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?

Weekly Running Report.

Hey there! Hope you had a good weekend. Today is fairly busy on the work side but I thought I’d check in with last week’s ultra run training!! I was able to get in a total of 93.8 miles last week. Let’s do a quick recap!

Monday AM- 10.11 miles in the ‘hood. Feels good to get in some good mileage before a busy Monday.

Monday PM- 2.02 cool down miles after teaching spin class at the gym. Double run days are the best days.

Tuesday AM- 13.37 miles with some hill work thrown in. It was crazy humid pretty much all of last week but with all the rain from south Texas came a bit of a cooler front for us up north. If you consider COOL to be temps in the 70s and 80s. Ha. I’ll take what I can get.

Tuesday PM- 3.21 mile cool down watching the sunset off the lake. I love ending my day with a little running and people watching.

Wednesday AM- 8.25 mile solo run with some speedy strides thrown in. It’s funny any run under 10 miles has felt like nothing lately.

Wednesday PM- 4.11 evening miles. I had some more time to kill on this day since I wasn’t teaching classes at the gym that night.

Thursday AM- 14.21 miles with my ultra runner friend. She is training for a 40 miler in September and of course I have the 100k in Tyler coming up. I’ve been enjoying my chats with her in the morning since we are both ultra run crazy. This race will be here before you know it.

Thursday PM- 5.02 relaxed miles after the gym. Nice little cool down but still with some thick humidity.

Friday- REST DAY

Saturday AM- 22.25 mile long run morning. Again with Harvey and the storm down south (we are 4+ hours away from all of it thank goodness) brought some cooler weather, all weekend long. It was one of those mornings where you just want to go outside on your patio with a cup of coffee, good cloud cover. I really enjoyed this run and the time on my feet.

Sunday AM- 11.27 trail miles at Cedar Ridge Preserve. Lots of folks out on the trail. I got in some awesome climbing with all of the rocks and roots. Trail running is such an amazing workout.

And there you have it!

How was your weekend? What is the weather like in your neck of the woods? 

8 Things No One Tells You About Ultra Running.

Running is such a glorious sport and even after many years I still feel like a student learning something new every day along my journey. But today, we are going to delve into ultra running a bit and discuss a few things no one really tells you before you start exploring distances beyond 26.2! So here it goes…

1. Ultrarunning is the ultimate test of your mental will. Honestly you can train your tail off but if you go into the race with even just a drop of insecurity, not completely sure that you are capable of finishing…well guess what? It’s very likely your race will result in a DNF. Believe in yourself and your abilities. Your stubbornness is what is going to get you to that 100 mile finish line. Believe it.

2. You will learn what your stomach can and cannot handle REALLY quickly. I learned during my 100 miler that I prefer more savory/salty foods than sweet. Pickles were my best friend. And so was sausage fresh off the grill. Yes, they made HOT food during that race and in the evening when it got cooler it was the best thing ever.

3. Hallucinations are really crazy/fun. You haven’t really done a race until you see trees floating in the distance.

4. A fresh pair of socks or a change of shoes mid race can truly be a game changer.

5. Sleep? What’s sleep? When you are racing against a clock in a 100 miler there is no time for such an activity.

6. You will meet some of the most amazing people you will ever meet in your life out on the trail. The trail and ultra community will truly treat you like family. Everyone is so down to earth, laid back…and they will help you get through those tough moments when you want to throw in the towel.

7. The longer the race, the more it will affect you emotionally. After running beyond 50 miles, being out there in the dark will just take a toll on you and really mess with you. You will fight whatever demons you deal with and even the most positive optimistic person will have those highs and lows.

8. But the highs and lows are what is the most amazing part of running these distances. You come out the other side a different person. And it makes you want to go back again and again. It’s kind of like a self discovery.

Any ultra runners out there? What are some things you wish you knew before you started running beyond 26.2?

4 Things to Expect at Trail Races.

I don’t know about you, but as mostly a road racer (so much so that my trail buddies actually call me ‘roadie’) it can be refreshing sometimes to get off the beaten path and do a trail race. Here are just a few things to expect when you are racing in the dirt.

1. Awesome aid stations. Watermelon, pickles and peanut m&ms…oh my! Nowhere else will you find the best snacks all in one spot. The amount of goodies at trail races can be quite overwhelming, honestly. But be sure to try a little bit of everything. Potatoes with salt? LOL, don’t mind if I do.

2. The most down to earth people around. Forget the typical type A, pace obsessed road racer. These people are not only the best at camping (and are always fully prepared) but they are typically very laid back and fun folks to be around.

3. The most CHILL start and finish lines around. Sure, a huge race like the New York or Chicago marathon can be fun with the crazy amount of spectators. But if you are in search of a more intimate experience, trail races may just be your thing. There will be no gun that goes off, either. Just a ‘ready set go!’ from the the director and you are rocking and rolling.

4. Amazing terrain and a great time to immerse yourself into nature. Shake things up a bit with beautiful hill climbs and being surrounded by trees. Just watch your step and stay alert for those rocks and roots. Hey…if you are on the fence about doing a trail race, I say just bite the bullet and sign up for one. You may find out that you just might like it and fall in love! Or, just fall and face plant? LOL. it’s all a part of trail racing.

What are some things you enjoy about getting off the beaten path?

Weekly Running Report.

I hope you are having a marvelous Monday! I am here to recap last week’s running on mileage Monday. Just over 81 miles last week! That’s the most I have done in quite a while. I should be good and ready for Hachie 50 in May! Plus a few other spring races that I have on tap.

Let’s get to it!

Monday AM- 7.21 miles at a 8:43 pace. It was a nice and beautiful spring day with all of the flowers blooming. Perfect way to kick off the work week.

