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I love a fresh clean slate. That’s just what I woke up to. This morning, I woke up with a mild grade New Year’s Eve hangover. Yet, I was excited. The day seemed ripe with new possibilities despite my slight haze. Shit. Even my breakfast was happy.

Which of course made me happy. So, in Pure Colby fashion, I drank a gallon of coffee, chased it with a tall glass of SkratchLabs and searched for my new trail kicks. I was stoked for the first run of 2016.  Not to be over shadowed by the Last Run of 2015, which was a glorious seven mile jaunt on my favorite route. It was a beautiful, contemplative 7 miles of happiness. 

But today, Drunk Otis, My Other Half and I headed to Our Favorite Trails to run wild. As only Drunk Otis could. What fun we had! I love trail running. Simply love it. I haven’t felt that free since I was a 10 year old kid, racing through the woods next to the golf course near our house to snatch fly golf balls that would wind up in the scrub. Then we’d sell them back to the Rogue Golfers at a discount. #freeenterprise 

Drunk Otis is happiest when he is running with his Humans. I swear I heard that dog let out a whoop! He’s amazing. Picks the right line every time. He’s the Scott Jurek of dogs. He sails through the trail, turning back every so often to make sure I am there. And if not? He waits. Patiently. Tongue out. Tail wagging so fast it’s blurry. So today, I took my first page, and handed it to Otis to write.  

The Natural.

 Life for him, is a godamn party every single second. He doesn’t worry about his feet, or his ankles. He is not afraid of falling and hasn’t stumbled yet. If he did, he’d probably laugh out loud, then catch up with his peeps and tell an overinflated tale of the rock that tried to bite his chocolate brown ass. He looks for the line, and tears it up. He is fearless. He is joyful. He is confident. Otis lives life LOUD. Bullhorn Style. 

Sun’s out, tongue’s out.

 
That dog can run. For the pure joy of running. It was exhilarating watching him. Made my whole heart smile. 

What a great way to begin. 🙂

Do you run with your dog? What’s your spirit animal? Trails or road. Go! 

My Happy Place

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Trail 2 Trail Series: Kettletown State Park Race Recap and a Zombie Pinky

T2T SeriesI’m just FINALLY recovering from my weekend which consisted of a “Wine and WOD” Ladies Only Crossfit Night (Stay Tuned!), a 10K Trail Race (EPIC!) and a kick ass training ride that turned into a time trial after I played cat and mouse with a disgruntled dude on a bike (Winner!). The weekend was fantastic. And left me totally glycogen depleted. Oh. And with a broken pinky finger but I’ll get to that in a few. Nothing an ice pack, a massage and copious amounts of beer couldn’t cure. That’s for sure.

The Start Pre-Monsoon. Photo: https://www.facebook.com/Trail2TrailSeries

The Start Pre-Monsoon. Photo: https://www.facebook.com/Trail2TrailSeries

I (happily) discovered the Trail 2 Trail Series, a competitive racing and endurance trail running series, a few weeks ago. Ever since I fell in love with trail running, I have been on the lookout for local races. The transition from road to trial for this broad has not been, shall we say…Graceful?  Yeah. No. Girlfriend needs practice. And confidence. Enter Kettletown. These races are fortunately right in my backyard. Well, not exactly. The T2T Series is in Connecticut. Which is practically my backyard as nothing is really more than an hour or so away. Their slogan is “We Won’t Do Easy.” And?  They’re not lying. Easy, it wasn’t. Fast, winding trails, very decent climbs, lots of rocks, single track and simply BEAUTIFUL. I suspect it would have been ABSOLUTELY beautiful if Saturday’s race wasn’t in the midst of a monsoon, but there you go. Trail Running is the Original Obstacle Mud Run. Hands down. Thank god I love mud because Saturday’s T2T Series Race in Kettletown State Park, was a greasy, challenging mud fest.  And I loved every slippery second of it. How could you not? Look how pretty it is.

