New Year New Goals

I realize January is almost over, but while some people may have already given up on their goals I’m still making sure mine work! On my new board I listed some generic high level goals and then in my new bullet journal I’m trying out, I broke them down and got to business.


Be Happy- I bought those flowers last week on a whim. Flowers always seem like something you can’t buy yourself, but why? These were less than $5 and starting week two they are still making me happy.

Brian and I bought a new bed. A new frame and mattress. The day before the new bed came we cleaned out under our old bed. I hopped in bed and the bed collapsed, turns out the stuff we had stuffed underneath was keeping the bed together. Sometimes spending a little money can bring a lot of happiness.

Stress Less- Turns out wedding planning is as stressful as people say. It is just a lot of decisions and logistics, but also a lot of fun.

Run more- I got out of the routine, trying to get back in. Three times a week is the goal. I’m tracking it in the bullet journal, which keeps me more accountable. I’m focusing on shorter runs. The idea that 2 miles is worth it helps me fit in running at lunch or after a long day.

Get outside- I’m generally good with hanging outside, but in the winter time in the city… sometimes I like to just hibernate a little. But there is no bad weather, just bad clothing choices… right?

Take chances- I’m a classic over thinker. I would like to make choices/decisions a little quicker this year. And when I make a choice stick with it. Also worry a little less about what could go wrong and be a lot more optimistic about what could go right.


my bullet journal: not beautiful yet, but very helpful


gait: pacing Never Summer 100k


Kristen and her friends picked me up at the Denver airport and we started driving towards the mountains. As soon as we got to Ft. Collins she pulled over and let me drive. She must of known that the next few hours would be through the very windy roads of the canyon. Every turn was gorgeous. When we pulled in to the Gould Community Center parking lot, we all thought… this is it? We were in the wild!

Kristen checked in and I went with her to the Park Ranger table. He asked if we had any questions so I asked what to do when we saw a bear. He didn’t think bears would be much of a problem. And to just make noise and back away. What we should really be cautious about was the MOOSE. He said slowly back away while keeping your eyes on them and if they start to charge, weave in and out of trees so they would get stuck.

With that advice we headed in to Walden to check in to our hotel and get dinner. Thats when we ran into this guy-


Apparently Walden is the Moose viewing capital of the US! After dinner we got to bed early as we had to get up at 3:30 AM! I woke with the runners and drove them to the starting line. Along the drive we saw a Moose crossing the road! When we arrived it was still dark, but there was a full moon.


I watched the runners check in and helped where I could (I couldn’t really).


They were excited… nervous… and ready to run!


This was the second year of the race and they had about 300 starters! A small crowd for a road race, but a big crowd for a crazy hard 100K.


And they were off!


After the runners were off they had a pacers and crew meeting. The meeting was mostly useless. They talked about where we could meet runners and that was about it. I had been tasked with getting to the Canadian Aid Station without the car, but they were little help with this. I asked around for rides, but no one seemed to be able to help. I did get some help reading the park map and finding out how to get to the mountain lake to see Kristen at mile 10. After the meeting was over I headed up to the lake.


The park ranger had asked what type of vehicle I was in so I got a little nervous to continue up the dirt road. So I parked at the second lot and started walking up the hill. Soon I discovered that the hill was a mountain and it kept going. A car came up the road and I asked for a ride. They were more than happy to give me a ride and it turned out it was a father/daughter spectating crew also from Washington, DC! Once we got to the top parking lot it was another mile hike up, but it was worth it. The lake was beautiful! There were some spectators there and they said that only about 10 people had gone by. So I posted up and cheered for runners in the most beautiful spot.


Soon enough I see Kristen running around the bend. She stopped to chat a minute and I realized she was very muddy. I asked if she fell. Nope, just lost her shoe in mud and had to dig it out and clean it up before putting it back on. After a picture she was back on her way.


