El Taco Loco 100k Race Recap.

Well what weekend it was! I am back to give you all the deets on my ULTRA race weekend – running El Taco Loco 100k. This race for me was quite the test as well as a benchmark for my upcoming 100 miler, the Loup Garou trail run. Let’s see how everything went down!!

Can I just say how thankful I am to finally have an ultra with phenomenal weather? After Brazos Bend 100 splashing through endless mud puddles- I was sure this one would be quite similar. From start to finish we were so thankful for pleasant temps for this race. We started bright and early at 5:30 AM, in the straight up darkness. My friend and I drove down to San Antonio (a 4.5 ish hour drive) the night prior and stayed in a hotel so Saturday morning I woke up fairly fresh and ready to roll. The gun went off right at 5:30 AM and off we went into the woods. Headlamps dancing in the darkness is kind of my favorite thing.

The course itself was fairly flat with a few rolling hills, but single track dirt trail and very runnable. There was rain the night prior so we had some muddy spots but overall, a dry and lovely trail with some beautiful shade. The loops were fairly longer, around 15.5 miles long that we completed a total of 4 times. Which was fine as I really enjoy the looped courses so I can do the whole countdown in my head. And instead of, OH I have over 30+ some odd miles to go (HA) I can just say “2 loops left”! Then 1 loop and so on. Makes things much more manageable when you are covering 62 freaking miles.

I met a few folks as we ran and we had a little pack of folks where we were sticking together a while. Towards the back half of loop 1 we all spread out a bit. It was so super dark for the first couple of hours and I was trying to adjust and get into a groove but had a bit of a hard time doing that during the first loop for some reason.

Maybe I was still waking up? Or not enough caffeine. Not sure. But…because of this I took not 1, but 2 FALLS on the first loop in the dark. Just tripping over roots along the trail and such. The dirt was soft so I bounced back up pretty quickly and kept on trucking. Both times I went down there were folks around that were sweet to check on me and make sure I was alright. That’s one thing I love about the trail community!! Everyone always has your back, always encouraging. And always groovy good vibes. I will forever love that.

Because of those not 1, but 2 falls on LAP 1, I will say I went into loop 2 feeling a tad discouraged. Still in the game, but not feeling super confident. I hadn’t done a ton of trail training this go ’round- although my weekly mileage was rock solid and consistent. But…..would my lack of dirt running affect my ability to stay in the game? Am I going to fall FOR REAL and really jack myself up?? Only time would tell. So, I continued to just keep trucking. Relentless forward motion. Knowing that I have successfully completed a distance of this magnitude (and THEN SOME) certainly helps.

Lap 2 went by like a breeze. Once the light came out and the sun was in the sky that was all I needed to get that boost of confidence back. My ULTRA trail runner muscle memory came back with a vengeance. I was rocking and rolling on that trail like no other. PLUS…I got to see my trail friends, who were out volunteering on the trail providing aid for all of the runners. That was honestly the boost I needed to keep moving forward.

I made it to the last (VICTORY) loop and the legs were starting to get heavy but I was in great spirits. I cranked up my tunes and the sun started setting as I hit mile 50 something. I knew the hardest part of this race was coming. Dealing with the darkness. And dealing with it, alone.

I went into this race with the knowledge that I would have NO pacer. This was the first time doing 62+ miles without one. But I knew as long as I could endure running alone in the woods at night for a short time I could make it. I kept trucking. It kept getting darker.

I entered a certain part of the woods and there were NO runners around. No headlamps, no noises of voices in the horizon. All of the 100kers were spread out all over the trail and I was alone. Just me and my thoughts and my tired body. Keep moving, don’t miss a trail marker. Don’t get lost. So tired. Can’t see. Headlamp is dim. Then, for a split second, what was that noise? A pack of coyotes in the near distance. Howling because they can and its at night.

Sheer adrenaline and fear rushed though my body. I decided it would be time to make a phone call. I call my friend because I needed someone to talk to. Getting close to mile 60. My friend tells me his shift is almost over and to hang in there, a lot of runners have stopped at his aid station for food. He has to go. I’m terrified. Then…in the darkness…what do I see?

