Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Dear Best Friends

 
Janell, Me, and Jamie
 In just a few days you will be swimming, biking, and running your victory laps that you've trained so hard for. One of you will conquer 70.3 for your first time. One of you will tackle 140.6 for your second time. Let's all take a moment to show some respect for those distances and the athletes that you are. (I'll be honest, I'm watching the Olympics in the background. You two inspire me just as much though!)
    You both are such hard workers in every facet of your lives. Not only do you have busy work schedules but you have many other responsibilities and also loved ones to spend time with. I do not understand how either of you find the time and energy to train like you do. You are forces to be reckoned with.
    This year has been a bit rough for me. Due to health issues I've had to pull back on training and back out of a few races. I've joked with each of you about how you've done a difficult, long workout all while I've just sat around on the couch. Really though, I just wanted you to appreciate the simple fact that you COULD workout like that. In the past I have often taken good health for granted. A bad workout would annoy and anger me. I would totally take a bad workout right now though. In fact, I feel like once I'm finally given the thumbs up to train that I will have a lot of awful workouts.
    My dear Best Friends, don't take your health and your abilities for granted. The fact that you made it to the start line in good health is an accomplishment of its own.
    Love yourself as you glide though the water. 
    Jamie- Reflect upon being a young kid that was still learning to swim. Remember learning and perfecting your stroke. Look at how far you've come since you were a kid. I bet you didn't imagine that someday you'd be swimming 2.4 miles just to kick off a race. Look how far you have come!
    Janell- Do you remember how OWS (open water swims) scared the heck out of you? You did NOT back down though and continued to face your fear. You have since excelled in swimming. Look how far you have come!
    Love yourself as you hop on your bike and cruise down the road.
    I remember when cycling made you both a bit nervous. I love the photos of you on bikes now. You have practiced and become very comfortable in the saddle. I love seeing those big smiles when you're biking...so make sure to flash one at the cameras.
    Love yourself as you lace up your sneakers to run towards the finish line at last.
    Jamie- Running is what brought us together (with the help of Twitter). We have faced some tough times out there together from New England blizzards to unrelenting desert heat. You will be tired and sore by this point in your race. Imagine me there with you. The exhaustion and conditions never seem as bad when we are sharing the burden. You've got this!
    Janell- Many moons ago on a small island in North Carolina you encouraged me to run in my first ever road race. The running bug didn't officially bite me until a few years later but it all started because of you. So during those final 13.1 miles envision the Oak Island Lighthouse (you've got a visual reminder on your arm). Remember when running a couple miles at a 13 minute pace felt like the most difficult thing we had ever done? You've got this!
    I love you both so very much. You can bet your @$$ that Sunday will be the 1st day all month that I am happily glued to my couch. I will be watching your progress and cheering you both on.
    Mind over matter. You don't mind. It don't matter.


   

Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Get Stronger

     I'll admit it, I'm one of my own worst critics. In the past few months I have been dealing with body image issues. Well not just body image but also, what I'll call, ability image. As far as the body image part goes though, I haven't been this focused on my weight and size since my initial weight loss journey over 4 years ago.
    If you read my last post then you will know that I've been doing CrossFit. (I know that it's sort of a controversial subject for many. It's 2 minutes from my house though and it helped me make it through a long, dark, and rainy winter. I have my own complaints about it at times but it is what you make of it.)  It turns out that if I want to be able to lift heavy that I need to build some muscle mass. Crazy huh? Okay, I knew this would have to happen but it actually happening has messed with my mind. My lean and thin runners body is rapidly disappearing. Although this was part of the goal it is still difficult for me to not feel "fat". I've been taught that the scale going up is NOT a good thing. I need to just throw the scale out the window...or resell it at a reasonable price. I mean, I could always use more workout gear.
     Why is that negative body image there when I know that I have been working hard? My guess is that it's partially due to "skinny", "slender", and "thin" being the buzz words while I was growing up. No one spoke about us girls being "strong" "muscular", or "built". These images and ideas that were programmed into me long ago still affect my daily workouts.
    This is where my skewed ability image comes into play. It becomes particularly apparent when I'm working out alongside men. During gym sessions the woman, myself included, almost always load up our barbells with less weight than we are capable of lifting. It doesn't matter what movement we are prepping for. We will then lift it and realize we can go heavier. We will add on weights, lift again, and so forth. On the other hand, our male counterparts usually load up their barbells to just at their ability or more than. Often times the guys are going through the same process in reverse. They attempt a lift and realize they need to lighten the load.
    It was a big "AH HA!" moment for me. While growing up, girls were being told that thin was ideal. The boys were being encouraged to become strong. I honestly don't remember lifting weights at all throughout my formative years. I played varsity sports for all 4 years of high school and I'm fairly certain that I only ever did 'girl' pushups, sit-ups, running (which I hated! ha!), and random drills for cross training. The guys were often in the weight room. It just wasn't something that was part of my training. I'm sure this contributed to why I was so afraid of free weights until recently. I didn't know how to use them. Heck, I'm still working on proper form.
    I recently went on a bit of a rampage to a few of my close friends about this subject and they were undoubtedly nodding their heads as they read my words in a private message (we are 4 time zones apart so I often have to message them and await a response). One of my friends responded that it couldn't have come at a better time. She had a big race that weekend and had already 'decided' that there was no way she could PR so she had planned to not even try. I'll have you know that she lined up that weekend and grabbed a big new PR. WE ARE ABLE. We just have to believe in ourselves.
    It's time that I forget "skinny". It is time to let go of the negativity attached to the word GAIN and embrace the positive of all that is associated with my GAINS. I am rebuilding my body but also my mind. It's time to get stronger.

Monday, June 20, 2016

So, Here's the Thing....

I had to sit and think about how to log into this account. It has truly been THAT long. So hello old friends. I still exist. I have not been lost in the Tongass National Forest. Well, not in that regard anyway. Before I can talk about present day I need to back track just a little.

Several years ago when I was living on Cape Cod I met a wonderful, inspiring individual named Sarah. We had followed each other on Instagram and I met her in real life during the worst portion of my very first marathon. She was enduring all the same elements as me and yet she was smiling and encouraging me to keep pushing on. Sarah has a way with words that I will never have. She can arrange them in such a way that it sounds like poetry is spouting out of her mouth. I always appreciated her wisdom and motivation during that race. After that day I continued to follow Sarah online and over time we developed a sort of virtual friendship.

My first 26.2 and the weather was AWFUL!!
This was during a time in my life when running was still new and all I wanted was to train hard and run faster. I would wake up early to beat the heat and do speed work on a deserted road near my house. Some days, okay a lot of days, it wasn't fun. Then I would see Sarah post about going out for a run and just enjoying herself. She was stopping and taking photos along the way. She didn't (always) have a time goal or objective, she just ran. I thought to myself 'What am I missing?'.

I trained really hard that summer and by fall I had a new marathon PR. I was so proud of myself as the course I earned it on was tough. That was probably one of my favorite, if not my favorite, race I have ever ran. I trained so hard that race day felt effortless. All those miles, missed events, and sore muscles had paid off. I was absolutely overjoyed with the results. My body was beat though.


A week later, Sarah arrived at my house to run in the Cape Cod Marathon Clam Chowdah Challenge. This consisted of running a half marathon on Saturday and a full marathon on Sunday. If I were her I would have been FREAKING out. Nope. Sarah rolled into my driveway laughing about how she had accidentally left behind her running shoes so she had stopped at store on the way and bought a new pair. (This absolutely blew my mind!) How was she so chill about all this?!
Sarah during the Cape Cod Marathon

The weekend came and went and Sarah smiled, Instagram'd, and danced her way to the finish lines of the races. I wished I could be like that. I wished that I was programmed to just enjoy running. I felt such a strong pull to stick to my training plan. I would sometimes cry, YES CRY because I had to bail out on a run a couple miles early. I felt so guilty if that happened. There were also days though that I threw off the chains and just ran. I didn't run to a certain mileage. I didn't run at a particular pace. I just ran. I found that during those days I was happier and that I often would run further than I had initially thought I might.

