*First race of 2016*

After lamenting for the past few months about not having any upcoming races on my calendar, I remedied that last night by officially registering for my first trail race! It’s also my first race of 2016!

I will note that I have technically done a trail race (Ragnar Zion) but it was a relay and the event was cancelled before I got to run my third leg due to snow.

I’m fairly certain I won’t need to worry about snow this time around because the race I’m doing is in the heart of Los Angeles in the middle of July. And it’s practically in my backyard! The Griffith Park Trail Marathon Relay and 8k is on Sunday, July 17th. The main race is actually a five-member team marathon relay but they are also offering an inaugural 8k trail race which is what I signed up for. I think it’s a good place to start and get my bearings since I haven’t been running a ton of trail as of late.

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Nuun is a sponsor and I know of a couple of Team Nuun members that will be participating too.

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Trail at Griffith Park.

The route is described as being an “intermediate” and “very challenging” course so I better get my rear in gear and get some solid training in over the next three weeks!!!

Also, while I’m thinking about July, my friends at Left Coast Raw are offering free shipping on domestic orders through the end of July. And, they’ve recently launched a new flavor! Cocoa Motive offers 22 grams of organic, plant-based protein from whole food ingredients, per 10 oz. serving. Check out their website for more information about their superior plant-based shakes!

*Running Your First Ultra*

Last month I stumbled across a new book just hitting the shelves. Running Your First Ultra was written by Krissy Moehl. As you might suspect, she is an ultra trail runner.

running your first ultra

I’ve mentioned several times recently that I’d like to turn my focus to trail races this year. What I haven’t talked much about is that I think I’d like to do an ultra race too. It has taken me several years to work up the courage to consider running an ultra and now, as the sport becomes increasingly popular, there are more and more resources available to help me navigate through this foreign idea that I could run beyond 26.2.

Before I go any further, let me state that I’m not considering a 100-miler or anything super ambitious. Not yet at least. Mainly out of fear because of my last night trail running experience. It was nearly two years ago at Ragnar Zion. The year of the epic snow storm that forced the cancellation of the event two-thirds of the way through. It was not very pleasant and I’ve sworn off running trail during the middle of the night. At any rate, something in the 30-ish mile range would probably be a good place to start.

I don’t have a copy of the book yet but am planning to pick up a copy soon. Even cooler is that she is currently on tour promoting it and will be visiting Portland in about two weeks! Two events are planned: one hosted by Powell’s Books on January 20th and the second hosted by one of her sponsors, Patagonia, the following evening of January 21st.

There are a lot of unknowns for me this year so it is making it hard to plan ahead. Fortunately, I’ve got 51 more weeks to get something on my racing calendar! I can’t wait to read the book and begin planning my first ultra!

*A look back at 2014*

Without a doubt, 2014 has been a really great year. It wasn’t without some major lows but it also had some major highs and I’m choosing to focus on those highs… the moments, experiences, and people who made 2014 so very good.

I reached a lot of milestones, met several goals that I set for myself, and accomplished things that I once only dreamt of. I worked hard, I played hard, and I’ve celebrated a lot of victories.

Tomorrow, I will recap my the final month of the year as far as mileage totals and such goes, but today I thought I’d just share this gallery of some moments that I will cherish forever and ever.

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This barely scratches the surface! I’ve been so blessed with some rad people, some rad adventures, and some rad goals checked off my list. I’m grateful for each and every person that supported me, ran with me, dreamed with with me, loved me, believed in me, and helped make 2014 one I will look back fondly on for years and years to come!

*Relay survival guide*

One week from today my Hood to Coast adventure will begin! I feel particularly lucky that the Mother of all Relays is right in my backyard. Almost literally. Runners will be passing near my home by less than two blocks away! However, my journey will first take me to Seattle to meet the rest of my Nuun teammates! (And you can meet them HERE too!)