A light. A lone one, a lady’s voice. I am overwhelmed with gratitude when I see her light. She runs up to me and we both squeal with delight that we’ve found one another and how spooked we both were that we may have missed a mile marker or something. We start moving together and chatting the night away.

That finish line…I almost cry when I see it.

After turning things around with such a rocky start…I was not sure I would be able to pull this one off and keep my head in the game. But I made it happen. And I proved to myself once again that I am more than capable of doing the hard things. Overcoming adversity both on the trails and in my head and fighting towards the finish.

Falling in the darkness. It’s kind of like dark moments in your life. You can’t see it sometimes when you’re in it. But being on the other side, and perhaps seeing that glimmer of light along the way…that’s when you realize you can bounce back. And be stronger than ever before.

El Taco Loco, you showed me a lot and especially showed me…15 hours and some change later…that I’ve still got it. Plus hey, a shiny 100K PR doesn’t hurt, either.

Plus, yeah we got our tacos. And of course a shiny new buckle to add to the growing collection.

Official results will be found here.

How was your weekend? Anyone run a rockstar trail (or road) race lately??

Habanero 50k Race Recap.

Hey there! I am BACK from a long race weekend!! And of course here to recap some of the fun in the HOT Texas sun. I ran the Habanero 50k down in the Houston area!! Yes, it was as hot and as humid as it sounds. Let me take you along for the journey and see how it all went down…

Many of you know I haven’t really been racing much, especially after a long recovery from the Hachie 50 miler. For the most part all summer I’ve just been training with friends. But it has been a super fun season of keeping the miles up. I’ve also been teaching my usual classes at the gym which helps with cross training. For the most part, running has always been so therapeutic for me. I think I’m not like most distance runners in the sense that I really mostly run for lifestyle purposes. Sure, I enjoy the competitive part of racing- but there are moments in life where I want to train and run just for the sake of self. And enjoying nature. And for me I think that is where trail running plays a beneficial role.

I learned about this race through my trail running club, the Dallas Dirt Runners. There was a huge group going down to 7IL Ranch to do this race, and a few actually going to tackle the 100 mile distance! There were many distances for the race to choose from- from 10k all the way up to 100 miles. Something for everyone! I knew I wanted to do the 50k especially as I get my mileage back up to train for my next 100 miler in December.

I arrived to the ranch right before 11 AM since the runners were scheduled to take off at HIGH NOON! This was so different for me as I’m used to most races (especially ultras) starting super early in the morning. So essentially I had the entire morning to get my race prep together, thoroughly hydrate and eat a nice breakfast. The waffle breakfast at my hotel was pure perfection.

The 100k and 100 mile runners took off right at noon – and the other distances (including 50k) started at 12:15. I didn’t know much about the course honestly aside from the fact that it was just over a 6 mile loop that I would do a total of 5 times. We took off onto the course and the first part was DEEP LOOSE sand. The heat was blazing and the sand proved to be quite the challenge! I was not excited about this sand being so loose. I’ve run a race on sand before, the 50 miler at the Orion Ultra last year- but, that race had packed wet sand that you could drive on. This was much different AND tough on the ankles. Honestly I had to catch myself a few times from rolling an ankle and hurting myself. I knew I needed to tread carefully here if I wanted to last a full day of running.

Towards the back half of the course the sand evens out a bit and it is mostly single track dirt trail. This was much easier to run on but running over and over in loose sand made my legs and ankles SO very tired! Enduring the distance on tired legs (and of course not dying out there with heat and extreme humid conditions) became the name of this game. It ended up being a whole lot of spurts of running/ power hiking to get through it. I was so excited through because I got to see a lot of my local blog friends out there rocking the course- bigguyhiking and then of course my homegirl Paula! I loved getting to talk to runners at the aid stations and catching up.

I will say the aid stations were fully packed and the volunteers took amazing care of us. Without them I honestly don’t know what the outcome of this race would’ve been. They had plenty of water on tap, loads of ice, and GATOR(ade)RITAS! Crushed ice blended with electrolyte drink may be my new fave. Also, watermelon. Hello happiness.

