Race to Save the World 10k Race Recap

Race to Save the World 10k Race Recap

A few Saturdays ago Josh and I raced the Enoch Lee Race to Save the World 10k at Middle Run Valley Park in Newark, DE. A week before the race, while on our way to go mountain biking, Josh and I saw one of those yard signs (the ones politicians usually use) advertising for the race so we quickly Googled it to gather more information. A few days later, Josh convinced me to pre-register for the race as a way to celebrate the official start of my summer break. Although I knew I was no where near in race shape after a stressful semester of grad school, I figured it would be fun. After all, the course looped through some of our favorite trail running trails.

Saturday morning arrived and I ate my typical pre-race meal – peanut butter and banana on toast. The race began at 10 AM so we were able to sleep in a little bit and prepare for the day ahead of us (which we planned out to be a 10k race, followed by brunch, followed by a group mountain bike ride through the same trail system). We departed Josh’s around 8:30AM with race attire, mountain bike gear, and two mountain bikes.

My stomach was a bundle of nerves on our drive to the race. Multiple times I told Josh I felt like I was going to throw up (disclaimer: I never did). We arrived an hour early to the race, picked up our bibs, and waited anxiously for 10 AM to arrive. The morning was chilly and I felt unprepared with the clothing I had packed – shorts and a tank top. I scavenged up Josh’s arm sleeves and swapped out my tank top for a short-sleeve racing jersey. Josh paced around the truck and opened and closed his truck doors 5000 times.

Around 9:30 we decided to do a 1 mile warm-up. I was still a little chilly and my legs felt unprepared but by the time we ended our warm-up, I had decided to leave the arm sleeves in the truck. Better to start the race a little chilly, knowing I was going to warm up eventually.

Before the race started, the cadets from the University of Delaware (UD) did a flag ceremony and a group of women from a local church sang the National Anthem. It was Memorial Day Weekend so this was a nice touch to the morning. A family member of Enoch Lee, whom the race is memorialized for, made a brief speech explaining that race profits contribute to a scholarship for a biology major at UD. As a broke college student myself, I know how important scholarships can be!

The race started with a small loop around a grassy field before diving into single track. I started comfortably, not wanting to overexert early but also knowing that I needed to beat some of the crowd to the single track. I could see Josh up ahead at the front of the pack – go, Josh, go!

A lot of the race itself was a blur because the trails just kind of blend together. I knew that two women were ahead of me but didn’t have any intention to work to go catch them. The course terrain varied from smooth twists and turns to longer uphills to rewarding downhills. The trails were in great condition!

A local Delaware bike shop was stationed at the approximate half-way point with water and encouragement. It was nice to have people cheering out on the course as most of the course was isolated from spectator view. Trail runs are rarely spectator-friendly. After the water stop, there was a long uphill. It felt soooo long and I could feel myself progressively slowing as the climb continued. I probably could have walked faster, but I trudged along, my breathing becoming increasingly labored.

At the top, we were rewarded with flat, twisty single track. At this point, I was completely alone on the course and I couldn’t see anyone ahead of me and couldn’t hear any footsteps or breathing behind me. I just continued trudging along.

I didn’t recognize where we were in the trail system at this point in time even though Josh and I frequently mountain bike on these trails. The course followed trails we hadn’t looped through in over a year so I was completely disoriented.

Eventually the course landed us on my favorite downhill in the whole trail system. I was familiar with the downhill from mountain biking it and I knew exactly where the course was taking us!

After the downhill we made a left onto a long bridge and one of the race volunteers said “there’s a women not too far ahead of you”. That literally meant NOTHING to me. I was completely gassed. I hadn’t seen anyone ahead of me since about mile 2 and I definitely didn’t have the legs to go catch someone. So, I dismissed the comment and kept trudging.

I heard footsteps behind me and my gut told me it was probably a woman (note: I don’t look back ever during a race so I never know who might be closing in on me). The course crossed a stream (which I ran straight through, soaking my feet – no problem though, I wear the Altra Superiors which have optimal draining capabilities!). The person behind me, confirmed to be a woman once she asked me a question, asked “how much further?”. To this I said, “I have no idea”. Because 1) honestly, I had no idea where the finish line was in relation to where we were currently and 2) I don’t ever look at my watch during a race so I never know what mileage I’m at.

She ran right on my heels for 3/4 of the final uphill. For a second, I tried brainstorming ways I could get her off my heels (i.e. by sprinting up the hill) but I had no energy whatsoever to run faster than I was. I was simply in survival mode. My endurance meter had reached a big fat zero.

She eventually passed me and I felt bummed, knowing I had held 3rd overall female for 85% of the race. But I had nothing in me to try to physically react. So she trotted off, gapping me almost instantaneously. My only intrinsic goal was to keep running, no walking. And that’s what I did. Kept running until I crossed the finish line.

Once I got the finish, Josh offered me a cup of water. I stared at him and said “I’m at zero”. My endurance had expired around mile 5. The last mile was a slugfest. I probably could have walked faster but my own pride kept me running. We replenished with Gatorade we had brought and recapped our races.

Josh finished as the 1st overall male, 2nd place overall (figure that one out for yourself). He also had ran out of endurance which is to be expected considering he had only been running once or twice per week, not exceeding 3-4 mile runs (#naturaltalent). Regardless, I was proud of him. His natural ability to run fast amazes me time and time again.

I finished in 55:38, 18th/58 overall, 4th overall female, and 1/1 in my age group. Josh won a sweet travel coffee mug and a wooden phone holder (which he promises me to video chat with so he doesn’t have to prop his phone up awkwardly). I won a medal and some great S&S exposure.

I am glad that I did this race. Grad school had left me craving trail runs and races and, in a way, starting off summer break with a trail race was symbolic. Grad school requires endurance just like running. This race reaffirmed that I can be a grad student and a runner and be happy. I might not have as much endurance as I did last summer and the trails may challenge me even more so, but they will always be there for me to enjoy and for me to find bliss, serenity, and a welcoming running community.

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Race Recap: Xterra Lums Pond 12k

Race Recap: Xterra Lums Pond 12k

This past Sunday I raced at Lums Pond State Park in Bear, DE for the first time ever.  I knew of some people that had ran and mountain biked at Lums Pond so I kind of knew what the terrain was going to be like ahead of time – flat, non-technical, but with a few scattered rooty sections.  None of these characteristics of the course played in my favor.  Truthfully, I have a better chance excelling on a hilly, technical, rocky course.  I wasn’t looking forward to this race at all and, honestly, I regretted even signing up for it.  I only signed up for it because it was part of a series of trail races and back in January/February I was desperate for some motivation to get myself out for runs.  So here I was on race morning, standing in a state park parking lot trying to find an inkling of trail serenity in a road-runner dominated field of runners (sorry, roadies).

