01/29/14

Neither Snow Nor Rain Nor Sleet..

snow-cartoon

What a day!!!! The morning was busy with working on taxes for the business, working with my 6 and 8 year old daughters who were both needing lots of one-on-one with their math today and getting the laundry and housework caught up before lunchtime. I was looking forward to meeting Ryan A. for a lunch time tempo run as a break. I quickly finished up things and jumped in the car to take off. It was raining cats and dogs. I get less than 2 miles from home and the alternator goes out on the little car. It totally dies and won’t start. I knew it was coming. We just changed the battery a week ago and bought it new tires and our Suburban is at the shop right now getting the power steering pump changed. Our last car is a minivan that no longer shifts beyond second gear!!! Argh!!! One of those weeks!

I very reluctantly make the call to Ryan to tell him I won’t make it. Ironically, earlier this week we’d talked about how great it is that we never flake on runs together. I felt like a heel.

Thankfully, Wayne’s home and drives the minivan with the battery charger to help me out. We have to stop twice to recharge it just to get it back to the driveway. Wayne offers to take me to lunch since he can see I’m having a crappy day. He takes me to Chinese -the first non-healthy food I’ve had in 8 days. He orders Coke. I have tea and water. I’m starving since I’d skipped lunch trying to get everything done. I eat most of my food but skip most of the manderin chicken. The soup, chow mein and rice are yummy, though.

We drive to the parts store to get a new alternator. Then Wayne asks, “Are you seriously going to go running in THIS weather?” He knows me well enough he shouldn’t have even asked. I tell him as soon as we get back home I’ll take off – Chinese food in my gut or not – this is tempo day!

And I do. I head out into the rain. The schedule called for 1 mile w/u, 6 miles tempo at 8:00 then 1 mi c/d. I am determined despite the weather to hit my splits. And, I do.

The rain is coming down hard when I start. I ease in, warming up the legs. Mile 2 includes a steep downhill towards the town greenbelt. I relax and let my legs do what they love to do. The pace is too fast for the goal, but I know the downhill is the reason so I’m not bothered by that. The effort feels similar or easy. After mile 2, I hit the greenbelt finally and the weather changes. It starts to snow and the wind picks up. The miles tick by as I run through the basalt canyons with the view of the fog covered mountains ahead of me. I have to keep my eyes squinted almost shut because the snow is coming down hard and hurts if I open them. I hit 4 miles and don’t turn around. I want to keep going. I run until I’m at Sandy Point – the end of the line and the starting line for the Famous Potato Marathon — the very race I qualified for Boston at in May. I get a little emotional because I’m training for Boston in this very workout! The dream is coming true and I’m proving that I’m worthy of the honor – willing to tough out my workouts no matter what the weather or how bad my day is going.

It’s a little more than 5 miles into the workout when I turn around in the parking lot and head back. The wind is powerful in my face and the snow is coming down harder, burning, stinging my eyeballs. I try to run with my eyes closed but try to squint when I know the speed bumps are coming. There are several in the parking lot – maybe 6? I’m soaked to the bone. I’ve ran 4 tempo miles just under goal pace. I’m on track. I’m feeling a little tired, but I’m ok. I can do this. I’ve trained in bad weather before. No big deal. I keep at it and don’t let up. I hit mile 5 on track and mile 6 comes and goes and I don’t slow down. I’m done with the tempo portion but I don’t choose to rest. I want to get out of this crazy weather, so I push on, knowing that’s the way to make it end – to get back to my five kids and warm house an hot shower. I hit mile 7 of tempo and have done it also under goal pace! Wow!!! I finally let myself take a walk break as I climb up out of the greenbelt section and back onto highway 21, which is bustling with cars.

The weather changes again. It’s colder. The rain/snow feels like sleet. The trucks and buses woosh by on the bridge, splashing me with slush and water. It’s uphill now. Almost home. One more mile. I jog from the bridge to the front door, realizing I’ve done over 10 miles when I set out to do 8. I knock and my 6 year old opens the door and yelps when she sees me. She says, “Oh my gosh! You’re a snow monster!!!” The other kids pile around to have a look at the creature standing in the doorway with piles of snow on her head who’s soaked to the bone.

