Post-Op Update: Still Crazy but Getting Better


I thought after my surgery and through my subsequent recovery that I would blog… a lot. Clearly, that has not been the case as I haven’t posted once since, for no other reason than I’ve been incredibly lazy since going under the knife. Lazy and in a weird place.  A place where my heartstrings have grown greater in number and more easily pulled, a place where my anxiety, which is usually kept at bay through 40+miles/week, has reared its ugly head, and a place where a tiny case of  OCD has developed (seriously, my house has never been cleaner, and things have been in such order. I mean, the bar wasn’t set high though). A place where I watched States, Hardrock, Olympic Trials, and the Olympics while barely being able to walk which was simultaneously incredibly inspiring/motivating and depressing. A place where I have thrown out all goals for 2017 but am determined to absolutely CRUSH it in 2018. A place where my instant gratification, if some is good more must be better, I want it and I want it now self has had to learn to chill the fuck out. A place where solo pity parties and celebrations of the tiniest improvement in mobility have been had.

After eight and half weeks, I finally got out of my boot and into a brace yesterday. The light at the end of the tunnel has started to shine a little brighter. I know the work has only just begun, and it will still be a while before I can start running (I was banned from asking my PT about running again until next week). BUT I am thankful to be where I am, thankful to have come so far (when I was falling down the stairs on crutches 6 weeks ago, I would’ve KILLED to be here), thankful to still be a part of the running community in some or fashion. If it weren’t for hanging out with the RunWILD crew on Tuesdays and Saturdays and for amazing friends who have let me bitch and moan, I’d be certifiable by now. So, not that any gave a flip or wanted an update, but there it is. LOVE YOU, ALL (but that’ll change once my heart becomes hardened again after upping the mileage . . . )

It’s Just Running

running now

It’s just running. When I get excited about, nervous over, obsessed with my training or a race, there’s always a part of me that says “calm down, girl. It’s just running.” When I went to the ortho last week and he said that I needed surgery to fix a whole slew of problems, that I should find something else I liked to do for a while, my heart sank, my ears rang, my eyes blinked away a tear or two. And then my brain said, “calm down, girl. It’s just running.”

But it’s not. It’s not just running . . . not to me. It’s my life, it’s my family, it’s my purpose, it’s my salvation, it’s my hopes, it’s my dreams, it’s who I am, it’s what I want to do when I grow up. Since my trail-iversary in 2013 (which was yesterday, actually), the majority of my most important friendships/relationships have formed thanks to running. Running has taken me to Chamonix, Oregon, Idaho, and Utah. Running has tested my limits, pushed me physically and mentally in ways I never thought possible, saved and lifted me up on the darkest of days, celebrated my happiness on the best ones. There is no drug or drink that can beat the feeling of an amazing run. There is no anti-depressant or therapist that can make you feel better than a hard, soul-crushing, miserable, suck-fest of a run that strips you down, leaves you raw, and makes you forget everything that may be wrong in your life (at least for a little while). Running has changed who I am as a person. It’s forced me to learn to love pain and suffering. It’s allowed me to stop caring what my thighs look like or what number the scale says and appreciate the fact that my body (big or small) can carry me a 100 freaking miles. It simultaneously lets me run away from things when I need to and run towards something better.

After hearing that I needed surgery, I threw myself a gigantic pity party which consisted of a bottle of red wine and Scandal marathon during which main character Olivia Pope stated she wanted “painful, difficult, devastating, life-changing, extraordinary love.” That’s running to me. I’ve gotten the life-changing and extraordinary part out of it. Now it’s time for the painful and devastating. But at least it’ll be temporary, at least I’ll be back sooner rather than later, and at least it’s just running.

Star Wars Half Marathon Recap

Those of you who know me know I love me some Disney World. So, when my dad called and asked if I wanted to do the Star Wars Half Marathon down there, I jumped at the chance. As with all of my races lately, I had grand plans to train really hard and fast for the “shorter” stuff. But the road to hell is paved with good intentions. I also had resigned myself to being in the last corral since I didn’t have a very recent half marathon time to provide (the last half I ran was in 2013). However, the racing Gods must have been on my side because when I picked up my bib, I was in corral A. “@#$% Now I have to actually race . . . Wait, how the hell do you race a half?”


Corral A . . . son of a . . .

The next day and a half, my parents and I hit up the parks, walking quite a bit, and eating our weight in all of the deliciousness that Disney has to offer. The race was on a Sunday . . . at 5am . . . with a 3:30am last call bus ride. After a 2:30am wake up and some coffee, my dad walked me down to the bus stop. We got dropped off at the EPCOT parking lot where the race would start. The next hour and a half was spent in the port-a-john line and looking at everyone’s costumes. From Princess Leias to Chewbaccas and Darth Vadars, folks were decked out. Finally, it was time to get corraled into our corrals. I started mid-pack in corral A. I honestly had no clue what time I’d run or what kind of shape I was in. I had told my parents to be at the finish line by 6:30am just to be safe but was unsure if I could really run a 1:30. My plan was to start with 7:30s and then just see how I felt . . . but I’m terrible at sticking to plans once the gun goes off.

