Friday, June 28, 2019


It's been three years since I have posted anything on here, way too long and oh so many adventures.  There is no need to talk about all that has happened, other than an update on the most recent post before this one.  I did finish the Grand Slam and it was awesome! 

So far this year, I have completed Badger Mountain 50 miler, went to Wales to run the Dragon's Back 5 day stage race and completed San Diego 100 for the second time.  I have some fun and exciting adventures planned in the next few months with one 100 miler each month. 

I will head to Colorado next week to acclimate for Ouray 100....
102.1 Miles, 41,862 ft gain, 83,724 ft change, 13,365 high, 7,640 low, 10,239 avg

Yes, it will be a challenge.  That's why I am going to Colorado early to acclimate and get in some more hill training.  I have been focusing on strength training and hill running in the weeks since SD 100.

 August 13-14,  I am running another new race for me Kodiak 100 in California.  A lot of the race is at high altitude so I am hopeful that my acclimation in Colorado will still be evident. I'm really looking forward to seeing all the new scenery.

September 14-15, I will again run IMTUF one of my favorites.  This year it is in the counter-clockwise direction and I am very excited to complete that for the first time in this direction.  

My asthma has been pretty bad so properly managing that is on the top of my mind in addition to climbing fitness.  I will try to update my blog as the races progress, with pics and stories. 

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

A New Year Means a New Focus

Perpetual nagging injuries are generously served up with ultra running.  It is difficult to convince yourself that taking time off the trails will benefit your planned races for the year.  But, no matter how “bad-ass” you are, there are times that you need to listen to your body and ease up on training. 

Last year was not that year for me…  I chose to ignore an injury, run through discomfort and failed at many race goals.  We learn from our lessons and then soon forget what we’ve learned; but here I go again!  I’m on the road to recovery after surgery and no running for 4.5 months.  I completed 45 miles last week, which is definitely a huge step in the right direction but literally miles from where I want to go.    

This year I was again, “lucky in the lottery” and got into a couple of races I applied to.  I had 16 tickets in the Western States lottery, with one that was my “golden” ticket.  That set up a year I have dreamed of.  From the time I learned about the “Grand Slam” of ultra running; I have always said, “ If I get in Western I will go for the slam.”  Only 44 women to date have completed it and I love to be challenged, so here’s to 2016 and the Eagle!  

 One important benefit that comes from a “no running” injury is the ability to think introspectively about what you’ve been doing right and where you can improve.  There are many places I can improve, while still feeling confident that my experiences will guide me through almost any adversity.  A few thoughts are listed below and if I can get myself to blog regularly I will add more. 
Recover, get stronger and faster
Learn how to run with less “stuff”
Plan to run the hills unless it proves to be less efficient

Don’t over-schedule

Monday, January 20, 2014

Turning ½ century and getting into my first 200-mile mountain race

An abundance of thoughts have been rolling through my mind lately…. Time to put some on paper. 

This year I will celebrate my 50th birthday.  I would never have imagined when I was young that I would find so much pleasure in ultra events; but that is where I find challenge, peacefulness, satisfaction and a deep sense of accomplishment.  I’m not sure whether I feel “old” or young.  I love adventure and when I am on the trail I feel like a giddy little kid again.  I have set myself up for quite a season this year.  My plan is to run several hundreds, Tahoe 200 and many adventures that are self-supported.  Training for Tahoe will require a lot of high altitude mountain miles so that will be a large focus in training.

Tahoe Rim Trail 100 mile 2012

I decided it would be fun to share my “Training for Tahoe 200” diary with my friends and family so this will be the first installment. 