I did it! Over 10 miles done!

Tempo Mile splits: (Goal was 8:00)
1. 7:36 (downhill assist)
2. 7:49
3. 7:51
4. 7:55
5. 7:58
6. 7:57
7. 7:58 (bonus one!)

Elevation Gain: 336 feet. Ave HR: 168 Winds: 12 mph with gusts up to 20. Rain, snow, sleet.

01/26/14

Chasing Deer Through the Fog with Friends

Some of my Boise Trail Runner pals and I enjoying another run in the hills

Some of my Boise Trail Runner pals and I enjoying another run in the hills

There are a few things I love about winter trail running in Boise:  (1) If I hit the hills in southeast Boise, I’m almost guaranteed to see deer (or at times over 100 of them in a herd, which still takes my breath away no matter how often it happens!) (2) Seeing everything covered in a magical blanket of white is really quite beautiful. (3) Seeing my friends finish up the run with their frosty hair, beardcicles and eyelashes glistening with white is downright hilarious!

Jack Frost has left nothing untouched

Jack Frost has left nothing untouched

This weekend, I had back-to-back runs with friends in the foothills and it was amazing. On Saturday, a group and I ran from Barclay Bay

near Lucky Peak Dam and enjoyed 12 frosty trail miles. We spotted several mule deer and a few bucks, much to our delight.

Miles and miles of hoarfrost. Beautiful. Peaceful.

Miles and miles of hoarfrost. Beautiful. Peaceful.

On Sunday, I ran from Camel’s Back Park with a group of friends and enjoyed meeting a few new pals who’ve joined the gang recently

and knocking out some early morning miles in the fog and ice.  It’s been a lovely weekend and I wanted to share a few photos with you.

Barclay Bay

Barclay Bay

How is your winter training coming along? Are you running solo more or using positive peer pressure with pals to get out the door when you’re tempted to snuggle up by the fire with a blanket and a cup of cocoa? Our spring racing will be a reflection of how we’re spending our time now.  Those who train hard will usually be rewarded with better times and a more pleasant racing experience! 🙂  Hang in there! Keep it up! Happy winter running!

SAM_5455

01/12/14

Make Your Own Screw Shoes For Under $5

Wayne Screwing My Shoes

Wayne The Handyman Hard at Work to Make His Running Wife Happy

Marathon Mama’s Step by Step Guide for Making Your Own Pair of Screw Shoes:

Step 1: Select a pair of running shoes you’d like to pimp out with grabbing power for those icy runs!

I prefer to use a pair that I’ve worn for some time but that still have enough cushion and wear to last a couple hundred more miles or so.   When making your decision, it’s good to consider what size of sheet metal screws you will be using, since a very thin sole would not work well with say a 3/8th inch hexagonal screw since it would likely push through the outer sole and into the insole (where your foot will be.)

I had hoped to use my Brooks Pure Grit 1s but the 3/8 inch screws we had purchased were too long to make it a safe option.

I had hoped to use my Brooks Pure Grit 1s but the 3/8 inch screws we had purchased were too long to make it a safe option.

I opted for my Brooks Cascadia 6 shoes for this winter’s version of screw shoes.  The soles are thicker, which made them a better match for the size of sheet metal screws we had on hand.

Step 2: Gather Your Tools

*You will need to buy a package of hexagonal sheet metal screws, which can be purchased at any hardware store for under $5 for a pack of 100.

*Power Drill (optional) – Wayne has done it both with drilling holes into the shoes and without first drilling. If you don’t have access to a drill or don’t want to use one, no worries.

*Hex Screw Driver (not optional) – This was the tool that did the bulk of the work to get the screws into the bottoms of the shoes.

