Monday, January 15, 2018


James and I celebrated our 25th anniversary in December. This past September, we were out to dinner and got talking about how, in almost 25 years of marriage we had never really been on a vacation just the two of us.  We had been camping and things with the kids, and I had gone to the Beach with my mom. There was the time in October 2012, when he was away out of state driving truck long haul, that I flew down to SLC and spent a week with him in his truck.  We went to South Carolina and to Texas to see Meghan and Ryan's boot camp graduations.  But no actual vacations. 

The 25 year anniversary seemed like a land mark, so we talked about how we should go on vacation, just the 2 of us. Someplace warm. We both wanted to go to Hawaii and before I knew it, we were sitting there in the restaurant making plane, hotel, and car reservations. The week of our anniversary, tickets were really expensive, so we searched for the soonest relatively cheap fares and settled on January 6-13. We were going to Hawaii!! The 3+ months between took forever and we were constantly telling ourselves to hang on because although life was crazy, in a little while, we were going to Hawaii. And so we did.

And oh my gosh, we had so much fun!!! 

We got there at 10 pm on Saturday the 6th, and I had to take my hoodie off as soon as I was off the plane. We got to the hotel and our room was FREEZING, because the housekeeping staff had left the A/C on all day. We had a big sliding glass door out to our lanai though, and we turned the A/C off, opened the door, and were then quite comfortable. We played this game with housekeeping all week, leaving the door open when we left, then having to open it again and turn off the A/C when we would come back every day, LOL. 

I ran every morning, and got lots of miles in. The first few days I really struggled to maintain my pace, I think because I'm not used to the heat and humidity, but by the end of the week I had adjusted pretty well. I wound up with a lot of soaking wet stinky running clothes though. I ran around the base of Diamond Head one morning:

did hill repeats on it once:

 ran on the path beside the beach:

 and through Waikiki:

I ate seafood every day. I had lots of shrimp, tried seared ahi (only cooked on the outside, very tasty), and poke (yum):

I had fresh pineapple (completely delicious), fresh coconut (blech), dragon fruit (which was prettier than it was tasty), and two different kinds of small, local bananas.

We snorkeled:

  laid on the beach in the sun:


 drove around the coast:

and watched fire dancers:

Really, we had a fabulous time. And we enjoyed the warm weather so much, we wound up having long discussions about whether we could move there. That's still undetermined,  LOL.  But we are definitely going back. I think we will visit the Big Island next.

Summer 18 racing plans

My last long race of each summer seems to be in mid October, the Zombie half marathon. After that race is over, winter is definitely on its way and the running season is winding down for me. There are some long winter races in Alaska, but I don't feel confident enough with my winter survival skills to be out in the wilderness for several hours, potentially alone for most of it. Alaska kills people that aren't prepared, and I'm not prepared for that.

But it seems like as soon as I am done racing, I start wishing they would hurry up and come out with the next year's running calendar. Mostly, I have to wait until around New Year's to get firm dates on the next season's races, and I am really not good at waiting. I'm really bad at it actually. Luckily, the new year is finally here and I have gotten my 2018 racing schedule nailed down through Labor Day. 

Without further ado, here's my plan, although there aren't specific dates available for a couple of them yet:

February 10: Love Run 5k with Brooker. We've done this one together the last few years.

May ? : Turnagain Arm Trail Run - 8 miles
I really wanted to do this one the last couple of years, but in 2016 I didn't sign up fast enough and it sold out in a couple hours. I learned my lesson, and in 2017, I was signed up within 5 minutes of registration opening. Then I had to do some emergency travel for work, and didn't land back in Anchorage until about 2 hours after the start time. The scenery on this run is amazing and I was so disappointed. So I'm trying again this year.

June 2-3: Alaska Endurance Trail Run, Fairbanks 
You can sign up for 6, 12, or 24 hours, on a roughly 6 mile loop. I did the 24 hour race last year, but had to stop after about 18 hours due to dehydration []  I am going to do better this year.

June 23 : Kesugi Ridge full traverse (30 miles), Denali State Park
Last year, I struggled with my running, which is a major part of why I got a running coach. I missed the cutoff at the halfway point last year, and didn't get to finish. [] Again, doing better this year. Making the cutoff, finishing the race.

July 14: Angel Creek 50, Fairbanks
I did this race in 2016, hoping to make it my first 50 miler, but did not finish after getting lost in the fog. []. This is becoming repetitive. Gotta start making my racing goals the first time.

