I ran the 10k distance after dropping down from the 25k, a decision I made due to some nagging calf pain that came up this week. (I’m fine! Running made it feel better, actually.)
The race was at Forest Park in the adorable town of Jacksonville, Oregon, which, by the way, is in full-on fall foliage glory mid-October.
I was really impressed with how well-organized and professional everything was, especially considering this was Woodlands Running Co.’s first race. I can’t wait to see where they go from here!
The first time I heard about this race was during a group run. About six months ago, I started running with a rad group of ladies in Ashland called Women of Woodlands, formerly known as Ashland Trail Sisters.
Once a month, I drive up there for a WoW long run. We hit the trails for about three hours and then run down the street to Ruby’s/Gil’s for burritos and beer. Not only is it a lovely way to spend a Saturday morning, but it’s also introduced me to some of the most badass women I know.
The whole Woodlands running tribe is warm, welcoming, inclusive, and enthusiastic AF about running. I was delighted and not-at-all surprised to see that Twin Peaks Trail Runs reflected all these qualities.
A few reasons I thought this race was superb
- There were dairy and non-dairy milk options at the coffee table (I was stoked they even had coffee)
- Women’s-specific merch was available
- Registration prices were kept low with the option to purchase a race shirt separately (I did- because they were freakin cool)
- There were vegan and meat-filled tacos at the finish 🌮
- The race was open to runners of all experience levels — quite a few people finished their first official trail race that day. On the other end of the spectrum, seasoned ultrarunners claimed that the 25k kicked their butts!
- OODLES of volunteers were around very corner making sure all needs were met
It was also very professionally executed. The trail was well-marked with signs that displayed the WRC logo so you could be 100% sure you were on the right path. The start/finish had a sweet handmade wood arch that looked waaaaay cooler than those giant inflatable things. There was live music, tasty tacos, and finish line photos by the multitalented Jamie Wilson.
It was just fucking classy.
And so full of friends!
I felt completely supported, encouraged, and motivated by the Woodlands community the entire time.
A group of Women of Woodlands friends volunteered at an aid station and one of them dressed as Log Lady!!
The majority of the race was on smooth, buttery single track that’s easy on the feet. But my favorite aspect of TPTR was being surrounded by creative, enthusiastic people living their best lives and having so much fun in the process. Thank you for making this happen!
I look forward to running TPTR again at some point in the future. For now, I’m getting ready to move back to the east coast with my husband and four dogs. And that’s it’s own special kind of adventure.
Taking care of four dogs can be costly (if chewy.com had a rewards program, I’d be VIP-status). That’s part of the reason I put off buying pet health insurance for so long.
But last week, I took the plunge. I felt like The Universe was nudging me to purchase a pet insurance plan before it was too late. If you have a fur baby (or four), I recommend you consider doing the same.
So, why do I believe I need pet insurance now?
Dogs eat disgusting, dangerous, and toxic things
It all started a few weeks ago when an instagram post by my friend, Linn, caught my attention.
Linn shared a terrifying story. She and her husband had to rush their adorable, intelligent, and super-sweet dog, Jada, to the nearest emergency animal hospital (located more than an hour away!!!), in the middle of the night.
Like my dog, Bruce, Jada is a hound mix. So, like Bruce, she’s very independent, stubborn, and curious. Basically just a really naughty bundle of cuteness you can’t take your eyes off for so many reasons.
After undergoing (costly) diagnostic tests, the vets determined that Jada must’ve eaten some mushrooms she found in the yard. As a hound mom, this doesn’t surprise me at all. One of the first times I had to rush Bruce to the vet, it was because he’d eaten toxic black walnuts that fell in our yard and got so sick couldn’t even keep water down. Even after that debacle, I’m sure he’d go right back and eat them again. I’m constantly zapping him with the e-collar in an effort to keep him away from fallen acorns (also poisonous to dogs in large quantities).
Jada was lucky that her pawrents were willing to do anything to help her. Linn was lucky to have had pet insurance at the time this happened.
A few days after their hospital visit, Jada was on the road to recovery. About that time, I got an email from Brandon at ConsumersAdvocate.org with a very informative report on the best pet insurance companies.
It turns out, the insurance company they rated #1, Healthy Paws, is also the one Linn had purchased for her doggos. Even though everyone says that money is no object when it comes to their furry best friends, I’m sure it put her mind at ease to know that 90% of her vet bill would be reimbursed after a manageable $250 deductible.
Because, really, who has the brain space to worry about money at a time like that!?!?
Thank God, Jada is okay and back to her normal self.
Jada’s story really hit home. I could easily see myself in Linn’s position. So, I spent some time studying the ConsumersAdvocate report and contacted a couple of companies for quotes.
Ultimately, I purchased a Healthy Paws plan for Bruce. For $42.82/month, I get 80% reimbursement after meeting a $250 deductible.
Rates vary depending on the size and age of your pet. Also, not all insurance companies cover older pets with pre-existing conditions (like arthritis or diabetes), so you need to consider that when choosing a policy.
We have three other, older dogs, but are still shopping for the right plans for them.
I felt the need to cover Bruce right away because he’s the one most likely to get hurt or eat something poisonous.
And that brings me to the other reasons I opted for pet insurance. In the three years I’ve had Bruce, I’ve taken him to the vet FOUR times for non-routine visits.
Here’s some examples of previous vet expenses that will be covered under his insurance plan moving forward:
If you have dogs, chances are you’ve had some type of encounter with foxtails. These spiky grass seeds are notorious for burrowing a one-way tunnel into dogs’ skin, where they can cause potentially life-threatening injuries and infections.
The very first time I ever took Bruce to the vet was because I thought he had a foxtail in his ear. Turns out, it was just an ear infection (something he’s prone to). But since I suspected a foxtail, the vet wanted to check inside his ears. She had to sedate him for it and that alone cost about $200, making the entire visit, including medication top $300.
About a year later, Bruce got a very real foxtail stuck IN HIS EYE! Fortunately, I was able to remove it, by myself, after about an hour of squirting saline solution into his eyeball. We were lucky because so_many_things could’ve gone wrong there.