It was announced January 12th that I’m in!   Lots of emotions when I saw my name, leaps for joy, wow, dream come true, such a beautiful course, inaugural event, Holy Cow how am I going to train for 200 miles?  I trained last year for a double trip around Rainier so I have that as a guideline, but Tahoe is at high altitude, so that will have to be my main focus.  I’m already signed up for a couple 50-milers, a 100k and 100-miler on back to back weekends but need to get some elevation.  Rainier is the best elevation training I can get, so my plan will be to spend lots of time “playing” up there.  I also have some self-supported runs planned as stated earlier so that should help with the climbing endurance.  
Mt Rainier

And so it begins:
Week 1 consisted of the usual…
Weights 3X and running on the treadmill twice for my early mornings; one session of intervals and one for climbing.  Too many engagements this weekend to get many mountain miles in, but ran the forest loop with Mateo in my “miles for Meg” quest, played and ate a lot!

My goal is to lose some of the “lack of training, winter weight” while training to make my body more efficient.  I will also write up a training plan and may share it to keep myself accountable.

Goals for week 2:
Write up training plan and run at least one midweek double this week along with the “usual.” 

 And to celebrate my birthday.

Friday, November 22, 2013

Rewarding Race Seasons Don't Always Happen as Planned

As 2013 nears the end, I feel so rewarded to have participated in so many wonderful events this year.
As her crew chief, I helped Stacey make her way diligently from Canada to Seattle, 173 long, paved miles. 
Stacey laughing as she approached her finish
I helped Jonathan earn an Eagle as he completed a successful Grand Slam while I paced and crewed him.  Starting with Western States and ending with Wasatch there was never a dull moment, so many feelings of excitement, stress, fatigue, defeat, compassion and euphoria out on the course.  We shared so many stories and times, that I was swore to secrecy. 
Team Shark at the completion of the Grand Slam
Terry Sentinella and Chiping Fu became great friends as they completed the Grand Slam and I was right there to cheer them along the way.  I paced/crewed Linh to finish her first 100 miler at Badger, and Leadville; where she starred as the runner vs her usual role as Crew Chief.
Linh and I preparing for LT 100 "She Ain't Got no Quit" Thanks for the mantra Run Pretty Far
I also had the opportunity to help Van accomplish her goals when I was unable to complete my own journey in two of our joint runs.
Van at the finish of Issy 100

Van and I had our first Double Wonderland attempt, 186 miles around Mt Rainier.  It was not to be completed this year due to unexpected problems but we'll get it next time.  "Next time" was to be next year but now we may need to attempt Tahoe 200..........  Double Wonderland will happen, the mountain isn't going anywhere and it will be well worth the wait.

I had some great races early in the season, and completed the all time best 100 miler, Cascade Crest Classic.  There were many successful runs and adventures with friends and many new friends made along the way.  I am happy with my running accomplishments but had no idea how rewarded I would feel from helping others achieve their goals.

CCC 100
 The pressure is greater when your responsibilities include helping someone achieve a goal.  If you let yourself down you can accept that and have only yourself to blame.  When you help others realize they have more strength, potential, finesse and ability, it truly feels like you have accomplished something big.  It makes you feel warm inside and out.  Watching them cross that line and realize what they have done elicits a true feeling of euphoria.  It feels nice to be a part of the accomplishment and not even need a recovery period :)

This is no way means that I don't have big running goals this year!!!!  And now it's my turn to get a few buckles or an Eagle for the shelf. 

I'm in the usual lotteries WS and HR 100.  And dare I submit a letter to Barkley? I'm working on my essay.  I plan to watch for others, Tahoe 200, Wasatch, CCC 100 and sign up for some new ones too.  This will be a great year with new journeys, FKT's and a return to the usual suspects.

I'm so excited to see what next year will bring.  I'm getting tired of wearing the same old buckles to work everyday ;)

Meanwhile I'm looking forward to snowshoe adventures and running a snowshoe race or two!