That brings me back to present day. I can honestly say that I do not remember the last time I had an actual, legit training plan. I ran 2 marathons last year that were 10 weeks apart. My finishing times had a 26 second difference. I loved every single moment of both of the races. I didn't obsess about a certain goal time or pace. I just ran. I remember when I rounded the corner of the race in Sitka that I was completely shocked that the clock was about 30 minutes less than I anticipated. I wouldn't have cared either way though.
I love Mike in the background.
Then in Kansas City I got to run with my amazing friend Amanda and it was so much fun too. She is probably one of the most friendly on-course marathoners ever. I loved her enthusiasm and her interactions with....well, everybody.

Amanda and Me by the WWI Liberty Memorial during the Kansas City Marathon
Sometime throughout this past year I stopped logging my runs online. It wasn't an intentional thing. It just tapered off until it was no longer happening. I probably run less because of it and that's okay. We all go through phases in training just as we do in life. Will I ever get back to regimented training? Probably. I know that someday I would like to run Boston and to accomplish that then I will need to work on speed. Until then though I will just ride on this wave of unstructured craziness. It's not to say that I don't have goals that I am working on. I do. They are just more focused on other areas of my fitness right now.

There are days when I start to compare myself to my friends that are hardcore training. I must stop and remind myself that they are on their own path. There is no need to compare because our destinations are different. (They are totally badass though and I cheer for them every step of the way!)


I haven't posted on here because I haven't been super intentional in my training. It didn't feel motivating to post, "I may run 40 miles this week or I might only run 10." Then I started thinking about how Sarah changed the way I looked at fitness. It doesn't have to be punishing. It doesn't have to be strict and guilt-ridden. It doesn't have to be filled with disappointment (missing a goal, skipping a workout, having to miss out on time with loved ones). I know that many people NEED the structure or their workouts won't happen. I totally get that. More power to you. I'm not telling you how to live your life. I am simply stating that this way of thinking is where I am at right now.

If you must know what an average week looks like for me I can give you a rough idea:
*3-4 CrossFit workouts- These range greatly in time and disciplines
*3-6 runs - I usually run a minimum of 3 miles. During the week days the runs are 3-7 miles long. On the weekend I try to hit a 10-15 miler depending on how tired my body is from the week.
* I try to do something different such as a hiking, biking, rowing, yoga etc at least 1x a week.

I don't feel like I am slacking. I just feel free of the mentality of  "YOU MUST DO THIS WORKOUT or you will be unfit to complete ________ ."

I hope that all this is making sense. My coffee is wearing off and I'm just now realizing (at noon my time) that I haven't eaten since dinner last night. Whoops.

I'll leave you with this quick little video from my 30k in California on June 11th. Jamie and I had spent the two days prior walking 9-10 miles per day around hilly San Francisco. Our legs were tired before the race even started. We both shrugged our shoulders and said we'd just go out enjoy the heat (Oh my lawdy was it hot for this little Alaskan version of myself!!) and hills, and try not to die. Although the 3,589 ft elevation ascent/decent was punishing we still really enjoyed ourselves for most of it. It doesn't mean we didn't question our sanity though.
video

Whatever your goal(s) may be you must find what works for you. What works now might not be what works 2 years from now. That is okay. We are humans. We find new passions. We adapt to our environment and our situations. The key takeaway here is to NOT give up and to enjoy yourself along the way.

 
 
 
 
 
 

Saturday, January 16, 2016

Four Years

   This week I found myself researching training plans and booking flights for adventures with friends. For the last few weeks I've been determined to cut (almost) all junk out of my diet. And for the first time in a long while, I feel focused. I don't feel like I have to force myself to workout. The motivation is just there. It feels great to push myself again.
    Since moving to Alaska I have stayed in decent enough shape. My competitive drive has really been lacking though. I can't complain much as it's been nice to not be tied down to a training plan. However, it's also meant that I haven't been mindful about nutrition or logging workouts that really count. 
    January is the month that people make resolutions. Fours years ago I did just that. I resolved to lose weight and start running. I even thought about MAYBE running a 5k someday. I had no idea back in 2012 that I had made a decision that would completely transform my life. 
    This January I looked into the mirror and wasn't pleased with how my travels, guests, and the holidays in general had changed my body. There was jiggle. My muscle tone was fading. It is crazy to me how quickly small bad choices add up. 
    It must have been in that moment that my competitive drive was reignited. I decided that I have worked too hard and for too long to not feel successful. 
    That brings me to today. After just a couple weeks of recommitting myself to healthy nutrition and solid, planned workouts I feel better. I'm not where I ultimately want to be but I am on my way to it.  I've decided on a few 2016 goals that I am shooting for: 