Photo: www.facebook.com/Trail2TrailSeries

I would have snapped my own photos, but I feared my iPhone’s life in that rain. Photo Courtesy of T2T’s Facebook Page. http://www.facebook.com/Trail2TrailSeries

I decided after eyeballing the forecast, that I would run the 10K. They had other options available: 5K/10K/20K/50K all of which consisted of partial or multiple full loops of the 10k route. I was happy with my choice. Kettletown-SP-10kEspecially seeing as how I bit it crossing the one river on a patch of ice rock. After a string of profanities and a potentially broken pinky, I brushed myself off and continued on my merry way. Let’s be honest. It’s not trail racing unless you fall and have some sort of flesh wound. (Trail, 1. Colby, 0.) There were several pretty steep climbs coupled with leaf and rock strewn descents which the rain and humidity had made pretty slick. After my earlier fall, my Pinky and I turned into total Chicken Shits and were a bit more cautious. It is the 1 Year Anniversary of that long run where I fell and wrecked my face, so you can imagine, I was in full yellow-flashing-light mode. Feel free to relieve the horror here.

Along the route there was also really scenic, pretty views of Lake Zoar. The place where as a kid I learned to water ski. Ah. Nostalgia. The best part? I didn’t get lost. The course marking was excellent. Red flags on your left and you were golden. The only time they were on your right was if you were taking a sharp right turn, then then they went back to left. Very simple to follow. The race was sponsored by Energybits and Hammer Nutrtirion, two of my old favorites. I love Hammer Nutrition’s Enduralytes. They have saved my dehydrated ass on many occasions. There was plenty of grub afterwards and a swag bag with a few odds and ends. I think if you pre-reg’d far enough in advance, you could have gotten a race t-shirt. But as a Last Minute Nelly, I was shirtless. (Not topless, shirtless. Silly Fools.)

Such a great course.

Such a great course.

The thing I love most at trail races- even trail races in far less than optimal conditions like this one- is the general vibe. Trail runners are chill. Competitive, but friendly and relaxed. It’s been my experience that there is zero to very little pre-race hysteria more commonly found at road races. You know what I mean, right? The high knees. The sprints. The obsession over Garmins. The occasional attitude. I’ve never experienced that at trail races. And this race was no exception. Everyone here from the race directors to the runners themselves was just plain nice. Gotta love that. In fact, I registered for their next race as I was tending to my wounds from the first. I’m hooked. (And next time I’m getting a t-shirt!) This race very much seemed like it was for trail runners, by trail runners. It was well done and well run. Well, it would have been run well by me if it was drier and I was gutsier, but that didn’t even matter. I loved it. Busted zombie paw and all. See you next time guys!

Have you ever run a trail race? Do you have a local trail racing community? What’s the worst fall you’ve ever taken while running? I think we know mine! 🙂

Zombie Pinky conveniently obscured by awesome Janji singlet.

Zombie Pinky conveniently obscured by awesome Janji singlet.

Birthday Bimbler’s Bash!

A Wheely Good Birthday

Wheely Good Coffee, Presents and the Sun. Happy Birthday to Me!

Big Birthday Weekend for Colby! And what, pray tell did I get for my Birthday, you ask?

A BIG OLD SLICE OF SUNSHINE!

It was glorious! Two magnificent spring days! It was just what I wanted. Awww. Thanks, Mother Nature. And in the nick of time! Just when I thought I would shank you, you send the sun out to warm my Vitamin D deprived heart. You’re a peach.

The weekend started off with sushi and cocktails and segued into a Gorgeous Birthday Trail Run, followed by a bike ride on our old Schwinn Cruisers to breakfast OUTSIDE!, a walk with the pups, more cocktails and dinner at a delicious tapas joint.

And then there were 7…

Oh. And more wine. You’re sensing a theme here, right?

My Other Half and I registered to run a 10k (ish) trail race, The Bimbler’s Bash, on Sunday morning. It seemed like a good decision when we pre-reg’d a week prior. Our pre-race fuel? Octopus leg (see above), skate (aka, The Doormat of the Sea), empanadas and a gallon of Albarino. If you’re wondering how one races on octopus leg and copious amounts of Spanish wine, it’s gingerly. One races gingerly.

Bimbler's Bashe

The good thing about The Bimbler’s Bash is that it’s right smack in my hometown. So when you wake up late with an octopus hangover, it is comforting to know that your 10k(ish) trail race is a mere 2 miles from home. If we had had our shit together, we would have run there. Alas, ’twas not the case. But dammit we made it. (Thank you, Skratch Labs Hydration Mix) And we were smiling!

