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.

22449516_10210871685813686_310653901_o

My Running Hiatus

My Running Hiatus

The Hyner 25k was just over one month ago and ever since then my running has been off. My weekly mileage hasn’t exceeded 17 miles. Actually, it’s been a struggle for me to reach a total of 17 miles.  I took off my normal amount of time for post-race recovery and, instead of running, I started cycling more both on and off the trails to maintain some fitness.  The runs I did complete were typically 3-4 mile runs at a sluggishly slow pace. On my runs, my mind would often wander to a desire to stop running and just walk or find a bicycle to ride back to my house instead (both of which I never actually did).  As much as I wanted to take off from running and try to maintain my fitness through cross-training instead, I kept trying to go out and run in hopes that during one of these runs I would feel less sluggish. That feeling never came.  Despite the short distance of my runs, 3 miles started to feel like an eternity. I would get to my half-way turn-a-round point and think “I really have to go all the way back now??“. A few weeks before I’d completed 16 miles up and down mountains and now a 3 mile run on a flat trail became a challenge unlike Hyner View Challenge itself.  Maybe I was physically broken down from the 25k.  I know I felt unmotivated because I didn’t have anything to train; I didn’t have a race to look forward to.  I know I felt lonely on my runs because my running partners either weren’t able to run because of injury or had moved 2,000 miles away (you know who you are).  Maybe I was going through race withdrawal.  Actually…maybe I was going through mountain withdrawal.  Regardless of this list of retrospective excuses, I tried to get over these boundaries.  People told me to take more time off. I felt like I was indeed taking time off by running low and slow mileage but my body ultimately won the battle. I needed more time. I needed to stop running completely.  So this is my running hiatus.  I will probably run a few miles at tonight’s group run because I am obligated to as the shop owner’s daughter. I assure you that it won’t be fast and it won’t be strenuous in any capacity. I will ease back in to running as I prepare to start training for my fall ultra. I hope that I’ve given my body an appropriate amount of time to recoup itself. I hope that I return to running with some new found motivation. What ever the case may be, I now understand the importance of ample race recovery. Even though I didn’t run a marathon or ultra, my body was so strained by the race and the three months of training leading up to the race that it needed a break.   It needed a hiatus.
I’m setting goals, not resolutions.

I’m setting goals, not resolutions.

As defined by trusty ‘ol Google, a resolution is defined as “a firm decision to do or not to do something”.

On the other hand, a goal is defined as “the object of a person’s ambition or effort; an aim or a desired result”.

We’re only four days into 2017 and I’ve heard the word “resolution” too many times.  Four days into 2017 and I’ve heard that people’s new year’s resolutions have already been put on the back burner.  I’ve never been someone who set a new year’s resolutions and I’ll tell you why now.  To me, resolutions are simply attempts to achieve a short or long term goal.  There seems to be no backboard for holding you to your resolutions.

I personally believe that goals have firmer foundations for achieved success compared to resolutions.  The definition above states it simply:  goals are ambitions, efforts, and a desire for results.  Goals provide you something to work towards, something to strive for, and something to hold you accountable for your actions.  Goals provide a deadline for your actions to be completed. Goals are continuous efforts that can be extended and grown upon.  Goals teach you to work hard for something you want to do.  Goals help you reach limits you never thought possible.  And once you reach one “limit”, a new limit can be set until you realize limits truly don’t exist.

So what are my goals for 2017?  I’ve set a goal to race the Hyner Trail Challenge 25k for the first time ever (I’m already registered in this sold-out race).  I’ve set a goal to thru-hike the Loyalsock Trail with Josh.  I’ve set a goal to race another ultramarathon in the fall (specific race is TBD, but most likely I’ll be registering for the Green Monster 50k once registration opens).

These three goals aren’t merely resolutions because I have ever intention of achieving these goals.  I won’t change my mind in a week and throw in the towel like most resolution-ers do.  These goals are set, published to the Internet, and have been shared with running partners.  Not only will I hold myself accountable to my goals but now I have my blog readers and my training partners to hold me accountable too.

Will you resolve to take action this year?  Or will you take action to achieve goals?  