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Sun Mountain 50 Mile Run 

I ran a beautiful race on Sun Mountain May 19, 2013, organized by Rainhadow Running.  It was a rewarding 50-mile run with rolling hills, smooth trails and tons of beautiful flowers.  I carried my camera so I would remember to enjoy the journey and not push myself to the destination too quickly.  I haven’t been running as much distance as the last couple years, felt like kind of a slacker and didn’t want to set myself up for disappointment.  I have ran this race the last 2 years and had reasonably good times with 2011 being my first 50 mile event.  I definitely enjoyed the journey and took about 40 pictures of the beautiful course and friends that I saw along the way. 
Patterson Lake
It started out great, I ran the several miles with Linh Shark, we took our time cruising along the rolling hills as we headed toward our first of three substantial climbs. 

Linh Shark
 The first climb came at about mile 15, but wasn’t incredibly steep or long, 1500 feet over 2 miles. 
First climb, Linh is coming up the hill

This brought us up to a beautiful pasture of wild flowers and cows looking at us curiously.  I’m sure they wondered why everyone was in a hurry on such a beautiful day.  
Beautiful flowers were abundant
 It was here that I came upon an awesome ultra running friend, Angel Rossi-Mathis, she had been suffering from a cold turned respiratory infection, but decided to give the run a try anyway and see how she felt.  That is the only reason I was able to catch her, as she is one fast and furious Ultra Runner. 
Angel Rossi-Mathis
We had a great time catching up with each other as we climbed one of the hills.   I also caught up with Ultrapedestrian Ras who a week earlier had just completed a R2R2R triple ~170 miles and was out to run Sun Mountain 50 miler as part of his deemed "Sunpig Mountain Tails Challenge 250 miler."  Today he was living true to his motto “An ultramarathon is like a mullet: business up front, party in the back” It was great having him party with us.
Ras climbing the hill, I can't see it, but I'm sure he is smiling

Jonathan Shark is the little speck climbing up the mountain in white

The run was great through here with fabulous, soft, single-track trails and lots of friendly runners to chat with and pass the time.  I felt good, had a great pace and the miles were flying by until about mile 20 when it started to heat up and we started our next climb. 
Beautiful, soft, single-track trails
  I have been trying to use less salt pills to avoid the massive “bloat” post race and the need/desire to consume copious amounts of water.  In the past, almost automatically, I would take one an hour to avoid problems with electrolyte imbalance.  It got pretty hot; I was sweating like crazy and feeling lots of fatigue in my hamstrings and calves, to which I immediately attributed to my docile life as of late.  Rookie move: I failed to listen to my body telling me I needed more salt until I got a twinge of the “slosh” in my stomach, an alert that I need more salt, and this time I listened.  The great thing about running an ultra is, you are out there long enough that when you make a mistake there is time to correct it and if you keep moving forward it always gets better. 

Sun Mountain Lodge
I was starting to feel a bit better as I began the climb to Sun Mntn Lodge; it’s a 3.5 mile loop up to the top and about 2000 ft overall climb.  At the beginning of the loop you come upon a very charming volunteer every year, she assures you "I will be waiting for you to get back and that will make it all worth it." The climb seemed to go much faster than last year, maybe it was because Tim Mathis jumped out of the woods and scared me just before I started the loop.  He had already finished his loop and was on his way down the mountain.
Tim Mathis patiently let me take a photo
Upon completion of the hot, 3.5 mile loop, I was very happy to see the smiling volunteer directing me down the hill.   
Beautiful mountains surrounded us at all times
I met a new friend, Lourdes Gutierrez-Kellam, we chatted a bit as we ran down the hill toward our final climb.   The course changed from the previous 2 years, so I wasn’t entirely sure what to expect or how tough it would be.  Lourdes and I set out together to conquer the hill in good spirits.  We had a great time chatting along the way and seemed to reach the top pretty quickly, with more ease than I remember the last couple years.  It was so much fun watching the other runners that had reached the apex flying back down toward us.
On top of our last summit
We summited, took a few photos and headed down to the finish line.  It was then that I realized I could still finish at about the same time as last year.  I used my poles to “fly” down the hill and felt like an Eagle taking flight. 
Photo by Glenn Tachiyama
Monica Bloom was headed to the peak with a gal (running her first 50k) who had tried to give up along the way.  Monica told her she wasn’t done; together they fed off each other’s energy for a successful 50k and crossed the finish line together.

