Ultramarathon Dance Party – Antelope Island Buffalo Run 100 Video

Antelope Island start 2014

You’ll see several of my pals and I in Cory’s world-famous party for a 100 miles video!! ūüėÄ If you ever have the chance to spot Cory out on the trail or in an ultra, make sure to say ¬†hello, give him a hug or join him for some sweet dance moves! You won’t regret it! You’ll likely have the time of your life hanging out with the happiest guy I know! ūüôā

My friend Cory Reece www.fastcory.com decided to video the runners at the Antelope Island Buffalo Run 100 miler as we raced, ran and danced our buns off last weekend. ¬†The result is pretty fun to watch! ¬†I’m the one in the red tutu. I only wish I’d kept on dancing and stayed in the mental happy place since I ended up dropping from the race at mile 75. ¬†I should have continued to boogie to the finish line like Cory did! ūüôā


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! ūüôā ¬†Hang in there! Keep it up! Happy winter running!



Running with my BFF

Bertha and I

I’ve been reading a book titled MWF seeking BFF. It’s a true story about a gal who moves away from her close friends in New York and tries to find a gal pal to fill the void in her new Chicago life. It’s a story I relate to a bit. My best friend is someone I’ve known since we were in first grade. I can tell her anything, be myself with her, be “real” and no matter what’s bothering me, she can always make me laugh and feel like it’s going to be ok. My best friend, Bertha lives in Nampa. I moved more than an hour away two years ago when I moved to Southeast Boise. She used to stop by my house for lunch since I lived 5 min from her office. We ran together a lot! I miss her dearly!!! Somehow nearly a year has passed since we last ran together, so we had a lot of catching up to do. We DO e-mail and text and talk on the phone, but it’s so much better to catch up in person!!!!!

My Garmin shows we had a moving time about an hour and 40 minutes faster than our actual time! Those were all the times we stopped dead in our tracks to tell dramatic, gossipy stories to each other! Ohhhhh how I’d missed her and all the subjects that I only feel truly comfortable discussing with her. We laughed so much I was sure I’d end up wetting my pants (er.. shorts!) The moment she complained about her “mommy tummy” and pulled up her shirt just to prove to me how bad she thought her stomach was and I pulled up my shirt to show her my “mom-of-5” belly and nearly blinded her with my alabaster stomach was a highlight!! Bertha is Hispanic so she got quite a laugh from seeing my pasty “white girl” belly, which I think looked extra awesomely ghost-like next to my tan legs!!! ūüėÄ

We headed straight for Olive Garden after and continued the catch up fest while we dined on all-you-can eat pasta, salad and breadsticks!! Mmmmmmm!!!!! My heart is once again full!!!! I adore this girl!! ūüėÄ Gosh, it felt so good to take down the walls of my heart, to be seen, to be enjoyed to laugh so hard I could hardly breath and to go away knowing that even after all this time – a true friendship is exactly the same. It is home.

Elevation Gain: 2,673 feet. Total miles: 18.81 miles.

P.S. The fly-infested porta john from heck is worth a mention. I visited the facility before the run and thought I’d walked into a horror movie when 8 bazillion flies were buzzing around the piles of well, you know… as I entered. I thought, “How am I going to pee without all those icky flies buzzing under my bum? I flapped my arms around yelling, “SHOO!” to get them to move, but only some of them did. That was the quickest doing of business I have ever done in my life and I was so afraid I’d accidentally capture one of those creepy pests in my shorts as I pulled them back up but thankfully I got out without any hitchhikers taking a ride. It is so much nicer to just water the bushes on a trail run! Next time I will be avoiding the porta john!!! AHhhhhhhhhhhhhhh!


IMTUF 100 – Pacing a Fast Boy

IMTUF Race Start

                                          IMTUF Race Start

The IMTUF 100 is a spectacular, well-organized ultra through some of the most scenic trails in all of Idaho.  My cousin, Ben Blessing and his friend Jeremy Humphrey (a couple of solid ultra runners themselves, Ben, having completed the 135 miles of Badwater in 2011 and Jeremy winning Cascade Crest 100 in 2011!) put on this epic event in the Salmon River Mountains just outside the beautiful resort town of McCall, Idaho.

Ben Blessing and Jeremy Humphrey, the race directors of IMTUF

Ben Blessing and Jeremy Humphrey, the race directors of IMTUF

Having paced my friend Rachael last year for 62 miles on the IMTUF course, I was eager to come back and experience the beauty and difficulty of this mountain ultra once more. So when my running buddy Derek happened to mention that he still had not found a pacer it didn’t take long for me to start jumping up and down, waving my hand in the air and saying, “OOooooohhh ¬†Ohhhhhh Mr Kotter Mr Kotter, Pick MEEEEEEE!!” ¬†(Ok, maybe it didn’t go QUITE like that, but it is how I like to remember it.)

Being the “slow girl” who loves to train with the “fast boys” it has always been my secret wish to actually get to pace one of THEM and see what it’s like from their perspective in races for a change. Many a times on a training run when I’m dying and wheezing trying to catch up to them as they casually chit chat about the day and glide effortlessly like gazelles up yet another steep mountainside, I’ve wondered what it would be like to see one of them really TIRED for a change, while “I” had the energy!” ¬†So this was a gig I really wanted to land!!

I always say when you’re too poor to cough up the entry fee, what better way to get a ticket to the party than to volunteer, crew or pace?!! You still get to get in on all the FUN that way, hang out with some cool people and have great memories to look back at when it’s over and log some serious miles on the legs! Win/win! ¬†So, after a few weeks of Derek probably not being able to find anyone better, I totally scored the job. ¬†I thought “Woo hoo! I get to hang with the COOL KIDS!!!! It was quite a moment of pride for my back-of-the pack kind!” I thought of making billboards to advertise my good fortune, but figured I should just focus, rest up and do my best not to screw this thing up for myself or all other slow people who want to pace fast people out there in the future!

Since the course was done in reverse this time (to avoid some of the most gut-busting climbs being in the tail end of the race) and a few weeks earlier (to avoid the crazy 5 degree temperatures that made for some epic frozen mustache and beard photos at last year’s event) I was eager to see the part of the course I had not had the opportunity to test out last year in my pacing duties! ¬†Since Derek is a much faster runner than I am, I also only agreed to pace for the final 50k ¬†which seemed like a pretty smart plan so that I could stay strong and help him push through the night and the final stretch.

Here's one of the provessional photos of Derek by Tempus Photo Design of Derek doing his epic heel click early in the race! This is my favorite!

Here’s one of the professional photos by Tempus Photo Design of Derek doing his epic heel click early in the race! This is my favorite! Does this guy know how to have FUN or what?!!