The choice is yours.

loyalsock-trail-creek
view along the Loyalsock Trail
2016

2016

1 year…

12 months…

52 weeks…

366 days (it was a leap year)…

8784 hours…

527, 040 minutes…

31,622,400 seconds…

All those numbers, just little moments of time, helped shaped one big number: 2016.

A year I will always remember.  A year that will always hold a special place in my heart filled with joy, fear, new beginnings, bigger aspirations, exciting adventures, friendship, family, and love.

To me, 2016 was many things.  There’s many moments of this year that will always mean a lot to me.  Those moments have added up to one unforgettable year and I’m writing this blogpost, my 20th blog post of the year, to tell you about it.

I started 2016 as an intern for a medical fitness facility 20 minutes from my house.  I needed an internship to fulfill my undergraduate requirements so on January 19th, I became known as “the intern”.

In early January I registered for two races – my first ultramarathon scheduled for May 15th and a half-marathon scheduled for October 16th.  I was drawn to a 50k race distance because I wanted to try a race distance longer than a marathon.  My intentions for signing up for the half-marathon in October were to potentially PR and to set a mid-point race for the Philadelphia Marathon in November which I planned on signing up for as well.  Not even a month in to 2016 and my race schedule was set for the year.

I started a new part-time job at an assisted living community in the activities department.  I really enjoyed creating bonds with the residents and my co-workers were really nice!

With a combination of working at my internship (unpaid) and my part-time job I was extremely busy all the time.  Life became crazy, but I was learning a lot and still tried to make time for things I enjoyed doing.

On February 14th, I went for a 13 mile trail run with four crazy trail runners in 10 degree weather.  I probably wore six shirts on that brisk Sunday morning.  We even crossed a frozen stream where I was wished a happy valentine’s day by the man that would become my boyfriend three months later.

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Altra Lone Peaks

I fell in love with Altra.  My toes adore the wide toebox and the zero drop is perfect for my feet!  The Altra Lonepeaks are my favorite, but on road group runs I always wear my Torins!  I also really like their slogan: “Zero Limits”. [Fast forward to December 28th and I was chosen as an Altra Ambassador for 2017!  YAYY!!]

On February 28th, I ran 19 miles with my dad in the Pine Barrens.  My love for trail running continued to grow.

I visited my best friend from Bloomsburg in the beginning of March in Bethlehem, PA.

I discovered a new park down the street from my internship because I was organizing a 5k for a group of employees from the corporation I was interning with.  Discovering new places is always a lot of fun!

On Easter day, I started to learn how to mountain bike with my brother.  I got off my bike a lot to walk across logs but I enjoyed finding a new way to spend time outside on the trails.  I remember being scared to death about crashing but for some reason I wanted to keep trying so that I could go out and ride whenever I wanted.

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White Clay with Josh

I began training with the man who wished me a happy valentines day on that frigid February morning.  He (Josh) led me around trails I’d never been on as I tried to keep up with him.  We learned a lot about each other on these runs and found a lot of similarities between our personalities.

I worked my first of four expos with Sparkly Soul with Angela on April 1st.  These expos were always an adventure.  During our first expo together (Hot Chocolate 15k), we lugged heavy suitcases up and down staircases because we couldn’t figure out where to go.  We also received a huge box of mini Apple Pie LaraBars that lasted me for the next 4 months.  Then we ran at 9 PM and I fell and scraped my knee on the sidewalk.  Blood was dripping down my leg.

I trained hard for my ultramarathon coming up on May 15th.  High mileage, long runs, and lots of mental preparation!  I even started teaching my dog how to run off-leash.

I ran a one mile race on a track in 6:24.  I was VERY happy with that time, although I was completely out of breath!

I organized and directed my first 5k walk/run in late April.  I concluded my internship and was given positive feedback about my work ethic and knowledge about the fitness world.  I was told I would’ve been offered a job if they had a position available, but unfortunately they didn’t have a position available at the time.

