and could barely get through a work day or a drive in the car, but…somehow I could skate ski.  So, out of desperation to maintain fitness I took a positive approach to my injury and skied every chance I got and hit the gym consistently. Those two activities did not hurt.

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Winter camping in the yard with the kids, it was -5 degrees and cramped in the two person tent but they had fun so that made it all worth while!

I took lessons, I totally sucked but there was something so fun about learning to skate ski!  I went during lunch, I went after work, I went on the weekends and was racking up 30+ miles a week on the skis!  I was getting strong!  The kids had a hard time understanding why I couldn’t give them the rowdy horsey rides they usually get when they are over (they hop on my back and I thrash and jump around, they love it!)  We did convince them to sleep in the tent in the yard one night when it was -5 degrees and they had so much fun and Ryan and I were a bit squished but it was still fun!

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12 mile Evans mountain run on snowmobile trails

 

I felt like the world was against me.  I have spent the last two years suffering from my concussion which I am feeling about 90-95% better from and then this.  I cried at night and wondered if I would ever be able to even walk in the mountains again.  Mountains have been my serenity, my escape, my passion for so many years.  I don’t really care how I get up them, I just need to be in them.  I wanted to go to sleep and never wake up again, totally not my style but it is sometimes part of the process of accepting things not going your way.  I had severe sciatica and constant pain all the way down into my feet, but somehow I could still ski without pain.

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I needed a change, something different to make me smile again so I had my hair colored orange.

I had my hair colored, I rocked pretty flowers in my hair and focused on my skiing and the challenge of learning how to do it.   I skied at so many different places and it was really fun to slowly start getting the hang of it and then one day while at Waterville Valley it finally clicked and I didn’t want winter to end!  I could glide, my pace got faster and I was no longer a beginner.  I was able to get my heart pounding and my breathing labored, skiing was finally a workout!

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Having fun skiing!

I stayed happy and overcame my sadness.  I missed running but I had a lot to be happy for.  I have great friends, the most amazing job in the world with the best coworkers and boss ever, I was still able to get outside and have fun, I had a supportive husband and my sweet little Jack puppy!  I was so sad that he could not join me on my skiing adventures and that I didn’t have anyone to ski with so I was solo for 4 weeks.  I went to a painting class and painted a cool picture and I got caught up on some reading.  I also finally got to see Jessica for a massage.

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Ryan and Nate and Me on a Tom, Field, Willey, Avalon and Willard snowshoe run. My hip was quite sore on this one.

In horrible pain and praying she would give me some relief I met her at the massage studio.  She had a huge smile and the room was full of relaxing smells and some fractal therapy on the ceiling to help relax me.  She started by feeling my muscles and found a few areas that seemed to be locked up.  In between asking her about her running she also educated me on my body and what was going on.  I had a spasm in my upper back that pulled my hip out of alignment which in turn caused me to completely stop using some of my muscles (explained the weakness on hills) that caused others to tighten up and finally put pressure on my sciatic nerve..essentially paralyzing me in pain.  I left with zero pain and a follow up appointment the next week.

 

Photo property of Philbrick Photography
Photo property of Philbrick Photography

Completely thrilled and skeptical I emailed my coach Jack to tell him to start training me slowly.  He gave me some treadmill runs and the day I ran one mile I cried tears of joy.  For the first time in weeks I felt like my mountains weren’t taken from me anymore and that there was a chance my running season could still happen!  A week passed by and I was running 4 miles a day on the treadmill and skiing about 30 miles a week.  I started feeling so strong, stronger than ever before!  I cancelled my doctor appointment and scheduled three massages.

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Red Newt Racing Team and Mountain Peak Fitness Crew got a nice shot of our Franconia Ridge Traverse adventure!

Well, March 7 came and I decided to give a hike of the Franconia Ridge a try.  Ryans racing team would be coming up and I was hoping to be well enough to join them.  My plan was to bail at the halfway mark.  They were strong and a lot of fun to be with!  I really enjoyed spending time with everyone!  We got a nice dinner together and then the next day I went for an awesome skate ski adventure!  I felt so strong and so happy!  My body was working the way it should be!

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I went to one of those painting nights and really enjoyed painting the northern lights!

I went for my next massage and Jessica just kept making me better!  She is incredible!  I think I am going to see her for maintenance just like I see the chiropractor.  I beat the crap out of my body with the amount of exercising I do and it is really important for me to keep everything working right.  So, the excellent news is that I am running again and moving better than I ever have!  I can’t wait to see how this season ends up!  I am choosing to run happy and train even happier!

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Nate enjoying a beautiful day of snowshoe running in the mountains!

With a new outlook and attitude I have been running again and making sure I am  happy!  It has been so wonderful getting back out on the trails and sharing adventures with friends and my little Jack puppy!  I have some seriously lofty plans for this year and speed isn’t my goal, but instead being as strong as I possibly can.

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My violin, I love learning to play this thing! Rumor has it I may be performing this December!

Ryan and I have been  having fun with the kids and sharing our love of the outdoors with them.  It is so much fun to watch them learn and grow!  It has been a brutally cold winter so hiking didn’t happen like we hoped but now that the days will be warmer we are planning to get them back out on the trails!  We had the opportunity to watch some maple syrup being made and the girls played with the goats and bunnies at our friends house.  I never saw syrup being made but I will never forget that amazing smell coming from the vats of sap being boiled down!

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Dion snowshoes are the best!