When it was all said and done – after literally thinking it’s a possibility I MAY NOT FINISH this hell-ish race 1 lap in (No lie- I was super over it after 6 miles) I ended up finishing 31+ miles feeling quite alright. Quite alright, quite full of sand and dirt, ready for a shower. What made this race so incredible after being out there all day? Sharing it with amazing runner friends, the amazing trail running community, and knowing that I am capable of any and everything I set my little heart upon. One more 50k down. Many more miles to go.

Habanero, I hated and loved every minute of you. I may or may not be back for you. It just depends on the amount of peer pressure from my trail run buds. What can I say, I’m easy to persuade at times.

I will say this – there is something about trail ultras that keeps me coming back for more. I’m not sure if it is because of the beauty of the trails or the fact that I can be quite sadistic. Maybe both.

Thanks, Trail Racing Over Texas. Until next time.

Results can be found here.

How was your weekend? What do you love about trail running?

Weekly Running Report.

Hey there and happy Monday! I’m here to recap some miles and smiles from last week! It was a strong week of training and I was able to get in a total of 70.5 miles of running last week. Habanero 50k training is definitely going great! Let’s recap and see how it all went down!

Monday AM- 5.22 early morning miles, more or less recovery after putting in long miles over the weekend. Just getting it in and enjoying the moving meditation before a busy day.

Monday PM- 3.06 sunset miles, unwinding from the day. We’ve been off the charts with the heat and humidity…but just getting in the double run day miles is really helping me to acclimate.

Tuesday AM- 8.11 miles, back with the breakfast run club crew. Hill repeat Tuesday. Never easy but it is getting better the more I do it. Finally getting back in the groove of things with doing the harder work is nice.

Tuesday PM- 2.23 miles after teaching spin to get in some more double run day miles. More or less a cool down run than anything else.

Wednesday AM- 7.21 miles, legs were pretty tired on this day…usually are after doing the Tuesday hill repeats so just keeping the legs going and getting it done. This run was probably the MOST humid of the week. Honestly I can handle the heat (as I actually love drier heat the best) but the humidity is the true beast. Sweat everywhere. Good detox though. Plus chocolate milk recovery after. And the loveliest of sunrises.

Wednesday PM- Sunset miles of double run day. 3.02 miles done.

Thursday- 6.32 miles after working sort of late the night before. Thankful to squeeze in these miles as morning runs have been SO NEEDED lately. For training and sanity purposes.

Friday- 10.11 miles with a good friend on a Friday. Always the best. Love starting my Fridays with double digits.

Saturday- SUPER HOT and HUMID day! 18.01 miles completed with WRRC. I had to start pretty early to knock this one out. It wasn’t that enjoyable honestly especially towards the end. But I was so proud to have gotten this one in. I super needed that boost of confidence for sure.

Sunday- 7.22 miles on a Sunday. FELT SO MUCH BETTER. Honestly probably because I was motivated by mimosas and breakfast tacos.

Plus, National Ice Cream Day was Sunday! So I went to TCBY and got some rainbow sprinkles on top. Oh happy day.

And there you have it!

How was your weekend? How dd you beat the heat?!
Everything on ice. Even my mimosas.

Orion Ultra 50 Mile Recap.

Finally I am able to sit down and give you a full fledged recap from my 50 mile race! It was quite the weekend running along the gulf coast. I got a crazy dark tan (that I am now paying for…YES black people can get sunburned believe it or not), hung out with some of my Dallas Dirt Runner friends, and met LOTS of new fun people. Basically, race weekend perfection! Let’s recap a bit, shall we?

I made the 5 hour drive down to Surfside Beach on Friday…it was typical traffic getting down there but pretty much smooth sailing.

I absolutely love me some beach views (I feel like the sun and the water are my two favorite things in the universe) so I was super excited to do some running in a new place. Plus, with this race being sea level of course it is super flat. After running in Utah just a few short weeks ago this was just what I needed. I am also still in training for Brazos Bend 100 so I needed the mileage. I checked in, grabbed my race number and super cute fanny pack. Gotta love this.

