The Remix 50k Race Recap.

It was a tough but beautiful weekend out on the ranch! I’m pretty much hurting this morning after 33+ miles on the trails (+ a near 60 mile running week) but here to recap my comeback race – the REMIX 50k! Yes, a trail race that was the real deal!! I was so excited to actually be racing something that was not virtual. So let’s get straight to the nitty gritty of it all…

I made my way down to 7IL Ranch late Friday evening just in time to shower and lay my head down. There was definitely an opportunity to camp but I decided to go ahead and grab a hotel spot nearby. Having a cozy bed and little luxury before a run is my version of ‘glamping’…

Saturday morning I made it to the ranch and we lined up and the gun went right off promptly at 7AM. The loops were over 16.5 miles each, and mostly comprised of ranch trails with an abundance of deep loose sand. Not only sand but those sticky burr things that stick to your shoes! There were quite a few on a certain part of the course – so much that at one point they were all over my pants and shoes! So that ended up being quite challenging. After a while I just got used to the pain and kept it pushing.

Aside from the rough terrain, we were dealing with lots of humidity due to the passing Hurricane Delta. And temps pushed towards 90 degrees in the afternoon. The trail did not have much shade so it turned into a mission of sheer survival! The Trail Racing Over Texas peeps always do a phenomenal job of taking care of the folks on the course so the aid stations were on point. We also had to keep our masks on us at all times when going through the main loop and start/finish. During the race we were allowed to remove them to breathe which was lovely. They took our temps and made us sign waivers as well. I was really pleased with how they did things in that manner.

Overall I felt like my comeback race went well! It just felt so dang GOOD to be back racing again!! You could tell everyone was just so happy to be back in that element. My legs and feet got tired of the sand by about mile 20 and I was ready to call it quits. But my heart and spirit were flying high and feeling good. So I think the sheer adrenaline was what made me make that finish line. Especially with minimal training during this trying time. Not super fast, not winning any number 1 female awards. But just enjoying every mile and back to enjoying the incredible trail family community that I know and love.

Some days, that is all it is about. Just being out there, being present. Relentless forward motion.

Another 50k is done. AND THEN SOME.

I placed among top ten for females so I will take it. 

And a sweet freaking medal I will cherish forever.

Share how your weekend went with me! Have you done any trail running lately??

Running the Rose Race Recap.

“Nature reveals to us a beautiful part of ourselves we could not find anywhere else” – Kristen Butler

I have to say, the start of 2020 so far has brought many unexpected turns. For me, this has come in the form of running and also with life. My running lately has taken a bit of a backseat just dealing with life challenges and things. Career, life, and everything has just been a bit of a balancing act. I really want to find my joy and passion with my miles again this year. So, I decided to hit the trails for an ULTRA with Trail Racing Over Texas.

The trail community over the years for me has been a God send. They always embrace me, no matter how long of an absence I take from the dirt path. There truly is no other tribe like the trail running one. I’m always so happy to know that I always have a home with this particular family.

As far as East Texas goes, I haven’t run a race out in the piney woods in about 2 years. The last time I was at Tyler State Park, I ran a 100k and was the FIRST and ONLY female to finish that race! It was a victory I was so super proud of. So I do have so many amazing memories there. Plus being surrounded by such a woodsy wonderland just makes spending the day out there that much more amazing. I did not have a true goal for this go round. I knew TROT would put on a great race, and Running the Rose was a great first trail race for 2020. I was very happy with my choice.

The 33 mile distance started promptly at 7:15 AM, and we were off into the woods. Race morning I felt enthusiastic but not sure of how the day would go. As we were in line I remember hearing a lady say that she broke her ankle the last time she ran this race, and her goal this year was just to not have any broken bones. That kind of stuck in my head at the beginning of this race and I knew I needed to watch my footing especially since trail running as of late was certainly not my strong suit. Granted I did complete a 62 mile trail race in October and PR’d (woot) however I do way more runs on pavement than I’d like to admit. The only thing that I knew would be my saving grace was the fact that my weekly miles have stayed solid – and I do a fair amount of cross training. Mentally, I also knew I could handle and go the distance. So, off we went.

We started out on a MAJOR climb into the woods, with lots of rocks and roots grabbing at us along the way. I was navigating pretty slowly since I knew I had a long day ahead of me. It was great seeing lots of trail friends new and old out there. Lots of folks that just looked happy to be running, others that looked like they were in super competitive mode and going for blood. It was super inspiring to see all of it.

As we are climbing a hill, I hear a lady’s voice call out my name right behind me. I realize it is one of my Dallas Dirt Runner friends and we both start gabbing away and catching up. She ended up doing the same distance with me and we were both keeping a solid pace together. Power hiking climbs and picking up the pace running the dirt stretches. I’m very used to doing trail ultras alone, so it was so amazing to have company the entire way. We decided we were going to hang onto each other and I was glad we did.

Since the loops were 11 miles long we did this loop 3 times- with aid station stops in between. I fueled as much as I could at each station, grabbing whatever looked good at the time. PB&J mini sandwiches, pickle slices, electrolyte beverage, water. Repeat.

