Pushing Boundaries: Cactus Rose 100

Cactus Rose 100 caught me, hook, line and sinker last fall.  I was training for Brazos and the idea of this race shook me to my core.  I was unable to get it out of my mind: running the rugged Hill Country trails at Hill Country State Natural Area in Bandera; unsupported, no less.  This race was a representation of the type of ultra runner that I hoped I could become.  The timing wasn’t right, so I had to be patient.  (You can all stop laughing now.)  Through a series of events that no one really wants to read about, I registered for Cactus Rose 100 roughly eight weeks ago, as a part of my prep for Ouray 50, 2019.  My sole focus from now until July 2019 is preparing myself to go back and finish that beast.  This race was to be the first pit stop toward that goal.  I committed to myself not to think about my performance.  I committed to myself not to cloud my mind with where I might place.  I refrained from discussing the race on social media and only discussed with a handful of my closest running buddies. I needed to be able to just show up and run, unencumbered with all the mental baggage that I typically tend to pack for these types of events.

A couple of weeks before the race, the Texas Hill Country was slammed with flooding.  So much so, that the race couldn’t be held at the normal location and was moved to Camp Eagle, about two hours West.  I was oddly excited about the change, because I knew that it meant a more difficult race.  A more difficult race meant more growth opportunity.  Again, I reminded myself that my goal was not to have my best race ever or place high in the field.  My goal was to get stronger for Ouray.

I was fully prepared to run this race solo, without a crew or pacer.  I knew it would be even more difficult without people there to help me.  What it means when I say this race was unsupported is there would be no volunteers and the “aid stations” were merely water containers, coolers of ice and a spiral notebook on which to log the time you passed through.  BUT, my Possum’s Revenge buddy, Tommy, VOLUNTEERED to crew and pace.  I’m not sure what I did to be the recipient of such generosity, but I was grateful before the race even began.

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Pre-race.  Not really nervous.  OK maybe just a little.

Loop 1 – Easy, but not too easy. 

Race morning, the minutes ticked off the clock and before I could blink, we were off!  I started at the back to avoid my usual mistake of starting out too fast.  I lingered at the end of the conga line until I felt sufficiently warmed up, became bored and decided to pass enough people that I could run my comfortable pace.

The race was 4 loops of 25 miles, but each loop was divided into basically 3 sections.  A “Yellow” section at the beginning, then “Loop A” and “Loop B”.  The end of Yellow section and beginning/end of A/B loop shared an aid station appropriately named “Crossroads”.  Tommy was planning to meet me there between A/B loops, then I would see him again at start/finish.  The loops shared another aid station, “Windmill”, but it was more difficult to get to, so I would be on my own until I could make it back around each loop.

Loop 1 mantra was “easy but not too easy”.  I was running comfortably, but didn’t feel 100%.  Sometimes it just takes me a while to get completely warmed up and the humidity didn’t help.  However, I was incredibly grateful for the cloud cover and hoped that the inevitable clearing would happen later, rather than sooner.

This course was difficult, don’t get me wrong.  But in the midst of it and even looking back, it really doesn’t seem that bad.  Something changed when I was in Ouray that I didn’t even realize until this race.  I may have only gone halfway on that course, but my brain doesn’t process things now the way it did before.  I tackled this course one climb, one descent, one section, one loop at a time.  I don’t look at a climbs in the same way I did before.  To quote Scott Jurek, “sometimes you just do things!”  Whatever was ahead, I just had to work through.  The rocks were my biggest enemy.  As if rocks in the Hill Country weren’t bad enough, the floods had washed many more out onto the trail.  And just when I found myself in a less rocky, more runnable section, the trail would be over taken by mud, which presented its own challenges in this race.

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🙂 pc: Tracy Almazan
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Just some of the rocks.  pc: Tracy Almazan

Tommy poured so much effort into creating a pace chart, and I felt bad that I hadn’t done much more than skim it…my brain couldn’t handle it at the time.  Yeah…looked great, but I went in with the intention to run on feel.  By some miracle, I came in pretty much on target for the first loop.  However, the skies had long since cleared and the heat was rising.

Loop 2 – Keeping the inner vamp at bay

I joke, often, that I am a vampire.  I self-destruct in the sun and running at night is my favorite.  What additional proof does one need??

The heat quickly got to me on the second loop.  However, I was still right on target with my fueling and I continued to take in food on my schedule.  I made it through the yellow section and was relieved to see Tommy there.  I shared with him that I was hot and trying to manage my effort.   I kept on pushing, but the next section through mile 38 would be mostly exposed.  The saving grace that got me through the hot, afternoon sun was a cool, sporadic, breeze.  I finally made it back to Crossroads and Tommy was ready and waiting to address the heat issues.  I felt completely reset when I left the aid station at mile 38, plus I had a nice, smooth, albeit muddy, run under tree cover.  The relief was short-lived as I found myself under the beating sun once again.  When I got to the Windmill aid station, Loop B side, I began to realize that I was slightly behind on hydration.  I wasn’t about to let my race derail over hydration, so I became hyper focused on taking in water more regularly.  Luckily, I was able to turn that situation around.  Not long after, I noticed the sun was beginning to drop in the sky and I knew that relief would soon come in the form of darkness.  When I finally made it back to the start/finish area, I was running strong and feeling like a million bucks.  Running the remainder of that loop in the dark felt just amazing.  I remember Tommy telling me that I fell a bit behind pace overall, but I can’t recall how much, or if he even said.  The best thing about being done with loop 2 wasn’t that I was halfway done.  It meant that I could pick up my pacer!

Loop 3 – Chasing rabbits, I mean Tommy

After restocking, taking in a bit of solid food and making sure we both had all the gear we needed for a night loop, Tommy and I were off.  Have I mentioned how excited I was to have someone with me?!? I was running pretty well at that point, even though the bottoms of my feet had started to bother me.  (I would later realize that it was due to the friction from my feet kicking rocks and doing somersaults in my shoe running over all the dang rocks.)  I figured that I just had some debris in my shoe, so we stopped at Crossroads and I changed socks.  Welllllll…..I had effectively knocked one toe nail loose.  Another was on its way and my big toe was just beat up.  We won’t even discuss the bottoms of my feet.  I taped the toe that had the wonky nail, changed socks, put my shoes back on and we were on our way to Loop A.    The rocky sections (read: basically the entire course) were increasingly painful and more difficult for me to navigate.  Honestly, I felt like knives were being stabbed into the bottom of my foot with each step.  But I had to keep up with Tommy, so I kept trudging along and tried not to whimper too often.  The toughest part of the course, as far as I was concerned, was this creek bed that we had to run on – for a really, long ass time.  Getting across the initial body of water required stepping on stones carefully placed in a line.  I promptly slipped into the creek….with both feet.  The water was NOT good for the feet AT ALL.  The remainder of the creek bed was basically one big pile of rocks to traverse (meaning, murder for my feet) and was littered with false exits that we had to take to circumvent something impassable.  I felt trapped and as if I would never get out EVERY. SINGLE. TIME.  And I could tell Tommy loved it, the way he was LITERALLY skipping up ahead.  The fact that he liked it completely pissed me off!  Funny, how you’re basically reduced to acting like a toddler during these events.