August ??: Resurrection Pass 50
This was a great race, and I can't wait to do it again. 

September 1: A Day at the Beach. I've done the 12 hour in 2016 and the 6 hour in 2017. I will probably do the 12 or 24 hour this year. 

There might be a couple more, like the Girdwood trail marathon or the Equinox, in late September/ early October, plus there's the Zombie half in mid October.

I think it's going to be a pretty fun summer.

Monday, January 1, 2018


In 2017, I:

  • Ran every day, an average of 3.3 miles per day
  • Ran 1212.8 miles
  • Completed my first 50 mile race
  • Had to stop running my first 24 hour race after 18 hours, due to dehydration
  • Ran my fastest 5k ever 
  • Gained 5 pounds (whoops)
  • Worked way too much
  • Got a promotion (I start my new job January 15)
  • Got a new Jeep
  • Celebrated my 25th anniversary
  • booked tickets to Hawaii (we leave January 6)
  • Started working with a running coach (she's awesome)
  • Went to Dillingham AK for work (I had never been there before)
  • Child #1 almost got married (it got postponed, not cancelled)
  • Child #2 came home for the summer to work with his dad
  • Child #3 turned 18
  • Child #3 also got to participate in a national cooking competition
  • Child #4 started high school

And I don't even know what else. It was a great year, overall. I hope 2018 will rock just as much!! I've got big plans! 

Monday, August 28, 2017


Whirlwind pretty accurately describes my life this summer. I've been so busy, and I am constantly thinking, oh I should blog about that,  but never seem to find the time to do it.
What has kept me busy this summer? Well, running, fishing, travelling, working, and just life in general. I think I worked almost every Saturday this summer, unless I was out of town for a race or something.
My oldest son, Ryan, spent the summer with us. It was amazing to have him home, but honestly having one extra person in my house didn't make things any more crazy, except for the extra sibling bickering that drove me crazy.
I have tons to blog about though. I just need to set side time to do it.
I ran the Resurrection Pass 50 miler 2 and a half weeks ago. This coming Saturday I am running the 6 hour version of A Day at the Beach. I did this one last year too, but did the 12 hour. With just 3 weeks between Res Pass 50 and this, though, my coach and I decided I should do the 6 hour this year, since 3 weeks is not a lot of time between races.
The first week after Res Pass 50 was just recovery. For 4 days, I just ran very slow 1 mile streak savers. The first one took something like 16:50 and was very painful. Then there were a few days of run/walk intervals, gradually increasing both overall time and the ratio of running:walking. This is the first time I've had such a structured recovery, and it really worked.
This week's training:

Sunday: the last of the run/walk intervals for recovery.
Monday: I was supposed to run 5 easy miles, but I wound up working more than 12 hours straight, and I wound up only getting about 3 miles in before it got too dark. I didn't have my headlamp with me.
Tuesday:  a 1 mile day.
Wednesday: I was supposed to get 8 miles in, but Ryan was leaving for the airport in the morning and I decided I needed to spend some time with him. We had dinner and played a game of Monopoly, and at 11:50 I realized I hadn't run that day yet, so out for a speedy 1 mile last minute.
Thursday:  6 miles on the coastal trail. The target was 2 miles warm up, 4 miles at a half marathon pace, and 2 miles cool down. I did it, but it felt really tough.
Friday: hill repeats. Those were FUN
Saturday: 5 easy miles. This was the only time all week besides the 1 milers that I was able to take Daisy with me. I think she had fun:

Total mileage for the week: 23.45

Sunday, July 9, 2017

Kesugi Ridge Traverse race recap

In my last post, I mentioned that I was running the Kesugi Ridge Traverse a couple of Saturdays ago, June 24. Well, I did, and it was awesome, and I will tell you all about it.

Kesugi Ridge is in the Denali area, so it is a couple of hours’ driving distance from my house. The race starts at the Little Coal Creek trailhead, and ends at Byer’s Lake campground and trailhead. The race director had arranged a free (although rocky) group camping spot at Byer’s Lake, so I decided to head up Friday night and spend the night. Becky and her friend Vivian decided to come with me (the same kids that crewed for me at AETR), which again worked out well. When we got to Byer’s Lake, the group campsite was as rocky as advertised, but I was able to find a fairly comfortable spot right next to the only other person I knew that was running the race, my friend Chris, who was also at AETR, and managed an amazing 57 miles in his 12 hour race. He’s fast, so I knew I wouldn’t see him once the race actually started.  The girls slept in the back of my Cherokee, and I put up my 1 person tent, and was quite comfortable. Chris lent me one of his inflatable sleeping pads, and I have been tempted to buy one before, and now I’m convinced I have to have one.