I met up with Derek’s beautiful wife, Becky on Friday afternoon and got to enjoy spending some fun time with her and their two cute sons, Sedrick (8) and Cody (6) on the long, windy roads up to McCall from Eagle. ¬†Ultra runner families are some of the most supportive in the world and are capable of juggling a great deal to be a source of encouragement and support to the runner in their lives with the addiction to this crazy sport (that takes up so much of our free time and our family’s free time!) Becky was no different! She shared that she’d already volunteered at one of her children’s schools that day for “popcorn day”, then played piano at a funeral and gotten in a workout before packing up herself and the kids for the 3 hour drive to McCall to crew and support Derek! When Sedrick started to moan from the backseat about an hour and a half into the trip that his tummy was hurting, she stayed calm and cool, even when the carsickness overtook him (and covered much of the back seat on the drive up!) ¬†She patiently and calmly cleaned him and the seat right up, hugged him and we were on our way again to the race. I have always liked Becky, but my admiration of her rose to a whole new level after this trip!

The beautiful Becky and Derek at mile 44

                 Derek and his lovely wife, Becky at mile 44

I had heard Derek speak fondly of his first 100 miler – the Bear – just 11 months ago, where he was feeling awful in the first half until he got to see his wife, kids and parents at about the midpoint of that race. ¬†The best part of the story is how Derek’s Dad, ¬†“Pops” had whipped up the world’s best dutch oven chicken pot pie and how Derek downed that meal and it brought him back to life so that he ran the second half of the race feeling like his legs were fresh and fast all the way to the finish! ¬†The IMTUF 100 would be Derek’s 4th 100 miler in less than a year – and once again, his loving family (and the famous chicken pot pie) would be there and I was excited to see how things would play out for him.

We arrived a bit after 5:30 pm at the Lake Fork Trail Head (mile 44 into the race) to crew. Derek wasn’t expecting to see any of us until mile 55, but since we had to pass this aid station on our way to Snowslide anyways, it seemed like a great chance to surprise him! We met up with Derek’s dad and his step mom here (all ready with the delicious pot pie and an extra pot with cobbler as well!) We arrived early enough we were able to cheer on some of the front runners (and several of my fellow Boise Trail Runner pals) which was fun! This was also my first sighting of Ann Trason and she came in looking strong. ¬†I sat back and respectfully watched from a distance one of the legends of ultra running proving she still had it at age 54 (the following day I would learn was her birthday and she’d turn 55 while out in the mountains doing what she devoted so much of her life and talents to!)

Derek came running down the dirt road towards the aid station and his 8 year old son ran out to him with a boisterous, “DADDDYYYYY!!!!!!!!!” and the joy on each of their faces made me extra happy that we’d showed up at this aid station to surprise him. ¬†There’s something magical and wonderful about seeing those you love that can rejuvenate your spirit during a tough ultra. ¬†Derek looked worn. We sat him down and went to work, filling up his water bottles and pack, getting some Gatorade into him and getting him a helping of his Pop’s famous chicken pot pie.

Word quickly got around the camp that this special meal was being served and runners and pacers came around with hopeful faces like beggars, hoping for some too – and Derek’s dad happily and generously obliged – feeding many. ¬†Sounds of “Mmm – this is amazing!” “It’s delicious!!” could be heard round the camp. Most surprising was when our vegetarian runner friend Christine asked for some as well! (Since she would go on to be the first place woman at the race, we all had to wonder if there wasn’t some super top secret ingredient for all who dined on this special meal!) Pop’s cooking apparently works magic for all who indulge!

Derek receiving nourishment of body and spirit from his "Pops"

Derek receiving nourishment of body and spirit from his “Pops”

As we were updated by Derek on the events earlier in the race, we found he and a few others had gotten off course after the first aid station. A ¬†pickup truck had been parked right where a crucial trail marker sign was and they’d ran 4-5 extra miles before getting back on course. ¬†Derek said, “I was last place by the 2nd aid station and have had to work my way back up from the bottom!” ¬†He also shared that he’d ran out of water and had a rough 3 mile patch where he struggled until he could get to the next aid station and get more to drink. ¬†We made sure to hydrate him well, feed him and let him rest up before sending him off back onto the trail to run another 60 miles! And it was time well spent! He was starting to come back to life as he left the aid station and joined up with Christine and her pacer (and our good buddy) Ryan, which seemed to really boost his mood, too.

Helping Derek

                                              Helping Derek

Derek coming back to life after the famous chicken pot pie!

     Derek coming back to life after the famous chicken pot pie!

We then jumped in the pickup and headed up to the Snowslide Trail Head (mile 55.4 of the race closer to mile 60 for Derek who was on the scenic tour!) At that aid station we were greeted by Becky’s brother, Jody, who would be Derek’s first pacer in the race, joining him for about 15 miles in the dark. The best part? Jody had never ran more than 12 miles and had never ran on trails. I could tell from the first meeting that Jody had a positive energy about him; a laid-back nice guy who was looking forward to getting a first-hand experience into Derek’s ultra marathoning world and I knew it would mean a lot to Derek to have him along for the journey.

We had some time to kill as we waited, which was fun. We got to see our friend Jayk Reynolds totally killing it as he came in on FIRE – holding a steady 3rd place in this difficult, technical 100 miler – even though this was only his first 100! Impressive! I leaned down as Jayk sat in a chair and asked him how he was doing and he still looked like he’d only been out for an easy 3 mile morning jog – there was still a sparkle and a freshness in his eyes, which told me everything I needed to know. I knew then that Jayk wouldn’t have a problem staying strong until the end! I was very inspired by his deep belief in his abilities, his inner drive and his talents.

Waiting at mile 55 to crew

                                       Waiting at mile 55 to crew

When at about 9:57 pm ¬†I spotted a headlamp coming fast from the other side of the creek towards the aid station, I held my breath and watched, trying to see who it could be. When the figure stopped and did a heel click I yelled out, “It’s DEREK!” ¬†That’s Derek’s signature move and I was so jazzed to see my runner revived and running strong again! The pot pie had worked it’s magic! He splashed through the water and came tearing up the small hillside to the aid station. ¬†The mood was energetic and contagious! I helped Derek get his things sorted out, filled his water bottles and got him some food, while Jody got ready to jump in for pacing. Derek didn’t stay long. He left with Ryan, Christine and Jody and we knew they’d have another good stretch until I jumped in at mile 70 at Upper Payette Lake in a few short hours.

I said goodbye to Derek’s family and then took Jody’s car to the next aid station, driving slowly along the washboard dirt road in the mountains, hoping I wouldn’t get lost since we were far from civilization (it felt like) and my cell phone had no service. ¬†Thankfully, the directions from the IMTUF race manual were flawless (thank you, Jeremy!) and I got there in plenty of time to get something to eat and then lay down in the car for a short rest before my pacing duties kicked in. ¬†I noticed how spectacular the stars were (the vast number of them alone just astounds me when I’m so far from any distracting city lights or homes) out there as I laid in the car, eager to start running through the night.

At about 2:15 am, my pal Dennis was knocking on my car window telling me they were here!! I was so excited! They’d made really good time from the last station and were doing well! Once I got a look at Derek and saw he was looking well-fed, energetic and determined I knew it was going to be a fun night! I got him his water, some Gatorade, switched a couple of items from his drop back and then we were off — running with Christine and her pacer (and another of our friends) Jon. ¬†We settled in together for a mile or so, running through a small trail, hopping a guard rail and then running along the main road for a short bit until we were on a dirt road heading towards the single track trail again. We stayed together through this section and the energy was great from the two 100 milers! They’d taken great care of themselves and ran smart races and were benefiting from that – over 70 miles into the difficult course!