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The EVIL creek! pc: Tracy Almazan

Loop 4 – Last loop – YEEHAW!

We finally made our way back around to the start/finish area and checked off mile 75….Tommy wouldn’t tell me how much behind schedule we were, but I could tell it was A LOT.  I think it really stressed him out.  I couldn’t figure out why he was so obsessed with keeping to my 30 hour goal. I have to pause to admit one of my shortcomings:  before the race I had hoped that I could get close to 30 hours.  But I never really believed that I could go sub-30 and when the course was changed, my mind kind of tossed that goal out the window, as I knew the course would be more difficult.  Tommy was clearly focused on us making up time, but my brain was just in grind-it-out mode.  I did feel badly about putting us behind schedule.  Here Tommy was, pouring everything he had into getting us to the finish line and I was making us late.

Schedule aside, the real issue at hand was what we could do extend the life of my feet.  I wasn’t going to be making up any time if my foot condition didn’t improve.  My shoes and socks were soaked from my slip into the creek.  I planned to change my socks, but if I put them back into my wet Speedgoats, how would that help?  I brought my Torrents, but had worn them a total of 15 miles.  In the end, Tommy and I both felt that a dry shoe was more important and I changed into the Torrents.  Sometimes you have to gamble a little with these matters.

My feet did indeed feel much better!!  But at some point during the yellow loop, I was overcome with fatigue – exhaustion, really.  I tried to run, but didn’t run as much as I wanted and Tommy would end up far ahead having to wait on me.  I kept wondering what was taking so long to finish this little loop??  Once, when we slowed for me to take in some fuel, I asked Tommy if I should take a NoDoz.  He thought best for us to make it to the aid so I could have some Coke.  He changed his mind when I saw him walk into an aid station that wasn’t there. LOL!!!  The NoDoz didn’t work as well as I had hoped, but the sunrise breathed new life into me.  As soon as Tommy realized this, we went to work.  He started running and I was simply trying to keep up with him. Apparently we ran some ridiculous paces downhill and with some pretty decent clips up lower grade hills, even at mile 85 and after.  My legs felt great with just a hint of fatigue.  My damn feet, though…..  The pain was returning as my feet got wetter with sweat.  I had to focus on being grateful that I got 10+ good miles in before things went South again, and I truly was grateful for that.

The sun was now rising higher in the sky with every passing moment and Sunday’s weather didn’t give the benefit of early cloud cover.  Heat would increasingly be an issue, but we kept trudging forward.  We worked our way to Windmill (Loop B, I believe).  Tommy put ice in my bladder and into a baggie that we stuffed in the front pocket of my vest.  We headed out again for the last segment of the race.   I was SO READY to be DONE.  The foot pain increased with each and every step.  The heat was draining my energy and I began to feel extreme fatigue.  It seemed as if I was always kicking a rocks and the sad thing was that I never even saw them.  I felt more defeated each time I kicked a rock or tripped.  I ran when I could but I know it was super slow.  Eventually, around mile 95, I tripped and fell down.  The fall wasn’t bad at all, but I was so tired.  I told Tommy that I was done.  I was just so tired that all I could think about was closing my eyes and taking a nap right there in the middle of the trail.  Tommy didn’t accept that and made me get up.  I didn’t intend to stay there – I just wanted to stay there.  Once I was on my feet again, I slowly began getting another wind and we started running again as much as I could handle.  At that point, I seriously thought that I had given everything that I had.  Yet somehow, I mustered the strength to run a bit more…and the thing is that I wanted to run.  That is the exact thing that I have been trying to achieve since I started running ultras.  Coming in dead last wouldn’t have mattered – this breakthrough was THE THING!

We made our way through the last section of trail, which seemed to pass much more quickly than any loop prior.  We were so close I could taste it.  All I could think about was the finish, my chair and a beer.

We decided to carry our aid station bags down from Crossroads, because neither of us had the energy to walk back up there to retrieve them after the race.  Tommy told me to go ahead and he would be right behind me after he set our stuff down.  Honestly, I wish I would have waited.  What does one minute matter over 30 hours?  But instead, I ran on ahead and crossed the finish line threshold without the guy that got me there.

When I finished, Chris McWatters walked up with my buckle and something else in his hand.  It was one of the Rose trophies for the podium finishers.  I looked at him, puzzled.  I was told that I placed 2nd female.  I was in complete shock and DID NOT believe it!  Then I turned to Tommy and said – DID YOU KNOW ABOUT THIS??  He simply nodded his head and grinned.  I had not considered, even for a second, that I would be in a position to place.  During the race, I squashed immediately any questions regarding my place within the field.  I couldn’t allow myself to entertain any of those thoughts.

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We make a pretty good team. 🙂

Counting blessings

I’ve spent this entire week trying to process this whole experience.

This is the first time I have ever walked away from a race feeling like I truly “raced” it.

This is the first time I walked away being able to say that I left everything out on the course.

This is the first time I walked away being able to say that I hit my breaking point AND I found a way to dig deeper to continue.

I hope that I can unlock that awesomeness going forward.  I’m not sure I can do it on my own, just yet.  But now I know it’s in there and that completely changes everything.

But for now, I’m satisfied.  I’m getting closer to the runner that I want to be.

Now, for the sappy stuff

I can’t close without thanking a few people.

First, to my husband, Bobby:  I couldn’t do this crazy endurance thing without your support. Thank you for only giving me only the crazy looks and not saying what I know you’re thinking in your head when I tell you the next thing I want to do.

To my coach, Greg:  Thank you for taking me on as on of your athletes.  In six short months, you have completely changed my running for the better.  You’ve made me stronger, in more ways than one.  And thank you for the calm reassurance and tolerance during my mini-freak out moments that inevitably come each and every training cycle.