- a strong upper body 
- to run a 50k (I wanted to do this last year but a mid-training injury that led to being undertrained forced me to DNS)
- to eat clean at least 80% of the time
- to minimize body jiggle (obviously this is a scientific term- ha!)

    Bad choices add up quickly but so do good choices. Sometimes the progress seems slow but all those good choices will add up to successful results. Four years ago I could not have imagined how all of my small, positive choices would eventually stack up. They did though and I've got photos, medals, and memories to prove it. 
    I encourage you to dream up a few goals of your own for 2016. We all will inevitably have hurdles along the way. Let's commit to remain focused and to cheer for one another throughout the year. 

Follow my other social media accounts to keep up with me daily. Best of luck to you in 2016!


Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Sitka Cross Trail Classic Marathon Race Recap

    Yes I know the race was over 2 months ago. Life has been busy. I figured I better post this before my Kansas City post though.

    On marathon morning we all woke up a little early but nothing crazy. It was nice to have the start line right out my front door. There was no worrying about the commute or parking. I felt surprisingly calm as far as marathons go. It was nice to have so many #runsitka friends there to run with. I was most excited for Susea as she would be running her 1st full marathon. Susea was full of energy and looked much more confident than I had before my 1st full.


    We lined up and I snapped a few photos. I didn't realize how close time was so I was busy chatting when the race officially began. It is not a chip timed race so I turned and quickly made my way to catch up with Jamie.

     Jamie and Mike had selected the dates of their trip based on this race. Originally we were all going to run the half but a few weeks out I decided to change to the full. I needed an Alaskan marathon and this one was obviously the most convenient.

    Since I didn't have a goal in mind, except to have fun, I knew to keep lap one slow. This is a 2 loop course for the full participants. We started a little fast but it felt good and it was during a flatter portion of the course. We chatted as we warmed up the first few miles. I snapped a few more photos. It just felt like any other day.

    Jamie originally had planned on running the first 9.5 miles with me (before she was forced to split with the half marathoners) and then the final 5-6 miles with me. In the first few miles though it became apparent to her that her body would not cooperate. She told me well in advance though so that I would be mentally able to prep for all my solo miles after 9.5.

     I was nervous about not having any water stops on the second loop so I made sure to drink at the stops for the first loop. I drank my own water, that I was carrying in my pack, as needed.

     We ran through Totem Park and then crossed the road and entered into the Sitka Cross Trail and that's where the real hills began. I run this this route all the time so it was familiar. I could almost close my eyes and still successfully run it. I only power walked one portion and that was planned. I tend to walk it faster than running it. It rained some during this portion. I was grateful for overcast skies and cool temperatures. I started feeling pretty good during the final decent uphill. I also knew that Jamie would be leaving me soon. I felt strong and confident.

    I said goodbye to Jamie and continued down the benchlands alone. I saw a few marathoners pass by me and I tried to determine how far ahead they were. I counted myself as 6th out of 10. It was something to occupy my mind. The benchlands always feel good to me because they are flatter than the Cross Trail. They make the transition from the Cross Trail to roads a bit easier too.

     I continued on and hit the roads feeling ready to start lap two. I had my watch set to only show my current lap so I had no idea of where I was pacing-wise. When I approached the 'finish' for the first time I was around mile 14. I think the large counter said 2:15ish. I realized that I had probably enjoyed lap one a little too much. Oh well, it was fun. I high-fived as many people as possible and started cruising into lap two. (We don't have to repeat Japonski Island which is why we run longer on the benchlands than the half marathoners.)

