One day it’s 50 and sunny, then the next it’s 34 and raining and then…SURPRISE!!! It’s an unpredicted snow storm two days later! It’s been a pretty mild winter and although my Nordic skis are crying and my snowshoes collecting dust I am not going to complain. After last winter I will gladly take a winter where I can still run on trails but also be able to find some snow up high in the mountains! I have been cleared for speed work and gave my racing legs a try at the Boston Prep 16 mile road race.
I showed up at the race and saw my friend Miriam as I was checking in! It was so long ago that I had seen her and she looked great! We did a warm up run together and ran into Christin and Amy who were also running! It was nice to see some familiar and friendly faces out there! I had no idea what to expect and really just wanted to run a solid race. My coach had given me a plan and I stuck to it. The race went out fast…real fast! I maintained a steady effort and focused on being able to run at the effort my coach had told me to. I was feeling good and every time my watch ticked off another mile I was blown away with the pace! This race is wicked hilly but strangely I think the steep descents were where I was able to make it happen! I ran steady and ran strong.
As the miles neared the end of the race I started to catch a few girls and at the “magic mile” did just as I was told to do and started to increase my effort. I was shocked to find myself still feeling great and catching people! The last two miles I was able to pass a few girls and knew they were hunting me down like lions so I pushed ahead at a very solid effort and rolled in just a few seconds ahead of the pack of super fast girls and a couple minutes behind Amy who blew our doors off with a stellar performance! I placed second woman and was completely thrilled with my race and my body!
I have gone on some fun hikes with friends and am really enjoying getting out on the mountain bike, hiking and running! The variety keeps things fun and I am absolutely loving the kettle bell workouts! Bennett is hiking on the shorter hikes and can’t wait to get out on some big boy adventures when he is older. It is tough with a puppy but so important to keep them at low mileage and intensity until they are done growing and to always make sure every hike or run is about them. If one of them gets hurt or struggles that is the end of my adventure and I am okay with that because I love those little buggers! The best thing is watching them have so much fun together! Jack puppy loves having a friend to play will all the time and they are going to be awesome trail buddies someday! My little jack puppy is recovering from a cut paw and swollen tonsils. He will get better and start tearing up the trails again soon!
Last week inspired me to run the Boston Marathon! I have never actually been to Boston aside from the airport and science museum. My boss took me to the Yankee Dental Conference and I got to stay in Boston for a couple of days and he even took me for walks around the city after class where I got to see some pretty cool history and …THE FINISH LINE OF THE BOSTON MARATHON!!! Well, I felt so much energy there and imagined myself crossing the finish line feeling proud and happy to have run this ledgendary race! It was more than just a vision, I saw my finish, I felt the emotions of finishing and I knew that I was going to put in for the 2017 race. Maybe that will be my marathon that takes me in under 3 hours, just maybe it’s the one! Either way, I can’t wait to finally be able to say yes when people ask me if I ran Boston and I want one of those finisher jackets!
The morning before classes I had the opportunity to wake up good and early and run along the Charles with Kelsey and Phil and I had an absolute blast running out there! I saw so many other runners and best of all I got to hang out with Kelsey! Then I met up with Dave who made Jack puppy a new food bowl and it was nice to see him too! Overall my Boston experience was absolutely wonderful and I can’t wait to go back and run with thousands of other people with incredible stories that are taking them to such an amazing sounding race!
So, I have picked out some really fun races for this year and am excited to see new places! I have a few US Highpoints I will be attempting this year and trying to hook up with friends who live near my travel races! I also can’t wait to go to St Johns Island again for some island fun, try to climb Mount Hood and run some pretty tough races!
I want to thank my sponsors La Sportiva, Choucas Hats and JULBO USA for their support again this year and for making such incredible gear! Thank you to Jessica, Melanie and Dr Middleton for fixing me and teaching me how to not be broken. Thank you to Jack for coaching me so perfectly! Thank you to my Ryan, Jack Puppy and Bennett for being my best buddies on and off the trail! Thank you to my friends for spending time with me on and off the trail and always making me smile! Thank you to my boss for giving me the best job in the world, I can’t believe I love being a dental hygienist again! I am one very lucky girl and I can’t wait to see my little step daughters Zoe and Hannah soon, it’s been way too long!