I always worry that I am going to oversleep for a morning race (even though I never have), so I set multiple alarms on my cell phone. I woke up half an hour before my first alarm, though, and briefly thought about going back to sleep, but didn’t. I found I had slept very comfortably, and wasn’t sore anywhere, which is not my normal camping experience. Gotta get a sleeping pad.

It’s a good thing I got an early start, because I was still barely ready at go time. I made a quick breakfast of Optavia blueberry and almond hot cereal (yummy) with water boiled in my new Jetboil stove. That’s a new purchase for me, and this was my first time using it. The instructions were frustrating, as they were all pictures, without written instructions, and I found it to be too much to decipher first thing in the morning. Chris, however, is well versed in Jetboil use, and showed me pretty quickly how it worked. That thing was amazingly fast! It had my ½ cup of water boiled in seconds! I mentally went through my packing while I ate, and decided which foods and how much I was bringing with me. Then I packed up my tent and sleeping bag, returned the sleeping pad to Chris, and we were on our way to the Little Coal Creek trailhead, where the race began, 20 miles further up the Parks Highway.

When I got there, I tried to quickly get organized and get ready to go. What I thought was plenty of time turned out to be barely enough. In fact, a friend lent me a Delorme In Reach satellite beacon with tracking and text capabilities and I didn’t even get it turned on. I decided that if I needed it, I would turn it on then. In fact, I didn’t even get my GPS watch searching for the satellite soon enough, and the race started before I even had a signal. I was .2 miles into the race by the time my watch was ready to go. Oh well. I just had to add .2 to all my distances.

So, this race has a pretty tough cutoff at about the halfway point. You have to make it to about mile 14.5 in 4 hours to be able to continue the race. If you don’t make it, you have to hike out at Ermine Hill instead of going all the way to Byer’s Lake. I knew, thanks to simple math, that I was going to have to really push to have a chance at making the cutoff. So I did not stop to take any pictures at all, because I didn’t want to waste a single precious second. All the photos are borrowed from when I hiked this with my family last summer.

The first mile is sort of rolling trail through the woods. But the next 2+ miles are pretty much straight uphill. You gain over 1000 feet of elevation in those 2 miles. Those miles took me a long time, like 26 minutes per mile. That ate a big chunk out of my 4 hours. Over an hour had passed by the time I got to the top of the ridge. 

I was already starting to worry, but I had given this a lot of thought ahead of time. I decided that I was going to keep pushing, and try my best to make the cutoff, but also not stress about it if I didn’t. Either way, I was going to be spending most of the day running in the mountains and I was determined to enjoy it no matter what. So every time I started worrying about the cutoff, I reminded myself to just keep going and do the best I could and not worry about the time.

Once up on top of the ridge, the terrain becomes rolling, with lots of ups and downs, but is very rocky. I found that there were only a few places that I could confidently run at anything close to full speed. I tripped lots of times, but didn’t actually fall. 

And I have to say I HATE crossing boulder fields, but I did it. They were much easier with my running pack than they were with a 35 pound backpack the previous summer.

(Did I say I hate boulder fields? Well, I do. Here I am last summer, picking my way across one while my husband patiently waits. And occasionally helpfully tells me to "step on that one")

The weather was sunny and very warm, and there were beautiful views of Denali for a little while before it got clouded over.

I ran and I ran, and I pushed as hard as I could given the terrain, but I didn’t make the cutoff. I missed it by 36 minutes. I was disappointed, but I’m confident I’ll make it next year. After passing the Ermine Hill junction, you have to go about ¼ mile farther down the trail to get to the checkpoint, and it was up a steep hill. Climbing that hill, knowing I wasn’t going to be able to continue running, was the only time in the race that I got really frustrated. I was still feeling really good, and felt confident that if I had made the cutoff, I would have been able to finish the race. After checking in with the volunteer at the checkpoint, I stopped to finally take some pictures of the beautiful rocks all around me, then headed back down the hill to the Ermine Hill trail junction. 

