Beaverhead Endurance Runs 55k 2015

Ah – Beaverhead – This course is unforgettable, breathtaking and full of surprises!

Last year this race nearly killed me, physically and spiritually. My friend Nellie and I rolled into the last aid station well after dark. I was angry and bonking and wanted to quit. I had suffered from IT band issues for miles and the descent was proving to be brutal. I called my husband and told him I was quitting to his reply of “You only have 5 miles – everyone is waiting for you.” So I finished the race,at 2 am, defeated. Then, of course, signed up again, determined I could finish stronger.

This year I was more prepared with having been on the course before. I knew my head could be my biggest friend and having a pre-race pep talk by Travis Macy, the author of “Ultra Mindset” solidified that knowledge. It was a surprise and a treat to listen to him talk! I started the day with a detailed plan – a new strategy for me. I knew how long I had between each aid station to finish before 10:30 pm – a stretch goal of taking almost 3 hours off my previous time. I also had learned that my recurring injuries rear their ugly heads when I am dehydrated so I really focused on drinking a lot of water and eating every 45 minutes. Those 3 strategies, combined with better weather held big promises for reaching my goal.

The day started at Lemhi pass with lots of friends! We were bused up to the start at 8358 feet! After bathroom breaks, and getting race numbers we all took turns taking pictures of each other at the start then patiently waited to begin.

beaverhead2015Friends at the start – photo credit Nellie Pryor

At 7 am the race started! Immediately, the trail ascends a very steep hill climb for about a half mile. It’s here that the different paces spread out. I quickly found myself where I should be and was able to relax and enjoy the climb. For the next 18 miles – the course follows the Continental Divide Trail. For about 16 miles of that it is mostly nice, rolling single and double track through the trees. Simply amazing! We made good time and put lots of it in the bank for the skree field later in the race.

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Pictures from last year’s race!

I was feeling pretty good through most of this part and we were keeping on pace. I started to get tired around mile 10 so I ate some sport beans. I suddenly was craving candy like crazy!! I don’t usually eat a lot of sugar so this was very odd for me. I decided to go with it and it seemed to work. At the 2nd aid station they had swedish fish and mike and ike’s. Along with my regular nut butter and potato chips, the super sugary candy fueled my entire run. I’ve learned over the few ultra’s I have completed that while it is not smart to try something brand new on race day, I do better when I eat what I crave as this is probably an indication for something I’m lacking.

Around mile 15 – 16 the trail started opening up and we were treated to gorgeous views!

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It is also here that the trail starts to change and we began to see a lot more rock. We stopped to check out the views a few more times but we had a big goal this year!! So lots less time for pictures!

Eventually, we made it into the Gold Stone aid station. The volunteers were so welcoming! They filled us up and we were on our way – 2 hours earlier than we had been at that aid station the year before. It was amazing to be that far in a race and not here one word uttered from a volunteer about a cutoff!

Next up was the Janke Lake aid station! Again, the most wonderful volunteers! One of them treated some blisters on Nellie’s feet while we ate her homemade snacks. It was so friendly and amazing!

Finally, we headed out to the toughest 6 miles of the course. These 6 miles are what make this race different from every other race I’ve participated in.

jankelakeThis is just leaving Janke Lake AS – photo credit Nellie Pryor

We start out with an intense climb – the one you see in the picture above. We climb to the top of that point and then quickly begin navigating a 3 plus mile skree field topping out at 10,047 feet.

rainbowRainbow over an alpine lake after a rainstorm

meonskreeNavigating the skree field – photo credit Nellie Pryor

epic31Nellie and Stephanie, coming down the skree field.

At this point we had several people starting to pass us from the 100k (I’ve never considered myself fast) Each of them commented on how tough the skree field was and no one was running. The skree field follows the Continental Divide – one side is Montana and one side is Idaho. It’s absolutely breathtaking,terrifying and excruciatingly slow!

epic30Idaho side of the skree field

montana sideMontana side of the skree field

Soon, we came to the section where we start to descend and we saw a trail again. It was a fantastic sight although this year, I was a little saddened to leave those brutal 3 miles.