I’ve been fortunate in that I’ve been able to run HTC several times over the years. Most often, I’ve filled in last-minute for someone who had to drop out due to an injury or conflict. And with what seems to be an explosion in popularity of relay type races, I’ve had the privilege of running two Ragnar relays too. You can check out what I wrote about these events by following these links: Ragnar Las Vegas part 1 and part 2, and Raganr Trail Zion.

I would nowhere near consider myself an expert on running relays but I’ve learned a few useful things over the years. This is just the tip of the iceberg though because truly, one must experience it themselves to understand how crazy and fun running a relay is. There will be moments when you question your sanity and moments that you feel elated. Hopefully my Relay Survival Guide will help get you off on the right foot!

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Relay Survival Guide

*Two weeks ’till HTC*

Happy Friday! I hope you’ve had a fantastic week and have lots of great adventures and runs planned for this weekend!

It has been a busy couple of weeks. I hate using that excuse but truly, I feel like it has been go. Go. GO! nonstop lately. What’s worse is that it is just going to keep getting busier in the coming weeks and I find myself already looking forward to November. ; )

Busy also brings fun though and the big countdown to Hood to Coast is on! TWO weeks!! I’m so excited to experience HTC with my fellow Nuun Ambassadors and can’t wait to meet my teammates. I had the privilege of meeting a couple of them when I went to Utah in April to run Ragnar Trail Zion, but the whole gang, whom I’ve gotten to know a little via the cyber world, seem like such a great group of people!!

My situation is a little unique. I actually live in one of the communities along the HTC route. I regularly run some of the same roads that make up the legs leading to the third major van exchange. In fact, I noticed recently that the mile markers have been freshened up.

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Mile 4 of leg 18.

I still have a lot of work to do to get ready (physically and logistically) but I’m so excited, and so grateful, to be a part of such a fantastic team!

*May the fourth be with you*

“Do or do not… there is no try” ~ Yoda

Easy to say when you’re “trying” to get motivated to get off your butt and go run!

This past week has been a bit of a struggle for me. I’ve gotten some decent mileage in but really thought that after running Ragnar Trail Zion last weekend, I’d come home super charged and ready to hit the training hard. Except it didn’t happen the way I had hoped and I had to work really hard for the mileage I did get in.

I know that traveling last week and the change in my routine is partly to blame. Moving my rest day last week kind of threw off the whole week. Isn’t it funny how such a slight adjustment can wreak havoc on your routine? So that is why I’m trying to decide if I want to run this morning. For the first time in a long time, I didn’t wake up to an alarm or need to be anywhere this morning so I’m kind of savoring some quiet down time!! (The fact that it is a little stormy out this morning isn’t really helping the cause! Ha!)

While I ponder my next move, let me just share some fun news with you! A few days ago I was contacted by Uberthons and invited to be a part of their official The Oregon Marathon and Half Marathon blogger team! You can find the link here: Official Marathon Bloggers.

I had been looking for a late summer marathon and am thrilled to add the September 13th event to my racing calendar! It also takes place during Oktoberfest in Mt. Angel, Oregon! I’ve never really been to Oktoberfest so that will a fun bonus to the weekend! I’ll be sharing more information about this event in the coming weeks and months so stay tuned!

And speaking of some cool partnerships… I’ve got a couple of other really exciting things up my sleeves including a Spartan Race giveaway this week!!!! More details on that soon too!

In partnerships of another kind, today I celebrate 18 years of marriage to the love of my life. Seriously? Where does the time go???

May 4, 1996

May 4, 1996

Have a great Sunday!

*Zaniness at Zion*

The laughs generated by the awesome comments I received after yesterday’s post were much-needed. I wasn’t soliciting an outpouring of support but you guys sure know how to make a girl feel loved!! Thank you!!

Onward!

I’ve been eager to share what went down at Ragnar Trail Zion! I was really blessed to be able to travel down early, get acclimated to the higher elevation, enjoy some sunshine and dry weather, and spend time with my dear friend and her sister. St. George, Utah, is really beautiful and I was so grateful to have a fantastic place to stay so close to the relay site. I was very well cared for!!