I travelled to Hyner, PA to spectate the Hyner 25k/50k with my trail running friends.  We camped in an airfield with a bunch of other rugged trailrunners in tents, campers, and big RVs.  We went to a church that provided a free spaghetti dinner to the racers.  I climbed Humble Hill at 7 AM alone in order to reach Hyner View before the racers did.  That hill definitely humbled me.  I waited at the top of a very windy Hyner View for over 2 hours waiting for the racers I was cheering on to get to the top.  I talked with some photographers and other spectators at the top and I rung my cowbell when my fellow trail running friends ran by.  I traversed down Huff’s Run to get back to the bottom.  I toted a beer in my CamelBak to the finish line for Josh as he requested.  We waited patiently for the 50k racers to finish.  I kept ringing my cowbell.  We ate free pizza and cookies and I attempted to drink beer at the finish line. I took one sip and called it a day.  I stargazed with Josh, sat around a campfire with about 15 other trail runners, and shivered in the chilly April mountain air.  But somehow, even shivering, I was perfectly content.

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The view from the top of Humble Hill

I became a Sparkly Soul ambassador in late April at the Broad Street 10 miler expo.  At this expo, the 2nd expo of the year for me, I met the owner of Sparkly Soul!  We also had a thief in our midst at this expo.

Josh made me dinner and asked me to be his girlfriend.  Of course I said yes!

I graduated from Bloomsburg University of Pennsylvania with a bachelor’s degree in exercise science.  I was awarded a plaque for earning the highest GPA in BU’s Exercise Science graduating class of 2016.  I was shocked!  I also officially became an adult because now, as a college graduate, I entered what people call “the job world”.

I started looking for a full-time job because I was only being offered about 8 hours per week at my part-time job.  I was applying to anywhere I thought I might have a chance.  I became frustrated with the limited job opportunities so after much thought I decided to pursue my health coach certification to make a future for myself.  I hoped to start my own health coaching services upon becoming certified.

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1st Ultra

I finished my 1st ultramarathon on May 15 side-by-side with Josh.  It was a perfect temperature for race day.  After running the first 25k loop in under 2:30, we knew a sub-5 would be in our reach as long as we didn’t slow down too much more.  We finished in 4:58 in 34th and 35th place.  I was the 3rd overall female finisher in the 29 and under age group.  I was awarded a German weather vane.  We had completed our first ever ultra together and dominated on the trails.  This was the start of our ultra running futures!

Since my legs needed a rest from ultra training, I started mountain biking more often.  Slowly but surely I was getting more confident.

I was offered a full-time job from another assisted living community as the activities director.  I resigned from my part-time job and started my full-time job in full swing.  For two weeks, I worked both jobs since I had submitted two weeks notice of my official resignation.  Life got crazy and hectic again.

I began liking wine more and more.

I explored more trails at Fair Hills with Josh on a steaming hot summer day.  We even decided to take a break and cool off in a stream.

Other than trail running, star gazing became one of my favorite summer activities.

I celebrated Global Running Day and National Trails Day.

I spectated my brother’s first ever road cycling race.  He didn’t win but he did great for a rookie!

I created a chair exercise routine for my residents at work to music from the 40s, 50s and 60s.  It was a lot of fun to apply my exercise knowledge in this setting.

Wanderlust hit me hard, especially on Mondays.

I did a lot of runs and bike rides at 6 AM since that was the only time I could get out and exercise.  It was a great start to my day!

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Patriotic

I ran the traditional 4th of July 4 mile race in a patriotic singlet from Sneakers and Spokes.  I didn’t run a personal best (I ran a 28:40), but I had a lot of fun!  I had to rush home to shower before my shift at work.  I didn’t enjoy having to go to work on a holiday.

Josh and I explored French Creek State Park.  We got lost but eventually found our way back to his Jeep.

I wrote letters to Angela who was spending her summer in California.  Snail mail is the best!

I began attending more and more Sneakers and Spokes group rides.  I only owned a hybrid bike without clip-ins but I tried my best to keep up with the rest of the group.  I learned proper cycling etiquette and how to ride in a pace line. Time on my bike became good cardio for me without the demands of running on my muscles.

Josh and I took our first official camping trip together at Worlds End State Park. We ran up trails that led to beautiful vistas.  We became intrigued by the Loyalsock Trail.  We camped at a campground in a tent.  We ran every trail in the park, crashed a wedding party, and dipped our feet in a stream.  It poured the entire afternoon after our run but we made the most of it.  We made a pizza over the fire.  On our way home we stopped at the boulder field at Hickory Run State Park.  Josh loved the boulder field!