Now that I am running again I am focused on my training.  Balance is the key to this year.  Working full time, being a step mom, having two hours of commuting a day and finding time to train, eat and shower…oh and sleep becomes a juggling act.  Some days the sleep doesn’t happen for as many hours as I hoped and some days the runs are split up or shortened but I am trying my best.  Ryan and I have been taking turns running when we have the kids, one of us runs in the morning, the other in the afternoon.  They get upset and don’t understand why we run on the weekends, Ryan put it perfectly and told them that adults need to play too.  They seemed to understand that.   We are hoping to move closer to my job within the next year which will save me 6+ hours a week of driving and land us a home IN the White Mountains!  We will be able to run the mountains right from our house!  Talk about a dream come true!

 

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My nephew Jarek! He is my sisters baby.

I had a great visit with my mom and sister in CT and was so excited to see my baby nephew Jarek!  The kid is really cute!  He makes so many funny faces and I wanted to just take him home with me!  I wish my family all lived in New Hampshire, I miss them so much.

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Jack puppy likes winter and he likes the Wildcats! He ran 20 miles this day!

This past weekend was incredible!  I had a great week of running, skiing and hitting the gym.  I was able to join Nate and Ryan on their man run Saturday which was an absolute blast!  We ran up the 19 mile brook trail, ran all the WIldcats and then turned around and did all the Carters before turning around and coming down the Carter Dome trail and back to the 19 mile brook trail.  It was 20 fabulous miles in snowshoes on a beautiful day in the mountains!  We enjoyed a great dinner at the Gypsy Cafe where I ate to my hearts content!  The forecast was pretty aggressive for today so we slept in.  I slept 12 hours and then had a lazy morning of making pancakes and doing some house chores.  Then Ryan ran with me on snowmobile trails to Evans Mountain. It was cold, windy and perfect running conditions!  It was such a blast!  We wore screw shoes and fueled on Maple Syrup.  In my quest to eliminate performance enhancing supplements and chemical from my diet I am seeking natural ways to fuel.  I eat too much candy on the trail and question the chemicals in gels.  I have been using whole milk yogurt for recovery and making my breakfast, lunch and snacks from scratch.  Ryan usually makes dinner and it is full of flavor and variety as well as really healthy!

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Jack puppy likes snoozing after runs

I think life is always about learning, trial and error and change.  As I always felt, happiness needs to come first.  As part of my employment at the dental office we were given a book to read that really was fun and reminded me that I may not always be able to control what is happening in my life but what I do have control over is choosing my attitude.  If you have time pick up a copy of the book FISH and read it.  I think my two favorite parts are about Playing and Choosing your attitude.  My boss strives to follow the list of ideas in the book which explains why my job is the best in the world!  When someone treats me so well it makes me want to put 150% into my day at work.  What is even cooler is the ideas in this book can be used in any situation, so the next time you are starting to feel like you don’t have a choice remember this:

YOU CAN ALWAYS CHOOSE YOUR ATTITUDE!
A huge Thank You to my amazing and supportive sponsors: La Sportiva, UltrAspire, Choucas Hats, JULBO USA and Dion Snowshoes.  Thank you to my coach Jack, my husband Ryan who loves me, my Jack puppy for making me smile so much on my runs and to all my friends for always being there for me!  Sparkle on!  :)

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A trip to remember!

I love adventure and I love being active!  From my first time hopping on a plane with my mountain bike and going on a solo adventure in Arizona I knew I needed to fill my life with wild memories.  I had no idea where these crazy adventures would take me but I did know that seeing new places was what made me happy and feel alive!

I am pretty darn lucky.  I have raced my bike all over the country, taken trips to run, hike, dirtbike and mountain bike in some of the most beautiful places in the US and have stood on top of some pretty incredible mountains along with spending up to a month in the wilderness simply surviving.  Glaciers and remote mountain locations are still my favorite and I will climb again but for now running non technical mountains suits my current lifestyle and fitness level.

crazy canoe race!
crazy canoe race!

This past weekend I got to travel to another country, although it wasn’t one of the far away places across the world it was still my first time doing something in a different country.  I was fortunate enough to be a part of the US Snowshoe team where we competed in Quebec City, Canada during winter carnival.

Of course I had doubts and thoughts of not going.  I was not in the shape I hoped to be in and was not able to follow the training plan I designed for myself.  Between tearing my achilles, residual depression, a terrible virus that stopped me in my tracks for 8 days with another week of feeling run down I was lacking confidence.  Aside from that we have been lacking in the snow department (until the last two weeks) and none of us here in NH got to spend a lot of time preparing for a snowshoe race.

Racing happy! Photo from the ISSF facebook page
Racing happy! Photo from the ISSF facebook page

Ryan drove myself, his dad and dads girlfriend up to Quebec City in a snowstorm.  We got to the hotel and spent the afternoon figuring out where things were.  I was a mess, nervous and totally freaked out.  I caught the tail end of the team meeting and got to see my teammates!  It was nice to chat with everyone and see that I wasn’t the only one feeling nervous and out of practice.  I was able to eat a solid dinner and get to bed after watching a wonderful fireworks display from our room.

I woke up around 4am to banging and scraping noises.  I looked out my window and saw dump trucks and tractors putting snow on the roads.  OMG, they were turning the streets into a race course!  They marked the course in the morning and it was so crazy!  Part of it was on the roads through town and the other part in a park on very loose snow with some wild ups and downs!

I was a mess all morning, spending time going to the bathroom a ton and choking down food.  I don’t deal with high pressure races very well and honestly just wanted to get it over with.  I spent a lot of time just thinking about staying calm and preparing myself for not being able to hang with everyone.  The four laps really worried me because I knew the guys would certainly lap me and possibly some of the girls.  Well, either way I was there and sticking to my plan of simply having fun and enjoying the moment!

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It was cold and windy but the sun was shining!  Ryan joined me for a lap on the course to preview what I was in for.  It was the wackiest course I have ever run on!  There was even a massive cliff we ran very close to the edge of!  I slapped on my shiny pink lip gloss and lined up with the women as we all froze waiting to take off two minutes after the men.  We giggled and laughed and wished each other luck!  It was so much fun to feel like a part of a team and for the first time racing felt like a team effort instead of an individual competition.  Seeing everyone on the team in matching uniforms was really special and one of those adventures I will never forget!

