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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No internet, no watch, a good map and great company!

Jack puppy on the last summit!

Since our trip to St Johns Island I really loved being away from it all.  Not a care in the  world, simply moving and living.  It was a great break and I want more of those in my life.  Ryan and I spend way too much time online, checking emails, answering phone calls, text messages and are tapped out with moving, trying to sell our home, training, being parents and just living life.  Time slips by so quickly and you can never get it back.  I have a lot of stuff I want to do before I die so I choose to do it all but sometimes it feels really good to take a break from the GPS watch, the facebook posts, the twitter feed, the instagram picture, work, paying bills and the hectic but wonderful life we live.  At the last minute the kids decided to bail on us this weekend to go to Canobie Lake with a friend who offered to take them so we suddenly found our weekend went from kid paced activities to some time together and alone which was completely unplanned.

Jack puppy is so excited about his first backpacking trip!

The fireroad trail

I’m not going to lie, they are getting older and will want more time with their friends than with us and it makes Ryan and I a bit sad, but they need to socialize and live their lives too.  Hopefully we can keep giving them fun experiences that make them want to spend more time with us.  Well, with our plans suddenly changed we started out the morning as planned, just without the kids.  We met up with our friend who is a land surveyor to evaluate our new property for Ryans business and then headed over to our new home in the White Mountains to see if there was anything the seller had that we could take with the house.  After that Ryan did an estimate on a house in Campton and by 2pm we were finally in the parking lot for the trailhead up to the Osceolas from Tripoli Road.

Up on an Osceola!

With my plans of doing the diretissema and Ryans upcoming speed record attempt we decided a back packing trip would be a great way to see where we were at with hiking fitness!  Jack puppy was excited about his very first camping trip and bounced around the parking lot jumping and smiling while we loaded up our backpacks!  We wre both in great spirits and excited to turn off the phones, not even bring watches and to use the sun to determine our day.  It was time to get off the grid for a bit!  I turned on our SPOT tracker and we were off!

Starting out!

Hiking with weight was different and certainly slowed the pace down for us.  Time passed slowly but so did the miles.  We had no idea what our pace was and figured we would try to make it 15 miles the first day.  We got up and over the Osceolas feeling great (I struggled a bit on the descent with the pack throwing my balance off but got down it unbroken!)  Of course little Jack puppy flew down the trail having the time of his life!

camping!

We got out to the Kanc and did the .7 mile walk on the road while Jack puppy barked at motorcycles and cars.  Once we got on the Hancock notch trail we let him back off leash and he was happy again.  We were having fun and finally found the Cedar brook trail!  It was so beautiful and we felt so alone!  We didn’t see people and the weather was perfect!  We carried on down the trail, filtering water when needed and staying on top of eating.  Jack puppy brought liver treats for trail snacks and loved  having them!

bear hang!

Finally the sun was getting low.  I really wanted to make it to the Wilderness trail but Ryan suggested we stop so I agreed and we found a perfect place to rig up the hammocks and a bear hang!  We got set up and out of our sweaty clothes and enjoyed a great dinner!  We ate tastybites and freeze dried tortellini!  We enjoyed some small boxes of wine and settled in for a good night of sleep…..well…Jack puppy kept us up barking and growling for a while.  He finally burrowed into my sleeping bag and fell asleep and so did I.  Jack puppy feels like he needs to protect us and does a nice job of scaring away the wildlife…

desolation trail

We got up a few hours after the sun came up, it was pure laziness.  We had a HUGE day ahead of us so we had a quick breakfast and started hiking.  The packs slowed us down and we would jog a bit when we could but it was pretty short lived.  The hiking poles were weird, the pack was big and it was just something I was not in practice for.  Either way it was fun and we were smiling!

Love my sportiva mutants!

We made it to the Wilderness trail and took that all the way to the Nancy Pond trail.  It was amazing to be on so many new trails and to see the devastation from Hurricaine Irene that was a few years ago!  We arrived at the Desolation trail head and I knew what was in store for us, lots of steep.  I had done it in the winter but never the summer and of course it was an insane boulder field!  It was loaded with blowdowns toward the top and I was about to completely lose it, but figured it wouldn’t help.  We had a long day and I needed to keep moving forward!  Finally we stood on top of Carrigan and we took a short break!

Jack puppy loves Carrigan!