The Bimbler’s Bash runs through Westwoods Trails in Guilford, Connecticut. Westwoods is beautiful. It’s very well marked and maintained by the Guilford Land Conservation Trust. I run there often. But never often enough to really know my way around. Which is a complete shame, and something I plan on addressing this summer. It’s the perfect place to get lost in. Because when you’re 2 miles away, you’re never THAT far from home. The trail system has about 39 miles of trails with really interesting features: caves, lakes, streams, rivers and all sorts of cool rock formations. We actually scrambled up several of them.

Scramble Colby, Scramble. Photo: C & D Studios

The terrain is technical, with lots of single track, rocks and tons of roots. Throw in a hangover and you’re falling on your face. It’s awesome. And I love running there. But racing there on a beautiful spring day, with your cyclist boyfriend who I swear was an Elite runner in a past life ? PERFECTIONBimbler Forest GumpI guess they weren’t kidding. I say 10k (ish) because its gotta be over 7 miles. Maybe 7.5? I couldn’t tell you. We had zero Garmins between us. All I know is I got to what I thought was the half way point, and still had a ways to go. That’s the great thing about trail races: PEOPLE ARE LAID BACK. That doesn’t mean they’re not competitive, they’re just not anxious. Nice and chill. And? WHAT A GREAT RACE! I can’t believe I haven’t run it before. Nice organizers, friendly people, cute T-Shirts and a truly awesome course. What more can you ask for? And I didn’t get lost. WIN! We both had a blast. It was tough, but man was it fun! My Other Half can really Bimble. Me? I’m more of a Basher.

Doing things you love, with people you love. There is simply nothing better! 

Riding the wave. And Running for Another. 

There’s been a huge wave of Good News up in these parts the past week or so. I feel like I’m surfing an ideal point break. And it feels pretty fantastic. Not for nothing, it’s about time. I was starting to feel like that little depressed pill from the Zoloft commercials. And that’s just not me. Two awesome things happened last week: 

  1. I received The Best News Ever. And was promptly overwhelmed by all of your warm thoughts and well wishes. Thank You. Thank You. Thank You. It moved me to tears. The outpouring of support made my heart overflow. That’s the truth.  XOXO. 
  2. I found out I was named a Janji Corps Ambassador! WOOT! WOOT! 

A while back I blogged about Janjia socially conscious running clothing company that gives back by providing clean water in countries around the world. I discovered them after returning from a life changing trip to Kenya. Gotta admit. I became sort of obsessed with the company. How could I not? Go to Kenya and you’ll see first hand how horrible the water situation is. There is a water crisis in Kenya. I was so struck by that. To discover a company that dovetails what I love to do with helping others, was such a perfect find. I wanted to be a part of it. Sadly, Kenya is just one country with a water crisis. There are many, many more.

I ran full Janji today!



 Janji means “promise” in Malay. Run Janji and promise to Run for Another. I love it. Love everything about it. I am honored to be a part of this AMAZING group of Ambassadors. All runners, all committed to this cause. I’m totally impressed.  I’m even more excited to see the SPRING collection which drops this week. I had a sneak peak and it looks awesome- great bright colors and cool designs! That is, if I even remember what Spring is.  Or shirts. Or t-shirts. Or the sun for that matter…

Are you, like Tina and I, OVER winter? What’s the coldest temperature you’ve run in this winter? Rain or Snow- which would you rather run in? 

The Big Reveal!

Skratch LabsReady for this?!?! A few months back I applied on a total whim to be a Taste Agent for Skratch Labs. I have been a fan of Skratch Labs for the past several years, having been introduced to it by my cyclist Other Half when it was known as “Secret Drink Mix” and came in cool silver tins. We felt so fly. Like we were in on some big badass super performance secret. {Note: We were.} We trained hard, sweated buckets, chugged what would become Skratch Labs Hydration Mix, and performed our hearts out.  As athlete demand increased, Skratch Labs, created by Dr. Allen Lim, was born in 2012. Voilà. Just like that. The secret was out. And now so is this one….Skratch Labs!

As of today, I’m a Skratch Labs Taste Agent for 2015!! 

{Faints.}

So. Stoked. And after 2015? My guess is that I’ll be a Skratch Labs Lifer. Simply put, their products are excellent. And my endorsement of them, pre-dates Today’s Big News. It’s got all of what you need in a sports drink- real, natural ingredients, electrolytes, sodium- and nothing you don’t.

My personal draw?

  • It’s easy on the gut.
  • It’s super tasty.
  • It does it’s job. And does it well.