The third time I took Bruce to the vet was especially traumatic. It was the first time he was ever attacked (it’s happened multiple times since then).
I was renting a cottage on a shared property with my landlady’s house. One day, her roommate’s dog ran up to Bruce and I as we were returning from a walk and bit both of us. We both had puncture wounds on our legs, but the emotional trauma was so much worse.
I asked the dog’s owner to pay for Bruce’s vet visit, where he was once again sedated while the vet cleaned out his wounds. Not every pet owner is willing or able to do this, so I wouldn’t count on it moving forward.
The fourth vet visit was also for a fight, this time one between Bruce and my husband’s livestock guardian dog, Sam. They got into a scuffle over a bully stick stuck beneath the car seat while we were in the middl-of-nowhere, Nevada, on a road trip.
Sam neatly bit Bruce’s head, leaving a gaping hole in his dome that needed stitches.
Fortunately, things have calmed down since then and I’m pleased to say that Bruce has only been in for check-ups. He’s a very healthy, athletic doggo.
You just never know what may happen
Environmental hazards aside, dogs develop chronic illnesses, such as arthritis and cancer, the same way humans do. Testing for and managing these diseases is expensive, just as it is for humans.
If one of my fur babies ever needs to take medication on a regular basis in order to live a comfortable and happy life, I don’t want to have to worry about how I’m going to pay for it.
Final thoughts on pet insurance
One thing I really like about Healthy Paws is that there’s no limit to the benefits. Some other companies pay up to a certain max, like $15,000. One thing I don’t like about Healthy Paws is they don’t offer multi-dog discounts. Other companies, like Embrace, do. We may end up choosing a different plan for the other doggos because Healthy Paws actually isn’t great when it comes to the older guys.
That said, there are quite a few pet insurance companies to choose from and I think there’s an option that works fur every situation.
So please, take a look at the ConsumersAdvocate report on best pet insurance and see what works fur you.
If you do opt for Healthy Paws, please sign up via this link http://refer.healthypawspetinsurance.com/Lauren460
I don’t get anything personally, but Healthy Paws will make a $25 donation to homeless pets on my behalf. I think that’s a pretty good deal.
Thanks for reading! Do you have health insurance for your dog or cat? I’d love to know what you think!
Two weeks ago, I ran SOB 15k for the first time. It wasn’t the race I signed up for, but I like to think it was the race I deserved.
What follows isn’t a typical race report. Frankly, I’m tired of writing those.
This is about something less tangible and more visceral. Joy overcoming disappointment. Going head-to-head with your own ego and coming out with a smile and a pink flower sash.
It’s about learning how to own your goals instead of letting them own you.
First of all, let me say I had an absolutely amazing time and am so grateful for the hard work of all the race directors, volunteers, and wonderful people who showed up on July 13.
How would I describe a race that features aid stations manned by pirates, colorful Hawaiian leis, and toy snakes and lizards scattered all over the trail?
So, let me talk about why I ran the 15k.
I registered for SOB 100k pretty much as soon as it opened. I couldn’t not. I felt compelled by some great force. A force that craved that feeling I’d have crossing the finish line. An obsession, really.
When I sat down at the end of 2018 to map out my goals for this year, qualifying for the Western States lottery was in my initial brain dump. However, when it came time to narrow it down to a handful of attainable goals for 2019, that one was cut. In the area of health and fitness, I chose a much less-remarkable goal of “heal my hip.”
I’ve had piriformis syndrome for several years. It’s never painful enough to make me stop running, but it definitely alters my gait and leads to secondary injuries, (i.e.: the foot pain I’ve had all year).
The more I run, the worse it gets.
It’s kind of like driving a car that needs an alignment. It’s probably okay for shorter trips, but a cross-country adventure is asking for trouble.
At the time I signed up for SOB 100k, I was vaguely aware that this decision was not at all in line with my plan to improve my hip health. In fact, it was bound to make matters worse.
Every year, when I ramp up for training season, I always tell myself, “this year, you’re going to do more cross training. more yoga. more focus on strength and flexibility.”
And then, every year, when I start turning up the miles, I stop doing all of that, including stretching.
Who can relate?
Over the past few months, I’ve been tackling fundamental fitness and joint health with the same commitment and vigor I’d normally apply to an ultra training plan. This includes a lot of stretching and strengthening exercises, chiropractic care, and reflexology.
Sometimes, when you release muscle tension, all this emotional crap comes out with it.
In addition to the body work, I’ve been learning to listen to my higher self through an energetic healing modality that’s literally called Body Talk. I started releasing stress that I’d grown so used to, I thought it was part of who I am.
This type of stress is, in my opinion, a double-edged sword. It’s what compels me to push myself as hard as I do. To finish a grueling race or long run. This stress drives me to achieve my goals, both running and otherwise.
This type of stress is addictive.
I know a lot of runners, workaholics, and adrenaline junkies must know what I mean.
I recognized this stress in the ladies who camped next to me at Mt. Ashland Ski Park the night before SOB. One of them was running the 100k and the other, the 50M. I picked up a distinct buzz about them as they spent the evening packing their drop bags, calculating calorie needs, and trying to figure out how to charge a headlamp.
:::Keeping a charged headlamp is not my forte. You can read about it here:::
I listened to them chat excitedly as I sat back and enjoyed the sunset. On the one hand, I felt relieved I didn’t have to worry about any of those things. On the other, I felt jealous.
I wanted that rush. I wanted to know that I was about to crawl out of the back of my car in the dark, tie my shoes, and do something really, really fucking amazing.
But then again, I didn’t.
I’ve recently realized this stress also keeps me from laying off the gas when my tank is almost empty. It prevents me from listening to my own body and taking care of myself.
This stress is best friends with my ego, who has been known to tell me some awful lies: I’m not good enough. If I’m not fighting hard, then I’m wasting my time. If I don’t achieve I am worth nothing.
In the time I’ve spent not running, I’ve been sitting with these thoughts and beliefs. Examining them. Where they come from. What purpose they serve.
I realized I was allowing my sense of self worth to hinge on my ability to constantly out-do myself. Or others. I realized these thoughts are harmful and that it’s time to let them go.