Once I got back down to the junction, I took off my shoes and socks to tend to my feet, which had blistered during the race and been ignored. They felt much better after putting chapstick on the blisters and letting them be bare for a couple of minutes.

My plan was to run down the 3.75 miles or so to the trailhead. The race sweep was just behind me, and we quickly caught up to a girl that had gotten to the checkpoint about 10 minutes before I did. She was not in very good shape. It was really warm and sunny, and we had all been out in the sun for close to 5 hours by that point. She was stumbling down the trail with her trekking poles swinging aimlessly. I called out and when she turned around, her gaze was clearly unfocused. She said she wasn’t feeling very good, and I believed her. As we were talking to her, sort of assessing her condition, we passed a tiny streamlet that crossed the trail. I encouraged her to dip her buff in the water, which was nicely cold, and drape it around her neck. She did that, and I tried to get her to do the same with her headband, but no luck. I took my hat off and dipped it in the stream too and the cold water felt really good on my head.  We found a patch of shade and had her sit and rest for a bit, and encouraged her to drink some water. She did, and promptly threw up. I was starting to worry that she might not make it out on her own feet, but after resting for a while, she was able to eat a few dried mangos and drink some more water and kept that down. Soon she was looking much better, and we got to our feet and started moving again. 

We crossed another steam and I made her get her buff wet again, but she was doing much better, and was able to make it all the way to the trailhead under her own power. After a few minutes wait, a shuttle (a guy in a Subaru that was helping out with the race) picked us up and took us to the finish area at Byer’s Lake, where I got some food and watched some other runners finish.

I was hoping to see Chris finish, but by the time I was ready to go (and the girls were begging to go), he wasn’t in yet. Chris is a strong runner, though, so I wasn’t worried, and headed home. Turns out I should have worried. Apparently, several runners really struggled with the heat and suffered badly from cramping, including Chris. He had a really tough day out there, and since he is a friend, I felt bad that I wasn’t there to support him when he was able to make it across that finish line. I’ve heard second hand, though, about his commitment to making it across that finish line himself, even after being encouraged to let a 4 wheeler bring him in, and I am super impressed with his strength and persistence.

It really was super hot and sunny, and while the weather was a blessing because rain can really make for a crappy run with poor visibility, you are completely exposed the entire time you are up on that ridge, with no shade anywhere to get a break from that unrelenting sun beating on the rocks. The trail sweeps were familiar with the course and had Delorme satellite beacons in case of emergency, and they were friendly and supportive of the slower runners (including me). This was an excellent, well organized, well prepared race and I completely enjoyed every minute I was out there.

I mentioned in my last post that I was using this run as sort of a decision point for Angel Creek 50. Although I felt great, I did not make the cutoff at the halfway point, and I have decided to not try to run Angel Creek 50 this year. Instead, I am going to focus on being ready for Resurrection Pass 50, which is on August 12, because I think if I can get some quality training in between now and then, it’s totally doable for me. Angel Creek will have to wait til next year. I know Travis and Chris are both running it though, and I wish both of those guys lots of luck. Travis missed the cut off by 1 minute last year, after battling through some nasty conditions. The weather looks like it could be much better this year, and I think he’s got it in the bag. I can’t wait to see how they do!

Friday, June 23, 2017

AETR race report - part 2

So, in my last post, I talked about the details of the race. It really was a fabulous race, so I didn’t want to cloud that post with my own inner negativity. Thus, I decided to write a second post about what was going on in my head, and where I go from here.

I went into this race spectacularly undertrained. Due to craziness at work, needing to spend time with my family, and letting the crappy weather be an excuse to not get my long runs in, I only managed 1 run over 20 miles prior to this race. I rationalized a lot, saying that I ran every day, that I had run lots of long runs last summer, and I couldn’t have lost that ability over a winter of relatively short runs, etc. But in the end, it was all just excuses and justifications. The thing about excuses and justifications is that they don’t get you the training or the mental toughness that you need to keep going when things suck. But somehow, I had convinced  myself that I could keep going for 24 hours and get 75 miles in without training for it. In a nutshell, it didn’t work.

Those last 2 loops were terrible. My feet hurt, my legs were refusing to run, and probably worse, I wasn’t drinking enough water. I almost quit after my next to last loop, but at the decision point, I decided to get back out there and do another loop. I knew I would probably walk most of that loop, which turned out to be the last one, and I did. I pretty much walked all 6 miles of it. I even say down at the aid station at the halfway point and rested. I should have drank a water bottle full of water while I was there,  but I didn’t. But I finished it. A couple of other runners passing me were nice enough to ask me if I was ok. By the time I came into the finish line, I had tears running down my face.