{Drops Mic.}

In exchange for mentioning their product here and on social media (which I’ve done before without the cool Taste Agent title), giving them product feedback, attending events and spreading the good word that is Skratch Labs, I will get their products at a discount. Which is great because I’m dangerously low on Hydration Mix. Phew!  I believed in what Skratch was doing before becoming affiliated with them. I feel like this is the continuation of a beautiful friendship, if you will. How could you not love the company with a promo video like this? Totally, my kind of company. 🙂

Winner! Winner! Hoka ONE ONE Dinner!

Winner! Hoka ONE ONE!Santa came early up in here. And her name was Sandra, The Organic Runner Mom! I WON A PAIR OF HOKA ONE ONES!

Sandra had a Fresh Giveaway that I entered and low and freakin’ behold I WON! I suggest you head over to Sandra’s Blog. She is fantastic. Fresh Giveaways, Fresh Reviews, Fresh Inspiration, Fresh Recipes. Girlfriend is FRESH in every sense of the word. THANK YOU SANDRA!

I had wanted to try these sneakers for a while. Especially after seeing them on at least half of the ultra runners at the VT50. In fact, Hoka was there with tons of sneaks to demo. Admittedly, it crossed my mind. But I quickly decided that test running a pair of Hoka ONE ONEs in a 50K might be suicide not be in my best interest, so I politely declined. I was however curious.  You can imagine my DELIGHT in discovering that I had WON WON a pair! See what I tried to do there? Yeah. It’s not Hoka ONE ONE as in, Hoka FIRST, FIRST it’s actually pronounced “Hoka O-nay O-nay” which means “It’s time to fly” in Maori.  Who knew? Not this girl.

Whatevs.
I’m still stoked. Buddy The Elf

I won the Women’s Conquest, in a very jazzy Paradise Pink/Bright Citrus blend. Understated, they are not. I’m also a GIANT in these, which pretty much puts me at about 3.5 Apples Tall. Heights don’t scare me. I was born in heels for Pete’s sake. According to Hoka’s website, here’s what I have:

The CONQUEST features a unique Rmat® midsole material providing the state-of-the-art weight-to-resilience ratio and that HOKA ONE ONE signature maximal cushioning protection. An early stage Meta-Rocker is designed to promote accurate foot roll through the gait cycle. A highly breathable layered, no sew upper construction provides a seamless and secure fit that compliments the uniquely engineered Water Drainage System. An ideal shoe for runners looking for a fast, highly responsive, and performance cushion running shoe.

 
Holy engineering. They are different. I’ll tell you that much. And that isn’t a bad thing. I’ve run in them for two weeks which is hardly forever. I will say that are going to take a little getting used to.

Here are my first impressions:

1. They are cushioned. Well. No shit, Dick Tracy. One look and you can see that. I state the obvious because they do a tremendous job of saving the bottoms of your feet. They offer incredible sole protection. And that’s a serious plus on long runs. The Conquests are not their trail model, but I did run off-road with them and I felt nary a rock, branch, pebble, stick—nothin’. Now I get why trail runners dig them.

2. They are stiff. For all that cushioning, it doesn’t feel like I’m running on clouds…Yet. I will say that they are “loosening” up a bit. Initially, I felt as if my feet weren’t flexing as much while running. Felt a little Herman Muenster, if you will. That sensation is going away with more miles. (I’m up to 40 in them.) Once really broken in, I have a feeling that longer runs will be easier on the legs in these kicks. And that would be a sneaker game changer for me come marathon training time. Expect a follow up report.

3. They are light. Shocking, I know. They look like they weigh 100lbs. But trust me, they don’t. And they’re not supposed to weigh a ton in the rain either due to that whole state of the art drainage thing they’ve got going on. They sort of propel you forward a bit. I think in techno-Hoka speak that’s the “Meta-Rocker,” which could also be the name of an all girl Maorian punk ban, but I digress…

4. They have speed laces. You just cinch ’em right up. Done. Forget about laces becoming untied. They stay completely put. Initially I got a little over zealous with the cinching, and I felt like my right foot had a tourniquet fastened around it at mile 5. Easy amputation fix. Live and learn, People. Live and learn. They come with regular laces if Speed Laces aren’t your bag. And they’re cute too.