I looked down at my Garmin, that I’d hit “start” on the second I had reached Derek at the aid station and noted we had an average pace of 19:41 for the couple of miles we’d been together and decided it might be time to push Derek a little. I pulled ahead as we reached one of the biggest climbs of the course heading up the Victor Creek trail. It was very rocky, the grade was steep and there were lots of obstacles to try and trip you up (as well as a few water crossings and swamps to traipse through!) ¬†It was awesome! I put the gas on just a little to see how Derek would respond. He followed. I kept moving, nice and steady, looking back over my shoulder to see if the pace was comfortable. ¬†When he’d fall back a bit, I’d stop and wait. He was moving well. We kept going. This was the last time we saw Christine or Jon and soon we were ascending the mountain with only the glow of the stars twinkling above and the light from our headlamps to guide us. It was peaceful, still and I was thoroughly enjoying myself (and hoped Derek wasn’t feeling too tired from all the miles on his legs to be having some fun too!)

The cowbells and cheering from the Victor Creek aid station were a highlight of this stretch as we approached them after a long, hard climb! Derek was in a groove, so I sent him right through and I stopped to fill up my pack with plenty of water for the journey. Things were going well and we’d found our rhythm as pacer/runner and it felt good. ¬†We stopped for only a short bit when we reached a rock on the side of the trail that looked exactly like a comfortable bench right on top of the mountain, under all those glorious stars sometime after 3 am. Derek emptied some rocks from his shoes while I took in the view and then we were off again, feeling good. ¬†Most of the running I’ve done with Derek in the last couple of years has happened during the early morning “headlamp” hours so in many ways we settled into “just a regular morning training run” mode – except poor Derek had already traveled more than 80 miles by this point (counting his bonus miles!) ¬†I felt like we moved really well through the next stretch, having to climb over several fallen trees and keep upright on the crazy steep ascent with lots of loose rocks and dirt. We stayed steady but smart, not risking a fall this late in the race when he was doing so well. ¬†He was in 7th place when I jumped in with him and we didn’t want to lose ground.

After another mile, we rounded a corner, running well and spotted another racer sitting on a log on the side of the trail. ¬†I sat down next to him and asked him his name. He said he was Matt Hagen from Washington. We asked how he was doing and he said he was a bit worn down since he’d just marked and paced at Cascade Crest the previous week. I knew his reputation as a really solid runner and we asked if he’d like to jump in with us and run the next stretch. ¬†He said he wasn’t sure he was up for it, but I was happy to look back over my shoulder and see two headlamps following me a few minutes later. ¬†The guys were doing good! We kept moving well as the dawn of the new day started to settle all around us – the trees suddenly in silhouette against the ever-lightening gray sky. It was glorious!

Derek was in 6th place, Matt had dropped back after a mile or two and we were on our way to Willow Basket Junction – 83.1 miles into the course. Derek and I came in running strong with big smiles and Derek did his famous heel click! The dedicated volunteers – Vicky and Doug Trees, two locals and the others were out in the middle of what must have felt like nowhere with a nice fire and snacks offering aid to the tired runners! It was a delight to see their smiles and feel their energy! We reached them about 6:33 am. We’d made it about 13 miles through some of the most difficult terrain of the course in about 4 hours. We were doing well! We had some snacks, then Doug pointed us in the right direction and we were off again.

We found the next section very pleasant! It reminded me so much of running Big Horn with the single track trail high above the rushing water in sections with gorgeous forests on all sides. It was truly beautiful! In this section, we ditched our jackets into the packs and got settled in for some warmer weather running. It had gotten quite chilly just before the sun had risen, so it was a nice change as the sun settled into the sky and we started to warm up nicely.

I remember trying to tell Derek some jokes to pass the time during this (hilarious jokes like, Me: “Why did the chicken cross the playground?” ¬†Derek: “Why?” ¬†Me: “To get to the other SLIDE!” hahaha) ¬†and the poor guy was so tired by this point he’d said, “No jokes now, Christie. I just can’t.” ¬†That made me grin. ¬†Derek had paced me for 50 miles at the Antelope Island Buffalo Run in March (and told me quite a few corny jokes and done some pretty impressive Vera De Milo Jim Carrey impersonations to get me through) and I remember getting to a point where I could no longer carry on or listen to any conversation either. Derek was reaching this point. We kept moving, never walking for more than a 1/4 of a mile before we’d be running again. ¬†I was deeply impressed in this section with Derek’s determination and his ability to find strength in those legs after being on the trail for so long! It was inspiring! ¬†I remember telling him, “You ran the first 70 miles with your legs. You run the rest of this thing with your HEART! You can do it!”

The scenery was spectacular!

Derek pushing hard in the final stretch

                    Derek pushing hard in the final stretch


Derek hadn't entirely lost his sense of humor even in the final miles.

Derek hadn’t entirely lost his sense of humor even in the final miles. ūüôā

We ran well in the early morning light, enjoying the new day and it occurred to me how surreal it would feel for me to see a 100 mile finisher crossing the finish line before DINNER (since I’m a back of the packer!) ¬†It was a light, fun thought and I thoroughly enjoyed thinking like that – but reminded myself that we still had several miles to go before that great moment and I (and Derek) still had work to do.

We picked up the pace as we came into Willow Basket Junction for the second time at mile 92.4 for the course (Derek was nearing the 100 mile mark on his legs.) ¬†We showed up at 9:05 am. The aid station workers quickly said, “You’re only 4 minutes behind two other runners who were together!” ¬†Derek and I looked at each other and just tore out of there. I saw an excitement in his eyes, a new reason to dig deep and push and it was a lot of fun to start running really strong again after so many miles. ¬† Within just a few minutes we saw Matthew Tock, a man with an impressive beard (who was doing his first 100) and Wayne Rancourt (a very experienced, strong local runner and good friend who had stayed with Matt the entire race.) ¬†It was such a highlight to get to say hi to these guys and see how they were doing. ¬†They were walking as we approached and we asked if they’d like to join in with us and run together. ¬†Matt said his legs were just too spent at this point (these guys had also done the bonus 5 mile section with Derek) and so we wished them well and headed on our way. ¬†Derek was now in 4th place.

The fast boy running strong!

                            The fast boy running strong!

He was leading on the uphills, pushing himself hard and saying to himself, things like, “Keep going! Dig deep!” ¬†It was truly interesting to me to see what a “fast boy” looks like towards the end of a 100 miler, how he behaves, the thoughts in his head (based solely on what he would mutter to himself while pushing when you could see that his body wanted him to rest instead!) ¬†All of it was fascinating. ¬†Some of the biggest differences I noted: He never once complained! NEVER! He stayed positive or kept quiet if he wasn’t feeling well, never giving voice or strength to the negativity than can overpower the mind in one of these ultras. He was steady. ¬†Our pace was similar at mile 70, 80, 90 and into the finish. ¬†He allowed himself to regularly take short walk/hike breaks up steep mountains or during the flatter sections to better ration his energy – but never allowed himself to take a “walk break” for more than 1/4 of a mile at a time!! Even if the run pace was slower, it was faster forward motion than if we’d taken longer walk stretches and that added up over the time we were together to get him across those miles at a faster pace! It was awesome! He ate regularly, drank regularly and used short term goals to get to the next aid station, up the next big climb, etc. ¬† It was a lot of fun seeing him use these mental games to challenge himself and keep himself motivated and moving forward.