Josh selflessly chauffeured me to Bear, DE so I was thankful to have him there to be my morning company.  I picked up my bib number and race swag and got back into Josh’s truck.

The morning was chilly but warmer than usual so I was trying to figure out what I wanted to race in.  I went for a warm-up with 3/4 length capris, an Altra sweatshirt, Sneakers & Spokes long sleeve, a base layer long sleeve, gloves, and my Team Altra buff.  I warmed up on the road for 10 minutes than discovered a trail that ended up being the last 1/4 mile of the race course.  By the end of a 15-minute warm-up, I decided I need to shed my base layer for the race.  I also decided I wanted to race in shorts and ditch the gloves.  Wardrobe malfunction!  My Sneakers & Spokes long sleeve was so long that it covered up my spandex shorts making it appear that I wasn’t wearing shorts.  DARNIT!  I tried pinning the bottom of the shirt up but it was a lost cause once the race started.

The race started on time and we ran across the parking lot towards the path.  We would be running one 6-7 mile clockwise loop around Lums Pond (literally, I giant pond).  I navigated around some racers and I could see 2 women in front of me.  I hoped to keep them in my sight, but that didn’t last long.

1.5 miles into the race I found myself pancaked on the ground.  My memory fails me, but I’m assuming I tripped on a root.  I had no chance to catch my fall.  One second I was running, the next second I was on the ground, and one second after that I was back to running.  The men behind me asked if I was ok.  I said bluntly, “yes, I’m fine”, as they sprinted around me.  Nothing hurt but I could see some blood on my thigh.  Not exactly how I wanted to run the next 5.5 miles of the race but oh well.

The course wasn’t exactly scenic.  There were a lot of little turns, some rooty sections, and very small “hills”.  The “hills” were basically speed bumps that slowed racers down a little but they took about 3 seconds to get up and 2 seconds to get down.  Not impressed.  I had lost complete sight of the women by this point, men were passing me left & right, but I just kept chugging along.  I was more focused on where I was putting my feet and less focused on catching anyone ahead of me.  My elbow started to sting but everything else felt fine.

I remember crossing a 200m mini bridge which was pretty cool.  I jumped over a few muddy spots to avoid soaking my Superiors.  We passed through a field.  Then we reached the part of the course I had ran earlier for my warm-up.  I knew I was almost done.  I heard Josh to the right and caught a brief glimpse of him with his phone out snapping pictures.  I crossed the finish line and they handed me a medal.

I looked down at my knees for the first time since I’d fallen and both were bloody.  My thigh looked like a bear scratched it up.  My elbow was still stinging.  I knew I needed to get my cuts cleaned up so I looped back to find Josh, told him I needed to clean my knees (which is actually when he even noticed my knees were scraped).  We walked over to the ambulance parked in the lot.  I asked them for some peroxide and they gave me saline water and a towel to clean myself up.  I sat haphazardly on the asphalt as I cleaned up.  They didn’t have any normal sized bandaids and I could tell that my right knee was still bleeding so the paramedic wrapped me up with gauze and medical wrap.  Josh told the paramedics, “she runs 50ks up mountains and doesn’t fall but here she is after a 12k…”.  Yes, the irony of it all.

31234945_2028515467407407_1324880377252151296_oI finished in 57:28 as the 3rd overall female and 25th overall out of 98.  The course was shorter than a 12k so technically it’s not a 12k PR.  I stayed for the awards ceremony and then left for the 2nd race of the day – spectating the NJ NICA race held in Alloway.  It was a busy but great Sunday.  I didn’t do a cool-down after the race because I spent my time with the paramedics, but I ran around the NICA course with Josh to cheer on the racers.

Would I race this again?  No.  The course wasn’t hilly or technical (despite the fact that I tripped on a root).  I thrive on challenging trail courses.  This was more so a cross country style race and those days of xc racing were over after college.  I don’t have the speed to keep up with those xc-type of racers.  I would rather go a little slower and be able to bomb some descents.  I still have a good story to tell as I take care of my knees.

Would I go to Lums Pond again?  Yes.  I would like to mountain bike there because I prefer non-technical trails for mountain biking (my mtb skills are lacking).  If I’m looking for a flat trail running loop and want to drive all the way there then I would run there again too.  But I’m not interested in racing there.  One and done!

You win some… & all others aren’t losses.

You win some… & all others aren’t losses.

Earlier today, I raced the Xterra Brandywine 12k.  I finished 2nd overall female by a mere 40 seconds after leading for approximately 6.5 of the 7.3 mile race.  Should I be upset?  Maybe.  Should I be mad at myself?  Perhaps.  But… I’m not upset.  I’m not mad.  It’s not a loss to me.  I ran 46 seconds faster than last year on the exact same course in similar weather conditions.

I didn’t finish as the 2nd overall female because I ran slower than last year.  My solitary goal going into the race was to improve my 01:06:36 finish from last year.  Any other accomplishments throughout the race would just be an added bonus.  I ran 01:05:50, finishing 16th overall out of a field of 110 (last year I was 44th out of 165).  If that’s not something to be happy about then I don’t know what is.

What I’m trying to say is that not all “losses” are actually a loss.  The woman that finished the last 3/4 of a mile faster than me might think I didn’t pace myself throughout the race or that I’m just “a young girl still learning how to finish a race in its entirety”.  Truth is, that’s not me.

I knew what I was doing throughout that entire race:

I ran the 1st mile in 7:33 because I knew that any time I could gain on the downhill/flat section would be time pocketed for the gruesome climbs to come.

I didn’t power hike the climbs because I knew that the faster I could keep stepping forward, the sooner I would get to the next downhill.

I passed the men in front of me confidently and without hesitation because I was racing against them too.

I didn’t hesitate at the stream crossing because I knew that a moment of hesitation wasn’t going to resolve the issue of crossing the stream without getting my feet wet.

I didn’t flinch bombing down the rockiest downhill of the course because I’ve ran down that hill hundreds of times; I knew the best lines to take.

I didn’t try to navigate carefully around the muddy sections because I knew the quickest line was straight through them.

I ran the fielded, non-technical sections of the course with all the energy I had left because I knew there wasn’t much further to go.

I finished 46 seconds faster than last year because of all of these decisions, all of these moments, all of these intrinsic race instincts.

Races are just like life:  if you try your hardest every single day to accomplish your goals, you will achieve success.  Nobody can take away your successes.  Nobody can diminish your accomplishments because their accomplishments seem “bigger” or “better”.

If you take initiative, if you take your goals into your own hands, if you make decisions to better yourself, than you are on your way to your own personal win – and sometimes that can be the best way to lose.