In the next 3 miles, the course follows a steep game trail that loses 4000 feet!! It’s insanely tough after already running 26 miles at a high elevation and on a rocky course! It’s tricky and this is where I suffered immensely with IT band problems the previous year, making this part of the course even tougher. This year I had no problems and although it was slow going, I was happy to complete the steep downhill in the light!

When we made it to Bohannon Creek Aid Station this year, I rolled in with a huge smile on my face, announcing, “I am SO HAPPY!!!!” The last year I had been grumpy and in pain and I knew these poor aid station workers had to deal with a lot of the same since they were the ones greeting runners after that brutal 6 miles. I laughed and joked as I was treated to a delicious smoothie and more candy!! Then I called my husband to tell him where I was at. He was so happy to hear we were 2 1/2 hours ahead of our time the previous year and even said, “Wow! You sound great!” I replied that I felt great and was going to finish in the daylight.

This phone conversation was the highlight of my race. The reason I do these things is to prove to myself over and over that I am growing and learning. Knowing where I was last year compared to this year fills my heart!

We left the aid station and made our way to the finish. It’s still very rocky and downhill so it wasn’t super speedy but I was just enjoying the daylight and the scenery I had missed the previous year. I even ran although the pace tended to be the same as walking.

We finally reached the finish, just after the sun had fully set, around 10:15pm. I excitedly crossed the finish line and exclaimed to the race directors that we had taken 4 hours off our time!! One of them high-fived me and the other said “I know, I know!!” It turned out later to be just under 3 hours but I had been to depressed about the time previously to look at the official results.

finishline2015Nellie and I coming into the finish – photo credit Emily Berriochoa

Overall, I couldn’t be happier. Nellie and I worked really hard to keep up with the aid station splits I had figured out and to keep ourselves taken care of before any issue got out of hand. Over the last year I’ve really focused on speed work, powerful movements and focused weight training through Cross-fit to enhance my performance in mountain running. I’ll never win any races but I’m just a happy girl to be in the mountains, with great company, incredible scenery and a drive to consistently and persistently improve myself. It was a blast seeing Boise Trail Runners on the course as last year Nellie and i were the only ones. I really got a lift each time I saw one of them on the trail. I don’t think there is a kinder, more fun group of runners out there! All this combined with cooler weather and I made the goal I set out for myself!

Eric and David Tarkleson are fantastic race directors. I highly recommend this race!

Happy Running!

Wilson Creek Frozen 50k DNF

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Taking off!!!

photo credit: The Pulse Running and Fitness

I’m not sure how to write this post. I’m not really even sure how I feel about this race.

I did DNF.

I did sign up for the 50k with a very lofty goal. (I would have to cut 2 hours and 20 minutes off my 20 mile time from last year in order to make the cutoff and be able to continue on to finish the 50k.)

But… I did still PR by an hour and 25 minutes AND…

I started the paleo diet on Jan 1 and was able to figure out my nutrition for a grueling 20 mile trail race without being hungry or without losing energy.

Those are 2 pretty big wins. Even when signing up for this race, I knew I was pushing my abilities. I learned a lot.

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Hanging out with friends before the race.

Photo credit: Monique Durkee

The learned 3 valuable lessons from this race:

I’m not seasoned enough to skip a training plan for a big race.

I need to know the whole course.

Sometimes, it’s just not my race.

The truth is, I came off my Foothills Frenzy 50k on a high – almost unable to believe how effortless it felt. But I had trained and trained hard for 6 months up to that race. I had put everything into making sure I was successful and then threw all that out the window for this race. True, I had headed out to Wilson Creek a few times but I didn’t have a strict plan and that made the excuses to not run come easier. It was the holidays and at one point I got really sick but looking back – I should have been able to find the time to train more.

Also, the part that killed me was after the 2nd aid station. Heading up a steep single track, I had only been on the opposite way. I never took the time to train on that section and I was mentally unprepared for that much more climbing.

