Oh crap, I did it again.

I wish I could pass this off as one of those middle-of-the-night race registration decisions, but it’s not.  Last night, at a fully-coherent 8pm, I registered for the Ute 100 mile run in August 2018.  I’ve been eyeballing this race for a couple months now, and it seemed like time to go for it.  I’m defending my Ph.D. this spring, so what better way to celebrate then going and torturing myself in the Utah desert for 38 hours?




So with that, focused training kicks off in 3… 2…1…

Training Log: Week of 10/16

Not much running-related stuff to report this week since I was out in Utah doing some fieldwork pretending to be a Mars rover.  Fun times, great people, and lots of hiking!  I covered at least 6 miles each day, with a decent bit of climbing since we were scrambling up and down outcrops.

Now that I’m back to my normal schedule, I’m looking forward to getting back at it this coming week!

Training Log: Week of 10/9

Monday: Monday morning dawned (metaphorically, since it was still dark out) delightfully snowy.  We got about 4″ of snow overnight, and it was still falling when my alarm went off at 5 am.  I felt pretty perky this morning and grabbed my running gear to get onto the treadmill and knock out a couple solid miles before work.  Unfortunately, my legs had other plans.  I felt like total crap.  It was one of those runs where every step was a struggle.  So I slogged through for a grand total of 1.5 miles and then walked a bit, and headed to the kitchen for breakfast.  Not the best start to my day, but it was better than nothing.  After a ridiculous drive to work (as we live in the mountains, we have to drive down one of the canyons to get to work, and the drive that normally takes 25 minutes took us 2.5 hours because we got stuck waiting for a vehicle that was blocking the road to get moved, and everything was an epic shitshow of slipping and sliding), and a crappy morning run, it would have been pretty easy to just retreat to our mountain hermitage, put on some PJs and curl under a blanket for the evening.  But rather than throwing in the towel, I managed to hop back in the treadmill later that night and knock out another 3.5 miles that felt really strong, so I was pretty pleased with that.  My ankle was sore from when I rolled it and faceplanted in the driveway the day before, but it wasn’t anything that was going to keep me from running.  Mostly I just need to make sure I don’t sit funny and bend it weird.  All in all, what started out as a pretty crummy day turned out to be a semi-decent 5 miles with a bit of a push for the last mile or two to increase my pace and get things moving.  So not bad.  Today’s treadmill movies (all Ginger Runner): Training for TransRockies 2016 Episode 1 and Episode 2 (my favorite, as they were in Boulder for this one and on some of my favorite local trails), GNGRBTS # 14: Trail Running of Orcas Island, 2014 Sean O’Brien 50 mi/50 k/26.2 race, Chasing Western: The 2015 Gorge Waterfalls 100k (featuring a win by the awesome Michele Yates!), and Training for Squamish – Episode 1

Tuesday: Rest day!

Wednesday: I resisted the 5 am desire to just crawl back into bed (I think I’m getting better at this!) and quickly grabbed my running clothes.  This morning was a quick 3.1 miles on the treadmill, trying to increase my pace each mile.  I’ve gotten comfortable with the moderate jog pace of trail ultras, and I’m trying to use the treadmill to push myself for some speed again.  It’s a slow evolution, but I’m seeing improvement.  After work, I busted my new Milestone Pod out of the box and got it set up.  I ordered this a couple days ago after hearing some friends rave about the metrics and biomechanics feedback.  Of course, there was no way I was waiting until the next morning to try this thing out, so it was back to the treadmill for another 3.1 miles.  The pod was spot on with my garmin distance, so that was pretty good.  And I really liked the metrics.  It will be interesting to see the feedback from these over the next few weeks.  I’ll write up a full review once I’ve had a chance to use it for a bit.  Today’s treadmill viewing (all Ginger Runner again… I’m sensing a theme here): Training for Squamish – Episode 2, Episode 3, Episode 4, and Episode 5, Running 100k – the 2013 Cuyamaca 100k, and The 2014 Gorge 50k & 100k Behind the Scenes.

Thursday: Running with Kaitlyn day!  We like to meet up some morning each week and do a run around Boulder, and today was the day.  Kaitlyn has been ready to start pushing her distance a bit more, so we ended up doing 5 miles along the Boulder Creek Bike path before work at a comfortable pace.  Originally, I was going to run on my own and do some speedwork afterwards, but it was way hotter out than I anticipated and I was feeling pretty wiped by the end, so I left it at a nice 5 miles for the day.