2017 in review

2017 in review

2017 is coming to a close and I’m sitting here trying to figure out how this year went by so fast, how I even survived this year to begin with, and how much I am looking forward to 2018.  2017 has been a year of many things: tumultuous changes, traveling, great trail racing, new ambitions, and faith in God’s plan.  There’s been a lot of good in 2017 and a lot of what-is-going-on bad.  2017 started off decent, went through a wild spiral from March until August, and finished….decent. I’ve cried a lot this year and I’ve been stressed a lot this year, but through it all I’ve grown a lot as a person this year.  Let’s review.

Josh & I started 2017 off with a run at Alapocas State Park.  It was a pleasant day and I remember seeing some people rock climbing.

I became a proud 2017 Altra Ambassador and I’ve done everything I can to promote the perfection of the zero drop and wide toe box that Altra’s offer.

It snowed a decent amount at the beginning of January so Gwin and I did a lot of off-leash snow running together.  She loves the snow and I love seeing her leap through the snow so excited!

We hosted a surprise 50th birthday party for my mom in January (her birthday is in April).  Family & friends brought over balloons that reminded her she was turning 50 soon.

I started training for the Hyner 25k on January 22nd.  I needed to do a lot of hill repeats to prepare so Josh and I did nighttime repeats at Brandywine (our go-to place for elevation).  One night in the beginning of February the weather gods gifted us with shorts weather which made hill repeats slightly more enjoyable.

My brother left for Air Force Basic Training (BMT) the day before Valentine’s Day.  We went out to dinner at The Cheesecake Factory then we went to PetSmart so he could buy an I’m-leaving-you gift for Gwin.  He shipped out to San Antonio, Texas on February 14th.

I won a $25 gift certificate to Starbucks (note: I hate Starbucks) by reaching the most elevation logged on a treadmill within a 5 minute time period (note: I hate treadmills).

I began hating my job more and more.  I was working 4:45 AM shifts which was destroying my social life, causing me excessive anxiety & stress, and making me a miserable person.

On February 27th, Angela & I set out on a 3-day road trip from NJ to Colorado.  We vowed to run one mile in every state we drove through.  We ran 1 mile in my hometown in NJ.  We parked behind a McDonald’s and ran 1 mile in Milesburg, Pennsylvania along a farm road.  We stopped at a rest stop in Middleburg, Ohio and ran 1 mile around the rest stop.  We nearly missed our chance to run in Indiana so we made an impromptu stop at Indiana University Northwest.  In Marseilles, Illinois we parked at a gas station and ran 1 mile through a farmer’s field and on a road where people had strange address numbers.  We parked at a church and ran 1 mile on a dirt road in Earlham, Iowa.  Did you know that Iowa is known as the state with “fields of opportunities“?  We ran 1 mile at sunrise in North Platte, Nebraska before we left the La Quinta we stayed at.  My first ever Colorado run was in Frisco, Colorado which officially completed our goal of running at least one mile in every state we drove in.  Take a moment to watch my GoPro documentary of the entire road trip here!

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Frisco, CO – 9,097″

What did I learn from this roadtrip?  One: switching between 3 time zones within a three day time span is very confusing.  Two: the route from New Jersey to Colorado involves an EXCESSIVE amount of fields.  The landscape doesn’t change too much once you leave the mountainous part of Pennsylvania.  The mountains of Colorado were the best sight in the world after 2.5 days of fields (plus their natural beauty of course).  Three: our country is HUGE!  There’s so much to see, so much to explore, so much to experience!  Four: Colorado is BEAUTIFUL!  I loved Frisco, I loved passing through mountain towns, and I loved Angela’s hometown (even the sloppy mess of the Colorow Trail).

I loved Colorado so much that Colorado didn’t want me to leave.  I was about 15 minutes away from missing my flight from Denver to Philly thanks to a worrisome cop and Denver rush hour.  This was the first of several stressful travel experiences of 2017.  I sat on the plane facing the mountainous landscape (I was at a window seat).  I didn’t want to leave. I didn’t want to return to my stressful, crappy job.  I yearned to stay in the serenity of the mountains.  Ever since that plane took off, I’ve wanted to go back.  In 2018, I will.

I transitioned from the Altra Torins to the Altra Escalantes.  I felt like I was flying in my new purple Escalantes!

At the beginning of March, I started training my first at-home personal training client.

My first race of 2017 was the Xterra Brandywine 12k.  It was 23 degrees at the start of the race and I was feeling sick to my stomach.  I finished as the 2nd overall female.  Josh wrapped me in a blanket and I was walking around as if I was a brittle icicle.  It was so cold that their computers malfunctioned so they couldn’t give out awards.  They promised to mail us our awards.  I went home and slept for a few hours underneath blankets.  They mailed me my award a few weeks later.

I wrote a lot of snail mail to Angela, my brother at BMT, and other airmen who were also at BMT with him.

On the 1st day of spring, Josh & I got free water ice from Rita’s Water Ice.

Josh made me a homemade heart-shaped cookie cake on my birthday.  It was delicious!

I turned 23.  Yay.

I experienced some serious mountain withdrawal.

On April 5th, my family and I travelled to San Antonio, Texas for Michael’s BMT graduation.  It would be the first time we would get to see him since February 13th.  Our flight arrived late to Dallas so we missed our connecting flight.  Round two of 2017 travel stress began.  The airline offered us tickets on another flight but when the plane arrived, there was no pilot scheduled to fly the plane.  We were stuck in Dallas for a few hours at 11 PM.  After a 45 minute flight from Dallas to San Antonio (note: the flight was shorter than the time we spent waiting for a pilot to arrive…), we arrived to our destination city around 1 or 2 AM.  We struggled to figure out how to get our rental car because all the rental car companies were closed.  We finally arrived to our hotel just in time to get 3 hours of sleep.

On April 6th, I started the morning by eating a waffle shaped like Texas at 5 o’clock in the morning. By 6 AM, I stepped foot onto Lackland AFB (the 1st AFB I’ve ever been on).  We attended the Airman’s Run and Airman’s Coin Ceremony – both of which were probably the most “I’m proud to be an American” moments I’ve ever witnessed.  Michael got base liberty so we got to explore the base and see where he’s been living for 7.5 weeks.

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Lackland AFB

On April 7th,  Michael graduated from BMT.  We celebrated with town pass by visiting the Alamo, the Tower of the Americas, and attending a San Antonio Rampage AHL hockey game.  I can officially say I’ve been to a hockey game in Texas now.  I had pizza for dinner the 3rd night in a row.

On April 8th, I ran 3.5 miles in San Antonio with my dad.  The part of San Antonio we ran through was sketchy.  We also saw a few chihuahuas running along the road.  I cannot make these things up.  That day we went to USO to play games and eat lunch.  We also explored River Walk some more.  We went to Dave & Buster’s.  For food, if you’re ever in San Antonio, River Walk is THEE place to visit for food.  There is a lot of variety and authentic food for every desire!  I was determined to eat guacamole while I was in Texas and I finally got some at dinner!