Soon we were off, and I was cold!  My hands were completely frozen and felt like blocks of wood.  My thighs were struggling to move as they were frozen too.  There were so many people lined up along the course and I kept telling myself to not blow up.  I kept a solid pace but it was slow, I was pretty far back in the group.  I had one negative thought pop into my head and then I looked around at the awesome situation I was in and was proud to even be there!  My smile grew and my nerves calmed down!  I kept seeing Ryan and Sam all over the course and Ryans dad and Pat at the beginning of each loop!  On lap two I got the screaming barfies (a climbing term, google it)  as my hands started to come back to life and it was nuts!  Random strangers were yelling out “GO USA!” and I got choked up!  This was the real deal, I was here representing our country and no matter how out of practice I felt people were making me feel so happy to be there!

Me and Jack puppy!
Me and Jack puppy!

I don’t think I ever got faster but I also never got slower.  As we got into our third lap I started to pass people and also got passed by some of the lead men.  I didn’t know what they were saying until I was shoulder checked and then realized it meant” get out of my way!”  I stayed focused and was really thrilled with how strong and steady I felt!  I think that meant more to me than being fast!  On my last lap I asked Ryan how Amber and Abbey were (they were ahead of me) and he said awesome!!!  I was so darn happy for them!  I laughed and told them I needed 20 more miles to make this my kind of race!  At that moment I realized I really am an endurance runner and I am trained for longer distance racing!  I was thrilled!

Team podium!
Team podium!

I was able to move up one more spot into tenth place and could not have been happier!  Of course I would have like to be able to place higher or run faster but when I got a high five at the finish line that didn’t matter!  I had an incredible race and ran the absolute best I could on that day!  Our team did awesome and we scored enough points to get a third place team award!  Amber scored a solid 4th place finish and Abbey a solid 8th, myself 10th, Jen 13th and Ashley 14th!

It was fun to see friends at the race and share in experience together! Ryan and I had a great dinner with his dad and Pat where I indulged in a fabulous desert after a tasty fish and chips meal! We all hung out at the awards and then Ryan and I headed out to experience winter carnival in below zero temperatures!  It was a hoot!  We rode in the ice luge, drank from a glass made out of ice, went inside an ice castle, saw some incredible ice sculptures and just checked out the sights before going to bed.  We drove back to New Hampshire and did the Osceola.  I had a really sore muscle in my hip from the loose snow at the race and struggled to run much but hiked the best I could and ended up sliding on my ass most of the way down laughing and having fun!  We also had ran into Jeff and Kathrine on the way up and saw some guys climbing some ice up there too!

The ice bar!
The ice bar!

We drove home where Tony had gotten Jack puppy from Pet-A-Gree and took him to the house and was nice enough to get our pellet stove going so we didn’t have to come home to a 50 degree house!  It was surely an experience that will last a lifetime!  I am also going to keep remembering to run happy and keep it fun!  I’m going to train the best I can and spend as much time as possible in the mountains!

Thank you to my sponsors La Sportiva, Julbo USA, Choucas Hats and UltrAspire for being there for me!  I am super lucky and proud to represent you!  Thank you to my friends, family and Jack puppy for making me so happy!

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It’s time to start over!

Liberty and Flume with Sarah!
Liberty and Flume with Sarah!

The last few weeks have been fun!  I have been back into training again and luckily got my 8 day cold out of the way before this weekend!  I had a 101 degree fever for three days, a super sore throat and was laid up for 8 days!  I got tested and it wasn’t the flu, but whatever it was hit hard!  A lot of people here in NH are getting this insane virus that leaves you with a lovely cough for weeks after!  I finally stopped hacking my guts out this week (my patients, coworkers and Ryan are thrilled!)

20 mile road run in a blizzard!
20 mile road run in a blizzard!

Training has been nothing short of interesting, I am afraid of the dark so if I don’t have a running partner my runs either don’t happen or I go for a short one on the road and go fast to get it over quicker.  Luckily I have a great husband and a lot of friends to keep me company on these cold and dark days of winter!  I think that is the only part of my job that I don’t like is not having time to run during the daylight hours in the winter!  Aside from that it is literally the best job I ever had, right up there with being a greens keeper at Amherst Country Club, yes, Steve you were a great boss too!!!!!  :)  Dr Neal is truly the best boss and most caring dentist, he goes above and beyond to make sure his staff and patients are well taken care of and happy.  He even respects my life outside of work, I didn’t know there were still bosses like that!  So, I have no intentions of leaving this gem of a job anytime soon.

Top of Garfield!  Fun snowshoe run!
Top of Garfield! Fun snowshoe run!

My weekends have been fun, a nice mix of running, playing in the mountains, doing stuff with friends and experiencing life with my step daughters!  Ryan and I are working really hard on finding balance in our lives and it feels like we are making some awesome progress!  Being parents is feeling normal and we are even able to now sneak out on long runs while the other watches the girls.  The kids have been enjoying the outdoors and it’s awesome to share the things we love with them!  We are hoping to get them out on some nice winter hikes in the Whites this winter!

The kids love doing hair!
The kids love doing hair!

 

I have been enjoying my violin lessons and it’s becoming more fun as I slowly improve my skills!  My teacher is fabulous and patient!  Unfortunately Ryan, the kids and the animals have to deal with me practicing my skills……Seriously though I am getting much better!  I think learning to play has been helping me recover from my concussion in 2013.  Unless you have been through a head injury you have no idea how much it takes away from who and what you are.  I could not even begin to explain to someone every detail of what the last year of my life was like except I felt like I was going crazy.  Between health issues both physically and emotionally I felt like I would never feel like myself again.  It feels like a miracle and a gift that the last few weeks have given me noticeable improvements in my well being.  I am starting to run like I remember and am hopeful I can run like I used to, if I decide that is what makes me happy.

