Race Recap Zion 100

First off, the Zion course was so amazingly beautiful, the hills were so long and so steep, and the volunteers and other runners were so awesome. I loved the challenge and felt like I executed my plan and strategy fairly well, all things considered. I still didn’t finish. There were things I could have done better, and things out of my control, but isn’t that life?

Wednesday night, the night before we were leaving for Utah, my pacer, my son, was out skateboarding and fell and sprained his ankle very badly. So we were up late at the ER with him. He was so upset because he wanted to pace me and felt like he had let me down. It was an emotional time for us, but we both knew there was nothing that could be done. I’m so glad he decided to come with his dad and me anyway.

We spent the night in Gallup, NM had some good New Mexican food and headed out to Hurricane, Utah the next day. Somewhere near Tuba City, AZ we got a flat tire. We put the spare on, but didn’t want to necessarily drive the rest of the way on the spare. We were in such a remote area of Arizona we didn’t have much of a choice than to keep going. The delay put us in Utah a few hours later than I expected to be in and it definitely stressed me out for a little while. I got somewhat of a good nights sleep considering I got up at 3am! Ate some food, had my coffee and drove to the start.

Before the race

The morning was perfect. Cool, but not cold, I didn’t even wear my jacket. I started just after 5am and the night was so dark and clear. I saw two shooting stars in the first hour of the race.

The course ran for about 6 miles on a dirt road and then we got on slickrock trail to Gooseberry Mesa. I ran with some people that I met right from the start. We kept a good conservative pace and all was well. The views were just glorious.

Sunrise over Zion National Park

After the Gooseberry Mesa loop we then headed down Mondo Z, a 1.5 mile 1500’ descent down rocks. Pictures don’t do this justice. It’s pretty much straight down. Eventually it winds down to another trail in the desert towards the next aid station.

You can kind of see how far down and where the trail goes.

I met D and Aaron at Virgin Dam aid station around 26 miles in. It was so good to see them. They filled up my water and resupplied my gels and foods. Derreck got me ice for my bandana which was so awesome as it was really heating up. The next section was going to be hot!

By now my watch was tracking me almost 2 miles ahead. Pretty much everyone around me was, so it was a little frustrating not getting to aid stations when we expected to, but what can you do? Just keep moving. We got to a water only aid station and almost everyone was out. I think it was about 85 degrees and we were cooking! There wasn’t a food aid station for 5 more miles and we had a giant 4 mile road to climb to get to it, Smith Mesa.

This hill is where I really slowed way down. It was just sooo long and relentless. I never stopped moving but I lost a lot of ground on this hill. The aid station was great, and I had a quesadilla and some coke. I hoped to make up time on the top of Smith Mesa, but it was pretty technical up there and the conditions of the trail were really poor. I did not make up any time.

The next section off of Smith Mesa is called the Flying Monkey Trail. That was the sketchiest trail and it freaked me out in some spots. The trail was so narrow, rocks so loose, and the drop off so steep. I was extremely careful going down this section and by now I was worried it might be dark before I got to the bottom. I had no light with me until the aid station at mile 51, Virgin BMX. Part of this trail has a rope to get down about a 10-12 foot section of rock. Thankfully a nice guy was right by me and told me how to lower myself down. It was basically repelling down. Scary!

This is right above the section where the rope is.
You can see the person down there after the rope section.

The trail finally started to become a smooth single track a little bit after that. I ran in the next aid station happy and hungry! Derreck and Aaron were there at Virgin BMX and took care of me. I decided to change my shoes and socks. My feet had large blisters from going straight down the Mondo Z hill. I stayed a little too long at that aid station but it was so good to see my family. By now it’s completely dark but I had my headlamp. I finally head out to the next section of trail and not even a mile into it I step into swampy stinky mucky water. I knew there was a river crossing here, but this was not a river. This was yucky cow pattie water. I finally got to the actual river and crossed it. That sucked. Those fresh shoes and socks were for nothing. Another rocky climb, but not too long and then up a dirt road to the top of Guacamole. I had a drop bag there with warm clothes and my Kogalla light. Good thing, it was cold up there. I stayed with a guy named Rodger. For some reason he started calling me Tanya. It was funny. Anyway, we stuck together for that section because the flagging was so hard to see. We did not want to get lost. We were already now almost 4 miles over what the course map said. This section took so long because we stopped to make sure we saw the next flag before proceeding. But it was better than going off course. I was getting tired but still felt alert. I made up some time coming down the road and then it was the river and muck again. But then I saw Derreck and Aaron again. It was around 4am by now. Here is where I broke down. My feet hurt so much. The blisters were huge. Derreck put my first pair of socks and shoes back on because the new ones were soaked again. I knew I was slow and was now worried about missing the cutoff time. I also knew I had to climb that stupid Mondo Z hill again. I wondered if I would be able to make it. Derreck and Aaron gave me hugs, fed me, made me laugh and I continued on.