Sheet Metal Screws

Sheet Metal Screws

 

Hex Screw Driver

Hex Screw Driver

Step 3: Screw Your Shoes

Place one of the shoes between your knees securely with the sole facing you and use the hex screw driver with one of the sheet metal screws and begin turning it while you apply steady pressure into the shoe. It took me a couple of tries to get the hang of it, but I was able to handle it myself after that.  I would recommend no fewer than 10 screws per shoe and no more than 16. It’s really up to you and your preferences and it’s not hard to remove a few if you find the tread too uncomfortable once you finish up and test them out.  I like to make sure to put a few along the top, a few in the middle and some at the heel for grip no matter where your foot tends to strike.  Here’s an important point: Place the screws into the lugs (raised surfaces) along the bottom of the shoe, since there’s more sole there to drill into.

Apply steady pressure as you twist the hex screwdriver.

Apply steady pressure as you twist the hex screwdriver.

Keep working until the screw is entirely embedded in the sole of your running shoe.

Keep working until the screw is entirely embedded in the sole of your running shoe.

 

SAM_5422

Step 4: Test Them Out

Always be cautious when running on packed snow and ice, but I do promise that you’ll soon realize that you are much safer with a pair of these babies than you were without as you take to the roads and trails with your studded shoes.  Now get back to that winter training!

01/8/14

Whoopsie Daisy! Running in Winter Conditions

Whoospy Daisy! This was me on a trail run Tuesday when my feet ended up in the air and my back was on the icy ground beneath.

Whoospy Daisy! This was me on a trail run Tuesday when my feet ended up in the air and my back was on the icy ground and I was thinking, “Why didn’t I wear my screw shoes?”

When I peeked out my window this morning the world was blanketed in sparkling white! A winter wonderland!!  About 4 inches of fresh powder had dropped onto Boise before I left my cozy bed this morning! Like a small child, I couldn’t wait to get dressed and get outside to play in it too – only these days, I have less snowball fights and spend more time running or trying to look like I’m running in the white stuff!

Most devoted runners who live in areas where low temperatures, snow and ice are part of the winter training experience learn to find creative ways (or extreme courage or extreme insanity – you take your pick) to deal with such challenges.  I’m currently training through my sixth winter as a runner and looking back at my log books has shown that I usually get some of my best mileage (though I must disclose – not always my fastest miles) in during these tricky, frozen months!

Here are some tips to keep you training hard through the winter months until that blessed day arrives when you hear birds singing, see flowers blooming and you can finally bust out the shorts to show off those sexy runner legs you’ve kept fit by keeping up your winter training miles while your less-hardy competitors were sipping cocoa by the fire and getting soft (don’t let that be YOU!):

1. Assess the situation.  If you live in an area where it’s -30 then you’ll have to be smart and factor in that frostbite can happen in just one minute with exposed skin in those frigid temperatures. If there’s heavy fog (making visibility low), and the roads are covered in black ice, it might not be a good idea to go running on the roads since the risk of a car sliding into you are higher. If you’re 20 miler is on the schedule and you look out the window and notice that golf-ball sized hail is coming down hard, it’s probably a good idea to postpone the run until conditions are more favorable.  If, however, conditions are chilly, but you have the proper clothing and equipment (such as a headlamp and reflective gear for training while it’s dark outside – which is more common during the winter months when the days are shorter) then there’s no reason you can’t keep right on logging your miles and getting in your endorphin fix for the day! Woo hoo!

2. Get the right gear! When the temps dip below 40, I like to wear a long sleeved, snug-fitting base layer like the Under Armour ColdGear shirt.

Under Armour ColdGear Shirt

Under Armour ColdGear Shirt

For 40 degrees, this might be all I need on top, but if it’s between 35-40, I like to add a thin jacket over the top like this Brooks Nightlife Jacket.

Brooks Nightlife Jacket

Brooks Nightlife Jacket

Here’s a photo of my pacer, Derek and I both wearing the Brooks Nightlife jackets at the finish line of the Antelope Island Buffalo 100 mile run in March where temperatures dipped very low and the winds were high this past year.  The Brooks jacket did well until it dropped below 25 degrees, then I needed to put on a warmer jacket for the middle of the night, below-freezing temps.