To the bestest buddy ever, Tommy: I could go on for days, but I won’t. I don’t even know how to say thank you.  But, thank you.  Thank you for believing in me enough to push me to the edge and not giving me an inch once I got there.  You can never know how much that means to me.

 

 

 

 

 

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Exiting the Stuggle Bus

I’ve spent the better part of 2018 struggling.  I haven’t been able to muster lasting motivation.  My energy level has been low, at best.  The Spring was a mixed bag of training, between breaking an arm and running Boston with a long run of 15 miles under my belt.  When I regained consistency in training, I didn’t feel that my fitness was improving AT ALL. In fact, I have often felt that I was loosing ground with my fitness.  Even thinking about the simplest tasks caused me great mental fatigue.  The hope that I felt from my initial workouts after Ouray recovery quickly faded.  And over the last few weeks, I have felt increasingly weak, mentally and physically.  So much so, that I have seriously questioned whether I should continue endurance training and racing.  Seriously.

I haven’t blogged all year.  I did manage to throw a post about Ouray together, but that was the first post since Brazos Bend 100 in December.  I have had intentions of writing many posts, but when I finally found the time, the task of writing was simply overwhelming.

It’s hard admitting there is a problem.  I try not to engage in negative self talk.  Plus, I don’t EVER want to sound like a whiner.  That’s the double-edged sword of social media, right?? It really isn’t that I am trying to hide the negatives in my life.  I just don’t want to be a complainer.  And, at the time, I couldn’t mentally handle the discussion. that would ensue.  (At one point, I became so overwhelmed with responding to notifications from simple posts that I considered shutting down all social media.)

Sometimes the journey to enlightenment takes a few detours

A new day is dawning since I received some much needed information yesterday.  But first, I’ll discuss the road I’ve been travelling this year.

I made excuses for living (yes, LIVING) on the Struggle Bus.  Initially, I was coming off of Brazos Bend 100 and I was understandably fatigued.  Training for and running my first 100 miler in December took its toll.  Instead of taking 2 full weeks off, as originally planned, I convinced my coach to let me get back to running just over a week after the race.  So, in January, when I was still feeling tired and unmotivated, I chalked it up to returning to training too quickly and assumed that I would work myself out of my funk.

Except the funk just kept getting funkier.  By the end of January, I had accepted that it was due not only to the fatigue caused by the 100 miler, but also to post-race blues.  And I’m sure that I did have some post race blues.  How could I not?  I had a STELLAR 2017, which started with qualifying for Boston, then running my first 50k and progressing to 100 miles.  I mean, you have to come off the mountain top sometime, right?  I felt like what I was feeling was totally normal, so I allowed myself to embrace the funk, knowing that I needed to work through emotions in order to move forward.

Add to the mix having a player on a national-level volleyball team and all the practices, extra practices and weekend tournaments that come along with that, plus trying to work full time — I had some great excuses as to why I felt like crap.  Winter seemed cold and rainy (to me, at least), which didn’t improve my mood at all.  I missed the sun.  It was always cloudy.  I was SURE that when the time changed, I would be able to improve my mood because of the increasing daylight.

So all this time, I was supposed to be training for Boston but my heart wasn’t in it.  I wasn’t completing my workouts as with the consistency that I once did.  I tried not to skip completely, but sometimes, with volleyball, it happened.  And sometimes, I cut workouts short.  I tried to tell myself that I was just upset that I wasn’t training for trails.  I tried to force myself to embrace the training cycle because running Boston is such an honor, but all to no avail.

During Spring Break, I decided some trail running was in order to help with the mood.  My trail brother and I went to explore a new trail and I fell and broke my arm.  It actually worked to increase my motivation in the short term, because being so close to not being able to run caused me to be thankful for the runs that I was able to get. (Thankfully, my orthopaedic gave me a soft cast and the green light to continue running.)

Boston came and went and I survived.  The rain and cold didn’t affect me (Luckily!) and I am so glad that I was able to embrace the experience, because it was absolutely wonderful.  Just a month later, I ran a 50 miler and managed to finish it.  It wasn’t pretty, but I did it, enjoyed it, and was kind-of OK with the result given the amount of training I had under me.

Finally, I found myself on summer vacation.  Volleyball was still in full swing getting ready for Nationals, but at least I had time to get my workouts in and take a nap in the afternoon.  Still, I felt that my fitness wasn’t coming along at all.  Running was harder than it should have been and seemed to get harder with every workout.  But, I was in the build phase of training and it was supposed to be hard.  Ouray 50 was next on my schedule at the end of July.  I knew that I couldn’t build the type of fitness needed to finish with the amount of time I had to train, so getting halfway before being pulled for time cut off was a win in my book.

I came back after Ouray recovery feeling reasonably good – the short break was needed.  But I slowly started questioning my fitness again with each consecutive workout.  I had long been wondering if I had developed Exercise Induced Asthma.  I sometimes felt like I was wheezing during workouts, but that was usually related to a high allergy day and the wheezing wasn’t consistent by any means.  Believe it or not, I am pretty in-tune with my body, even though I don’t always listen right away.  I knew, in my core (subconsciously, anyway), that I was having problems oxygenating my blood (the asthma theory kind-of fit).  I couldn’t complete even my short workouts without feeling out of breath and completely exhausted.  I was seriously contemplating giving up ultra running.  I felt like I wasn’t cut out for it and I knew that it shouldn’t be that hard.  Racing added even more stress.  Well intentioned people would wish me luck, telling me how great I would do.  But deep down, I knew I knew I knew my performance in workouts and, as a result, knew I couldn’t do that “well”.  I knew my struggles and those well wishes only served to cause more internal turmoil.

Light bulb moments

About 3 weeks ago, I saw an article tweeted that discussed low iron levels in endurance athletes.  Immediately, I knew without a doubt that this applied to me.  I had considered Inside Tracker blood tests many times, but never felt that I could justify spending the money on it.  Well, this time, I spent the money and it was well worth every penny.

Knowledge is power

I received my results yesterday and, <drum roll>, I am low in Ferritin, which is related to Iron and how well my body can oxygenate my blood.  I am SO LOW that if I was one point lower, I would be critically low.  One nice perk about Inside Tracker is that there are food and supplement suggestions for you to use to normalize your markers.  Having those resources at my fingertips gives me a great amount of comfort and confidence in the process ahead.

I cannot begin to explain the wave of feelings I experienced when I read my results.  Obviously, I am concerned about my Ferritin levels being so low, but this knowledge is a HUGE weight lifted.  I still feel physically exhausted.  It will take me a hot minute to build these levels back up.  But I finally feel hopeful and hopeful is not a word that I would have used to describe my mood of late.