Around the end of loop 2, my legs started feeling a tad stiff and my feet were heavy. But I kept pushing. Energy wise I was in good spirits though, and I did not worry at all about pace. That is actually something that I never worry about and is for me what makes being out on trails much more enjoyable. Just taking in nature, with no worries and going at my pace. I really did not enjoy being on trails, until I let go of that ROAD RUNNER mentality. Yep, I was once that pace obsessed road runner so I get it.

As I get older though, I just appreciate the beauty of movement, the beauty of pushing myself, and the beauty of ME vs. ME. And nothing else.

Our victory lap was great and I was thankful to have my DDR friend with me for that 3rd and last loop. She encouraged me to keep going when my smile was starting to fade.

I think in this life its easy to want to just fight alone, and rely on self to stay strong. But there are times when you need people. People in your life to pick you up when you’re down, to tell you that things will work out in the end. I’m so thankful I have a tribe like that in my life to keep me encouraged.

And when it was all said and done, I went out there and said what I was going to do. I spent the day in the woods, falling back in love with the trails, with people that I love in this life.

I wouldn’t have had it any other way.

Thank you, Running the Rose. First trail race of 2020 is complete. I am up for more.

Results can be found here.

Anyone else run Running the Rose?! Share your war stories with me!

2019 DanMan Challenge Recap.

So I believe in previous years I have skipped doing a recap on this race (because hey, no time cutoffs, no medal…NO RECOGNITION?!) What can I say, I am a millennial and I like to be recognized from time to time. But since this race has become a staple on my race calendar I figured hey, why not? This is the third year in a row that I’ve done the DanMan and I absolutely love it every year. Even with the usually very unpredictable weather! This year I signed up for the marathon distance and it proved to be quite the adventure.

So the DanMan Challenge is a race that my trail run group, the Dallas Dirt Runners, do every year…some years we camp out there and other years we drive up the morning of. It is just under a 2 hour drive outside of Dallas, and the run starts at 8 a.m. We sign up online, and Jackie who is Dan’s assistant (Dan owns the ranch property and is basically the big wig of this country Oklahoma town) sends you an email of confirmation that you are in the race.

The race has a 10k, half marathon, full marathon as well as a 50 mile option! Since the marathon distance is right on par with my back to back long run training for Hachie 50 I was all in for 26.2. My friend Lisa and I drove out EARLY on Saturday (5 a.m.) and made the trek. We were quite concerned about the weather, as there were thunderstorms in the forecast for the morning.

We drove up there and got there about half an hour early, parked on the ranch and met up with some good buddies also doing the race. Dan’s camp provides a pancake breakfast, and lets you inside of his home to hang and get your things ready for the race. It really is one MASSIVE party. And one that I super enjoy. Dan actually just completed the World Marathon Challenge (7 marathons in 7 continents in 7 days) and had all of his swag and pictures up on the wall. I thought that was pretty cool and fun to show off to inspire all of the runners.

We line up and of course with it being an untimed, no cutoff type of race…we start around 8:20 ish. Dan made a quick speech and we were off. The race has 2 loops, a 6 mile loop and then a 7 mile loop- the marathoners do each loop twice. Which is great because it gives you a chance to get back to the main ‘aid station’ which is his house/back patio area where they had a TON of snacks, treats, and hydration. So you could fuel up before heading back out for the next loop.

The race started out with a bit of drizzle which was quite pleasant and felt nice out there, fairly decent temps in the 60s with a solid amount of humidity. I wore a light jacket but instantly got warm and had to shed that. There were also a fair amount of climbs on the 6 mile loop trail..then the 7 mile one to me was a tad more runnable. I felt excellent the first two loops, chatting with my DDR friends and rocking and rolling along.

The third loop is where things got a little more real. We headed back out onto the 6 mile slightly more technical loop and it that is when the storm moved in. We had it all…wind…lightning (and yeah RUN AT YOUR OWN risk cuz they ain’t cancelling the race plus you’ve signed a waiver, etc) and heavy downpour for a good hour. The third loop was VERY intense and muddy and almost made me want to throw in the towel. This was where I had wished I downgraded to the half because I was ankle deep into the mud. I circled back onto the jeep road which led back to Dan’s house and really was ready to call it a day as I hit mile 19. I’m thinking okay…I ran 15 miles yesterday…19 miles today…that is some dang solid training! I would be super happy ending it there. But you know…the inner coach in my mind stepped in and just was not having it. I’m like…okay really Chelsea…7 miles to go…the 7 mile loop is the one you like, remember? Just crank your tunes up and freaking rock.IT.OUT. So that, my friends, is what I did.

I was literally jamming out to Spotify and at some point the rain just completely stopped. I was oh so happy!! I got separated from my friends (some slowed down, others sped up) so I was basically on the LAST 7 mile loop all alone. But I had my music and my crazy hard headed self that just would not let me quit. With the sun coming out I picked up the pace and felt freaking great. The shuffling picked up and I started climbing those muddy hills with a vengeance. Eventually I caught up to some friends that had sped up and we all kind of finished together. I finished that darn muddy tough trail race in 5 hours and some change and really felt good about it. Great day, strong trail run and got some kickass training in.