During those last two loops, my mind was in a consistently negative state. I felt like a failure, like I couldn’t do it. I reminded myself that I got into running ultras because I am not fast and would never place in road races. Then I started thinking that I clearly can’t  succeed at running ultras either. So if I can’t run fast, and I can’t run long, why am I even running? I should just admit to myself that I suck at running and just quit running altogether.

During that last loop, I decided against signing up for any more races, especially long ones. Why should I keep running distances that don’t even feel good? Especially if I can’t even keep running the whole distance? I also decided that I wasn’t going to run Kesugi on the 24th, and I wasn’t doing Angel Creek 50 in July, and I wasn’t even doing Resurrection Pass 50 in August, that I would email the RD and tell him to take my name off the list of runners. Because clearly I can’t go that far, and I am too slow and the volunteers and the RD and everyone would just be waiting around for me finish so they could pack up and go home.

I’m really, really glad that my friend Travis wasn’t pacing me for that loop, because he would have had to listen to all that garbage. By the time I got to the finish, those thoughts and more had been circling in my head for 3 hours, so I was not in the best frame of mind. I told the RD that I was done running, even though there was 6 hours left in the race. My wonderful friends, Susie and Travis both tried to get me to rest a bit, then try to run some more, but I had already convinced myself that I couldn’t. And at that point, actually, I was probably right. If I had rested and taken the opportunity to force down a bunch of Tailwind, some apple, another popsicle, and rehydrate myself, looking back, I might have been able to switch from my handheld bottle to my hydration pack, and get another loop in, because I’m pretty sure that being dehydrated was my biggest physical problem. Instead I didn’t drink hardly anything because it all tasted repulsive and sealed my fate.

I think I said in my earlier post that I learned a lot from this race. And oh boy, did I.

1. DRINK MORE THAN YOU THINK YOU NEED. By the time you realize you are dehydrated,  you’re pretty bad off. And dehydration clouds your brain and makes it really hard to make good decisions. And carry more water than you think you are going to need, because if you don’t have it, you can’t drink it.
2. TRAIN. Who knows? I may have been able to reach my goal if I had trained for it. Without the proper training, not only didn’t I have a shot, but the last part of my race was way more miserable than it needed to be.
3. Don’t make any decisions when you are at a really low point in the race. Long races are known far and wide for putting people through the lowest of lows and the highest of highs. Don’t trust your thought process during either extreme, lol.
4. Listen to your friends. I wasn’t at my best after loop 8. My friends were pushing various liquids on me, all of which I pretty much ignored  and were advising me to rest and get back out there. But I had convinced myself I was done. If I had listened to them (especially about drinking, Travis even gave me some of his Tailwind, which I promptly rejected because it was gross to me at that point), I probably could have finished at least one more loop.
5. Popsicles taste amazing when you are dehydrated.  Don’t turn down a second one because you don’t want to seem greedy. It’s not greedy if you need it. That’s what it’s there for.
6. You can do more than you think you can. When I first started running, I never would have thought I could run for 48 miles. Even by the time I started running half marathons and even marathons, the thought of running farther than that was CRAZY. Like, there’s no way I would ever do that. I had planned on making the Marine Corps Marathon my first one, and wound up running one a couple months before that just to see if running the MCM would even be possible. That was 2015. 2 years ago I didn’t know if I could even run 26 miles. Now I’ve run upwards of 30 miles 5 times, so far.
7. Celebrate your successes, and be proud of your accomplishments. Every time I think about this race, I think about the mistakes that I made, or that I didn’t run the full 24 hours, or that I had to walk the last loop so maybe that one doesn’t actually count because I didn’t run it, or that I only got 48 miles, officially. But HOLY CRAP.  I officially ran 48 miles!!! On almost no training! I ran for 18 hours!

So… where do I go from here?

