Marathon Mama meets Ultra Marathon Man

Tonight was a really special night for me! I got to meet one of my ultra running heroes! Like countless others, I was first inspired to run long distances when I read Dean Karnazes’ book, Ultramarathon Man: Confessions of an All-Night Runner
a few years ago. When I found out that he’d be coming to Shu’s Running Company here in Boise, I knew I couldn’t miss the chance to meet Karno!

My husband and I showed up to find the shoe store packed with people listening to Dean speak! I found a comfy spot and was able to sit back and enjoy listening to him share some of his secrets – like what exactly did he hallucinate about during Badwater?! An old miner begging for water! What kind of shoes did he prefer? His answer “I could run in clogs and be just fine since I was blessed with good bio mechanics, so most shoes work just fine for me!”  What was his worst running injury? His answer, “I have lost toenails, but that’s the worst of it. I have never had an injury!” Wow! What is his resting heart rate? About 39. He mentioned that he had ran many marathons in the 3:30 time range and his heart rate was an average of about 100 for those since his body had adapted so well!!

When questioned about who he looked up to and admired, his answer was, “My Dad! He was a great golfer and took that talent and helped inner city youth learn to love the sport! I want to give back the way he did!” My favorite one was when my husband, Wayne asked him, “What is your favorite race that you’ve done and why?”  Dean said, “A 10k. I’m sure many of you are thinking, “A 10k??”, but it’s true. It was a 10k with my daughter on her 10th birthday. I was crying so much during it, I could hardly see the course!”  I though that was the sweetest answer I could have imagined! What a great guy!

After his talk, we all were given posters and waited in line to get a chance to shake his hand, get our posters and books signed and get pictures with him. It was definitely worth the wait! I was so shy when my turn came, I almost couldn’t talk at all. He signed my poster and Run!: 26.2 Stories of Blisters and Bliss
book, “To Christine,” I was much too bashful to tell him that my name is actually Christie.  I was also really surprised that he and I stood nearly eye-to-eye! I’m not quite 5’3″ and didn’t realize that he was about my size!

I’m so glad I got to meet him! I’m sure I’ll be telling my five kids about this story for years — the night Mom got to meet Dean Karnazes!  And, the story will begin, “Remember when people used to call me Christie? That was before the night I met Dean Karnazes and I became Christine….” lol


Dead Legs

It is incredibly rare for me to set out to do a certain distance and to end things before I’ve reached that goal. One example is this past Saturday when I showed up to a group run expecting to run 8 – 12 miles. We ended up doing 16 – and I pushed it on the downhills for several of those miles. Today was different. I set out to do an easy 6 and cut things short after 3 and a half.

I’ve been struggling with some hip problems, some IT band stuff and piriformis syndrome all on my left side. I’ve seen the chiropractor about it several times in the past few weeks. My running hasn’t been affected, thankfully, but on today’s run (which turned into a slow, sloggish walk), I was concerned that things weren’t going that well.

My calves were achy and I just felt sort of tired, despite the fact that I was going several minutes per mile slower than normal. My heart rate was fine, but I am convinced that I still need more rest and recovery before my tough, mountain 50 mile race this upcoming Saturday. I’m not totally sure that my body is fully recovered from my fast marathon from the 19th yet. I pulled way back on mileage last week, but I kept the intensity and climbing up. Maybe what I need the most right now is to do a little swimming (the pools opened up in my neighborhood this week!), biking, yoga and stretching until the race.

I do have a very real concern about the time cut offs for this upcoming race. Several people have warned me that it will be the toughest 50 miler I’ve ever done and I’m at a very real risk of being pulled at the 32 mile cut off 9 1/2 hours into the race (which sounds like a lot of time, but given the extreme climbing and technical terrain may make it a real test of my abilities at this point!) I have friends who I consider faster than me who were pulled at that cut off last year, so I really should rest up as much as possible and attack those mountains this weekend with everything I’ve got!! A finish medal at this particular race will certainly be a confidence boost if I can pull it off!!! 🙂

Elevation Gain: 111 feet. Ave HR: 121. Max HR: 194. Felt: Sore, tired, blah…. 😛


The Original Marathon Mama

Once upon a time, I was growing up in a home with a Mom who ran. She loved to run and she did it often. I could tell that it relaxed her, allowed her to have some time to herself and sometimes she did it with my aunt or a friend.  The year that she turned 40, she decided to run a marathon! And, she did! She did the Great Potato Marathon in May of 1995! The photo above was taken after she got home from the race. She’s wearing her finisher shirt and holding the trophy my Dad had made for her and the Nikes she ran the race in.