After the run we all grabbed some phenomenal BBQ- smoked brisket, homemade catfish and potato salad, baked beans, and even pie. And the best sweet tea you will ever have in life. I also brought a honey pear cider from home as my reward- from my favorite cider place in Ft. Worth. It was the icing on the cake for sure. And all was well in the world.

Overall I absolutely LOVE this run and highly recommend it if you are a short drive away from North Texas/Oklahoma! Great way to run and enjoy a very laid back spring trail race with good people. And get some SERIOUS grub that is all freaking free.

How was your weekend? Anyone else participate in the DanMan Challenge?

Brazos Bend 100 Mile Recap.

Hey ya’ll- I’m back from Brazos Bend 100! That’s right, I have lived and survived another ULTRA race. My experience was definitely one with a lot of ups and downs but absolutely incredible and I’m super eager to share it with you! Let’s backtrack a bit to the night before.

I arrived to Brazos Bend State Park in the evening and got all settled in the shelter. They are like mini cabins, with electricity, a fan and we had showers and restrooms nearby. It was SO nice to have a lodging area right at the site of where the race was. This made for a stress free morning and I was fired up and ready to go for the 6 AM start. This was my 2nd 100 miler so for the most part I knew what to expect, I had my nutrition plan/hydration dialed in and ready to go.

The 100 mile course itself is a 16.74 mile loop a total of 6 times. It winds around through the state park and into the woods a bit, which is a totally dirt trail with lots of mud. Since it rained pretty steady down in the Houston area, the ground was super saturated. Which proved to make for an interesting terrain! There was a LOT of mud on the course that was super deep, and almost sucked your shoes right off of you. So, that was quite interesting.

The beginning of this race, I started out pretty conservative and felt rather good. Energy wise, I was feeling great and so very happy- a few of my friends from the Dallas Dirt Runners were even there to join the party. I also know a few people from the Trail Racing Over Texas clan (which is mostly based out of the Houston area) so it was nice to see SO many familiar faces. And unlike at Rocky Raccoon (my 1st 100 miler last year) the loops were short, and with nearly 900 RUNNERS (!) you never felt alone on the trail or anywhere along the course.

The entire day mostly was just trucking along in the mud and me constantly assessing how my body felt running through the muddy terrain. Going into this race I did know that I wanted to run a fairly faster race than last year, but with the course being so messed up due to weather, I was starting to feel like this was not within reach. We also saw a TON of folks drop out in all distances (ranging from the half marathon to 100 miles) really due to not being able to run the course because it was so muddy. But I knew I did not come here to sell myself short and quit early. Because if there’s anything about me that stands strong it is the fact that I am stubborn as all hell and I WILL NOT let my brain tell me that I cannot do something. Where there’s a will, there’s a hell of a way.

So I kept on trucking until my pacer, Kevin joined me for my 4th loop. For those of you that have been faithfully following along this was my pacer that ran with me at Rocky last year. I knew the minute I signed up for this race that I wanted Kevin to run with me through the night. Sometimes in life you just meet those people, who just kind of GET you. And get your crazy. I feel like Kevin is one of those people. So…we went through the night, and talked and talked and laughed and hallucinated together in the dark and he literally kept me awake when I wanted to sleep run/power hike. I did reach a few low points during this race, and Kevin was right there to talk some sense into me. I knew with Kevin there, there was no way I was going to quit. Sometimes you just need those people, to remind you of your incredible strength and power.

As far as the aid stations on the course, again this time I just took advantage of everything on the course. I was so thankful this time my body never felt weak and my tummy didn’t give up on me. I think I ate and drank at appropriate times and the incredible volunteers made sure we were so well taken care of! Rob Goyen, the race director definitely makes sure all aid stations are well stocked and it is honestly one of the best run trail racing situations I’ve seen in my years of doing this. I honestly want to run more of his races now that I know how organized everything is. It definitely makes for an incredible race experience despite the conditions.

So, we reached loop 6 (MY LAST LOOP! Hallelujah) and I was able to grab a 2nd pacer since Kevin had run with me throughout the night. My friend, Robin who is a very seasoned ultra runner, got me through the morning hours. At this point, my legs were absolutely trashed. There’s just no way of getting around that fact, at mile 80 something, when you want to throw in the towel the most. I mean I think I power hiked a majority of that loop because I just felt like I could not go anymore. But she made sure I kept going, and distracted me with talk of her current races and just life in general. It was fun having that “girl talk” coffee chat in the morning- to get me through it as the sun was starting to rise.