Several of those things are the same weather you are at the front of the pack or the back of the pack – race smart, stay hydrated and fueled, have a positive mental attitude – but a few of them were different and those are the things I am gratefully taking away from this experience and will be applying to my own racing – mainly things like – [Don’t let walk breaks last longer than a short while – get back into the groove of running as soon and as often as possible and ¬†– Stay in the “no whining zone” throughout the race!! PUSH HARDER!! Don’t be so conservative or you’ll never know what you’re truly made of!] ¬†I also noted that Derek’s training coming into this race was exceptional! Better than ever! That too, is a huge consideration when planning out your goals for an ultra — train harder than ever and expect to race better than ever! It certainly worked well for Derek!

Are we done yet?!

                                          Are we done yet?!

Derek started to fade a bit as we neared the final stretch. By about mile 100 on the course, we were doing 3 min of running and 1 min of walking intervals and it seemed to help. ¬†My Garmin showed about an 10:30 – 11:30 pace as we ran, which seemed about right for this late in the race. ¬†I cheered Derek on and told him how well he was doing and reminded him that his family would be waiting to see him do his famous “heel click” at the finish. ¬†He was hollow, tired, worn down and running on fumes in the final miles just continuing to move one foot in front of the other while no longer speaking. ¬†I know that look. I looked just like that when deep fatigue set in for me at my last 100 and Derek was pacing me. I stayed quiet and just ran in front of him, pulling him along and feeling thankful for the connection of ultra runners and enjoying the chance to be there for a friend who has really been there for me in my own racing. ¬†The final moments were winding down and I got a little bit emotional realizing how well Derek was doing right until the finish.

We came off the mountain finally and saw lots of flagging – some of it to the right, some of it right in front of us in the trees and some of it going left. We stood there for a few minutes unsure of which way to go — go through the trees? Was there a trail that way? Head left where the paper plate and ribbons were tied on a sign on the left? ¬†Go right where there were several ribbons along the roadway? ¬†We were standing on a main road. I saw an SUV coming our way and I started to flag them down. ¬†They stopped and I explained our predicament. “We’re in a 100 mile race. We’re looking for Burgdorf Hot Springs. Do you know what direction we need to go?” ¬†They said to head to the right. That we were about 2 miles away! We thanked them and excitedly started running that way. ¬†We saw a pink ribbon on the sign that said, “Burgdorf 2 miles up ahead”, so we turned and headed down the home stretch.

This was the section that stood out to me above all others because Derek was thoroughly spent, exhausted and drained – but instead of shuffling it in, he started to SPRINT like he was in a 5k! I glanced down at my Garmin and saw we were doing about a 7:20 pace and I panted out to Derek, “Can you hold this the rest of the way?” (fearing honestly that he would say, “Yes”, since I wasn’t sure “I” could hold that pace for 2 miles!) He gasped out, “We’ll see!!!!” ¬†Then 2/10 of a mile later, he thankfully slowed down to a walk again, both of us breathing heavily. ¬†I patted him on the back and said, “Someone smells the barn, eh?!” I know that feeling and it was fun to see him craving that finish line above every other possible feeling in his aching body. ¬†He wanted to be done. ¬†We walked until his breathing returned and then he did it again — sprinting like he was on fire, then walking, then sprinting, then walking. ¬†We were almost there and he was determined to drain every last ounce of his strength onto this course by giving it absolutely everything his body had to give!

Finally, he said, “It’s around the next bend. Run ahead. ¬†Tell my family I’m coming!!” I said, “I’m so proud of you, man! You DID IT!!! Don’t forget to HEEL CLICK!” and then I took off – heading into the final stretch, grinning from ear to ear. ¬†I could see people at the finish line peering down the lane at me with questioning faces (the first place female had not crossed yet) and I started yelling, “DEREK’S COMING!!!!!”

As soon as I got past the line, I pulled out my camera and got into a position to capture the moment. ¬†Derek’s two sons ran down the lane towards their daddy, yelling excitedly, “Daddy! Daddy!!!” ¬†That’s all it took, Derek started to run faster and faster heading towards his children, towards his beautiful wife and towards that beckoning finish line and the small crowd gathered around the finish and cheering him forward!

IMTUF 100 Mile Finish Line Heel Click!

                      IMTUF 100 Mile Finish Line Heel Click!

He picked up the pace to full tilt and then hit the finish line with one of the finest heel clicks I’ve ever witnessed! Everyone was cheering, high-fiving, slapping him on the back and congratulating him. His beautiful wife held out her arms and he fell into her embrace and they held one another, then he reached down to his wide-eyed sons, full of deep admiration for their super hero daddy and he held them too. ¬†It was an emotional and beautiful finish.

A tender moment with father and sons. <3

                      A tender moment with father and sons. <3

Derek finished the race in 29:24:43 in 4th place.  It was an amazing day! Well done, my friend. Well done!

Derek and I

Derek and I



Girls Head Start Mountain Run

Yesterday, after a pretty great morning run, Ryan mentioned he was going to run “hard and fast” on some of the most difficult trails we have in the Boise Foothills. Of course, that got the wheels turning in my head and I asked him later if he’d share the route with me for my Garmin so I could start early and do it too (without messing up “fast boy” training!)

My buddy,¬†Rachel C.¬†stopped by my house while I was looking over the map and said she’d enjoy coming along too, so we met up at 4:30 am to get a jump on¬†Ryan A.¬†and Derek (who I refer to as the “fast boys” because they are exceptionally FAST runners!)

After looking at Ryan’s Garmin info (where he’d done this route in the past in 1:29) we started a half an hour (it turned out to be 27 minutes exactly since they started two min early and we started one min late -not that I’m being a numbers geek) before the guys and decided to hike every step since we thought it would be fun if they caught us at the halfpoint and we all ran downhill together. The sky was pitch black, the city of Boise twinkled below like a thousand sparkling diamonds, the wind whistled and I was thankful for my thin Brooks jacket keeping me toasty. We reached the 4 mile spot and could see two headlamps about a mile down the trail heading steadily up towards us, so we waited for about 7 minutes (that’s ALL it took them to catch us with a half an hour start!!?!! WOW)

They were flying too and in great spirits! We said our hellos and we all started running fast downhill having a blast! If the fellas were tired from running hard on the steep uphills, they didn’t show it! They were FLYING!!!! And whooping and laughing and having a great time! Rachel and the boys took off super fast and I had to hold back on the super technical downhill right after we joined up. It’s like a death trap, a zillion various sized rocks, uneven terrain, by headlamp. Totally exciting! Loved every minute of it – but I had to take my time. I definitely lost my “early morning running” skills with the several week lay off from running much with the calf injury and am eager to get back to being a bit more fearless on this sort of thing!

Once we hit the smoother sections of downhill running I was in my element and started running much faster! That’s when I started whooping and hollaring – and it started to rain! I felt like a little kid I was having so much fun, my hair plastered to my face, arms and legs pumping hard through the mountains under the stars! My fastest mile was mile 7 at a 7:18 pace. I felt I could have ran it a bit faster, but I had to pee!