I crossed the finish line 2 minutes slower than last year, but with the photos I stopped to take and the casual attitude I had during the run, I was elated with my journey.  Success was mine.

A few things I figured out during the race:
I can run 50 miles on substantially fewer calories and less solid food than I thought.  I used Gu, Gu Chomps, Gu electrolyte drink , one luna bar, oranges, bananas and ½ jelly sandwich (no peanut butter). 
Sometimes taking my time is a more rewarding journey than hurrying and I have lots of great photos.
And, most importantly…….listen to my body.

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Lumberjack 100 Mile Endurance Run

Lumber Jack is known for it's muddy course and the inherent challenge due to the roots and winding terrain.  Being eternally optimistic, I looked at it as an opportunity to set a PR, as the elevation is not as severe as most of the 100 milers I choose to run and it's my first 100 of the year, so I'm fully rested.  I organized my vehicle to enable an easy transition; I planned to run without a pacer and wanted Stacey to be able to find items I may ask for, if she was able to help crew. 
The look of apprehension on my face should have been a clue of what was up.

The race started under blue skies with a few scattered clouds and a wonderful running temperature of around 45F.  The weather was predicted to be thunderstorms, rain and wind, but so far, so good.  I run in the rain all the time, so no big deal, right?????  There were a lot of familiar faces at the start line: George Orozoco, Van Phan, Vivian Doorn, Ultra Ras Pedestrian and his wife/crew/pacer extraordinaire Kathy Vaughn and Kyndra Moeller taking on this 100 as her first.  Also at the start line was Carsten Buus, we planned to run the course together unless one of us needed to slow down and would jeopardize the others ability to succeed.

The run started perfect, my legs felt great, the course wasn't very challenging to negotiate and the puddles could be skirted around to avoid getting my feet wet.  There were some areas in the first 4 miles where 3 miles per hour was a "good pace" but all in all I was stoked, this was going to be a great run, sub 24?????  Each loop was 12.5 miles and our pace for the first loop was 12:08 per mile, it looked like we would have a great finish time.  
We were covering some ground and having a great time.

By the 50-mile mark we were still sub 24 and felt pretty good.  We ran our 4th loop hard to get in as many miles in daylight as possible; I knew the course would be much harder to negotiate with headlamps and the course deteriorated quickly with all the foot traffic of the participants.  There were times when we were the only people visible until we were at an AS, or occasionally we saw Ras taking it easy at base camp, followed by him eloquently striding past us down a hill.    
I was wet but still felt great and was enjoying my day out.

Toward the end of the fourth loop we got hit with some heavy rain, we came in soaked and I put on dry clothes for the next loop. The fourth lap was an 18-minute pace but still okay considering the conditions, nightfall and clothes change.  We knew the pace would be slower due to the weather, mud puddles and nightfall.  We set out in good spirits, with some warm soup, warm clothes and headlamps.  Maneuvering the logs, swamps and mud became more challenging and our pace slowed substantially, the condition of the trail had deteriorated due to all the feet that came before us.

As we approached the eight-mile AS the hail came down hard leaving the ground covered.  With the pace slowing it began to get quite cold.  Carsten was very cold and needed to be sure he could find enough gear in his truck to endure the cold conditions for the remaining loops.  As we approached the start/finish we heard the first person, Tim Stroh whom had passed us recently, completing his run, that sounded like a great idea but we'd have to wait 25 more miles.  We finished this loop with a 21:36 pace, which admittedly disheartened us a bit but we put on all new warm, dry clothes (I put on some Icebreaker gear which warms me to the core) got some soup and took off after about a 30 minute delay.  