We left to return to NJ on April 9th after our goodbyes.  Highways in Texas are confusing so we got lost driving to return our rental car.  We had a connecting flight home but we didn’t miss our connecting flight this time.  I returned home happy for my brother and determined to do something better with my future.  Seeing all the airmen dedicated to our country made me realize that I need to do something good for the world too.  I needed to do something good for me.

My job continued to cause me an immeasurable amount of stress, anxiety, and misery.  My boss wasn’t listening to my concerns and my stress was causing me sleep disturbances and problematic fatigue.  I yearned for change but felt stuck.

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the finish of Hyner 25k

After 3 months of hard training, Hyner 25k arrived.  Josh and I drove my brother’s truck to the mountains because we trusted the reliability of his truck.  We slept in a tent at the base of Humble Hill just like we did in 2016.  I finished the 25k in 3:54:16.  All race details can be found here.

After Hyner, I went through a running hiatus.  My legs were exhausted and my motivation to train was low.  I was feeling physically tired and mentally exhausted.

I started riding my bike more which took the pounding off of my legs while still maintaining my cardio.

I explored many new places with Jess (Josh’s twin) including Menantico Ponds and parts of the Pine Barrens.

I started mountain biking again.

I began trusting the advice of my closest friends and family members who did everything in their power to look out for my well-being when all I could see was a tunnel of misery.

So…..I decided I wanted to become an occupational therapist.

I officially resigned from my job.  Despite my worries about unemployment, my stress levels decreased significantly.  I was focused on my goals of applying for and eventually attending grad school to become an occupational therapist.  I was ready to leave behind what mental health effects that job caused me.  I was ready to set forth on my new ambitions.

I started training three new clients bringing my client count up to four!

I attended my first ever wine festival with Josh and tasted about 50+ different wines.

I started volunteer coaching at youth track again.  I also volunteered with NJ NICA at several NICA races as a course marshall.

My dogs became more and more adorable when they slept.

I became obsessed with watching the sunset along the river.

Josh & I built a garden.  I bought us soil and the guy gave us “special dirt” claiming it was the best dirt around.   We grew tomatoes, green bell peppers, long hots, jalapeños, and cucumbers.  Our summer salads were fresh and delicious!

I started my observation hours for grad school applications.  I observed 6-7 different OTs in multiple settings.  Each OT left a lasting impression on me and made me realize that my ambition to become an OT was the right choice for me.

I learned how to change a flat tire on a bicycle.

On June 11th, Josh & I completed our first ever mountain bike race (Ramsey’s Revenge) at Brandywine.  I did not finish last like I had anticipated.  This would be my first of three mountain bike races in 2017.

I completed my 2nd ever mountain bike race 6 days after Ramsey’s Revenge.  I got frustrated at a 65 year old man for causing me to fall.  I watched my mom complete her first ever mountain bike race.

Sneakers & Spokes hosted a vintage bike ride/throwback run to the local ice cream stand.  I wore my cross country shorts from 2012 and a sweatband.

I downloaded Strava and claimed some QOM’s.

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flying at the Pitman 4 Miler

I ran the Pitman 4 Miler.  I did not PR, but I wasn’t actually trying to PR.  I forget my time.  I remember that I enjoyed it because I didn’t go out too fast for the first mile.  I also wore my Altra Escalantes.

I missed Colorado and I missed Angela a lot.

On July 8th, I started training for my 3rd and final race of 2017 – Green Monster 50k.

Josh & I attended my friend’s wedding in Mifflinburg, PA.  This was 2017’s travel stress moment #3.  Let’s just say this… it was a really long drive to Mifflinburg.  We camped in our tent after the wedding.  The next day we stopped in Duncannon on our way home to hike on the AT.  It was refreshing to stand on a vista again.

I began helping out at Sneakers & Spokes more frequently.

Wanting less stack height, I made the transition from Altra Lone Peaks to Altra Superiors.  I began to love having more ground feel in the Superiors.  The Superiors are now my go-to trail running shoe.

Josh & I attended our first concert together – Philip Philips & The Goo Goo Dolls!  It was a perfect summer night with great music and good company (as always!)

About one week later, my mom & I went to a John Mayer concert.  We made it into the venue with minutes to spare before a huge summer storm rolled through.  I’ve lost count but I believe this was the 6th time I saw John Mayer.  He performed fantastically!

I completed my 3rd and final mountain bike race of 2017 at Fair Hills.  I didn’t come in last place but a lot of young kids passed me.  I have no shame and I’m proud of myself for stepping outside of my comfort zone to even try mountain bike racing this year!

I attempted to train for my 50k with hiking poles.  This lasted about three long runs but eventually I opted to leave them behind so that I could fuel properly and depend on my legs for power.

I completed and submitted my grad school applications.  Application stress was over but now acceptance stress loomed over my head.

The country went crazy about the eclipse.  I wore homemade eclipse glasses that my dad made so I could also stare at the sun.

My family & Josh & I biked on the Michael Castle Trail on a lovely late-August day.  Then we ate at Grain H2O.  Yum!

I got a job as an assistant cross country coach at the community college I once ran for.  It’s weird how things came full circle.

I finalized a name & logo for my health coaching/running coach services.  I called it Better Strides Fitness and officially made the logo.  I created an Instagram, Facebook page, and Twitter for Better Strides Fitness too!

I was a participant in a 9/11 memorial run.   That was another patriotic moment of 2017.

I got stung by a bee on the back of my ankle during a long run with the women’s cross country team.  It itched for days!

Family visited us from California.  We talked about the Philadelphia Eagles a lot.  It was a pleasant morning.

I continued to crave returning to the mountains.

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Oktoberfest in Delaware

Josh & I attended Oktoberfest for the 2nd year in a row.

I worried a lot about getting accepted to grad school.

2017 travel stress moment #4:  driving to Wellsboro, PA for my 50k race.  Josh & I didn’t leave for Wellsboro until about 4:30 PM. It was a 5 hour drive to our campsite at Leonard Harrison State Park.  Once off the highway, we had to start driving on winding, pitch dark, mountainous roads.  It was terrifying, but we made it.

I sprinted down a mountain and ended up finishing Green Monster 50k in 7:58.  I achieved my goal of running under 8 hours.  I finished in the top 10 female finishers.  Three months of training were once again successful.  Check out the race recap here!

The night after my race we slept in our tent while a tropical storm passed over the mountain.  The next morning we stood at the top of the Pennsylvania Grand Canyon and took a picture in the rain.

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PA Grand Canyon

Josh & I dressed up as lumberjacks and won a Halloween costume contest.  This was our 1st costume contest we ever entered together.  We won a gift certificate to a local pizza shop.

I started working with two new health coaching clients – one of which is now 82 years old!  I realized how much I love helping others work towards their goals.  Helping others is my true passion in life and I can’t wait to see what the future holds.

I got more and more excited about watching the Philadelphia Eagles games with Josh & I even learned the chant!  Fly, Eagles, Fly!