So that’s where I was when I finally made the call to drop down to the shortest distance in the Siskiyou Outback trail race series.
Race day morning, I lazily sauntered back and forth between sipping coffee in my car and cheering on my friends who were starting the longer distances. It felt kind of nice to know that I didn’t have to do anything until 8:30am.
Hell, I even gave myself time to warm up!!!
Sure, there was a bittersweet aspect to it, but it was also the most FUN I’ve ever had in a race.
There wasn’t a single second of pain or struggle. Just 100% awesome.
Highlights included rubber snakes and lizards scattered on the trail, an easy, breezy, soft-footed downhill on the way back, and running through the finish with trail sista Melissa, who also ran Paiute Meadows 50k back in May. Honestly, it felt like a reward. A special treat for honoring my body.
I believe that I can run far without feeling like I have to prove something to myself.
But for right now, I’m listening to my body. And what my body has been telling me is this:
Drink water and move gently.
If your body’s been telling you the same, I hope this post helps you give yourself permission to do that.
I’m already seeing tremendous improvement in my overall health and wellbeing. I plan to continue racing shorter distances throughout the rest of 2019. Next up is Headwaters 30k at the end of September and I am STOKED!
My second year running Paiute Meadows 50k brought all the feels to the front line: anxiety, relief, sadness, joy, disgust, and more joy.
Like last year, the race happened the day before Mother’s Day. Timing is one of the things I love most about this race. It’s a great mid-spring 50k for people who (like me) aren’t crazy about training in the winter. It also occurs when all the wildflowers are in full bloom.
There were times I felt like I was wandering through a fairy tale garden. The sky was clear blue, birds were singing, and the well-maintained trails were lined with flowers of all colors.
I made sure to take photos this year (click through).
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This is me standing next to superstar @runrabbitwood who went on to win @paiutemeadowstrailrun for the second year in a row! Big congrats to Molly! Of course, once the race started I fell way back. This year I remembered to bring my phone so I could take pics of the beautiful flowers along the trail. Thanks so much to Linda Powell and all the many, many cheerful people who brought this event together. Thanks @hammernutrition and all the other wonderful sponsors for your support! I saw a gentleman take a photo of me running through the finish with my dog- if anyone can help me get that picture it would make my dog-mother’s day complete. 💐🐾🏃🏼♀️🤘 #trailrunning #ultrarunning #50k #wildflowers #howihammer #raceday #paiutemeadowstrailrun #runwow
Anxiety and relief
I only registered for this race about two weeks before it happened, so my personal anticipation period was relatively brief. I had been planning to run McDonald Forest 50k the week before, but made a last-minute switcheroo for logistical reasons.
My feelings going into Paiute Meadows Trail Run (PMTR from here on) were a mix of anxiety and relief.
As I mentioned in my last post, it’s been a whole year since I ran a 50k. It’s been a whole year since I ran farther than 20 miles, in fact. One year leaves a lot of time for doubt to creep in.
There’s no way to know your own fitness level without testing it, so I agreed (with myself) to just let this one be fun.
I even thought it might be easy.
That was a mistake. No 50k is ever easy.
I did breathe a huge sigh of relief knowing I’d be running a familiar 50k with less than 5,000 feet of elevation gain. Not only that, but race director Linda Powell is truly one of the kindest humans I’ve ever met. She and her team are 110% on top of organization, communication, and all the many things that make or break an event like this.
What do I mean by that?
- All the runners received frequent emails outlining the race info
- Packet pickup was a breeze
- The swag bag was awesome
- The volunteers seemed genuinely happy to be there
- The course was marked with ribbons, flour, signs, and volunteers posted at any junctions that may be remotely confusing
- On top of that, they provided GPS maps for all runners to use on their smartphones
Don’t worry- I still managed to get off course! It’s what I do best.
Totally my own fault- I was blindly following the runner ahead of me instead of paying attention.
This year’s PMTR swag bag contained a photo of course record holder Derrik Jenkins, who tragically passed away last November in a trail running accident in American Fork Canyon.
I’m including this quote from Derrik’s own running blog, Finding Me in the Mountains:
“I am grateful for the support of my family and friends, the blessing of having a body and the ability to run, the beautiful trails and views. In the end, that is what matters. That we be grateful for what we’ve been blessed with and work together in pursuit of our goal to achieve eternal life. That is the journey we are on. We will have ups and downs, make wrong turns, and get ahead of ourselves and our abilities. It is important to remember to be present and appreciate how much more good there is than bad at any given moment. That feeling of accomplishment is going to be so much greater when we reach the finish line of life and are reunited with family and friends. Our finishing time or place won’t matter as long as we keep pushing and finish.”
Thank you for sharing your love of running, Derrik.
His wife, who ran the race herself, and best friend each said a few words at the race start. I thought it was really nice to pay tribute to a fallen member of the trail running community that way.
My home community of Mount Shasta also experienced a great loss of an adventurous and charismatic soul only days before the race.
Though I didn’t know Leif Hansen very well at all, the few times I met him left me with the impression that he loved life. I know his friendship was a blessing to many people I care about.
I’d like to take this opportunity to extend my deepest condolences to all who are grieving over the loss of these exceptional people. I know their memories will continue to inspire you for years to come.
Frustration and Joy
I can’t break these two up because the emotions are so intertwined.
I’d like to think I had pretty realistic expectations going into this race. I wanted to take photos of the wildflowers and enjoy the experience as much as possible.
But still, a race is a race. Ain’t no walk in the park.
Having run it last year, I knew there was a relatively flat loop followed by a monstrously steep one. I tried taking the first loop a bit slower to conserve some energy for the second, but that didn’t quite work out for me.
My fueling and hydration plans went out the window, which was a big mistake. I only started drinking my Hammer Perpetuem about two hour into the race and then quickly got too hot on the second loop to eat or drink anything.
The cloudless sky meant soaring temperatures as the sun rose higher.
I was so hot that drinking warm water through the plastic hose on my hydration pack seemed disgusting. When I finally tore open one of my Hammer gels about 18 miles in, the packet exploded and spewed sticky goo all over my legs.