Friday: Rest/fieldwork prep day!

Saturday: Kaitlyn and I made a game time decision Saturday morning to scrap our high mountain run near my house (8400″, where it was 30*, windy, and snowing) for a fantastic 10 miler in the Boulder front range.  We had a great day knocking out Kaitlyn’s first double-digit run up Bear Canyon to Green Mt. and then back down.  2000″ of climbing in 5 miles and then bombing back down to the trailhead.  The weather was perfect, and we finished up right as the winds were picking up and getting crazy.  Kaitlyn did awesome and I had a fantastic time too!  Then it was home to pack for fieldwork and get myself situated for the week ahead.

Sunday: This is completely a guess, since I’m writing it ahead of time.  I’m going to try to wake up early enough to get at least 3 miles in on the treadmill before having to head out to Utah for fieldwork.  I’ll be out in the field for most of this coming week, pretending to be a Mars rover (more information on my work page), so I’ll get lots of hiking in at least.  Hopefully some post-field day runs too.

What worked well: I think I’ve got my food pretty on point now, and I’m feeling strong in my workouts.  Focusing on consistency has been working well, even if it’s just a couple miles on the treadmill to squeeze something in.  Also, running with Kaitlyn has been great and I really look forward to it each week.

What I struggled with: My ankle is hurting quite a bit from when I bit it in the driveway last weekend, so that’s annoying.  But it’s not debilitating.  Overall, it was a pretty good week.

What I will do to improve next week: Continue with consistency, and get more time on trails (yay!) since I’ll be out in Utah for fieldwork (double yay)!

Total weekly mileage: 29.3 mi, assuming I get in the 3 mi on Sunday morning before fieldwork.

Training Log: Week of 10/2

To go along with my effort to train more consistently, I’ve also been trying to write more often.  So it’s time to get back to the weekly training recaps.  They aren’t super exciting, but they help keep me accountable and on track, so here we go:

Monday: Early morning treadmill run, just getting in the miles.  I HATE dragging myself out of bed any earlier than I have to, but I know that I’ll feel great afterwards and that it gets easier every time I do it, so when my alarm went off this morning, I forced myself to grab my clothes and run into the bright light of the bathroom rather than crawl back into my warm comfortable bed.  A moderate 3.3 miles while enjoying some Ginger Runner videos, and I was on my way to work with my morning off to a good start.

Tuesday: Day 2 of getting those morning workouts in!  This morning was a little harder to get going than it should have been, due to a late bedtime the night before, but I managed.  Another 3 miles on the treadmill and I was feeling pretty accomplished.  I would much rather run on the trails right outside my door, but it’s still pitch black out this early in the morning and we live in the Rockies, with bears, mountain lions, and moose in our neighboorhood.  Best not to tempt the wildlife with a tasty snack.  So it’s the treadmill for me in the mornings.  If I want to get in some trail time, I can always take a run break during the day while I’m at work.  Or save those for the weekends.

Wednesday: Another late night on Tuesday finally caught up to me and I was unable to overcome the black-hole-like gravitational pull of our bed when the alarm went off.  So instead, I managed a brisk 4 miles in the evening, still on the treadmill.  I spent my time enjoying the National Geographic documentary about Nike’s Breaking2 project with Eliud Kipchoge, Lelisa Desisa, and Zersenay Tadese.  These guys are incredible.  And I was so impressed with Eliud’s response to the final result (no spoilers here).

Thursday: Rest day!

Friday: No morning workout again!  I’ve been terrible this week about getting to bed early enough to make me not hate the 5 am alarm.  If I’m not in bed by 10 at the latest, there’s just no way it’s happening.  So it was another 3 miles on the treadmill that evening, enjoying Jamil’s Western States recap from this year.

Saturday: Today’s workout consisted of super fun yardwork!  (Known in our house as Jake’s Gym.  “You get buff.  We get firewood” is our motto.  Amazingly, friends actually volunteer to do this.  I think they mostly like the part with the chainsaws and four wheeler.) We had a ton of slash (CO-mountain-speak for brush) to haul up the hill and out of our yard, which took a few hours.  Then it was pie-making time (I made the Oh She Glows pumpkin pie brownie and it came out INCREDIBLE) for Canadian Thanksgiving at a friend’s house that night.  Not a running day, but still a good workout and lots of fun.