I stopped to take care of business and wait for Rachel (who’s headlamp was fading making it hard for her to go as fast as she wanted to.) Once I saw her light behind me, I took off again to the final stretch, lungs burning and breathing heavy as I gave it all I had to the finish!

That was the most incredible workout I’ve done in MONTHS! Totally loved it and can’t wait to do it again!!!! THIS kind of running will make me a beast!

Elevation gain: 1,659 feet. When I got back to the parking lot and realized Rachel and I had done the 8.64 mile route in about 1:45 I was pretty excited! Not bad for hiking the first 4 miles! Next time, I think we girls need to start 15 min early instead and run as much as we want. I am betting we could do it even faster!! What do you think, Rachel?! Are you in?!


40 Miles for 40 Years – My “Over the HillS!” Birthday Run

On November 2nd, I turned the big four -O!! 40 years YOUNG! I can’t believe it! 40 is a pretty special number for me since it was the age my Mom was the year she ran her marathon. Four and a half years ago, when I took those first steps to becoming a healthier Mommy, my ultimate goal was to run a marathon the year I turned 40 years old just like my Mom had done.¬† So, here I am!! Finally 40!

Since I’d ran that first marathon a few years back (and gone on to do other ultra marathons including my 100 miler this past March) I needed a special way to commemorate the day.¬† So, I invited a bunch of my crazy running buddies to join me as I ran 40 miles to celebrate 40 years of a good life!

It couldn’t have been more perfect to begin my special day, in the dark, at 5:30 am with a headlamp meeting up with Ryan at the base of Lucky Peak. That alone was kind of sentimental for me. A year ago I moved to Boise. The night before my birthday, I was feeling a little down since I was still unpacking and didn’t have any official plans to run with anyone the next day for my birthday. It was late when the phone rang. It was my friend, Ryan, inviting me on my first-ever midweek trail run by¬† headlamp!!! Just one of the “cool, new things” that changed for me when I moved to Boise! The next morning, I awoke at 4:30 am (a time that seemed ungodly, but would over time become my new normal on running days.) It was freezing cold, windy, my hands were numb and I could hardly hear Ryan when he spoke because the wind was blowing so fiercely! But, we ran the Homestead Trail up towards Lucky Peak, stopping once we’d reached a great spot to view the city lights below. It took my breath away and almost made me cry! I felt like the luckiest person in the world — standing on the top of a mountain as a new year of my life began in a new city!

So, beginning this run in the same way was pretty special. To make it even better, my friend Andrea was joining us and my amazing friends Bobby and Calvin, who had driven all the way from Baker City, Oregon to join in were along the for celebration too! I was dressed in my new purple birthday tutu and I was feeling rather festive and full of appreciation for my good friends, my loving husband and five children, the gorgeous trails I run on and my good health! We ran under the bright moon and the twinkling stars and chatted as we made our way up.

At the top, we paused, taking in the views below of the city lights – twinkling like diamonds beneath us against a black sky. Though I’ve seen this view many times since last November, it still causes me to catch my breath and my heart wells up with awe at the sight and wonder of it all. Me, way up on a mountain on the morn of my birthday.

We headed down the hill, running hard and fast, dodging rocks, uneven washout on the road, letting gravity pull our bodies like speeding bullets down the hill, trying not to fall the way I did on my birthday the year before. This time, I can feel the familiarity in my footfalls. I run this trail in the dark all the time now and I don’t hesitate on the downhills anymore – I push myself instead – loving the riskiness of daring the rocks to trip me up, the drive welling up inside my chest as I try to chase down my faster friend! I run well, my cheeks are flushed and I am smiling. In fact, I find that I am running effortlessly — floating down the mountain, gracefully, quickly gaining on Ryan and I am not out of breath. I feel wonderful! I push a little bit harder, see the gap between us closing bit by bit. My mind is buzzing.. “Could THIS be my day? The day I finally catch my faster pal?!” My stride stretches and I get closer and closer, my breathing heavy, when I am right at his heels – JUST as we reach the gate and finish the run! I am elated! He teases, “If you hadn’t had on your headlamp you might have caught me this time!” Maybe next birthday….

We get about 8 miles in before the day starts to dawn. We say goodbye to Ryan as he heads off to work for the day and the others and I head back to my house as the sun starts to rise to meet up with a few pals who will join me for the next leg of our journey. I find my sweet friend, Martha there with her bicycle and a delicious homemade key lime pie — baked special for me! Yum!!! I hug her, and my friends Mark and Dennis also show up, giving me hugs and saying, “Happy Birthday!” My five kids wake and are enjoying all the commotion at our home at such an early hour. They love my friends and I think my friends love them too.

We head off as a group, this time running some roads and the Boise Greenbelt on our travels. We keep the pace easy, conversational. Today is about pleasure, celebration – FUN! We talk about the fall leaves – the golds, the eye-popping reds, the browns. It’s a lovely day – sunny, blue skies, comfortable. A perfect fall day for a 40 mile run! We spot a deer standing statue-still in the Boise River! I jump up and down and clap like a 5 year old! It really feels like nature just sent me the best gift of all – this moment to gaze at this powerful and graceful beast — as she walks serenely through the water, pausing, staring at us, then walking on. It’s a perfect day!

By the time we are back at my house, I and three of my companions have ran over 22 miles! The mission is half complete! My husband is adorable – wearing a pink flamingo hat, working hard to whip up grilled cheese sandwiches for all my friends and I, spreading the table with other goodies for us to munch on – yogurt covered pretzels, potato chips, M and Ms, bananas, oranges and all sorts of tasty drinks! We are nourished, we’re in good spirits and then my friend, Uli comes over! Ulrich Kamm is something of a legend in our group. He’s from Germany and he brings me a delightful little champagne fruit and nut cake covered in chocolate. Uli is over 60 years old and has completed more than 250 ultra marathons, including multiple 100 mile finishes including Leadville, Wasatch, The Bear, Big Horn and 10 at Hardrock – and he’s never ran a step of any of them! He’s a power walker unlike any I’ve ever known! His walking pace causes others to run just to keep up! He’s energetic, funny and inspirational and I am thrilled to have him at my party!

This loop on the Oregon Trails with Uli is one of my favorite! Bobby, Calvin, Mark and I laugh and enjoy the chatter of our faithful leader — as Uli keeps us all putting in a solid effort just to keep him in sight! It’s wonderful! We enjoy the rocky terrain, the views of the Lucky Peak Dam reservoir and I feel very, very alive and incredibly happy as we run (and Uli walks!)

We get back to the house, say goodbye to Uli and Bobby tells me his foot is bothering him. I feel so badly for him. He’s gone 30 miles – a huge effort and I am so proud of him! My buddy, Jon has shown up and joins in with Calvin, Mark and I for the final round. We are in good spirits and the boys are being silly – harassing me like school children, playfully kicking at me or running off with my cell phone to take funny pictures that I’ll find later!