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Worlds End

In early August, I was offered a job by my internship site.  I was struck with anxiety, fear, and worry because if I chose to accept the job, I would transition from my current full time job to a per diem/part-time job requiring me to work every weekend, both Saturday and Sunday.  After talking it over with my parents, Josh, and Angela I decided to accept the job and leave my full time job.  I craved working in a fitness setting and my full-time job was a dead end job with no upward potential.  My new job would provide many options for promotions so I felt it necessary to accept the new job.  I once again submitted my two weeks notice to my current employer and started working two jobs again until my two weeks was up.  Since accepting the new job from my internship site, I’ve been happier and much more satisfied with the type of work I am doing.  I feel empowered.  I feel grateful.  I went from being “the intern” to returning as an employee within four months.

I learned trusting God is the easiest thing I can do.

I played many rounds of mini golf with my younger “cousin”.

I did my first ever road time trial “race”.  I finished a 10 mile practice time trial as the fastest female rider.  I was still on my hybrid without clip-in shoes.  I felt like I was going to puke, but I was happy!

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Appalachian Trail

I showed Josh part of New Jersey’s section of the Appalachian Trail.  We climbed to the top of Mount Tammany which overlooked the Delaware Water Gap.  We explored a lot of trails that day and I began falling in love with the peace of the trails even more than before!

I bought a new road bike since I was becoming more of a “serious” road cyclist.  I love my navy blue and purple Fuji Finest!

I participated in a paint party.  I discovered I’m not much of a painter.

Sneakers and Spokes celebrated it’s one year anniversary.  Also, Sneaker’s and Spokes won “best sporting goods store” in Salem County!

I became overly intrigued by the concept of thru-hiking the Appalachian Trail.

I really liked eating pizza and nachos.

I attended my first ever Oktoberfest with Josh.  I didn’t drink from a stein but I had a lot of fun dancing ridiculously!

At the 3rd expo (Rock ‘N Roll Philadelphia), we were excited to see an Altra booth!  Nothing too overly crazy happened at this expo that I recall.

Josh and I travelled to the Cat Skills Mountains for his Cats Tail Trail Marathon. We camped in the tent for 3 nights and 4 days.  We explored the trail that started in our campground.  We explored the small town of Phoenicia.  It rained a lot.  I was stranded in an elementary school parking lot at 6 AM without cell phone service and then I ran down a highway just to get to our friend’s truck which I then drove up mountains just to cheer the men on with my cowbell.  I waited at the only road-accessible aid station for hours waiting for all our trail friends to come through.  I cheered Josh on and I was a proud girlfriend!  I waited in front of a parish hall for hours waiting for Josh to run down the street. I even witnessed a finisher who had punctured his forehead with a branch run towards the finish with dried blood caked on his face.  Josh finished in 13th overall.  I was so proud!  In celebration, I spent a late night with five grown men who were drinking beer in a mountain cabin.  I was the only female (drinking my Mike’s Hard Lemonade of course).  That weekend was quite the adventure.

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Runner’s World Half

I ran the Runner’s World Half Marathon in Bethlehem, PA in 1:43.  Although it wasn’t a PR, I was content with my time.  It was a hillier course than I expected.  I also got to say hello to Tiffany – our former Altra rep that had moved to Utah!  I felt prepared for my marathon but still knew I needed to put in hard work for the next month before my race.

I started paying my student loans.

I visited Smithville with my mom and my mommom for the first time ever.  I bought special peanut butter.

I visited a winery for the first time as a girl’s night out.  Wine is good!

I carved a pumpkin that simply said “run”.  I’m not that creative.

I handed out candy to eager trick-or-treaters for the first time in my life.  It was so much fun!

I struggled through a 22 mile run which left me feeling physically defeated but mentally humbled.  I knew I had what I needed to complete the marathon, I just needed to ignore the pain for as long as I could in order to race a PR.

I craved trail races and ultra-marathons.

My brother decided to enlist in the Air Force.

I became more and more grateful for my new job despite having to work weekends.  I knew I had made the right decision.

I earned my ACE Health Coach certification in mid-November.  I plan on starting my own health coach services in 2017.