    When I hit the trails in Totem Park it immediately felt different from lap one. The park was almost entirely void of humans. The lack of people and energy had me worried about the Cross Trail. I started talking to myself a little and tried to motivate my body. I was bored so I started using my energy chews as bargaining chips, "Just make it over the bridge and you can have another chew."

     List things to be thankful for today:
- My best friends being in town.
- My #runsitka friends
- Cool weather and only light rain
- Strong legs
- My new comfy hat
- My supportive husband
- Susea's kids that keep popping up along the course to cheer
- No bear sightings

    This continued for awhile. When I needed to cross over Sawmill Creek Road there was no one manning traffic. I was over 16.5 miles in and I had to stop at the crosswalk and wait for cars to stop for me. I tried to not let this bring me down.

    I got back onto the Cross Trail and this was the only few minutes where I felt mentally down. I was past 17 miles and aching a little. Mostly though, I was lonely. Soon I spotted a glimpse of a female runner ahead. The thought of a companion brightened my spirits. I began gaining on her and realized that I had way too much gas in the tank.

    As I got within 15 yards of her we rounded a corner and started running down a hill. I knew that we went down and then up, uP, UP. I was so focused on building momentum that I didn't immediately notice Amanda at the base of the hill. She started jumping up and down and shouted up the hill to me, "I'M RUNNING THE BIG HILL WITH YOU!" I sped down the hill past the other runner and together Amanda and I began our run up the hill.

    Amanda ran a diagnostic check on me.

" The back of my legs hurt from all the uphills. I have been really lonely and bored. Wait, you're really running this stupid hill with me after you ran the half?!"

    I wanted to cry tears of joy but had promised myself "no crying" after my last 26.2.

    Amanda was unable to repair my tired legs but she fixed my broken spirit right away. She explained that she wanted to help me because I had helped her in the past. She gave me a brief recap of her race and our friends races. I smiled and chatted with her. I was so proud of everyone. As we ran and talked it began to feel like our usual training runs, just Amanda and me in the woods.

    Soon we approached Cascade Creek and she told me that she would be leaving me soon. I felt rejuvenated though and prepared to go back to my solitude. As we neared the waterfall I caught a glimpse of bright pink and knew that another #runsitka friend must be near. Sure enough, there stood Charmaine, Jamie, Mike, and Joe. They began cheering as we ran down the hill towards them. Charmaine jumped in on our traveling marathon party. I congratulated her on surpassing her race goal. She showed me the new trucker hat she'd purchased between her race finish and meeting me (ha!). We went up another hill and Amanda bid us farewell.

    Charmaine informed me that I'd have friends with me until the finish. This was all news to me and a nice and welcomed surprise. She continued to inform me of more details from her race. She also threw in compliments to me to keep me smiling.

    List things to be thankful for today:
- Friends that go above and beyond for me in my time of need.

    Charmaine continued to encourage me as we ran and soon we were exiting the Cross Trail and heading (back) into the benchlands. Jamie sprinted up behind us and joined the party. I snapped a few more photos. As we hit the final turnaround we passed by another marathoner. I remember having sore feet from the trail surface and I was so ready to be on roads. Soon we were popping back out of the benchlands and everyone began yelling for Mike that was supposed to be waiting for us. The girls said bye to me as Mike jumped out of the woods and caught up with me.


    Mike smiled and said,"When nature calls!" I started laughing and we continued down the road. Usually Mike is pretty quiet, especially on runs, but he was in rare form that day. He was chatting up a storm and I was super thankful for it. I had flat(ish) roads, entertainment, and only a few miles to go.

    My shoe came untied and I tried to ignore it but I had picked up the pace and it was annoying me. We stopped and Mike tied my shoe for me. We then continued on our way. Mike said that I was crushing the marathon. I replied that I just wanted to stop running. We were almost to the end and I was thinking I was around a 4:25 marathon because I had been running and enjoying my friends.

     We hit the final homestretch down by the harbor and when the race clock came into view I saw that I was faster than I had thought I was. My friends appeared and I ran through the finish at exactly 4:03:00. It was an awesome race.