The last stretch I started to become worried that I may not beat my time from last year, simply because the mud was so relentless that entire course. My calves were starting to give out completely on me, and a few times I needed to stop and stretch and reassess. Robin told me she had done a 100 mile mountain race recently that she had to back out of and DNF (did not finish). She quit because the weather conditions were tough and things just weren’t going well. She said “I had to DNF and it is still something that’s staying with me and I can’t shake to this day. If you feel like you can keep going, do it.” The words she said, stuck with me. I didn’t care what the outcome was going to be at that point or if I PR’d. I wanted that buckle more than anything in the world.

The buckle represents so much literal blood, emotions, and strength that the day holds. I wanted to go home with a sense of proud accomplishment, something that no one could take away from me. It is something honestly that you can’t explain in an Instagram caption or Facebook post. Or to a coworker who asks you what you did over the weekend. It stays with you, and in the weak moments in life, it’s there to remind you of that day you overcame weakness, tears and just continued to press forward when hope was lost.

And when it was all said and done, I finished the mission with a finish time that I was super proud of. I set a PR, a personal record and slashed off 20+ minutes off of my last 100 mile finish.

I absolutely loved this course and will definitely return. It was funny because I think around 1 AM or so I told Kevin, “I don’t think I’m cut out for 100 milers. This is just not my thing”. But now, I’m thinking of returning to the distance, in some capacity. Isn’t that how it always happens? Except, us 100 mile runners, we have a few screws loose. That is for sure.

“I’m convinced that a lot of people run ultramarathons for the same reason they take mood-altering drugs. I don’t mean to minimize the gifts of friendship, achievement, and closeness to nature that I’ve received in my running career. But the longer and farther I ran, the more I realized that what I was often chasing was a state of mind – a place where worries that seemed monumental melted away, where the beauty and timelessness of the universe, of the present moment, came into sharp focus.”
― Scott Jurek, Eat and Run: My Unlikely Journey to Ultramarathon Greatness

How was your weekend? Any more ultrarunnner unicorns out there? Share your battle stories with me!

Revel Big Cottonwood Marathon Recap.

Picture this…you’re running a marathon while surrounded by big, majestic trees…on a canyon…with waterfalls sprinkled throughout. It’s fairly quiet, and everywhere you look just takes your breath away. You’re literally flying down the canyon for miles and miles and your feet just cannot stop going. Sounds incredible, right?! Sounds like simply the most PERFECT race scenario. Right? Well, in theory…absolutely. So, allow me to tell you about my experience running the Revel Big Cottonwood marathon. Grab a seat, and a snack and I shall tell you the tale.

I arrived to Salt Lake City on Friday night…the night before my race. I stayed at a beautiful AirBnB…a historic cottage in downtown Salt Lake. This was probably one of the most eclectic AirBnBs I’ve stayed at, and I’ve stayed at a few across the U.S. The bathroom had a clawfoot tub and a shower with shower heads that came out from different directions. To say I took the most heavenly shower that evening is just an understatement. The host even had epsom salt bath products and all kinds of lovely amenities. It was the most perfect situation after dealing with a flight delay and long travel.

I woke up SUPER early Saturday morning feeling relaxed and rather well rested. I grabbed my things and headed over to Cottonwood Heights, where the race was held. Thankfully since I arrived late Friday, the race staff so graciously let me pick up my race packet the DAY of. This was so awesome and I was so very grateful for their kindness. I got in the shuttle with my things and took a quick pic of my race bib for social media since I knew my friends would be tracking my progress.

Just after 6 AM we arrived to the top of the canyon where the race would start – at over 9,000 feet of elevation! There were tons of folks lined up fired up and ready to go. The gun took off, and we were off down STEEP canyon as we watched the sun rise.

The first few miles were quite lovely…I enjoyed bombing down the hill and it felt like that first drop of a roller coaster. There was a quick incline up mile 3-4 or so that sorta kinda slowed me down…but then we continued firing down the canyon. Man…this is awesome…I thought to myself. I turned my music up as we continued on down the drop. This continued on and I continued feeling alright towards the half marathon mark. I finished the half at 1:56 and felt okay. Not amazing, but okay. I also kind of felt like the altitude was starting to do something to my body. I couldn’t quite put my finger on what was happening. But…at a few points it felt like it was a struggle to get my breathing straight and I just felt winded. Like my mojo was slowly slipping away. And that, it was indeed.

We reached about mile 16 or so, continuing to bomb down this same mountain. My legs started talking back to me angrily. Calves, hamstrings…everything just started to NOT feel good. I never had them seize up or anything. It actually just got to a point where I didn’t feel like I could go any further. This was here that I wanted to find a sag wagon and for real call it a damn day. Why was this happening? It made me mad. It made me feel defeated. I had trained my tail off for this race. Granted…we have no real mountains in Dallas and training for altitude changes is not really an option. But. This year, I took a different strategy. I focused more on the marathon distance (as opposed to my usual ULTRA stuff), speed, hill repeats. Everything a good lil marathon runner is supposed to do. Rest. Recovery. Cross training. A tad…less mileage. Last year around this time I was running 90-100 mile weeks. It was starting to feel like I did the hard and fast work for nothing. As I watched pace group after pace group pass me…I knew that this wasn’t going to be my best day. We kept bombing down the hill until we reached mile 18. And then. This was where it got REAL.