The final lesson: Sometimes, it’s just not your race. I followed a girl in all black for most of the race. She stayed just enough in front of me that I couldn’t see who she was until we were close to the summit. She had last year’s map so she was looking left and right at a fork. I asked her if she was looking for the summit and she said yes. I kindly pointed out the tower and then she took off again. I didn’t see her again until about 4ish miles out from the finish line. She was off the trail a little and behind a rock.  I was kind of embarrassed because my foot was bothering me so much, I had been yelling at it very loudly and then it surprised me to see her. I asked her if she was OK and she said yes. I told her she had probably heard me yelling and she said “I feel your pain.” I passed her but slowed a little more. I soon came to a creek and got confused about where to cross. I thought for sure I had missed a flag. I did not remember going through the creek last year and my only choice at this point was to continue walking on the frozen water. The only thing that assured me was the footprints in the dirt around it and the dirt streaking across the ice. I stopped a couple times when I realized I was fine to make sure the girl was on the same track. I soon saw her and then waited a bit for her to catch up. At this point, I knew I wasn’t going to make the cutoff and I might as well finish the race with someone. Besides it was getting really cold and foggy again and it was getting harder to see the trail and flags. Once she caught up to me, I learned that she was having knee problems, probably her IT band. We hobbled along together as my plantar fasciitis was getting worse.

Soon, we came to a very steep downhill section. I have suffered through IT band problems so I know how painful downhills are. I had trekking poles so I offered her one of mine. She didn’t even hesitate to take a pole which told me just how much pain she was in. We headed down the trail and towards the bottom she thanked me for letting her use it. That’s when I realized this was not my race. Sometimes the plan is bigger than we are. It’s always a good day for a humble reminder. I finally relaxed and just allowed the day to envelope me. Whether I use this moment to make me feel better about my DNF or truly believe I was in the right place at the right time for someone else changes minute to minute as I reflect back on my day. There are a lot of things I could have done differently to prepare for this race  but sometimes, it’s just not my race.

I crossed the finish line in 8:25 and was welcomed into the arms of some of my favorite faces – Shanda, Emily, Nellie, Amy, Amanda and Leah. I got some soup, had a beer and enjoyed listening to some other trail runners stories while I warmed up in the tent. Then I got to cheer on several friends as they finished their 50ks.

Overall, I say any day on the trail is better than a day not on the trail. I got to spend time with some amazing people, enjoy unbelievable views, see wild horses and get some more experience. I’ll take it.

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photo credit: Dondi Black

Wilson Creek Frozen 50k 2014 DNF: 20.85 miles in 8:25

Foothills Frenzy 50k: 32 miles in 10:49

McCall Trail Running Classic 20 miles: 8:35

Wilson Creek Frozen 20 miler 2013: 9:49

I’m STILL proud of that progression. It STILL shows how strong I have become in a year.

Now begins my training for Wild Idaho 50 miler in July 🙂

Happy Trails!

My first 50k – The Foothills 50k Frenzy!

In early October of 2012, I volunteered near the finish line for the Foothills 50k Frenzy. At that time, I had run one marathon and the idea of a trail race or a 50k was still very mysterious to me. I volunteered near the finish line so I could see these runners faces as they came in to cross the finish line to make sure they looked happy and alive. I enjoyed every minute, especially chatting with some of the family members as they waited for their loved ones to come in.

I only knew 4 or 5 of the runners but as names were announced, I made a mental note of many of them. I was in awe of these people and how they all embraced at the finish line and congratulated each other. This was not something I had seen at road races. I also began making plans in my head to run a 50k but probably not until 2014. I figured that would give me enough time to train.

I’m not really sure what happened between October 2012 and October 2013 but somehow I went from wanting to run some fast road half marathons to signing up for the Frenzy. I remember an email from a local race director, Emily, I had met 5 months earlier, asking me what my running plans for the year were. I remember telling her about my plans for some fast half marathons to build speed and then I remember following her, a little over a month later, in the dark to the Wilson Creek Trail head. That was the beginning of the end for me. I spent 8 hours climbing and descending some of the toughest terrain I had ever seen. I was hooked. I signed up for the Wilson Creek Frozen 50k race, the 20 mile version and completed it in January, in 9 hours and 49 minutes, in -4 degrees, ice and snow. I had a blast.