    The post-race snacks were awesome with fruits, veggies, cookies, water, Gatorade, etc. I found out that I was 4th overall (out of 10) and 3rd female. Woot!! We all sat and anxiously awaited Susea's arrival. She ended up doing incredible and running through with a huge smile on her face. Overall it was a fantastic day for racing.


   

Sunday, September 13, 2015

Five Weeks to Go

Here I sit so excited to finally type in my marathon recap post and I realize that I do not have my notebook. I like to hand write blog posts and then type them in. I enjoy the process more when I have a pen in my hand. So I guess it just wasn't meant to be today.

Instead I will check in and say HELLO! I have tried really hard to keep my social media up to date but unfortunately this website, the page that started it all, is often last on my mind. I find myself on-the-go with only a few minutes to spare and that time crunch works great for Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook posts but not so much for this blog. I am sorry.

I am currently 5 weeks out from the Kansas City Marathon. I am T-I-R-E-D. I am so tired in fact that I know that I need to pull back a little this week. I am back to working full time (stressful!), marathon training, and started CrossFit back up. In addition I have had some personal life stressors going on. My cup runneth over.

Overall though this training cycle has been going well. I've been able to hit the distances set before me and mostly been able to find the time for my workouts. My confidence level is currently at "Meh" but perhaps that is just because I am FIVE weeks out. My speed is not where I would like for it to be. I feel sluggish and slow. Yesterday I ran just over 11 miles at an 8:56 pace and it felt HARD. It felt really hard. Is this all my mind playing tricks on me? Perhaps. Is it due to a high volume of workouts and cumulative fatigue? Probably. Am I still going to freak out? YES!

As my trip to Kansas City approaches I find myself becoming homesick. I miss my family and friends there. I miss the area in general. I know that it will be a super quick trip and I'm already sad about not being able to see everyone. It is difficult to only have a few days with my loved ones here and there throughout the years. It's been almost 8 years since I moved away from the KC area and it never gets easier to say goodbye. I am trying to focus on the race though and the time with loved ones that I am gifted with.

If you happen to be in the Kansas City area on October 17th than come cheer on the runners! You know how much crowd support means on race day. I'd love to run by and give you a high five (or have you there to drag me to the finish....ha!).

I am running the race as part of a fundraiser for my friends charity. I am hoping to raise another $450 by race day. Please click on this LINK to read about the cause and to donate. It's one fundraising page for all the Village Racers so please write my name in the comments so that I now that you donated on my behalf.

Thank you for reading!  I hope that you're having a wonderful September so far. I'm just trying to enjoy this beautiful island as much as possible.



Thursday, August 13, 2015

Alpine Adventure Run- Sitka, Alaska 2015

This was my second year running this incredible race.
You can read about my first experience HERE.

    This year I am settled into my home here in Sitka. I have friends and a wonderful running group. I have ran A LOT of trails over the last year. I even was able to practice on this race course on multiple occasions.
    In May I was dealing with an injury that set me back. I was unable to run for several weeks. The injury eventually led me to decide to NOT run in a 50k that I was planning on. It definitely messed with my fitness and overall confidence. I was able to start training back up in June. It slowed me down a bit but that's okay.

    The Alpine Adventure Run was not a "goal race" for me. It was just for fun. I mean really, what could possibly be more fun than running up one mountain and across the ridge to another?! The total elevation gain for the 7 mile course is 3,130 feet. HEY YO!

   Heading into the race I already had 40+ miles of running for the week. This was going to be a training run+fun with a goal of NOT getting hurt.

   On race morning I drove myself to the start and checked in with the race officials. I then found some friends to talk to. It had been raining hard for days. I was a bit nervous about the condition of the trails. I went out for a 1.5 mile warm up run to get rid of some nervous energy. I remembered that I didn't put on deodorant and ran to my car. I couldn't locate any deodorant but found TWO sticks of Body Glide. Oh well.

    Several #runsitka friends showed up to cheer on those of us that were running. It was wonderful to have such support. Joe was awesome and drove them all to the top of Harbor Mountain to cheer at the finish line too.

     The race started and we were off! I ran by my friend Wesley briefly and then decided to drop back a little before the single track portion. I didn't want to get caught up with all the folks that were going to bust their butts and hurry to the top. I hung back a little too far though because I ended up having to pass a few people on the planks before making it over the Cross Trail.

