A year is a long time to be working towards a goal - espcially when there’s so many individual milestones to be met along the way. In 2018, ...

May 23, 2020

A new motivation

I'll be honest. At the end of February and beginning of March - even into April I was struggling. I just did not have the motivation to get out and my long trail runs finished. I wanted to run, but once I got to about 15-20 miles, I just shut down. I didn't want to be out there, didn't want to push to keep going. Part of the lack of motivation was watching race after race get canceled and wondering if my race was next. After all, why bother with the big mile weeks and long runs if there's no race? It was even worse for cycling - the only race I had on the calendar for mountain biking was Growler and I was pretty confident it wasn't happening due to everything going on. I would get to about 90 minutes and go bleh...  I just didn't feel like dealing with the people or the kitty litter. 

While the cycling motivation hasn't changed much, I've found some new motivation for the running through the virtual world. Hilarious for me - I used to deride the virtual races as not real races. But there's still the motivation involved in a race as I found with the Moose Herd Madness 50k. I had my medal, I had my bib. I just needed to finish the distance! So I went out and suffered through a 50k I wasn't really prepared for. The heat was a challenge and the last few miles were hard for sure - but that's ultra running! I learned a few things about running that far self supported, which will be really important for the new guidelines for aid stations I see coming. It was what I needed for the spark to get running long again. So I signed up for a few more virtual races, included the Trail Runner over Texas Summer Series. Four races before August 1st, with a special belt buckle for doing a 50k for all four races. Of course I would do the 50k distance! I had something to look forward to again, and something to get me running and training for Silverheels. 

I was surprised. I was looking forward to the weekend and getting out for my long run, for planning my route to maximize fun and get the distance covered. The first two "races" were hard - two 50ks in two week isn't something I usually do. Then a shift happened. On the third race, with the most climbing I finally felt good. The distance was like any other long run I used to do when I was training for marathons. In three weeks, I ran three 50k long runs, all under seven hours. This week was supposed to be a recovery week, with no long run. But when I signed up for the last race in the TROT series, I started wandering. Can I finish this before the end of the month? Get all four races completed before June so I could focus on a few other things?

I could. On Wednesday, mere four days after my third long run I headed out into the darkness for a final long run. Would I get the full distance? I didn't know. Would I stay under my 7 hour mark? I'd find out! My legs were tired for sure, but I actually was moving well. First lap done, time to head out for the sunrise. And an amazing sunrise it was. Worth the early start. Just under halfway done and still feeling pretty good. The last lap was one for climbing and working on my power hiking. It wasn't until about mile 29 that my legs decided I was nuts. Not so much a mutiny like I've had at various events in the past, but just a subtle middle finger to my brain. Worth the mental satisfaction for sure!

I have two more short term virtual races upcoming and then an entire summer long virtual event. It's the motivation I've needed to get back to the trails. Will it help for my still planned races? We will find out.

Mar 27, 2020

The good of the Many

What a roller coaster. Every day in the last few weeks has brought new data sets, new restrictions and plenty of reactions to those restrictions. The first step was closing stores and services that bought people in close contact - like gyms and movie theaters and such. I’ll admit, I was a little annoyed when the pool closed! I’m not swimming for competition anymore, but I do love the active recovery provided by time in the water. Next thought was to get my new tattoo while the pools were closed. I want to get a dragonfly and a butterfly on my ribs and back. Well.... that was the next thing! So much for using my time out of the water wisely. And then, as various counties around the state issued stay at home orders the governor finally followed suite. The entire state of Colorado placed under a stay at home order - try not to leave the house unless it’s for essential business.

That’s where it gets tricky. Denver originally didn’t include some stores in the essential order and there were lines around the block of people stocking up. Not a good way to encourage social distancing! But the list of things that are essential is rather long - and sometimes up to interpretation. And people are looking for the most flexible ways of interpreting the order. I’m allowed to go out for a run or a bike ride, right? I can drive to do that right? So why not drive across the state to ride? Or host my group ride, making jokes about social distancing the entire time. After all, we all drove separately down from Denver, it’s cool right? No... Or every single person who has decided that now is the time to start hiking. I know that it sounds elitist when we complain about the increased volume, but seriously. Some of the people I’ve been seeing out hiking would be much better served with a walk around the block, then building up to two laps around the block - not heading down one of the steeper trails in Stratton because “look, there’s a trail!” The sheer volume of people out and about is amazing - but at the same time the roads are definitely quieter.