Here is a picture of me at the summit.

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photo credit Amy King

I had been toying with the idea of running the Frenzy as soon as I crossed the finish line at Wilson Creek. In April I volunteered for The Race to Robie Creek half marathon at the summit with The Pulse – a local running store. My new trail buddy, Dondi was running the race and was going to come back up to the summit when she was done and then run an additional 12 miles back to the cars via the foothills to train for her upcoming race. I had the amazing opportunity to join her and some other local runners, Jenny, Dennis, Mark and Otto on the trails back to the cars. We took a beautiful route, all the time Jenny and Dondi narrating how these trails would fit in with the Frenzy and talking me into it. It was hard and I had IT band issues that day but I knew if I could train correctly I would have a successful race. When Jenny, the race director offered a deal on facebook for the entry that could not be refused, I hurried to the Pulse and signed up.

Here is a picture of me at the top of Orchard Gulch for the first time. I had told Jenny I was jealous of everyone’s cool trail photos so she got lots of great shots of me that day.

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Check out these views! Seriously, so lucky!

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photo credits Jenny Stinson

I followed the suggested Frenzy training plan by the letter. I made my way from Kuna to the Boise Foothills at least once a week, trying to conquer each of the trails listed on the Ridge to Rivers website, several of them included in the Frenzy. I battled heat, nausea, getting lost and time management for 6 months to ensure I was as ready as I could be for the race. I would say probably 2 of those training runs I came out of still with energy. I beat myself up almost every time and wondered how I would feel on race day. I never doubted I would make it. I just didn’t know what I would look like when I was done.

2 weeks before the race I went out for a run. It wasn’t fun. My body was not responding to a small run and I just felt tired. I did 3 1/2 miles on fairly flat trails. I tried again later that afternoon. Same result. I walked 3 miles in the Kuna foothills and came home exhausted. I just didn’t have it in me. 3 days later I headed out for a 6 mile loop at Polecat with my friend, Leah. My body just would not do what I wanted it to. We cut a mile off the run and called it a day. I got lots of advice from experienced runners to just relax. I decided the taper had begun and didn’t do anything physical for 11 days. That’s a long time when you are used to running 3-4 days/ week, yoga and strength training but I knew if I pushed it, I would hurt myself or not have a good race.

At 6 am on October 5, 2013 after hugging LOTS of new trail friends I made over the year, I took off with my friends, Shanda and Nellie. We headed down a small bit of pavement, just enough to get the pecking order in line and then hit the trails. I was determined to not get wrapped up in the crowd and go out to fast. I wanted to have a good race and feel good at the end. After we had all spread out a little, my friend Ryan said he wanted to run with me to the first aid station. We spent 6 miles on the trails together, him entertaining me with stories. We walked all the up hills and took a very easy pace on the flats or downhills. I enjoyed the company until we hit our first aid station where I saw some of my favorite people in the world! Amy, Emily, Jon, Tom, Donna and Kim! I was so looking forward to seeing them and I was having a great time but they didn’t want to see me for long so I got a banana and headed out. I would be back at this aid station again towards the end of the race.

Ryan took off to go find his wife, Michelle and I was alone on the trail. I knew what was in store so I was happy to be alone to battle with Five Mile Gulch. Five Mile Gulch is a never ending uphill 2 miles that I find myself swearing at every time I approach it. Here I was passed by 5 people, putting me in dead last. Which… I am totally fine with. I promised myself that I would take a laid back approach to my first 50k and enjoy it no matter what happened. I’m new to this, I’m 33. I have plenty of time to get faster. I want to look back at these experiences and remember every moment, every scenic overlook, the smells, the volunteers faces, all of it. Apparently, I looked to laid back because when I reached the aid station at the top of Five Mile, I got a brief but funny lecture from my friend Martha about hanging out at aid stations. We had a small, 2 mile out and back here and she was just coming back. I told her I was taking my laid back, no stress Kristine approach to races. I jokingly said ” I don’t know what’s wrong with me.” I think this made her worry about me which I felt bad about later when I read her blog. I really was just having fun even if Five Mile Gulch beat me up a little. I headed up Ridge Road for my 2 miles and on my way back, passed 2 ladies. I asked them if they were the sweeps and they said yes. Uh oh – time to get moving. I did not want to spend the majority of the race with them even if they did look like nice people. My friend Tina came out to meet me and ran/ walked me back into the aid station even though she had a sore foot! I loved seeing her and her husband Mike, Wayne and Michael at this aid station! I was at mile 13 and I started counting down the miles until I would be back at the 3 bears AS to see my friends again.