I chatted with some other spectators and made some more friends for a ride back down the hill. They then offered me a chair to watch the runners pass by at about mile 18. It was still before noon, but already getting hot in the sunlight. Kristen came running down the hill and kept going… little did she know within a mile she would have to run straight up a mountain.


It was now around noon and I since I woke up at 3:30 am knew I would be up until at least midnight I decided to grab lunch and take a nap back at the hotel. I felt kind of bad as the runners were running and I was going to go eat and nap, but I wanted to be the best pacer I could be and the other places to crew were not as easy to get to. I stopped at the best gas station ever and filled up on gas and water. People said hydration helped with altitude so I wanted to drink up. After a sandwich and water I tried to take a nap… it was more like laying in bed, but I think I slept for 20 minutes or so. Then I packed up my running gear and headed to the Finish/Start line to try to find a ride to the Canadian Aid Station. I pulled in and saw an older couple I had seen earlier in the day. I asked if they were going up there and they were not. Then I see a guy sitting in a pick up truck. With all hope gone I ask him if he was going up to Canadian. HE WAS! I jumped in and we rode about a half hour up to the Canadian.


Once we parked it was a mile walk in to the station. I arrived a little before 5. Kristen told me to be there by 5:30 so I was feeling pretty proud of myself. I’m not one to talk to strangers and I had been making friends all day. When I arrived there had only been a handful of runners pass through, so I knew Kristen would be a few hours later at the earliest. I settled in and enjoyed nature and the occasional runner passing through. There were quite a few people there both volunteering and crewing. I kept eating and drinking water so I would be ready at any time, which lead me to having to find the bushes a few times.


Then the sun began to set. The mountains lit up, I heard someone call it mountain glow. By this point I had learned that both of Kristen’s friends had dropped from the race. One had called up to get the car keys and the other came through the station in a pickup truck. All reports were that it was a tough race. A few runners came through talking about how they had sat on the trail for a half hour waiting for a bear and her cubs to move along!

Once the sun went down it got cold fast. By cold I mean around 50 degrees, but it felt COLD. I was wearing shorts to run in, but had packed my jacket and gloves and quickly put them on. I moved over by the grill and warming candles to stay warm. I found two other pacers also trying to stay warm. Around 10 pm I decided maybe I should eat some real food and had one of the cheese quesadillas they were preparing, then some pretzels and some chips. I guess when I got cold I went full out ultra.

After it got dark all we could see coming down the hill was the headlamps. Which could be confusing, sometimes four lights turned in to one runner. And then out of the darkness came three runners… and one of them was Kristen! It was so dark that I had to walk right up to make sure it was her. Kristen looked at me and said “It is so HARD” and gave me a hug. If you know Kristen she never says things are hard, she usually says “suck it up” so I knew it must have been hard.

My adrenaline was pumping at this point. I had thought about what would happen if she came in and wanted to drop from the race since I had seen so many people going down the mountain in the back of a truck, but ultimately I wanted to help her finish and was excited when she was ready to keep going after only a few minutes and a few bites of food.

Kristen wasn’t able to run anymore at this point, but we were fast hiking and I warmed up pretty quick. Even though it was dark it was fun and we saw varied landscapes. Like the rest of the race, the race wasn’t always on actual trail. We went through tall grass, tall trees, water crossings, muddy paths impossible to go around and straight up 2000 feet. I kept seeing shadows moving only to find out that it was just me moving and the shadows of little shrubs on the trail. Luckily the only wildlife we saw was a small mouse.

I sang and told stories and got Kristen to tell stories. For me the time passed fast. We were keeping to around 18 min miles, which doesn’t sound fast but try walking a mile straight up hill in two inches of mud! I did the math in my head and knew if we kept the same pace Kristen would have no trouble finishing in 23 hours, which was the cut off for qualifying for Western States Lottery. So we kept going. A few people passed us looking strong, but we also passed several people who were really struggling. One guy said he hit the wall… this was around mile 62… I think he did pretty good holding of the wall till then.