 

Our road in the winter
Our road in the winter

I have Snowshoe Worlds coming up this weekend in Quebec City, Canada.  I really haven’t had a lot of time practicing for the race and have trained the best I could in the little time I had to get ready.  The lack of snow made for tough training opportunities as well.  No matter where I place I am going to show up proud and ready to represent the United States with a huge smile!  I may not podium but I am going to have fun!  Besides, it’s winter carnival up there and that in itself will be sweet to see!  I think we have a really strong team heading up there and think the United States will do really well.  I wish I were able to be healthy enough to have trained as I planned but sometimes life has other plans for us.  I tried and in the end that is what really matters.  I put way too much pressure on myself when I race and the bigger the event the more nervous I get.  The rest of this years races will be mostly low key and fun!

 

My nephew in CT!
My nephew in CT!

This summer I am spending most of my days in the hills, running up and down mountains.  That is what makes me happy!  I can’t wait for longer days because I work so close to some really sweet mountains to run on!  After work mountain runs are going to be so much fun!

 

Jack puppy likes winter!
Jack puppy likes winter!

Of course my favorite event of the summer will be happening again, the Bear Brook Trail “Marathon” and half marathon.  Okay, it is longer than a marathon but that is part of the fun!  The half marathon is a half so the faint of heart should choose that one.  Ryan and I love to put on this wacky event and it is truly a highlight of the summer!  From marking the course while getting attacked by deerflies and covered in ticks to consuming more blueberries than anyone should eat the two days of hanging ribbons and placing flags are so fun!  Then of course setup, coordination with the park manager, porto potty guys and just getting it all happen makes for such an exhausting week!  But…on race morning when the parking lot fills up with smiling runners, incredible volunteers and so many friends it makes it all worth while!  We are on ultrasignup now so register before the price increases on March 1!  Where else can you run a marathon with fully stocked and fun aid stations and get cool finisher awards and a sweet barbeque for only $35!!!!???  We also need volunteers and you can sign up to volunteer on ultrasignup as well!

The girls love the woods!
The girls love the woods!

So, send positive thoughts to the US Snowshoe team this weekend!  It is going to be a hoot!  And a huge thank you to Julbo for taking me back this year!

Breaking trail!  The snow was taller than  Jack puppy!
Breaking trail! The snow was taller than Jack puppy!

Never give up hope, sometimes when we feel like we can’t take another block in the road something happens and suddenly good things start to happen.  Be patient with yourself and with the people in your life you love.  Even when you don’t feel like you can smile, try.  One day you will smile again and so will your heart.  :)

breaking trail in the winter!
breaking trail in the winter!

 

super jack!
super jack!
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A new year brings new goals!

New Years Resolutions are always interesting to me.  They are full of hopes, dreams, aspirations and sometimes goals we quickly forget about.  I generally don’t have big resolutions for the new year and try to live each day in a way where I make little changes and move closer to my ever changing vision of where I want to be.  The last few years have been quite the adventure, I got to experience competing in a sport at a very high level and it was fun but sadly also took away from the quality of my life which I measure by happiness.  It sounds ridiculous but racing at a high level made me feel lonely, affected my self esteem and allowed me to put so much pressure on myself as an athlete that I forgot who I was as a person.  It took a year of reflection, injury and shying away from social media to return to who I was and who I want to be.

me and Jack on Carrigan
me and Jack on Carrigan

I am a happy person full of adventure.  I love to climb mountains, see new places, spend face to face time with real friends, play outdoors with my husband, be a step mom, coach runners to help them achieve new goals, help people keep their mouths healthy, read and so much more!  I can’t focus on only one thing in my life and I need socialization.  The last year has been lonely and after finally leaving Facebook I am beyond thrilled that so many people have reached out to actually spend time with me!

Eisenhower winter fun!
Eisenhower winter fun!

I do plan to continue racing and training but will be focusing on the races that are tough to finish, full of rocks and mountains and really allow me to spend time in places that make my heart smile!  I also have personal goals of climbing all the US Highpoints and eventually start trying my skills on mountains outside of the United States!  I have been busy training for the US Snowshoe World Championship race in Canada this month and with the lack of snow I have no idea what to expect, but I know in my heart I am training for it the best I can.  I may not represent our country on the podium but I will represent our country with a smile!

being goofy with Carolyn and Kelsey!
being goofy with Carolyn and Kelsey!

The mountains have been calling and I have been rallying up there every chance I get!  I have been running and hiking in the Whites with friends, with Ryan and of course with my little Jack Puppy!  I missed spending so much time romping through the mountains and it feels like home to be back up there!  With our careers being focused in the White Mountains and Lakes Regions we are even looking to move north within the next few years and make the White Mountains our forever home.  It would be a great place for us all to find peace, solitude and adventure.  The girls will be able to begin to appreciate the mountains we love so much and Jack Puppy will have so many new adventures waiting for him each day!

Me and Jacko going up Wildcat!
Me and Jacko going up Wildcat!

Carolyn and Kelsey did some awesome hikes with me so far this winter on days where the forecast was terrible and we were treated to incredible views, low winds and comfortable temperatures combined with perfect snow conditions!  It has been so much fun to get out with some girls and play in the mountains!

Awesome Shoe!!!  Crossover GTX
Awesome Shoe!!! Crossover GTXR

Winter has been interesting this year, so much ice and changing temperatures and not a ton of snow yet!  I have been thoroughly enjoying my La Sportiva Crosslite GTX shoes!  They keep my feet dry even in streams that are as high as my ankle!  It is the perfect shoe for fall, winter and spring!  I love to use the hobnails with them for awesome traction!