After districts in Rhode Island, the women’s cross country team won Regionals in Delaware.  I was a proud coach!

I got accepted to one of the grad schools I applied to.  A weight was lifted off my shoulders.  I am still waiting to hear back from two more schools (one of which is my first choice) but I am relieved and EXCITED knowing that I have the opportunity to begin my education to become an OT.

Gwin got bit by a dog on a 1.5 mile run we went on together.  This was an extremely stressful afternoon for me because I felt guilty she got bit.  We took her to the vet who assured us she would be ok.  Gwin wasn’t allowed to run with me for 1-2 weeks which made me sad.  I carry my pepper spray with me on every run we go on together now.

The cross country team traveled to Massachusetts for Nationals.  We played Cards Against Humanity for hours and came home with two new NJCAA All-Americans.  My first season as a cross country season had come to an end and I was proud of how the team had improved over the course of the season.  The season was nothing like I expected it to be but also everything that I knew I signed up to experience – the highs, the lows, and everything in between!

I got a new job working retail.  I HATE working retail but I needed a source of income to start saving up for grad school.  I remind myself daily that this job is temporary.  I remind myself daily that this is a necessary step in reaching my goal of becoming an OT.  Retail is not ideal.  Retail is not what I went to school for.  Retail is not somewhere I want to stay for longer than I need to.  This job is temporary aid in my ambition to achieve a bigger goal, a more meaningful future, & a lifelong career.

I celebrated my four year anniversary of vegetarianism.

I worked with Sparkly Soul at the Philadelphia Marathon Weekend expo.  It was a fun (and exhausting) two days but I came home with a Thanksgiving Sparkly Soul and Christmas Sparkly Soul so I was excited!

All of my clients ran PRs at their races and accomplished their goals.  I was once again a very proud coach!

I worked Thanksgiving night and I was very miserable.

My family hosted the annual Thanksgiving weekend nighttime trail run.

Josh & I built a snowman.  We had a perfect snow weekend that included homemade crockpot vegetarian chili, hot chocolate from the local coffee/donut shop, a snow run, a late night walk around town to look at Christmas lights, and a Christmas movie!

Two of my clients gifted Josh & I tickets to a Flyers game in club box seats.  I’ve never sat in club box seats before and I felt like I was being spoiled!  I had the biggest slice of pizza I’ve ever consumed in my life and the most expensive glass of overpriced wine.  Regardless, between the luxury of the club box and the Flyers winning the game, it was a perfect date night for Josh and I!

Angela came back to NJ!  We went for a 2 mile run to celebrate our reunion!  It was FANTASTIC!

On Christmas Eve, I went for a run with Gwin down our local trail.  I attached two bells to her collar so she sounded festive running down the trail.  I wore a Santa hat.  We would’ve easily won an award for being most festive on the trail if there had been a contest.

Holiday festivities were fun!  I was grateful, happy, and amazed of how much love there is in my life.

I began feeling excited for what 2018 has in store for me, for my family, and for my friends.  There’s a lot to look forward to!

Running Stats of 2017:

  • Total Miles:  1,505.0 miles
  • Highest monthly mileage: September (189.2 miles)
  • Three trail races – Brandywine 12k, Hyner 25k, Green Monster 50k
  • One road race – Pitman 4 Miler
  • Shoes worn:  Altra Torins, Altra Escalantes, Altra Lone Peaks, Altra Superiors
  • States I ran in (13 total) – New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Delaware, Maryland, Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, Iowa, Nebraska, Colorado, Texas, Rhode Island, Massachusetts

Biking Stats of 2017:

  • Total Miles:  1,103.4 miles
  • Highest monthly mileage: June (262 miles)
  • June, July, August – three consecutive months with 200+ miles
  • Total Road Bike Miles: 767.1 miles
  • Total Mountain Bike Miles:  336.3 miles
  • 3 races – Ramsey’s Revenge, The Challenger, Big Elk

After proofreading this blog post, I’ve come to realize that it lacks flow; however, this year hasn’t flowed smoothly either.  It’s been a challenging year for many reasons.  Both good and bad changes have tested me.  Running has tested me.  My body has felt exhilaration, exhaustion, and adrenaline throughout the year.  I’ve found enjoyment out of cycling and seeking new QOMs.  I’ve established a new goal for my future that will surely challenge me in new ways in 2018.

I’ve become a more resilient woman who learned how to stick up for herself.  I’ve become a more determined individual who is focused on goals for a better future.  I’ve become a more experienced trail runner who learned to push beyond comfort zones, to believe in herself, to race towards any finish line with a determined heart.

This 3700 word blog post doesn’t justify all the memories, experiences, and moments of the year but it does put it into words to reflect on in later years.

2017, it’s been a year.

2018, I’m ready.

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Race Recap: Green Monster Trail Challenge 50k

Race Recap: Green Monster Trail Challenge 50k

This past weekend was the Green Monster Trail Challenge 50k/25k/15k.  As my previous blog posts have summarized, I had signed up for the 50k.  Training went as well as it could have leading up to October 8th and I felt decently prepared to tackle the mountainous course despite being one of three people from New Jersey signed up for the race.  Pennsylvanians had an obvious advantage if they lived and trained in the mountains, but I knew what I was signing up for going into the race and I willingly accepted the challenge.  After all, I know I’m a mountain girl at heart.

Saturday – the day before the race

Because Wellsboro, PA was 4.5 hours from southern New Jersey, Josh & I planned to camp at Leonard Harrison State Park for the weekend.  I coached a cross country meet at Desales University Saturday morning/early afternoon, drove home, packed up my car, and then drove to Josh’s to pack up his Jeep.  We didn’t leave New Jersey until about 4:45 PM because of this hectic day.  This was not ideal by any means, but it was what it was.

Our ETA was 9:30 PM.  I knew I was in for a late pre-race night and navigating the twisty-turny roads of Wellsboro, PA in the dark made us both uneasy.  After a few wrong turns, we made it safely to the campground.  We set up our tent and canopy tent knowing that the weather forecast was predicting overnight rain.  I was asleep on our air mattress by 10:45 PM with the alarm set for 5:00 AM.

Sunday – Race Morning

After a restless night sleep that felt like only three hours, the alarm sounded.  Rain drops were hitting our rain fly and I exhaled numerous sighs of frustration.  A rainy 50k would make for an extremely long day in the woods.  I forced down a bagel with peanut butter and banana on it.  We left for the race at 6:00 AM.  The starting area was a 20 minute drive away and once again we found ourselves sketchily driving down dark, windy mountain roads – some of which were dirt.

