#Ultrarunners be like…

I am signing up for this 50k. As a training run.

-Oh, you run marathons? That’s real cute.

I am wanting to PR this 100 miler. I heard this trail was flat and fast so I should have a good chance.

That trail looks super technical, hilly, rocky, and hard as sh*t. Right up my alley.

Mountain race? Sounds amazing, I’m in.

Power hiking up this crazy rocky climb and then running down it? Sounds like a good time.

Where’s the pickle juice?

AT THE AID STATION of mile 35: I could go for a caffeine boost. Hand me that Dixie cup of Coca Cola or Ginger Ale.

I feel like I’m going to pass out. Or possibly die? No worries, I’ll get through it.

Mile 75 and my body does not want me to do this. But my mind does.

Let’s just go tinkle in the woods. Not the same as a porta potty I guess.

Let’s make friends with this random person that is running my pace in the woods. Just because I can.

I smell like death. That’s cute.

Oh, you like 5k’s? I cannot remember the last time I did that.

I need a pacer that I specifically won’t want to murder at mile 60. Want to join?

Hey volunteer! You are cool and all but, I’m NOT almost there. That’s the dude in front of me that is running the other lesser evil of a distance. So you can go kick rocks. Thanks.

YES…I did post that I ran a 30 mile training run today. I am dang proud of myself. So let me brag and then go about my business. Sometimes we need our little moments to shine.

Buckles are definitely the new medals. Believe it.

Any other ultrarunner unicorns out there? I know I’m not the only crazy one…haha.

Find Your Bliss.

Well you guys, I am out the rest of the week and embarking on yet another incredible marathon experience. So, I will leave you with this and I hope that you enjoy. This guy’s attitude certainly makes me smile. He has found his bliss. This is ultrarunner badass-ness at its finest. I’m going to take this and put this in my pocket when I return and ramp back up for my 2nd 100 miler, BB100.

“I guess that’s all you have to do for 100 miles. Keep having a good time, keep your sense of humour and don’t take it too seriously.” – Ryan Sandes

Have a great week!!

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?

How to be a HYBRID (Trail and Road) Runner.

As someone who’s been running marathons/ultras for almost 9 years, I love bouncing around and mingling with different clubs and social run groups. It keeps running exciting for me, and I never get bored of the same ol’ same. Running is a journey and one that has truly brought so much joy and happiness to my life. Another part of it is being able to switch up the surfaces that I run on from time to time! So for those of you road racers (or trail hippies) that want to be able to easily bounce between both, here are a few ways you can be a HYBIRD runner and really enjoy both pavement and trail.

I hear a ton of road runners say they don’t like trails – because they feel that they are too clumsy. Well to that, I say it is very simple. Ease up on the speed when it comes to trail running. Do you want me to tell you a secret? I too used to not like trails, when I first started really getting good at running on roads. I was used to being the fastest in my run groups, I was used to winning all the age group wins in all of my 5k/10k races that I ran. But when it came to trail, my EGO took a little bit of a beat down. It was only until I let go of being so pace driven on trails, that I really started loving it. I know, it is easier said than done, it just takes time.

Think of trail running as your RECOVERY/easy runs. Every runner needs recovery pace miles. Not only will this make you a stronger runner in the long run (pun intended) but it will lessen your likelihood of injury if you learn to mix it up when it comes to stuff like this. My favorite thing honestly is to do a long run on Saturdays and then run nice and easy on the trails on Sundays. Try it, you just may love it.

Trail runners –work on the shorter/faster stuff when it comes to pounding the pavement. Work on your speed on the roads! Now, it is interesting because on the flip side of the coin, I run with a trail club. And a LOT of them hate roads! Mostly because they like the challenge and agility training on the trails – they like to CLIMB steep climbs/mountains…they like elevation changes, they like rocks and roots and all of the stuff that makes trail running “hard” to road racers. So, trail runnners- find a short local race where you can push the pace. Or, hit up the track with friends during the work week! You may find that working on your speed will make you faster on the dirt, too.