We hustled down the signal ridge trail trying to make up some time.  There were a lot of people and after what seemed like forever we were on the fireroad that was quite overgrown.  It was full of prickers and bushes.  We pushed on through until we came to the Sawyer River Pond parking.  We took the Sawyer River trail and when we got to the Hancock notch trail we pulled out the map.  Our original plan was to go to Livermore road, greely ponds, etc and then up the Osceolas.  Taking the notch would shave 2 miles off the trek and with the slow pace we were pulling we opted to take the short cut.

Old stuff from the logging camps!

Last big push of the day

Well, let me tell you something about shortcuts in the White mountains on trails that get very little use….We would have made better time doing the two extra miles!  OMG!!!  It started out all fun and easy, then came the insane river crossings where the trail was completely obiliterated from Irene.  Finding where the trail was on the other side of the river was brutal!  One was up on a huge embankment!  Then came the practically bushwacking through thick scrub followed by swamps that even swallowed Jack puppy up to his waist!  We were soaked and tired.  The trail was relentless.  Our cuts and scratches killed with every branch and pine needle that dug into them as we pushed through.  The mud was so deep and so thick.  The rocks were relentless and don’t even get me started on the blowdowns!  Each height of land turned out to be a false crest over the pass.  Instead they would take us down into more challenging terrain.  I felt like we were in hell!  It was even harder than the Mahoosics!  Our feet were maserated and sore, my knees were on fire from Cayuga and our moral was quite low.  Even Jack puppy was no longer having any fun.  The three of us pushed forward silently anxiously looking forward to where the trail becomes easier.

 

picture taken underwater with the camera!

Two more peaks to go!

Finally it came and there were two guys at the intersection that looked at us and asked how the trail was.  Jack puppy went over to them to be pet and Ryan and I were thrilled to be back on familiar trail and to have the bushwacking behind us.  In better spirits we pushed forward and Jack puppy was back to his usual silly self.  If he didn’t seem happy we were going to leave myself and Jack puppy at the road and Ryan would run over the Osceolas and go get the car.  I was starting to move slower now so Ryan told me he wanted me to finish now that Jack puppy was happy so he took a couple of pounds from my pack and we moved on to the Osceolas.  I don’t know what happened but I got motivated and was happy again!

Jack puppy likes liver treats!

It all hurt, our feet killed from being soaked all day, my knees burned with every step on the downhills and my hamstrings and quads were done.  We laughed and actually had a tough but fun climb up the Osceolas!  It took forever and we were chasing the setting sun!  The sun was beautiful and looking out at the mountains was absolutely breathtaking!  As we stood on the last summit the three of us were so excited that the rest was all down hill!  We moved as fast as we could with Jack puppy leading the way and wondering what was taking us so long!  Well, our feet hurt so bad, my knees felt like they had knives under them.  We just wanted to be done, but at the same time being done meant that our retreat from civilization would be over.

more signs!

It’s funny, the journey, the adventure, the highs and lows, the simplicity of life out on the trail, the longing for civilization when you hit your lows and the desire to never return to it when you hit your high points.  I found balance on the trail this weekend and I also found a truth that I struggled with but helped me make a wise decision.  I am going to put my dirretissema attempt off a year.  I really want to focus on having a solid year of training and practice, to get my body strong and healthy and in balance.  I want to focus on simplicity and when I do attempt the dirretissema next year I want it to be fun and I want to be strong enough to make it happen.  So, the rest of the year is filled with fun runs, hikes and adventures to share with Ryan, Jack puppy, the kids, our friends, family and being out there recreationally and competitively.  I don’t think we ever “find” ourselves but instead we are constantly changing, evolving and learning about what makes us happy and what kind of person we want to be.

Happy Ryan!

I want to thank my incredible sponsors for their support: La Sportiva, Julbo USA, UltrAspire and Choucas Hats.  I want to thank my incredible friends for sharing so many great miles and smiles with me!  I want to apologize to Tony and Carolyn for last minute plan changes as I know you asked me to help you out with your roof and to go hiking and I told you we had the kids.  We did and then suddenly we didn’t and I honestly forgot to let you both know, I feel horrible about it.  Thank you to my coach Jack who probably thinks I am completely insane with my goals this year because they are not about being fast but instead about being healthy.  Thank you to everyone who believes in me and is there for me whether I am at a high point in my life or a low point.  That is how I know who my true friends are. :)  I am a very lucky girl and always striving to be the best person I can be while having a ton of fun on and off the trails!

Sore feet at the end!