Maybe I’m a little more sensitive to the people bending the rules and looking for specific ways to bend the rules because I’m a hospital. And its a strange environment right now. We’ve canceled all elective surgeries, so the place is eerily quiet. There’s not a lot of patients and even fewer for physical therapy to be working with. But there’s also a sense of unease. That something is coming and we don’t know what or how bad. Actually, we do know what - we’ve seen the previews in other countries and other cities. The lingering questions - are we doing enough? Did we do it soon enough? And why the hell can’t people just STAY HOME? There’s nothing to do. You don’t need to go to Target to peruse everything just because it’s open. The people making a mockery of the stay at home are frustrating - even more so when you read the “gubermint is taking muh rights” kind of posts on facebook or other social media sites.

Stay at home. It's really not that hard. It's not the time to start looking for new adventures. It's the time to start taking care of yourself and your family. Whatever that means to you.

Mar 11, 2020

Out of an abundance of caution...

No matter how hard we try to see things through a nationalistic view, the world is completely interconnected. We are just now watching as something that started in China, as a whisper on the wind, the next epidemic. Right now, it's impossible to know how far reaching this will be - just that it's a daily conversation on the national news. Can it get worse? Who knows. It does feel like every other year, something comes up from the jungle and the news presents it as a pandemic. New viruses make for easy reporting, especially when there's an explosion of cases in various countries and plenty of grim photos to show. But for now, it feels so far away - something that we won't have to deal with.

Until we do. And the first indication that we are going to have to deal with? The cancellations of many many races as the CDC and other organizations start recommending limiting group sizes. I know many races are under 250 in entrants, but that doesn't include all the volunteers and crew helping the race. The entire spring racing season is on hold - either due to cancellation or postponement of many races.  And of course, many of those runners are screaming for full refunds of their races. It's been building to a crescendo this past weekend on Facebook in the trail and ultra running groups. It's amazing how much people are focusing on the money they are "owed" vs the money that the race directors have already spent to support you and the rest of the athletes. 

Some thoughts I while reading the comments demanding refunds - sometimes not in the most polite terms.
1) What can be used at future races as some people have asked? Not much really. Medals and awards have specific logos, dates and placements. Do you really want a medal from XXY race when you ran XYX race? Given the comments I see, no you don'. Can you give the overall winner award from one race to an age group winner in another? No - you can't. You can't reuse awards like that. Shirts have years on them and I know that runners don't want the 2020 shirt for 2021. Bibs often have the runner's name on them so those are hard to use for other events. These are all costs that have been incurred for every race - regardless of what you've paid for the race. And vendors will not take those items back and refund the costs involved. That's one place your money has gone - and those items aren't ones that have been purchased just before the race.

2) Permits have been paid for well before the event date.I doubt the county/city/state/BLM/DOT who issued those permits will refund the costs for the permits. If your race was a point to point race, the directors might be lucky and be able to get the transportation costs refunded. But how much is that really compared to the entire costs of putting on the race. So again, where is the money you are asking for coming from? It's already been used to set up your race. You're asking for money that is no longer there.

3) Finally - and the point that really got to me. We all signed waivers agreeing to refund policies for races - policies that include “acts of god” And now that something has happened you want more then what the race organization is offering. Are we so entitled that we would rather risk bankrupting the organization so we can have our money back? 

I know some people will continue to say - I'm not taking the financial hit for this, the race should. No - the race shouldn't. We want to have these races here next year, right? Then we have to be respectful of the races and the race directors. They are doing everything they can and us runners need to be aware of that. Be nice. Don't put your favorite race out of business!

Feb 27, 2020

Chunk by any other name

Also known as Arizona riding! Outside of trails like Bunny Loop, most every trail in Arizona is full of chunk. Rocks of all sizes, just waiting to slice tires or shred skin. Just the kind of riding I needed after over three months off the bike...