I am also starting to make my own body care products using food grade and natural ingredients that have zero chemicals in them! I have finally perfected my lip balm recipe and have decided to start selling it to raise money to help me get to my races and adventures! I have several essential oils to pick from and I can create the scent of your choice! You can contact me for a list of oils that i have. A donation of $25 will get you 5 hand made lip balms shipped to your door! Kfolcik2@gmail.com for more information! Donation for races!
Make the best of every day and every situation you are in. Believe that people can be good and always try to be the best person you can be! Never give up on a dream and never forget to love with all your heart. Life is a roller coaster and the only way to get through the low points is to use them as a way to fully appreciate the high points. Smile, take care of your body, be kind to others, be humble, love deeply and don’t forget to floss your teeth.
As usual I am always rethinking my goals and where my life is and where it was and where I want it to go. I’ve lived so many different lives and experienced so much in the 38 years since I came into this world. The one thing that has always stayed with me is my need for adventure. I feel like my running has become mundane, boring, and involved a lot of pressure. Injuries pile up like toppings on an ice cream sundae (at least the kind of sundaes I eat!) So, I continue to find balance and wholeheartedly that I can do it all and that I don’t have to give up one sport to excel in another. I have spent almost a year now having intensive physical therapy sessions which include dry needling, massage therapy and chiropractic care. It’s work, it’s time consuming and it works!
After the Cape Cod Marathon my physical therapist pointed out that I have been only using my lateral quads when running which explained why it felt torn after the race so she showed me how to use kettle bells and gave me body weight exercises. As each week passed I felt different, my strength improved, my pants fit a bit tighter in the rear and my cardio/speed suffered as I adjusted to my changing body. I’ve been riding mountain bikes again and hiking as well. I’m strength training and trying to add some variety to my life! Suddenly running became fun again, my mountain bike has been dusted off and I get to hike mountains again! To motivate me to keep cross training I booked a trip to attempt to climb Mount Hood this year! I started my high pointing adventure several years ago and this one will be my last glaciated peak which is bittersweet. Glaciers are beautiful and magical. They can be scary but there are not many left I and I feel so lucky to have been able to spend time on something that will one day be nothing more than a part of history.
I had to bail on a few races this winter due to my coach and physical therapist feeling that I need to complete my transformation before doing speed work. As I begin to use new muscles they are fragile and they will affect my gait so stressing them with speed work will lead to injury and set backs. It is really hard to be patient but the other day I realized it was worth waiting for! I had an amazing run where everything worked and nothing hurt! So, I can finally start doing some speed work and getting back to performing the best that I can! I also plan to continue to cross train because it is fun and opens up my circle of friends. I can never have too many friends, and the more variety I have in my life the more diverse my friends become!
Moving to the White Mountains has also changed my life tremendously! It is much more affordable than where we used to live, closer to my incredible job and I can run mountains right from our house! Each day I wake up grateful for everything I have! Jack puppy has been absolutely loving his new home and we got him a baby brother named Bennett! He is a border collie full of energy and is already a great hiking dog! Jack puppy is a great big brother and is having fun showing him the ropes on the trail!
So much has happened since the Cape Cod Marathon but they are all great things! It’s nice to be able to use the excuse of being too busy having fun to blog! I’ve also decided that it is time to travel again and explore so I will be doing a variety of trips, races, runs, hikes and adventures this year! I signed up for some of the toughest races I could find but also have that dream of pulling off that sub 3 hour marathon! I know in my heart that if I do things right I can run mountains and maintain my road speed, it’s all about balance! I may not be the fastest girl out there but I sure am one of the tough girls!
It’s going to be a fun year and I can’t wait to snag a few more US High points and to run some wild races! I want to thank La Sportiva and Choucas Hats for taking me back again this year! I absolutely love their stuff and both companies have some sweet gear that is new this year! I will be wearing my shoes, clothes and hats while racing, training and adventuring! I want to thank my coach Jack Pilla for dealing with me still after almost 4 years of putting up with my roller coaster of a life! Thank you to my Ryan, Jack Puppy, Bennett and Zoe and Hannah for making my life complete and being my best buddies on and off the trail! Thank you to all my friends for the lunches, hikes, runs, adventures and other fun times together!