Here is a picture of me and Martha and me with the Andersons.

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Here is a picture of the view at this point!

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photo credit Martha Spiva

The next stretch was amazing! It was slightly downhill, and the views were incredible. I picked up the pace a little and enjoyed the gravity. I came out at the summit for Robie Creek! It was so cool to see how all these trails connect. I ran down Rocky Canyon road a little and cruised into the mile 18 aid station. They informed me I had 2 hours to make it to the next aid station – 4 miles away. I was ecstatic! I have to admit I didn’t really study the course map or look at the cutoffs before this race. I’m not sure why but I think it helped keep me relaxed and having fun. Besides, this was the part of the course I loved! Orchard Gulch is one of my most favorite trails. It is so beautiful and I had run it several times. Here I ran into Michelle and Ryan again. We chatted and ran together a bit but I was finding my second wind so I took off. This is a very runnable section once you get to the top so I wanted to take advantage of it. About a mile from the next aid station, I saw my friend, Sam and his friend, Ken. They took off to see where Ryan and Michelle were and then came back and ran me into the aid station which was fun. When I came in I got to see my friend Carrie! And they had a porta potty! Glory hallelujah! I was happy to use a real toilet! My friend Liane was there and took off, then Ryan and Michelle came into the AS and I took off. I had beat the cutoff by 45 minutes! I was a happy girl and I only had 2 1/2 miles until I was back at the 3 bears AS.

orchard gulch

photo credit Jeff Black

3bears

photo credit Jeff Black

Ok. I am coming to find out in every race there is a section that tests your mental muscles. This was it. I have run this section of 3 bears over and over but only coming downhill onto Rocky Canyon road. I did not realize what a tough trail this is going back up until the race. I was very angry at 3 bears and was power hiking with vengeance!  When I FINALLY reached 3 bears AS I told them that stretch was a beast but I had been counting down the miles until I saw their faces again! What was most entertaining was Jon in his afro wig and then Tom being yelled at by Amy, Emily, Kim and Donna when he offered me a chair! I giggled and told him thank you for thinking of me! They offered me many yummy things. I responded that my drug of choice for the day was m&ms mixed with salty chips in a baggie. Then Tom offered me a fresh, hot cup of Starbucks coffee and everything was right in the world. I love these people!!! They told me it was 4 1/2 miles to the next AS and I was off again. Sipping on my coffee and preparing to kill it in the next 8 miles.

This section was pretty much downhill, fun to run with a few steep but short uphills. Then I came to a section of Femrites that is very steep downhill and very slippery rock. I was glad that I had joined my friends Dondi, Andrea, Lori and Joyce on this section earlier in the summer and new what to expect. My husband called me here and I let him know it would be about an hour and a half to the finish.

I came into the next as and was pretty excited to see Liane and her friend Nancy and that they had watermelon! It had warmed up pretty significantly and watermelon was a welcome treat. I was a little dissapointed here. I had been told at the last AS that it was 4 1/2 miles to this AS. I could see it in the distance and figured I had plenty of time to meet my goal once I got there so I didn’t push myself to get to the AS fast. I knew once I hit that AS that I would have an hour to do 3 1/2 miles and would reach my goal time of 10 1/2 hours. When I found out I still had 4 1/2 miles to go, I knew I couldn’t do that in an hour.  I got very upset, near tears and took off. I had a lot of energy saved up and ended up running about 2 1/2 miles as fast as I could. I saw Andrea on top of the hill and I headed towards her. I was so happy to see her and expressed how I was feeling. I now know that I was just experiencing some of the emotions that come with a race. I was almost done and up until that point I had not allowed myself to be negative so I was just letting it out. She hugged me and listened which was all I needed.