Tough to get going on this lap but we were out for number seven and that meant only 2 more.  There seemed to be some folks that were struggling in the Aid Stations but I have a tenancy to focus on the positive in the race and was thinking; I only have to circumnavigate the "mud bogs" two more times.  As we approached the start/finish we could hear cheering and knew it must be Van (1st female) finishing her race.  Again, sounded like a great idea but we would need to complete one more loop before we finished.  We finished this loop with about a 20:30 pace, quickly resupplied and headed out for our last loop.  The sun was beginning to come out and it looked like this would at last, be the end of the rain, a welcomed thought that added some skip to our step.  

The last loop was a struggle for me, energy level low, pain in my ankles and some GI distress.  None of that was important at this point; all that was on my mind was the buckle.  The thought never occurred to me to quit, I was only bothered by the fact that out goal of 27 hours was out the window and I was concerned that I was slowing Carsten down.  I let him lead and tried to answer all of his "pushes," our conversation was pretty minimal, but when we came upon a tough spot Carsten pointed out that was the last time we would ever have to "see that section of mud."  It turned out to be a beautiful day with blue skies and a perfect running temperature.  At last we reached the last section of single track I got my energy back, I skirted ahead of Carsten and ran toward the finish.  Our pace for this loop was 19:45 so we had taken advantage of the daylight to pick up our speed.    
Carsten and I running in from our last loop.
We finished the run in 28:10 so we missed our goal but I was thrilled to get the buckle and be finished!  I was very surprised to learn that I was the 2nd place female and 9th person overall to finish.  The run had a finishers rate of about 50% so a lot of people had struggled and took a a lower finishing distance. It was great seeing George at the finishers line where he snapped a photo and congratulated us on our finish.  We saw Stacey helping out a runner that was having medical issues, Ras and Kathy were there breaking down camp and soon thereafter Vivian came in.  George had a great 26 hour finish, Ras came in at 26:44, Vivian came in at 28:43 for third place woman and Kyndra completed her first 100 miler on a tough course in 34:21.   I'm glad I ran IMTUF last year because I had to remind myself of that while out in the mud bog.  Will I do it again???  Maybe if Van does......... HA-HA
Carsten and I proudly displaying our buckles.

My 2nd place Female award.

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Haunted Halloween Hundred or H3

Driving to Oroville

We drove to Oroville, Wa thru a blizzard, creating a winter wonderland that made it seem like we were going to Grandma’s house for Christmas.  Kathy and Ras greeted us on the steps and welcomed us to a beautiful, cozy lodge and a fabulous pot of chili, cookies and pumpkin bread.  Wow what a way to start….

Preparing for the run….

Jen sewing a hole in her black tights with brown thread ☺

Ras & Van packing drop bags

After a great night of sleep, snow covered trails beckoned us to massage them with our feet.  The words most often heard the first 20 miles: wow, epic, beautiful, cool, fun…… 

Start line photo, we had no idea about the next 32 hours

The trails are beautiful, lots of larch, pine, sagebrush and microenvironments abound.  I was amazed with the diversity of the Okanogans, the only regret was the fog which blocked many of the views of the valley and mountains surrounding us.  Ras provided history and pointed out many interests along the way. 
Ras, Van and Jen close to the end of snowline

We saw some of the biggest bear prints I have ever seen, much larger than the black bear prints I’m accustomed to.  Wildlife abounded with Snow-shoe hares, cotton tails, deer, elk, Lynx, bears, voles and mountain lion prints everywhere, it was epic. 
Van after the bear got the best of her.  Notice the size of the bear prints compared to her head.

As we ran down into the valley and out of the snowline, there was a beautiful view of the valley, hills and snaking Okanogan River; the fog lifted and there was a little rain.

Kathy had made 3 soups to choose from as well as coffee, snacks and of course Halloween candy. 
Kathy serving up hot soup

Allen joined us for the next 20 miles and we headed back over the mountain to the lodge, to complete our first 40-mile loop.  As we crested the mountain Tonya came running over the top with a huge smile on her face.  She had started her loop after we did and was having a wonderful solo adventure.   We trekked back thru the snow 15 miles to a self-supported aid station to replenish our supplies.  A short 5 miles and we were at the warm lodge to put on dry shoes and place our wet ones by the fire to dry for the next loop. 