Silencing that voice that has been telling me that I’m not good enough and not cut out for this sport is one of the best things that I’ve been able to do with this new information.  Yes, I run trails and ultras because I love trails and ultras.  But when you come off a year like I had last year, crushing goal after goal to the next year, barely managing to jump hurdle after hurdle…that takes a huge mental toll and causes you to question yourself.

I can finally, honestly say that I am SO looking forward to the rest of 2018 and beyond.  I think I’ll celebrate by registering for Ouray 50, 2019!

Ouray 50 – My First Mountain Race and My First DNF

It’s been a long hiatus, but I’m going to throw my hat back into the blogging ring with a report of my attempt at the 50 mile run at Ouray 100 and 50 Mile Endurance Runs.

I went into this race as strong as was possible.  I chose this race while my hands were tied with broken arm/Boston training, plus I already had a 50 miler planned one month after Boston.  I know I give my coach a really big headache with the way I schedule races.  Being prepared for a 50 miler a month after marathon training seemed really doable when I registered for it.  Preparing for the most ridiculously hard mountain race (my first mountain race, mind you), which was a mere TWO MONTHS after running a 50 miler in Texas  also seemed very doable at the time. Apparently I have some sort of dissociation complex, in which I can’t process the negatives associated with the way I pick races.  Once the 50 miler in Texas was done, I started training for climbing. Reality set in and I quickly realized that I had gotten myself in wayyyyyy over my head.

I contacted the RD of Ouray well before Boston to see if he would accept my finish at Brazos Bend 100 as my qualifier for this race – he basically said that if I was brave enough to register, that I was welcome!  I still waited for quite some time to register because the family couldn’t come with and I was anxious about driving alone. In the end that was wasted energy because Kolbe volunteered to come with me!  We had a great time travelling (I did, at least) and I appreciated her coming along for the ride.

Highlight of the drive to Ouray was stopping in Silverton to find THE Hardrock!

I was as nervous as a cat on a hot tin roof during the drive up to Ouray.  I told Kolbe that I felt I was driving myself to my own execution.  I had a pretty good understanding of what I would be facing and also understood that there was no way to replicate those climbs in my area of Texas.  I realized that a finish was likely out of my reach – I just wanted to race in the San Juans and see what I could accomplish.

We arrived in Ouray on Thursday afternoon and went immediately to pick up my bib.  Suddenly, a wave of calm rushed over me (even though I had been given “lucky” bib #13).  It’s hard to feel nervous when you stand in that valley and see the majesty of those mountains ALL around you.

Friday, Kolbe and I “attempted” a hike on the Ouray Perimeter Trail, but we ended up on a closed section where I had to literally use my hands not to slide down the side of the mountain.  I finally admitted that we had somehow gone off the maintained trail, we backtracked and found the location where we missed the turn to stay on the actual trail.  I chose to see this as my one wrong turn while in Ouray,  rather than to see it as a foreboding of difficulties ahead.  We had planned this hike around Ouray to include visiting Box Canyon, but after taking the wrong trail, decided to drive there instead.

Kolbe is much better at posing for pics. And I realized I didn’t take any pics at Box Canyon – just videos

Our breath was taken away by the visit to Box Canyon, where we witnessed a waterfall within the mountain.  I was also able to walk through the tunnel and down the stairs that would take me out of Ouray on the first section of the 50 miler.  We were planning to rent a Jeep and explore some of the Jeep roads that would take me to the trails during the race, but it rained all afternoon and neither of us felt like driving around in the rain.  I used this time to re-organize all my gear and get things race ready.  The rains finally moved out for good (for Friday, anyway) and after dinner we soaked in the Hot Springs.  My legs enjoyed that and it set me up for a really good sleep.

Saturday morning, I was up early as usual even though the race didn’t start until noon.  I was surprisingly calm – I was just ready to get out there and experience all the race had to throw at me.  We went for breakfast at a coffee shop we had found the day before and enjoyed coffee and bagels and more coffee.  When we got back to the hotel, the antsy started setting in.  I couldn’t stay busy enough.  It was impossible to sit still, but I really didn’t have anything to do. We decided to head to Fellin Park around 10 and just hung around, chatting with others, until it was time for the race to begin. North Texas had a good showing – there were 3 guys from Dallas Dirt Runners there, as well as myself.  We had set up our own little Facebook group to compare training and share info.  I registered for this race thinking that I would be going alone, but it was so nice to be able to share with others from my area.  I also met a guy at my motel from Ft Worth that ran the 100 and we met yet another Texan while waiting on the race to start.  While we were waiting for those final moments to tick away, Mother Nature reminded us who was boss with a quick rain and hail storm.  I had <seriously> joked that I would not be happy unless I was hailed upon during the race, so check that box off the list.  I was also able to use the little stash of duct tape that I had in my pack to secure my SPOT tracker, so I was pretty pumped about that as well. It clearly doesn’t take much to make me happy.

Before we knew it, RD was counting down and off we went.  We hit the Perimeter Trail, up the stairs, through the tunnel, then onto the Jeep roads that would eventually take us to the Weehawken aid station.  That first little section was mostly on Jeep roads, but still clocked 1300′ in ascent and Mother Nature unloaded on us with pouring rain.  The next section up Weehawken Pack Trail to the Alpine Mine Overlook was up the side of a mountain on beautiful single track.  Mother Nature still had quite a bit in store for us and we were rained and hailed on again.  I laughed like a 5 year old – I had so much fun!!!  And while the hail stung a bit, it was so small that it didn’t cause an issue.  I didn’t even bother getting my jacket out.  I did attempt to record with my phone, but my hands were wet so I aborted that attempt quickly.  The DDR boys were a bit ahead of me, but I was still happy with my climbing at this point.  I reached the overlook just as they were about to head back down.  Bryan was kind enough to snap a couple of photos of me and we all began the descent together.  The sun was shining now and it was actually a little warm (I secretly wished for another downpour – I would later get my wish).  We didn’t want to blow our quads on the first descent, so we made our way down quickly, but didn’t bomb down the mountain.  The trails were also wet and slippery in places and I actually slid off the trail once.  We made it back to Weehawken AS, quickly refilled water, ate and moved onto the next section.  One of the volunteers told us the next section was a “burly” climb.  I appreciated the honesty.  We had clocked about 2360′ of vertical ascent in this section and were up to a rough total of 3,680.

Coming out of the tunnel to cross the bridge at Box Canyon.