Sunday: Time for a fun trail day with one of my favorite running partners, Kaitlyn! (Jake’s former housemate who I totally stole for myself when she moved in.)  We took the pups out for a nice 3 miles around the neighborhood (mountainous dirt roads with amazing views), then dropped them off, I rolled my ankle and faceplanted in the driveway of all places, and then we did another 3 miles on the trails.  Kaitlyn is just getting into trail running and is doing totally awesome.  I’m super impressed and proud of her.  After Kaitlyn headed home, it was time for some more Jake’s Gym, hauling and stacking cut firewood.  Out of curiosity, I wore my garmin and HRM this time and discovered that I burned the same amount of calories per hour as I do running.  It helps that we live on the side of a mountain, so nothing is flat, and any time you haul firewood, you’re basically doing weighted hill climbs.  It’s a solid workout.

What worked well:  Focusing on consistency!  Also, food-wise, I’ve been playing around with the Renaissance Periodization vegan template and while the beginning was really bumpy and frustrating, I think I’ve finally figured out a good routine and system for myself and it’s starting to feel more like something I can do long-term without too much planning or thought.  I’m one of those people who has no problem eating the same thing for breakfast and lunch(es) every day, so all I really need to do is figure out my dinners.  Initially, I was trying to make my dinners fit all the macros in my template and that was causing me a lot of stress.  I really enjoy cooking family dinners and have no intention of stopping that, and this was just making that really difficult.  Not impossible, but not something that I saw myself realistically doing and sticking with.  So after a couple weeks of struggling with it and getting frustrated and discouraged, I started changing my approach.  I stick to my template for the rest of the day, but for dinner, I just make something for both of us that’s light, veggie-heavy, and low-carb (as I generally workout in the morning, most of my carbs are eaten earlier in the day per my RP template) and just keep it within moderation.  It’s been working really well this week and I can see myself continuing with that.  Also, I really like my bedtime protein cookie. 🙂

What I struggled with:  Getting to bed early enough for those 5 am runs.

What I will do to improve next week:  Continue to work on my consistency, and getting to bed early enough to drag my butt out of it at 5 am each morning.  Once I have that pretty solid, I’ll start incorporating more regular strength training.  As of now, I do it occasionally, but never very often or regularly.  And I know that’s a good and important thing to do.

Total weekly mileage: 19.3 miles running, plus two sessions of Jake’s Gym

Things you should know when you inevitably get sucked in to ultrarunning

This post goes out to my friend Elise, who I just recently runabled into signing up for her first 50k.  Congratulations!  Welcome to one of your best bad decisions!

Ultras are awesome.  They are also terrible.  You’ll hurt.  You’ll end up in some pretty dark places, mentally.  But you’ll also be completely exhilarated, see beautiful landscapes, and feel like a total badass.  Also, finish line beer is the best beer you’ll ever have.  You’re going to totally hate it and me sometime around mile 18 on race day, but you’re also going to love it (and by extension, me)!

Things you should know/do/get when getting into ultras:

Running packs aren’t cheap, but they’re worth every penny for the miles and hours you’ll spend out on the trail.  Get one you love and that fits well, because you’re going to spend a LOT of time together.  I particularly love the Ultimate Direction Jenny Ultra Vesta (more lightweight) and Wink  (my go-to pack of choice).  The Jenny Adventure Vesta is also great.  Those are the go-to ones for tons of the female ultrarunners around here, and they don’t disappoint.

Put together a small trail med kit with bandaids and blister stuff.  Keep it in your pack at all times.

Do the same for a bio bag.  “What’s a bio bag?” you ask.  Why, it’s a little sandwich baggie covered in duct tape (so you can’t see into it) for you to pack out any used tp, etc. for when nature inevitably calls on the trail.  Trailrunners are big supporters of Leave No Trace.

If you haven’t already, get fitted for a pair of trail shoes at your local running store.  Trail shoes have stiffer soles and more aggressive treads than road shoes, which makes a big difference with how you’ll feel after those long miles.

Don’t expect to run everything.  Ultrarunners power hike a lot.  Embrace power hiking and do a lot of fast hiking with a lot of gain to increase your speed while still walking.  If you try to run up every uphill, you’re going to burn out pretty early in the day and have nothing left for later when you really need it.