Exhausted.

There were a few people around me but I was slower than they were. I lost sight of their lights after awhile. I surprisingly felt okay at this point. I ran a little when it was flat and was doing ok. Until I stopped seeing the flagging. I went a little farther thinking maybe I had just missed the last one. Still no flags in sight, it’s dark and I am all alone. I pulled out the map on my phone and saw I was about a mile off course. That sucked. I backtracked as quickly as I could and found the spot I missed my turn. Now that was on the right course I guess my emotions released and I cried. I pulled myself together quickly and approached the big hill. By now the sun was starting to come up, which was good because it would have been so hard to get good footing in the dark. That hill was so steep I needed to rest so often. I started counting 30 steps and then I would rest on my poles. 30 steps, rest. On and on, up and up.

I made it to the top, finally, Goosebump Aid. I sat in a chair and had coffee and an egg. I was calculating the time and with 25 miles to go, I had to stay under a 19 min mile to finish. That would normally be easy. But I didn’t think I could do it, mostly walking. Of course, now I wish I had tried. My feet hurt so much. I was tired. I felt bad for Derreck and Aaron being up waiting for me without getting much sleep too. If I stopped it would all be over. I had nothing to prove to anyone.

I got out of the chair and headed out of the aid station. I had a 5 mile section to get to the next aid station and see the guys. As I walked I cried, seeing my dreams disappear before me. I was sad.

I called Derreck. Told him I didn’t think I would be able to finish in the time allotted. He told me the math and we both knew unless I really picked it up I wouldn’t make it. So he came and got me. I turned my bib in and took my DNF. I made it nearly 80 miles! That is a huge accomplishment. All in all, it was a wonderful experience and I learned so much. I met amazing people and did the hardest trails I have ever seen. The race was tougher than I thought it would be, and even though I didn’t finish, I am tougher than I thought as well. Had I known how hard this course was, I probably wouldn’t have even attempted it. But I would have missed out on the beauty of it all, and so much more!! Sometimes our goals should be so big we aren’t sure we can complete them. How else will we see where our limits are, where we can improve and grow? Life is full of unexpected and unwanted outcomes. Ultra running can be a way to practice dealing with hard times and disappointments in a way that really has no significance in everyday life. But the lessons learned, the willingness to suffer and continue transfers to every day life. We have to get up and keep going even when we are unhappy with our situation and try to make the best of it. And we need to celebrate all we have done and accomplished even if we didn’t meet our goal. They are all stepping stones to improving ourselves. Isn’t that really one of our purposes in life, to improve ourselves? If we do, we are in a better position to come along side others to encourage and uplift. That’s what makes the world go around.

So even with a DNF, I still call it a win. I ran longer than I have before, met amazing people and spent so much time in God’s Country.

Because I completed at least 100K, I was still able to take an award. I chose the Coffee cup!

Training for Zion Update

4 months down, 2 to go.

As I enter the last third of my training block, I am feeling pretty good about it all. I haven’t completed all the mileage as written, but overall have done really well.

A couple weeks ago I ran a solo 50K for training. I had everything I needed in my truck, parked in a spot I would pass by a few times and used it as an aid station. It was a very quiet and overcast day in the canyon, which kept the temps cool. I used it as time to practice nutrition, using my poles, and to see how my mind would hold up for several hours without anyone to talk to. Everything went perfectly except my shoes sliding around some and causing blisters. I have yet to find exactly the right trail shoe. I was actually quite surprised at how quickly the time went by until about the marathon mark. Then I was just ready to finish. It took me right at 7 hours, which was my guess, so all went really well.

I also did my first run from evening to night. I run in the dark in the morning often. But I haven’t ever done that in the canyon. Derreck came to keep an eye on Donna and I as we looped around trails to different parking lots to check in. What surprised me most was how hard it is to see right as the sun is gone, but still light enough that a headlamp doesn’t help. It’s really tricky during that time. Also, how fast the temperature dropped as soon as it was dark dark. But what was most fabulous about running in the canyon at night is the open sky without any light pollution. The stars!! It was absolutely incredible!