She gave those shoes to me after the race and I was so in awe of her accomplishment that I hung them on my wall in my college apartment and would take the opportunity to tell anyone who came to visit about my Mom who ran a marathon!!!  I was 22 years old and had never ran more than 5 miles — and that was only ONCE when my Mom signed us both up for a race together. She totally smoked me of course, since she was much fitter than I was! But, watching her cross the finish line of her first marathon brought tears to my eyes and made her a total hero to me. I vowed that day, that when I was 40, I’d run a marathon, too.

You would be right in saying that I would likely not be a runner at all today if my Mom hadn’t been the great example that she was to me growing up of fitness and reaching for big goals!

When I did the Great Potato Marathon this past weekend, it was 17 years from the week my Mom did hers. I’m 39 now. I think she’s proud of me and the fact that I turned out to be a runner just like her! I guess the apple didn’t fall far from the tree after all!

Here’s a couple of pictures of me and my Mom back in the 90’s when we did fun runs together. I hope you enjoy the trip with me down memory lane! 🙂


Famous Potato Marathon 2012

Sometimes the most amazing things happen when you least expect it! I had a “pipe dream” goal of breaking 4 hours today at the marathon. My PR from a year and a half ago was 4:20:59 – and that was the last time I ran a marathon – or trained for one properly! I’ve had my attention set on getting better at the ultra distance – at trail running, so I wasn’t sure what to expect going into this race since I’d done none of the “speedwork” or “tempo runs” that normally build a runner up for something like this. I knew I had endurance — but could I hold a faster pace on pavement? I wasn’t entirely sure.

I had something wrong with my left hip all week. It was popping when I walked and I’d seen the chiropractor twice in the last few days to help get it in shape for this race. He said my IT band on the left was really tight and was causing the issues. I was concerned. At Wild Idaho 50, my left IT band tightened up so painfully, that I limped the last 28 miles! So, I was conservative from the start today. I listened to my body, didn’t care about my pace and just zoned out with my music, walked through all the water stations in the first 20 miles, ate my GUs (3!! Which is really good for me! I’d only taken one in the last race and bonked at that one!) I did NOT bonk today! I also took my S Caps pretty regularly and just made sure to run a smart race. That’s what I wanted. To be consistent, strong and steady and I think I did a pretty good job of it!

I noticed at the half point that my average pace was 8:35 and it occurred to me I was on BQ pace without really overextending myself — BUT.. I have learned in distance running NEVER to get over-confident. I take one mile at a time. I stay in control. I don’t let myself “race” others who pass me. Interestingly, I passed several today by being steady and didn’t get passed as much as I have in the past. It was a good feeling to be in control.

My husband showed up along the course and took photos and offered me drinks. I was ok, though and didn’t need anything at all today, which is a first for me. When I saw my friend Christine and her guy Tim waiting for me at mile 21 I was so thrilled!!! They jumped in to pace me and shortly after,Ryan A. showed up at my side , Michelle A. behind me on her bike and their daughter, Hannah on hers also joined in the procession! I felt very supported and having my friends there really boosted my spirits — though since I refuse to speak in races, I didn’t share that with them at the time. (Thanks, guys!!!)

My endurance was good. I fueled well, but fatigue was really difficult in those last few miles. I was sore and my pace was slipping. But, I didn’t let it get me down. I KNEW I was close to a Boston Time, but realized that I was already giving all I could and that bumping up my average of 8:40 back down to 8:35 or so would just be more than I could do that day and I was totally fine with it. Inside, I was grinning like crazy, thinking, “I am definitely going to break 4 today and I feel fine!” I finished in 3:48:32 (chip time.)

