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?

Weekly Running Report.

Hi there and happy Monday! Hope you had a lovely weekend. I definitely had a great one and am here to do a little recapping in my world of running! I was able to get in 76.8 miles last week as training continues for the Hachie 50 miler. Let’s see how it all went down.

Monday- I ventured out to some different territory and ran 6.3 miles of hills through my old stomping ground. Last week the weather was absolutely beautiful, we did have some rain towards the end of the week but for the most part it was quite pleasant.
Tuesday AM- 5.21 miles in the morning to start the day. Work wise April is quite the busy month so I’m going to continue on with being consistent with my early morning runs as they are quite therapeutic. And necessary for my mood to stay sane in hectic times. I am sure y’all feel me.
Tuesday PM- 4.12 mile run after teaching class at the gym. Legs were tired but got it done.
Wednesday AM- 7.22 miles with some more rolling hills. Nice quiet solo miles and managed to get up a little earlier.
Wednesday PM- 4.21 miles at night. Unwinding from the day.
Thursday- Back with the breakfast club run crew. 8.32 miles with some faster miles thrown in there.
Friday- 15.21 mile long run on my day off from work. I ran a bit in the morning then met up with a friend to finish since she had her long run that day too. Saturday was looking kind of sketchy weather wise (severe storms aka welcome to “Tornado Alley” in the springtime) and was not sure if they would even have the run that I was supposed to do in Oklahoma. So was glad to get this run in and happy to hopefully get some back to back long runs in.
Saturday- 26.22 miles at the DanMan trail run! If you are a regular reader you know I like doing this trail run and have done it the last few years in a row. Dan has ranch land out in Oklahoma and puts on a free trail run every year for the runners with delicious BBQ at the end. So I got in a solid marathon and then got down on some smoked brisket with all of the fixins. Good gracious that food was delicious. Hashtag so worth it.

Sunday- REST DAY after a bit of a run streak. Much needed rest day at that.

And there you have it!

How was your week last week? Hows your training going?

Ways to Feed Your Wild (Running) Side.

So, runners. We tend to be TYPE A people. Always chasing after those PRs, that BQ. Trying to be your best. Be the fastest. Top the Strava leaderboards. Chasing the next challenge. And those goals are amazing to have. Sometimes, I do feel like I’ve done it all. 100 miler? Check. Sub 4 marathon? Check. Sub 3:50 marathon?? Check check check. BQ? (Getting there. Still a few minutes off. So sue me. I’m young and have time.)

But…have you ever thought that there was SO MUCH more to running? So much more than doing every race, than posting every Instastory with some brag worthy post about how you got another medal on #medalMonday. If I can be honest, my medals (I have too many of them) from 10 years of marathon running are all collecting dust in a massive box. My ultrarunning buckles too are in the drawer as we speak. And since the last time I’ve moved, I haven’t taken the time to put anything back up. But really, what or who would I be putting them up for? Probably to post something on social media about how many medals or 100 mile buckles I have. Lately, I’ve taken a step back from constant racing…and guess what?! I’m really enjoying it. I am doing races that I love, and that I really want to do. I am really loving where I’m at with my running right now. Anyway, so if you are that runner that is a chronic road racer. And perhaps. Craving some adventure? Then this may be the post just for ya…

Here are some ways you can feed that wild side and start really revving up…and LOVING your running again.

Take a RUN on the wild side, literally. I’ve been getting back into running through the trees and the trails. And after stepping away from trails for a bit, I feel like I’m ready to get back off the beaten path. It is incredible what a little deep woods therapy can do. Don’t know where to start with trail running? Check out this post if you are beginner.

Go out for a run with absolutely NO DIRECTION, route wise, at all. Literally go run and make up a route on the fly. I cannot tell you how many awesome runs I’ve had where I’ve had no clue what my route was going to be that day. The other day actually I discovered some rolling hills in my ‘hood that were super hidden. And now I feel like Dora the Explorer or some ish.

Sign up for a mountain race! I know that may sound a little outlandish if you are used to a humdrum 5k 10k in your neighborhood. But expand your horizons! It doesn’t have to be an ultramarathon race. Believe it or not they have 5k 10k mountain races as well! Soak in the amazing views. I signed up for a 25k in the mountains in September and hey, it’s West Texas mountains but still! Some uncharted territory. Can’t wait.

Go nocturnal. I absolutely LOVE night races, especially because it is something different from the norm. Read my Fossil Valley race recap if you want some inspiration. This is especially great in the summer, when it’s just so blazing hot and you’re seeking some cooler air. A relay with friends could be even better.