Notice I am wearing my Bondiband beanie, my sunglasses (Ironman), my Brooks Jacket, my Danskin Now tights and my Brooks shoes.

Notice I am wearing my Bondiband beanie, my sunglasses (Ironman), my Brooks Jacket, my Danskin Now tights and my Brooks shoes.

This type of jacket is great for keeping the biting chill out when it’s windy out and the best part is it’s so light-weight and thin that you hardly notice it’s there and it’s easy to stow in your hydration pack’s pocket if you change your mind while you’re out and don’t need it. It’s my go-to jacket for bringing  “just in case.”  It also has great reflective features keeping you safer when out in dark conditions and it has a small, zippered pocket (on the back for the ladies’ model and a the breast for the men.) It even has a hood that can be adjusted to pull snug around your face if the weather really gets bad, which feels great to keep the ears and lower part of the face warmer! I’ve used mine in many mid-long distance training runs and at many ultras and have lots of good things to say about it.

When the temps are in the 10 – 35 degree range, I prefer to wear a warmer jacket over my ColdGear top. Something like this usually makes me feel comfortable and cozy without feeling too hot. The jackets in my closet that fit this category are thicker than the Brooks Nightlife Jacket.

Peal Izumi Women's Infinity Softshell Running Jacket

Peal Izumi Women’s Infinity Softshell Running Jacket

I don’t personally own one of the Pearl Izumi jackets, but I have seen a number of friends use them in all sorts of bad weather conditions with positive feedback.  My own closet consists of similar jackets from Wal Mart’s Danskin Now line (that cost me about $20 each) and an Asics thermal jacket that I was given as a prize for winning a local 2 mile race last year. I look for a thermal inner lining, a high neckline that zips up and zippered pockets as well as reflective accents making the runner more visible in low light conditions.

To keep my ears and head toasty, I like to wear a knit cap or a beanie.  I have several inexpensive Wal Mart $2 knit hats that work just fine for most weather conditions and with such an affordable price, you can buy them in several colors to keep your winter wardrobe more fun! My favorite winter hat is one I earned from finishing the local Foothills Frenzy 50k.  It’s from the company Bondiband and here’s a photo of me with two of my pals at a local 60k we did a few months ago and it kept my ears toasty as always and looked stylish!

Bondiband Beanie

Bondiband Beanie

That pretty much covers the upper half of  my body for running in temps between 10 – 40. If the wind is crazy or there’s hail or blowing snow, I might also wear my sunglasses to protect my eyes or add a scarf around my lower face for more protection, though that’s something I rarely need to do in southern Idaho typical winter weather.

For the lower body, I’m comfortable wearing shorts or a running skirt like a TStarRunning skirt until temps dip below 30. Below that temperature, I prefer to wear tights. I own a few pairs of Danskin Now tights from Wal Mart that I purchased years ago for about $10 each. Unfortunately, they no longer sell the types that I wear (the form-fitting, tight-legged ones with reflective touches.) A similar pair of tights for winter running would be the REI Women’s Fleet Running Tights as pictured below.

REI Running Tights

REI Running Tights

Some of the other accessories you will need to stay warm and comfortable for your winter running are gloves, running socks, good shoes (sometimes used with traction devices like Yaktrax, Kahoola spikes or fitted at home with sheet metal screws (my own personal way of dealing with the ice at a low price! – Keep at eye on my blog later this week and I’ll share how to make your own at home for under $5) and a headlamp and clip on light for running in the dark. Below are some examples of the products I’ve used or that are comparable to ones I use for these winter conditions that I think you’ll like.

Gloves:

Nike Women's Elite Storm Fit Tech Run Glove - my favorite feature is the fleece fabric on the thumb and  inner fingers to help wipe the nose when on an icy, winter run. It sounds completely disgusting  but it's truly one of the most useful product improvements I've seen!