Shortly after that, my GPS watch began vibrating to let me know it was low on battery.
Great, I thought. It’s a million degrees, I’m carrying all this fuel and water I can’t bring myself to eat or drink, and now my friggin watch wants to bail on me.
Right about that time, I heard music blasting through the woods. I turned onto a dirt road and was immediately greeted by loud cheers, clanging cowbells, and Journey (or maybe it was The Who? I can’t remember) turned up to 11.
Enthusiastic aid station volunteers always brighten my day. I grinned, pumped my fists in the air, and politely declined the beer I was offered. Although, looking back, I could’ve really used the calories.
In the miles that followed, I was passed by two women.
I wasn’t surprised, considering the pace I was moving along at could only be described as a trudge.
They both stopped to ask if I was okay and if I needed anything.
I must’ve looked awful.
Dehydrated, covered in dusty energy gel, and probably slouching.
The second time help was offered, I actually paused and considered asking the woman to stay with me for moral support. I was in a rut and had begun to seriously consider dropping out.
What actually came out of my mouth was, “I’m okay, thank you. Have a good race.”
My watch died around mile 25, which was an improvement from the constant alerts that it was about to die.
Although I was slightly delirious, I had the brilliant idea to ask for ice at the next aid station.
The volunteer was generous with the frozen chunks of life-saving goodness. I filled my water bottle, hat, mouth, and sports bra with as much ice as would fit.
Within a couple of minutes, I was able to run again.
That particular aid station is at a funny point in the race. You do all this climbing and then think it’s going to be an easy cruise to the finish, but you actually have to go up one more peak before the downhill.
They even have a sign that says “It’s NOT all downhill from here!”
At least they’re honest!
I managed to open another Hammer gel without making a mess and got most of it into my mouth this time.
Between the ice, the gel, and a little help from gravity, the last five miles of my race were awesome.
I even caught up to a couple of people on the way. One guy told me we were at mile 28 when I passed him.
Believe it or not, there were two more water stations between mile 28 and the finish. I stopped at one to refill on cold water as the warm stuff in my pack was basically just dead weight.
One of the volunteers at the final aid station had the biggest, brightest smile I’ve ever seen in my life. It really amazes me how these people can maintain that energy for eight hours.
They are the true endurance heroes here.
I smiled back.
How could I not? I was about to finish the race I feared would be my first DNF and it was largely due to these absolutely wonderful aid station volunteers. I would’ve kissed their feet if my dang legs weren’t so sore.
When I got close enough to see the finish, all the pain melted away. I passed two ladies who cheered me on and told me I had less than a quarter mile to go.
Then, I rounded a corner and saw my husband in his cowboy hat, standing near the finish with three of our dogs.
I love those guys.
He handed me Bruce’s leash, and we ran through the finish together. It was Bruce’s first 50k finish and I think he knows he did something special. He was very proud of himself afterward.
In summary- great times at PMTR. I highly recommend it to anyone. You’ll be welcomes with open arms, beautiful flowers, and tasty beers.
Cheers to a happy first ultra of the year!
I was rowing nowhere at the gym last week when I noticed a gentleman on an adjacent treadmill wearing a t-shirt from my favorite local race, Headwaters Trail Runs. I couldn’t resist stopping to chat about it.
He explained that he’d only ran the race that one year and doesn’t run very much anymore due to a bad knee.
“Can I ask you a question?” he asked.
“How much of running a 50k is just the ability to endure pain?”
“Oh!” I smiled. “Lots.”
He looked confused.
“But.. how do you learn to like pain?”
I scanned my brain for an easy answer.
“Well, it’s more like getting to know various types of pain. You know, there’s the pain like ‘shit, I’m injured’ and then there’s the, ‘this is really hard and uncomfortable but I’m going to feel so much better after finishing it’ kind of pain.”
He seemed pleased with this answer and slowly nodded his head.
Then, I politely excused myself and hustled to get my workout on before my muscles cooled down.
It was a nice conversation, but one that really left me thinking.
I’ve always joked about ultrarunners being masochists.
But what I really meant is that we seem to have the ability to continue moving steadily toward our goal (finishing a race) despite the inevitable discomforts of running for 6, 12, even 24 hours.
And I’m not just talking about chafing and cramps. At just about every race, I meet at least one nut who’s running on the kind of injury that would send a normal person to urgent care.
The first time I met my friend Lorelei, she had a lump the size of a softball on her knee. We had both just run Lithia Loop Trail Marathon and I asked if she was okay.
“Oh yeah, my knee is fucked up,” she said, matter-of-factly. And in the same breath, “Where’s the beer?”
Then, she walked off, limping only slightly, in search of a cold beverage.
When I finished SOB 50k in 2017, I met a kid after the race who was icing a knee he had dislocated several miles before the finish line.
And let’s not forget Kilian Jornet!
Sometimes I wonder if regular people see things like this and think that endurance athletes don’t feel pain?
We do, I assure you. We just don’t let it stop us.
Personally, I don’t love pain. But I do respect its place in life. And I believe running has helped strengthen that relationship.
What’s that saying?
For me, learning to appreciate the pain of running is like learning to thank the person who broke your heart for all those valuable lessons you couldn’t learn any other way.
Like anything else, it takes practice, patience, and hard work to get there. But first, you have to make the decision to try. I really think that’s where a lot of people get stuck.
So often, I find myself ⅔ into a long run or race and then hit a wall. I don’t want to keep going. I hate running. But I can’t stop because the only way back to my car is the feet I’m standing on.
At that point, I can stand there and hate myself until someone comes to save me or I can get over it and move on.
That decision is easy when you’re out in the middle of nowhere with zero cell service. It’s a little more difficult when you’re in a comfy bed and have to make the decision to get up and do it all over again, knowing you’re probably going to hit that same wall.
So, why do I do that?
Because it’s worth it. Because it makes me happy. Because spending long hours in the wilderness is how I find peace, humility, and pure joy in this world.
And, by this time, I’m well-aware that any pain I encounter along the way is only temporary.