In short? I plan on alternating between these and my regular kicks. Stay tuned for progress reports! I am incredibly anxious to run super long in them. Or even run in them the day after a super long run. I have a feeling my legs will love me for it. 🙂

Have you ever tried maximalist running shoes? Ever won anything? Minimalist or maximalist? GO!!!

Don’t Call It A Comeback

Call it a TRIUMPH!

Who listened to her body and iced, rested, elevated, stretched, rolled, massaged, applied moist heat, bitched, moaned, kicked, screamed and lost their goddamn mind during a 12 day running hiatus due to a bum Achilles after running her first Ultra Marathon, only to emerge like a Phoenix from the Ashes, and have 3 PERFECT PAIN FREE RUNS this week and it’s only freaking WEDNESDAY!?!

THIS HAPPY GIRL!

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Holy run-on sentence.

I’M SUPER-FLY STOKED!

Here’s the best part:
I didn’t blow up.
I didn’t die.
I didn’t turn into a amorphous blob.
I didn’t gain 20lbs.
I didn’t fall completely out of shape.
I didn’t lose muscle mass.
I didn’t eat all things.
I didn’t forget how to run.

I healed.

For the first time in my adult running history, I was injured and I knew it. Instead of running through it, I admitted there was a problem and listened to my body. Disappointed? Sure. I went from The Thrill of Victory to the Agony of Defeat in two shakes. Total bummer. But I would be far more disappointed if I was sidelined for months. I’m not that patient. But I’m learning to be.

The moral to the story is a very simple one: If you are hurt. Stop. For the love of Kara Goucher, Stop. SIT STILL. I know: Duh. Colby. That’s a tough one for me to swallow. It really is. As distance runners, we compartmentalize pain. Wall it off. Suck it up, Buttercup. Keep going. We stop when we’re done.

I was done alright. So I stopped. And that made all the difference.

To happy, healthy running!

Let Sleeping Giants Lie

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There is nothing like a hike on a perfect fall day with your Best Guy to make you smile. Really smile. Like with all your teeth sparkling.

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Yesterday we took a ride to Sleeping Giant State Park, in Hamden, Connecticut, for a lovely walk in the woods. I hadn’t hiked The Giant in years. Years. I was excited. Many, many, moons ago my friends and I would hike it every chance we got. In high school. On breaks from college. Even thru that ‘After College What The Hell Am I Doing With My Life’ transition period.

We hiked.
And chatted.
And laughed.

And perched our cameras on rocks, hit the self timer button and scrambled back in a panic trying to get the perfect shot in the nick of time. Inevitably the picture would get taken 100 times- until we ran out of film. We’d always get that one great shot. Genuine smiles. Memories captured. Real, life-long friends in the making. It was such a wonderful time. I think we even knew it then. I have lots of fond memories hiking Sleepy G, and I took great delight giving My Lobster years of scoop. 20141013-202013-73213381.jpg

He and I hiked.
And chatted.
And laughed.
And took selfies with our iPhones.

Same. But different. The views haven’t changed. They’re still beautiful. The trails haven’t changed either. We hiked the toughest one, over the Giant’s chin, a route I have climbed too many times to count. I thought the people there hadn’t changed either, but sadly, I was wrong. There were groups of 2 or 3 or 4 friends, all slowly ambling up to The Castle. 20141013-202018-73218262.jpg

We bumped into the Day Walkers on our way down from the Tower, towards the end of our hike. Only instead of chatting and laughing, they were glued to their iPhones. Updating their Facebook status. Instagramming. Tweeting. Commenting. “Liking.” Creeping. Texting. Checking email. Googling. Match.com-ing. Yelping. 20141013-202014-73214713.jpg

You fucking name it.

They did everything. Except hike, chat and laugh with the actual human being beside them. It made the both of us sad. Why bother being outside? So you can post that you were? I felt like saying something to one of The Texting Dead who walked into me because she wasn’t paying attention. But I figured what was the point? What was I going to yell?20141013-202019-73219825.jpg

Hey you! You in the yoga pants, reeking of Thierry Mulger’s, Angel perfume, put down your goddamn phone! Make eye contact with your girlfriends! And use your words! It’s a beautiful day! Look around, Fool! There is so much beauty! AND YOU’RE MISSING IT!

Yeah.
No.