Life is as good as you want it to be. Make your life good, fill your heart with love and always remember to seek out adventure! Take care of your body, it’s the only one you have and if you treat it well it will take you on some amazing journeys.
Since my first road marathon in 2013 I have been haunted by that 3:03 I ran at the Manchester Marathon. I knew I wasn’t trained for the marathon and my goal was 3:30. I was thrilled to exceed my goal but…..3 minutes shy of breaking 3 hours! I thought I wouldn’t care but I did, so once I was able to get myself healthy again with the help of my physical therapists Mel and Jan, my massage therapist Jessica and my chiropractor Dr Middleton I told my coach I signed up for the Cape Cod Marathon because I thought it was flat. I later found out it had some hills but I expected them to feel flat as a pancake. I told close friends and didn’t make a big fuss over it because I wanted to quietly try to break 3 hours. It was nothing more than a bucket list item that I wanted to check off.
Of course I didn’t listen to my coach. I signed up for a 50 miler about 6 weeks out which meant I would have to recover for 2 weeks and that left me with only 2-3 weeks of marathon training. I also couldn’t resist hitting the trails with friends because it was so much more inviting than pounding the pavement alone. I even did a Killkenny ridge traverse with Ryan, Adam, Cooper and Jack puppy where Jack puppy finished his NH 48 and celebrated with some Bologna! I figured my weekly track workout would be enough to get me to my goal and ran dirt roads in place of paved roads. The trails from our house are quite rugged but I train based on effort so I just assumed it wouldn’t really matter what kind of surface I ran on.
I also took some time to continue painting rooms in the house and we had someone refinish the floor so working on the house made getting in the miles a bit tougher too!
I also started riding mountain bikes with my friend Kristin which has been a very nice change and a weekly escape from always running! I also run with my friend Elizabeth after work which is always fun (except when I tripped on and landed in a dead carcass on a night run-that’s right, I fell into a dead carcass and got blood and guts on me) and when my friend Abbey can join me on the track I would try to keep up with her while she completely kicks my ass during the speed sessions! I usually run with Ryan a few days a week and Jack puppy joins on almost every trail run!
I honestly could not wait for my marathon so that I could get back into the mountains. It killed me to look out our window every morning and see the mountain and not be running up it! I had turned down fun mountain runs with friends to go run solo on the road and do speed workouts as well as work on my nutritional strategy. As the race got closer I became more nervous!
We had not seen the girls in a long time and missed them terribly. Finally their mom let us see them and because it happened to be the weekend of my race we were thrilled to bring them with us! They have never seen a road running race and we thought it would be nice for them to see people doing amazing things! On the way to the race Hannah told us how she was telling her friends that her dad and step mom were strong. Her friend said that she believed her dad was strong but didn’t believe that a mom could be strong. I knew at that moment I was going to be strong for my girls and I told them they would see some very strong women at the race. They asked me if I was going to win and I told them I was not going there to win and probably would not win but I wanted to run in under 3 hours. They had no idea what running in under three hours meant, and they don’t need to at their young ages. Ryan and I try to teach the girls to focus on having fun and enjoying the journey instead of being competitive. They are way too young to be taking competition to the next level and instead should just be doing things for fun.
We got my BIB number and went to the Cape Wind Resort which ended up being awful. They put two cots in the room with springs poking through and promised cookware in the kitchenette and there was none so we had to buy pots and pans. We were on a budget which is why we got a room with a kitchen! I was quite nervous about the race and tried to doze off but the person in the room next to us woke up every 3 hours to smoke and hack their brains out. Jack puppy barked when he heard them outside and the smoke smelled so bad coming in the room so we had to close the window, but they were so noisy all night. I got up exhausted and frustrated but at that point all I could do was move on with the day.
We got to the race start and ran into Karen and Dima and wished each other luck! I gave hugs and kisses to Ryan, the girls and Jack puppy and stood at the starting line, up front shaking like a leaf. Eric looked over at me and we wished each other luck. Then after the national anthem the cannon went off and we were flying…way too fast! We were somewhere around 6:20 pace and I slowed up around mile 3. I tried to run off effort and was pleasantly surprised with how good I felt ticking off 6:30-6:44 pace. I questioned my ability to maintain it but I could talk, laugh and smile so I went with it! Honestly the flats felt great and my body was being nice to me!