I ran another mile, determined to at least come in close to my goal when I saw a lovely face – Kayla!!!! I was so happy to see her and she was so great telling me what was coming up a head and pushing me along that last mile to finish. It was so funny because I knew someone else was with us. I finally turned around to look and it was Nellie’s daughter, Amber! I was so shocked that she was there! I apologized for complaining to both of them and told them how happy I was to see them!

We got to the stairs where I was pleasantly surprised at how easy they were for me. I have very steep stairs in my house so I get lots of practice but I thought for sure they would be harder than they were. I paused at the top for a moment to see the finish and then took off! I passed my husband and our dog and cruised through the chute at 10:49. Then I was greeted with a million hugs from Shanda, Nellie, Martha, Jenny, Holly, Beth, Amy, Donna, Carrie, I could go on and on! So many hugs!!!! Then I turned to see my hubby coming towards me and I ran to him for a huge hug and kiss! I was SO happy to see him and Shady dog! We had lots of pictures and then we waited for the rest of the runners to come in. I felt drunk from happiness and elation and exhaustion! It was a glorious day!

Coming into the finish line!

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Coming in for the hugs!

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Happy Girl!

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Good friends!

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I’m not sure who took all these photos but thank you!!!!

I fueled well, eating what looked good to me at AS and subbing in my homemade peanut butter and honey packets as well as Sbux VIA refresher packets. I hydrated well, finishing my Nathan pack by mile 30. And I dressed perfectly for the weather; shorts and a skirt, a short sleeved tech shirt and a long sleeved tech shirt over that which I peeled off as soon as I started getting warm. I didn’t match. I saved energy so I could finish strong although, I do have to admit there were places where I could have pushed myself a little harder and got a better time.

In January I finished my first trail race, 20 miles, in 9:49. In July, I finished my 2nd trail race, 22.7 miles in 8:34 and on October 5, 2013, I finished my first 50k, 32 miles, in 10:49. I would say I am pretty happy with that kind of progression over a 10 month time period! I basically added 12 miles in an hour!

I am so grateful for the friends I have made this year! Also for the friends and family who have supported and cheered for me! And especially for Greg, who has sacrificed many home cooked meals and one-on-one time with me because I was to tired from my training.

Now – on to WILSON CREEK 50K in January!!!!!

Self Worth

Your self-worth comes from you only. No one or thing can give that to you – It does not come from money, religion, your spouse, a perfect body or your job. If you do not love yourself now – you will not love yourself when you have all of those things. It takes you – building your own self esteem.Image

McCall Trail Running Classic – 22.7 miles of pain and pure bliss and my discovery that I can do it.

7 days before my McCall race, I came home near exhaustion from a 15 mile trail run in the local foothills. My husband asked me how it went and I replied, “It was to hard again. I shouldn’t be doing this with these people!” I was nauseous, in a lot of pain and laid in bed for the next day and a half. Later he asked me why I keep going if it’s so bad. I replied then, “Remember when I would lay in bed all day after a road 5k? One day, these runs will feel like a road 5k feels to me now.”

7 days later, I toed the line at Jug Mountain Ranch in McCall, ID; trying to distract myself from the fears inside my head by posing for pictures and meeting new trail buddies. My inner voices were screaming at me: “You have no business being here/ It’s to hard/ You will probably have to drop!” The calm side of me kept responding: SO WHAT?!

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credit Dondi Black

A few minutes later we were off! And I was breathing hard in the cool mountain air, keeping up with everyone else because there isn’t much choice on a single track trail, 2 feet behind the runner in front of you and 2 feet in front of the runner behind you. I had many friends with me – most I have met on the trails and various running events in the last year and a half. After a few miles in, I had to take a potty break. The runners kept going and I was finally by myself. I LOVE my trail buddies but I have come to accept that I prefer the trail alone battling my thoughts.