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I let it go. It wouldn’t have made a difference. It saddened the both of us. All ages, all clinging to their smart phones. Like lifelines. It’s rampant. How do you tell your own Sleeping Giant stories years later if you’re tethered to your iPhone? Do you tell it in retweets? Can you text it in emoji? Are you minimally taking pictures? At least then, after you’ve photoshopped them, you can say: Damn. That was sure pretty. Huh. Funny, I don’t even remember this. And maybe then it will occur to you. So many beautiful memories to be had. So much life to live! Only it’s not as thrilling when you’re peering at a screen.

Shut down. Log off. Unplug.

You’re missing so much.

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The Vermont 50. An Ultra Adventure.

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I’m sitting here with my tired paws up, staring at a soon to be black toe nail with an ice pack on a very swollen and bruised Achilles’ tendon. And, I am smiling.

Yes.

Goddamn SMILING!

I DID IT!!!

I ran my first Ultra Marathon at the Vermont 50 at Ascutney Mountain Resort in Brownsville, Vermont. I ran the 50K or, as in Vermont Speak 32.5 miles. I heard this new bonus mile and a half distance at the very calm and relaxed pre-race meeting. If this were Another Period In My Life, I would have thrown myself into a running tailspin, then dry heaved. But when a nice, friendly, soft spoken man tells you you’ll be running 32.5 miles in 20 minutes time, you really have no choice but to nod, gulp and embrace the “Meh. What’s another 1.5 miles? It’s all good, People” vibe.

Milling around at the start. Calm, cool, collected.
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Relaxed. That is one word I would have never thought synonymous with an Ultra Marathon. Such a relaxed, chill atmosphere. Far more chill than any marathon I’ve ever run. By a long shot. From packet pick-up to the start. And it was contagious. I loved it. And embraced it fully. Garmin? What Garmin? I didn’t even wear it. For me, this was a race I wanted to finish. I had zero expectations with regard to time. I wanted to run. Farther than I ever had. Farther than I have ever though I could.

And I did.

I am ready! Obligatory pre-50K Selfie.
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The Start. Honestly I think someone just yelled, “Go!” I didn’t really hear it because My Fierce Ultra Runner Friend Carly and I were talking and laughing about something non-running related. That’s how chill I was. Every marathon I have ever run I’m usually in a panic. Adjusting earbuds. Resetting my Garmin. Thinking I should have peed again. Fidgeting. This time? No earbuds. They aren’t allowed. And rightfully so. You wind up sharing the trail with Mountain Bikers and YOU NEED YOUR EARS. Three if you have ’em. I didn’t miss them. No fidgeting either. Just calm. Next thing I knew we were running. I forgot to be nervous. I just ran. Within minutes we we climbing. And I’m going to just cut directly to the chase here: I climbed for hours. It was like 7 hours of hill repeats. And no, I’m not trying to be funny. This shit is REAL. And HARD. And BEAUTIFUL. 20140929-210355-75835648.jpg

That’s about all the photos you’re going to get out of me. I had everything to do to keep moving forward. Selfie snapping and Instagramming was completely out of the question. I was unplugged. And it was glorious. You’ll have to trust me when I tell you that I ran thru some of the most beautiful trails I have ever seen. And across the most beautiful private properties. Those Vermonters are awfully nice letting 100s upon 100s of mountain bikers and runners traipse through their land. #ILOVERMONT
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The first half of the race is really a mix of dirt packed roads and trail. Other than several hairy climbs and a false flat that went on for miles, it wasn’t all that awful. Mostly because it was still cool out. In fact, if it had stayed 60ish it would have been perfect. Instead, it was a perfect, cloudless, 82 goddamn degrees. On September 28th. In Vermont. Yeah. I know. Insane. I have done 4 races in Vermont: a Half-Marathon, a Snowshoe 10K, a Marathon and an Ultra Marathon. Every damn one was in extreme conditions. From -6 degrees to mid-90s. No. Joke. My point is this: If you sign up for an event expecting ideal conditions you are all but assured to have Mother Nature lift her leg and piss directly on your dreams. Then laugh throatily in your frost bitten and/or hypothermic face. Just sayin’.