Nike Women’s Elite Storm Fit Tech Run Glove – my favorite feature is the fleece fabric on the thumb and inner fingers to help wipe the nose when on an icy, winter run. It sounds completely disgusting but it’s truly one of the most useful product improvements I’ve seen!

I also own a few other pairs of running gloves such as Nathan and Brooks that each have features I find useful. The Nathan gloves have a band of blinking lights on the outsides of the hands for winter running and the Brooks gloves have special features added to the thumb and pointer fingers making them useful for answering a cell phone during a run without removing your glove, which is a practical feature for a mother of 5 who sometimes needs to take a call from the kiddos when I’m running.  When the temperatures are below 20, these gloves are not quite warm enough on their own for my super chilly hands. In those times I either pop in a couple of hand warmers to keep my fingers from feeling painful or I choose to wear my much thicker Thermolite gloves (the types I’d normally use when having a snowball fight with the kids or on a winter walk where I’m not generating as much body heat!)  Though I do sweat more in gloves with such a thick thermal lining – it’s worth it to feel my fingers at times. On a really long run, I might start by wearing the thick gloves and then put them in my Nathan Hydration pack zippered pocket once it warms up and then wear the lighter gloves.   I also have had success wearing the $1 Wal Mart knit gloves for temperatures between 30- 40 as a less-costly option when the temps aren’t too crazy cold.

Shoes:

You can wear any running shoes for winter running, but you’ll likely prefer to have more tread if conditions are snowy or icy. I prefer Brooks PureGrit 2 Trail Shoes at my preferred shoe year round on the trail, but during the winter, I use them on the roads as well. Watch for the new Pure Grit 3 trail shoe to come to a running store near you in the summer of 2014.

Brooks PureGrit 2 - I have owned 7 pairs of Grits. These shoes have gotten me through 6 mile morning trail training runs and 100 milers. They are my "go to" trail or bad weather shoes. I love them!

Brooks PureGrit 2 – I have owned 7 pairs of Grits. These shoes have gotten me through 6 mile morning trail training runs and 100 milers. They are my “go to” trail or bad weather shoes. I love them! You can see the rugged lugs on the bottom of the shoe. This feature is what makes them a preferable shoe when running in snow or on rough terrain. They are also fairly light-weight, so they won’t slow you down!

 

If you’re like me and you fear the ice (with good reason), you’ll want to do something more aggressive.  Just this past week I neglected to put on traction devices before an early morning run and when I hit a stretch of ice at a high speed, I very quickly found my feet flying out from under me, heard myself yelping and then I was lying flat on my back in some pain since I landed hard on my tailbone. It all happened so fast!  Another friend of mine just slipped on ice yesterday and broke her wrist.  It happens.  Please slow down and make careful choices about where to run and how fast you’ll go when conditions are sketchy.  Last year I slipped on black ice on a trail run and pulled my soleus muscle in my calf and couldn’t run for 6 weeks. That totally sucked and it was preventable. Again – I wasn’t wearing traction devices of any kind and had assumed I would be ok. I fell.  Sometimes you’ll find (as I did in those two runs where I got hurt) that it’s hard to tell if you’ll need anything for traction or not. I ran successfully for over 31 miles on Saturday over many icy patches, the week before I did the same and the day before that I ran a reasonably fast 10k on solid ice – all without any issues.  It only takes one misstep to cause an injury, though.  My new motto is: Better safe than sorry!

Though some of my friends have had success with Yaktrax or Kahtoolah Microspikes which strap onto shoes and range in price from around $30 – $70, I’ve had good success in the past with having my husband use his hand drill and putting several sheet metal screws in the bottoms of my shoes. It sounds crazy, but it works really well.  I’ll do a blog entry later this week on the “how to” and show pictures describing the process for those who’d rather make their own traction devices for under $5!

Here’s a photo of an older pair of my shoes the last time my husband turned them into “screw shoes.”

My own pair of Screw Shoes! You can do it too!

My own pair of Screw Shoes! You can do it too!