The course kind of bottoms out to the canyon floor and then starts going through the city. We do this out and back that is in the straight up SUN. Temps were close to the 90 degree mark that day and the sun was in absolute full effect. The out and back apparently is where everyone just kind of falls apart. It becomes a walk-a-thon of sorts. I have honestly never seen SO MANY people start walking during a marathon like I did here. And also it was here that I started walk/run/shuffling. I stopped to use the restroom twice and really just tried to keep my legs going as much as possible. The legs were toast after flying down the canyon.

I reached mile 23, I started wagering with myself. From now on…don’t stop running. Even if the run is slow. Go. It’s a 5k to the finish and you have no excuse. I also knew that I would never forgive myself if I let my marathon time creep to the 5 hour mark. You are not a punk ass. You are not a quitter. Go and when you see the finish. Go harder. Relentless forward motion.

When I saw that finish I was overjoyed and relieved. It took me back to the days where, when I would see a finish line, I would literally start crying as I ran towards it. It was a somewhat emotional finish. NOT because I ran a PR. Not because it was some strong monumental finish time.

Because I talked myself out of quitting this race. Because I traveled all the way to Utah from Texas, alone.

I did not have a cheer section or a husband that greeted me with flowers at the finish line. I did not have a pacer or someone on the course kissing my ass and telling me how amazing I am. I did what I went there to do. I gutted it out. I finished a hard ass race. At high elevation and altitude. Something I’ve never done before. I’ve run 50ks, I’ve done 50 milers, 100k. 100 miles. None of these races took out of me, what Big Cottonwood did. And, it truly gave me the mental fortitude to know that when the chips are down- when shit falls apart, that I can tough it out and finish what I started. Even if it hurts. Even if the outcome is NOT AT ALL what I expected. There will be another day for a PR and a chance to brag to my friends and social media about what happened. And when that comes, it will be lovely. The rough days are what makes the good days even better.

There I am, smiling when I felt like absolute shit. Sometimes you have to smile, through the bullshit.

So. Thank you, Revel Big Cottonwood! Thank you for showing me what I’m made of. And thank you running, for continuing to show me that I’m stronger than I think I am. Hey Revel. I can’t say I’ll be back for your race anytime soon. But you did show me what you needed to show me at the time and for that – I am absolutely grateful.

So now, it’s time to go back into the ULTRA training trenches. Brazos Bend 100 miler. Get ready. I’m so coming for you in December.

How was your weekend? Is anyone else running a hundo/mountain race/ultra this year?! Tell me about it!

Stars Above Ultra Loop – Race Recap.

So it’s time for another race recap! And this race was indeed a special one for me. I love doing races with my trail family, the Dallas Dirt Runners, because the community is so warm and welcoming. No matter your pace, age, gender, race, or wherever you’re at in your running journey…they make you immediately feel like you are a part of their awesome tribe. I have done many races with them over the last couple of years (including my very first 100 miler last year!) and it is always an incredible experience.

This run/race was super cool because it just so happened to take place on my friend Mike’s ranch out in the country! I’ve actually been wanting to do this run for quite some time now. This is the 3rd year they’ve put on the race, and I’ve read about how awesome it was in Ultrarunner Magazine. So this year, I knew I needed to jump at the opportunity. Not only was this run FREE (it capped out at a small-ish number of runners) but it offered different distances to take part in. You could choose to run the loop for 2 hours, 4 hours, 6 hours OR LMS (Last Man Standing). That’s right…you literally run out there until you could run no more!! Crazy, right?! Well I knew because I am working on ramping up for the Brazos Bend 100 at the end of the year (as well as a marathon in the fall) that I needed the time on my feet. So, I chose the 6 hour run.

We made our way out there on Sunday morning for the early start. They had a few folks out there camping the night before (and running a beer mile, as the owner of the property, Mike, works for a local brewery) but we chose to do the quick trip the morning of. About an hour and some change later we were out in the sticks. Kind of in the middle of nowhere! But it was absolutely beautiful.

That is what I love the most about trail running in Texas – it allows you to discover some hidden gems so to speak that you didn’t know really existed. The course was mostly paved, with a few major climbs and then a loop that was all trail with a few rocks and roots. We did loops and then the aid station was back at the beginning. They were grilling up burgers, had tons of snacks and even kegs of beer if you wanted to partake during (!) or after the run. I saved my beverage for after, simply because it got so incredibly hot out there and I really was working on not being dehydrated or overheating.

Early morning we had a nice breeze and some cloud cover but that gave way to the BLAZING sun. Temps soared towards 100 degrees after lunchtime and it was just so brutal. You saw people literally slugging it out and walking up the climbs. I tried to preserve some energy in the beginning because I knew it was going to get super hot and also because I wanted to run and finish in 6 hours. I got about 10 loops in total then added on a bit to hit the 6 hour mark. Success! This race wasn’t really timed per se…no chip timers, no bibs…but it was based on kind of the honor system and you reporting how many loops you got in. So…with all of the hiking, running, trying not to die in the heat I managed to get in 27.36 miles total in the 6 hour duration. Tough day! But I felt good about getting in just over a marathon in those brutal conditions.