Regardless of what surface you run on…it’s always more FUN with people! That’s what makes the running community so awesome. If you’re looking for a trail run group in your area (or a road one) I recommend doing a search on meetup.com or even Facebook! Also, local running stores have road groups that do trail runs from time to time. Change it up, step outside of your comfort zone, and you may find that you just may like it.

Are you a HYBRID runner? Trail runners…tell us what you LOVE about the trails? (I have a lot of roadies who read my blog so let’s get them moving over to the dark side…haha)

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?

Weekly Running Report.

Hey there and happy Monday to ya! Hope you were able to get in some fun in the sun this past weekend. I’m here to recap some weekly miles with you!! It was a bit of a taper week going into my next trail ultra race! Let’s see how it all went down.

Monday- Quick warm up before teaching a power packed spin class…4.11 miles done. I have to say my legs were pretty stiff after my 50 mile race a couple of days prior (!) but they definitely loosened up quickly.

Tuesday AM- Early run with my breakfast club buds! Catching up on life and racing and such. 8.22 miles done.

Tuesday PM- 3.02 miles getting the legs going after the long day. In 90 DEGREE WEATHER. Heat training for sure.

Wednesday- I see a theme here…another 8.22 miles by the lake with a runner friend of mine in my neighborhood. She’s getting back into running again so Io’m so very happy I have a new run bud pretty close to home.

Thursday- 7.36 miles in the hot hot sun again before teaching another class. It is that time of year again with the heat and humidity. Summer will be here before ya know it.

Friday- 11.22 miles at 5 AM. Getting it done on a Friday.

Saturday- REST DAY. A much needed one.

Sunday- 8.21 miles at my favorite little nature preserve. It has been quite a while since I’ve visited this particular park! It was fun to explore somewhere I hadn’t been in a while for a change.

And there ya have it! 56k trail ultra…I am coming for you.

How was your weekend? What did you do?

My Love Letter to Running.

Dear Running,

I remember the day that we met. I went to the gym after a long, grueling shift working in the newsroom. Mostly for me, the gym was my happy place of sorts. Work was always stressful (as you can imagine, working behind the scenes for local tv with breaking news and such) and I would always come to the gym READY to let off some steam. So, the treadmill became my BFF. I would hop on there, warm up and then go off and do my weights and whatever else looked good at the time. One day, my warm up ended up being a 1 mile run. I don’t know – I guess that day I just got lost on how good it felt to run for just a little bit longer. Then, one day – 1 mile magically became 2. Then, 3. Actually, the day I ran 3 miles was a monumental day. I remember texting a friend and being OH SO EXCITED that I had just done 3 miles on the treadmill, without stopping. It made me wonder, how much longer could I go? The feeling of accomplishment was overwhelming.

One day, after 3 years of working in the newsroom I got laid off. It was a blessing in disguise after I started to become burned out by the doom and gloom that local news showcases. Being unemployed left me with A LOT OF TIME on my hands. And I used a lot of that time to go to the gym and workout. So, one day, an opportunity presented itself to do a social run with a group at a running store. After walking by this particular store one day for the 30th time I decided to bite the bullet and go to the run. I was one of the SLOWEST runners there. Running, you and I have not always gotten along. But I stayed persistent and patient with you and was determined – to get better. I remember that day I did my first social run and being the last person to finish. And also, how SORE I was! Wow. My entire body kind of hurt after running in the heat. But still, somehow, I liked the feeling at the end. Running, you have a way of doing that to me – the highs and lows. I like ‘em both.

So, during that run a runner told me that I should sign up with some of them to train for a half marathon. A WHAT?! 13.1 miles – I mean really, how do people even do that? WHY do people even do that?? Still, the crazy thought swirled around in my head a bit. And then, after going home and thinking about it…the idea somehow intrigued me. This was the first time I had actually tried to go after a goal – that seemed really far out of my reach. I was in my 20s at the time, a few short years out of college and really just starting to experience life. As an only child, I grew up fairly sheltered and always told that I should ‘take caution’ with things. So this idea, was somehow liberating and exciting. It was something I was doing, for myself, by myself and I just wanted to tackle it and let’s see what happens.