We arrived to the USGS parking lot by 6:25 AM.  Josh and I walked the 1/4 mile to the check-in tent with our headlights on.  The rain had stopped but I kept my rain jacket on.  I picked up my race bib, swag bag, and directions to aid stations for Josh.  I also dropped off my drop bag in the designated spot.  Having the option of a drop bag is always very welcomed and I appreciated the idea of having additional fuel available to me at the aid station of mile 20.5 – thank you Tioga Running Company (TRC)!

By the time we walked back to the Jeep, daylight was starting to peek past the surrounding mountains.  I waited in line to use a port-a-potty (yuck!), then shed some of my layers.  The humidity of the day lingered so I opted for a tank top and spandex shorts.  I kept arm sleeves in my Ultimate Direction Ultra Vesta just in case temperatures dropped on top of some of the mountains.  All previous racers I had spoke to about the race had told me that historically the race always started in freezing temperatures.  2017 was the exception as the majority of the racers opted for shorts and short sleeves.

The race director conducted a pre-race briefing around 7:15 which was followed by the national anthem.  My stomach was in knots.  I was beyond nervous about what the day had in store for me and I felt nauseous.  Josh tried calming me down and told me to run smart.  I mentally stored his advice in my head as I approached the starting area.

Sunday – the important race recap stuff

For the remainder of the race recap, I am going to break down the race through aid station to aid station recaps.  Instead of running the race as a 50k race, throughout the day I broke the race into 8 parts (there were 8 aid stations).  This made the 50k distance seem less daunting.  This allowed me to focus on one small goal at a time rather than one huge goal.  The farthest stretch between aid stations was 5 miles so with my mental strategy, the farthest “race” I would be running would only be 5 miles.  Be warned, this strategy might not work for everyone, but on race day, this was the best strategy I think I could have ever adopted.

Start to Aid Station #1 (Canada Run) – miles 0.0-5.0

By 7:25, all of us racers lined up at the starting line.  After a countdown, we were sent off to the trails.  I started the race conservatively and a lot of people were ahead of me.  But I wasn’t too concerned.  I didn’t let my adrenaline get the best of me.  The first 1/2 – 3/4 mile or so was on a wide dirt road.  Eventually we made a slight left at a trail head.  Here stood a man in a T-rex costume cheering us on.  I thought this was peculiar but I enjoyed the humor of the situation so early in the morning.

As the racers ducked into the single track, the trail wasn’t too technical but I needed to stay alert.  Everybody at this point in the race was still pretty close together so keeping an appropriate distance from the racer in front of me was necessary to plan my footing.

After some nice, flowy single track, we began our first climb.  I believe this climb started out gradual.  I was brought down to a power-hiking pace and made a few moves around racers that were hiking a bit too slow for my desire.  I politely scooted around them and continued the ascent.  The climb felt like it was at least 2 miles long.  If I recall correctly, I believe it got steeper as the climb continued.  My calf muscles and my lungs burned but with every step, I knew I was getting myself closer to the top.

The race course was designed to have climbs followed immediately by descents.  Once I reached the top of the first climb, I was rewarded with an enjoyable, flowy downhill.  I was cautious on the downhill as my glasses were fogged over from the ungodly humidity of the morning.  I was frustrated that I wasn’t able to see all that well and I felt like it was going to be a long, long day if I was running half blind the entire race.

We reached aid station #1 at the bottom of the descent.  I chugged a half cup of Gatorade then continued on my way to the next trail head.  Three miles until the next aid station.

Aid Station #1 (Canada Run) to Aid Station #2 (Baldwin Run) – miles 5.0-8.0

We were immediately gifted with another long uphill.  This uphill hurt worse.  It was steep, it was long and I felt like it was never going to end.  Honestly, I don’t remember too much from this ascent.  The downhill was a relief but my glasses were still fogged over so I was still running cautious (the struggle was real!).

I belief we ascended and descended a second climb during this stretch.  I remember feeling like I had just ascended two of Hyner’s SOBs that were actually longer in length.  Little did I know that the SOB-like climbs would continue.

During one of these climbs the man up ahead of me warned me that the trail was steep simultaneously as shale tumbled down towards me.  Steep?!  Yeah, I could tell.  I was reaching for rocks that were intact to the trail just to give myself a little extra stability.  I reached for a few trees that lined the trail just to pull myself up.  I was using both my feet and my hands to keep myself from sliding down.  One…step…at a time.

My legs were burning up these climbs but I kept telling myself that every step forward was a step in the right direction.

The field of runners was more spread out at this point as the three climbs had separated a lot of people.  After power-hiking at the top of the ascent to recover my legs and lungs, I happily started running with one or two runners who were keeping a steady pace.

At the Baldwin Run aid station, I picked up another cup of Gatorade and drank the whole thing.  I wasn’t ready for food/snacks yet but the aid station was fully stocked.  Three miles until the next aid station.

Aid Station #2 (Baldwin Run) to Aid Station #3 (Stone Road) – miles 8.0-11.0

The runners I had been running with departed the aid station at the same time as me so I knew I would be running with people for hopefully another three miles to the next aid station.

We reached yet another climb that was steep.  I peeked upwards a few times just to see that a few racers up ahead of me were still climbing.  So…many…steep…ascents.  Once we finally got to the top, I power-hiked to recover.  I ran for about 400 feet than started power-hiking again.  The woman behind me stayed in step with my tactic of run-hiking.  After a relatively “flat” section of the course, we were rewarded with aid station #3!

22281924_10210859858678015_2635698085745054548_nSpectators lined this aid station as it was one of the first aid stations that were safely accessible by car.  I spotted Josh immediately.  Everyone was cheering and their energy was contagious.  Josh ran stride by stride with me to the aid station tent.  He asked me how things were going and I told him “I feel like I just climbed up SOB three times in a row”.  He offered some words of encouragement.  I grabbed another cup of Gatorade and then continued on my way.  Two and a half miles until the next aid station.

Aid Station #3 (Stone Road) to Aid Station #4 (Broad Ridge)- miles 11.0-13.5

This was the shortest stretch between aid stations and it flew by!  The two runners I had the pleasure of running with stayed comfortably behind me throughout most of this stretch.  The man politely complimented me and my fellow trail chick on picking good lines to run down the technical trail.  I appreciated this uplifting compliment!

Before I knew it we were approaching the next aid station.  I heard this aid station way off in the distance as a local girl scout troop’s cheering echoed throughout the woods.  Their energy was perfect for this point in the race.

I wanted to fill up my pack with more water because I knew I was drinking a lot.  The humidity and heat required a lot of extra hydration.  I filled up the bladder at the water cooler and grabbed a Fig Newton.  That Fig Newton hit the spot!  Josh told me it was all down hill from here….ha!  Funny joke, Josh!

I spent a little more time than my fellow running buddies did at this aid station so I ended up departing back onto the trail alone.  Four miles until the next aid station.

Aid Station #4 (Broad Ridge) to Aid Station #5 (Apple Orchard) – miles 13.5-17.5

Although I could see my running buddies up ahead, they weren’t within distance of me catching them.