FullSizeRender (3)

Fireworks signaled our start at exactly 5:00am. Right away, I could tell middle of the pack was going to be a little too congested so I worked my way up and settled in with a pack of young dudes. They said their goal was 1:30ish so I felt this was a good place to try and stay. As we made our way into EPCOT, I realized I felt really good and increased the pace just a little (granted this was about one mile into the race). I passed a couple of females here and there but never tried to force it. We left EPCOT, ran on the boardwalk at the Boardwalk, and entered Hollywood Studios. Somewhere along the way, I crossed the 5K mark in 20:something. I thought this was a suicide pace for me but still felt really good. We left Hollywood Studios and were on a road for a while. I picked off a few more girls, and someone told me I was 5th female. “Come again?”

Probably 100 yards or so ahead I saw 4th female and about 50 yards ahead of her, 3rd. “Five miles into the race is too soon to make a dumb move so be patient”, I thought. Ten seconds late, “F it”. I picked up the pace just a little as we hit an overpass. “A ‘hill’!” Hell yeah, perfect. I made my way into 4th and, about 3 minutes later, got 3rd — just as we entered Animal Kingdom. As I moved into 3rd, I picked up a cyclist who’d stay with me the rest of the way. I wanted to tell her not to get too comfortable, that I was sure to implode sometime soon, but I kept my mouth shut. As we came out of Animal Kingdom, I spotted 2nd and her cyclist not too far ahead. She looked stronger than 3rd and 4th had, but, again, I threw caution to the wind and made a move just before a water stop. Dumb on my part as I planned to grab water here, but fortunately, I got through quickly. After that, we were on a road again and approaching mile 9. I still felt remarkably decent considering the pace which was much faster than I’d run in a long time. The lead girl was absolutely nowhere in sight, and I was unsure where 3rd was behind me. My plan was to pick it up once I had a 5k left, but my body decided that mile 11 would be better. Then I really started to feel it. So, I caught up to a guy about 20 yards ahead and tried to sick with him. We finally hit mile 12 and entered Wide World of Sports. The next 1.1 miles were the longest ever, but eventually, the finish line was in sight. It was so great to hear my parents cheering as I crossed. 2nd female, 1:26:36, PR of over 15 minutes.

The race was a ton of fun — bands playing Star Wars theme along the way, big screens showing clips from the movies, characters at some of the mile markers. Disney definitely does it right.



Best shirt at the expo

River Gorge Race Recap

runwild rg

Pre-Race pic w/ RunWILD Crew

Rock/Creek’s River Gorge is a 10.2 mile race at Prentice Cooper State Forest. Nashville Running Compay‘s RunWILD: On the Rocks training group had been working towards this race since January, and I was so excited to bring everyone over to Chattanooga for the race, especially the newbies. The weekend started with picking up Phil, Duane, and Brandon on Friday. After a traffic jam, a pit stop for Phil’s new ride, and check-ins to our respective hotels, it was time for one of my favorite parts of the weekend – Lupi’s Pizza! A couple of slices and a few brews later, and it was bedtime.

The next morning was cool and clear – perfect race weather. We got to the start of the race with about a half an hour to spare. After gathering up our group for a “team” picture, I ran a nice warmup, said hellos to Jeff and Jobie (who graciously stood watch for my woodland bathroom stop), and took my place at the start line.

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Emerging from pit stop; practicing for AC100. Photo cred: Jobie Williams

The race starts on a road, uphill before taking a left onto a rocky jeep road. This is always a fast start, both out of necessity and adrenaline. It’s pretty important in this race to get a good position early as the trails narrows quickly. I decided to go out a little harder early on than I usually would in such a race. I knew there were some super talented girls, and my plan was to try and put enough space between them early on. And it worked . . . for about 3 miles. From almost the get-go, I settled in behind Rock/Creek’s Samuel Hammonds at a really good but hard pace. Just before the first aid station, I heard Jeannette come up behind me, moving really well. She passed me, and I was able to keep her in my sights for a mile or so. After a while, however, I couldn’t spot the bright NRC jersey. I told myself to just run for time – shoot for a PR. I could tell by now that CR was way off (originally, this was my goal, but my lack of training over the last few months screwed me on that). By the time we reached the jeep road climb around mile 7, I was ready to hike but also ready for the pain that I knew would follow. This is the point in the race that I look forward to the most. It’s where the race essentially starts. It’s the point in the race that I mentally prepare for the entire previous 7 miles – looking forward to the pain, excited for the suffering to come. I hiked a little more than I wanted to, and after passing the 2nd aid station and hiking most of the switchbacks, it was time to rock ’n’ roll. I tried to turn the burners on as much as possible before the rock garden slowed me down. I had resigned myself to Jeannette’s win and was happy that it would stay in the NRC family. I may have thought briefly that I was going to burn my jersey since I had yet to win a race in it, but I swear that was just a fleeting thought.