Kristen didn’t take much time at the aid stations we passed though. I grabbed some gummy bears at one but otherwise didn’t eat much. The final station was a little over 2 miles to the finish and we didn’t stop at all.

We ran a little in this last section, but I think this section lasted the longest for Kristen. It started to rain a little and we were so close but we couldn’t really see any signs of the finish. It was also the least interesting terrain because it was along the road and a more accessible path.

After five hours of speed hiking we finally saw the lights of the finish line and we started running again. I started cheering and broke off to the side as Kristen made her way through the finishers shoot in around 22 hours and 13 minutes.


We went inside the rustic community center for a bit, but soon headed back to the hotel because it was 4 AM and the finishers breakfast and awards ceremony was at 9 AM. Although I showered that night, my toes weren’t quite clean for a full week after.

I know this was a long one, but it was a long race! If you ever have the opportunity to crew or pace at a ultra trail race I highly encourage it. Its motivating and inspiring to see all the runners and you get to hang out in beautiful places while congratulating yourself for not being quite as crazy as all of those runners. Check out Kristen’s race report here.

gait: training to pace

I bet you’ve been wondering what I was training for now. Sorry to keep you waiting. The truth is I don’t have a race on the calendar, but I have been training. My sister Kristen the Crafty Runner is running the Never Summer 100K in Colorado and has invited me to tag along. While I won’t be running 64.2 miles through 14,000ft of vertical gain and descent, I have agreed to help pace her for the final 14 miles of the race. These final miles will not only be on a trail in the Never Summer Mountains on the Northern border of the Rocky Mountain National Park and the Medicine Bow Mountains, but also most likely in the dark.


Here is what I’ve been doing to prepare:

Running a weekly long run on the trails of DC– Discovering some new trails have been fun. Predicting how long it will take me to run the new trails has been challenging. The trails range from wide and very runnable to rocky and rooty and from well marked to questionable. But overall DC has some great trails in the middle of the city. Certain areas of the trail are pretty empty while other areas near parking lots have a lot more people. This morning I was cautioned that there was a naked man running ahead… luckily I never found him.


Running hills– Running hill repeats and some running incline on the treadmill.

Running with a water backpack- I’ll have to carry my own supplies so I bought a Nathan’s  water backpack and have been running with it to practice. Its less annoying than I expected and there are so many pockets! Quick tip on eliminating sloshing- hold the water bag upside down and suck out all the excess air!


Running around my apartment with a headlamp on- I’m not about to try trail running in DC by myself in the dark, so I haven’t found a good way to practice running in the dark. But the headlamp seemed pretty comfortable to wear so thats a good start.

Running in humidity- We don’t have a lot of altitude in DC. Often my minimum elevation for a run is zero. But I heard that running in humidity is actually a good proxy for running at altitude and DC has a lot of humidity.  I’m not sure how much science is behind this, but I’m rolling with it.

Running trail races- Twice I’ve travelled outside DC to do a trail race. The first was 10 miles and the second a 10K. While these shorter races will be a lot different from an Ultra, they gave me a little insight on sharing a trail with others and race atmosphere.


Cross training- I’ve been doing some weights and just took my first FlyWheel class.

Talking while running or not talking- What I’ve read on pacing is that they might want you to talk to them or may want you to be quiet. So during my weekly group run I’ve been trying to read what others want… haha just kidding on this one. I’m not sure how to prepare for this.

Have you ever paced someone or ran a mountain trail race? What else should I be preparing for?

gait: Charlottesville Half Marathon recap

Hills. Everyone warned me of the hills. I misread the elevation chart to read around 300 feet of elevation gain, but really it was 872 feet of elevation gain and 870 feet of elevation loss. To picture what that looks like think of a hill you wouldn’t want to stop on with a stick shift vehicle, that lasts for a half mile and then repeat that a few times. There was a reprieve on the river front path, but that only lasted a few miles.