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Cayuga 50 – lessons learned in the gorges and trails

WARNING—THIS IS A FAIRLY GRAPHIC POST.  I AM THE KIND OF PERSON WHO SHARES MY TRIUMPHS AND MY STRUGGLES AND INCLUDES ALL DETAILS–GOOD AND BAD, GROSS AND PRETTY.  IF YOU GET OFFENEDED BY TALK OF GI STRESS YOU MAY NOT WANT TO READ THIS POST. This weekend I raced the Cayuga 50 mile trail race again.  I was once again looking to PR on the course and hoped for an 8:15 finish.  It was a stout time, and I knew it but wanted to give it a go.  I have been training well and feeling strong but I have not run 50 miles in over a year.  I knew I didn’t have a good base going into my training and my mileage was much lower than I was used to.  Pair it with several changes in my training routine (adding strength and heavy pack carries to prepare for my Dirretissema attempt August) and I was not in great racing shape for the race.  My heart was in it fully but my body was going to fight me.

water crossing by mountan peak fitness
water crossing by mountan peak fitness

I feel like I have gotten back my groove with up to the 50k distance.  I have my nutrition dialed, my pace steady and confidence.  I still feel like I have some more strength to build and speed but overall I can go out and have a blast and not completely come undone.

Running with Jenna!  Photo by Ron Heerkens Photography
Running with Jenna! Photo by Ron Heerkens Photography

With so many life changes I decided to have a light year of racing and made this one my only key race, what bit me was that over the winter I ended up with a muscle spasm that took me out of commision for two months so I lost my early season training.  My coach slowly got my miles up but I couldn’t get in high mileage weeks without the risk of injury so he seemed to increase intensity with the shorter mileage.  I feel that it has been making me strong but I also feel that without running 50 miles on a regular basis my body forgets how to go longer, and I haven’t been able to practice my nutrition for the longer runs.

Running with jenna.  Photo by mountain peak fitness
Running with jenna. Photo by mountain peak fitness

Super excited, super nervous and a bunch of strange taper pains which included hamstring cramps I saw my physical therapist the Wednesday before the race to work out the kinks and had seen my chiropractor and massage therapist two weeks out and they have been vigorously getting to the root of my hip imbalance.  I have not been able to use my muscles properly and it has been causing injury over the last few years.  This year I am taking care of myself and focusing on being able to have balance throughout my life and my body.  My knee started hurting the day before the race and I was starting to get upset, but it only hurt when I wasn’t moving so I felt like running the next day would be okay. We rolled into town Saturday and hung out with friends and enjoyed a wonderful dinner at Ians house.  We got back to the campsite and got a great night of sleep (seems to be a bad omen, I race better when I don’t get any sleep it seems!) and woke up feeling rested and ready to run.  It was great running weather, 50’s and raining!

Cayuga stairs!  Photo by mountain peak fitness
Cayuga stairs! Photo by mountain peak fitness

We took off and the first aid station popped up really quick!  Gil who was crewing me was there with my pack and a smile.  I was feeling great and the miles just ticked by!  There was one section where a few of us got confused because the course markings had been vandalized.  I ended up running with Jen Benna at that point who I had never met before and she was so nice!  It was awesome to have someone to run with!  I fell on some wet stairs and really wailed my left calf and my butt.  I got right up and kept on going.  We ran together at a comfortable pace in 3rd place. My stomach started to turn a bit but I thought it would be okay.  Liz ended up catching us and I wasn’t able to hold on so Jen and Liz took off around mile 24.  I rolled into the turnaround and ran right into the bathroom and had horrific and explosive diarreah.   I was not feeling well.  I got my gear from Gil and carried on up the trail and realized that there were a ton of women running similar paces.  I started having more stomach cramps and slowly I got passed by more people. I had to take several stops to relieve myself off trail and it was horribly messy and painful.  I was passing undigested potatoes and Gu Chomps.  Everything seemed to make me sick.   Joe and Elizabeth had me switch over to potatoes instead of sugary stuff and it helped with my nausea but not with the diarreah.  I was heart broken and sad because I really wanted to run a solid race.