Back to pain vs suffering — Running long distances has helped me understand my mind’s power over my body. Energy follows your train of thought. So, if you focus on how much something hurts, that’s all you’re going to experience.
For example, I’ve been having some foot problems this year. I started developing a bunion late last fall and then a Morton’s neuroma over the winter (I blame rental ski boots.) A neuroma is like a pinched nerve, and this type occurs between your third and fourth toes.
About 12 miles into my last 30k race, I started feeling pain shoot up the nerve every time I put my left foot down. Had I fixated on that pain, my thoughts for the last six miles would’ve gone something like this:
My foot hurts.
Who wants to think like that for an hour?
Not me. Not when I have beautiful scenery to drink in.
I choose not to suffer.
On that note, I’m happy to share that my foot is much better. I took a few days off of running after that race and then switched to shoes with a roomier toe box and more cushioning.
I also take Hammer Nutrition* Tissue Rejuvenator to reduce inflammation and promote joint health.
These happy feet are headed to Susanville tomorrow to run Paiute Meadows 50k. It’ll be my first 50k since I ran the same race in 2018, so I’m sure I’ll return with a fresh perspective on pain and ultrarunning ;)
I’ll let you know how it goes!
*I’m a Hammer-sponsored athlete. Enter my code: 270369 at checkout for 15% off your full order at hammernutrition.com
Cover photo by Revise_D
I’m back in rainy Dunsmuir after traveling to Moab for a mini racecation last weekend. The weather was perfect . Behind the Rocks wasn’t officially my first race of 2019, but it felt like it for so many reasons.
Moab is a beautiful and magical place that I was happy to re-visit, but to be completely honest, it took more effort just to get to the starting line of this race than to complete the distance on foot.
Part of that is because I treated the 30k as a training run. After a long, dark, and very snowy winter full of treadmill miles at the gym, I wasn’t exactly in peak shape. In fact, I haven’t run more than 11 miles since Headwaters 30k back in September.
On top of that, I’ve developed some foot problems that I believe were exacerbated by poorly fitting ski boots the week leading up to race day.
There’s nothing more nerve-raking than foot pain before a trail race.
Unless, of course, you need to fly to said race and aren’t allowed on the plane. And that’s exactly what happened to me.
I was on the verge of tears as I watched the plane I was supposed to be on slowly pull away from the gate. I didn’t show up late to the airport. On the contrary, I had been there for hours.
The original 6am Delta flight I had booked from Medford, Oregon to Salt Lake City, Utah was oversold. When they asked for volunteers to take a later flight, I told the Delta agent I had some flexibility as long as she assured me I would make it SLC with enough time to drive to Moab and sleep before the race.
She promised me she’d get me on an Alaska Airline flight that would land in SLC by 3pm. Good deal.
BUT someone messed up the ticket transfer. I had a seat reserved, but no actual boarding pass. So, the Alaska flight took off with at least one empty seat, meant for me.
Long story short- I spent more than six hours at the Medford airport, went through security three times, bounced back and forth between two airlines, fought back many tears, and ultimately made it out of that cesspool with a first class ticket to SLC and an $1800 gift card.
Sure, I had to go through hell, but at least I got paid $300 an hour for it.
When I landed in SLC, the car rental agent upgraded me to a Subaru, which I would say is absolutely necessary if you plan to do this race. Some less-rugged vehicles really struggled on the dirt road to the start/finish area.
The AWD Subaru also came in handy on the drive from SLC to Moab. The trip was four hours long and sketchy as hell. The road was twisted, slick, and quite perilous due to a heavy sleet storm.
But I made it to Moab alive, hungry, and very dehydrated, by 9pm.
The day before a race, I typically do an easy shakeout run, rest hard, and focus on hydration. I’m so grateful I wasn’t approaching this race competitively, because NONE of those things happened before Behind the Rocks.
My pre-race dinner was a grab n’ go kale salad with hummus and a microwave burrito from the grocery store. I felt like I had to move around a bit before going to bed, so I put on my Spotify ®unning playlist and danced around my hotel room.
At some point, I realized the people in the room below me probably didn’t appreciate my late-night jump squats and finally laid down to rest.
The next morning was equally hectic. I was wiped out and stayed in bed until the last possible moment. This, in turn, led to everything else getting held off until the last possible moment.
I picked up my race bib and swag two minutes before check-in for the 30k closed.
The closest thing I got to a warmup was the jog from my car to the porta potties. When I exited aforementioned potty, I heard the one-minute to go time announcement.
As I joined the pack of runners, I thought, “my body is going to hate me and it’s all my fault.”
But, I took it slow and actually felt pretty okay throughout the race and the rest of the weekend.
At one point during the race, I was very tempted to turn onto the 50k course. At around mile 8, there was a sign that pointed the 30k runners to the left and 50k/50M runners to the right.
I stood by that sign for a good 20 seconds, gazing longingly at the superior scenery offered by the longer race distances.
Even though the 50k had started an hour earlier, I assumed I was within cutoff. I had just passed a 50k runner who was moving very slowly, wearing two knee braces and using trail crutches (trekking poles).
When someone asked him if he needed help sliding down a slippery section of slick rock, he replied, “oh no, I’m fine… just taking a nice, leisurely, 32-mile nature hike.”
I love ultrarunners.
Ultimately, I made the right call in sticking with the 30k. Even though I felt good at the time, 8 miles is only 1/4 of the way through a 50k.
Besides, by the time I finished mile 12, I didn’t feel so keen on running anymore. At mile 17, I was thanking god it was almost over.
By the time I hit the finish, I felt like I’d run a 50k.
My body was tired and unaccustomed to that distance. Pins and needles shot up my left foot every time it contacted the ground.
The 30k race course was mostly on wide dirt roads with areas of loose sand and hard slick rock peppered throughout.
We lucked out with perfect weather- the sun stayed mostly hidden behind the clouds. I can imagine that race is far more challenging beneath a blazing sun.
I didn’t even care as other runners pushed past me just before the finish. I finished in 3:45. I just realized that’s actually the same time I had for Headwaters, so I guess the lack of preparedness didn’t hurt my performance all that much. (Though Headwaters is a much tougher race.)