This was the only plan that we had - camping at Gilbert Ray in Tuscon Mountain Park for a few nights. Sure, it was a ways from the last camping location and on the other side of town as our eventual destination. But it's a nice place with good trail access and we thought it would be quiet based on prior stays. Still has the good trail access, but not so quiet anymore! That place was hopping! I think the entire campground was filled both night we stayed.

One of the reasons Nick really wanted to stay at Gilbert Ray was Brown Mountain. It's a short loop trail that starts and finishes right by the campground. The bottom of the loop parallels the road and is pretty fun. There's some punchy climbs, a few little rock gardens and plenty of cactus. On the west end on the loop however, the trail tips up. And up for the climb up to the traverse across Brown Mountain. That is where the real fun begins. I figured I'd be walking most of the traverse because I still wasn't feeling solid on the bike. And while I did walk some, there were plenty of things I was able to ride without too many issues! Some of the tight switchbacks were definitely a challenge and the body language for the rocky climbs was also slightly in need of translation. There were also a few oh crap, what the heck am I doing moments on the final descent back down into camp! I was a little sore in the ribs and tired in the core when we finished, but not as bad as I'd thought I would be.
Sunrise over Gates Pass during my run

The following day I got up early and ran. The blacktop road south of Brown Mountain was quiet at that hour, so I was able to get a solid workout in before the sunrise. Then I got to explore a little on the flat trails south of the campground - there was a little bush whacking as the southern trails weren't the clearest marked trails I've seen. You'd think bush whacking would be easier with with wide open desert and nothing but cacti. It's the whole cacti thing that makes desert tramping challenging. Everything out there wants to stab you! Needless to say, my planned 8 miles got a little longer as I meandered around trying to avoid the really nasty cacti.

Riding in the Robles Pass area on the way back east

After the ride that day, I knew I wasn't up for tackling Milagrosa.  I wasn't that settled on the bike and there's no way to ride Milagroas safely if you aren't comfortable on the bike. Luckily, one of our friends had recently moved down to Tuscon and while he'd ridden Bug Springs higher up on Mount Lemmon, he hadn't done the miracle ride. Didn't take much convincing during our ride for him to jump on the chance! It actually worked out great - Iwould beable to get a nice long run in on a trail I wouldn't be able to ride my bike on and the boys didn't have to ride all the way up Mount Lemmon.

Into the wilderness! The Pusch Ridge Wilderness and the AZT

I spent the entire next day studying my maps and figuring out distances. I wasn't looking for more then about 15-20 miles, so that did limit me a bit. So many trails heading off into the wilderness! Finally, I decided that the best for me running and the guys riding would be to just start at the Molino Basin parking area and do an out and back on the AZT. The guys would ride up the road from there to Bug Springs, drop Bug then refill as needed at the van before heading off to Milagrosa. I would do my run and then drive back down the mountain to pick them up. Perfect!

Looking back up at the Catalina Highway from below the wilderness boundary
Looking into the wilderness, at the ridge before the drop into Sabino Canyon
Now if only the map makers were a little more accurate with the distances between points... I set a firm turnaround distance of 7.5 miles. From all my map studying, I figured I would get to the Sabino Canyon trail - maybe a little further. I really wanted to get into Sabino, since I've never seen that canyon and heard really good things about it. I also figured that I would have a gradual climb up from Molino Basin and then a gradual descent back to the van. Nope! Rolling climbs to start, then as I reached the ridge that marked the boundary of the the Pusch Ridge Wilderness. The trail nature changed and it plummeted down into Bear Canyon. A few flatter miles, then another steep climb. I pondered dropping down Bear Canyon to see what it was like, but I'd told Nick I was doing an out and back on the AZT. So I kept moving forward, climbing up to another ridge. From there, there was an amazing view of the entire wilderness - of the jagged mountains rising up from the canyons. And the trail, dropping nearly straight down into the next valley. Uff - that would be quite the climb back up!