After about 1/4 mile away from the aid station, we hit Frankenstein’s Forehead…..the infamous Frankenstein’s Forehead.  According to my Garmin upload to Strava, Frankenstein’s Forehead is a 0.2 mile descent at -31.6% grade.  Although I didn’t have these statistics during the race, it was obvious that this was a steep descent.  The trail was made up of mostly loose shale which made it interesting.  I managed to only slightly slip once (thank you, Altra Superiors for your extra grippy lugs!!)

I am not that fast at descents so my previous running buddies continued to gap me.  I was cautious going down Frankenstein’s Forehead.  It probably would have been quicker to slide down on my butt, but I wasn’t in the mood to have dirt and rocks plastered to my spandex for the rest of the day.

The trail reached another climb.  There was nobody within eyesight ahead of me or behind me.  I was all alone simply moving forward from pink ribbon to pink ribbon.  I began to talk aloud to myself at this point.  First, during the climb, I created a song about going uphill and how with every step I took up the hill I wouldn’t have to take that step again during the race.  Then, when the climb became more gradual but still required a power-hike, I made a song up about the yellow leaves on the trees.  It sounds crazy, but the songs distracted me from the soreness of my muscles.

Finally at the top of the climb, the trail exited the woods into a pipeline opening on the mountain.  I spotted another racer trekking up the mountain and called out to him saying “are you in the 50k?!”.  He said yes and asked me where I came from.  I proceeded to point to the opening in the woods.  He seemed to be following the pink survey flags up the mountain which I knew was wrong.  He continued to explain to me that he was in 3rd place overall and that nobody had passed him all day.  My gaze drifted to the woods on the other side of the open pipeline field where I spotted pink ribbons and a yellow blazed tree.  During the pre-race briefing, the race director had told us to follow the yellow blazed trees when in doubt of the course direction so I proceeded to the woods and justified my decision to the apparent 3rd place racer.   He agreed that this was probably the right direction and he sped off down the trail.

Paranoia started pacing through my head.  What if I had somehow gotten off course, missed the next aid station in which Josh was probably waiting for me, and then somehow gotten back onto course to the point where I was now near the 3rd place guy?  I feared I had somehow cut the course.  There was still nobody within eye sight ahead of me or behind me (with the exception of the “3rd place guy” who had just sped down the trail).  Every possible horrible situation was going through my head.  Was I the lost one?  Was I going the wrong way?  Why was I so close to the guy in 3rd place all of a sudden?

As paranoid thoughts continued to race through my head, I heard a loud “F@#!”.  Uh oh.  Before I could process what might have happened, the guy comes storming back up the trail yelling “I already went this way and now I’m lost and I need to find my way back to where I need to be”…….oh shoot.  All I knew is that I was going to continue on my way following the pink ribbons and the yellow blazed trees.  I hoped and prayed that I would catch up to someone in front of me soon so that I could figure out if I was still on the right part of the course.

After about another 1-1.5 miles, I finally spotted someone ahead of me power hiking.  I kindly asked him what his mileage was and he said about 16.5 miles.  THANK GOODNESS!  This matched the mileage on my watch and a huge feeling of relief overtook me.  I explained to the runner that I had come across a guy that was lost who was apparently in third.  I thanked him for easing my paranoia and continued on my way.

After about another mile, I reached the next aid station.  Although this aid station was supposed to be unmanned, a volunteer was there with water, Gatorade and a few snacks.  I grabbed another cup of Gatorade.  The woman who I had been running with back through the last two aid stations was stretching out her calf muscles.  I continued back onto the trail.  Three miles until the next aid station.

Aid Station #5 (Apple Orchard) to Aid Station #6 (Hessel Gessel) – miles 17.5-20.5

I continued to run this section of the course alone.  It wasn’t nearly as hilly as the first half of the race and my legs felt relieved.  I knew that my drop bag would be waiting at the next aid station.  I also knew that Josh would be at this aid station along with several other spectators.

During the ascent in this section I attempted to eat part of my peanut butter and raisin wrap that had been effective in my previous 50k in 2016.  I took about four bites but I couldn’t quite stomach the rest.  It was too dry and it was taking me forever to chew.  I concluded that my race would be fueled off of Shot Bloks.

This section of the course wasn’t overly technical.  I was still focused on staying alert to keep my footing precise and efficient.  Towards the end of this three mile stretch, we were rewarded with a wide open fire road type area that was grassy.  This lead us right into the Hessel Gessel aid station.

22310643_10210859859438034_3305799624498574142_nI spotted Josh and he was taking pictures/video.  I was relieved to have reached this point.  It felt like the psychological half way point because I could re-stash my pack with fuel.  This aid station was manned with local cross country runners.  I added some more water to my hydration bladder.  Josh handed me another sleeve of Shot Bloks and I picked up two more Fig Newtons (thank goodness for Fig Newtons!) from the aid station.  I meandered back into the woods after receiving some more words of encouragement from Josh.  Five miles until the next aid station.

Aid Station #6 (Hessel Gessel) to Aid Station #7 (Frying Pan)- miles 20.5-25.5

Immediately after leaving the aid station, I started off this stretch of the course with 3-4 men.  We navigated down about five huge boulders.  I settled in behind a man wearing Altra Timps and proceeded to have a conversation with him about the Timps.  After 50 feet later, the group of men and I realized we had just ran in a circle as we had returned back to the boulders.  We had made a right at the bottom of the boulders instead of a left.  I discovered this mistake, navigated back down the huge boulders for the second time within 3 minutes and made a left to follow the pink ribbons.  Oops.

The group of men followed me down the trail back to another wide dirt road.  We crossed the road onto another single track trailhead.  I let them go ahead of me knowing that if it was a descent that I would be slower than them.  We settled back into a nice pace.  I heard Josh drive by on the dirt road ahead honking his horn and cheering for me – it made me smile.

Eventually we reached another climb and I politely scooted by the group of men as they were power-hiking slower than my normal power-hiking speed.  I continued to power through the gradual uphill.

All the previous race recaps I read of the Green Monster 50k stated that the 2nd half of the course is more runnable than the 1st half.  I can affirm that this is the truth.  I did A LOT of running throughout mile 17 to the finish.  I still conserved energy by power-hiking the climbs but there were a lot of runnable, non-technical sections of this part of the course.  It was a relief!

This section of the course navigated through some muddy sections – probably from the rain from the previous night mixed with all the runners who had already came down the trail that day.  It was sloppy and my shoes were covered in mud but I continued moving in the forward direction.

The trail wandered through 3-4 stream crossings before the next road crossing.  I originally planned to keep my feet dry but there was no safe way to cross via rocks so I decided to splash through the streams instead.  It was more fun to do that anyway!