We get a call a few miles later that two of my gal pals have shown up to run with me. Wayne drives them down to meet up with us and it’s a pleasant change of pace to run with the girls, with their fresh legs. I am struggling with needing a bathroom so we do more walking than running, but they don’t seem to mind and we laugh and talk and enjoy the rest of the day.

My friend Christena needs to head off to a family dinner, so Wayne comes to give her a ride and I hug her and thank her for joining me! Denise stays and we slowly meander up the trail back towards the house. Calvin has reached a new milestone — he’d never gone more than 33 miles before — and Jon and Mark help him run strong to the end! They are done several minutes before I come trotting up the road with Denise. I am smiling. Only Denise is there when I hit the big 40 miles goal and the low key finish seems just perfect.¬† She tells me “congratulations”, hugs me and I head into the house for a shower before my birthday dinner.

It was a wonderful day. About 40 people come to my dinner. My oldest daughter says, “Isn’t that perfect, Mom?!” And, yes, it really is!

I am so lucky! I feel surrounded by people I adore, people I respect and enjoy the company of! My kids and husband are there, smiling, enjoying the fellowship of our friends and I am happy. It has been a life well lived thus far!!! ūüôā Here’s to many, many more miles and years ahead…..



Foothills 50k Frenzy

I had been looking forward to running the Foothills 50k Frenzy since last year when my friend and fellow race director, Jenny put on this event in our very own Boise Foothills! I was filled with anticipation and excitement when I headed out into the light rain towards the race (which conveniently is less than 20 minutes from my front door – a real treat since I often have to travel for doing my ultras!)

I had been asked to sing the National Anthem at the start and I think I was more nervous about that than racing! I said hello to several friends and grabbed my bib and goody bag at the start, then headed towards the long, long line for the porta-potties.  Usually I need to use the facilities at least a couple of times as I deal with my nervous bladder, but unfortunately, while still in line the first time, I realized the line was moving so slow that I would not be able to even get one shot at it! So, like any good ultra runner, I headed off to find a private spot and peed there, beneath some wooden bleachers in the dark, chilly morning.

Then it was time to get the party started, so I headed over to the start line, grabbed the microphone and waited for everyone to line up. ¬†The crowd grew quiet and I saw many familiar faces smiling back at me, which calmed me down and then I begin to sing. Last year when I sang the Anthem, I was so nervous, my voice was shaking. ¬†This time, I felt more sure of myself and relaxed and actually enjoyed the moment. ¬†When I was done, I rushed over to the racers and found myself a good little spot, turned on my headlamp and got ready to race! Several people patted me on the back and said, “Good job!” ¬†That made me feel good. Then it was time! They counted down and we were off!!!!

I made it a point to not go out too fast. I pulled back on the pace right away and let the crowd surge ahead and thought to myself, “It will be more fun to chase people down at the end than have them pass ME there!” And, I settled into a relaxed, steady pace and started to look around and enjoy the early-morning views, the sounds of the footfalls on the trails, the steady stream of lights ahead of me zig-zagging up the hillside, the city lights twinkling below and the nervous, early morning chatter of many racers. ¬†It was a wonderful time. I kept thinking about how many times I’d ran these same trails in training and how often I’d been running at exactly this time with a few, hardcore friends who don’t mind getting up before the sun for our runs. ¬†This time, I had plenty of company and it was funny to hear many of them say things like, “I’ve never seen the city lights from here before! I usually run later in the day!” It felt like all of these runners were out trying out my usual running time and they were enjoying it!

A couple of miles in, my stomach started to act up. ¬†I had been in a rush to leave the house and had not had time to use the bathroom there and here my stomach was reminding me that it still needed to take care of business! ¬†Unfortunately, in the Boise Foothills, it’s mostly sagebrush and medium grasses — not a great place to find a good hiding spot to use nature’s bathroom! At about mile 5, I knew I couldn’t hold off any longer and walked down over the side of one of the hills as far as I could to get out of sight of the racers and then, I shut off my headlamp and did what I needed to do. ¬†About 15-20 people passed me here, way up on the trail.

I fell back in line and settled back into a comfortable pace and watched the day gradually turn from dark into light. It was one of the prettiest sunrises I’ve seen all year — all pinks and oranges, grays and whites. It took my breath away! ¬†Not long after, I could tell I needed another private bush moment, but there was nowhere to hide as it was getting lighter out. I knew there was a spot around mile 10 that I’d used in training and I just focused on getting to that wonderful place with lots of trees to hide behind!

It turned out, I wasn’t the only one holding out for a great spot to get indecent! ¬†There were four other women hiding amongst the trees and bushes doing the same thing. ¬†I lost a few more minutes here, but it was time well spent! As I was coming out from the bushes, a couple of men said, “Great! Is that a good spot to use the bathroom?” And I had to break it to them that there were still several other women already back there. They sulked and said, “NO ¬†FAIR! Where’s the men’s room around here?” That made me laugh!

I was really enjoying the day after that stop! I felt warmed up, relaxed, in a good groove! I glanced at my watch and felt pretty pleased to see that despite the two pit stops, I was right on pace with where I’d hoped to be at this point in the race. ¬†I didn’t really concern myself at all with my watch or the paces, though. I ran by feel and was intent on staying steady and strong for the entire race, so I could finish strong.

My husband Wayne was running an aid station at mile 11.5 and I focused on getting up the steepest climb of the day to get there. ¬†I was glad I’d done this section three times before so I knew what to expect as it’s kind of a long, steep haul to the top of the ridge road! I passed a few people here, which surprised me since I was just power hiking and not running at all. ¬†It was a real confidence boost to see how much stronger I’ve become at powering up difficult climbs in the last year! ¬†I picked up the pace and started to run once I heard my husband’s loud music booming out over the mountains. It made me smile and gave me a little swagger as I raced up to see him and several helpers on the top!

Wayne handed me the Frappuccino I’d asked him to buy for me and I thanked him and headed out to the turnaround point a mile past his aid station (which is also mostly uphill!) Not long after the aid station, I realized I needed to take a quick pee, so I headed off down a ¬†little ATV trail for some privacy. As soon as I had my shorts down, I looked up and saw another runner gal who’d been following me and said, “Oh! I’m sorry! This is the wrong way. I just needed to pee!” ¬†She was embarrassed, laughed and headed back onto the correct road!

Back on the road, I was having the time of my life! I love out and back sections of races since you get to see the smiling faces of the other runners who are ahead of you. I exchanged a few hugs and high fives through here and really started to take in the view from up high. We were running through the forest, the fresh scent of rain still strong and pure in our nostrils. There was a heavenly mist just hanging over the mountains and all around us. It felt kind of magical, honestly — just lovely and I could not stop smiling!

I reached the 12.5 mile turnaround and heard my Uncle Mike yell out, “I know that girl!” That made me grin and I said hello, then turned around and started to really fly downhill back towards Wayne’s aid station, this time getting to say hi to my fellow racers and pals who were behind me. It was a ton of fun!! I spread out my arms like a bird and just ran, and let out a “WEEEEEEE” as I went!