Looking back up the AZT. Such a narrow trail here!
I didn't reach Sabino Canyon. At my turn around, I was still at least a half mile away. I was tempted to keep going, but facing the climb back up, I knew it would take me longer to get back because of the steepness of the climbs. I had two decenly long climbs to face and it had taken me longer to get out there then I'd anticipated. Time to start heading back so I had a decent chance of beating the boys down the mountain!

A surprising number of creek crossing in the desert! I didn't need to be worried about water on this run!

Feb 20, 2020

In Search of Sunshine

Maybe the timing wasn’t the best for a week long trip. But it was past time for some sunshine, dry trails and actually getting to ride my bike! So we turned the van southward to Arizona. Come what may, it was vacation time!

First we had to get out of Colorado... Something we haven’t had to deal with since the Turtle! But when we pulled back onto the interstate just north of Walsenburg, there was a pause. Nick, staring at the dash, saying “I’m not getting any charge!” I had no clue what he was talking about, but when he told me to google part stores in Walsenburg, I knew it was serious. The O’Rielly Auto Part parking lot wasn’t our first choice for camping that night, but it worked. And after we had the new alternator installed, we were motoring again! Just a little behind schedule. Although, since we were on vacation we really didn’t have a schedule. We just wanted to get to Arizona! 

After brief stop to stretch our legs and make some turns at Angle Fire (warm, windy and slushy. I’ve never gotten muddy walking to my car at a ski area before!) we continued south. There would be one more truck stop overnight before arriving at our destination, but finally....

Just one place where I'll find this!
Sunshine. Dry trails. The ability to ride my bike outside! Our first ride was at Fantasy Island - our arrival in Tucson go-to ride. While I haven’t been riding outside much (twice in January!!) I’ve been racking up the miles going nowhere fast. But that’s been on the trainer, in the basement. There’s no body English, no positioning on the bike required inside - just pedaling. I’d noticed on my last ride outside that I felt “off” on the bike. I wasn’t comfortable getting low, pedaling with my weight off the saddle, but over the rear tire and I wasn’t fluid with postural changes. Something to do with the trainer rides and not having the core stability I’m used to... I knew that was going to be an issue so I was really happy our first ride was Fantasy Island. I was even happier when Nick suggested doing the Bunny Trail! Bunny is classic flat Arizona riding - sharp turns and dodging cacti the whole way. Lots of pedaling, but not a lot of hard tech on that loop. Perfect for an intro to outside riding again. 

Home for the night

Of course, with the one-way direction of the trails, that also meant that we hit the more technical sections of Lone Cactus and some of the other northern trails when I was getting tired. Pretty pathetic that riding outside for just over an hour was making me tired! I was fine just riding, but anything that required body mechanics was starting to get challenging. My core was tired, the ribs getting achy. And it's nearly three months post crash! Just shows that while you can gain or maintain fitness on the trainer, there's a lot more to mountain biking then just being able to pedal...

New trails and feeling good running. 

With no plans, we hadn't really thought about where to camp for the night. Luckily, there's some really cool hidden gems for camp grounds in the Tuscon area! Not gonna say which one we picked, cause then it wouldn't be a hidden gem - but it was perfect. Primitive camping, but with bathrooms at each end of the line, water available and trails running right through the site. I was able to run a bit after we got settled and Nick got in a second ride. Then it was time to watch the sunset and ponder what the goals were for the rest of the week.

Sunset over the mountains

Sunrise! Took a while for the sun to warm up our little canyon

Feb 15, 2020

Oasis in the Darkness

Last year, I wrote about the volunteers at Stories - doing the course marking the day before the race and then the volunteers staying up all night to help the runners. Granted, I didn’t really visit the aid station last year because I was focused on my goals and I had the best crew possible. But I could image the loneliness of the volunteers - bundled up against the chill, huddled around the fire, waiting for that lone headlamp to appear in the darkness.