On Friday morning I drove from St. George to the Zion Ponderosa Ranch. The drive forces you to literally drive 11 miles through Zion. I was really bummed about that. NOT! It is unbelievably gorgeous!! I took my time and made sure to stop for a few pics en route.

Driving through Zion to Ragnar.

The drive through Zion.

The drive through Zion to Ragnar.

Such a gorgeous trip!

Just after you exit the park, you turn off the highway and travel about 6 or so miles up into the hills basically overlooking Zion. My original plan was to pull into the off-site parking and just take my bags with me on the shuttle to the site but I missed the turn and drove right to the ranch. They were asking people to unload and then drive 4 miles back down to park for the weekend.

When I parked to unload, I realized I had no idea where to look for my team… how would I find a group of 7 people I’d never met before among approximately 3000 people and what seemed like about 3000 campsites too? To compound that, I had no cell service where I was at.  I had no choice but to get out, leave the car, and wander around until I *hopefully* found my team.

As far as the eye can see...

Camp at Ragnar Trail Zion!

I started down the road and got maybe 20 feet when I noticed a group of people unloading a car. One of the guys caught my eye. Now I’ve spent weeks interacting with my fellow Nuun Ambassador, George, but I’d never met him in person. From the pictures I’d seen on-line, the guy unloading camping gear seemed to fit George’s likeness. I asked “you’re not George, are you”? To which he replied yes!! What are the odds that we’d arrive at the same time and park within just a few short feet of each other?!?

After introductions, we carried the gear to where another team member had already set up camp complete with two tents, a canopy, a heater to stay warm when temps dropped overnight, chairs, coolers, you name it! But it gets better! Shortly after we arrived, a couple drove up on a golf cart. Another team member and her husband. As it turns out, they had rented a cabin on-site so that her husband could stay there with their 6-year-old grandson, whose dad was also on the team.

Immediately, they offered to allow us to park our cars at the cabin so that we wouldn’t have to bother with the shuttle. Sweet! They also then offered to allow us to use the cabin to shower, sleep, cook/eat or do laundry. What??? Here I was thinking I’d be “roughing it” all weekend. When we got there, which was maybe a quarter of a mile from our campsite, I realized the “cabin” is actually a log house with 3.5 baths, 3 bedrooms and sleeps 11. We were hooked up!!!!

Our first runner started at 2 PM. The camp “village” was buzzing with people and energy. Teams gathered there to send off their runners or hang out while waiting until a runner returned and it was time to switch. That is one of the unique things I really loved about the event. All team members start and finish at the same spot and run loops. It is very different from a traditional relay where you are in a van and drive point-to-point to exchange runners. It was fun to be able to hang out with all members of the team as opposed to just the teammates in your van.

The trail map.

The trail map.

This pattern would continue through the night and wrap up sometime early afternoon on Saturday. At least a week before the event, I started hearing reports that the weather forecast was not looking favorable for the weekend. On Friday afternoon, while it was overcast with some sun breaks, there was a nasty wind and a threat of thunder and lightning. The wind gusts were wicked! Since it is essentially a desert-like climate, it is very dry. Every time the wind would pick up you’d have to turn your back and bury your head in your shirt to avoid getting a mouthful of dirt. Had that been the worst of it, the event would have carried on flawlessly.

I ran my first leg in the early evening and it was a lot of fun! Very treacherous terrain though. The trails are mainly used by equestrians although some were wider to accommodate ATV’s. Either way, a little tricky to navigate. I was sucking air and felt parched but was overall pleased with my time on the 3.1 mile loop which was rated easy. Our estimated pace, as a team, was 11 minute miles. I ran the “green” loop in 30:22, averaging a 9:48 pace.

The calm before the storm.

The calm before the storm.