I also approached both races with the same focus on enjoying every step as much as possible.
There were gorgeous, breathtaking views in every direction, relatively easy terrain, and very comfortable running temperatures.
After I finished, I met up with southern Oregon runners Chad Bowen and Kyle Carson, both of whom had run the 50k race. We hung out to watch Courtney Dauwalter win the 50 mile race and set a new course record in her basketball shorts, then headed out to enjoy all the bountiful splendor and watered-down beer that Moab has to offer.
I should mention that this trip was the first time I had a drink since my honeymoon last fall, so Mormon beer was actually perfect. (I totally had a glass of Prosecco on my first-class flight, too. I DESERVED IT!)
We spent the next day exploring Arches National Park, which was even more beautiful than the race course. Then, I was back off to SLC at 5:30am Monday morning.
If I did this again, I would definitely fly into Grand Junction, Colorado instead of SLC and travel on Thursday instead of Friday.
But the bottom line was good. I had tons of fun and feel motivated to get out for some longer training runs.
Thanks so much to Mad Moose Events for putting this race on, Hammer Nutrition for sponsoring me (and Behind the Rocks Ultra), and to Chad and Kyle for being hilarious adventure buddies.
I just want to note that this post contains 100% authentic content and wasn’t sponsored by anyone.
My husband and I both love gritty travel. In fact, our “third date” was a long-weekend road trip in his van. So, when we started thinking about what to do for our honeymoon, driving all the way down to Baja from our home in Northern California only made sense.
I had read somewhere that the concept of a honeymoon stemmed from a medieval custom. The community would supply newlyweds with enough mead (honey wine) to last a moon cycle (about a month).
Now, I’m far from traditional, but after learning this fun fact I quickly became obsessed with planning my honeymoon around… the moon.
I figured we’d just drink tequila instead of mead.
We should’ve called it a cactusmoon!
Getting to the border
With such a long trip, I thought it’d be easier to write a series of shorter posts. This first section takes you from NorCal to just south of the Mexican border.
- Car trouble
- Glorious sunsets
- One very (!!!) important thing we forgot to do at the border
What we packed and what we missed
We left Dunsmuir right after the new moon in November. We’d done quite a bit of research on Baja road trips and thought we had some idea of what to expect.
My parents hooked us up with their timeshare at a resort in San Jose del Cabo and we planned to camp in the Sprinter most other nights.
We stocked up on what we thought were the essentials:
- About 10 gallons of water (which lasted from the border until we got to the resort)
- Camp chairs with little umbrellas (we never used the umbrellas)
- Snorkel gear (which broke in the water – don’t buy snorkel gear at Walmart)
- A Baja camping guide book borrowed from a friend, which turned out to be very helpful
What I wish we had brought was:
- A month’s supply of Northbound coffee from Mount Shasta
- Approximately an equal amount of IPA
- More than one spare tire to fit the Sprinter
- A tourist visa
- The dogs (we missed our pups so much, we came back with a Mexican one!)
Our trip started out on a funny foot. As we drove south, we saw the very beginnings of the Camp fire, which turned out to be the deadliest and most destructive wildfire in California history!
I remember trying to drive beneath the dark cloud of smoke. I was so anxious, I had to ask Jason to take over!
(He would end up driving for at least 90% of the entire trip. Bless him.)
Our first bout of car trouble
Shortly after clearing the Camp fire, we stopped for diesel in Stockton.
It was almost dark by that time, so we talked about how much farther we might want to go before finding a place to sleep. As it happens, the van wanted to sleep right there.
She wouldn’t turn on.
Dead as a doornail.
Jason either jiggled some wires or got a jump to get the engine going again, but we clearly had a problem.
It was too late to do anything about it then, so we spent the night at a truck stop in Stockton. Then, we spent the entire next morning in the Autozone parking lot, where Jason figured out how to replace the alternator by watching Russian Youtube videos.
Since we lost half a day to the Sprinter repair, we only made it as far as Bakersfield for our next stop. This truck stop was much nicer and warmer.
We did kettlebell workouts in the parking lot and then shared a truck stop shower.
Before you judge, I just want to say that truck stop showers are 100% worth the $12 or whatever they charge. I’ve yet to use one that isn’t spotlessly clean and pleasant!
Crossing the border
After Bakersfield, we swung by Whole Paycheck to stock up on American food before making the final push for the border.
I’m proud to report that I drove through LA during rush hour traffic without having a complete meltdown!
However, I was nervous about driving an enormous van through the traffic at the San Ysidro-Tijuana border. We weren’t sure what to expect, but agreed we weren’t expecting it to be that easy.
We forgot something very important
Crossing from the United States into Mexico is a breeze. The “officials” (or whoever we talked to) basically waved us through and told us to enjoy our trip.
No one told us we needed to get tourist visas at the immigration center.
(To be fair, the blogs and books we read did include this information, but they also said no one ever bothered to check visas there.)
So, we ended up crossing illegally without the proper documents.
Later, we paid for it with a hefty fine.
When I say fine, I mean the standard fine + a 100% bonus for the officers themselves.
I’ll explain more about our near-detainment when we get to that point in the story!
Bottom line is: make sure you get your tourist visa just in case there’s an immigrant caravan or some other situation that creates heightened drama at the border. You never know!
First stop- Rosarito
We didn’t know we were illegal until our way back north, a few weeks later. Our first mission after crossing the border was the get as far from the city of Tijuana as possible before dark.
We stopped at km58 campground in Rosarito right as the sun was disappearing over the horizon.
Though we were dreaming of fish tacos, the nearby restaurant we walked to only served (Mexican) Thai food and pizza!
It was okay, there would be many fish and shrimp tacos in our future.
And a couple lobsters, too!
We fell asleep with the van doors open, listening to the waves crash on the beach below.
That’s where I’m going to leave you for now.
More to come!
I may have waited a while to write my first race report of 2019, but I certainly started the new year the best way I could think of — a trail race! I registered for Clikapudi Trail Runs half marathon on an impulse shortly before Christmas.