At the 4th expo of the year (Philadelphia Marathon), we moved our booth three times before we were officially settled in and were given about 10 bags of Herrs pretzels!

I ran the Philadelphia Marathon on an extremely windy Sunday morning.  25-30+ MPH winds pushed against me during the last 10 miles of the race but I hung on to all the time I had banked during the first half of the race to finish 1 minute and 17 seconds faster than last year’s finishing time.  I was happy with my time (3:45:08), happy to be done, and happy to look forward to trail races in 2017.

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Last Sparkly Soul Expo
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Phila. Marathon

I celebrated my 3rd year of vegetarianism.

I towed a trailer of canned goods from Sneakers and Spokes to Xfinity Live in Philadelphia with a group of determined road cyclists.  We had collected 234 pounds of donated food for WMMR’s Preston and Steve’s Campout for Hunger for Philabundance.  I was terrified pedaling across the bridge and yelled at a lot of Philadelphia drivers who were threatening my safety.  I completed my longest bike ride to date on that day – 67 miles; half of which I towed canned goods with me!

I took Josh to his first ever Flyers game with my mom and one of my best friends.  I lost my voice within 5 minutes – the Flyers scored 3 goals in less than 90 seconds.

I celebrated an amazing Christmas with my family.  It was also Josh and I’s first Christmas together.  It was perfect.

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My Family

This is my 2016 – a year I will never forget.  2016 was the year I’ve had three different employers.  2016 was the year I ran my first ultra-marathon.  2016 was the year I yearned for trails, adventure, and mountains.  2016 was the year I truly found my best friend.  2016 was the year I pushed my limits and overcame my fears.  2016 was a year I could have never predicted.

There were times in 2016 when I felt weak.  I shed a lot of tears (both happy and sad) this year.  I became anxious and fearful of my unknown future.  I questioned where my life would be leading.  But I also felt strong at times – out on the trails, in the job world, and having day-to-day conversations with my closest family/friends.  It wasn’t an easy year, but in retrospect, it wasn’t a difficult year either.  Yes, I was faced with decisions that left me feeling lost but with the support system I’ve been blessed with, those decisions weren’t lonely. When 2016 ends at 11:59PM, I’ll have no regrets.  2016 was the year I learned to go with life’s flow; after all, fate is real.

Here I am, on the 366th day of the year, publishing my 20th blog post of 2016 about all the adventures, happy moments, and anxious times.  I’ve become a better person than I was on January 1st.  A stronger person.  A (slightly) more confident person.  A loving person.  And most importantly, a person with a purpose and a drive to do more audacious things in 2017.

Happy New Year, everyone!

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Dirty German 50k Race Recap

Dirty German 50k Race Recap

This past Sunday, May 15th, I finished my first ever ultramarathon.  I had signed up for the Dirty German 50k way back in the beginning of January because I knew I wanted to make the transition to ultrarunning.  I was itching for a longer race since I was officially fully recovered from my marathon debut back in November and I needed something to train for.  I had completed another Uberendurance race a few years back (the 1/2 Sauer 1/2 Kraut 1/2 Marathon) so I knew how well organized their races were.  I chose the Dirty German 50k because it was a trail ultra and I knew I wouldn’t want to do an ultra on the road.  It was also described to be “easy by trail running standards”.  In the description it said it would be a great race for 1st time ultrarunners.  This race was basically screaming at me to sign up.  So there I was on my computer on January 2nd signing up for this 50k.

received_10207427398541051Fast forward a few months and there I was on a cool May morning in Pennypack Park standing on the starting line surrounded by other racers.  I was wearing my Altra Lonepeaks, a neon SparklySoul, and my UltimateDirection Ultra Vesta pack.  I was accompanied by my boyfriend and training partner, Josh, who also had committed to running his first ultra on that cool May morning with me.  We had done 85% of all our long runs for the past few months together and we both had the same race goals so we decided to race it together.  Our goal was to run under 6 hours and as close to 5 hours as possible.  His speed and confidence running hills and trails mixed with my everlasting endurance and experience with longer distances made us a perfect team to race this ultra together.  So there we were together standing amongst nearly 200 other racers with an accordion playing German music before we were set off to run 31 miles.