Wayne gave me a kiss at his aid station, I grabbed some bonus TP and then I headed back out. I had made it a point from the start to get in and out of aid stations as quickly as possible. I don’t think I spent more than 60 seconds at any aid station all morning and I was pleased about that. ¬†The section from the Ridge Road to the next aid station is mostly downhill. I relaxed, fell into a comfortable downhill pace and soon found myself running stride-for-stride next to my pal, Matt! ¬†We had a great time catching up. We hadn’t seen one another since Wilson Creek Frozen 50k in January, where we also ended up running stride-for-stride midway through the race. ¬†We ran for several miles together and he said to me, “I can’t believe how fast we’re going! It doesn’t even hurt!” I told him chatting and running downhill were two of my favorite things and the best way to gobble up some trail miles pretty fast! At the 18 mile aid station, Matt stopped to get some grub and I just wooshed right on by and up to the next trail.

In miles 18-22, there is a lot of climbing again. ¬†I settled into my power hike mode and made sure to eat the peanut butter sandwich in my Nathan pocket. I glanced at my watch and knew I was having a great day and that I was right on target for what I’d hoped to achieve. ¬†I caught up to my friend, Randy in here and we enjoyed running together, him leading on the ups and me leading on the downs for several miles. It’s always nice to run with a friend! I got a bit ahead right before the aid station at mile 22, where I saw the first porta potty of the day and knew I needed to use it. The only problem was there was a line! Since I was having an unexpected visit from Mother Nature, I knew I had no choice but to wait and use the bathroom and deal with my female issues, so I did. Finally, the restroom opened up and I dashed in there, took care of what I needed to and then headed back onto the trail to complete the final 10 miles of the race!

I was really feeling on fire by this point! I’d conserved my energy, eaten and drank well and not dilly dallied at the aid stations and I was totally on target to have a strong finish! I was ready to really race the final stretch! I saw race photographer, Michael Lebowitz in this section, laying on the ground in the golden grasses snapping pictures as the runners went by. ¬†I leaped when I saw him and he said, “Do it again!” I did and I grinned and thanked him for being there as I passed. ¬†I was right behind Randy. ¬†Michael (who knows us both),¬†hollered¬†out to Randy, “How are you feeling?” ¬†Randy said,”Not great!” Michael said to me, “How about you?” I turned to face him as I ran backwards and said, “Like a MILLION BUCKS!” And he said to Randy, “You’re about to get chicked!!” ¬†We laughed and ran on.

Not long after the steady climb finally gave way to some awesome downhill! I took off like a rocket and felt so grateful I’d saved something in my legs for this section! I weaved and bobbed and passed several people, saying, “Good job!” as I passed each one. After several good, solid miles, I spotted a yellow shirt up ahead! It was my neighbor and good friend, Frank! I couldn’t believe I’d caught him! I sneaked up behind him as quietly as I could and then said, “BOO!” to him. ¬†He looked so tired and really happy to see me. I hugged him and told him that he was doing an awesome job on his first ultra! He said, “I’m so tired. Everything hurts.” I said, “We’re almost done, Frank! We can do this! Just hang in there for 3 more miles!” ¬†I pulled in front of him and said, “Follow me, Frank! Just chase me down!” and we ran like that for awhile, nice and relaxed. We were on cruise control, footstep by¬†footstep¬†approaching¬†the finish line! Frank got a second wind here and I let him past and yelled out, “Go, Frank, GO!!! You’re doing great!” then watched that yellow shirt sail off into the distance ahead of me. I was happy for him and happy for me. We were both having a wonderful race!

As I wound along the final stretches of the trail on the path covered in the golden leaves of fall, I couldn’t help but feel grateful. ¬†Grateful that I was healthy, that I was running, that my friends were all over this course, excited that I had people waiting at the finish line ahead to welcome me and cheer me in. ¬† My heart was full of joy as I finally reached the stairway to heaven! ¬†This final section has about 55 wooden steps up a steep hillside. I saw my friend Billie at the top, clapping and cheering for me! I made my way up the steps, grinned at her and said, “I’ve got a race to finish!” and then headed off with their cheers loud in my ears, pushing me¬†onward!

I summited the final climb and could see Frank’s yellow shirt down below and heard the crowd cheering him into the final home stretch! That totally motivated me and I started to pump the arms and legs with all I had left. I ran strong and felt the cowbells and cheering pulling me forward. ¬† I threw up my hands and pumped my fists in the air as I came across the finish line, a huge smile on my face — in 6:26 — a time I was really, really pleased with!! ¬†They handed me my hand-made finishers coffee mug (a prize I will truly treasure by a local ultra runner and artist) and I got a hug and kiss from my husband.

It was a wonderful race! I can’t wait to do it again next year!



3 Years Ago Today I Ran My First Marathon

 My Dad took this shot of me about 15 miles into City of Trees Marathon 2009

I was caught by surprise when I saw the City of Trees Marathon race in progress while I was out running errands this morning. A flood of emotions came rushing over me as I saw those runners gutting it out on the streets of Boise – just as I had done three years ago today.

¬†Just past “The Wall” at mile 20 and near a graveyard that I joked I could just keel over and die into. ¬†This photo is deceiving. I was walking and repeating, “This is so hard” over and over just before this. I rallied and mugged for the camera though!

The City of Trees Marathon of 2009 was my first marathon. It was 40 degrees, the sky was gray and it rained the entire race! I was so nervous and excited at the starting line that day! I’d never ran more than 20 miles and in fact, had only gone beyond the 16 mile mark for the first time in July leading up to this race, when my best friend, Bertha had taken me running on the Boise Greenbelt and kept encouraging me to keep going when I just wanted to lay down in the sweltering heat and DIE at about mile 12!

Bertha was my hero! She’d already ran two previous marathons and I could not believe my ¬†incredible luck when she agreed to train with me – a total newbie who could NOT keep up with her to save my life! We had grown up together in the small town of Homedale, Idaho, a little farming community only 5 miles from the Oregon border. Though we’d played together as young children, we’d lost touch as we grew older and only bumped into one another again at Wal Mart more than two decades later. ¬†We ended up becoming friends on Facebook, which led to our chatting about our common interest in running, which led us ¬†to becoming close friends and running partners in 2009. ¬†It was a wonderful summer!

Though I had grown up with a fit, athletic, runner Mom, I only took a slight interest in the sport in my late teens, often joining my Mom for local fun runs and I never signed up for anything beyond the 5k mark! I do remember once doing a race called The Oregon to Idaho  Рwhich started at the state line in Oregon and had us run the 5 miles right back into Homedale, ending at the City Park.  I remember my 35 year old, spandex-clad Mom kicked my 18 year old butt that day and I walked a LOT of that 5 miles!  Luckily, not many other teen girls were signed up for the race and I won my age group!  Mom won hers too.

Though Mom dragged me along to a few small races, I hadn’t yet developed the passion she had for running long distances like the marathon. She completed her first (and only) one the year she was 40. It was the Great Potato Marathon in Boise. It rained the entire time. My Dad and I were there to hand her bananas, powerbars and Gatorade along the course (I didn’t know it was called crewing back then) and we were there when she finished the race. She’d taken a wrong turn and ran a few bonus miles, so the finish chute was torn down when she came to the end. It didn’t matter – not to her or us! Tears flowed freely and the pride swelled in my heart to see my Mom accomplish something I couldn’t even¬†fathom¬†– running an entire marathon! I promised myself that one day, I would experience it for myself!