 

My favorite head lamps have always been from the company Black Diamond. I own the Storm and the Spot. They cost between $29 – $59, the Spot being the less expensive option. I like them both, but prefer the lighter weight of the Spot and like that it only takes 3 AAA batteries instead of 4 like the Storm, though I still use both regularly for my early morning runs and long distance ultra marathons.  I’ve had many people comment that I have the brightest light in the gang when they see me coming.  I also find that using the Lithium batteries gives a huge boost to the power of the light and I like to splurge on those for races.

Black Diamond Spot

Black Diamond Spot

 

Energizer Lithium Batteries - these will help you have a brighter light that lasts longer in your headlamp.
Energizer Lithium Batteries – these will help you have a brighter light that lasts longer in your headlamp.

 I hope these tips will help you to keep on training outdoors as much as possible during the cold weather months! I am not a sponsored runner and none of the brands I’ve shared here have paid me anything or given me any product in exchange for me to suggest their products to you on my blog. I simply wished to share my own experiences and what has worked for me in the hopes that you, too, can enjoy training like a beast even in the worst of weather!

My friends and I running in the snow, feeling jolly because of the warm winter gear!
My friends and I running in December in the snow, feeling jolly because of our warm winter gear! My guy friends here are finishing up a 26.2 mile winter run and the clothing you see is what they wore the entire time. I joined in for the final 10k after crewing for them. I was warm and comfortable despite the 20 degree temperatures.

Happy training!

Christie “Marathon Mama”  🙂

 

 

01/2/14

Inspirational Thoughts to Begin 2014

I was looking for some inspiration this week and pulled together a nice collection of positive messages to help get us started on the right foot in 2014! I hope you find something that speaks to you in one of these quotes. Each of them spoke to me and left me feeling that they expressed a thought or feeling I didn’t have the words for myself. Here’s to staying grounded, focused and content in the upcoming 12 months!

Write it on your heart

John Muir

 

John Muir 3

 

abe lincoln

 

Consistency

 

 

01/1/14

2,398 Miles and a New Beginning

Happy 2014!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Happy 2014!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

 

My Daily Mile account shows that my feet carried me  2,398 miles of walking and running in 2013! That’s about 75 more miles than 2012, which is pretty cool. I love this time of the year – where a fresh page is before me on January 1st and I’ve shut the book on all the highs and lows of the previous year. I actually resisted the urge to run an extra 2 miles last night to round the numbers up to something a little more tidy. That alone shows improvement in my ability to be less anal! That feels like a baby step towards inner peace for me – to allow things to be as they are sometimes instead of always feeling the pressure to keep pushing.

I always enjoy looking back over the previous year the first week of January and taking note of the highlights of the last year. Here are mine:

1. I suffered a calf strain after slipping on black ice in February. It kept me from running for about 6 weeks. I feared my goals of qualifying for Boston and running my second 100 miler might be in jeopardy.

2. I recovered from the strain and showed up at the starting line of the Antelope Island Buffalo Run in March, not knowing if my calf injury was fully recovered. I had no idea if I could even run a single mile! It was an enormous relief that I was in fact able to run and even PR at the Buffalo Run and cross the finish line holding hands with my youngest daughter, Savannah, who was celebrating her 6th birthday that very day — and give her the buckle as her birthday present! (Best Mom moment ever for me!!!!!)

3. Beginning in January, I found myself in an amazing streak of personal bests at every race and every distance I would complete for the entire year — until December 28th when I missed a PR at The Hot Chocolate Run 10k by 9 seconds! My PR races and times were: The Redding Marathon (3:47), Run 4 Luv 5k (22:27), The Buffalo Run 100 (28:24), The Pickled Feet 24 Hr (62.6 miles) – one week after my 100, Weiser River 50k (4:56),  Run Til You Puke (unofficial) Half (1:44), Great Idaho Potato Marathon (3:40 – BQ!!!!!!! – Finally!! The 7th marathon was the charm!!), Silver City 100k (which turned out to be a a difficult day of getting lost and my IT band locking up halfway through, but was still a PR since it was my first 100k)  – (21:15 – told you it was bad), Titus Van Rijn One Hour Track Classic (7.77 miles), Wild Idaho 50k (8:12), Snow Cone Scamper Half (1:46), Harvest Classic 2 miler (my first WIN!!) – (14:04), Standhope 60k (12:24), Foothills 50k Frenzy (6:17) and Zeitgeist Half (on my birthday!!) (1:49.)  It really was an amazing year and I have so much to be thankful for!