Josh met me at this aid station too and told me that I only had two more big climbs to go.  Uuuuggggggh, two more climbs?!!? My legs were shot at this point.  I crossed another wide but shallow creek and started on my second to last climb.  Three miles until the next aid station.

Aid Station #7 (Frying Pan) to final aid station #8 (Scotch Pine) – miles 25.5-28.5

I ascended the second to last climb.  My legs were exhausted.  It felt like it went on for at least 2 miles.  Up, up, up.  Eventually when I got to the top, I was rewarded with a lovely downhill which I took full advantage of.

This section of the course was simple:  go up the mountain, come back down the mountain.  I don’t remember too much about this section.  I just remember that the final 400-500 feet of this section was on a ridge of single track trail.  I could see the aid station down below but I had to follow the trail to get there.  I crossed another wide, shallow creek and Josh asked me how I felt.

My response was short and simple:  “I feel like I have 54 minutes to run the last 3.75 miles to the finish.”

My goal going into the race was 1) to finish and 2) to finish between 7 and 8 hours.  I knew I was going to be extremely close to the 8 hour mark.  I had 54 minutes to ascend another long climb, descend the mountain, and run the 1/2 mile of flat road to the finish.

22310128_10210859858878020_9133001567192680943_nI think I spent a total of 45 seconds at that last aid station.  I chugged one final cup of Gatorade and started up, once again, another climb.  3.75 miles until the finish line.

Final aid station #8 (Scotch Pine) to the finish line – miles 28.5-32.2ish

I left the aid station saying to Josh, “I need to book it”.  I needed to book it all the way up this final climb.  Then I needed to book it all the way back down to the finish.  54 minutes.

I power-hiked for at least one mile up the final climb.  I felt like I was a woman on a mission.  Actually, I know I was a woman on a mission.  Even when the trail continued upwards, I got to a point where it was a runnable uphill.  I wasn’t moving fast but I was moving faster than I would have been power-hiking it.

I passed the man that had been lost way back at mile 15 as he was power-hiking.  I kept pushing myself to keep up a “brisk” pace up this final climb.  I was slightly panick-y knowing that I was going to be extremely close to that 8 hour mark.

I finally made it the top of the final climb and I expended all of my remaining energy on that final descent down the mountain.  I was hyper-focused on making it safely down the mountain in a fast and efficient manner.  I made sure I was putting my feet in the right places to avoid any unneeded ankle twisting.  I kept my eyes peeled for pink ribbons.  Now was not the time to get off course.  I have never ran so fast down a mountain ever before in my life.  Pure adrenaline is what made me forget how sore I was being 31 and 32 miles into the race.  I needed to keep running and I needed to keep running fast.

After what felt like 5 miles, I finally made it the end of the trail head.  The trail put me out onto the side yard of a Wellsboro resident.  As he sat on his porch, I quickly asked him where to go.  He told me to go down the road.

I made that final turn onto the road and I could see the finishing area.  I was running so fast down this road and I was terrified to look at my watch.  I hadn’t looked at my watch since leaving the final aid station because I was too fearful to see how much time I had remaining.

I was getting closer and closer to the finishing area and spectators were sporadically spread out along the dirt road cheering, clapping, and ringing cow bells. I finally got within eyesight of the finishing clock and I could read that it said 7:57.  I knew I was going to be under 8 hours and a huge smile came across my face.  I heard Josh cheering me on!  It was such a great feeling knowing I had accomplished my goal of finishing under 8 hours.

22308946_10210859860118051_2116784813890531647_nI officially crossed the line in 7:58:08.  I was handed a medal by a friendly race volunteer.  Josh walked over to me and offered me a congratulations.  All I could muster up was “I have never ran so fast down a mountain before ever in my life”.  I made it!

Sunday – Post-Race Happenings

Josh guided me over to a table and chairs underneath a pavilion.  He handed me a Gatorade and proceeded to exchange stories about our day.  We eventually walked back into the open area to sit in the warmth of the sunshine.  Josh had a beer from the local brewery that was offering beers.  I just wanted to sit and not move another muscle.

22279679_10210859858318006_5612210570519066878_nWhat. A. Day.

After slowing hobbling back to the Jeep, I changed out of my sweat-drenched clothes and soaked shoes.  I shared a few brownies with Josh.  I craved pizza so we researched local pizza places we could pick up a pizza from.  None of Wellsboro’s local pizza shops were open on a Sunday afternoon so we opted for a medium cheese Pizza Hut pizza.  We drove back to the campground and immediately opened the box of pizza.  I devoured four slices.  Yum!

I was asleep by 9:30 PM that night.  My legs were exhausted.  My body was tired.  I was ready for sleep, the sleep that I earned!

My Race Review:

Would I race this again?:  Maybe.  The 4.5 hour drive to the race makes for a long weekend of driving but the course is beautiful, the race atmosphere is perfect, the course is well-marked, and aid stations are fully stocked with ultra runner favorites.

How would you review Green Monster Trail Challenge as a challenge?:  Yes, the 50k is a challenge.  For those of you who have done Hyner, I warn you that Green Monster is by far a lot more technical.  The trails are rocky, rooty, and steep.  The course hits you with ascent-descent, ascent-descent, so there’s really not many flat sections of the course.  If you’re looking for a well-groomed race, do Hyner.  If you want more of a challenge in the technical area of ultra races, do Green Monster.

How would you review the post-race celebration?:  There’s free beer, free BBQ, and a table of snacks/drinks.  Although I am not a beer drinker and I’m a vegetarian, I thought the post-race celebration was perfect as it was low-key and relaxing after a long day in the mountains.  There were plenty of places to sit and enjoy the afternoon as other racers were finishing.

My Race Statistics:

Official Time:  7:58:08

10th overall female finisher

39th overall finisher of 79 (I’m a middle-of-the-pack kinda girl!)

1st place age group 20-29

Garmin distance:  32.4 miles

Average pace: 14:46/mile

Garmin elevation:  7,000 feet of gain/loss (advertised as 7800 feet, but at that point, what’s another +/- 800 feet?)

Mile split for mile 31:  9:50

Mile split for mile 32:  8:55

Total Steps:  72,175

Fuel:  8 shotbloks, 3 Fig Newtons, 8 small cups of Gatorade, and A LOT of water

Thank you, Josh, for supporting me through three months of training.  Thank you for being my chauffeur to and from the race.  Thank you for meeting me at so many aid stations when you knew I would only be there for a few minutes before disappearing back into the woods.  Thank you for buying me a pizza – my favorite post-long-run food.  Thank you for being the best supporter I could ever ask for.

And, Green Monster, thank you for a challenge.  Thank you for a wonderful day in the mountains, on these trails, and through the woods.  Thank you for forcing me to run down the mountain at sub-10 minute pace when I’ve already ran 30 miles.  Thank you for pushing me and making me a stronger runner.

For now I will rest and recover and relive the race through the stories I can tell and the lessons I can share.

What a race.

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