For good ultrarunning inspiration check out Ginger Runner and Billy Yang on YouTube.  They are two of my favorites for great ultrarunning films.  Some of the ones I watch regularly when I’m on the treadmill:

  • Life In A Day (Billy Yang) – Documentary about some incredible female ultrarunners competing at Western States
  • Amongst The Evergreens (Ginger Runner) – The story of Ethan’s (Ginger Runner) own experience with his first 100 mile ultra, the Cascade Crest 100
  • Run My Race (Bryce Boron) – 2 hour documentary about Bob Fargo, a typical ultrarunner (i.e. NOT an elite racer) as he finally realizes his dream of racing the Hardrock 100 miler
  • The Unknown (Billy Yang) – Coverage of Tim Olsen’s comeback 2016 Hardrock 100 race
  • Wonderland (Ginger Runner) – The story of Gary Robbins’ FKT (fastest known time) attempt circumnavigating Mt. Rainier (93 miles)
  • Altering Expectations (Ginger Runner) – The story of Kim’s (his wife and a badass trailrunner in her own right) first 50k
  • The Squamish 50/50 (Ginger Runner) – Ethan’s attempt at the 50 mile/50k back to back races
  • A Decade On (Ginger Runner) – The story of Brian Morrison’s redemption at Western States
  • Western Time (Billy Yang) – Sally McRae’s story of the Western States 100
  • My Fourth Hardrock 100 Run (Run Steep Get High) – Jamil’s story of his 4th Hardrock 100.  I particularly enjoyed when he got caught in the hailstorm.
  • Mont Blanc (Billy Yang) – Coverage of the Nike Trail Running team at the CCC UTMB

That’s probably good for starters. 🙂  More to come!

Lost and Found: My Running Mojo

For two racing seasons now, I just haven’t been able to get my butt in gear or complete a race.  To be fair, the local 50k I like to do each year (Dirty 30) was going to be a solid day and a pretty big PR for me last summer, but my running partner was seriously ill, and it was unsafe to leave her on the course, so we ended up with DNFs for both of us.  I was pissed at first, but proud of her for recognizing that it was unsafe to continue.  I just wish she hadn’t tried to run in the first place that day, since this was not an out-of-the-blue problem.  That one was out of my hands.  But it seemed to start a downward spiral in training and racing that I have only just started to climb out of, and it’s frustrating.  Also, to be fair, I’m in the final stages of my Ph.D. (defending this spring!), and that takes quite a toll on the physical and mental energy reserves.  But working out is also fabulous for my physical and mental health, and I needed to stop making excuses and just get it done.  I don’t have to be fast, or go super far (although I DO love that).  I just needed to do SOMETHING.


Things have changed quite a lot in the past few years – mostly for the better.  I’ve made great progress on my dissertation research and am preparing for my Ph.D. defense this spring.  I actually ENJOY research now and think I do a pretty good job of it, which I never thought I would be able to say several years ago.  I’m living in a place I absolutely adore, with a person I adore.  And speaking of that person I adore, I’ve also gotten engaged and am getting married next summer.  It’s been pretty good!  So now it’s time to get myself back on track with my racing and training.


I’ve always struggled with consistency.  It’s been my biggest obstacle when it comes to training, and it’s one of the most important things.  So my main focus for the time being is just that – consistency.  I don’t seem to do well when I try to workout at the end of the day, because once I get home from work I go into lazy mode and there’s a slim chance I’ll actually stick to my training plan that day.  So morning workouts it is!  This is easier said than done, of course.  Often, when my alarm goes off at 5 am, I run to the other side of the room to shut it off, so I don’t wake up J, and then I immediately turn around and get back in bed.  IT’S JUST SO WARM AND COZY!  But once I get just ONE morning workout under my belt, it gets easier.  I feel so much more accomplished getting that done first thing in the morning, and I find that I get more work done throughout the course of the day too, because it puts me in a better place to be productive.  Funny how that works.


To go along with the consistency theme, I’m also hoping to get back into writing posts more often.  I enjoy writing as a creative outlet, and it also gives me some accountability on those days when I just don’t want to do anything.  It also helps me think out loud about what’s going well and not so well, and figure out ways to fix problems.  So that’s about it for now.  Until next time, internet!