4. Even though I mentioned it in #3, qualifying for Boston was a dream come true and was absolutely the HIGHLIGHT of the whole year for me! I still can’t believe it really happened finally! I have my confirmation of acceptance postcard posted right above my desk, so I can see it every day, just to remind me that I really am GOING TO BOSTON in 2014! Wow! 😀 All of those miles of hard training through last winter, running medium and long runs at BQ pace and adding in speed work really did pay off in the end! I still can’t believe I shaved 7 minutes off my PR time and overshot the goal (3:45) by 4 minutes and 16 seconds.   That moment that I crossed the finish line will live in my memory as one of the most defining moments of my life – it was a total emotional rush after years of chasing this big dream. The smile that came through the sobbing once I realized what I’d done after I crossed the finish line was probably one of the most pure, emotionally raw moments of my entire life!

5. Helping friends.  This year I was able to come back to the 24 hour Pickled Feet event after some sleep and help pace my friend Derek (who’d been my pacer for 50 miles from Antelope Buffalo Run just one week prior) to reach his goal of 100 miles.  In August, I had the wonderful opportunity again to help crew Derek from about mile 44 on and then jump in as pacer for the last 33 miles and a 4th place finish at IMTUF 100! Pacing a “fast boy”  in a tough 100 was a dream gig for me and I learned a lot from the experience about what it’s like to be at the front of the pack vs fighting cut-offs at the back-of-the pack. It was awesome! In October, I had an emotionally satisfying experience pacing my closest childhood friend, Bertha in her first 100k at Antelope Island.  The moment I got to see her run across that finish line and accomplish something she had never dreamed she could do before was an incredibly emotional and rewarding experience! If you haven’t put yourself out there to help others in the sport, I highly recommend it! It’s life-changing!

6. Cross-training.  I joined the YMCA for a few months and got to enjoy doing group yoga classes for the first time, took my first spin class ever and tried Zumba!  I suppose learning a dance routine for the Thrill the World Halloween flash mob and performing in downtown Boise dressed as a zombie with my sister, her daughter and my two older daughters was also pretty cool and counts in this department. I also recently tried Hot Yoga for the first time and really loved it! This is still an area I’m weak in – getting regular doses of non-running activities – but one I did improve on slightly in 2013!

7. Maintaining my weight for another year! As anyone who has lost a significant amount of weight can tell you – losing the weight might seem hard, but it’s the keeping it off the long-run that is really the true challenge! I weigh myself every day still and log that weight into a journal I keep under the bathroom cabinet. It’s become part of my morning routine and I believe has helped me make changes in my eating habits and exercise frequency to keep my weight in the healthy range for another year.  In fact, I am actually a few lbs lighter this year than last, which I attribute to pushing the pace more often in my running. The slightly higher intensity burns more calories, I’m sure and has made me fitter as a result.  It’s pretty cool to find that I’m nearly the same weight at age 41 as I was when I graduated from high school in 1991! Especially after having 5 kids!