Such a pretty course!  Photo by Ron Heerkens photography
Such a pretty course! Photo by Ron Heerkens photography

It was one of those days that took me to the darkest places within my soul, yet I was able to embrace it fully and know that all the negative could be positive.   My stomach issues seem to be directly related to fatigue.  I was nauseous but never threw up. Instead i had painful and explosive diarrhea with horrible stomach and intestine cramps for the last 25 miles. I stopped 20 times to crap. By mile 38 it was pure blood. I only had 12 miles to go, my crew person Gil was awesome, Ryan’s teammates were there to help me out too and I had no choice but to make light of my day. I fell often, I would poop out everything I ate and drank so I was running on fumes. The GU chomps and potatoes were coming out looking like they went in, just chewed up a little. I would laugh at the aid stations and ask if my throne was ready for me! The weather was so perfect for running and I really took in the sounds and beauty of the forest. At times I cried so hard, knowing I wanted a better time at the finish and knowing I could have run faster, but then I would realize that that day was not about being fast, my body would hold me back. I was reminded that I am tough, that I don’t give up and that I can fight those demons in my head, the horrible pain in my knees, the erratic breathing, the severe fatigue from lack of nutrition staying in my body.

Running and hoping for no more pooping! Photo by mountain peak fitness
Running and hoping for no more pooping! Photo by mountain peak fitness

There was not one single moment I wanted to quit. I didn’t care if I came in dead last. I was going to dig deep, find out what I’m really made of and cross that damn finish line! I cried in Ryan’s arms when he held me at the finish. It was finally over, I suffered more than I have in a very long time. I spent 9:22 on a beautiful trail with other people who either had the race of their life or battled demons as I did. So few people ever get to see those demons, to feel their body giving up, to feel self induced pain for hours, to cry while you are holding onto a tree on the edge of a cliff while your bowels painfully release the hounds, to feel your muscles crying for you to stop, your knees wanting to explode and know the feeling of accomplishing a great feat. That finish line is always different, it’s never the same. Every race is not perfect, some days it’s pure bliss and other days it makes you feel like a warrior. I had an excellent day! Of course I’m sad i didn’t pr! But that’s not all running is to me. It’s a journey that is never the same and one that makes me who I am.  I will be back next year to try it again!  I am not a quitter.  :)

Very emotional finish, photo by mountain peak fitness
Very emotional finish, photo by mountain peak fitness

‪#‎beastcoast‬ thank you to Gil for crewing me, thank you to Ian Goldenan and his volunteers for a wonderful day! Thank you to Jack Pilla for coaching me, thank you to my sponsors @lasportiva @julbousa @choucashats @ultraspire for your support and @rednewt racing for helping me when you didn’t have to. Of course a huge thank you to my friends! I thought of you all today and you are helping me fight that battle when moments got dark, thinking of you all made my heart shine bright! Thank you to ryan and Jack puppy for hugs at the end of the race. Ryan fought a battle too and I’m proud of him for finishing! 11313050_1128007653881837_4617376846303545564_o

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Springtime bliss

The weather has been really nice and seeing the leaves pop out on the trees is always a treat!  I love the smell of the flowers blooming everywhere and the green ferns and ground cover that pop up in the woods.  Everything comes to life and our porcupines are back as well as the owls!

Me and Miriam!
Me and Miriam!

My midweek runs have continued to be fun and social!  I got to run with Abbey, Mindy, Tony, Ryan, Jack Puppy and Rob.  Some runs get my ass out of bed at 4am to rock out some miles before work and others leave me feeling like I was run over by a truck but no matter what they are fun and even better when shared with a friend!  I also had a lovely lunch with my friend Miriam who drove all the way out to where I work to see me for an hour!  :)

Had to stop on my way to work to take this!
Had to stop on my way to work to take this!

Last weekend was awesome, on tired legs Ryan and I raced the Wapack 21.5 mile trail race.  We got engaged at that race, it was Ryans first trail race, I set the womens 50 mile course record at that race the day we got engaged, we got to direct the race last year and this year we would be running the short version as a training run for Cayuga!

Northeast Race Photography took this picture!
Northeast Race Photography took this picture!

The morning started out misty and humid but cool.  I work my lucky gloves that Carolyn gave me and we started out up the hill at a solid but comfortable pace.  I have really be focusing on nothing other than my effort and nutrition and truly having fun learning how to pace myself well.  I was a bit nervous about the competition and if I would be able to turn off my competitiveness for this race as it was to be used as a training run.  My legs ached and I knew I had some hills ahead of me so I found Jeremy, Lars and Tyler to chat with early on.  We shared some good laughs and some great memories of Chad.  We saw our friends running the 50 miler and cheered them on as we ran by them in the opposite direction.  We stayed together until the first aid station where I found Miriam, gave her a hug, met the new baby and carried on by myself.