I could see the lead woman and she was cookin! A guy Andrew ran with me for a while and talked to me about the course and taught me a few things about the marathon as he had several under his belt. I would choke on the water at the water stops but tried to keep running. I was thrilled to see 1:28 at the half mark which was exactly where I wanted to be. Around mile 14 the hills started and my pace began to slow on the climbs. I tried to make up time on the descents and then it happened, my quads started to kill! I had to slow up on the descents so I tried to rev my cadence and effort on the hills but I struggled to hover around 7 minute pace. I had a moment of negativity where I questioned stopping and thought how ridiculous it was to be worrying about seconds! In a trail race I can completely blow it and make up time but on the road it’s so consistent that missing pace by a second or two can completely rip that goal away from you.
I caught up with the first woman around mile 15 and we chatted a bunch as I kept asking the group I was with if we were on sub 3 pace. They assured me we were in a great spot. The woman also had said she ran a 50k the week before which absolutely blew my mind! I wanted the girls to meet her after the race because I wanted them to see how strong she was to run two long and hard races within a week! I got choked up and thought of the girls and how I wanted to be strong for them and show them that their friends were wrong.
I don’t know what happened but around mile 19 I became a different runner. I was in so much pain yet still held onto a respectable pace. The flatter miles in the 6:40’s, the hilly ones in the low 7’s and then there were the two windy miles where I ticked off a 7:28 and 7:38. When I saw those two miles I was crushed. I tried to do the math and realized sub 3 was about to become impossible. I started to feel my body want to shut down and saw three flashes of white stripes in my vision and wondered if I were having a stroke. The last time I experienced something like this was at Cranmore when I collapsed at the finish. I was going to finish in 3 hours or push myself to collapsing, there were no other options. I didn’t care that I was in the lead because that is not why I was there.
The pace bike was with me and I don’t have much memory after mile 23 but at some point I do remember telling him I wanted to cut my legs off. I turned the very last corner and saw the clock at 2:59 and ran as hard as I could, my legs so sore they didn’t feel like they were a part of my body. When I saw it hit 3:00 I was crushed. I didn’t let up but instead decided that clock was not going to hit 3:01. With so many emotions, so much pain and so much excitement for the race to be over I grabbed the finish tape and held it high over my head for my step daughters to see! I ran that race for them and was very proud of winning although I didn’t feel that my time deserved a win. I am very hard on myself and I was not upset, just couldn’t believe I have to run another marathon now to try for sub 3! I crumpled up the finish tape and walked over to the table full of Gatorade cups and just kept drinking them, one right after another while apologizing for being such a slob. I was thirsty, most of the Gatorade and water I had during the race ended up in my nose or eyes.
As I finished my disgusting display of stuffing my face I realized there were people there with notepads and cameras. I just wanted to hug my family and kept looking at them on the other side of the gate! I was going to give the finish line banner to my step daughters but the race officials took it away and said it wasn’t for me to keep! It was so funny because winning a trail race usually involves a few people kicking around and then lying on the ground staring at the sky. This was so outside of my element and not what I expected. After asking me a bunch of questions the reporters let me bring them over to my family and one of them got a great picture of us! As an added bonus I won some loot and found out I finished 5th overall!
It was a bittersweet day! I went there with one goal which I didn’t achieve but instead a surprise win! Honestly I would have traded that win for a sub 3 hour finish, but heck, I can check off a marathon win from my bucket list even though that was never on the list! I was extremely proud at how strong and smart I ran. I could not have executed a more perfect race and those 16 seconds, my watch got 26.4 miles so….in essence I did break 3 hours but I will be back to try another race that is flatter and I will try my hardest to do the full 16 weeks of training instead of only 3. Anyone that can run under 3 hours is a total badass in my book. The dedication, training and sacrifice needed to pull that off is amazing! I could barely walk the day after the race!
This week is a week of super easy running, biking and a lot of eating and relaxing. It is time to put some weight back on (I ate like a pig and still lost way too much weight from the training) and enjoy the off season with some nordic and backcountry skiing, snowshoe running, hiking mountains and spending time with friends and family!