And, I did!!!! I came running across the line, arms up in victory, a huge smile on my face in 3:48:32. Before the Boston standards changed last year, my qualifying time would have been a 3:50:59 for a woman in the 40-44 age group (I’ll be 40 before the next Boston race and that’s how they do that.) So, by the old standards, I would have BQ’d which is really, very exciting to think about! The new standards require me to run a 3:45:00 or better, so I still have a bit of work cut out for me, but I’m CLOSE!!!!

My confidence was really bolstered today! AND.. I was 10th female overall and 1st in the 35-39 age category! Yay!!!!!

Ave HR: 175. Max HR: 212. Elevation Gain: 131 feet (nice and flat and fairly shady!!) The temperatures were awesome – 49 at the start and about 64 at the finish. The race was well marked, the aid stations were well stocked and did a great job showing support and I had a great time!

P.S. I forgot to mention something else exciting! My PR at the half marathon is 1:53:05. Today I did it in 1:52!! So, it was a half marathon PR by 1 minute and a full marathon PR by about 32 1/2 minutes! YAY!

Update! Official results are now posted here.

It looks like despite wearing bib chips, that only gun time is listed. Rats! So, my official gun time was: 3:48:41. I was 10th female (out of 116 female finishers), 47th overall (out of 237 finishers) and 1st in the 35-39 female age group (out of 21)!  I’m very happy with that!!! 🙂


Marathon Thoughts

I’m running the Great Potato Marathon on Saturday. It will be my fourth marathon. I’m hoping to break four hours, which would be a pretty big jump from my current PR of 4:20:59.

Marathon #1 – 

Marathon #2

Marathon #3 


A Little Mountain Run on my Own

Shared Photo

Had a wonderful Mother’s Day celebration with my family yesterday. My husband always works major holidays, so we try to work around them. Today, the kids let me sleep in, then I got up and made the little ones breakfast and we ate together, which is always fun – and is the usual way I start all my days. I did my cleaning and got the kids going on theirs, then headed off on a nice mountain run by myself. Being alone is something I don’t do very much of. I’m the mom of five. I’m married and I have so many wonderful friends. I have a very blessed and rich life and much to be thankful for.

Once in a while, though, I really just crave time to myself. Time where I can run my own pace, without any pressure to speed up or slow down, time to sort through feelings that are hard to process when others are around. Sometimes it’s nice to just commune with nature. Gaze at the flowers, the trees, the hills, listen to the wind, hear the sound of my own feet hitting the dirt – even listen to the steady rhythm of my own heart beat.

Today, I did just that. It was hot out – 83 degrees and I went at the warmest time intentionally – from about 12:30 pm – 4:00 pm when it was sunny and I’d have to fight the heat a bit. I have three races coming up in the next few weeks. A marathon on Saturday, Pocatello 50 two weeks after that and Big Horn 50 two weeks after that. Each one is likely to be pretty hot, so this type of training is really essential to help my body adapt to the temperatures and stay steady and strong despite them.

My friend, Donna knew I was considering buying some trekking poles for the two technical, steep 50 milers I have coming up, so she offered to loan me hers for the weekend! That was so nice! I took them with me today since this particular climb is really steep, has some fairly technical sections and would give me a chance to test them out on a shorter run before buying some of my own. I have to say I was impressed with how easy they were to adjust to my height, with how lightweight they were (hers are the Leki brand and they telescope to the size you need), they also were not hard to get in a rhythm with and I liked the ergonomic handles since I found them comfortable and they did not chafe at all. I had decided to hike the entire first half (to the summit) and then run the whole way down – keeping the poles in hand the entire time. Since I just did this same run last Sunday, I also thought it would be interesting to see if I was faster/slower with the poles. This Sunday was about 30 degrees hotter than last Sunday, so I knew that would be a factor that may skew things a bit, but it was still fun to do it and see how it compared overall.

