The Dark Horse

On Saturday June 28, I ran the race of my life on one of the grandest stages in the ultramarathoning world. I must admit that after my dream run at the Boston Marathon, I did not think anything would surpass the electrifying emotions I experienced on that day.

The restless nights post-race.

The outpouring of love and encouragement from close friends, long lost acquaintances, and the ever-supportive running world.

…yet somehow, for reasons I still can’t quite comprehend, once again I proved myself otherwise.

How many of us are fortunate enough to have the best moments of our life captured on film? I truly am a lucky girl. Perhaps too lucky. Sometimes I feel as if I don’t deserve it.

Please bear with me as I try to pull this beautiful and wondrous experience into words. In the interim, I’d like to share a small story that resonated with me deeply throughout the race.

Running through the Granite Chief Wilderness, the surrounding mountains ablaze with glorious morning alpenglow, I had the pleasure of sharing the trail with Pam Smith. Pam and I follow a similar training philosophy, and she’s been a tremendous source of inspiration to me for some time now. Making our way across Lyon Ridge, she shared something with me that I never expected to hear.

You’re my dark horse pick.

Me? A dark horse?

The words stayed with me for the entirety of my run at Western States. They gave me confidence as I powered strongly along the buttery singletrack – a thoroughbred. They provided comfort when I hit lows – perhaps more a mule, yet a persistent mule at that. Those words reminded me never to doubt myself, and to always have the courage to take a risk and pursue my dreams.

Stay tuned for a more in-depth report in the coming days.

Peak Ultra 30 Mile “Plus”

May 31, 2014
Riverside Farm
Pittsfield, VT

Those who follow my blog know that the Peak Ultramarathon is one of my favorite races in the Northeast. The relentless climbs, the mud, the steep descents, the mud, the backcountry feel, the nettles – and did I mention, the mud – all add up to make for one heck of a rugged, adventurous time. By nature (and I suppose intention, thanks to the mischievous mind of race director Andy Weinberg), the course is inherently not “fast.” Nonetheless, being a mountain gal at heart, I relish the challenge of remote and wild courses. There’s nothing better for toughening the mind than learning how to smartly navigate tricky terrain.

For the past three years, I’ve always tackled the 50 mile distance at Peak. Sadly, with Western States on the horizon, the 50 miler was simply too much to take on so close to the big race. Naturally, the thought of not partaking at all had me down. Having never run the 30 mile course, I figured I might as well give it a go. In 2013 the 30 miler was re-routed to include the best and the toughest parts of the 50 mile race. Moreover, knowing that I’d be running the infamous “Bloodroot Loop” on fresh legs provided quite the incentive to sign up.

…”fresh” meant in the loosest of terms, of course. I approached Peak this year entirely as a training run, which meant zero taper and 46 miles of running going into the race.

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Ice Age Trail 50 Mile

May 10, 2014
Nordic Trail, Highway H
La Grange, WI

It’s funny how some of the most beautiful moments in life come at us suddenly and unpredictably. On the heels of a last-minute business trip to San Francisco – filled with long days, late nights, and two red-eye flights – I did not expect much from Ice Age. I was exhausted. Though thankful that my legs were largely recovered from Boston, some post-marathon fatigue still lingered. Nevertheless, having heard nothing but wonderful things about the race, I was excited to head out to Wisconsin and attempt to better my 50 mile PR. The trip was even to serve as a family reunion of sorts, as my aunt and uncle had kindly invited me to stay with them for the weekend.

Chicago. Standstill traffic. My phone buzzes angrily on my lap.

Unpredictable moment #1. An impromptu call from an Instagram friend.

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A Dream Day at the Boston Marathon

April 21, 2014
Hopinkton to Boylston Street

For the past three days I’ve been thinking about how to craft this post. Yet for the first time in recent memory, I’ve been strangely at a loss for words. How does one recount an experience that doesn’t quite feel real? My race at Boston has shaken me to my core. It keeps me up at night – my mind a blur, emotions on fire. Boston was a run that changed my life, and one that I’m still struggling to process.

I guess the best place to start with all stories is from the beginning.

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Eastern States 20 Mile

March 30, 2014
Portsmouth High School to Hampton Beach
New Hampshire

Preface: Eastern States 20 Mile was a bit of a breakout run for me mentally. Almost all of my training is conducted on very hilly courses, and I had no idea what to expect going into the race. I’ve decided to write this recap in a slightly different style from my typical race reports.

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