When we arrived in Charlottesville I already knew I was in trouble. While I incorporated hills into my long runs and a few of my shorter runs, I didn’t do any true hill workouts. As we drove around the hills grew. The packet pick up was at the start/finish of the race. The pre-race material said there would be an “expo” but it was more like packet pick up plus some boyscouts handing out safety material


My race day started like many of my recent race days- early and rainy. The rain chances had come and gone many times and when I woke up at 5:30 it was gone, but then by 6 when we were heading to the starting line it was raining.


The advantages of a smaller race is we could park in the parking garage a block from the start. Brian was able to hang out with me until a minute before the start and it wasn’t hard to find each other along the course.


The race started on time and the rain let up a little right before 7. Soon we were off and running around downtown. Soon I realized I didn’t really practice running down hill either. With the wet and rainy roads I was probably a little too cautious but I tried to just let go and fly down the hills.

After downtown there were some Monster Hills, both up and down. I tried to stay steady up the hills and enjoy the down hills. Around mile 3 we arrived at the river and onto a fairly flat trail through the woods. It was nice of the race organizers to add this two mile section for a little rest before some more big hills. Right before the turnaround Brian saw me and cheered, which was good because I had my head down trying to get up the hill. On my way back from the turnaround I had to yell at Brian as I was running faster than my tracking app thought.

From this point we retraced our tracks. I thought I remembered where I had been, but everything looked different when I headed back. I still felt pretty good at this point, but my watch was telling me I was slowing down. I started doing the math to finish in 2 hours and knew I needed to speed up a bit, but nothing was working. Then once I hit the last mile the road headed straight up at 90 degrees. Ok I’m exaggerating a little, but it was steep. I started doing this weird race walk thing that I hope was not caught on camera.

That last mile killed my chances and I finished in 2:02. I’m pretty proud of my race though. I’ve never seen so many hills. At the finish line there was water, milk, bananas, and some pinwheel sandwiches. I thought we were going to get medals, but when I didn’t I didn’t worry about it too much because I don’t really need another medal. However I got an email the day after saying they are mailing the medals!

It was still raining a bit and cold so we didn’t stick around the finish line too long, but they were handing out beer and had a band playing (both would be nice on a sunny day).



gait: Cville training week 11

Taper week! I never really got tired of the long weekend runs this time around. Probably because the last race I trained for was a Marathon and the long runs were all so long and time consuming that a few runs nearing two hours were no big deal. A few of the midweek runs didn’t happen again this week. Running after work each day is too much for me, it helps to mix in some morning and midday runs, but then sleep and weather sometimes get in the way.

Monday: 4 miles. Cold again, 4 miles on the treadmill. 3 at an even pace, final mile faster.

Tuesday: 30 minutes of yoga (then a beer and food pairing event at the Washington Post)

Wednesday: 5 miles. Easy with pauses for photos.


Thursday: Cross training day. Brian and I walked down to the Tidal Basin for a picnic. This may not sound like cross training, but it was about 2.5 miles down and 2.5 miles back and both of our legs were tired.

Friday: Rest day

Saturday: 8 mile long run. Felt good and fairly fast and smooth. I witnessed some bicycle rage on the rock creek trail. A girl wearing headphones was passing me as a guy on a bicycle was trying to pass her. She didn’t hear him honking at her, and was taking her time to get back in front of me after passing. He starting yelling. I wanted to just say “Isn’t there room for all of us” but I didn’t want to be yelled at and well the girl never heard him so his anger was wasted.


Total Miles: 17

Now its Race Week! The weather forecast has been all over the place with rain, now it looks clear so I hope it stays that way! Time to pick out my race outfit and pack for the weekend.

gait: Cville training week 10

PEAK WEEK! AHHH! I didn’t end up running as many miles as my plan called for, but I did run more than the last few weeks so… it counts!