So, I embarked on this journey with you, running. With you and with this incredible group of people that I still keep in touch with, to this day. They have seen me blossom into the ultra runner that I am today. A girl in her 20s that signed up hesitantly for a half marathon, turned into a full marathon runner and now trail ultrarunner (that still dabbles in road races from time to time). For all of the experiences and friendships along the way, I am certainly grateful. I ended up landing a sweet gig as a producer in Christian tv around this time as well, which was amazing. Everything was coming together.

Running, you have enabled me to travel to places and see things that I otherwise would not have seen. Through rocks and roots and pavement, I have somehow discovered who I am and it has made me better. Running has healed me from broken friendships, relationships, and family trauma. It has seen me through triumphs like running 100 miles on a trail and enduring other crazy feats in life.

I can’t wait to see where you take me next, running.

Let’s go.

Love, Chelsea.

What are some things you would write in your LOVE letter to running?

TGIFriday Faves.

Happy Friday to you! Hope you have some weekend fun in store. Of course, mine will involve lots of running, fun times with friends and fam, and some relaxation!

The above pic will be me post run tomorrow.

Let’s get straight to this week’s faves!!

This awesome girl’s race recap from this year’s Rocky Raccoon 100 miler. Just so ya’ll know, Sabrina Little is kind of a badass in the trail ultrarunning world. So it’s kind of fun to hear perspective from the lead female out on the trails. Love it.

How cycling can make you a better runner. Love it and 100% agree.

These pants, I am in love with that color. Someone buy them for me ASAP.

-Having a little hump day fun this week with friends. Vino and good times.

What running was like 15 years ago. YES the GPS watches were freaking huge back in the day.

That’s all for this week!! Have a terrific weekend!

What are you up to this weekend? Is the weather warming up where you are?
The high today is 70 and the low tomorrow will be 29. How’s that for crazy Texas weather!?!

5 Ways to Love Running in the Dark.

DARKNESS…are you scared of running in it? Do you think the boogeyman will come and get you?! There are many ways to actually enjoy running in the dark, and I am here to provide you with a few tips and ways you can survive it. And not only survive it really, but have FUN and love doing it! Because running should be fun, and if it isn’t then what are you doing it for?

Let’s get to it!

1. Safety in numbers. Really the number one way to enjoy running in darkness is to grab a few of your closest (craziest) running buddies to have with you along for the ride. Whether it is a 5 AM jaunt before sunrise or galavanting in the night after work, you can guarantee you will have 1,000 times more fun if you are with others. I personally love my early morning runs with my die hard runner buds, they are the main reason why I love morning running during the work week.

2. Light it up!! There are so many excellent options for headlamps, you can even buy them super cheap at places like Lowe’s/Home Depot etc. I love my Petzl headlamp from REI, it has endured many a dark trail run. They are especially helpful if you are interested in running ultras, many times these races start and/or END in the dark so you will want to be well prepared. I know friends that like the lit up reflective vests too and also you can put blinky lights on your hydration pack if you carry one on your back.

3. Watch that fancy footwork. Always be sure to watch your footing in the darkness, on the trail and even on pavement. It is easy to miss spots and take a tumble so having lights to see and being cognizant of your foot placement makes all the distance.

4. Stay alert/run against traffic. This is one of the things I love the most about trail running is that you don’t have to worry about traffic at all. But when on the ROAD be sure to stay aware of your surroundings at all times. I do not wear headphones when I run for this very reason. If I listen to music at all it is low volume and I’ll carry my phone. And always try to run in lit up areas that are well populated especially if running alone.