I remember the first half mile to be rather crowded due to some congestion on the trail but I never felt like I was boxed in or stuck behind anyone.  There was always a way around runners if I needed to get around.  My anxiety about the start of the race was soon diminished as I settled in behind Josh and powered through some of the hills at the beginning of the race to get around people.

For the first 4-5 miles we were running with a few other racers as we settled into a pace that we knew we could sustain for the entire race.  We had set out to average about 10 minute pace but my watch kept recording splits in the 9 minute range.  I felt comfortable though and Josh didn’t feel like he was overexerting either so we kept the pace.

I passed a few women while hopping from stone to stone across the stream which allowed me to run right beside Josh now.  At some point in the race we also came across a dog owner trying to re-capture her golden retriever puppy who was just too excited to see all the runners.  Josh and a few other runners stopped to helped her but I (selfishly?) kept running.

There were also some sections of the course that were on pavement due to construction on one of the bridges we were supposed to originally cross.  Josh and I were pretty much alone at this point and we were both in very high spirits.  I was happy we were doing this race together and at this point it just felt like any normal Sunday long run we go on together.

Eventually a woman from NYC named Mary (shoutout to Mary!) who had raced this course before caught up to us.  She gave us a few pointers and tips about ultrarunning and Josh told her all about his race up at Hyner a few weeks ago.  I just listened in on the conversation and laughed at her clever race tips.  It distracted me for at least one mile and we got to meet a very nice person (hope you did well in your race, Mary!  It was nice meeting you!)

The miles were passing by quickly and I was barely paying attention to the mile splits we were running.  We stopped at an aide station I recognized that was near where we had started the 1/2 Sauer 1/2 Kraut 1/2 marathon.  I picked up an orange Gatorade and Josh asked for some ibuprofen which they graciously gave to him.  We continued on our way.  I ate some of my tortilla with peanut butter and raisins in it and Josh ate his Stingers.  Every so often we would pop a Shotblok in our mouth to replenish some electrolytes.  We were feeling good.

At every aide station after that we both would stop and grab a cup of Gatorade to maintain our electrolyte levels and to change it up from the water we were drinking from our packs (Josh has a Gregory which he loves and I have an UltimateDirection with I love).  Soon were heading back towards the finish line which would mark 25k complete.

As we were running up a hill, we heard a cowbell.  Josh made some snide comment about the cowbell and I predicted that it was probably my parents.  Surprise!  There were my parents standing at the top of the hill.  Josh surged up the hill and left me to climb up it myself (disclaimer: he’s a very strong hill climber so I’m used to it).  The next 2 or so miles we didn’t run together but I could still see him ahead of me.  I knew I would eventually catch him once the rolling hills stopped.  Some 25k racers who had started 30 minutes behind us began to pass me  – they were going sooo fast!  Regardless, before the completion of our 1st loop, I had caught back up to Josh and we were running side by side again.

Before race day, Josh had predicted that we would run a 5:15.  Through simple math, this would require our 25k split to be about 2:37.  We came through the 25k split in 2:23.  After some quick math we decided a sub-5 finish was completely attainable even if we ended up slowing down (which we knew was going to be inevitable).  Josh made us a new goal which would be to finish in under 5 hours.

received_10207427468102790So here were are back out on the course for the 2nd loop.  At this point we were pretty much alone except for a racer about 100m in front of us and whomever was sneaking up behind us.  We started passing 25k runners and 50k runners in the opposite direction as they were still working on their 1st loop.  A few 50 milers also passed us in the opposite direction, some of which were going much faster than we were.  I was amazed by how fast they were going for a 50 mile race!

We just kept running, kept drinking, kept eating, kept moving forward side by side.  At aide stations we took no more than 15 seconds to grab what we needed and continue to move closer to the finish line.  We had a deadline now.  One of the other racers called us a “pacing powerhouse” because we were running such a consistent pace.  This gave us the confidence we needed to continue moving forward at the pace we were holding.  We don’t know your name but we appreciate your compliment A LOT.

Along one of the paved sections I was feeling sluggish but just happened to look down at one of my mile splits and see 8:17.  At this point we were already 25 miles in to the race  – why did I just run an 8:17 mile in a 50k?  That was never a split I intended on running and I definitely didn’t feel like I was running that fast.  I decided to just go with the flow and keep running.