Now where was I? Oh. The VT50… 20140929-210404-75844506.jpg

Thankfully, aid stations were abundant and staffed with the most kind, compassionate volunteers with S-Caps and bowls of salted potatoes. Best. Snack. Ever. There were 7 aid stations on the 50K route which saw you merge with both the 50 mile runners and Mountain Bikers. I wondered how we would all “get along” and other than having to jump off of the trail several times on tired legs to let bikers pass, everyone couldn’t have been more polite and considerate. I was impressed. Considering the amount of Suffering going on, they were awfully chatty. And encouraging. I never found myself alone. Or lost. And lets be honest, I had no goddamn idea what I was doing. I just ran. Like I would thru the woods when I was little. With a big ole’ toothy grin. I loved it.

Fallon’s Aid Station. Mile 18. Here’s where everything took a turn. For a while there I was, running wildly. It was great. I envisioned myself running swiftly, like one of those leggy chicks in the magnificent trail running pictures in magazines. Effortless. Graceful. Until…

I fell. (Hard.)
And yelped. (Loud.)

I tripped over one of the few rocks protruding directly into the middle of the trail. How I didn’t see it is beyond me. It was massive. This sucker had been there since the Ice Age. I am quite certain it was anchored directly to the core of the earth. That rock didn’t budge. And I kicked it like David Beckham. Hard and just perfect. I honestly thought I broke my toe. In the process I wrenched my ankle. Seized my calf. My Achilles twinged. And I promptly fell flat on my face.

I was momentarily stunned. And helped to my feet foot by a very kind runner. She was met by Colby the Sailor Pirate.

Me: FUUUUUUUUCCCCCKKKAAARRRGH.
Kind Runner: Oh my god! Are you ok? The aid station is right behind us. Want me to take you?
Me: Fucking no. Fucking toe. {Yelps.} I’m finishing this fucking race. I DONT CARE IF IT FALLS OFF. I. WILL. FINISH.
Kind Runner: {Giggles nervously. Darts off.}

The string of profanities continued each and every time I wailed that same busted up foot on every rock, stone, root and patch of grass for the next 14.5 technical, off-camber, brutally steep miles. Which translates to roughly 14.5 more times. I started to think I had a neurological issue. Or minimally, Tourette’s. Come to find out, I was just exhausted. And clumsy. I was in pain and I was limping. Yet it never occurred to me that I wouldn’t finish. Ever. I started this race knowing I would finish. Even after the tough terrain, crazy heat, horrible stomach issues (I won’t even go there. Because I was there. And it was horrible.) and now busted paw and wonky Achilles- I never considered stopping. Not once.

Where does that come from? I still don’t know exactly. Somewhere from deep within, I found it. I found The Drive. It was so strong. So clear. So confident. I have never felt more certain of anything my entire life. I was hurting. Yet, The Drive trumped The Pain. There it was. That’s what I’ve read Ultra Runners experience. I had it. And I couldn’t believe it myself.

1.5 Miles to go.
20140929-210400-75840629.jpgThis was one of two signs I saw during the VT50. It wasn’t being held by a sea of screaming spectators, it was tacked to a small tree in a gorgeous, quiet section of trails. Yet it couldn’t have screamed louder. I managed to snap a picture of it. I also teared up. And started running. Really running. As fast as my busted paw could carry me. Then I heard the cheers. 20140929-210356-75836866.jpg

And emerged from the trails into a series of switch backs that wove across and down the mountain. If you ask me 40 years from now, what the hardest thing I had ever done was, I will tell you with the utmost certainty the 2014 Vermont 50. No question.

It is only when you push yourself farther than you ever thought possible that you really see just how far you can go. I pushed. I saw. And it was amazing.

Oh what a run I had.

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One Sleep

freakout

This time tomorrow I’ll be running my face off. I’ll admit. I’ve been freaking out. Big time. But now, with one sleep until the Vermont 50?

It’s on like Donkey Kong!

Tapered. Rested. Dried out. Massaged. I am goddamn ready.

I just got back from an easy 3 mile shake out run and I’m feeling good. Really good. I love running in the morning. Even though I rarely drag my ass out of bed during the week to do so. Today was beautiful. Quiet. Crisp. Calm.

zen

Just Me and My Legs. We had a zen moment. I visualized the race. The climbs. The finish. And the feeling of accomplishment that will come with pushing myself well beyond my comfort zone. I will finish. We had a nice chat, My Legs and I. I told them how proud I was of them. How strong they’ve become. How sorry I am for beating the snot out of them. I promised them it would be worth it. And that I’d pamper them afterwards. We just need to finish. They’ve come a long way, these Little Legs.

And they’d better get ready…

‘Cuz they’re gonna go longer. 🙂