The biggest win of the year for me was realizing that being fast isn’t important to me but instead having fun and being a good role model to my steppies. I want to teach them to never stop having fun, to do things that make them happy and to understand that they can have anything they want if they work hard and put in the effort to make it happen. I want them go grow up to be strong women who can support themselves and get involved with someone because they want that person in their life, not because they need them. The only way we can change the world is by teaching our children through our actions.
I want to thank my sponsors La Sportiva, JULBO USA, Choucas Hats and UltrAspire for their support, your products are absolutely wonderful! Thank you to my coach Jack for putting up with me and working so hard to keep me on track. Thank you to Ryan and Jack puppy for being my partners in life on and off the trail! Thank you to Zoe and Hannah for accepting me into their lives and loving me. Being a step mom is not the easiest role but our relationship over the last few years has become full of love! These girls have given me the gift of motherhood and I love it! Thank you to my awesome and fun friends, my girl friends know how to have fun on and off the trail! I treasure our time together and thank you for taking time out of your life to spend it with me. I am a ridiculously lucky girl!
The last month has been full of emotion, both happy and sad. I have had so many incredible adventures in the mountains with friends running and riding mountain bikes again! I’ve been working on my mountain running skills while still trying to chase that goal of a sub three hour marathon in October. I sure hope I tag that one because road running is just not for me and I don’t want to have to pound the pavement again to train for another one!
I have been training for Virgil Crest 50 as well as the marathon and really loved getting in the mountains for some crazy hard days! Ryan and I pulled off an overall FKT of the swan song loop a few weeks ago which was one of the hardest adventures I have ever had in the White Mountains! I still wonder how 31 miles can take 13 hours and 25 minutes to complete! Ryan asked me if I wanted to do something hard in the mountains so I said yes and off we went!
As usual we got a late start and made our way up Kings Ravine laughing at the rocks and taking in the views. Once up on the ridge we went over to Adams and then down to the buttress trail where we entered the Great Gulf and then climbed the very steep Great Gulf Trail where we surprised a guy taking a crap on the side of the trail. Maybe he should think about where he poops next time!
After we got over the headwall we stood on top of Mount Washington and stuffed our faces with Whoopie Pies, Coke, Hotdogs, Pizza and refilled our hydration packs. We went down the Tuckermans ravine trail and were treated to beautiful views! Once down lower we went up the Boot Spur Link Trail and to the Boot Spur trail and then down to Pinkham notch where we once again refilled our water.
We headed up the trail into Huntington Ravine trail which always scares the crap out of me! We got into the Alpine Garden where we saw a porcupine and then made our way to the Wamsutta trail which was beautiful and so steep! After that we were back in the Great Gulf and it was just starting to get dark. Half way up the Madison Gulf Trail we had to pull out our headlamps and once we got on the ridge there were so many stars and the moon was huge! We stopped in the Madison Hut to buy some Lemonade and refill our packs before making our way up to the top of Madison and down the Watson Path to Brookside Trail and back to Appalacia! It was a ridiculous amount of climbing and descending and we laughed the whole day! We ran into multiple friends throughout the day which made the adventure even more fun! If you are ever feeling adventurous this loop is for you!
This last weekend after a week of very little sleep and a lot of worrying about my dad my mom told me to go race and enjoy my weekend. There was nothing I could do for my dad, he needs to sleep and rest and having me down there would keep him up. It kills me to not be there but I also know he needs this time to rest. My boss is incredible and told me I could leave at any time to see my dad which really took a lot of stress off of me.
By Thursday I was completely exhausted and ready for the week to be over. I had a four day weekend and was looking forward to spending it trying to make my legs hurt more than my heart. Well, the adventure kicked off a bit earlier than expected! A call from our friend who is an amazing photographer brought a new adventure to the weekend! We would carry huge packs with 50+ pounds of camera gear, dresses and sleeping bags to the top of South Moat for a series of photos. Sunset, Milky Way and Sunrise. Basically very little sleep but some opportunities for killer shots!
We had fun, the wind was making it quite challenging and trying to balance on rocks in heels and dresses in the wind was not easy but we also got some good ones with bare feet. It was so fun and Jack puppy even slept in my sleeping bag with me! After the sun came up and we were done shooting we all hiked back down and Ryan and I headed home with the Jack puppy to make the long drive to NY to race Virgil Crest.