Adam, Nate and Ryan sighting on the way up Kinsman!
Adam, Nate and Ryan sighting on the way up Kinsman!

Jack puppy has been having a blast playing outside and tagging peaks!  He loves the winter and gets so upset when we have to give him a rest day.  He still has 4 more peaks to get his 48 high points and hopefully this winter we can get Jacko his 48 finish!  He has Cabot, Waumbek, Madison and Adams.  He hopes that when he goes for his finish some friends will join him for the celebration!

Jack puppy!
Jack puppy!

We never know what our futures hold but I am wishing for a wonderful 2015!  My goals are to focus on happiness, staying fit, having fun and financial freedom.  Balance is something I lost in my life and it has been coming back!  It feels so good to have figured out what I want and where I want my life to go.  I also want to thank La Sportiva and Choucas Hats for taking me on again this year, I will have a fun year of racing and adventure!  I am happy again and excited to have a blast this year!  :)

 

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The eight mile hamster wheel!

Since my last post life has been good and also the usual crazy!  I have found regularity in my training again and have adjusted to my work schedule.  I am starting to run with friends after work and learning new areas in Wolfboro.

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getting the tree

I had registered for the Middlesex Fells 40 mile trail race and was trying to get into shape to break 8 hours.  This race has been a very wacky part of my life.  The first time I registered I showed up on crutches to volunteer because I broke my pubic bone.  The second time I registered I was two minutes shy of breaking 8 hours. Hellbent on breaking 8 hours I trained hard for the race last year only to fracture my skull and get a concussion about a week prior to the race and had to sit it out.  This year I had been in an emotional and physical funk but decided no matter what I would give it my best and see if I could break the stout cut-off this race has.  My peak mileage was only 60 miles and most weeks were 35-42 miles a week and I was only cleared to start training again in mid-October.  I had no clue as to how it would go but with my new attitude and goals with my running/racing I didn’t care.  I was going to run with a smile, just like I did when I first started racing.

More sledding fun!
More sledding fun!

Ryan and I have been having fun with the girls and we had quite the wild Thanksgiving!  I got up around 4am Wednesday morning to bake pies and then went to work.  It started snowing and Ryan had to go from his FedEx job right to his snow plowing job and Ryans dad and dad’s girlfriend were bringing the kids over for Thanksgiving.  I got home that evening and made dinner and baked the rest of the baked items for Thanksgiving.  The storm was getting crazy and the power would come and go.  I called Ryan and he was able to pick up a small generator that would run the pellet stove.  He had it in his truck and would bring it home when he was done plowing.

I made a wreath!
I made a wreath!

We lost power around midnight and Ryan was able to come home for two hours to sleep and drop off the generator while the storm went crazy.  He got up and left to go back to plowing.  I got the generator assembled and ready to go and then realized we didn’t have any gas or oil for it.  Our driveway was an absolute nightmare and the snowblower was broken.  The gas stations were not open until 6am so I fixed the snowblower, cleared the driveway and shoveled.  I drove down our class VI road, driving over down trees and some wires.  Luckily my car is like a tank in the snow and I got to the gas station and waited in line for gas and a huge cup of coffee.  It was fun shooting the shit with the plow guys as we chugged our coffees and filled our gas cans as we were treated to an amazing post storm sunrise!

Sunrise after the storm!
Sunrise after the storm!

I got home and the house was now 49 degrees.  I got that generator going and cranked the pellet stove.  Luckily we own a grill and we have a gas stovetop.  Ryan called to check on me an suggested I cook the turkey on the grill, what a fabulous idea!  I got the meal going on the grill and the stovetop and smiled.  Years ago my parents taught me how to take care of myself.  My dad taught me how to work on engines, fix cars, fix houses, do plumbing, electrical, etc.  My mom taught me how to be a nice and caring person and to be strong.  Even though they were in CT on Thanksgiving I had to call them and thank them for teaching me how to take care of myself.  It felt good to be able to provide for my inlaws and step daughters and for Ryan to feel comfortable at work without having to worry about his family.  My parents always told me that I shouldn’t need a man in my life, I should want one.

Ryans dads car stuck in the driveway
Ryans dads car stuck in the driveway

Ryan made it home in time to carve the turkey and enjoy dinner together as a family!  That meal never tasted so good and turkeys on the grill are so yummy!  We enjoyed time together and then Ryans family went home.  We put the dirty dishes in tupperware bins and settled in for an early night without power.

Saturday we had the kids again and we still didn’t have power but made the best of it.  On Sunday, still no power but we did get a Christmas tree!  We wanted a 6 footer and somehow ended up with an 11 foot tree!  Luckily we have cathedral ceilings!  It was a bear to get it in and up but the tree was beautiful!

We then went sledding with the kids and Hannah managed to get stuck knee deep in a pile of cow manure.  Ryan had to rescue her and pull her boots out of the poop.  At the end of the debacle the four of us were covered in cow poop and Jack puppy was eating it.  We decided to carry on and go sledding, maybe the snow would wash off some of the poo.

We came home and finally on Sunday got power back!  We were so thrilled and made sure everyone got showered after the cow poop sledding adventure!

Jack puppy loves sledding!
Jack puppy loves sledding!

The next week was restful.  I had bronchitis and was on medication for several days and the prednisone part was tough.  It made me feel sick, cranky and I was unable to sleep.  I was on four medications and an inhaler but after a week I felt better and was thrilled because I could now race the Fells!