After the run we hit up a winery that we spotted on the way into the country called Pemberton Cellars! It was fun stopping in and trying their vino. And perfect way to end a fun day of running in the sunshine.

I am hoping Mike and his crew put this race on again next year! I really had an amazing time. It was so great getting to see all of my friends all throughout the run too and everyone was so encouraging! High fivin’ and just having fun with it.

Community…that is a huge part of what this journey of running is all about. A supportive community of people that looks out for one another and wants the best for each other. I am so thankful for this community and for the gift of running. It has truly impacted my life in so many ways.

What do you love about the running community? Do you have a trail tribe that you enjoy running with?

Possums Revenge 56k Trail Race Recap.

Hi, hey and hello! What a marvelous weekend it was. I am here to recap some ULTRA trail racing!! Saturday I ran the Possums Revenge 56k (roughly 34.8 miles- I know right, odd distance but I love it!!) at Possum Kingdom Lake. Let’s review and see how it all went down!

First of all, I was all too excited to do this race because this was the first time I’d ever been to this particular trail. The trail system sits on a gorgeous lake with a ton of rocky climbs and scenic overlook. Honestly it was probably one of the most scenic races I’d ever done! PK Lake is a good 2 hours from where I live. Going out there kind of felt like I wasn’t even in Texas! We don’t have many beautiful lakes out here in North Texas so when you do find one, you know it is a real gem. A lot of folks even camped out the night before. I stayed at a hotel with some trail buds and we got up and got out there quite early.

The race had a 52 miler, 56k, 17 miler and then an 8 miler. The course was quite HILLY and very rocky, with a few stretches of trail that had all SAND! So a lovely mix of terrain that kept things exciting. I really was not sure going into this race how I would perform, especially seeing as I ran a 50 mile race 2 short weeks ago! So really I went out there to check out the trail, and also run with this particular race company that is putting on my 2nd 100 miler in December.

(source)

The 56k’ers took off at 7 am. Temps that day also soared well into the 90s, which made for an interesting late morning & afternoon. Actually due to the heat quite a few folks dropped out of the race completely. The heat actually made me wish a few times that I was running the 17 mile race but I toughed it out to finish the ultra. Mostly because I’m stubborn and I really wanted to get another ultra checked off the list. So I really took my time out there with the climbs and all of the loops that we had to do.

Just one of the gorgeous overlooks from the TOP…seriously heaven.

Often during this race I found myself alone in the woods again, with my thoughts. This part really is one of the reasons I truly LOVE trail ultrarunning. I’d see the occasional runner as it got hotter and later in the day, and we all gave each other thumbs up, good job etc. It is always fun too getting to know folks out on the trails. I always love meeting people from ALL walks of life. The volunteers at the aid stations were all top notch as well, making sure we had plenty of ice and water, as well as yummy snacks and pickles/electrolytes to keep us going in that heat.

When it was all said and done, this race was not quite as runnable as I thought it was, and I resorted to a lot of power hiking and of course tried to get some pics of the amazing scenic overlooks from the top.

Being alone with my thoughts out there was quite wonderful as well. Peaceful and really helped me to deal with facing the tough terrain and how that translates to dealing with adversity in my life as a whole. Running trails helps me realize how dang tough I am and how I am able to power though with determination. Also what I found interesting is all of the random thoughts and words that were floating around in my head as I made my way through the course. One word that kept popping up surprisingly was Kujichagulia– I swear I know to some of you that are at all familiar with Kwanzaa that this sounds strange as all get out- I mean really we are not even anywhere near Christmas?! I went home when the race was over to look it up because I don’t really celebrate that holiday but also because I couldn’t stop thinking about that word as I made my way up and down rocks and roots in the heat. The word actually means self-determination in Swahili which really was spot on with my mood that entire race. It took a ton of determination to get me through, and battle with my thoughts when things got hard.

At the end of the day I finished, I wasn’t the fastest out there, wasn’t the slowest. But I crossed that finish line with a smile on my face and feeling like I had won a lot of battles in my head that day.

Some days are days you just need to let go of the expectations, hold on and see where the day takes you. Relentless forward progress and self determination will get you far. Always.

Overall results here.

How was your weekend?! Run any awesome trails lately?

2018 Rock n Roll Dallas Half Marathon Recap.

Here it is!! Race recap time. I hope you enjoy reading race recaps. I like to separate my weekly running reports from the recaps because in my compartmental cray cray mind it makes sense. So, if you missed the weekly recap from earlier feel free to catch up and click here!