Monday PM- 3.02 mile cool down enjoying the sunset after I taught a class at the gym. I kind of am loving the evening runs with the extra touch of daylight. Lots of folks out enjoying and it is always fun to people watch.

Tuesday AM- 11.05 mile run with the Irving Running Club. I always do a few miles with them and then finish up on my own. Since no one is crazy enough to do 11 miles with me I always end up on my own. HA. But it’s all good!

Wednesday AM- 8.28 easy miles solo in the ‘hood. Pretty overcast skies with the sounds of the city.

Wednesday PM- 3.03 miles before the gym. Pretty uneventful, was just killing time on this side of town before a 7:15 pm class. And of course, because it was wine Wednesday. I’m just saying.

Thursday AM- 10.12 miles at the early morning run club run. Taking it very easy. The runs towards the end of the week were super humid. Of course they were. It’s springtime in Texas!

P.S. Running 10 miles in the morning makes you do crazy things like eat an abundance of sushi for lunch. You have been warned.

Thursday PM- 4.02 miles before the gym! I had a little more time before teaching a class so decided to get it in.

Friday- REST DAY. I traveled with my trail running club to Oklahoma on this day to do a FREE race, the DanMan Challenge. We camped out at the ranch on Friday evening and ran the race on Saturday.

Saturday- 26.22 miles at the DanMan Challenge. So this guy, out of the kindness of his heart invites a bunch of trail runners to his property to run, you can choose from either a 10k/half marathon, marathon, or 50 miler. He is a runner as well (of course). Then afterwards there is a big party on his ranch with BBQ! Ya’ll, it was the most fun at a race I think I’ve ever had in life. Can’t wait to run it again next year. Of course this was just a training run for my ultra next month but I absolutely loved it. Trail running will always and forever have a place in my heart.

And this incredible woman, Maryann, who is 80 something years young also completed the marathon that day! Talk about #goals.

Sunday- 8.21 recovery miles with of course a RUNfie break. Because, why not.

And that’s a wrap!

How was your weekend? Tell me about your long run and/or racing adventures!

16 Thoughts During a Trail Run.

1. Ahh…nature. It is so blissful out here. Dirt underneath my feet. Birds singing and the sun is shining, heaven.

2. Yuck. I think a bug just flew into my mouth.

3. Why on earth did I even wear my Garmin? I am so painfully slow.

4. That’s okay, just relax and enjoy getting off the beaten path.

5. Rocks and roots and rocks and more roots.

6. Watch your step.

7. I am a badass trail runner. Hear me roar.

8. *Leaves rustling* What was that? I swear I just heard a rumble in the jungle.

9. Hikers on the trail. They are kind of in my way.

10. It’s okay, be nice to them.

11. Good morning! People on the trail are always so nice.

12. aaand I’ve only done like 2 miles. I feel like I’ve done four.

13. The sunshine through the trees is just beautiful. Stop and take a pic.

14. Whoops, I forgot to pause my Garmin.

15. Oh, look at this big climb. No big deal, you’ve got this.

16. The view at the top…incredible.

What are some thoughts you have during trail running?

Fossil Valley Trail Relay Recap.

Well hi there! I am back from my long weekend and ready to recap my trail relay adventure! It was a marvelous 9 hours of running with the Irving Running Club crew. And my first overnight trail race! So I ended up a tad sleep deprived but it was (hashtag) so worth it.

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Since the race was not until Saturday evening, me and a friend got up at our usual run time for a quick shake out run. The sunrise was gorgeous and we got in a few miles so I could go home and take a nice long nap, recharge my batteries and get ready for the evening.

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After a mostly restful day, we made our way out to Cedar Ridge Nature Preserve around 7:30 p.m. to set up shop, lawn chairs and such. The race events didn’t get started until a couple hours later so we did some tailgating with a ton of race snacks and hydration. And of course…mimosas, but we didn’t drink those until we were done running. HA.

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This particular race was such a fun concept, they had a 3, 6 and 9 hour option for all runners. The relay was 9 hours and it was teams of 3. IRC represented out there with a few teams…we roll deep.

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Love my teammates. The IRC breakfast club. I’ve been running with these peeps every morning pretty much at 5:30 a.m. So I thought the team name was quite fitting.

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The course itself was pretty hilly, with a couple of really big climbs but the distance was fairly short. 2.6 mile loops that I got to do a few times throughout the night.

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We all lined up around 10 p.m after the kids fun run. & the gun went off…then the fun began!

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The first few laps were super fun, scampering through the night. It was cool seeing all of the headlamps prancing around on the course. And plus since the loop was fairly short you always saw people ahead or behind you. So for me this was helpful and so were all of the signs on the trail. The race director did an amazing job at keeping us on track! I was just glad I didn’t get lost and didn’t trip or fall the entire time. Success!

Towards the end of the night I got pretty tired but I ended up doing the most laps in my group. 6 total…and with the 3 of us combined we managed to knock out 43 miles in the 9 hour duration. Way to go team!

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I was so proud of the IRC crew for pumping out the miles. The IRC boys took 2nd place with a total of 53 miles. Pretty dang impressive. And a post trail race pic…all sweaty and stinky but high and happy off of trail running endorphins.

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After the run…we had some delicious mimosas and did a little toast to being trail running badasses. Awesomeness.

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Overall I loved the course…it was technical and hard to do over and over but a good time with my teammates! I actually loved the night time running aspect more than I thought I would. Am I becoming a night runner? Haha…definitely not. I’m a morning runner at heart. But it was so fun to change it up and get off the beaten path! I am so proud of myself for getting completely out of my comfort zone. And so thankful I got to do it with such a fantastic group of people. IRC for life!

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And the post race trail run swag…perfection.

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How was your weekend? Have you ever done a crazy overnight race or trail relay before?