When I look at your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars which you have set into place, what is man that you are mindful of him, and the son of man that you care for him? Psalm 8:3-4

And then just this week, the race director announced a course change. My first thought was dread. But after they explained it all, it’s actually all the same course, just start/finish in a different place and the order of the trails is a little different. I will need to re-think my drop bag items and placement, but still have plenty of time to get it all sorted out.

I’m also over half way to my fundraising goal for lupus. I’m so grateful to the many people who have donated. If your curious what that’s about, see my previous post. As always, thank you for reading. Happy running!

Why Zion 100?

You hear it often in the business world and the running world; “What’s your why?” You need a strong “why” because if you don’t, when it gets uncomfortable, when it gets hard, you may lose sight of your goals or quit your race.

My running Why has evolved over time. When I first started running it was to lose weight. What I didn’t realize as I was shedding pounds is that I also was shedding my depression. As I ran more and more, my whys became about race goals. 10K, Half Marathon, Marathon, Boston Qualifier. Then I found trail running. Running trails brought me closer to my creator. The beauty and purity connected me to God in another avenue.

After running trails I was introduced to Ultra Marathons. I never thought I would ever run farther than 26.2 miles, a marathon. I couldn’t believe people ran farther than that. But the more I ran trails, the longer I wanted to be out on them. My first 50K I just wanted to see if I could run that far. My second one was all about the location and the experience at Monument Valley . It was so incredible, beautiful, humbling, and hard. But so worth it. After that is when I got sick.

Sunrise at Monument Valley

The next 50K I ran was Cedro Peak. It was just over a year since MV and I was just so grateful to be running again. I wasn’t sure if I would ever be able to run far again. It was such a blessing. I was much slower. But after a few miles of feeling sorry for myself that I had this stupid disease, I realized I could still be stuck in bed. That run turned into a song of thanksgiving and praise to God that I was running at all.

Cedro Peak over my right shoulder

50 miles, could I?? I had a lot of self doubt in training. My why was to see what I was made of. I wanted to come to the end of myself. I was tired of the pain without rhyme or reason. This was a pain I could control. I could run until I decided if I wanted to stop or not. I was chasing cutoffs but I didn’t want to stop. I knew I had it in me. Thanks to my husband and son who took turns pacing me, I was able to finish strong.

Palo Duro Trail Run 50 miles

50 Miles at Antelope Canyon. Recap Why?? Location, location, location. Have you seen my pictures? They don’t do it justice. Plus I liked the training. I liked the distance. Plus my friends were doing it. So “Why not?”

Why 100 miles at Zion?

First off, I don’t know how much longer I have to run crazy long distance. I really want to at least try for 100 miles. Plus, you get a really cool buckle!! Not familiar with the belt buckle hundred milers get? Here’s an Explanation .

All the other reasons I have had for my other ultras are good. But not good enough to carry me through this kind of distance. If I make this race only about me, well, that’s not a good enough why. Because at mile 70, just before another mile long steep hill, I might say enough. I don’t want to lose sight of my goal – to finish the race set out before me. That’s not to say finish at all costs. If I am risking injury, I will stop. I’m not going to be stupid. However, I know that at some point my mind will want me to stop. My legs will hurt. My feet will hurt. I will be tired. I will think this is dumb. I will think about giving up. I need a good reason to continue, up steep hills, in the dark, through the night. And it’s got to be about more than a buckle and some yummy aid station food.

I am raising money for Lupus Foundation of America. These funds will go directly to help improve the quality of life of those with lupus. This is my why. Many others with lupus are in much worse shape than I am. The younger you are when you contract this disease the worse it attacks your body. I am fortunate that I was older. I am fortunate that I was already a runner and in good health. I am fortunate to have been diagnosed quickly compared to the countless others who’ve waited years for treatment. I have a voice that is able to bring attention to this disease through my running. I want to bring awareness and give help to my brothers and sisters who are fighting much harder than I am. This run is for all my fellow Lupus Warriors.

If you would like to donate it would mean so much to me. Thank you with all my heart. Click on the link below.

https://support.lupus.org/site/TR/MYM/TeamMakeYourMark?px=2522831&pg=personal&fr_id=1641

Training for Zion 100

The plan: run 100 miles at Zion Ultras on April 10-11. The goal: don’t DNF! The ultimate goal: under 30 hours.