Monday: 5 miles, 4 easy with a fast 1 mile finish. I ran on the treadmill. All the lovely weather of last week is gone and I just wanted to get it done. We have three treadmills in my apartment gym. I was running on the right one and another girl on the left one. During my run three people came in to use the middle one and couldn’t get it to work and left. SO of course this was bothering me. It looked like it should work! So when I got done I flipped the on/off switch. nope. I got on and tugged on the safety rope… yep. Someone had tied the safety rope so tightly around the handle that it was constantly telling the machine to stop.

Tuesday: Yoga, an hour flow class.

Wednesday: 3 miles, planned on 5, felt awful the whole time and then it started raining.

Thursday: 3.75 miles, I ran during lunch, down to the National Mall. I stopped by the tidal basin to check on the cherry blossoms. There were a few trees blooming, but nothing spectacular going on. My legs were tired. I don’t know why.


Friday: Rest day, cause my legs were tired.

Saturday: 13 miles. I got up early to run so I could avoid the rain. The first half of my run was a bit choppy and I had trouble getting in gear. I ran down to the National Mall first to loop around the Capitol and check on the blossoms again. Thursday in my office’s locker room a fellow runner recommended running behind the Smithsonian castle and checking out the magnolia trees, so I took her advice and she was right, it was pretty. But it was such a cold morning I couldn’t fully enjoy any beauty. Then I headed to the Tidal basin, there were a few more blooms and a random stranger told me I was wearing the wrong running shoes and needed to wear Brooks. Thanks random guy who knows nothing about my feet or running! I carried water with me for the first time this training cycle, which lead me to needing to stop at the Lincoln bathrooms. Then I headed up rock creek and without having to stop at lights I got a good rhythm going and actually achieved a negative split on my run, which doesn’t usually happen.


Sunday: Rest day!

Total miles: 25

gait: Spring Backyard Burn Trail Race: Laurel Hill

After agreeing to run part of my sister’s 100k this summer with her I decided I might want to do a trail race beforehand. I looked around the DC area and found the Spring Backyard Burn series. As I’m training for the Charlottesville Half Marathon I consulted Crafty Runner on when I should do the race. We decided that a ten mile trail race on the weekend of my eleven mile long run would work.


With no real trail running to prepare, real meaning dirt and hills not a nice paved path through the woods, I signed up for 10 miles through the woods. Laurel Hill is in Lorton, VA which was about a half hour drive from my apartment, but luckily the race had a relatively late start time of 9 am. I drove right to the start and didn’t have to wait at all to pick up my bib. I headed back to the car to stay warm for a bit. They had some indoor bathrooms that I tried out before lining up to start at 8:50 to hear the race instructions.

My goal for the race was just to take it easy and finish. As soon as the horn went off I forgot the “take it easy” and just remembered the race director saying “after the first mile there is single track so line up where you want to be before you get there”. I wasn’t sure where that was so I pushed it a bit and well the first mile was mostly paved and all down hill.


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The woods portion of the race was my favorite, there were a lot of switch backs and some tiny rolling hills. The grassy portion was my least favorite. The trail in this portion was narrow and deep and only one foot wide. My ankles and knees didn’t like running this portion. Near mile five (and 9 the course was two loops) there was a sign saying “don’t run over snakes” Uh? I would definitely run away or jump over any snakes, running over snakes is not a problem for me.

The second loop seemed to go much faster even though it was much slower. The second time through the woods I caught my foot on a rock and fell. I caught myself pretty quickly, but two girls passed me while I was down and I lost some energy. Looking at my paces below, I’m pretty sure this was mile 8.

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When I saw the 1 mile to go sign I got a burst of energy until I saw the huge hill to the finish. Everyone else was walking up the hill so I joined in for awhile. Once at the top and back on pavement I got some speed back and finished strong-ish. The course was confusing as it looks below, but well marked and I never questioned which way to go.

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I ate two slices of pepperoni pizza afterwards (big advantage of trail races) and sat around to watch the awards ceremony (the winners got pint glasses!) as long as I could without returning my car late. There were some fast ladies (and men). Although I had a big positive split, I’m happy with my overall average pace. I was done for the rest of the day and spent some quality time with my couch. Lesson’s learned include starting slower, train on some trails, and maybe eat something if I’m running that long.