Well, I’m not going to quit running. That was just crazy talk. I’m still running every day. Today will be day 310 of my second running steak. And I’m not done running long distances. Tomorrow I am running the Kesugi Ridge Traverse,  a 30 mile trail run up, onto, and along a ridge line in Denali National Park. There is a 4 hour cutoff at mile 15, and frankly, I’m a little worried about meeting it, since the first 3 miles are all uphill, and hills kick my butt. If I don’t meet it, I will be DNF’d and will  “only” be able to run the half traverse, 18 miles total, counting the trip down the mountain to the trailhead. I’m going to do my best to meet that cutoff and be able to finish.  If I don’t meet the cutoff though, I still will have had an amazing day of trail running.  I’ll let you know how it goes.

I’m also using this run as a decision point about Angel Creek 50. I hadn’t signed up for it because of a schedule conflict, but that conflict has disappeared.  If the run goes well, I meet the cutoff and finish in the allotted time, and I don’t feel like I want to die, I will most likely sign up for AC50. If I can’t make the cutoff, or it becomes clear during the race that I’m not going to be able to manage the AC50, I’ll put it off til next year.

Either way, I am doing Resurrection Pass 50 in August. I have almost 2 months between now and then, and if I stay focused, I think I can make some progress and be ready for that race, especially since it has much less vertical gain than AC50 does. I feel pretty confident that I can do that one if I can stay focused on getting ready for it.

And with that, onward!!

Wednesday, June 7, 2017

Alaska Endurance Trail Run race report - part 1

This weekend, I ran my first 24 hour race, the Alaska Endurance Trail Run, in Fairbanks. Let me tell you all about it. Fairbanks is about 300 miles from where I live, so I took the day off work on Friday, and drove up there. I totally enjoyed the trip because I got to drive my new car, and the sun was shining the whole way (hello, sunroof!!). I took my 17 year old daughter and one of her friends with me to crew for me, and that was a GREAT decision, even though said 17 year old daughter did not enjoy the sunroof nearly as much as I did.

“Mom, can you please close the sunroof and turn the music down? It’s too loud.”… talk about role reversal… it’s like she’s the old lady and I’m the teenager… very weird.

The course for this race is a 6 mile loop, with an aid station at the start and finish line, and an unmanned water drop at about halfway around. Because there was such frequent opportunities for water, I didn’t feel like I needed to wear my hydration vest, and instead opted to carry a small handheld water bottle, refilling at both places each loop. The only problem with this was that on Friday morning I could not find my handheld anywhere. So when I got to Fairbanks, I made a quick stop at Beaver Sports, and got a Nathan handheld soft flask to use. It was the first time I used such a thing, and it worked pretty well, and wasn’t too cumbersome to hold. It had a strap that wrapped around my wrist so I didn’t have to grip it at all to hang on to it, just to use it.

I had arranged to have access to a friend’s cabin. Susie was also running the race, and agreed to let us stay at her place for the weekend. I went there before the race and grabbed a quick nap, since I was tired from the drive. After my nap, I got to the starting area with about an hour to get ready, which I thought would be more than enough time, but turned out to just barely be enough. There were 9 people that chose the 24 hour race, and soon enough we were all lined up at the starting line, setting our watches:

Photo credit: Chris Butcher

Susie ran the first loop with me, which was pretty helpful. The course was well marked,  but there were a couple of places where there was at least a possibility of going the wrong way if I had been by myself.  We ended the first lap feeling pretty strong:

Photo credit: Chris Butcher

That's me in the pink. The second lap I ran by myself. I started with Susie, but she had decided on a run/walk interval strategy. I had no strategy, except to walk up all the hills. I decided to simply run for as long as it felt good to run, and then walk when I needed to. I waved goodbye to Susie, and ran off when she did her first walk interval. We wound up leapfrogging each other throughout the race, I think.

Travis paced me on the third loop, and I had begun to feel the miles enough to complain about his fresh legs.  I was still moving along fairly well though, and we finished that loop right after midnight, and I said goodnight to Travis.  I told him to thank his wife for letting him spend his Friday evening pacing me. I hope he remembered  Kim, you’re awesome!!
Loop 4 and the first half of loop 5 passed without incident. At some point during these 2 loops, the sun set and rose again. The sun is just amazing during Alaskan summers, and this was one of the most amazing things about this race. Luckily I wasn’t too tired yet to appreciate it. As I was running, the sun slowly set, and the sky in that direction turned pink and orange. It never got dark, and at some indefinable point, the sunset became a sunrise, and the sun slowly rose. It was truly beautiful.