What are some other ways to feed your wild (running) side?

Random Ways to Successfully Train for (and Finish) a 100 Mile Race.

As someone who has run a handful of 50 milers, a 100k and 2 100 milers I thought we would chat about some random ways I keep my training up leading into a successful 100 mile race! This post is not for everyone because I know plenty of you have no desire to even run a distance of that magnitude (YET – evil laughter) but just in case here are a few things I do that are very random leading up to race day to arrive to the start and the finish feeling like a rockstar…

-Don’t pay attention to anyone else’s training advice. I know – wait, don’t take advice? Why would you say such a thing?! Because honestly 100 mile training is oh so different – and looks different often times – with everyone. Not everyone runs high mileage. Most don’t. Most will tell you that running 100 miles is not a good idea. Guess what? They are not doing it. You are. So put your head down and work your ass off and forget the rest. 

Be stubborn. About your goals. About yourself. Have that GRIT. Develop that stubborn ability to stick to what you say you are going to do. Your word. Commit to yourself. That one trait alone- I promise you- often times is what WILL GET YOU TO THE FINISH of a 100 miler. 

-If you don’t believe you can do it? Guess what. You won’t. Visualize yourself finishing this race. It is going to take guts. Power hiking. Running. Shuffling. Crying. Blood. All of the gross things affiliated with an endurance event WILL happen. Bet on it. Bet on high highs and LOW lows. Emotions, physical pain. All of it. 

Run ALL THE TIME. All day, all night. In the dark. Alone. When you are burned out. When you hate it. When you love it. Eff your feelings. Nuff said.

Eat the rainbow. Eat carbs. Fuel your body. Ladies. Ultrarunning is not for supermodels. Take calories in so you can use that energy. Don’t eat garbage. It will make you feel like garbage. But eat a balanced diet. I cannot tell you exactly what your diet should look like but mostly avoid the processed crap. Eat plants. Good fats, lean protein. Ok? Great. 

Find an ultra training plan that works for you. Whether its online, or a coach. There are plans out there. Here is one. And another one. Tweak them to your lifestyle if you must. But do the work. 

-Enjoy the ride. 

Any more ultrarunners out there? Let’s share battle stories. I’m always looking for my next hundo adventure. 

My Year of Running 2018.

Oh yes, you are getting not one but TWO posts from me in a day!! So I figured we would do a quick recap of a fabulous running year since I always like to do these posts. It’s always great to take a look back and see all of the fun racing, running and training experiences! So herrrre we go…

Best race experience?
Oh wow, that is a tough one. But I am going to have to say my most recent one, which was my PR at the Brazos Bend 100 miler. My 2nd 100 mile trail race to date! I fought super hard dealing with such a muddy, tough terrain and I was just really in the GAME mentally and physically. I definitely plan on going back to this race soon and hopefully when the trail is dry to run a killer fast time. Yes, it is fun being a ultrarunner unicorn.

Best run?
I would have to say my most favorite run would be any of the runs I did in the summer with my running group! This was my first year to do the “Run My Hood” series with my club, the White Rock Running Co-Op. I have to say out of all of the running clubs I’ve been involved in, this one is my absolute favorite. Simply because we all work hard AND like to have a good time! The best of both worlds. Anyway, for RMH we did a route in a running buddy’s neighborhood, then that said running buddy would usually host a post run brunch/pool party in their backyard. And yes we basically did this EVERY Saturday in the summer. It was SO much fun! I can’t wait to do it all again in 2019.

Best new piece of running swag?
Probably my BCG hydration pack I bought from Academy. It is just so functional and comfortable to wear. I’ve worn it during a FEW ultras (including my 100 miler) and it just worked out so well. I definitely recommend it especially if you run trails!

Best piece of running advice you’ve received?
This. Actually I just LOVE all of John Muir’s quotes. It sums up very much how I feel about running and what makes me happy about this sport.

Most inspirational runner?
I have to say any badass woman that runs ultras and absolutely crushes it is my ultimate inspiration. I’ve been listening to the Ultrarunner Podcast and think Ailsa MacDonald is a beast. She WON her first 100 miler, at Sinister 7. And, she actually kills it in road races too!
Plus she’s jacked and from what I see on her IG is a wine lover (like myself) check out the podcast here.

If you could sum up your year of running in a few words, what would they be?
Exploratory
Wide Open
Reflective
Introspective
Unshakeable
Boundless

How was your year of running? Answer any or all of the questions!

#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?