I’m just starting week 12 in my training plan. I am using the plan from the book Relentless Forward Progress. So far, it’s going well. I am keeping my miles on the very conservative side, knowing my body well enough now that I have had 5 years of ultra running and 3.5 with lupus. I’m pleasantly pleased!

One of the perks of training for an ultra with your friends is the sheer amount of time you can spend together during long runs. We have some of the most amazing conversations that probably would not happen in other settings. Topics just flow, and with the 3 of us, they flow deeply. I truly believe that running can and does help people have stronger mental health!

Classy, sassy, and bad-assy.

There are days I question my sanity for deciding to run 100 miles. And certainly I have friends and family (that’s you, Dad) that don’t understand or worry about me. It’s hard to put into words, but I need it. I need to run. I know I don’t have to run so far, but I enjoy the process of running, I enjoy challenging myself and the idea is just so exciting, even if a little scary. I love the atmosphere of ultras. These are the nicest people you will ever meet.

I saw a lady’s shirt that said, “The more I run, the less I want to run away” and that just has stuck with me because I get it! Running can be an escape from the noise of the world and all its trouble, it can be the place where you get your best ideas, it can be community, it can be church! It can be where God speaks loudest, it can be just the quiet you need.

Let everything that has breath praise the Lord.

I will continue to train so that I can be well prepared for this endeavor. Stay tuned for more updates! Read through my previous posts on other race recaps I have written about and more on why I run. Thanks for reading!

50 Miles in the Desert

Dark, cold, windy start

Lines of headlamps guide the way

Nervous laughter heard.

 

Climb and crawl, don’t fall

Focus on the headlamp beam

Switchbacks on slickrock.

 

Wide, sandy plateau

Running straight into the wind

Sun starting to rise.

 

Antelope Canyon

Racers slowing down in awe

Ancient spirits here.

img_6803-1

Water, wind, and sand

Echos through the canyon walls

Carving waves in time.

 

Walls turning tightly

Moving deeper in shadow

At once, wide open.

 

Run, climb, sand for miles

Wind dies down, sun brightly shines

Almost halfway done.

 

Sand turns to slickrock

Expansive sky meets the earth

Horseshoe Bend ahead.

 

Far below, water

Dark river flows without sound

Racers stop to pose.

img_6844

Follow pink ribbons

Ripples of rock continue

Try not to fall down.

 

Water Hole Canyon

Down a ladder to enter

Smooth walls, warm brown hues.

 

Sun, sand, miles to go

Switchbacks on a sandy hill

Straight up a sandy hill.

 

Page Rim Trail at last

Stunning views of Lake Powell

Keep running, though tired.

IMG_6865

Straight down sandy hill

One more mile to go, but sand!

Finish line ahead.

 

Through the chute I run

Strong legs, stronger spirit

Elation fills me.

img_6877

Antelope Canyon Ultras 50 Mile Recap

Antelope Canyon Ultras in Page AZ did not disappoint. I am still in awe of the landscape I experienced.

The 50 mile race started at 5:45 am and it was windy but not too cold, maybe about 40 degrees. The course crossed a road and began to climb slick rock within the first .15 mile. The race director let runners through in a few waves, as it bottlenecks very quickly. I was in wave two.

As it was very dark, the trail of headlamps floating along in front helped light the way. We followed pink ribbons with some reflectivity stuck in crevices and tied to scrub brush in the slick rock and climbed and scrambled over the rock. My first mile was a 20 min mile, slow because of all the people, but also because of the scrambling. Once we got to the top of the slickrock hill we came to a sandy wash and ran straight into the wind for a couple of miles. We then turned on a sandy trail and finally dropped down onto a sandy road and again ran straight into the wind toward the famous Antelope Canyon. I stopped very quickly at the aid station and grabbed a couple of orange slices and continued on, finally reaching the canyon. It was incredible! Even though it was not very light out, the carved walls and intricate shapes blew me away. I loved how you could hear other runners commenting on the beauty and in amazement. We all felt incredibly blessed to be here.

 

 

 

 

 

The course made a little lollipop back through a more open air canyon back to the road and then the aid station. I had some coke and continued on. By this time I had fallen into a steady rhythm and found myself running with another woman around my pace. We chatted and decided to run together until one of us felt like either going ahead or slowing way down. Karrie definitely helped me keep going when I felt like slowing way down or even walking, so she was a huge blessing to me.