 Just after leaving the water station halfway through loop 5, my Garmin died. I am missing a good chunk of data from loop 5, which I found very annoying. When I got back to the start area, I plugged my Garmin into a portable charger, tucked it into a waist belt, changed my shoes, and put on a long sleeved shirt and long pants over my shorts and tank. I had also planned on dealing with some chafing to my chest where the band of my sports bra was rubbing, and forgot, until I took off down the trail, and noticed it within about 50 feet, and had to turn around and come back. I applied some KT tape, which was actually fairly difficult as there was no privacy and I was trying to hide in my sleeping bag and put the tape on at the same time. Then I took off down the trail again, on loop 6.

This was when things really started getting hard. By the time I was done with loop 6, I was really tired and cold. I stopped at the end of the loop, and curled up in my sleeping bag. I figured I would sleep for a little while, but didn’t wake up until heard the race director announcing the pre-race meeting for the 12 hour race, just before 8 am. I probably wound up sleeping for an hour and a half or so. To avoid the crowd, I stayed put until the new runners left, then got up and got moving again.

Probably because I had stopped running for so long, my legs were really stiff and sore when  I started loop 7, but I still managed to run about half of that loop. At that point, I started contemplating quitting. I was tired, I was hurting, and I just didn’t feel like running anymore. I even texted Travis, who was planning on running another loop with me later, saying I was done. But I knew at that point it was just because I was tired, and off I went on another loop.

Loop 8 was horrible. By then, it was late morning, and it had gotten hot out. My water bottle that needed to last 3 miles, lasted me less than a mile. By the time I got to the water station, I was really struggling to just put one foot in front of the other.  I refilled my water bottle, and sat down against a tree for a few minutes to gather strength for the last 3 miles of the loop. During the second half of that loop, a lot of it was in fields, out in the sun, and I was getting pretty dehydrated, I think. I knew I needed to drink my water, but I didn’t want to. I had to force myself to drink it, and even then, I still had a couple miles to go when I ran out.  My feet were killing me, and my quads were totally cramped up, and I felt that it was physically impossible to run. I watched fresher 12 hour and 6 hour runners go by enviously. I didn’t feel like I would ever make it back to the starting area. By the time I made it back, I felt like I was in pretty rough shape. Travis had shown up by that point, but I wasn’t able to go back out. Everyone was very helpful, and offered me Tailwind, a different flavor than what I had been  drinking the whole race, and which I suddenly found completely revolting, water, apples, etc. The only thing I could even remotely consider was a popsicle, which I accepted gratefully.

Of course, as soon as I stopped, I started shivering, which is completely normal for me. I sat in a chair, wrapped in my sleeping bag until I warmed up again and ate my popsicle. It was delicious. At that point, I knew that I really was done running. Loop 8 had taken me almost 3 hours.

I knew Travis was going to check on me when he got back from running his loop, and I know he was hoping to convince me to do another loop. I felt bad, but at that point, all I wanted was to get a shower, so I left before he got back. Sorry, Travis!! We got some dinner, then went back to be there for the end of the race.

All told, I got 8 loops, officially 48 miles, in 18 hours, although the course was just over 6 miles, so it was actually a little more. I had 2 goals for this race: to keep moving for the full 24 hours, and to get 75 miles. I had gotten 41 miles last September during a 12 hour race, so I thought that was doable. I didn’t make either of those goals, but I did go farther than  I ever have before, and I knew when to stop. Although I didn’t perform as well as I wanted, and was miserable for the last little while of the race, the race itself was amazing. The trails were all very runnable, with no exceptionally steep climbs, and the route was pretty.

The aid station was well stocked with just about everything imaginable. The volunteers and director were kind and helpful, and I lacked for absolutely nothing during the race. I brought my own fuel and only used my Tailwind and Nuun out of my own stash. I think it was a really good idea to have staggered start times so that almost everyone finished at the same time, because the finish area became a great little party, with burgers and grilled salmon, and plenty of time to trade stories and ccelebrate with friends:

We stayed the night Saturday night at my friend’s cabin, which was just overwhelmingly cute, then drove home on Sunday. Halfway home, I stopped to get my daily run in on some trails close to the highway, and managed 1.17 miles without any significant difficulty, which sort of surprised me. I’ve run every day since then, with virtually no residual soreness. I took amino acids before the start, every 4 hours during the race and immediately afterwards, and I think it helped prevent some of the soreness.

I’m definitely doing some version of this race again and I would totally encourage anyone that feels like they can do at least the 6 hour event to give it a try. It really was a great race!!!