river gorge 3.jpg

Photo Cred: J. Williams

Soon, the terrain became rockier and the trail darker. Rock garden time, baby! Shortening my stride, I made my way over the increasing-in-size rocks. As I looked up to get my bearings, I saw Jeannette about 10 yards ahead of me. I think I audibly exclaimed “holy shit”. At first, I thought she was having trouble on the rocks, but turns out, she twisted her ankle a mile or two earlier. After checking to make sure she was ok, I continued on. And then thought “crap, now I gotta run this”. Even injured, I knew Jeannette cold be strong enough to take me down. I had never really run through the rock garden, but you gotta do what you gotta do. I picked it up and hopped rock to rock as best as I could. Jobie, Jeff, and Conrad were somewhere along the way, but as I was trying not to die (or at least not bust my teeth out), I don’t think I even acknowledged them. After getting out of the rock garden, I knew it was about ¾ of a mile and that I needed to RUN. My legs felt like they had just run 98 miles though. If Jeannette hadn’t been so close, I probably would’ve just hiked. However, I forced my legs to go as fast as they could. I caught back up to Samuel, and even though I knew how far we had, I croaked out a “how. much. further?” “Half mile”. . . which sounded like 17 miles in my head. We crossed the jeep road, and I thought the next climb was the one to the finish. WRONG. Finally, though, I could see the arch and made my way across the finish line. I finished and wanted to die – I thought “Phil would be proud”. There was definitely no smiling for a couple of minutes. I was freaking spent.

river gorge 2

 “Running” through the Rock Garden     Photo Cred: Jobie

Finishing time — 1:28: 37. First Female. Jeannette finished a couple of minutes later. I love winning. Like love it love it. Like love it more than anything (duh, I’m a Bama fan). But the win seemed a little hollow. This was Jeannette’s to win, and she even seemed on pace to break the CR if it hadn’t been for an ankle turn. The trail is a cruel mistress though – which is why I respect it, fear it, and love it.

Anyway, for the next hour and a half, we cheered on the whole RunWILD crew as they made their way through the finish. As much as I love racing, it’s just as fun to watch everyone else have a great race, or their first race, or their 12th race . . . especially this one. I absolutely LOVE this race. It’s probably my favorite race of all time. The course, the culture, having all of our crew down there, seeing all of our Chattanooga pals, all of it. I don’t think I could have asked for a better day. Big thanks to Rock/Creek for another awesome race, and HUGE congrats to our entire RunWILD crew!

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Post-Race Pic w/ RunWILD crew

Goals, Goals, Goals


Oh, Harvey. You’re such a hottie.

I love goals, and I love to plan. I make to-do lists and schedules for myself at least once of day. I have 2 paper calendars and a google calendar. I keep a legal pad that’s just for my “agenda”. For goal races, I’ll post my goal time on the mirror with a sticky note or on the fridge (usually near the beer drawer which is where it’ll get the most eye traffic). I always make A, B, and C goals for these races and write them down everywhere. As much as I love both of these things, I don’t think I’ve ever planned out my goals for the year (Maybe I have and there’s a previous blog post that’ll call me a liar, but I’m too lazy to go fact check myself). And for accountability/transparency’s sake, I’m sharing this with you, my loyal 22 readers.

General/Vague Goals — Faster/Stronger/Mentally Tougher

Mileage — 3000 for the year


Mt. Cheaha 50K (Feb 27) : no time goal really (no, I’m serious). Sub-6:00 would be nice but using this has a “get back in shape run”

River Gorge 10.2 (March 26): Course PR

WDW Star Wars 1/2 Marathon (April 17): PR BUT with Disney crowds this may be hard

Bend Marathon (or 1/2) (April 24): This is a questionable race b/c of time, finances, and the fact it’d be one of 4 straight road races. But another pour from my Smith & Lentz growler, and it’s about to be unquestionable

Rock ‘n’ Roll 1/2 Marathon -Nashville (April 30): running this in conjunction with Nashville Running Company and Monroe Carrell Jr. Children’s Hospital at Vanderbilt’s fundraising opportunity

Strolling Jim (May 7): sub-6:00

Race Against the Sun: No expectations; just a “fun” night race in prep for AC 100

Angeles Crest 100 (Aug 6): Don’t die/Finish — and that’s lofty.

The rest of the year is kind of dependent on AC100 recovery and what not. Would love to do Upchuck 50K. Up to suggestions for end of year races!