We also started running with a woman who was in the 50 mile race who was keeping an impressive pace (I think she was actually running faster than we were at some points).  She was extremely friendly and it once again distracted me from any soreness or fatigue I was feeling.  I don’t know your name but I hope you also did well in your race!

received_10207427470022838Once we were back on trails our legs didn’t hurt as bad from the pounding on the road.  By this point 95% of the paved part of the course was done.  We just had to finish the last 4-5 miles of trail and we would be home free.  We took one last cup of Gatorade at the aid station, saw one of our Instagram followers, saw my parents, and started running up another hill.  I knew at this point that we would be under 5 hours if we just kept pushing.  We did end up powerhiking some of the last few hills and we bombed the downhills as much as we could (well, at least it felt like we were bombing the downhills).  I just kept repeating over and over again that we were so close to being done.  Josh probably thought I’d never shut up about being close to the end.  So. Close.

received_10207427468822808The last few miles are a series of rolling hills but we just kept pushing.  We exited the woods with a little less than 4 minutes to get to the finish line before the clock struck 5 hours.  I knew we had it.  I knew we would run under 5 hours.  We ran towards the finishing stretch, made the last turn into the grassy field and made our way towards the finish line.  We crossed the finish line in 4:58:04.  My Garmin Forerunner 230 recorded we averaged about 9:40 pace – not too shabby!!  My legs hurt but I was happy.  We had totally crushed our original goal of being under 6 hours and Josh’s prediction of us running 5:15.  We had ran our sub-5 like the new goal we had agreed upon mid-race and we had finished our first ever ultra.

At the finish line two patient gentlemen ripped off our bib tags.  The one gentlemen also asked me my age and I was perplexed by this question.  I answered with a fatigued “22” and before I could process what was going on he handed me a box and congratulated me on being the 3rd female in the 20-29 age group.  Well, this was a shock!  Josh and I were handed a hat and a medal that also functioned as a bottle opener (pretty awesome medal if you ask me!).

We staggered further through the finishing chute, exchanged a sweaty hug, and reflected briefly on actually completing an ultra.  Shortly after, my parents found us and congratulated us on a job well done.  At this point all I wanted to do was sit down.  We staggered over to a bench and I slowly lowered myself onto the bench.  We took a post-race picture to further document our accomplishment.

received_10207427421301620I soon started shivering because the air was still a bit cool.  I changed into a long sleeve shirt and we all agreed to start walking back to the cars.  This is where the fatigue and soreness finally hit me.  I could barely pick me feet more than 1 inch off the ground and I had a half mile walk back to the car…uphill.  It probably took me close to 20 minutes to walk that half mile.  Runners who were starting their 3rd lap of the 50 miler probably thought I was being overdramatic or something.  I’m sure I looked ridiculous and because I was staggering I probably even looked like I was somewhat drunk.

Later that night Josh and I indulged in some wine (me) and beer (Josh) and pizza – the perfect way to recover from an ultra!  We reflected on the race and all the wonderful people we met along the way.  Surprisingly neither of us ever felt like we “hit the wall” during the race.  I think this is because we ran together the whole time which allowed ourselves to be distracted by any fatigue or pain we may have had been feeling.  Unlike my marathon last November when I still wore Asics, my feet never truly hurt and my toes never started to bleed all thanks to my Altra LonePeaks and their wide toe-box feature. (I am completely obsessed with Altras!)  Throughout the race, Josh and I also paid close attention to how much and how frequently we were eating and drinking.  I believe that our training was perfect for this race which gave us a great advantage with confidence out of the hilly and trail sections.

Just as this race was described, it’s a great 50k to start with for the 1st time ultrarunner.  The course was extremely well marked and not very technical.  Because of these qualities, I would recommend this race to anybody who is just entering the ultra world.  Uberendurnace races are always very well-organized and they always have great prizes, food, and music (i.e. the accordion player!)

We are both extremely happy and pleased with our ultra debut.  I am beyond excited that I got to accomplish one of my goals for this year.  I’m lucky enough to have done it with such an amazing guy – without him I definitely wouldn’t have done as well as I did.  Cheers to many more ultras in my future!  I can’t wait to do another one!