Running aside, what was most concerning was the 100% chance of rain forecasted to reach us around 2 AM. Right around the time I’d be on the trail again. Good times. I believe I started running around 1:45 AM on the “red” loop. This loop, rated the hardest of all three, is 8.6 miles with steep hilly sections and what I heard where fantastic views… none of which I got to enjoy because it was pitch black!

As I was waiting for the runner ahead of me to return, the sprinkles started. Over the course of the hour and 43 minutes I was on the course, the rain steadily increased until it was pretty much dumping buckets. Just before mile four I rolled my ankle. Another mile or two later I fell. A mile after that I fell again. It was brutal out there!!! Despite using the headlamp and a small flashlight, my depth perception was way off. I felt like I was drunk. Not the greatest run ever. Bruised and sore, I got back before the weather took another turn for the worse finishing with a 12:20 average pace.

I was freezing the minute I finished, as was the teammate who finished before me, so we hightailed it over to the cabin to shower, get warm, eat, and hopefully catch a nap before we’d be up for round three. We were absolutely soaked, muddy, and miserable and SUPER grateful that we had solution. My heart truly felt for the thousands of people stuck with no option but to wait it out inside a tent!

Around 5 AM we laid down to grab a couple of hours of sleep. When we awoke just a few short hours later, we couldn’t believe the news we were hearing!!! While I was laying there half awake, I decided to check out updates on my Instagram and Facebook accounts. What I discovered was quite a shock. The ambassador rep from Nuun Hydration was at the event and had just posted a group picture of her team in big puffy winter jackets surrounded by SNOW! Lots and lots of it!! I jumped up out of bed and sure enough, a good two inches had fallen in the 2.5 hours I had been asleep. Her caption with the picture read: “SNOW just canceled Ragnar Trail Zion!”

This was NOT in the forecast!

This was NOT in the forecast!

Not sure what was happening back at camp, we didn’t know what to think! Finally our team members began to filter back over to the cabin to relayed the news that indeed, the event had been called due to the snow.

Canceled. Over. Done.

Our final runner on the course was on the same loop I had finished a few hours earlier. While it was light outside, the snow made it nearly impossible to see the trail or the markers meant to help guide us. The poor girl was out there for about 2.5 hours and frozen when she got back!! While it was disappointing that we couldn’t finish what we set off to do, I think the Ragnar team made a good call in cancelling the remainder of the race.

Before and after.

Before and after.

My plan all along was to stay the night after the event was over and camp out with my team. I was a little concerned about traveling back if the conditions worsened but I really wanted to stay. Plus, we had a toasty warm and cozy cabin to stay in complete with a few bottles of wine. I’m a sucker for wine, you know? ; )

And a sucker for the front porch!

And a sucker for the front porch!

I’m so glad I waited it out. The snow melted off later in the afternoon with some mild flurries off and on all evening. I had such a fantastic time bonding with my team while sitting around a propane heater watching it snow. We made the very best of the situation and I think that memory will stay with me longer than the one of the cancelled event.

Team bonding post-relay.

Team bonding post-relay.

Sunday morning we woke to blue sky! I began making my way back to St. George but took my time, again stopping several times for pictures and little walks along the Virgin River.

The Virgin River in Zion.

The Virgin River in Zion.

That view is awe inspiring!

That view is awe-inspiring!

I fell in love with the sweet little town at the entrance to the park, Sringdale, Utah. It’s a quaint tourist town with lots of cute shops, restaurants, and kindred nature-loving spirits. I had to stop for a snack and took a short walk around town before the final stretch of the drive back.

Such a great group of people!!

Such a great group of people!!

Team Captain George and I before departing.

Team Captain George and I before departing.

I would not change a single thing about my journey, the race, or my time there. Everything happens for a reason and I feel so very blessed to have been extended the invite and the opportunity to actually go. I met some fantastic people whom I hope to cross paths with again in the future. I got to spend time with a my friend and I got to experience the vast beauty of Zion. It was such a wonderful trip!!!

Rumor has it that the cabin has already been reserved for next year…