I went to the festival of trees gala preview with the office on Thursday and it was a really nice time!  It was fun to get dressed up too!  I took an easy rest day Friday and then woke up super early to go to the Fells race on Saturday.  Ryan had to go into snowplow around 1am and would not be able to make the race and I was so sad.  I almost didn’t go because I felt bad and when I saw what a disaster the roads were I almost turned back but instead kept driving.  I made it to the race 20 minutes before the start and was so happy to see friends there smiling.

Driving home from work Wednesday
Driving home from work Wednesday

Jack puppy joined me and my friend Carolyn had offered to get him out while I was racing.  That little dog is just way too cute!  We started the race in 34 degrees and slight drizzle.  The forecast was ugly but it was going to be fun!  Seriously, New Englanders are tough.  There were a bunch of people standing at the start, smiling and ready to run!  We don’t care about cold, rain, sleet, snow, mud, rocks, hills and roots!  Suddenly we were off!

Photo by ultrasmartrunner Jumping for joy at the Fells!
Photo by ultrasmartrunner Jumping for joy at the Fells!

I chose my favorite direction on the course and a couple of guys followed me.  We chatted for a while before separating.  I spent most of the first two loops solo.  It was wet, cold and slick.  Sometimes it rained.  I was having a blast and feeling really good and steady!  I had no idea if I would even be able to finish but I kept on going ahead with a smile!  Everytime I saw someone on the course they would be smiling too!  It was so much fun!

Lap two I took two diggers and was a bit bloodied up.  I almost passed out when I saw blood dripping down my hand.  I was really out of practice on the trails and the skyline loop is extremely rugged!  I just kept tripping on roots and rocks!  Traction was not in issue because I had on my La Sportiva Bushido’s, my favorite shoe for slick places!

The tree!
The tree!

On lap 3 I ran with Dima and took a couple more diggers, one was so bad it took my breath away.  I wailed my arms, hip and knees on the rocks in a rock garden.  I thought I broke my arm.  I looked at my arm and it looked like a golfball where I hit the rock.  I almost passed out and Dima told me not to look and to keep going.  I smiled and carried on in pain.  We had fun running together!  I was in pain and tried to drop at mile 24 and nobody let me drop so I went back out for more madness!  At that moment I knew I would finish.

On lap 4 I was solo again as Dima went in a different direction.  My knees started hurting from the fall and I could no longer descend well.  I was losing time and motivation.  I was really lonely and wanted some company.  It was a struggle but seeing  a smiling face every so often on the trail kept me going.  I thought about why I run and reminded myself that I am tough, I could do this and that I would finish for Ryan.  He trained so hard for the race and was not able to go.  Then I saw Carolyn with Jack puppy!  They were pacing Danielle and I gave my pup a smooch and smiled.  I ran the rest of the loop happy.

To my surprise my friend Tony showed up to pace me for my last loop!  I was in desperate need of a pacer, I lost about 13 minutes on loop 4 and had 1 hour 56 minutes to break 8 hours when I rolled into the aid station.  I grabbed food and told Tony to get me back in under  hours.  We took off and having company was like having a second wind!  I felt like shit, every muscle ached, every bruise throbbed and every scrape burned from the rain and sweat.  My breathing was erratic and I was totally exhausted but somehow I kept going.

Blackie being blackie!
Blackie being blackie!

I was steady, didn’t fall and had fun conversations with Tony that distracted me from how I was feeling.  I was so out of it and so tired but just wanted to finish strong.  When I got on top of the hill with the tower Tony said there should be a bell to ring.  I started laughing told him I needed a punching bag to punch when I got to the top!  My legs were SCREAMING at me and somehow I was laughing!  Once we hit the dog park I knew we were home free.

Photo by ultrasmartrunner.  The tower at the fells
Photo by ultrasmartrunner. The tower at the fells

 

I had to stop and tie my shoelace twice and then once we got on the last descent I picked up the pace.  I saw a guy coming from the other direction and told him I was racing him to the finish!  It was hilarious!  We were sprinting each other and he out kicked me by 14 seconds!!!!  We hugged after and laughed at how it was a great race!  I was thrilled!  As I began cramping violently I smiled knowing I just PR’d by 20 minutes!  I finished in 7:42 and was beyond happy!  What a way to end the season!  I was surrounded by friends and smiles.  Carolyn made sure I didn’t forget to put dry clothes on and after some puppy kisses from Jacko I hung out for a while to enjoy chatting with friends.  We laughed about the weather and that crazy race I love so much.  Ryan called and congratulated me on my PR, I felt so sad he wasn’t there.

Jack puppy being cute!
Jack puppy being cute!

I have a lot of people to thank for helping me figure out so many things this year.  I think changing my racing and running goals to solely being having fun and great experiences is going to be good for me.  This also means lower profile races and being a bit mysterious with where and when I will be racing.  Life is too short to not be having fun and I never want my running to feel like a job.  Running needs to be a way to keep my soul smiling!  Oh, and a way to stay fit enough to tag those US highpoints!  I am still always looking for running partners so please email me!  kristina@dangergirldh.com

Zoe made this for me on Thanksgiving.  Made the madness worth while!
Zoe made this for me on Thanksgiving. Made the madness worth while!

Happiness comes first and sometimes you really have to be honest with yourself and what makes you happy.  I am so thankful that I seemed to have found my happy place again!  :)

Another sunrise!
Another sunrise!

 

 

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Finding peace within my soul

The year is almost over and as I see the pages turning on my calendar I have taken the last few weeks to reflect on how things played out, what was good, what was not good and where I hope to go next.  I have spent a lot of time away from social media and more time with friends.  I did end up getting that job that I applied for and it has become my dream job and I hope it stays that way.  For anyone who knows me, you understand that I don’t like the traditional work week and that I was so done with dental hygiene after working in a terrible office, but, this job is different.  It is in the beautiful town of Wolfboro, New Hampshire and I work with some of the nicest people and have the best patients!  It is an absolute joy to go to my job and help my patients each day, I have fallen back in love with dental hygiene!  Having oodles of sweet trail nearby helps make it that much better!