I bumped into a pal on the way up who was coming down. I said, “Hello!” and he said “Hi,” then passed me and I heard him say, “Christie???? Is that YOU?” It turned out to be my pal, Tom! I don’t think he recognized me with my trekking poles, hiking uphill and I didn’t recognize him walking on a downhill (he’s one the of the fastest downhill runners I know.) We both got a good laugh out of that, and stopped to chat about hiking poles. Turns out, he, too, tried a pair on this same path awhile back. He shared some ideas about them, we said our goodbyes and I was off, trudging up the hill again.

Shared Photo

I have to admit, I enjoyed the uphill section this week and I don’t think it was the poles that made me feel that way. They were fine and everything, but the main thing that made me enjoy myself more was not having any pressure to run uphill. I just let myself power hike. That’s always what works best for me and when I try to make myself run even some of it, I end up miserable. My right hamstring is still hurting from last Sunday’s hike/run since I was trying my best to push the pace to catch up to my faster friend. I was having a hard time and could not catch up no matter how I tried. So, today, I just relaxed, enjoyed the lovely spring flowers cropping up everywhere on the hillsides and just kept myself steady and determined.

It went well! Despite the heat, I felt strong. I took my S caps and ate as needed and never got tired or needed to slow down my effort level. Once I reached the summit, I snapped a few pictures and stopped to sit on a rock and enjoy the amazing views of the entire valley. I admit, I felt so good, so happy, so open to the beauty and so free to be me, that I cried a little bit. I cleansed some feelings, wiped my tears and then headed down the mountain, feeling refreshed and a little more at peace in my soul.

I almost landed on another bull snake, who was stretching his four feet body across the trail, but thankfully, he turned back and got out of my way before I landed on him! Eeek!

I had the poles fully extended, so ended up running with them held like two long sticks floating vertically above the ground as I flew down the hillside. I had fun, but was thinking, “I think I’ll do it without the poles next time.” My best mile was mile 13 with a pace of 8:37. I ran by feel entirely today. I tuned into my body and finished strong. It felt really good to be in control. I think more training on Lucky Peak will help me with my next two hard fifty milers! I’ll keep doing it!

Elevation Gain: 3,247 feet. Average HR: 157 Max HR: 190

P.S. Interestingly – My overall time was very similar today to last week’s. I don’t think the poles helped me much, but they were really fun to try out! I missed having my hand bottles, which I could not use while holding the poles.


Happy Mother’s Day and Happy Anniversary to ME!

It’s Mother’s Day week. This will be the 4th anniversary of me choosing to be a healthier me!! 4 years ago, I was overweight, had not exercised in over a decade and decided that I really wanted to run a marathon the year I was 40 (I’m 39 now.) It seemed like a crazy idea. I could not even run a block back then. I printed out the Couch to 5k walk/run program to get me started, bought myself a pair of running shoes as my Mother’s Day gift to myself and got started – slowly, but surely.

I kept at it! I ran that first marathon in October of 2009 and will be running my 4th next Saturday. I never imagined I’d also start running distances longer than a marathon – all the way up to the 100 mile distance! Once you realize you are capable of what you once thought was impossible you realize that there are no limits! Dream BIG and be the YOU that you always wanted to be!!! To all the other moms out there – It’s ok to make time for yourself! It’s ok to have dreams that you’re pursuing! My kids think I’m a little nutty, but I know they are proud of me and I feel like a better example today to them than I was 4 years ago! Happy Mother’s Day!!!

Here’s a photo of the five kids and I four years ago before I was a runner

Shared Photo

I bought myself a little early Mother’s Day gift today – a sun dress! I haven’t owned one since I was a little girl and thought it would be fun! The five kids and the husband all said they liked it on me. 🙂 That made my day!

Shared Photo


A Little Surprise

I have had a fairly hectic week getting things ready to co-direct Lake Lowell Marathon with my husband this Saturday.  When I checked the mail and found this little award I must have won at Antelope Island Buffalo run last month, it made me smile and reminded me that even though it’s a lot of work on this side of putting on an event, for those racers on the other side, it could be a life-changing day –the day many of them will run their first marathon, half, 10k or 5k or set a new PR! 🙂 I’m looking forward to setting the stage up so many of them can make their dreams come true!!!!! Happy racing!!!