 

The course continued up and down on either sand or slick rock. The sand was not as bad as I expected and I was able to run without much trouble on most of it. Only a few spots was it so loose there was no way of getting any kind of grip. The slickrock was more technical than I expected. There was no making up time on these sections.

img_6836

Horseshoe Bend was a 7 mile stretch of beauty! I am afraid of heights so I didn’t get too close to the edge, but wow oh wow. This section was hard – more scrambling, sliding down on my butt, climbing up over rocks, and trying to keep those darn pink ribbons in sight. It took me much longer than I expected to get through this section. But I probably could have cut at least 10 minutes off that time if I hadn’t taken so many pictures.

img_6844

 

img_6850

We finally got to Waterhole Aid Station and I refilled my bladder, stocked up on more gels, had watermelon and coke and some potato with salt. Delicious.

Waterhole Canyon was also quite amazing! Here you climb down steps to get into the canyon. The walls get really close together in some spots so it’s fun to weave in and around. You climb one big ladder to get out and then back to the sand!

img_6860

I continued on with Karrie and we had some good conversations which made the time go by faster without any trouble. She helped me keep my mind off the fact that I was getting tired. I hope I did the same for her. We are running towards Page Rim Aid Station, the final portion of the race. We are almost done! But then we really hit the sand. And a giant hill. It was truly brutal to get up that hill in the sand. She was meeting her husband here, who would pace her the final 12 miles. I met Derreck, my husband here also. But he ran the half marathon that morning and would not be pacing me!

By now I was feeling slightly nauseous and new I needed to keep eating. All I could manage was gels, I knew if I could just get them down, however slowly, I would feel better. I may have gotten behind on nutrition already, and perhaps that is why I felt sick in the first place. I am still learning.

The Page Rim Trail is the runnable part of the race. It’s about 10 miles on single track, not much elevation gain or loss and really is quite beautiful as well. Karrie was also feeling sick and started to walk, so I kept running. I averaged about 12-13 min miles along this section. I kept wanting to slow down even more or just walk, but I told myself that as long as I could run, I should run, even if it’s slow. That loop seemed to take forever, but now I was by myself. I managed to pass a few people, so that helped my mood. I also started seeing some of the hundred milers coming. That was exciting to see, and so inspiring.

I got back to Page Rim aid station, took what I needed from my drop bag and put it in the return pile and down the sandy hill I went towards the finish! I couldn’t believe I was almost done. The course takes you scrambling up a small hill right at the end, and then between two giant rock walls and into the finish line shoot. I heard my name announced as I crossed the timing mats with a huge smile on my face.

img_6877

 

Big Thanks to Vacation Races for putting on an outstanding race. Also thankful for all the volunteers to help things go smoothly and provide food at the aid stations. I am extremely grateful to the Navajo Nation for letting us run through your sacred land and sharing your culture with us. I am also so thankful to Derreck, for joining me on my crazy adventures and supporting me in my training. I know it takes time away from our family, and I appreciate you never complaining. Also thanks to Donna and Melody, for sharing the training miles and the journey in Antelope Canyon.

img_6769-1

Things I learned: I need to strengthen my core more. My low back was tired and sore after 10 hours. It’s still sore 3 days later. I also need to train my stomach more. Though I managed okay with my fuel it certainly could have been better. Also still need to get in and out of aid stations more efficiently.

My Gear: New Balance Summit Unknown Trail Shoes, XOToes socks, gaiters made by yours truly (and had no sand in my shoes!!), XOSkin mid compression 4″ shorts, The North Face BTN shirt, Brooks Uplift Crossback Bra, Nathan Vapor Airess 2.0 Hydration Pack. I used Gu and Honey Stinger gels and Skratch Labs hydration mix. I had no chafing or blisters, EXCEPT, I stepped on my own toe because I lost balance. That toenail got bruised and I will lose it. Oh well.

img_6867-1

Palo Duro Trail Run Race Recap

On October 20, 2018, I ran the new PDTR 50 mile course. This is the first year to incorporate some new trails and they did not disappoint. I ran the 50K in 2016 so I knew that the new trails were going to add a new level of difficulty. For my first 50 mile run, I wanted to stay local because I know so many of the volunteers and other runners. It was so helpful to be hugged and encouraged by so many friends who knew the doubts I had before the race.