View from near my new job!
View from near my new job!

As for my running I am giving it another go.  My achilles has healed, the doctor gave me the thumbs up and I am so out of shape I can’t help but laugh at it!  I have decided to accept the challenge of getting back in shape and have very new and different goals than the last few years.  This year has literally chewed me up and spit me out, but along the way taught me a lot of lessons.  After spending the year being broke, injured, sick, feeling awesome and feeling terrible I am tired.  I had lost my love of running and eventually my desire to wake up in the morning.  I didn’t care if I ever woke up, but I knew this wasn’t me and that I needed to find my smile again.  It was hard at first but slowly it happened, things turned around and each day I found myself closer to who I am and who I want to be.  I am even back in therapy to get my head in a good place.

Mount Rogers, Virginia high point!
Mount Rogers, Virginia high point!

I stopped racing, I started running for fun and even mountain biking again.  I put the watch down for a while and stopped looking at my pace.  I ran with friends, ran with Ryan, ran with Jack puppy.  I ran in New Hampshire and had some incredible runs in Utah while visiting my brother and his wife and finally meeting my baby nephew Alexander.  While in Utah I tagged Kings Peak with Ryan and got peak #13 in my  US Highpointing adventure!  It was snowy, cold, sunny, beautiful, scary and icy on the narrow ridge (3k foot drop on one side and 2k drop on the other!) and of course there was altitude which gave us splitting headaches and nausea.  It was the most incredible 30 miles of my life!

Kings Peak Summit!  Utahs high point!
Kings Peak Summit! Utahs high point!

I am in a good place today, I am happy!  I love being a step mom and sharing our love of the outdoors with Ryans daughters Zoe and Hannah.  They girls recently earned their NH firetower patches with the most recent ascent being a windy but awesome Cardigan climb!  These kids have given me a new reason to smile and are the center of my world!  I want to be a good role model for them and show them that it is okay to be themselves and how important it is to be happy.  Watching them enjoy new things and to experience life through the eyes of a child is something I am beyond grateful for.  I never imagined being a step mom could be so amazing!

Mount Cardigan summit!
Mount Cardigan summit with the girls!

As for my goals, it is simply to be happy.  I also plan to continue to work on being healthy, fit and having fun!  I am not done racing but do need a break.  I need to spend some time getting my head in the right place, spending time with my family creating wonderful memories together, hanging out with friends and getting healthy before I can run like I used to.  Oh, and I am taking fiddle lessons just for fun!  An evening watching Old Crow Medicine show performed made it look so fun I had to learn how to play!  2015 is going to be a year of peace, happiness, health and fun!

Cardigan hike with the kiddos!
Cardigan hike with the kiddos!

I also plan to stay removed from most social media and keep my life happenings limited to my blog.  When people seemed to start liking me only because I was running fast it really played games with my head.  I spent most of the year trying to figure out if people wanted to talk to me because I was fast or if because I was a nice person.  I am far from shallow and sometimes too brutally honest.  It means a lot to me for people to like me because they met me and being around me makes them feel good.  It was also hard to find out that people didn’t want to run with me because they were afraid of slowing me down,  New Hampshire can be a lonely place for an active girl and I run slow and fast!  Running is a social sport for me and without friends to share it with I would rather find something else social to do.

Ryan looking off the summit of Timp!
Ryan looking off the summit of Timp!

 

I also am quite shy (although it may not seem like it) and prefer to stay out of the spotlight.  I am proud of my accomplishments and like to help encourage others to chase their dreams but I don’t want to be treated any differently than anyone else simply living their lives.

Having fun in Utah!
Having fun in Utah!

If you want to contact me or Ryan (We are no longer on facebook) my email is kristina@dangergirldh.com .  We are always looking  to run and hang out with people!  I would also like to thank my sponsors for being so good to me this year, it really meant a lot to me!  :)

Jack puppy was a dragon
Jack puppy was a dragon

I don’t know when I will post again but I do know I will be having fun!  It feels good to smile again  and whatever life hands me I will continue to focus on being the best person I can be and remember that being happy is what really matters to me.  :)

 

My nephew Alexander!
My nephew Alexander!
My other nephew Jarek!
My other nephew Jarek!
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An incredible week and a feeling that things are finally turning around!

Philbrick Photography captured a 26 year long dream of mine on film!
Philbrick Photography captured a 26 year long dream of mine on film!

What an incredible week this has been!  Ryan and I found some closure from our friends passing when we hiked up Moosilauke with friends.  It had been a very rough few days and we just didn’t know how to deal with such sad emotions.  Each day it became a bit easier and celebrating his life on a nice hike with others who were friends with Chad somehow gave us some peace.  The clouds were amazing and we came down under the light of our headlamps.

Remembering Chad on Moosilauke
Remembering Chad on Moosilauke

I had a great run with my friend Carolyn and it was nice to share some time on the trail with a friend.  I don’t have a lot of people to run with and it was really nice to finally run with someone!!!

Then last Friday Ryan and I caught wind of a rumor that the Northern Lights would be bright and spectacular around 8pm.  I started doing a ton of research and bugging people I knew who are experts in finding these lights.  We planned to do an evening ascent and look for the aurora.  This has been something I have wanted to see since I was around 10, that was 26 years ago!

The milky way! Philbrick Photography
The milky way! Philbrick Photography

I received a call on Thursday from Jay Philbrick.  He was looking to photograph a bride in front of the lights.  I mentioned Ryan would be with me and he asked if Ryan would mind being a groom.  Ryan agreed and Jay seemed pretty excited!  So, we packed up my wedding dress, Ryans suit and our running clothes.  We scooped up Jack puppy and headed to the mountains!