Let’s talk about the Rock n Roll Dallas Half Marathon!! I have done this race so many times my eyes kind of go cross eyed when I talk about it. We have gone though course changes, logistical changes and expo changes with this race in Dallas in the last several years. But somehow I keep going back, again and again! I really do for the most part love how organized Rock n Roll races have been over the years. Yes, part of me does wish that RnR Dallas also had a full marathon option. That said, the half distance in the spring for me is always a great speedy tune up going into summer training and ultra & trail racing. And you know I love me some ultras. BUT I do love to run a little faster from time to time! Hey, ultrarunners run half marathons too.

So, this year I was a tad tardy for the party and decided to sign up for this race EXTREMELY last minute. The email even came in saying registration was about to be closed and everything. But, I made it and was able to secure my spot. I’m pretty sure I was probably the last person in creation to sign up. Gotta love it.

I got my stuff at the expo and was good to go. I love the Sportstats cheers where they put your name up in big letters and bright lights! They know everyone takes pics of this for social media, ha. Good call.

Sunday morning I made my way to the race site! I’m thankful for the DART rail train system because it is super close to my place and takes me straight to the start area. Win win. I arrived about an hour or so early, met up with friends and took pics. We took off at 8 am, with a light mist of rain and mostly cloudy skies, tons of humidity but a nice breeze. The cloud cover was definitely on my side.

This course winds around some fun parts of Dallas, including Deep Ellum which is a cool eclectic part of town, winds up a steep bridge and goes into the Bishop Arts District and through Kessler park area up a crazy random intense hill. After that the race for the most part is flat, but the hill at mile 9 or so is a real BEAST! Since I’ve done this race so many times I knew it was coming. I braced myself for the hill that a ton of people power walked and hiked. I decided I was going to just steadily run it and it worked out in my favor! We then go back off into downtown and the race does this downhill on into the finish which I loved. I think my last lil mile split to the finish was something like a 6:40 mile! It felt amazing to finish so strong.

1:47:32 finish which for me was the fastest time on that course (course PR) and definitely faster than last year! Hey, I will take every bit that I can get. Not bad for signing up for a last minute race.

Afterwards I celebrated with friends and we had some delicious eats after and lots of fun pics were taken. I was so glad to be able to run this race this year with so many of my friends on the course. Whether they were running, or volunteering or just cheering at the finish…it was so cool to look back and see all of the friendships I’ve made in the Dallas community over the years. I think I was smiling from ear to ear when I approached that finish line. I just love this community of supportive people in my life, that get my crazy obsession and love for this incredible sport.

Thank you, Rock n Roll Dallas for yet another joyride.

How was your Sunday funday? What do you love the most about the running community?

Race Day Pace Day…Cowtown Ultramarathon Recap.

Yes, you are getting not one but two shiny posts from me today. Kind of annoying, right?! Well if you know anything about me you know that I really enjoy recapping races. So, let’s chat about the Cowtown Ultramarathon today…and recap!

This was my FIRST TIME ever pacing a 50k race…which was super exciting. Last year I paced the 26.2 distance so this year was super huge for me. Actually this race alone is so special to me simply because I’ve run it so many times. This was my 6th year running it and actually the place that I raced my first ever 50k road race 2 years ago. Actually, 3 years ago I was signed up to run the 50k, it got canceled because of ice on the ground…and I ran it on my own a few days later. Literally, I got off from work early that day, went straight to the park and ran 31 miles till it got dark all by my lonesome. Who does that?! Me I guess. And I finished the whole thing, mostly because I trained for it and I’ll be damn if a little bad weather is going to change that!! Yes, I am stubborn as all get out. Anyway, I attribute that to the reason why I’m so gung ho about ultra distances to this day. There was just something about running beyond that 26.2 mark that TRANSFORMED my heart and soul. I can’t quite put my finger on it.

Anyway, I was looking forward to this race all week long. I admittedly did no tapering whatsoever, really just used this pacing opportunity as a training run for the 50 miler that I am scheduled to run in May. So, I knew it would be a high mileage week and also that my legs needed to be tired to run a 10:30ish pace. As most of my readers know in the last year…I’ve gotten significantly faster and really a lot of my training has been more within the 7 minute to 9 minute mile range. Even my slow easy runs at this point are well under 10 minute miles. So, going into this I knew it would be a challenge to maintain that pace and not feel like molasses. But, I went ahead with it anyway and was excited for the ride.

Half pace bunnies in purple, full in white. ULTRA in yellow. 

Sunday, I got my pacer stick and met up with my pace bud, Jon. Jon and I actually both ran Rocky Raccoon 100 last year and I had done some running with him before. We are even Strava buds!! So, even cooler that I was actually pacing with someone that I knew! As a pacer, sometimes you are paired up with people that you have never met, and at times that can make it hard to mesh well and plan out your pacing strategy. I’ve been pretty lucky too in the last few pacing ‘jobs’ I’ve had, I’ve paced solo so I kind of could do what I wanted. But, this ended up working out great because Jon and I were on the same page.

We had a few runners along with us for the ride that actually ended up staying with us for a majority of the run. One gal (actually a girl that reads here!) Rebecca ran her first 19 ish or so miles with us until she found her friends before we hit Trinity Park. So it was really cool to run with her, and really kind of chat with all of the runners to hear their stories. Another girl that ran with us ran the ultra last year, and finished well over the 6 hour mark so she was looking to have a major PR. And that she did, she stuck with us up until mile 30 or so and she took off to victory.