Van, Jen and I all headed back out into the snow for our next loop after filling our tummies with warm food and drinks.  This time it was snowing hard and our tracks were already covered, after only 20-30 minutes in the lodge.  Ras had shown us options for forest service roads that parallel the trails in areas that we used, due to the depth of the snow, lack of tracks and nightfall.  This is where you put on the big girl panties and get it done, three tough chicks out on the trail getting it done.  Speaking of tough chicks, we were keeping an eye out for Tonya as she would be near completing her journey but missed her when we were on a road section.   It was never really cold unless we stopped or the pace was too slow to keep our feet warm, it just motivates you to run faster.  Admittedly, the section between the 5-mile aid and the valley aid station seemed long.  As we crested the hill and started down some awesome single track we could hear a cowbell breaking the silence of the night. 
Beautiful single-track trails

Four wonderful people greeted us with smiles, warm soups, coffee and snacks.  This is where Jen completed her 100k.  Quite an accomplishment, she had signed up for the 40 and in the tough conditions she went an extra 24 miles.  She is one tough lady, love me some Jen for keeping us company. 

Angel and Tim Mathis drove over from Seattle planning to start their run the next morning at 5 AM.  Being the ultra studs they are, they smiled and said, “we’re going to run back over with Deby and Van.”  Very welcoming words, the company was great! Having two fresh, positive people to help get us back over the mountain during the toughest part of a 100 (dawn) was tantamount to our success.  They shared great conversations, took photos, enjoyed the sunrise, trudged thru the snow and splashed thru the slush with us on our journey.

Angel, Van and I “charging” up a hill ☺

There were definitely some rough patches during the night when my mental strength was tested and my mind, body and eyes began to get tired of the snow.  It’s probably good it was snowy or I may have taken a nap on the side of the trail.  When the sun came up, the fog was gone and we were treated to some great views.
Beautiful trails at sunrise.  It is evident why the Middle of Nowhere Runners love these trails.

We heard some dogs barking up in front of us and hoped they were on leash and not chasing Tim and Angel.  The dogs actually escorted them back to the cabin and then returned to the forest.  Van and I were very happy to see the warm lodge.  I took off my wet shoes, applied bio-freeze to my swollen ankles and laid down on the couch with a blanket, put my feet up and rested for about 20 minutes.  Many of the runners were getting ready to head back to the West side of the mountains so we took some photos and shared hugs. 
Finishers of H3 2012 Ras, Kathy, Deby, Allen, Toya, Angel, Tim, Jennifer and Van, Shona taking the photo.

Kathy and Shona said they were waiting to join us for part of our out and back.  Words that brought great joy, two fun ladies that run these trails all the time wanted to join us as we slogged thru our last 15 miles.  We donned our sunglasses and headed out to complete the journey; positive conversation, smiles and the sun made the trail glisten.   The sun was melting the snow and the trails were getting slushy and slick, we used our poles carefully.  I heard some breathing behind me; I was pulling up the rear, so I glanced uneasily behind me.  It was the same blonde labs that had escorted Angel and Tim.  They joined us and remained with us until about .5 miles from the end of our run where a rabbit got their attention and looked like more fun.  Kathy and Shona had to drive our self supported AS back home so they left us with smiles, hugs and under 9 miles to go.

The lodge was a most beautiful site as we crested the last hill, hooping and hollering as Kathy and Ras greeting us on the step.  Wow, mission accomplished.  Van and I basked in the glory of course record, masters, women’s and overall winner H3 2012.  As if all that wasn’t enough, Kathy cooked us some wonderful spaghetti, made sure we were comfortably tucked into bed and then probably collapsed from exhaustion. 

The next morning as we headed out, Ras made an awesome mocha for me.  It was the best I’ve ever had, and will visit them to get one that good again, hopefully next year for the 2nd annual H3.