I would be racing the 50 mile which I decided would determine whether I run that distance again or just keep it under 50k. My two goals were to not have to crap a bunch and to make my legs hurt more than my heart. I was a bit nervous but with so much on my mind it helped make me feel more calm about running. Our friend Tony was attempting his first 100 and Ryan would help crew Tony with his wife Lise and friend Heather until our friend Scottie got to mile 50 and then Ryan would pace Scottie and I would take a nap for a bit and the crew and pace Tony until the last 11 miles where Heather would pace him to the finish. We were surrounded by friends, I had gotten to talk to my dad and I was feeling happy.
The race started in the dark and I just smiled, I was excited to be there surrounded by so many people ready to take on an adventure. We all had different paths to get to where we were and I really enjoyed making new friends during the run! We got to the first aid station pretty quickly and Ryan took my headlamp and off I went yapping and laughing away with other runners! I did have moments where I cried as I felt selfish for being at the race instead of with my dad. My parents wanted me there instead of in CT.
I thought of Zoe and Hannah a lot during the race and wished they were there with me. We don’t see the kids enough and it’s so hard now that they are further away and on the weekends they are in so many activities that we may end up only seeing them during school vacations. I got sad thinking about how much I missed them and also happy that they are in my life and that we have such an incredible relationship! I am so lucky to have two little kids in my life that I love so much and they seem to love me too!
I thought of my life and how my journey had taken me to that moment and I focused on the trail and where I was and I just took in the sound of my breathing, the beauty of the trail and enjoyed hearing stories from other runners I shared some miles with. One of them was a combat veteran who served overseas and decided one day to turn his drug and alcohol addiction into an addiction for living a healthy lifestyle. I thanked him for defending our freedom and we chatted about life and kids and running. We both decided wars should be fought through a good trail run or a game of golf.
I was alone again on the trail and had many moments of crying because I was so happy to be there and so sad that my dad was sick. I smiled when I saw the running magazines scattered around on the trail and when I got into the turnaround I was greeted with smiling volunteers who were so eager to make sure I had what I needed before heading back down the trail.
I had pooped twice before the turnaround but it was solid and didn’t make me feel sick. I hoped that the last 25 miles would treat me well. I accidentally blew by a turn and ran down a huge hill only to realize I went the wrong way and I looked at my watch and saw the mileage and ran back to where I messed up. Bonus miles!!!! I ran 3/4 miles extra and panicked a bit. I pushed a bit harder than I should have and ended up with my legs being a bit sore.
By the time I got to the alpine loop it was very hot and humid and the descents were killing my knees! I was coming undone and had hit a really dark place. I wanted to quit and I questioned my sanity. I got hungry and reached into my pack and found some power pellets and smiled and cried at the same time. They made me think of Chad who died suddenly last year on a trail run. I chewed them and cried. I talked to Chad, he was with me and he was going to get me through the rest of my run. I dried my tears and ran that alpine loop with another runner that I had caught up with. We chatted a bunch and soon found ourselves catching another guy who was starting to struggle with the heat as well.
That aid station could not come fast enough. I drank apple cider, gingerale and Tailwind. I ate fruit and potato chips and refilled my hydration pack again. I didn’t want to leave but knew I had to finish. I ran the best I could focusing on the next aid station. I was dehydrated and starting to struggle with labored breathing and a spike in my heart rate. My legs were getting sore and I was certainly feeling the pack carry from the day before. The lack of sleep all week was finally catching up to me and I could feel my body starting to fail. I peed once and it looked like Coke. I knew that was bad. I was drinking and taking electrolytes and trying to run based on effort. I thought of my dad and how much pain he has been in and decided that whatever I was going through would be nothing compared to what he was feeling. I ran the rest of the race for my dad because he couldn’t be outside enjoying his favorite time of year. He loves hiking in the fall and now he was at home in bed with severe pain that he didn’t have an answer to. I hoped I would see Ryan at the last aid station to give him a heads up that I might be a medical emergency at the finish but when I got to the aid station and didn’t see him I was glad he wasn’t there because I would have probably dropped.