 

Can’t. Punch. The. Bib.
Ended up with a hanging chad.
Complete elation at this point

To get to the next section, we had to go back down the Jeep road that had brought us to Weehawken (DOWN!!!), then we would take a right onto another Jeep road that was somehow more steep than the one we were on.  After what seemed like an eternity, I finally made it to the trail head.  It was raining….again and hailing…again.  Honestly, the weather didn’t bother me.  I kind of liked it.  It kept me cool (still hadn’t put a jacket on).  This section was…..tough.  We left Weehawken 25 min ahead off the cutoff, which meant I had about 3 hours and 30 minutes to get out to Crystal Lake and back to Fellin Park.  Only 7.1 miles.  As soon as I started climbing, I knew I would be cutting it close.  The trail was roughly 2.2 miles to Hayden Pass with 3600′ gain.  Which sounds totally doable, right?  I was moving so slow.  The climb was relentless – there was never really a break in going UP.  Even the switch backs – take a turn and you’re still going UP.  I am sure altitude played a role in my energy level, but the main contributor was that I just wasn’t fueling.  I had my poles out and it was a real hassle to get the gel out, get the baggie for trash out and manage the poles while I was doing all this.  Plus, so much of this was on the side of the mountain.  I waited (foolishly) to fuel until I made it to a section that wasn’t as exposed.  By this time I was behind on fueling yet I continued to take only one gel at a time.  I kept thinking that I had to be nearing Hayden Pass.  One of the 100 mile runners came down and I asked her if I was getting close.  I love truthful people.  She said, “No.  Sorry.  You’re going to keep going up. Then down just a bit.  Then up some more.”  I felt like I would never get to the pass!  When I did, I knew I was falling behind on time, but part of this journey was about the experience.  I took a minute to soak in the beauty of the view and snap a pic.  Then I was on my way again.  After the pass, there was a relatively flat section that cut across the mountain – my best guess is that it was about a mile long.  It was above the tree line so the views were amazing.  I knew that I just needed to get across to start my descent into Crystal Lake, but at this point I was getting dangerously close to the cutoffs.  I finally made it across and started the descent.  I was moving as quickly as possible, but also cautiously because the trails were still a bit wet.  I passed several runners making their way back up and they all felt I had time to make the cutoff.  I wasn’t convinced, but I had to give it my all.  I met the DDR boys and Bryan told me to “run like the Devil was chasing me.”  I continued as quickly as possible, but was slowed due to a more technical section. DAMN.  I made it to the bottom, but the aid station was near the parking area for Crystal Lake – I ran as fast as my legs would take me, but I knew I had missed the cutoff…by FIVE MINUTES.  When I came into the AS, the volunteers asked what I needed.  I said, “I missed the cutoff.”  They told me the cutoffs were “soft” and that I looked really good, so they would let me continue.  I got tears in my eyes and nearly started crying.  I DID NOT want my race to end at Crystal Lake.  I knew that, realistically, getting back to Fellin before the cutoff would take everything I had – and then some – but for some reason, my mind felt that getting halfway before a drop would make it more palette-able.  Bryan’s wife, Shellene, was a God-send.  She had waited there for me and refilled my bladder while I was digging out a long sleeve shirt, stuffing more gels in my pockets and eating.  I was in and out of that aid station in less than 5 minutes.  I couldn’t have done it without Shellene!!

Hayden Pass
The beauty that was the run across Hayden Mountain

Now I had the pleasure of climbing BACK up to Hayden Pass.  As I made my way past the trail head, Mother Nature opened up the skies again and dumped more pouring rain and hail down on me.  I went just a little way before I decided to get out my jacket.  I had just put on this dry long sleeve shirt and I knew that the mile across the top of the mountain would be cold.  It was windy up there and the sun was starting to set – wet clothes wouldn’t make that any easier.  Onward and upward I went, maybe just a tad faster than my ascent from the other side of the mountain, but not much.  Luckily, the way back was a shorter ascent with only 2,600′ gain.  I made it to the top, crept across the mountain and was elated to finally be back at the pass and ready to go DOWN.  The elation was short-lived, though, as I soon discovered that the trail was now a muddy slip-n-slide after the day of rain – in many places the trail served as the avenue for the rain water runoff.  I’m not the best at sliding down slopes (without skis, anyway), so this section was painfully slow.  The glimmer of hope that I had of making it to Fellin before the cutoff was quickly snuffed out.  My lack of fueling was also beginning to catch up to me in a bad way.  I knew that I needed to eat, but, but, but…..

This last section was the darkest part of the race, for me.  I felt pretty defeated.  I was exhausted.  I could tell that mentally I was starting to drift.  I just wanted to get back to Fellin Park.  The great thing about mountain races is that no one is coming to save you.  You can’t take any shortcuts down.  I had to see it through.  I reminded myself to keep putting one foot in front of the other.  As slow as it was, I just had to keep moving.  I also had to pee ALL THE TIME, like I did during the night at Brazos.  Still haven’t figured out if this is how my body reacts to the cold, or if I was low on sodium.  I stopped to take an Oral IV, but had to pee AGAIN not long after.  At one point, I thought I was off course.  The trail looked different in the dark and I think the runoff made it look different as well.  I was able to use the Gaia app that I had downloaded and could see that I was still on course. (I continued on and found a flag just steps later.)  It was at this point that I also realized that I was still a very long way from Fellin.  I decided to try to text Kolbe – weird thing is that I had better service on the side of the mountain than in Ouray!  It was around 10pm and I told Kolbe I hoped to be there by 11, but clearly would miss the 10:10 cutoff.

As luck would have it, I was much closer to the trail head than I realized.  I was so excited to be back on the Jeep roads.  I ran as quickly as I could, but those little roads seemed to go on forever!  After what seemed like an eternity, I was back on Camp Bird Road, which would take me to the Ouray Perimeter Trail and then back to the streets of Ouray to Fellin Park.  That last stretch of road to Fellin Park seemed never ending.  Then I missed the turn to go over the bridge to get back to Fellin.  Luckily, some people were out walking and asked where I was going.  They told me I had overshot the turn by about 1/4 mile.  (GREAT)  One of the ladies in the party ran me back to the turn (God bless her!).  She told me that she had attempted the 100 for the 4th year in a row and DNF’d for the 4th year in a row.

Getting back to Fellin was a mixed bag of emotions.  I knew I was too late to continue but I was glad that the suffering was finally ending.  If I had been given the opportunity to go back out, I’m quite certain I would have declined.  That bothered me initially, but some time and perspective has allowed me to decide to use that as fuel for next time.  In the end, I climbed around 9,900′ – not nearly as much as I had hoped but much more than my legs have ever handled at one time!