Breaking the womens course record by only seconds!
Breaking the womens course record by only seconds!

I stopped to pee and Eric surprised me while I had my pants down.  I didn’t expect anyone to be there!  Luckily it was just peeing so I got back up and carried on.  My runs with Abbey must be making a difference.  She whoops me on our speed workouts and I found myself running up hills I have never run before!  I was floored and so excited!  I’m not going to lie, I was alone for quite a while and very lonely.  I figured I was in 15th place or something and really just wanted some company.  I started to look around at the leaves just opening up on the trees, the flower blooming, took in the smells of spring and just enjoyed the feeling of the sun on my skin and the breeze on my body.

My family after Wapack!
My family after Wapack!

Around mile 10 I got my toe jammed between some rocks and it was really sore.  The pain intensified and forced me to change my gait.  It didn’t help.  I was fine on the descents but the climbs were terribly painful.  I rolled into the aid station before Windblown and had some snacks, thanked everyone for being there and carried on.  I was ready for the big hill looming ahead of me, but to my delight I was able to run most of it for the first time ever!  I felt so strong and so happy!  I passed the lead 50 mile runner and cheered him on.

my toe after the race
my toe after the race

Again I was alone and my toe felt like someone stuck a knife in it.  I wanted to cry but that wouldn’t help so I smiled.  I figured I would be fine and ran as much as I could and after a while was finally at the last aid station!  I saw Chris there with his warm smile and I hung out for a bit chatting with him.  I was so happy and knew that for the first time my steppies would be at the finish line and watch me finish a trail race!  Ryans dad was nice enough to bring them to the race to watch Ryan and I finish!  Chris told me Ryan had slipped into the lead and that I was 3rd overall!  I was floored!  I smiled and was so happy knowing Zoe and Hannah would be there to watch their dad and I finish the race!  I took off after a huge thank you and yelled back that I was so excited to see my family!  For the last 3.5 miles I ran with so much joy in my heart.   I could not wait to see the girls, to see Ryan and to have the girls see a glimpse of our world, our friends and our lives.

crazy sun!
crazy sun!

I was up and over Watatic in no time at all and when I finally got to the last stretch of doubletrack I looked at my watch for the first time.  I had less than 2 minutes to break the current course record for women!  I couldn’t believe it!  I thought I was on a 4.5 hour pace!  I ran so fast and so focused.  I crossed the finish line and several people were on their phones trying to find out if I got the course record or not.  I had gotten it by less than 10 seconds and was beyond thrilled to now hold womens records for the 21.5 and the 50 mile courses!  I got huge hugs from Ryan, Zoe, Hannah and Ryans dad.  It was so incredible to have my family there to hug at the end of my race!  Ryan was only 2 minutes behind the mens record which was also really exciting!

view from squam range traverse
view from squam range traverse

The next day I went for a Mothers Day run at Northwood Meadows with my friend Mindy.  We had a great run over the mountain and then headed to our homes to spend the rest of the day with our kids!  Zoe and Hannah made me cards and put on a dance performance that they worked on while i was running.  It was the first mothers day gift and card I have ever gotten and I was smiling from ear to ear!  I felt so loved, being a step mom is amazing!  I love those cute little girls so much!  We spent the rest of the day fishing with the girls which was really fun before bringing them home to their moms house.  We drive 4 hours to see them every other weekend but it is so worth it.

Ryan and Rob on the squam traverse
Ryan and Rob on the squam traverse

The next week was a bit crazy, I had graston done twice on my achilles that I tore last year because it started to act up a bit, I had a massage from Jessica to break up a spasm I was having, had physical therapy for my Psoas muscle and then saw the therapist to help me deal with my PTSD.  It was a week of fairly low mileage but a lot of well needed TLC.

Jack puppy enjoying swims!
Jack puppy enjoying swims!

Saturday came and Ryan and I did an impromptu 5k.  We heard about it through our friend Mindy and figured it would be a fun way to get in some speedwork!  Ryan and I ended up placing 1 and 2nd overall.   It was a really small and hilly race and of course I still have not broken 19 minutes in a 5k!  So, that quest will continue!  I felt like my lungs and heart were going to explode and my legs didn’t even feel like they were working.  Guess I need to work on cardio?

My first mothers day card!
My first mothers day card!