I had to finish, I had 6.3 miles to go so I ate, drank and ran. I did a lot more thinking and a lot more crying. I thought about my life and all the wonderful things I have done. I thought about my family and how much I love them. I thought of my 86 year old grandmother that had surgery last week and pulled though like a champ and I thought about my dad and prayed that he live a long healthy life. When I thought I was going to collapse on the trail from the heat the rain came and cooled me off. It was exactly what I needed at that moment! I felt renewed and refreshed as I ran down the last hill to the paved path that would eventually end my run with a womens win (4th overall) and a 9:21 for a time! That was a huge PR on the course because last time I ran an 11:53!! I crossed that finish line so happy! Both goals were accomplished, I did not poop the whole time and my legs hurt way more than my heart. Ryan gave me a hug and Jack puppy gave me puppy kisses. Then Ryan gave me a huge bottle of electrolytes to drink as I sat and waited for Scottie to show up and Ryan to take off with him into the last 50 miles of his adventure.
I showered and tried to take a nap but it was not going to happen. When I had turned on my phone I saw a text from my mom that dad was back in the emergency room. My heart sank and I just wanted to drive to CT. She told me they were doing tests on him. I took a shower and headed back to meet Lise and Heather earlier than planned because I needed to be around friends to keep my mind busy. I would not be able to sleep worrying about my dad.
I hung out with Lise and Heather and got to see Tony come through the mile 50 point and head back out with a smile! By the time we saw him at mile 56 he was not in a good way and was struggling with GI issues. We tried to talk him into continuing but he knows his body and what he can tolerate. He called it a day and either way we were proud of him for giving it a try! Just as we got to the cars the skies opened up and it poured with lightning and a huge temperature drop. I thought of everyone still out there.
We went back to the room and I was texting with my mom until almost 3am when she said they were released from the hospital with a referral to a neurosurgeon and some meds. Finally they found something wrong and something they could try to fix. I fell asleep for a couple hours and then woke up to go see Scottie finish. Sadly I missed his finish but he finished strong and Ryan had fun pacing him!
I really enjoyed hanging out with so many friends over the weekend! I think one of the highlights of the weekend was actually being able to stick around to watch the last finishers. They were the toughest people out there. To be out on the course for almost 36 hours and endure such extreme temperature changes and weather and still persevere earns a lot of respect. They had that 100 mile shuffle going, that dazed look and a fire in their eyes that burned so bright! The tired smile that told a story that only they will know really brings a new meaning to the word badass. These guys and girls are tough.
Ryan and I had a great dinner with friends after a fun time at the waterpark! It was an incredible weekend and I am going to keep praying for my dad to be okay.
I want to thank my sponsors La Sportiva, JULBO USA, UltrAspire and Choucas Hats for their support and incredible gear! You make running comfy! Thank you to my coach Jack for dealing with my never ending change of plans! Thank you to my Ryan, Jack puppy, Zoe, Hannah and friends for sharing so many trail miles together on foot and on bike! Thank you to Jay Philbrick for always making me feel like a mountain princess! It’s fun to play dress up sometimes! Thank you to Ian Golden for being so awesome and making courses that are truly unique and fun! Thank you to the volunteers for being out there and taking care of us runners! Thank you the Mountain Peak Fitness/ Red Newt Racing crew for being so welcoming to me and allowing me to be an unofficial member! And thank you to everyone that is a part of my life. I am so lucky to be surrounded with such incredible people!
I never walk away from an ultra the same. I had so much time to think about things and of course figure out life a little bit more. Humans are creatures of habit and addiction and we need to take the time to listen to each other and help each other find healthy habits and addictions not through lecturing but instead through love and listening. We have a lot of very unhappy people these days and I fully believe that our electronic and instant gratification lifestyles have removed the very essence of human life. Patience, love, spending time with people in person and allowing ourselves to play even as an adult. These things need to change. The small little world of running long distances in the world breaks you down to the simplest existence and for most of us it makes us kinder to one another and shows us that life isn’t always about being on top but instead working together to give each other wings to fly. Do something nice for yourself today and something nice for someone else. I can guarantee when both are done you will smile inside and out!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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!
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!
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!
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!
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!!!
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.
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.
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!
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.
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!
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!
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!
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!
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!
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.
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!
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!
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.
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!
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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?
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
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.
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.
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!
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!
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!
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…
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!
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!
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
#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!
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!
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!
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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?
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.
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!
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.
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.
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!
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!
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