5. Realize that running in the dark will make you super TOUGH mentally. Not many people enjoy running outside when it is cold and dark (and this is without a doubt the time of year that many runners lose focus and/or interest due to lack of motivation) so just you getting out there and roughing it out will make you a total BOSS. You don’t have to go super long, either. Even a quick 3-4 mile jaunt will make all the difference and come spring time you will be totally dominating your races. Believe it.

How is your training going? Anyone have any sweet runner reflective gear they’ve bought lately?

Oktoberfest 50k Trail Race Recap.

Hey there! Oh yes, you get not 1 but 2 stinkin’ blog posts today!! Say what?!! As promised I told you all I would deliver with the Oktoberfest 50k race recap. So here it goes!

Last Saturday was a fun morning on the trails. Lately I have really been enjoying getting off the beaten path and getting into a little deep woods therapy. Trail running for me is a totally different type of challenge, and one over the years that I have really learned to enjoy. It is SO different from road running and the mindset is one that not everyone can really adapt to. Often times, I hear road runners saying ‘oh, I don’t do trails’. But man, are they missing out!! Not only are you getting an amazing agility workout working different types of muscles that you don’t work on concrete, but it makes your legs stronger and actually translates to making you stronger out on the roads. Who woulda thunk it?! But yeah, once I learned that pacing and terrain was so different and really it is not even ABOUT pace at all…I started to really love this thing called trail running.

So back to Saturday, I actually won an entry to this race after winning 1st place overall female at the Piney Woods 100k a few short weeks ago. The race director asked me which distance I preferred and I knew at that moment that the 50k was where my head was at. Lately I’ve really loved the longer distances on trails, and because also I can be a tad competitive I typically want to do the longest distance offered. HA. So 50k it was. I signed up and was good to go. I knew my training was pretty much on par with this race especially since I’ve been running higher mileage. Also I was so excited to do an October race as I absolutely love the festive fall season.

I drove out to the country town of Farmersville, Texas and made my trek out to the trail. The start actually wasn’t so bad, 7 a.m. start for us 50k and marathon folks, and for the shorter distances a 8:00 a.m. start. This was actually the 2nd year that Ultra Expeditions has put on this race. The directors are wicked cool and surprisingly super organized. I absolutely loved Piney Woods so I knew no doubt they would put on a good Oktoberfest run.

7 a.m. & we took off. The first 2 miles of this route are actually paved until we hit the trails in the country, kind of in the middle of nowhere. This particular trail system, I was told they are supposed to be stretching out to go 100+ miles out which was pretty cool. So it was fun to be a part of that. The 50k course runs 15.5 miles out and back. I actually thought this would be incredibly tiring but it was fun and went by fairly quickly! Plus coming back we got to see lots of runners so that always helps because you can high five and say good job and all of that jazz.

I actually joked to a friend of mine who was out there running this race that this was probably going to feel more like a road race because it was described to us as ‘flat and fast’ and running along some rail trails. But boy, was I proved WRONG! After the 2 miles out things got REAL rocky and real rugged. I’m talking loose rocks and just lots of uneven terrain which proved to be tiring on the legs. So again, I had to re-adjust my mindset, get out of speedy road runner mode, and back into hippie trail run mode. Which was okay with me, especially after coming from running a 62 mile race not long ago. I took it easy out there, stopped at aid stations to refuel and such. And really just enjoyed the country scenery.

I made my way back to the start of the trail in over 5 hours, again, very fine with me. Once I finished the race director informed me that I came in among the top overall females! So fun and very happy with 3rd overall out of all of these ladies who completed the 50k course. It was a small race but there was some decent competition out there. So I felt good about that 31 mile finish.

The icing on the cake – my favorite cider, and having a bite of a grilled bratwurst afterwards. Absolute heaven.

So what is next?! Well, I am still playing on the trails but I’m back to some road races for the remainder of this year. I scored a free entry to run the Rock n Roll San Antonio half (thank you, Brooks Running!) and then running the BMW Dallas Marathon the following week. I am looking forward to being back on the roads and working on my speed again. It should be a good time.

How is your week going? Run any marathons (or ultras) lately?