Also my friends who came down to run the race made dinner that night. Vegan spaghetti with all of the fixins. They had their RV so they cooked up a good meal. It was everything. And hello, I will never EVER pass up a free dinner. Especially from runners who know good food. Yes.

I car camped, right on the BEACH since there was a lil campsite for us to set up shop. If you know trail runners at all you know they are super good at the whole camp vibe. I mean, they really do have it down to a science. Like GLAMP style. That is glamorous camping for those you you unaware. Me, not so much. I’m still learning. But it was great camping out there knowing I had so many other folks around me and there were porta potties and stuff around plus public showers.

My 50 mile race started right on time at 7 AM. The course was a 20 mile loop, so we did that twice, and then an out and back 5 miles to hit 50 for the day. That made it crazy easy because duh, you cannot get lost. Not even if you tried real hard. Plus, seeing all of my friends and being able to high five people as you go was just perfect. I loved it so much.

We started out with temps fairly warm in the high 70s, but lots of cloud cover and a light wind that kept you going. DANG it felt good in the morning. But I tell ya, as soon as that sun hit. It was game on. The sun came out with a vengeance and it did not let up. ALL DAY. Hours upon hours of running with the sun beating down on your face and back. Now that, posed a real challenge. But, like any experienced ultrarunner will tell you. It is all about that relentless forward motion. Shuffle if you must. Whatever you have to do. You keep your mind tough as nails, smile though pain, and keep it moving. There is something about that pain too, that being in the extreme highs and the lows, that keeps me coming back for more of the ultra distance.

I hit mile 30 and felt like this was the lowest point of my race. I reached an aid station and kind of saw stars for a second. I knew it was my blood sugar that dropped because, this has happened before at ultra races in these kind of extreme conditions. I immediately grabbed a salt pill at the aid station and had to park it and cool off for a few minutes. The aid helpers as well as a DDR friend were right there to assist with salty and sweet things. I grabbed some fuel, regrouped and was back on my way. My feet were heavy and I felt icky, but my spirit and mind were in it. So, I told myself…suck it up buttercup and keep it moving. Because that is what you do when you are invested, when you are in the game. Don’t stop. Get it get it.

My DDR friend saw me (her husband was out there also running) again and she told me that I looked way better and gave me some encouragement. It was just what I needed so I kept trucking. I hit the 40 mile mark and Rob Goyen (awesome race director from Trail Racing Over Texas) looked at the stats and told me…”CHELSEA you are doing great. You are rocking it. Keep going.” He didn’t tell me what place I was in. And I was glad for that. I kind of knew I was doing well placement wise but didn’t want to hear it at the time. I wanted to stay IN MY RACE. So I was happy he just gave me just enough info for me to keep moving. With that relentless forward motion.

Man, that last 10 miles felt like a death march. Again, the sun was beating down. The beach views were perfection. The beach itself was still open to the public, so there was lots to look at. People driving their cars up and down the packed sand. Random folks cheering me on. Mostly drunk folks. Hey, it was Saturday afternoon on the beach. But they were very kind drunk folks and very supportive. I even saw HORSES! Not sure what the horses were doing there. But that was fun. I never really got bored because simply there was so much to look at. Just hot. And humid. And tired. But, every time I got caught up in my pace slowing down because it was so hot or trying to calculate math in my head…the waves were there. Beach waves and sounds of nature to remind me to stay in the moment. To enjoy the water, the sand under my feet, the people all around me. Reminding me constantly to stay in the moment. To stay in the mile that I was in. And I did just that.

I saw that finish line and picked it up and finished strong. Rob looked at me and said “You did it! 2nd place female overall!!” and gave me my hip and groovy purple sand dollar for being a top finisher and my medal. Gosh those medals were so colorful and pretty. Of course I had to grab a pic.

So, overall great day at the Orion Ultra. 4th 50 miler down, another top finish win and keeping the training going strong for Brazos Bend 100. YES.

Stay present, run free. Run the mile you’re in always. Don’t get caught up in numbers. And DO YOU. Forever.

Why? Because nothing and no one else matters when you do what you love.

How was your weekend? Did you run a strong race or run you are proud of?