After that in celebration of our friend Chad who passed away suddenly on the trail last year and whose birthday was Saturday we went for a  7 mile mountain bike ride after the race.  We are trying to sell our house and had a showing so we had to disappear for a bit, I hope they make an offer!  We took Jack puppy and had fun riding our bikes!  After that Ryan went for a run with a friend and I took Jack puppy on a hike up Parker Mountain where I carried a heavy pack to train for my dirretissema attempt this summer!  It was a lovely night and we had a lot of fun and I did a lot of thinking about Chad.  I realized that he made such an impact on so many lives that he really isn’t gone.  He lives on strong within our hearts and deep within our souls.  He is there when we need someone to talk to, someone to help us believe that we can and when we get together with friends someone to share great memories about.  I think more people should try to be like he was, the world would be an amazing place.

Jack puppy found mud!!
Jack puppy found mud!!

My other friend Mindy had an incredible weekend and finished her first 50 mile race and I was so proud of her!  She also managed to finish third!  She is one strong girl who I admire and consider a great friend!

Jack puppy needs help on ladders!
Jack puppy needs help on ladders!

Today was something else.  Ryan, Rob, Jack Puppy and Myself did a Squam range traverse out and back.   That traverse is a beast and we started by stashing food and water at the turnaround.   We drove to the trail head and started out under hot weather and sunny skies.  It was going to be a struggle to stay hydrated and not drink all of our water too soon.

On the squam run!
On the squam run!

The terrain was burly and it just kept getting hotter!  Jack puppy had so much fun romping around in the mud and water and during the long and dry stretches I hesitantly shared my water with him.  I figured I can deal with being without water, but I never want to harm my pup and put his needs before mine.  We made it to the turn around having a blast enjoying the views and the terrain.  We drank a bunch of Gatorade and had snacks before turning around and going back to the car.

Mountain biking with Jack puppy!
Mountain biking with Jack puppy!

We had fun, we stopped a few times to take in the views and really had a lovely day on the trail!  We got tired toward the end, dehydrated a bit and ready to get back to the car but overall it was a wonderful day together on the trail!  I absolutely love that feeling of coming undone and knowing that you can still move forward and do it well.  I love the pain in my legs, the labored breathing and that hunger for more hills, more rocks, more suffering.  I have become a different runner this year, I may not be super speedy but I have mental toughness I never knew I had.  Plus, I am running happy and stress free.  That makes a huge difference and allows me to fully enjoy each run I do!

Me and Jack puppy on Parker mountain!
Me and Jack puppy on Parker mountain!

I want to thank my friends, husband and Jack puppy for always keeping me smiling on the trails.  I am a social person (I never shut up!) and love company with friends.  Thank you to my coach Jack for training me in a way where I can still spend time with my family, work full time and see my friends.  Thank you to my sponsors for sticking with me, you are the best La Sportiva, UltrAspire, Julbo USA and Choucas Hats!  Your support over the last few years has been wonderful and I love being a part of your teams!  Thank you to everyone who is kind to me and likes me for who I am, I am a genuine person and enjoy the company of others who share that quality.  And lastly, thank you to my boss and coworkers for helping me fall in love with my career again and to my sweet little steppies Zoe and Hannah for giving me the gift of motherhood.  I love having children in my life because it makes me feel complete and loved.  These girls make me so happy!

From Journeys on the Edge, great read!
From Journeys on the Edge, great read!

Each day is special, each breath is precious and every heartbeat is sacred.  We only have one life, how do you want to live it?  I want to live mine full of love, happiness and making a difference in peoples lives.  So throw on that sparkly pink lipgloss, show the world your smile and live your life full of happiness.  :)  If you can please help my friend raise money for her running club in a very small town in NH  Follow the link for details! https://www.indiegogo.com/projects/fitness-for-everyone/x/10817130

My best little buddy ever, on and off the trails!
My best little buddy ever, on and off the trails!
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Bloody, muddy and smiling!

My new favorite gloves! Carolyn gave them to me!
My new favorite gloves! Carolyn gave them to me!

Since Breakneck I have been having fun running with friends, playing with the kids, going on adventures with my Ryan and Jack puppy, working at my awesome job where I get to help people, coaching runners and basically living life!  My training has been solid and I have been feeling quite good, not only physically but also emotionally.  Literally hitting rock bottom was a wonderful experience for me, it kept me grounded and helped me to realize what matters to me in my life.  I am climbing out of that hole and feeling quite happy!