This year? I was on the other end. Doing the six hour race allowed me the time to give back to the runners braving the darkness and cold of the overnight hours. We got the watch the 15 hour racers complete their last laps on the Golden Loop. And then it was time to settle in... With just the 30 hour racers on course, there were long stretches of quiet, when it was just us trying to stoke the fire and stay warm. We knew that the runners would want warm food or drink when they came in from the darkness. We didn’t know how long people would want to linger by the warmth of the fire, or if they would be focused on staying moving.

Shoveling snow... Not usually in the RD's handbook!
A good aid station is a well oiled machine and the runners never notice if something is amiss. Getting to the point is challenging! There’s a lot more involved then just making quesadillas and cooking bacon. In the afternoon hours, before my shift at the aid station started, the wind kicked up, blowing most of the bowls off the table. Quick thinking and duct tape got all the bowls fastened in place - they were never blowing away again! But cooking with the wind provided it’s own set of challenges. Such as trying to keep the flames going for the grill overnight! Hard to cook tots if the burner goes out... 

The sunrise Saturday morning was worth every chilly hour waiting
The overnight shift was a good crew. Those are long hours to stay awake and we supported each other though nap breaks. Between the four of us, there were at three people awake at all times - and two of us had run in the morning! The hardest task was the food. Cold tots and hard quesadillas are not appealing at any stage of the race, especially in the darkness when you want the burst of energy warm food provides. We figured out keeping the food warm for runners, having one corner of the pan far enough from the heat to keep everything warm, but not burnt. We kept the fire stoked so runners would have some warmth to rest in if needed. I tried to great every runner as they entered the circle of light, asking what they needed - food, drink, bottles refilled. A head lamp to help with digging through drop bags - whatever was needed. It was brief moments of craziness as we helped runners and encouraged them to head back out onto the course. Or provided a chair and warm blankets if someone needed to stop for a while. What ever was needed to serve the goals of the runners. 

Heading back out into the darkness
But mostly, we waited. Sitting near the fire, bundled up in heavy coats, hats and gloves, waiting. Waiting for that hint of a headlamp in the darkness, across the road. Then waiting as the light slowly, so slowly flickered through the scrub oak, getting closer with every step. As the night drew on, the speed of the light’s approach took longer and longer. I knew exactly what the runners were going through - last year the oasis was visible, but so far away! The sign of life and civilization after so many miles traversing the frozen trails.

Clouds gathering as the weekend comes to a close
Volunteering for the overnight shift at any race is something all ultra runner should do at some point. Those volunteers give up sleep and comfort to help others achieve their goals. If you’ve run a race, you’ve benefited from the help of others. It’s not a sacrifice - it’s a gift to the running community.

Clearing the course as more snow falls. 

Feb 12, 2020

A Story of Rebuilding

Even before my crash in November, I’d been planning on doing the 6 hour race at Stories Ultra. I wanted to be able to volunteer and running the 6 hour seemed to be the best way to make it a great weekend of both racing and giving back. I knew I’d miss the fun of Blue and Purple, but that wasn’t the point. After my crash and the subsequent (and still in progress) process of recovery, I was happy to be doing the the six hour. I was hoping to just be able to keep moving for the entire six hours! I’d had some solid runs in January, with two over 20 days. So I knew I was at a point to be able to keep moving - I just didn’t knew how fast I’d be able to push it. My training runs in CMSP had yielded mixed results in terms of lap times. So I decided a reasonable goal would be a 50k - or pretty close. After all, I’ve done two 50ks in the park under 6 hours with more elevation then the multiple laps of Red and Green. It would be a challenging, conditions dependent goal - but a good goal for a rebuild race.

Sunrise - the dawn of a new day is the perfect chance to rebuild
Of course, when I saw the snow coming down Friday and then spent 4 hours marking course in nearly 2 feet of snow, I knew all bets were off. The plan is dead - long live the plan. I’ve typed that only once before - in the middle of Arizona Hurricane during the 24 Hours in the Old Pueblo. I was so confident the plan was dead, I didn’t even bring it with me when we headed to the park for the night! I would just wing it - see what happens in the moment and do what felt right. I wasn’t sure if I was going to use my vest, my hip belt or just my handhelds, so I filled up the bottle from my waist belt and my large Skratch bottle with Skratch. I could go with any options that way. Because course marking took me so long, all the last minute prep I’d left till when I got home didn’t get done - including making coffee and planning for supper and breakfast. Again, winging it! Supper was a baked potato eaten under the light of the nearly full moon, next to the campfire. Not exactly what most people would consider carboloading for a long run the next day! After hanging out at the fire for a few hours, it was time for bed. No need to set an alarm - the 30 and 15 hour runners were starting at 6:00 and we surely would be woken up by all the commotion.