39920008_10218362542960685_6368930746094059520_n

The old course for the 50 mile race repeated figure 8 loops 5 times. The new course is 3 25K loops plus an added on section to the first loop to make 50 miles. Our area had much needed rain in the two weeks leading up to the race and many of the trails flooded. It took a lot of man power and volunteers to clean up debris, repair bridges and get water off the trails. Hat’s off to the Race Directors for getting it done!! There was too much water in the lower section of the 50 mile add on loop they had to change the course for us. We repeated the small section and looped back to the start/finish and then did the 25K loop 3 times. A little more challenging as far as technicality goes, but you need to be flexible when you run ultras.

thumbnail-2

Race day the weather was predicted to start in the low 40’s and have a high of around 70 degrees which was pretty much what it was – just about perfect weather!! Not too cold and it certainly did not get as hot as the last few years, thank God! The 50 milers had a 15 minute head start because of the course change. We were going to start with the 50K, but since we were making a little loop back to the start finish, they needed us to be through there before the 25K started.

There were 27 50 milers. I placed myself near the back and the runners started to separate quickly on the single track. I was with a group of 6 other runners and we chatted and found out this was the first 50 mile race for all of us. Being very dark, we helped each other out by calling out “water” or “flag” so we knew what was ahead. As we neared the spot where we turned to go back to the start/finish a few people had taken a wrong turn. I knew right where we were, so I led us back to the start/finish so we could begin our first of three 25K loops. It was fun to run back through because all the 25K runners were ready for their start so we had 400+ people cheering for us! I didn’t need my headlight anymore, so I took it off and got my hat out of my drop bag, slathered on some sunscreen and took off.

Soon the fast 25K runners caught up to me and I saw some friends that were running it. I took my time, got some high fives at the first aid station and started the climb of Comanche Trail. I had run this trail a few times in my training and new I would be power hiking (aka walking) parts of it. The sun started to come out and I stopped to take a few pictures. Palo Duro Canyon is such a beautiful place! I realized I didn’t grab my sunglasses and would have to wait another 10 miles before I hit my drop bag again, but at least I had my hat.

thumbnail-13

I was fueling with Honey Stinger gels and Untapped Coffee Maple Syrup, Coke at aid stations and just the water in my hydration pack. We had a slight breeze in the morning so it didn’t feel too hot as the sun heated up the canyon. I made it back to the start/finish right at 4 hours, which is where I thought I would be, grabbed my sunglasses, repacked my vest with more gels and had some boiled salted potatoes at the aid station and took off for lap #2. I settled in with 3 other runners for the climb of Comanche again and we all talked about the course, running back ground, where we lived, family, etc. Funny how easy it is to talk to strangers when you are all running! I love that part of it. I figured the second loop would be the hardest mentally, because the third loop would just be all heart, plus I knew my son was going to pace me for part of the last loop.

I ran into more friends at the aid station and we hugged and chatted some, but I knew I needed to keep going, as I was slowing down a bit more than I wanted. I ran the back half of the 2nd loop better and made it back into the aid station close to where I wanted to be. My family was waiting for me and that was awesome!! By now I was really feeling the effects of 35 miles and my knee was getting very cranky. My stomach was a little queasy, but my coach had told me when that happens you aren’t eating enough. So I sucked down another gel even though I didn’t want to. I hobbled out of there with my son Aaron and we did fine until that final Comanche climb! I walked way more than I wanted to. Aaron was helpful in taking my mind off the run and the pain. We got to Rock Garden aid station and my husband was going to run 3 miles with me to Capitol Peak aid station. I was not feeling great and was getting worried about the time cutoff. I knew if I kept slowing down I wouldn’t make the 12 1/2 hour time limit so I would take a deep breath and run. Derreck decided to run the 3 mile Capital Peak Trail with me, since I was going so slow and needed that push. Thanks to another 50 mile runner, I took an aspirin and wow, when that kicked in I could run again, really run! I couldn’t believe the difference it made and now I know to pack that too!! Aaron met me at Lighthouse aid station and was going to run the last 3.5 miles in. Now I was actually running, plus this is a really runnable section, and he pushed me down to my fastest miles! HA! I felt great!!

I saw the finish line flags and was so happy! The crowd had dwindled way down by now so there were not too many people there to cheer, but it didn’t matter -my family was there! My boss (co-race director) also gave me a big hug and that meant so much to me. I really look up to her as a runner. It’s still kind of surreal that I completed 50 miles. I am so thrilled that my body held up, I did not go into a lupus flare afterwards, and yes, I was sore for 2-3 days, but after that I felt great. I finally stopped eating so much! I was very hungry for several days afterwards. I am looking forward to the next big running adventure!

thumbnail-12

 

Stats:

27 started, 12 were women and only 7 women finished. I was 4th female in a time of 11:38:44. Top female finished in 9:32:14!! Top male finished in 7:50:38!! Amazing.