    Once I was past the Cross Trail then I stuck with a steady hike up Gavan Hill. The trail was flowing with water and more muddy than I have ever seen it. It was fun though. I was cursing myself for having forgotten to pack my GoPro. I must have been really tired because I forgot a lot of things that morning.

     I don't remember much that is note worthy besides the fog, rain, mud, and constant water flow on the trail. I made it to the "lookout" and was happy to know that I only had to conquer the "stairway to heaven" until the first Sitka Mountain Rescue checkpoint. There was one portion where I was walking across a slippery plank and completely face planted. The guy that was several yards behind me groaned loudly (for me I guess...ha!). I popped right back up though and kept on going.

     I made it to the checkpoint and was able to catch a guy from Anchorage. We chatted briefly. He was super encouraging. I liked him but it was about this time that I caught a glimpse of a kilt in the distance. [You need to read last years recap to understand this.]

     The weather resembled the weather from the year before. I remember seeing a hint of Dave's kilt and thinking, "NO WAY!! I caught him!!" I wanted to speed up but decided to just keep a steady pace. I experienced a little bit of a mind warp. I was suddenly running behind Mr. Kilt again in the same race, with the same weather. I was sneaking up on him when some random spectators appeared and shouted out,"She's going to pass him!" He looked over his left shoulder, smiled, and shook his head. Dave then shouted something about me passing him and I said that he'd probably catch up to me later. I passed him and ran on. IT FELT AWESOME!!! It didn't feel awesome because I passed him. It felt awesome that I was brave and experienced enough this year to run on ALONE! I no longer was scared of the mountainous terrain. I was definitely still scared of a bear encounter but I was counting on my lack of deodorant to help deter them. I am kidding, of course.

     I caught up to a few other runners. We chatted for a bit. One lady in particular was great to talk to. She was going a pace that worked for me so we stuck together for a mile or so. At each checkpoint the Sitka Mountain Rescue folks complimented my bright running shirt. At the checkpoint by the Alpine Hut I said goodbye to my new friend and ran onward.

     I was cruising down a hill and my foot slipped and I very briefly thought I might fly off the mountain. I was able to dig my left leg in though and regain control. Whew. I was pretty much alone out on the course from this point on.

    When I was running over the rock slide I felt really bad ass because last year I was SO SCARED and nervously walked across. I was a bit sad that no one was there to photograph the moment. Just close your eyes and envision me cruisin' though this in fog and rain.
This was a few weeks later...in better weather.

        I finally was passing by the last checkpoint. My friend Ron asked me why I wasn't finished yet. I laughed and shook my head. He asked if I needed water. I responded,"Well OBVIOUSLY I'm moving too slow already and I don't have time to stop for water." I was pretty much smiling from this point to the end of the race.

       As I finished the final ridge portion I heard my friend Devin cheering for me in the distance. How she saw me through the fog and trees I do not know. I was so stoked to hit the big downhill portion. I passed by Devin and her friend and enjoyed the downhill ride. This part is really fun and you know the finish is near.
Photo Credit: Tasha Folsom

video
         My friend Charmaine captured this video of my finish. You can see me high five Wesley after I come through the finish. He totally ROCKED his race. Hailey and Charmaine cheered loudly, shot off confetti, and provided beverages. We all turned and anxiously awaited our friend Susea's finish.
She ended up CRUSHING the race too! We all celebrated!!

        The race was well organized. I felt cared for throughout the entire experience. There was plenty of food and drinks after. It is truly a special race. I encourage you to run it someday! It is challenging, technical, and INSANELY AWESOME!!! I had a blast running it again with all these adventurous runners.
Photo credit: Cassie Gillespie

My official time: 1:53:02

I am really proud of this time. Alaska has been good for me. It has taught me to care less about pushing myself to the max in every race and to just have fun. I am ready to get back to chasing a PR but I have REALLY enjoyed all of my summer runs. I have smiled, laughed, taken photos, and chatted with friends along the way. It's helped me to rediscover my love for running. Sometimes it's not about running faster, it's just about enjoying the ride.