Not sure what inspired me to wander over to ultrasignup that day, but when I saw there was a race coming up in Redding on New Year’s Day — one that I’d heard good things about — I had to go for it.
But I hesitated.
Before I completed the registration with my payment info, I suddenly found myself wondering if I could even run 13.1 miles.
Of course, I went ahead and signed up anyway!
“Can you just do that!?” asked a friend, an equal mix of disbelief and admiration apparent in her voice.
“We’ll find out!” was my equally doubtful response. But I went on to explain that I had every confidence in my ability to move 13 miles, it was only a matter of how much pain I’d feel as a result of such an endeavor.
The thing is, ever since my very first marathon (almost 10 years ago, now!) I’ve been able to stay in what I call “halfie shape.” Even if I wasn’t training for a specific race, I wanted to always be able to at least run 13 miles on any given day.
I suppose part of the allure of Clikapudi Trail Runs was the opportunity to test my fitness.
Was I still in halfie shape?
Well, my friends, I still don’t know.
A little pre-race crankiness
January 1 just so happened to be smack in the middle of my period. Without sharing too much info, my monthly visit from Auntie Flo is usually enough to skip a workout in favor of staying in bed with a heating pad for at least one day.
Lucky me- January 1 was that day!
I didn’t skip the race.
But, on my drive down, I started thinking about how easy it would be to run the 10k distance instead. (The half marathon was basically two loops of the 10k course.)
This temptation only amplified when I arrived at the start.
The first thing I learned upon pulling into the parking lot was that the restrooms were locked so everyone had to jog/drive about a half mile down to the boat ramp where two heavily used porta-potties were waiting. By the time I got there, they’d already just about run out of toilet paper.
I was already cranky before learning this, but my mood sunk even lower as I stepped outside and realized how windy it was.
I did not pack a windbreaker. Or toilet paper.
So there I was, standing in line for the porta-potties and shivering when I made the firm decision to run a fun 10k instead of the half marathon.
I don’t like falling short of the expectations I set for myself, but I had to be honest. What I really wanted to do that day was snuggle on the couch with my dogs… and a heating pad.
I also decided to wear my warm insulating layer until I got too hot.
After I made that call, the pressure lifted. I always enjoy races more when my goal is to have fun instead of proving something to myself. You can’t lose when you make feeling good your top priority.
A change of vibes
Before gathering at the start line, I saw a bunch of friends I didn’t even know were going to be there. It was so nice to start the year off doing something I love with friends who came out there for the same reason.
Among them was supreme badass and fitness coach Molly Schmelzle, who would win the half marathon, and local trail sister Heather Banos, who took 3rd in the 5k race.
My mood brightened considerably as we huddled near the start line.
Shasta Trail Runs race director Ryan Spitz congratulated us all for being there and announced it was his first year organizing Clikapudi. He stood there, bright-eyed and bushy-bearded, beaming at the crowd as he prepared us to start.
By that time, I was stoked again to be there. Proud of myself for getting up early on a day I’d traditionally be hungover and starting the new year with a trail race.
After we set off, the 5k runners turned right and the rest went left. After about 3 miles, I finally warmed up and shed my jacket.
Even though my mood was much improved, I was still moving pretty slow. It took another mile or so of trotting before I powered-up and started passing people.
Soon after that, it struck me that I was, in fact, running a race and not participating in a leisurely group run. I also realized that the faster I ran, the sooner I’d be back home and cozy beneath a dog pile.
I picked up my step with newfound energy and actually felt really, really good.
Half the race distance, all the feels
When I came to the first aid station, the volunteer looked at my bib and instructed me to continue on straight. I paused to let everyone know I decided to drop down to the 10k distance instead.
Then, I took off toward the finish.
My final time was 1:06 and change. Not a PR by any means, but I was excited just to get an official time instead of a DNF! Many races wouldn’t count my time unless I finished the distance I signed up for, especially with such a last-minute change.
***You can read about my 10k PR race here***
Overall, I’m grateful for the experience and would recommend this race. It’s really the perfect way to start the year on the right foot (LOL)!
I know. I KNOW! I just wrote a year-end review last week. It may seem odd that I’m posting another review, but let me explain…
Initially, I meant to write about how great I feel after not drinking for a month. Yesterday marked a full month since I’ve had a sip of anything stronger than kombucha, and I’m feeling like a MILLION BUCKS.
But I felt conflicted. Maybe I’m a little anal, but isn’t it wrong to have the second-to-last post in my blog be a yearly recap. Shouldn’t it be the final one?
Shouldn’t it be THE END!?
And then, I read an oldsk00l Livejournal-style year-end review by the amazing Gala Darling and felt inspired.
(Who else had a Livejournal? I think my username may have been ithurtstosmile.)
The perks of sobriety shall wait for later months.
And now, as I sip on sparkling water with a splash of pomegranate juice (poured in a wine glass so it looks like rosé), I’d like to share my SECOND review of 2018!!!
What did you do in 2018 that you’d never done before?
I got married! Swam with whale sharks. Climbed an indoor rock wall. Cross-country skied. Visited Mexico. Hmm, there’s probably more I’m forgetting.
OH! J and I went to Costco for the first time as a married couple and bought the two-pack of electric toothbrushes! What an exciting day that was!
Did you keep your new year’s resolutions, and will you make more for next year?
I don’t think I made any resolutions last year… but today I did do a little New Year’s Eve ritual inspired by Terri Cole. I made a list of crap to leave behind in 2018, then made a list of gems I extracted from the crap. Then, I burned the crap list, flushed it down the toilet where it belongs, and danced around my house singing, “I’M FREE!”
You should do it, too!
Did anyone close to you give birth?
No. BUT my cousin and sis-in-law are both pregnant! I’m gonna be an auntie in 2019!
Did anyone close to you die?
Yes. My family lost Grandpa Bill, my last living grandparent. He passed away in August just shy of his 92nd birthday. Rest in Peace, Pa Bill. You are loved and missed.
And a friend/guy I used to date took his life in March. He was almost 34.
What countries did you visit?