Sunrise on my drive to work
Sunrise on my drive to work

We are still waiting for an answer on the home we put an offer on in our dream location and looking to list our home in a couple of weeks, SOOOOO If anyone wants to buy a beautiful log home in the woods that is close to civilization but private keep our home in mind!  Northwood also has a great school system and track team, just sayin!  :)

Me and the girls!
Me and the girls!

I have been enjoying running and hiking with my friends Mindy, Abbey, Emily, Tony and Nate as well has my husband Ryan and my sweet Jack puppy!  I even got to join on a Six O Three pub run and share some miles with Leslie and the rest of the crew!  It was pretty fun too!

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I wasn’t able to find a running partner for my long run last weekend so I raced the Muddy Moose 13.1 trail race and did a couple miles before to warm up.  The kids wanted to run too and Ryan was nice enough to let me go on the long run while he raced the 4 mile trail race with Zoe, Hannah and Jack puppy!  We weren’t sure how they would like it or if it would even be a good idea but they were so excited!  The worst that would happen is they bailed at an aid station.

The girls and Jack puppy racing Muddy Moose.  Photo by Salmon Press
The girls and Jack puppy racing Muddy Moose. Photo by Salmon Press

It was great to see our friends at the race and have the kids get to meet so many of them!  Our lifestyle is very different to what they are used to and we are trying to gently introduce them to our world.  It was so cute helping them get their bib numbers on and my boss even came out with his dog Fang to meet the girls!  It was awesome to have the whole family at a race!

Zoe pulling ahead!  Photo by Salmon Press
Zoe pulling ahead! Photo by Salmon Press

I gave Ryan, Zoe, Hannah and Jack puppy smooches before the race and headed up front with Abbey.  She destroys me on our Wednesday night runs and I was prepared for another beating!  Both of us were excited to get out on the trail!  It was fun!  We were off and we ran together for a bit.  I was able to pull ahead on the trail section but as soon as we hit the dirt roads I heard that familiar breathing and footsteps and knew my friend was going to get me!  It was fun because it forced me to keep plugging away steady but strong.  We played flip flop and there were two other girls right there with us.  I took a bad fall and tore open my knee, it killed but I did not want to look at it until the end.  Kehr was a bit ahead at the last lollipop but must have really dropped the hammer and ended up putting 7 minutes on us in the last 5 or so miles!

Our shoes after the Muddy Moose
Our shoes after the Muddy Moose

Four of us ladies finished really close together and it was an awesome race!  I pulled off a second place finish, barely…with Abbey charging behind me and was so excited to see how the kids did!  Kerri had taken them to get showers which I really appreciate.  She was there with the kids from the running club she started and it is wonderful to see what she has done for her small community!  The girls ended up having a blast and Zoe asked if she could run ahead with 1.5 miles to go and put 10 minutes on her sister!  The race was a hoot!  Some places had waist deep mud and water!

Having fun at the Muddy Moose!  Photo by Salmon Press
Having fun at the Muddy Moose! Photo by Salmon Press

We celebrated muddy smiles with a visit to the local crepe shop and got some Nutella crepes and ice cream.  We enjoyed the weekend and then once again after a great week of training with friends (and dying but smiling on the Abbey run) and once again was at a loss with finding a running partner for my long run so Ryan suggested the Big A 50 k.  I emailed my coach because I did not have that many miles on Saturday and he told me I could do the full 50k and if I did I could take off Sunday.

My knee after muddy moose
My knee after muddy moose

Well that was a no-brainer!  A rest day, OMG, Ryan and I would get to spend a day together with no kids, no exercise and no agenda!  So, we booked massages with the incredible Jessica Goldman and let the rest of the day just come together on its own!

Pretty rainbow on my drive to work!
Pretty rainbow on my drive to work!

The day before the 50k I hiked up Mount Chocurua with my friend Emily while carrying a 55lb pack on my back.  It was about 7 miles round trip and we had a blast!  The trails were wet and then snowy and then we were post holing up to our crotches so I dropped the pack with half mile to get to the summit and then reclaimed it on the way down.  The views were wonderful and it was so much fun to spend a few hours with Emily!  She is an amazing woman, mother, wife, and athlete!

Me and Emily on Chocurua summit!
Me and Emily on Chocurua summit!