Have you ran a trail race? What are your tips?

gait: Cville training week 9

Monday: 5 miles. It is finally warmer around DC now and I was able to sneak this run in outside before it got too dark.

Tuesday: 0 miles. Race recovery?

Wednesday: 4 miles. Running around the neighborhood. IN SHORTS AND A TANK TOP!

Thursday: 1 mile and weights.

Friday: 0 miles. Unintended rest day. This wasn’t my week.


Saturday: 12 miles. The Rock ‘n’ Roll Marathon was running through town on Saturday morning. I planned to run on the C&O canal towpath to avoid running into the race. However by the time I got out the door at 9:30 and got over to where my route crossed the race’s course there were only the very last runners going by. It was interesting seeing the end of the race. I felt for the people walking at mile 6 with over half of the race to go, with the sag wagon right behind them and the street sweepers not far behind them.

The C&O towpath was a great run. You are kind of in the wilderness, but can still hear the traffic, which is disappointing. The crushed gravel is a good run, but you have to watch out for a few bigger rocks and some washed out areas. I did an out and back, which I didn’t mind about going back the same way, but I didn’t notice there was a pretty good wind until I turned around and it hit me. Luckily the wind was only bad for the first mile back towards home.

The 12 miles didn’t feel too bad, but then I walked another two miles to eat and then another mile to a festival and then stood and walked the rest of the day… my legs were tired.

Sunday: Rest day!

Total miles: 22

gait: Cville training week 8

Monday: rest day since I did my long run on Sunday

Tuesday: 3.8 mile interval workout. Flew to Seattle Tuesday and was looking to do some run exploring. Seattle weather has other plans, rain and high winds made it hard to walk so I decided to run inside the hotel.

Wednesday: 3 easy miles. I knew the time difference in Seattle would help me wake up earlier, but it didn’t help the sun come up any earlier. I still managed to fit in three miles before sitting in meetings from 8 to 5:30. I ran from my hotel to the space needle and on the paths around the space needle and Key arena. Seattle has a lot of interesting architecture, new and old. There were lots of fun signs and sites to look at and I wished I had more time.


Thursday: all day airplane ride rest.

Friday: 4 miles. Three easy with a faster final mile. I bought trail shoes in preparation for this weekend’s trail race and to prepare to run in Colorado this summer. I hadn’t had a chance to try them out, but didn’t want to wear them for the first time in a race so I wore them on the treadmill. They felt great so I think I’m good to go.

Saturday: rest day to prepare for the race Sunday.

Sunday: 9.79 miles at the Backyard Burn Spring Series Laurel Hill race in Lorton, VA. It was rough, I started too fast. I’ll write a full post on the race once they post the official times.


Total Miles: 21 miles, I missed one day of running and cut two runs shorter than my training plan called for, but I still did a long run and a workout run so with all of my traveling this week I still call it a success.

gait: Cville training week 7

Monday: 4 easy miles on the treadmill. 

Tuesday: I was still feeling tired from my long run on Saturday or I convinced myself I was, so I just did an hour of yoga and pushed my speed work out to Wednesday. 

Wednesday: 7 miles on the treadmill. The first two were warm up then I increased my pace for four miles. I increased the speed every two minutes until I was at a 7:40 pace then did a mile cool down. 

Thursday: 3.5 easy miles on the treadmill. Thursday was originally a cross training day, but since I just did yoga on Tuesday I did a few miles. I also did some weights (arms) and core work. 

Friday: unplanned rest day. Brian and I had to head out of town last minute so I didn’t get a run in on Friday. 

Saturday: unplanned rest day. I decided to swap my Saturday run with my Sunday rest day. 

Sunday: 9 miles around beautiful Addison, Texas. I found some nice walking paths through some neighborhoods that weren’t very long, but I was able to patch together enough miles. 

Total miles: 23.5 miles