Sunrise over Cheyenne Mountain
The morning was cold - bitterly cold. I felt sorry for the longer runners heading out for their first laps in the cold darkness, having to forge through the freshly broken trail. But still - as the sun’s rays pierced the darkness and the mountains faded from black to pink to white from snow, the morning was stunning. The snow glittered in the sunlight, every tree sparkling in those early morning rays. It would be a classic Colorado bluebird day, with brilliant skies and fresh powder. I dressed for my race, trying to plan on staying warm for the first lap and then not overheating as the sun rose higher. Since I’d left the plan at home and it was quite a bit colder then I’d anticipated, I did something completely different. Brand new jacket over my vormii hoody, warmer capris and then tall socks. I also opted for something warm in my handheld for that first lap! My left over coffee! I filled my second handheld with Skratch and put a bag of gummies in the pocket. That would get me a few laps and then I could figure out what I was doing. While listening to John’s pre-race briefing, I eyed the section of trail running out of the campground. It was a narrow trench in deep snow, really only big enough for one person. Humm... So before John got to the end of his briefing, I sidled over to the rocks that marked the start of the single track. I had no clue how fast I would be running, but I didn’t want to put myself behind from the start! Sure enough, when John told us to get out of there, I was the first person on the singletrack! I knew it wouldn’t last, but it was kinda cool to lead out the field across the Meadows.
A runner finishing out one of her loops before the 6 hour race started

Then it was onto the loops that I knew so well. Just red and green this year, but every turn was familiar. The 30/15 hour runners had indeed done a good job of packing in the first two loops, creating the trench in the snow that became the hallmark photo from the race. I had two guys pretty close behind me - they would gain every time the trail tipped up, but I would be able to out run them on the flats and down hills. Part of the was because I’d opted to start with my Kahtoolas on - I knew from course marking that until the snow really got packed down, the extra traction would be nice. Might make the day a little longer because of the extra weight, but it sure was nice knowing that my foot would stay where I put it! The coffee was a hit for that first red, nice and warm and a bit of a treat. When I stopped to grab my second handheld, I dropped off my coat - the sun was already warming the air nicely. I was also much faster then I’d anticipated based on conditions. Not the sub 30 minute red on the plan, but still a reasonable time. Off onto Green! I followed my tact from last year, tying the ribbons in my braids. Good thing I was doing the shorter race since I’d chopped off most of my braids from last year!

The trail - just a packed trench in the snow at the start!
The loops flew past. Red in the chill of the morning, green as the sun started warming the snow. I caught a few longer racers on my first green as they were finishing up blue. The narrow trail meant someone was getting snowy feet and I tried my hardest for it to be me. I didn't have to worry about my feet getting wet for only six hours. The sparkling snow was vanishing, the crystal layer from the cold night melting. The two guys behind me caught me as we entered the Meadows. Nick asked if I needed anything and I said I’d get my hip belt next lap. Onto the second red. The trail was even more packed down now, making for a surprisingly fast trench of a trail. Until you stepped to the side - then it was back to the knee deep fluffy snow! I was settling into my groove, running and hiking, sipping my Skratch and smiling like crazy. The theme of the race was “when we were kids” and I couldn’t think of anything better then to be out in nature, playing in the snow. The conditions were crazy, but the day invited nothing more then fun. But with the sun, I needed to remember to eat and drink. I swapped to my hand held after my second Red lap and told Nick I’d be good for a while. He had some work to do, so I would just run and let him work. 