This photo was taken a few weeks after the birth of my fifth child. ¬†I struggled with depression and anxiety and had been fighting my weight for a decade by this point. I really wasn’t sure I could change (glad I was WRONG!) It would be one more year after this photo before I was willing to make some big changes in my life so that I could start chasing my dream of becoming a marathoner.

I didn’t know that I would end up overweight, out of shape and the busy Mom of five children before I was ready to make my own path into the marathoning world. My Mom ran her marathon in 1995. I didn’t run my first until 2009 — 14 years later – same city, same RAIN! My husband and five kids were there that day to see me cross the finish line. But, the person that I wanted to be there most that day — my hero — my Mom — was there too! She and my Dad had driven along the course, holding up signs that said, “You can do it, Christie! Your’e already a winner to us! and “Pain is temporary, but PRIDE lives forever!” It was an emotional, wonderful day. ¬†My dad even had a little trophy (an almost exact replica of the one he had made for my Mom when she ran her marathon) that he handed me at the finish line. It made me cry and I still consider that trophy one of the most valuable treasures I own.

Seeing the racers out today took me back in time to that day, three years ago, when it was my first time on the marathoner’s ¬†journey. The exact point of the race I saw today brought back me in that same location, feeling giddy and attack hugging Bertha every few steps and saying, “Can you believe it?! Look at ME! I’m running a marathon!! And, I’m with YOU!!” Bless her heart! I think I annoyed her to death those first few miles with my overzealous enthusiasm. Luckily, she pulled away from me within a few miles and went on to run a PR race — beating her best time (and her hyperactive running partner) by about 15 minutes! It was an amazing day for both of us.

 Bertha and I on Federal Way, racing in the rain!!!

I want to encourage you — if you’ve been secretly dreaming of attacking some huge goal like running a marathon (or a half marathon or your first 5k or your first ULTRA!) ¬†Whatever your heartfelt desire is, however you want to put your body to the test — stop secretly wishing or pining for your dream! Go out and make it happen!!!!!! I’m so incredibly happy that I didn’t give up when I was a size 14, overweight, busy Mom of 5, who hadn’t exercised in over a decade! It seemed ridiculous that I wanted to run a full marathon when I hadn’t even completed a half marathon yet. I could not run an entire block in May of 2008 when I decided to change my life! But, I started getting outside 3 x a week for half an hour and just doing what I could do — which mostly involved walking. ¬†Slowly, I got better at it, became stronger and my weight started to fall off. I went from a size 14 to a size 4 from running. Running changed my life! It helped me realize my dreams! It made me a calmer, happier Mom — a better version of myself. ¬†Please don’t let any excuse hinder you from looking your naysayers in the eye and telling them that you ARE capable, that you WILL achieve your dreams — and then GO DO IT! I’ll be cheering you on!!!!


Pacing Rachael at IMTUF 100

I had the great honor and pleasure of pacing my good friend, Rachael at http://imtuf100.com/ over the weekend! It was a wonderful experience to run one of the most difficult courses (with more water crossings, log hoppings, mountain side scrambles than I’d ever experienced) in temperatures ranging from sub freezing in the night to nice and comfy under a beautiful blue October sky in the afternoon for nearly 100k as a pacer! I now say pacing is how you “Try before you buy!” an ultra marathon!¬† After helping my pal chase her dream down and complete this race in 35:38:09 (which is for a 105 miles I should mention not just 100 – because how can you have too many beautiful, challenging miles when you’re doing this stuff?!) I feel pretty certain I’d like to toe the line next year and find out if “I” am TUF, too! ūüėĬ† The finisher prize was a gorgeous, leather belt — to hold all those belt buckles we 100 milers like to collect! What a genius idea! Looking forward to next year when it’s my turn!

I’m overwhelmingly proud of my gal, Rachael! She was tough, focused, she gave me her all out there and she never, ever, ever, wanted to quit — even though many other runners did.¬† 33 started the race, 15 DNF’d it and 1 finished after the official cut off.¬† THAT IS TOUGH! And, yet, she rose to the occasion, she did what she needed to do and she proved herself strong enough to go the distance and fast enough to do it under the cut offs! It was a pleasure to be invited to pace my friend and an honor to be there by her side for nearly an entire day and night! Thank you, Rachael for allowing me to be part of your dream-chasing! I’m so happy for you!!!! You rock, sister!


Hey! I’m Famous! Or Almost Famous!

Well, tonight was a special night! I just got home from the Pulse Running and Fitness Shop’s Marathon and Beyond magazine night. The featured guest was none other than my good friend (and one of my ultra running mentors), Dennis Ahern who was the cover boy for the September/October issue of the journal.

Dennis gave an hour long presentation about the running adventures that he’s been able to experience this year.¬† He has already ran four 100 milers (Salt Flats, Zion, Big Horn and Wasatch), covered every single distance in a race from 1 mile – 100 miler (except the marathon, which he will do at my race, the Idaho Wine Run on September 30th).¬† He’s fast packed the 221 mile (which includes the ascent to Mt Whitney, which he did) John Muir Trail through the Sierra Nevada mountain range in less than 6 days (most people take 3 weeks) and he’s still got two more 100 milers he’s signed up for before the year is done! The man is amazing! Several of his races are just two weeks apart – including 100 milers! Did I also mention that Dennis is 54 years old and almost always beats the majority of the runners in our large ultra running group — even guys half his age?! Yeah, he’s pretty unique.¬† Despite all of the accomplishments, Dennis is also one of the most down-to-earth, kind-hearted people I’ve ever known. He’s quick to share his snacks on the trail or offer a kind word when a runner’s had a bad race and he’s always willing to share his sage advice with the beginners (Iike myself) who are still feeling out this sport and learning the ropes. I call him my Yoda. He doesn’t own a Garmin or wear a watch or heart rate monitor when he races. He keeps things simple and I really respect that about him.

I really enjoyed listening to Dennis share more about his adventures, his passion for running and setting difficult challenges for himself that he works hard to achieve and it really inspired me to keep pushing towards my own goals.

One goal has always been to be featured in a magazine! I’d always hoped it would be as a writer, but I got the next-best thing when my friend, Jenny Stinson (a fellow Boise ultra runner, friend and employee of Marathon and Beyond magazine) contacted me a few weeks back and asked if she could use a couple of my photos — one of me as I was directing Lake Lowell Marathon where I am giving a massage to one of my runners who has finished and the other of me collapsed on a cot in a medical tent at Antelope Island Buffalo Run, where I’m wearing bright yellow compression sleeves right after my 100 mile run. I said I’d be honored and tonight she handed me a glossy copy of a magazine where I am actually within the pages! That’s a surreal feeling!! ūüėÄ And one less thing on the bucket list!

So, pick up your copy and turn to pages 84 and 85 and marvel with me in how crazy it is that an overweight Mom of five somehow turned her life around and is now having some pretty cool experiences in this life now that she’s gotten fit, fallen in love with running and made some pretty cool friends (including one who just happened to want to use some of my photos for her magazine!) What a wonderful life! I can’t wait to see what happens next! Stay tuned!!!!