I felt really good during this run, of course the legs got pretty tired past the 20 mile mark but I expected them to be (see previous post with weekly running recap here). Also it got pretty warm in the back half of this race, when we do a little out and back to get the extra 5 miles in before heading back to the finish line. Those last 5ish miles were basically ALL IN THE SUN, so we had banked a little time to take our time during this portion of the race. As far as the hills went, they didn’t really feel that difficult this time. I attribute that to doing lots of hill training and of course doing lots of trail runs in the last several months. It is amazing how when your fitness improves, things just feel a ton easier.

I took one salt tablet throughout the race, a few Gus and some gatorade. I also had a lil shot of beer (yes they were passing out lots of that) towards about mile 23 or so. The girl that PR’d had one too. HA…I was a great influence. But yeah, at that point in the race I have to say a little shot of a fizzy alcoholic beverage kind of helps. Especially when you are running an ultra.

We booked it to the finish line and actually had a little time to spare – 5:28 finish time right under 5:30. I like to leave a little wiggle room there especially for the runners who run with us so it turned out just perfect. Jon and I made a great team! He commented that it was the best he ever felt during an ultra race. And honestly, I feel that way too!! I really enjoyed pacing this distance and part of me kind of wants to do it all again next year. This was one of my most favorite pacing experiences to date.

50k – 31ish miles, dunski.

Thank you, Cowtown for showing us a marvelous time.

Pacers gonna pace. (yes that is my new favorite saying now, someone said it yesterday during the race and now I can’t stop saying it.)

See you next year. Congrats to all.

Any other Cowtown Ultramarathoners out there?? How was your race? Tell me all about it!!

Rock n Roll Arizona Marathon Recap.

So, do people even do race recaps anymore? Or do they actually READ them?! Hello…blog reader, are you out there? Well, that is okay, I am an only child and used to talking to myself. So much so, it is quite scary actually. Anyway – let’s do a quick review and recap of the Rock n Roll Arizona Marathon. I actually REALLY enjoyed this race! Much more than I thought I would. It literally was a last minute, impromptu decision on my part to run it. Mostly because it was FREE, and you know how runners like those words. So when Brooks Running granted me the opportunity I jumped at the idea. Even though, I’m still really running high-ish mileage and loving my 70-80 mile weeks. I figured, what the heck, let’s go out of town to run a destination race. Kind of love when that happens.

For this race I also had zero expectations, especially after my marathon PR just a few short weeks ago. I knew sub 4 would be ideal though, and to just go rock it out. So I arrived early Saturday morning, checked into my AirBnB and ventured on over to the Rock n Roll Arizona expo. The sunrise flight was absolutely beautiful. And I got to watch Bridesmaids for free. Sorry folks that were sitting next to me for my obnoxious laughter, that movie never gets old.

Of course I had to do a little photoshoot at the expo. Hello Brooks Running photo booth.

I grabbed my race number and was ready to go. I actually ate dinner super early in downtown Pheonix, laid out my race clothes and was in bed by like 8 pm. I’m an old lady at heart.

Race morning! The race started a tad late for my taste, but it was good because it allowed me to take my time, eat my Honey Stinger waffle for breakfast and ride up to the start. The COOL thing about this race is that the HALF and FULL marathoners started in a completely different location. I thought that was badass especially for a Rock n Roll race. All of the RnRs I have done (Las Vegas, Dallas, San Diego, New Orleans) seem to all just be kind of a cluster in terms of the race start. So to me this felt very organized. I lined up in my corral, corral 2, and we took off.

The race starts in Phoenix, winds around to beautiful Scottsdale and then ends up in Tempe. The whole time you get a killer view of the mountains and palm trees which I loved. HEY, we do not have cool landscape like that in Dallas! So I was in absolute heaven. At the start, temps were fairly cool, 50s and then climbing fast. The high was 80 for the day so you can imagine, the back half of this race was in the straight up SUN with zero shade. It was cool, again with low expectations I was okay with running with the sun. I ended up having to strip down to my sports bra around mile 23 or so on. The race was also mostly flat and fast with a few rollers towards the end. The rolling hills did not bug me at all. There was a LONNNGG stretch of bridge though at about mile 25 (again with the sun) that got me a bit. So it turned into a bit of a shuffle at the end which made me doubtful I would run under 4 hours. But my fairly even splits in the beginning saved me towards the end. I managed to slide in at a smooth 3:53:35, one of my fastest races out of 28 marathons. HEY, for running a last minute marathon with zero tapering involved, yeah buddy – I’ll take it.

After the race, I grabbed my bag from gear check, threw on my flip flops and did some more exploring before jumping on a plane that night. Super fun, super random, and I’d do it all again in a heartbeat.

Thank you, Pheonix. You know how to have a good time.

Anyone ever done Rock n Roll Arizona? How did you like it?