Black cap!
Black cap!

I was worried about my achilles but as the doctor suggested I would walk as soon as there was pain.  I have a few weeks to go before I can run like I used to but for now I am just happy I can run at all!

We got up to the trail head and started running up in perfect weather!  I felt amazing!  I ran at an effort that my achilles could handle and was smiling the whole way!  We got to the top and the views were spectacular!  After a couple of minutes on the summit we ran down laughing and having fun!

Jerimoth Hill!
Jerimoth Hill!

I think that was the most fun I have had on a run in quite a while!  We snagged a quick thai dinner and met up with Jay and Vickie.  Jack puppy snoozed in the car as I curled my hair on the way to the shoot.  We arrived and I tossed on my wedding gown and Ryan got into his suit.  We set up the shot and Jay started taking pictures as soon as the lights were happening!

Jack puppy and Jackson!
Jack puppy and Jackson!

Well, if you have never seen the northern lights I am going to spoil it for you.  It is kind of like finding out the Easter bunny isn’t real.  Your eye can’t see color in the lights.  Ryan and I kept looking around at them and saw a band of white light that moved, large white pillars in the sky.  It was cool but not the overwhelming blast of color that looks like a crazy hallucination!  There were photographers there as well and everyone was flipping out about the colors, Ryan and I kept looking and laughed because it was just a pale white with maybe a hint of green.

Ya, crazy!!!
Ya, crazy!!!

What we learned that night from the photographers and later confirmed by researching online is that you can see some color if you are way up north and they are overhead, but they are pretty much white to the naked eye.  Throw a camera in front of them and you get to see the colors!  It was like some sort of a magic trick!  When Jay showed us the pictures we flipped out!  OMG, it didn’t even seem real!

Jack puppy loves mountains!
Jack puppy loves mountains!

After an amazing night of seeing the lights Ryan and I drove home for a few hours of sleep.  We woke up and drove to CT and met up with Mike and Sue.  We drove to Rhode Island and we tagged the highpoint Jerimoth Hill.  It was hilarious!  You basically drive to the summit!  We had a few good laughs, dropped off Jack puppy at the house and went out for Hibachi.  We had so much fun at dinner and then finished the night by heading to a Tom Petty concert!

Maturity at its best at Tom Petty
Maturity at its best at Tom Petty

That show was incredible and they played for almost 3 hours!  We had a really good time and then drove back to their house.  The next morning we took our time getting up and said our goodbyes before driving out to attempt to climb Mount Frissell which is the high point in CT.

Summit of Jerimoth Hill!
Summit of Jerimoth Hill!

We ran up Bear Mountain and had fun!  When we got to the summit we were shocked to see Todd and Kim Brown with Jackson and Lacy!  We chatted for a bit while the doggies looked at each other (Jack puppy is afraid of his own kind!)  Jack puppy found something to roll in that smelled like fish.  It was nasty but later in the day he found poop to roll in and that is even nastier!

That was hard!
That was hard!

We continued down the Appalacian trail and found ourselves on top of a mountain…..OOOPPPPSSS!!!  We were too busy chatting and forgot to turn onto the trail for Mount Frissell!  It was getting late in the day and we would already have 14 miles in our legs and to hit Frissell would have added almost 8 more miles.  My achilles was starting to talk to me so we called it a day.  Twice this silly mountain has gotten me!  I will get this high point someday!  :)

Me and Sue and Jacko!
Me and Sue and Jacko!

We didn’t get home until midnight so this week has been exhausting!  I have a job interview today and hope that it works out.  The dental field is crazy, it’s so important to make sure you are a good match for the office, that your ethics are similar, that the patients are nice, that the doctor and staff are nice and that the drive isn’t awful.  There is a lot involved in finding the perfect dental home, I am hoping this one is it!

Todd and Jack puppy!
Todd and Jack puppy!

I think that life is starting to turn around for us!  We are having a lot of fun with Ryans kids and it seems to get easier and more comfortable every time we see them.  We miss having them during the week and the house is so quiet.  I sometimes go into their bedroom and just sit and stare.  When they are gone something just feels like it is missing.

Mount Race
Mount Race

I have been running again!  I am not running fast but I am running and I am back in the gym!  I have also come up for a plan with my running goals.  Next year will bring huge changes to my running, a much more low key but still intense year.  I have learned that I have horrible stage fright and just struggle with performing when people have such high expectations of me.

I have lost my joy of running but slowing down with social media and living my life in a quieter fashion has brought back the happiness I lost.  I don’t want to be fast if it means people don’t want to run with me or if it means people only like me because I can run fast.  I want people to do stuff with, I want to spend time with friends-new and old.  I want to run for myself, no, I need to run for myself!

Bear Mountain!
Bear Mountain!

I love to blog and share my experiences but I am a very shy person.  What makes me happy is being able to give people hope and inspiration through sharing my triumphs and struggles.  I don’t want to be treated any differently because I am not different and I also want everyone to know that you can all live your dreams.  If your dream is to be fast, you can do that too.  The sacrifices that you have to make to be fast are huge, but I fully believe that if you are willing to make those changes you can do it.

An out take from the photo shoot with Philbrick photography
An out take from the photo shoot with Philbrick photography

My dream is to simply do what makes me happy and this weekend was the start of some wonderful changes for Ryan and I.  We are working together toward a goal that we created together.  So, here we go!  I’m ready for a change, an awesome one that I get to share with my best friend who is also my husband, my jack puppy and two beautiful step daughters Zoe and Hannah!

For you non believers Jim Salge Photography, we photo bombed their shoot!
For you non believers Jim Salge Photography, we photo bombed their shoot!

 

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An ordinary girl living a not so ordinary life