A few more miles up the trail and I ran into some other new friends. We stopped at Louie Lake and took some magnificent photos. The views for this race were incredible and one of my only regrets is not taking more pictures!

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Then we were off again and we began a slow, steady, very steep climb. At this point, I became very negative. I was by myself again and I was extremely frustrated as I had to stop several times to catch my breath. The combination of the elevation and the climbing was getting to me. Then as I neared the top, the trail became shaded and cool again in the trees and I started a descent into a beautiful, green meadow that seemed to last forever. At this point I could see several runners in the distance along the meadow. This is where I wish I would have taken out my camera because it would have been such an amazing shot.

Soon I came to Boulder Lake – the trail widened a bit and was completely shaded. I walked quickly for a couple miles, allowing my body to recover and just really enjoy the scenery.

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I soon came to my first stream crossing and I happily splashed through it, allowing my feet to cool off. Soon, a trail buddy, Jim caught up to me and we both caught up to another friend, Marcie. All 3 of us, crossed a really cool dam on Boulder Lake, maneuvering our way across giant granite boulders and cool water. I took a couple minutes to submerge myself in the water which felt incredible!

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Then we started our descent down the rocky trail leading away from Boulder Lake. After the trail seemed safe again, I got my second wind! I was on a runners high as I took off, passing hikers coming up the trail. I cruised into the next aid station seeing LOTS of fabulous aid station volunteers, mostly known for their experience and ability to build the self esteem of a new trail runner 🙂 They asked me how I was doing and I practically screamed “AMAZING!!!!” I felt so fantastic and was even more excited when I saw Randy, who had gingerly walked me through the trail run the previous Saturday. He asked me if I was doing better than last Saturday and of course I was bursting at the seems to report how great I felt! He forced me to get more water and some enduralytes while Day filled my water bottle so I could add my VIA packet and Jenny told me to “GET OUT OF HERE!” I protested – “But I am having so much fun!” Of course, I took off and started another climb up the hill.

Soon I caught up to some new friends that had passed me earlier. We chatted a bit while climbing a Forest service road. I was pumped up and moving fast so I said goodbye and kept on my way. It was warm out but I was feeling really great about what was to be a PR for this distance on a trail so I was not allowing the heat to take it’s toll. I kept drinking water and my VIA refresher. And I just became very attached to the moment. I thought about how lucky I am to have a husband that supports my curious nature, a boss who allows me to take time off whenever I want to, Gratitude for the race directors and the kind heart-ed nature of the local, experienced trail runners who so enjoy advising us newbies. I sat in that moment as I plugged along, positive I would finish in 8 hours, an almost 2 hour PR from Wilson Creek 7 months earlier.

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And then…….. Doubleshot. Ladies and Gentlemen… when you come to a sign nearing the end of your trail run that reads: “Experts Only” just go ahead and assume that you will not be in your runners’ high state of mind for long! The grueling last 2 1/2 miles of that course almost knocked me flat on my ass. I had words for the race directors and I growled like a bear on that stretch. When I finally saw a sign that said – “MTC finish 200 yards” I talked myself back into a smiling pose in case there were cameras and high tailed it in.

I crossed the finish line in 8 hours and 34 minutes, completing almost 23 miles and cutting an hour and 20 minutes off my Wilson Creek 20 mile time in January. I was ecstatic! I had energy and I could not believe how I almost didn’t sign up for this race.

I waited for all my remaining friends to finish. Some doing the 20 miler and some doing the 40 miler. A kind new trail buddy went to my car and got my flip flops and beer cooler. I enjoyed watching others come in happy and exhausted. I even drove the 2 hours home that night I still had so much energy!

In less than 12 weeks, I have my longest distance race yet, the Foothills 50k Frenzy, I can only hope that more chew-me-up-and-spit-me-out training can prepare me for that journey and I can have just as good of a race but for now, I am relishing the moment of this fantastic, 22.7 miles of pain and pure bliss – My newest discovery that I CAN do it!