I was so muddy. Kolbe was bringing stuff in from the car. I didn’t know what to do or where to sit…..so I sat on the toilet. LOL!!

In the end, I’m pretty happy with it.  I was able to get halfway through this beast with 2 months of dedicated training (not bad for a flatlander from Texas!), so clearly the training that I did paid off.  I was so worried about my quads, but they felt so strong even though they dealt with more descent ever before.  My mental game was decent.  The only thing that really got to me was the climbs.  I felt defeated and was angry that those climbs were so slow.  I realize now that some of this was altitude but a very large part was TERRIBLE fueling.  Terrible fueling isn’t new for me – it has been an ongoing problem for me in races and training.

Special shout out to my coach, Greg, for encouraging me to take on this challenge and getting me as ready as humanly possible!!!

There will be a next time – I’m already planning to go back!!  But for 2019, I’m going to train more than 2 months and see how far I can go!

 

It’s Race Week!!

Here I am, FINALLY just 4 days away from my first 100 mile attempt and so much is going through my mind.  The strangest thing is what isn’t going through my mind.

Generally speaking, I LOSE MY MIND every time I taper.  It is a common affliction and many in my sport like to call it the “Taper Crazies”.  I am usually consumed with anxiety, restless energy, doubts and fears.  More times than not, I do something really, really stupid.  Like going for my first open water swim, slipping on the boat ramp and breaking my toe.  Or I go crazy on Ultra Sign Up and register for races that are harder than the one I’m about to run.

But this taper…. The taper before the BIGGEST race of my life to date, and I have yet to experience any anxiety, doubt, restless energy, or fear.  I keep trying to assess why I am so calm, because there HAS to be something wrong, right? Or maybe not.

I am confident.  I worked my ass off in training.  No, I didn’t run every mile that was scheduled, but I was consistent.  And during all that training, I never went out and “just” ran.  Knowing I gave it my all has helped me trust my training.

I am mentally tough.  I fought many mental battles during training and spent countless hours outside of training getting my mind right.  I read everything I could get my hands on and listened to countless podcasts to gain insight into tackling this distance.

I am prepared.  I have packed everything (times 3 – no kidding) that I can think of that I might remotely need.  (Well, I’ve decided not to take the kitchen sink.)

I know that nothing is guaranteed.  NOTHING IS GUARANTEED.  I may not finish and I am OK with that.  My goal this year was to push myself and get to that place that I had to fight with every fiber of my being to continue.  If I get to that place and I am unable to finish, I will still have accomplished what I set out to do.

Pain isn’t optional – it’s guaranteed.  Whether or not I suffer is completely and totally up to me.

This distance is ridiculously far.  I understand the challenges that I’ll be facing, but I’ll also be in the same boat as veterans toeing the start line.  No one can predict what hardships will be visited upon them during the course of 100 miles.  Part of the challenge; part of the lure of this distance is that uncertanty.

My race plan is aggressive.  Probably too aggressive for my first 100, but, honestly, how does one really know what “too aggressive” is on their first attempt??  Many have suggested that I should just “race just to finish”, but I’m not a race just to finish kind of gal. In most of my races this year, I had a feeling going in what I would run.  And every race, I was within minutes of my guess.  After this happened a couple times, I began to trust my instincts more and more.  I feel in all my being that this is the right race plan for me.  I know that it won’t go completely according to plan.  Hell, it may not go AT ALL according to plan!  But if/when it all falls apart, I’ll use my strengths, which is assessing my situation and coming up with possible solutions.

This race is going to be epic.  It will be an epic success or an epic failure.  But if I fail to finish, I will be FAR from a failure.  If I fail to finish, I will have hopefully found that place, that line that I’ve not been able to find, let alone cross.  If that line is revealed to me, I suspect I’ll have learned much more about myself than I would have coasting easily and cautiously to the finish line, if I had just raced to finish.  Either way, I believe that I will prove to myself something that I’ve known (but not acknowledged) for a very long time – 100 miles is going to prove to be my favorite distance.

Finding Myself in my Journey to 100

Welp, folks, I am 29 DAYS away from my first 100 mile attempt.  I’ve been feeling a bit sentimental lately and thought that this milestone provided a great opportunity to recap my training journey thus far.

My word of focus for 2017 was CONQUER.  And I do feel like I have CONQUERED this year.  My transition into trail and ultra running has been the most fulfilling and rewarding running experience to date and I think I am finally conquering some of those mental demons.

When I signed up for Brazos Bend 100, I was a completely different person than the one penning this post.  As much confidence as I have gained over the past couple of years, I was still very insecure in many ways and felt as though I had a lot to prove to myself (and others, sadly).  Committing to races and distances that scared me to death was actually the BEST thing I could have chosen to do.

Admittedly, I haven’t documented this journey very well at all.  In fact, I suspect that some of the transformation is directly related to me not sharing every detail and every run.  As the fatigue from my increasing mileage began to take over every muscle in my body, so did the weariness of posting on social media.  Suddenly, sharing details of every training run seemed a little silly and a lot overwhelming to me.  But I began to cherish my training more than ever before.  I’ve given this a lot of thought – probably too much – and I think that not posting as much about my training has been the catalyst to my training becoming more authentic.

My Transformation

I have *literally* undergone a transformation.  I am unsure if it is visible to the rest of the world, but I when I compare how I felt about myself in March versus how I feel about myself now – it is as if I went from caterpillar to butterfly.  Here are some ways in which I have changed for the better:

  • Confidence.  I can’t even begin to describe the confidence I’ve gained.  I don’t think it is a cocky confidence, either.  But one that stems from putting my body through A LOT more than I ever imagined it could do and yet my body responded amazingly well.
  • Enjoy the process.  I have always enjoyed training.  I’ve never been one of those people that train in order to race.  I’m the opposite.  I race in order to train.  I wanted to attempt a 100 to push myself to the limits, but also because I just like running long.  Running back-to-back runs AND being fortunate enough to be healthy the entire time has been a blessing that I’ll always treasure.
  • Consistency is key – not perfection.  Anyone that knows me knows that I am a perfectionist – to a point.  Being a wife, mother (volleyball mom!!!) and working a full time job required me to face my perfection demons.  There were a couple of weeks that I ran 20 miles less than scheduled.  Even though I didn’t get all my miles in, I️ was always consistent.  And you know what??  I may have struggled mentally within that week, but I haven’t carried forward any guilt from missed miles.
  • Trust my instincts and follow my heart.  If I had followed a traditional path, I would not have registered for Brazos Bend this year.  I would have raced 50 milers and maybe started dabbling at the 100k distance, getting some experience under my belt before jumping to 100 miles.  But I knew that I could do it.  I knew that I wouldn’t be satisfied if I took the safe route.  I was more than willing to fall flat on my face for the chance to try.  And, boy, am I glad I trusted my instincts!!  More and more, I am making decisions based on feel rather than on intellect.  While this may not work in every arena, it has certainly worked in my running world.
  • *Failure* is acceptable.  Although I haven’t *failed* yet, I fully expected to DNF at Rawhide 50 miler.  I was mentally prepared to accept DNF, if it came to that.  My self-esteem isn’t no longer tied to a medal or finish time or place or buckle.  Not finishing a race isn’t the worst thing that could ever happen to me.  And if I find myself facing a DNF, I’ll move on.  The reason I do this is because I enjoy trails and ultras.  I enjoy the community.  I enjoy pushing myself and I do actually hope I find my limit one day and have to fight with every fiber of my being to continue.

Hopefully, I’ll be writing about my beautiful, shiny, buckle in 29 short days.  But if I fall short of the finish, I know that I’ve already won.  I won the day that I committed to this journey.  The rewards of this transformation far outweigh the shininess of a single belt buckle.

Conquering or Being Conquered?

Oh my, it’s been a long time since I blogged.  I’ve actually run 3 races, which have gone undocumented, since I last hit the keyboard.  Summer went by in a blur and before I knew it, I was back at work and busier than ever.

Race recaps in a flash

In July, I stayed an extra day after USAV Junior National Championships to run Afton Trail Run 50K.  It was to be a challenging, hilly course and I was excited to run a race that would cause me to struggle.  Except I didn’t struggle as much as I thought I would.  The course was 2 loops of 25K and I did suffer some fatigue during the first loop.  I didn’t start the race feeling my best and did the first loop at a  pretty good pace, considering the hills I had to climb.  Near the end of the first loop, I cursed myself – A LOT – for not overriding my ego and *just* doing the 25K.  I DID NOT want to go back out on a second loop.  I stopped at the aid station before heading back out and made a spur of the moment decision to throw out my fueling and nutrition strategy.  I ate M&Ms, pretzels and drank Coke then headed out on the 2nd loop. I ran conservatively the first part of the loop but broke off with 10k to go and ran a really good pace.  I wanted to finish under 6:30 and knew that I would really have to push to get to the finish in time.  (At this point, I feel I should remind you how TERRIBLE I am at run math.  I CAN NOT correctly do run math during a race.)  I kept fueling on Coke, M&Ms & pretzels at the aid stations but got in and out as quickly as possible.  I was also starting to feel the fatigue creep in, but the lure of sub 6:30 was enough to keep me going in spite of it.  I ended up finishing in 6:23, which was just 14 minutes slower than Wildflower but there was also much more elevation.  I was pretty happy with the way I pushed at the end and with the overall result.

In August, I traveled to 7iL Ranch in Cat Spring, Texas for Trail Racing Over Texas’ Habanero race weekend.  My coach was attempting the 100 miler and I was going to be one of his pacers.  Since I was already going to be there, I signed up for the 30K.  The thing about Habanero is that the race starts at NOON.  In Texas.  In August.  So it’s HOT.  I, luckily, only had to do 3 loops of 6.2.  When I finished, the heat index was 106 or something crazy like that.  It was brutal.  BIG kudos to all those who kept battling out there loop after loop.  I don’t perform well in the heat and I was starting to decline fast there at the end.  UltraSignUp has this ranking system.  I should never go in and look at these rankings, but I do.  I was ranked 3rd overall female going in – please know the field wasn’t large.   Even with a small field, I honestly didn’t believe that I could get 3rd OA female.  But….I finished 4th overall female and just 5 minutes behind 3rd place.  I wasted more than 5 minutes in that race.  This was the beginning of a wake up call for me.  Still, I was really proud of myself for battling it out with the heat the way I did.  It was a victory, for sure.

Just a couple of weeks ago, I went down to Mission Tejas State Park in East Texas to run another TROT race.  I know they have worked hard to find places to host events that are outside the Houston area and wanted to support their efforts to host more races North.  Plus, I had 36 miles scheduled that weekend and a 50K is a nice way to get miles in and break up the monotony of training.  I was NOT prepared for the hills!  Seriously, these hills reminded me of Afton Trail Race.  This race made me realize just how unprepared I am for my upcoming 50 miler in the Hill Country.  Again, I went in ranked 3rd overall female and, again, I thought there was no way that I could pull that off.  I started out with the lead group but I was having a little calf issue and slowed down on the first big climb.  It was dark.  At the time, I didn’t know that I was the only female in that lead group, so I thought that I had fallen WAY out of contention for the podium and I just set out to check off the loops and get to the finish.  As it turns out, I was in 2nd and 3rd most of the race.  Of course, I didn’t have any crew there and I didn’t check the screen after each loop so I was completely in the dark.  I struggled during the last 5k and it was during this time that I got chicked.  I later learned that I was in 3rd place at the time and this woman knew I was 3rd place and she gave everything she had to pass me and try to stay ahead of me.  Second race in a row that I missed the podium, coming in 4th OA female (my time was 6:27) and this time I lost by THREE MINUTES.  I have to sharpen my skills and get myself to become more aggressive in these ultras.  I am SO AFRAID of bonking.  I MUST get out of my comfort zone in this area.  If you have any suggestions, I’m all ears…  This one is totally mental and I think I may be subconsciously sabotaging myself due to a fear of success??  Or maybe I just think too much.   img_7098

I may have conquered myself but training is conquering me

I’ve been thinking a lot about my word of the year: conquer.  It’s amazing the effect of simply choosing a word has on your life.  I do not think of my word on a daily basis.  Sometimes not even on a weekly basis.  But the simple act of choosing a word has a profound impact in shaping the year, or it has in my case.  This is the 3rd year that I have focused on one word throughout the calendar year and each year, I am amazed at how things come together.  I think this relates to goals, as well, and posting our goals where we can see them daily makes a huge difference in us meeting those goals.

When I originally chose this word, it was to conquer my inner demons.  I was going into Houston Marathon trying to get a BQ.  I had gained A LOT of confidence but I still didn’t trust myself the way I should.  I still had a lot of self doubt and anxiety about my performances.  I trust myself so much more than I did 10 months ago.  I believe in myself so much more than I did 10 months ago.  I feel like I’ve turned a corner, for now, in that department.