8. Final Kick – my race company grew! So much happened this year! My husband and I directed more races than ever before! This was our third year in business as a company and will be the first year we did more than break even on most of our races.  In fact, 6 months ago, my husband lost his job of 7 years in IT and while he’s been unemployed and looking for work, he’s poured himself into helping our little company grow. We now have a little team of extremely talented and hard-working helpers and volunteers, more structure and organization than we ever had before and our number of races to put on nearly doubled in 2013! We saw our Idaho Wine Run go from a first year attendance of about 400 to over 1,300 in 2013!  It was thrilling and terrifying all at the same time to be directing such a huge event! Back when we created and directed our first race, the Lake Lowell Marathon in 2011, we never imagined that we’d continue to create and put on new races in the Boise area.  In 2012 we directed the Ste Chapelle St Patrick’s Day race 5k (which would be come the Shamrock Shuffle in 2013), Bruneau Beast (the race that involves climbing some of the tallest sand dunes in the world), The Idaho Wine Run marathon, half, 10k and 5k, and the Hot Chocolate Run 5k in addition to Lake Lowell.  This past year we added Run 4 Luv, Snow Cone Scamper and Struttin’ for Stuffin’ to the lineup.  We have three new races and a cheap ass mid-week series coming in 2014 as well.  The goal is to make this our full-time job and though we’re still far from that – we’re inching closer with every race. One more highlight for the company this past year was having the cameramen from PBS come out to Bruneau Beast and film parts of our course and racers for their December special titled the State of our Parks! That was insanely cool PR for us and we were pretty pumped at the exposure!

9. My Family. Though, I listed this as #9 on the list, my family really belongs way up as #1. 🙂 This was an exciting year for our family. The whole gang came out to support and crew for me at Antelope Island 100, which was wonderful. My husband, Wayne began a streak on his birthday (July 7th) of walking or running 5k every day and at this date – January 1st – he has not missed a single day! I’ve been really proud of his dedication to this.  He’s also lost about 30 lbs just by making that single change in his daily habits, without really altering his diet at all. Wayne Jr and Wayne participated in the Pickled Feet 24 hr event with me. Wayne reached 20 miles and Wayne Jr (age 12 at the time) reached 27.5 miles – a huge distance for a kid who’d only been 12 miles once in his life before that! We were all so proud of him! The two Waynes again showed their stuff by completing their first official marathon at City of Trees this October! The other kids and I served as crew and cheerleaders, driving around the course as a roving aid station complete with peanut butter sandwiches, Oreos, Gatorade (and a beer for Wayne Sr – who appreciated the thought and chugged it at about mile 21!) They finished strong and raced to the finish together, Wayne Jr just edging out his father. It was a wonderful moment, with friends and family there to cheer them on! Rebecca (who is now 14) began making her own jewelry and has started selling pieces at our races, which she finds great pleasure in doing.  Jr, Josh, Anneliese and Savannah have started participating in more of our Final Kick races, which has been fun to see (and is one nice perk of owning your own race company when you have 5 children you are trying to encourage to be more active!)

As I look towards 2014, I love that the year is still fresh and new and filled with possibilities!  I’m definitely going to Boston in April and hope to return to IMTUF 100 as a runner this time after pacing for the last two years. The rest is still a wide open expanse of potential! After doing well enough in the Idaho Trail Ultra Series for the past two years to earn the coveted finisher’s jackets and then to earn a top 6 female spot in the Dirty Dozen again, I’m really wanting to decide if I want to continue to make that a priority.  Since it requires 4 ultras from the series and then a focus on earning the most points possible, it has kept me from focusing on races outside the series as much, which I’ve missed. There are a few I am looking forward to doing  (Wilson Creek 50k in January and Foothills Frenzy 50k in the fall and IMTUF 100) since the series really does have some fantastic, well-organized races all within driving distance, which is a plus, so I’ll most likely still race a few of them. But, I sort of like the idea of opening my mind (and wallet) to the other races outside of the area for this year and trying a more difficult 100 miler. Some of the other races that I’m considering are Mt Hood 50, Javelina and possibly Bryce or Cascade Crest.  There is one thing I’d really like to accomplish – I’d like to run one of the qualifying races to earn a name in the hat in the Western States lottery for 2015. That is probably the next big goal for me.

Woo hoo! Bring on the New Year!

Woo hoo! Bring on the New Year!

I hope that you are filled with optimism and sense the thrill of “what could be” for the next year in your own personal and training life! Here’s a song to remind you that “the best is yet unwritten!”  Happy New Year!!