Mexico (Baja California) and the Bahamas (Bimini). We also drove across the country, up and down the east coast, and back to Cali via the southern route.
What would you like to have in 2019 that you lacked in 2018?
A SUP and hundreds of thousands of dollars. And nice eyebrows.
Did you suffer illness or injury?
Gah! I think I have a bunion on my left foot. I can’t believe it happened to me…
What was the best thing you bought?
A standing desk from Uplift Desk. Life-changing.
What did you get really, really, really excited about?
Ya know, my wedding was pretty damn fun. There were a lot of other things, like landing a couple of great clients, traveling with my husband, and some absolutely epic nachos, but the wedding kind of takes the cake.
FYI- we didn’t have a wedding cake. No one even eats that shit.
What song will always remind you of 2018?
Compared to this time last year, are you:
i. Happier or sadder?
Sooooooo much happy <3
ii. Thinner or fatter?
A few pounds less ;)
iii. Richer or poorer?
Waaaaay the fuck richer! This time last year was the poorest I can remember.
What do you wish you’d done more of?
Spending QUALITY time with friends! Like, the sit on your couch (or run through the woods) and talk non-stop for hours kind. I can get way too reclusive in my work-from-home lifestyle.
What do you wish you’d done less of?
Complaining. Questioning myself. Negative self-talk. Saying yes to things I didn’t want to do.
I’m done with all that shit! Goodbye!
How will you be spending Christmas?
Jason and I spent Christmas in our little house in Dunsmuir. I missed my family, but didn’t have the energy to travel after the wedding and honeymoon.
What was the most embarrassing thing that happened to you in 2018?
My dog barks at old people sometimes. That’s really embarrassing.
Did you fall in love in 2018?
Yes! More and more, every day <3
How many one-night stands?
Just the one that never left and vowed he never would.
What was your favorite TV program?
I started and finished Breaking Bad. It really messed with me at the end. I still talk about it and feel like I need a support group.
Do you hate anyone now that you didn’t hate this time last year?
No- I don’t hate anyone. I can’t think of a single enemy in my personal life.
What was the best book you read?
I’ve been working my way through the Outlander series.
Only three more to go!
What did you do on your birthday, and how old were you?
I turned 35 in Arcata, California. Jason and I stayed in a creepy old hotel and scouted out our wedding “venue.”
How would you describe your personal fashion concept in 2018?
One word. Mermaid.
What kept you sane?
I have never been sane.
What political issue stirred you the most?
This question deserves a whole blog post to itself. We’re currently led by a boar with a firecracker up his butt who’s dragging our nation through a field of post-Bonnaroo porta-potties.
Every day I strive to keep the bile down. I will not end this year in anger. NEXT QUESTION!
Who was the best new person you met?
Oooh, that’s a fun one! I’ve met many new badass babes at races, fitnazz class, and social gatherings. I can’t choose just one, but I love and am grateful for you all!
Tell us a valuable life lesson you learned in 2018:
There were many, but I’d say the most important one is this:
Life is always better with a dog.
There you have it! Words to live by.
Well, my friends, it’s midnight somewhere! I raise my glass of fizzy fruit juice to you!
HAPPY NEW YEAR!
Thank you so much for reading and following my adventures this year. You’re awesome! I’d love to read YOUR review, too!
Today’s the day after Christmas. I’m supposed to be at the ski park with my husband (big news!) but instead, I’m home with a sore back. So, I decided to make the most of my sidelined state and write a long-overdue update that doubles as my new year review.
I know, it’s been a while since you’ve heard from me. I’m sorry, but I can explain!
2018 was an intense year full of growth. Rapid growth — the kind that makes you simultaneously grateful it happened and relieved that it’s over.
And on that note, here are my high- and low-lights from 2018:
A perfect October wedding
This was definitely the most major thing to happen all year. It was a whirlwind adventure that started out as an idea to get eloped and blossomed into a legitimate, if unconventional, wedding.
I think we surprised a lot of people with our sudden engagement and fast wedding. I was pretty shocked, myself. If you’d told me this time last year that I was going to get hitched in 2018, I’d say no way. I’d be too busy training for my first 100-miler.
But the Universe had her own plans…
The worst fire season ever
Starting in early July, when my husband and three of his co-workers had to evacuate their farm and camp out at my house, this summer was filled with smoke and devastation.
It’s not uncommon for California to burn in the dry season, but this year was next level. We’re talking several weeks of smoke-filled skies. Ash falling from the sky. No direct sunlight.
I could go on, but you should just read my post about it here
The air quality was deemed unhealthy for running so races were canceled. Of course, we ran anyway. And we suffered for it.
NOT running 100 miles
As it happens, I never made it off the waitlist for Mountain Lakes 100-miler. If I’d gotten in, I probably wouldn’t have been fit enough to finish because of how the smoky summer affected my training.
I’m not actually upset about this. The way I see it- the same areas probably won’t burn again any time soon. I also won’t be getting married again. Without those two huge factors deterring me, I’m fucking unstoppable in the new year.
A honeymoon road trip to Baja
Baja easily tops my list of travel destinations! So much to write about, I’m going to make a separate post.
Perhaps the most important thing, though, is what we came back with another dog.
We left our three dogs in the US while we traveled, which proved to be a big mistake.
As you may know, I’m a great dog lover.
We missed them so much that we took extra time to love every other dog we met. At one campground we stayed at, the owner had four other dogs and kept telling us we could take this one, so we did.
She’s healthy, spayed, housebroken, and about 6 years old. We’re fostering her until we find the right furever home.
Interested? Shoot me an email.
She also doesn’t bark.
There were also races
Amidst all that, I ran two races: Headwaters 30k and Paiute Meadows 50k.
Two may seem like a low number, but it was a crazy year. In fact, I ran Headwaters only two weeks before my wedding so you could still see my skinned knees through my white fishnets!
On days I couldn’t run, I focused on strength training, physical therapy for my piriformis syndrome, and improving my nutrition.
I look forward to further upping my food game with the books I got for Christmas!
With this setup, I have no doubt 2019 is going to be the best year yet!
BRING IT ON
I hope you enjoyed my yearly review!