But I’m still being conquered.  Training for a 100 miler is NO JOKE.  I thought that my biggest challenge would be juggling my hectic schedule to get all these miles in – and it has been a big challenge.  But a bigger challenge has been battling the fatigue that comes with 40-50 mile weekends.  I.  AM.  EXHAUSTED.  Like Walking Dead zombie exhausted.  And I’m just getting into the real meat of training.  I have 2 more months of the Walking Dead before taper.  I know this is all designed to give me the best chance of success on race day, but that doesn’t keep me from whining like a big pansy.  Still, I’m thankful for the ability to run and the opportunity to train for a 100 mile race.

Brazos Bend will be a blast, but first….Rawhide

Next weekend, I’ll be attempting my first 50 mile race.  This race is held on Flat Rock Ranch, which is where Ragnar Trail Hill Country was held last year.  I didn’t get to run all my legs at that race, so I felt like I needed redemption on that course.  Now that the race is getting close, I wonder if redemption is overrated.

Seriously, though.  Originally, the thought of this race took my breath away.  It scared me to death.  I thought that there was NO WAY that I could manage 50 miles, PERIOD, and especially on this course.  I thought about my word of the year and how the only way I could conquer anything was to step out and attempt what my brain registered as impossible.  So I signed up.  I love the transformation that happens during the course of training.  I am not sure at what point I realized that I could do it, but I began to believe, fully and completely, that I am capable of finishing this race.   However, I definitely still have my doubts.  I’ve been wrestling with them the past few days but doubts aren’t all bad.  They keep you humble and grounded.  I’ll need to stay humble and grounded to keep my ego from getting in my way on race day.img_7230

Brazos Bend will be the next up on the schedule and the big finale for 2017.  Most days, I feel pretty confident about being able to finish.  Some days, I panic and wonder what I was thinking to believe I could do this.   So many people talk about getting “the buckle”, but that is the least of my concern.  I am not doing this for a buckle.  I am doing this because I wanted to push myself farther than I ever have.  I am doing this because I wanted to put myself into a place so low and so dark that I have to fight with every cell in my body to keep going.  I am in it for that life-changing moment.  The buckle will just be a tangible reminder of what I was able to accomplish.

But first, I have to survive the training.

OH!!! Almost forgot….I got another tattoo 🙂

In July, Carmen went with me to get another tattoo.  I’ve been waiting for the perfect inspiration for my running-specific tattoo and I didn’t waste any time when it finally came to me.  I hadn’t used this artist before and chose him because of a couple landscapes that I saw, but when we got there he mentioned that landscapes weren’t even his thing!  I settled on Kokopelli and the cool thing is that he grew up in Arizona and knew all about Southwest and Kokopelli culture.  He ended up being the perfect artist for this tat, and I LOVE the completed piece!img_6688

Happy Hump Day,
Jen

Jumping off the Crazy Cliff

In an attempt to catch everyone up to my crazy antics of late and to pick up where I left off in yesterday’s blog, I’m blogging two days in a row.  <shocked face>  That hasn’t happened since…….I can’t remember.  I always have the best intentions, but you know what they say about that….

2016 is finally taking shape

If you knew me this time last year, you would know that I was still clawing my way back from that nasty ITB injury.  I was still attempting to build some sort of base fitness level and was doing those gosh awful run/walk intervals, so any kind of racing was out of the question.

2016 is a completely different year, though, and I am getting close to getting the framework of my race calendar set.  A couple of things are still up in the air but I’m hoping to schedule one last marathon toward the end of the year – I’m waiting to see how the rest of the season goes before I make any rush decisions on that one.  (Which will be a *first* for me, as one of my friends calls me “Trigger” because of my hasty race sign-up tendencies.)

Road Races

My next race is RnR Dallas HM on March 20.  Even though the weather will likely be much warmer, I am going to see if I can continue the progress that I made at Cowtown, step out of my comfort zone and take a few risks.

Ragnar Austin is quickly approaching!  This 200-mile, 12-person relay will start in Fredericksburg in the wee morning hours on April 15.  We will race South then back North, ending the race in Austin sometime late Saturday.  I am beyond excited for this experience, as a Ragnar has been on my bucket list for quite some time now.

After Ragnar, I am planning to run Skyline HM on May 1.  I ran Skyline last year.  While I didn’t really care for the course, this race has a special place in my heart because it was my first race post-injury.  Of course, it will be hot and I always need practice racing in the heat.

I’ll have a dry spell on the road race front until the Rochester Marathon on September 18.  This will be my first full marathon of 2016 (am hoping to schedule another one in late December).  It is on track to be my favorite and most special race of the year because it will mean a reunion with my Sole Sister Jenn!  AAAANNNNNNNNDDDDDDDD – this race will be her FIRST full marathon and I get to be there when she punches her ticket as a marathoner!  I could not be more honored or excited!

I am considering at Salinas Valley Half Marathon on August 6, if a college visit trip to Cali pans out.  If I make it, I will get to meet my good friend, Marci, in person and hopefully a few other Cali friends!

Tri-ing the Tri

Oh, the things I let my coach talk me into….

I am officially signed up for Pioneer Power Sprint Tri at the end of July.  This will be a special induction into the world of tri because Taylor is doing it with me!  Another meaningful twist is that this event is held at TWU, which is Taylor’s college alma mater.  I’m still scared to death of swimming 200m AT ONE TIME.  Swimming is coming along so quickly, though, that by the time July rolls around I should be MORE than ready!!

Transitioning to Trails

WHEN will I learn to never say never?!?  Because once upon a time I am pretty sure I said I would NEVER run a trail race.  I am ABSOLUTELY POSITIVE that I said I would NEVER run a 50 mile race.  I did, in fact, sign up for a 50 mile race just a mere 3 days after declaring that I would NEVER run a 50 miler.  I completely and unequivocally blame my coach and my crazy teammates for this.

As scary as this monumental mound of miles may seem, I am still more frightened of swimming 200m in my July triathlon.  Go figure.

In any case, I’m fairly excited about this challenge.  It’s fun to run with teammates and this race will give me A LOT of QT with them! LOL  We are actually planning to stay together during the race to lend support to each other.

Looking to the horizon

I have another exciting goal up my sleeve that I’m not ready to share with the world just yet.  I guess deep down inside I need to find the confidence in myself to actually believe I can do what I’m hoping to do.

Stay tuned…… 🙂

Two more days until Spring Break!!!  I think I can, I think I can, I think I can…..

Happy Hump Day!

Jen