The 50k was early, we woke up at 4:15am and I was not happy! I get up that early for work and on a weekend don’t like to hear an alarm clock.  It was chilly and dark and I was sore from the pack carrying hike the day before.  We had breakfast and headed out the door.  I drank a Redbull and felt better.  Then once we got to the race and saw our friends with smiling faces all the crankies went away!

Jack puppy loves Chocurua
Jack puppy loves Chocurua

It was a low key race and really beautiful.  Carolyn surprised me with my new favorite running gloves and I chatted with everyone until the start!  It was starting out to be a nice day, the fog was lifting and the sun was starting to shine.  Lap one was quite pleasant, I ran an easy comfortable pace and enjoyed chatting with various people along the way.  Michael, Ryan and Ron were my chat buddies on lap one.  Lap two I started to feel the effects of forgetting to bring electrolytes and had to slow down a bit.  I was fighting off cramps in my right hamstring but was still running comfortably and having fun!  Ron, Ryan and Adam were my trail buddies for lap two.  Lap three I had to take a break to pound down some salt, grab some electrolyte pills and regroup.  I filled up my Astral and looked at my watch.  I could not fade and in fact had to run a bit faster to finish in under six hours.  I initially figured it would take me 6:30 but as usual I wanted to do better than that so I told myself to stay focused.  I was alone now and without company on the trail and someone to annoy with my endless talking I would struggle to keep going.

Emily headed up Chocurua!
Emily headed up Chocurua!

I started talking to myself and then thinking about how amazing the human body is.   The coolest thing about exercising so much is that I feel like I know my body so well.  I can feel each muscle, every heartbeat, hear each breath,  every ache, and feel like I can somewhat control my body through deep thought and focus.  I know exactly what I need, what pace I can sustain and when I can push.  I know which pains are the ones to ignore and which ones I should listen to.  It is the most amazing experience and as I felt my muscles start to fatigue and fail one by one after I hit mile 25 I had to use my mind to overcome the clumsy legs, the irregular breathing, the effects of going into a deficit and just trying to pull through.  I told myself not to fall, to pick up my feet, to run when I felt like I couldn’t, to hike fast when I couldn’t run up the hill.  I controlled my breathing, focused on the rhythm of my heart and then with two miles to go it happened.  I tripped on a downhill and put my arm out in front of my face to protect my teeth.  I thought I broke it, the pain made me yelp, then my knees hit and I felt them tear open.  The left one had a scab that I felt rip, the right one hit on a real tender spot.  A few more yelps, I wanted to cry but instead got right back up and ran.  I felt something funny between my arm and my watch and swore it was a broken bone.  I was not going to look, I was going to finish and had 25 minutes to cross the finish line in under 6 hours.

The racers at Big A 50k
The racers at Big A 50k

In pain I ran, I felt the blood running down my arm, down my legs.  The pain in my knees and arm took my mind off of how my right hamstring kept trying to crap and suddenly when I finally was almost in tears from pain and exhaustion I was crossing the finish line with a smile and a huge feeling of relief.  I finished in 5:48, first woman, 3rd overall.  The thing I thought was a bone was only a stick and the worst wound was my knee that bleed for hours and finally stopped later that night.  I had fun and learned that I need to remember my electrolytes!  I ran a steady and strong race and even with the coming undone and the crash held on strong.  It made me feel good about my run!

After the Big A
After the Big A

 

Today I completely enjoyed no alarm clock, a relaxed breakfast, fabulous massage with my husband, a killer buffet at Taste of India in Dover where we annihilated the food and finished it off with a stop at Johnsons Dairy bar for huge ice cream sundaes complete with fudge, marshmallow and whipped cream with sprinkles and a cherry on top!  We did some yard work and took a nap.  It was a great way to spend the day together!  Jack puppy even got in a game of fetch!

After the Big A
After the Big A

I want to thank my Awesome sponsors La Sportiva, JULBO USA, UltrAspire and Choucas Hats for their support.  I also want to thank my Ryan, Jack puppy, Zoe, Hannah, and my friends for making me so happy!  Thank you to my coach Jack for knowing how to train me!  I am one lucky girl and it feels great to be happy again!  Don’t forget to register for the Bear Brook Trail Marathon or Half marathon!!!

Me and my Ryan after the Big A
Me and my Ryan after the Big A

And, if you live in NH and need your house washed or need firewood this winter visit www.rwpwllc.com and help us get Ryans new business off the ground!

 

Help spread the word!
Help spread the word!
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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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An ordinary girl living a not so ordinary life