I was feeling really good. Much better then I though I would. I knew the 50k goals was well out of reach due to trail conditions, but I was still eyeing a marathon distance. Might as well! I’d had two guys pass me, but so far was in the lead for the women. I had no goals for place - this was a rebuilding race. But being the lead was a nice feeling and a good confidence boost. The trails were definitely getting more packed in and the snow sticky in the snow. I kept pondering taking my kahtoolas off, but was still liking the traction I was getting on the shaded climbs. So every time I though about taking them off, I just ended up leaving them on. I knew at times point, I’d take them off - but wasn’t quite ready. My pace on the climbs was slowing a little, but not much at all. Eating and drinking was the hard part to remember. It was cold, so I didn’t feel like I was sweating that much - but at the same time, the sun was warm and reflected brightly off the snow. On my third green lap, I met one of the other COS runners finishing up his first Purple - but he was going the wrong way! The intersection of chaos had struck again... He followed me down to the intersection, I pointed him up. Then as I was pondering how to better make the corner - purple was my loop after all! - a large group came around the bend. I pointed both them and the next group up the left turn, then pulled one of the flags approaching the intersection. Maybe that would help! While I was fussing with the markings, a few other runners came down from Green and turned - including a few women. I didn’t think much of it at the time. Then it was off to finish my lap.

On my climb up Blackmere, I was trying to do math and was getting caught in the stupid runner math brain. I was trying to figure out how many more laps I could get before switching to Gold. I needed to start my final lap before 1:00. At first, early in the day, I thought it would be maybe three circuits, plus red and then a pile of golds. Now I wasn’t sure. Maybe I could get a full four circuits! If my math was right.... Dropping my hip belt for a handheld at the end of that green, taking off the Kahtoolas, and I took off. I had time, maybe. I just couldn’t dawdle. Then the math became would it be easier and faster to wait for the Golden Hour? As I approached the last climb of that red, it was a firm no. I was going to have at least 15 minutes - in that time, I could be all the way down to Zook, covering distance. If I waited, I would be stationary. No matter how much faster the Gold loop would be, it still wouldn’t make up for missing 15 minutes of moving time. No more runner math, just time to run. But I didn’t know how many gold loops I needed for a marathon. I thought maybe two. Hopefully I’d have time for three so I would be sure to get the distance. 

As I finished the last Green, the Meadows was like a mini washing machine of runners. 30 and 15 hour runners, heading in and out for their laps. 6 hour runners, reaching the end and then turning around to start gold. Some runners were already finished with their day and the entire aid station area was filled with people. I wasted no time and turned right around to start my gold loops. I had 30 minutes. Hopefully that would be enough time to knock out three full laps. I had to finish before 2:00 or that final lap didn’t count. One down - faster then I though I’d be able to run. Two down - I met some friends also doing the 6 hour race, gave them a little cheer and then continued on my path. I had about 10 minutes for that final Gold. Enough time for sure. When I crossed the line after finishing my third gold, Emily looked at her watch and said “you’ve got 4:30 - that’s enough time for another one, right?” Umm... Nope! I’d gotten my marathon, I’d felt great the entire day. I hadn’t won the women’s race - one of the women who’d passed me while I was messing with the course markings was in the 6 hour race and had had just enough time for a 4th Gold to my three. She actually finished about three minutes after me, squeezing in under the time. She’d seen me at the finish and we’d chatted for a bit. We had been in the same age group for a while, so she mentioned she always anticipated getting second in the AG when I was there. Not this time! Nick scolded me a little about stopping - it was a race after all! But I wanted to make sure that course was clear.

Crossing the finish line!
Last year the story was accidentally running my first 100. This year? It was a story of rebuilding - of a second chance for racing. A story of injury and healing and the lessons along the way. I didn’t know what I would be capable of doing back in November. At that point, even walking around the block was a challenge! When I was discharged, the mile and a half walk to the library was an effort. It has truly been a slow process rebuilding to the point where I could even hope for doing a 50k over the course of the 6 hours. And along the way, it’s been a story of changing perspectives, changing ideas and shifting goals. How will you change the world? One person at a time - one small gesture of welcoming, one act of kindness and bringing back the joy of being a kid again.

My story - the laps, don't call it a comeback and the mountain.