I ran in Hoka Torrent shoes, wore Injinji socks with Zensah socks over, and used Nathan Vapor Airess hydration pack. I had 2 small blisters in my normal spot on my feet and no chaffing or any other problems.

My training plan and coach: Stephanie Howe Violett and the Train Like A Mother Club from Another Mother Runner. The program was amazing, the plan was perfect for me, the encouragement and advice from the others in the program was awesome. Highly recommend this group for your first Ultra.

Screen Shot 2018-11-02 at 9.16.42 AM

50 Miles?!?! But First…

A year ago I had planned to run the Palo Duro Trail Run 50K Race but my mom had some serious complications from heart surgery. I skipped the race and flew to PA to be with her and my dad. She had a tough road ahead of her but she is much tougher than she thinks. I’d like to think that I get my strength and toughness from her, but we both really know that we are just plain stubborn. One thing about my mom, she is who she is. There is no pretending, no sugar coating, no beating around the bush. I used to be a little embarrassed sometimes, but now I embrace it and am glad when people say I take after her. When you are confident in who you are, your values and world view, you can truly be just you. I love that mom has shown me how to just be me without excuses or apologies. I am not intimidated by people or challenges, I just take a deep breath and press on.

thumbnail

The best thing I got from my mom is her example of her faith in Jesus Christ. She lived out Deuteronomy 6:4-9 for me as a child and continues to do so.

Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength. These commandments that I give you today are to be on your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. Write them on the doorframes of your houses and on your gates.

No parent is perfect, but seeing my parents now, how far they have come, how God has changed them and transformed their marriage is a miracle. All glory to God!

All Glory to God for giving me my parents and family, our struggles, our growth, our character, talents and gifts. Depression and autoimmune diseases do not define me. All of these things are known by God and He is not surprised by anything. I can have confidence in Him!

Being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus. Phil 1:6

thumbnail-14

In my last blog post I shared how scared I was and really unsure if I could complete the 50 mile distance in the time allowed. There was a point at mile 42 where I wasn’t sure if I could, but my family came aside me and ran with me for a few of the last miles to keep me moving. My son and my husband were a tremendous help in keeping my mind off how much I hurt. Aaron made me laugh and Derreck told me he loved me but I had to keep moving. I was tired, but I never even thought about quitting.

At the last aid station I had 3.5 miles left to go. The volunteers at all of the aid stations were so encouraging and helpful. The best part of running a local race is knowing so many of the volunteers! They greet you by name and give you a hug and save you potatoes with salt because they know that’s what you like! Thank you to every single person who spent their day in the Canyon to help runners meet their crazy goals. And a huge thank you to my boss who is so inspiring and gave me wonderful yet simple advice, “Just don’t stop.”

Palo Duro Trail Run does not disappoint. It is a challenging, yet runnable course in a beautiful setting. The race directors work tirelessly to ensure a great race for every runner and make each person feel like a winner.

 

Run with Endurance

As of today, I will be attempting to run 50 miles at the Palo Duro Trail Run in 10 days. I would be lying if I said I wasn’t scared out of my mind. But I am also excited to test the limits of my endurance. I have been increasing miles and pace over the last 6 years because it’s fun to see what I can do, it makes me happier, it makes me feel better mentally and I simply love running. In 2009 when training for my first 5K in years, I wanted to make 30 minutes. I didn’t, but that is what spurred me on to really run. The following year I knocked over 5 minutes off and ran it in 27 something. My PR is 24 something that I got 2 years ago at a turkey trot! In my first half, I wanted to break 2 hours. I trained on my own and did it! With 30 seconds to spare. In my second one, a year later, I hit 1:52, quite a difference! In my first marathon, I was shooting for 4 hours. Considering I was sick with the flu for 3 weeks prior to my race, and I did make some rookie mistakes (starting too fast, maybe?!?!) I ran it in 4:15. My second one, less than a year later I wanted to qualify for Boston. In 2016, I did, running 3:53 something! When I set my mind to run a certain distance or time, I am pretty determined and have been able to achieve my goals. When wanted to run a 50K, I thought, yes, this is harder and longer, but I can do it. I trained and have since run 3 50K’s. Everything I have challenged myself with so far, though hard and I worked for it, I knew I was capable. So here I am, 10 days out from 50 miles and this is the first time in my running that I am unsure of the outcome. I truly do not know if I can complete this distance a) at all, and b) in the 12 hours and 30 minutes allowed time. On paper I can. But this is so much further than anything I have attempted to run, so far away from any previous time on my feet that I really don’t know.

My Bible study this week has been on suffering. How appropriate, as ultra runs are often fondly called “sufferfests” among other things. The Bible has a lot to say on suffering. Most often, God does not take suffering away, but promises to be with us in it. I will definitely be holding onto this thought as I know I will be suffering. Why willingly put myself through the physical pain of running? Training and running long distances correlates to my walk of faith. …Let us lay aside every weight and the sin which so easily ensnares us, let us run with endurance the race that is set before us. I pray I will see God beside me when I am weary. For just as we share abundantly in the sufferings of Christ, so also our comfort abounds through Christ. Vaneetha Rendall Risner said in a Desiring God article “Suffering has a unique way of putting me in God’s presence, beholding his glory, because I am constantly crying out to him.”

I know non-runners do not understand this and question me. I also don’t understand at times either. But I do know that running connects me with God. There is something about the rhythmic movement of running, of feeling the breath in my lungs, and being outside that puts me in God’s presence like nothing else does. It might be its simplicity, or that there aren’t other distractions.

I am imagining myself at the start line. It’s dark, there is a buzz in the cold air. I see my breath. Headlamps are shining, people are laughing nervously. I smell someone’s coffee. I smile, praise God that I am here, wait for the bagpipes to play. It’s time! I take off, at a slow jog, it is a 50 mile race after all. I see the trail of headlamps ahead of me, adjust my pack and settle into my pace. I see myself as the sun starts to peak over the canyon walls and smile, that’s God winking at me. I run on and eat a little fruit at an aid station and take my gel, Untapped Coffee Maple Syrup and am thankful such a thing exists. Before I know it, I have completed loop 1, 20 miles. I see my husband and he refills my pack and takes care of anything I might need. He sends me off with a kiss and…

Tune in to the race recap in a couple of weeks!

thumbnail-1

Faith Over Fear

Why would anyone run that far?

I don’t even like driving that far!

Aren’t you worried you’ll ruin your knees?

No, other people aren’t saying this to me, I am thinking it myself. I am in the middle of training for my first 50 mile trail race. It is daunting at best and absolutely terrifying at worst.

I am extremely fortunate that all medication is working fairly well; lupus and Hashimoto’s are well managed except for the sun sensitivity that I now experience. I am in a very healthy place for me right now and am so grateful that I even get to train at all. No, it’s not what I used to be able to do, and it is so much harder than it used to be. I let fear and doubt take over because I overlooked how far I have come since my diagnosis. My training runs had been miserable, mostly because of my bad attitude. ‘Why try this at all? I probably will DNF anyway, imagining that I won’t make the time cutoff.’ and other negative self talk polluted my thoughts.

thumbnail-3
Feeling defeated.

My family took a little weekend away to the Taos Ski Valley and hiked up Wheeler Peak. That was not only a perspective and altitude change, but a mental change as well. No running. Just hiking with the family, climbing about 3000 feet in elevation to the peak at 13,160′ and enjoying the views! It was physically so hard because of the elevation and steep grade, but when we all reached the top, it was such a relief and sense of accomplishment. I thought, if we can do this, I can do the 50 mile race.

My latest 16 mile run was done on the trails on the day after a 10 mile run which was on the day after a 13 mile run. Tired legs. Good gage of how the race might go. I felt better than I have felt in a long time. My pace was slow, but hey, it is what it is. (I need to let that go.) I kept a good attitude and knew I could continue on. This run gave me some confidence back. I can’t help but think that when God prompted a person to scratch something in the dirt, He knew I was going to see it and I know it was a reminder for me.

thumbnail-5
Amen.

Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see. Hebrews 11:1

I need to keep the faith. Trust my training. This goes not only for my race plan but my life plan. I need to remember that whatever I am facing, faith is stronger than fear. Faith will overcome fear! Fear can paralyze you, faith can set you free. By trusting in Jesus I can rest assured that no matter what, He’s got me. So I can rise up to challenges with a strength and resolve from above. And if I do end up with a DNF, it won’t be because of fear.