Best (and Worst) of 2015

I haven’t felt like writing/blogging/stream of consciounessing for a while. I’ve been kind of bummed about how long recovery is taking me. My legs haven’t felt “good” in quite some time, and I’ve been battling just a twinge of post tib tendinitis (Thanks, Leah Sawyer for the help with that!) I have barely averaged 20 miles a week (until last week), and this really affected my mental/emotional state. I think I need at least 40 miles a week to feel good and like a normal person. So, to get me out of my funk, and since it’s the end of the year, I decided to compile a list of my running/racing/RD’ing bests from each  month this year. And with the bests must come the worsts, right?


Best: RunWILD Tour of Trails begins (still time to sign up for NRC‘s 2016 training! #shamelessplug); running Bearwaller Gap for first time

beaman new

Worst: Having to DNS Mountain Mist 50K


Best: Black Warrior 50K (sub-5 hr); fun runs in the snow

Worst: The Ice Storm postponing Dry Creek

ice storm


Best: Taking the RunWILD group down to River Gorge (come run it with us this year!)

river gorge

Worst: March was pretty good . . . so I guess it’d have to be the soreness from RunWILD’s St. Patty’s Day “Hill Repeats”? 😉


Best: Boston – experience (being there with my mom, the race environment, seeing Bree in Boston obvs) and marathon PR; meeting Sage Canaday


Worst: April was pretty good month . . .


Best: Strolling Jim suffer fest; Running at Frozen Head for the first time

strolling jim 2

Pre-Strolling Jim ass kicking w/ Jobie

Worst: the day after Strolling Jim. I couldn’t leave my house because stairs must descended to do so.


Best: Running in the big boy mountains of Idaho and solidifying my love of the West


Worst: DNF-ing River of No Return 108K where the big boy mountains chewed me up and spit me out. Not even Little Red Riding Hood could get my ass in a good enough space to continue that race.


Best: Pulling the trigger on signing up for a 100; Bowie Park race having record numbers

Worst: Pulling the trigger on signing up for a 100; losing my key on the Bowie course and spending hours “sunbathing” in the parking lot waiting for help


Best: RunWILD: Hot, Wet, & Wild started; knocked out my annual 5K @ Tomato


Worst: hardcore face-planting at Beaman during our first RunWILD run from which I still have the scarred up knees


Best: Running in Chamonix (and London, Paris, Cinque Terre, and Rome); I’ve wanted to live and just run in the mountains ever since I went westward last year, but running here really made me fall in love. #movemetoColoradoorBendASAP


Worst: Leaving Chamonix


Best: Defeated Creek — this was my baby race of the year. Thankful to NRC and others (Phil, Duane) who helped me bring this to fruition in just the way I/We envisioned when setting foot out there for the first time. Having such a big group at StumpJump; Mini Tour de Rouge (when we doing 10, Jeff and Jobie?)

stump jump bathroom

StumpJump bathroom pic

Worst: The nerves prepping for Pinhoti


Best: Pinhoti 100 — probably the highlight of the year for me; Riverside Screw, duh.

start line

Worst: Recovery from Pinhoti; post race “blues” –> always hard to deal with for me no matter the race but extra bad for this one #WhyGodMadeBeer


Best: Wrapping up a decent first year as RD with Peeler park; focusing on running with my own pups; slowly getting mileage up

Worst: Loss of fitness and speed from taking a little too much recovery

So, that’s my pretty boring yet incredibly self-indulgent Best/Worst of Running for 2015.

Stay tuned for my Goals for 2016 which is sure to be riveting.

Recovery — Apparently, A Necessary Evil

My plan following Pinhoti was always to take a “break” for a couple of weeks. I say “break” because my intention was a break relative to my training and a couple of weeks was a loose description ( a couple really meaning one). Basically, my “break” going to be just to pacify potentially concerned family members and friends. But, a funny thing happened — the whole week after the race, I had ZERO desire to run. Nada. Zilch. And I was perfectly fine with it. A week after, I ran a couple of miles and felt decent-ish. That one run seemed to squelch whatever need to run I had for the next couple of days. Then, I couldn’t get my appetite up which, in turn, exacerbated my fatigue. Cool, I thought. Good reason not to run. I saw others who ran Pinhoti were back running and feeling good. I was a little envious but more so just surprised. Not at them but at me. I had just assumed that, since things had gone so (relatively) smoothly at the actual race, I’d take a week off and be “back to normal”. It’s as if my body knew of my intentions and decided shut that whole thing down.


So, for 3 weeks, I’ve run a few times with my own dogs (who are in training of their own for a springtime trail adventure), done some yoga (thanks Ryne for sharing Fiji McAlpine with me), and ran my longest run a the Riverside Screw. Finally feeling better, I’m cautiously getting back at it this week — taking it slowly, focusing on good form (getting those arms down and at 90 degrees instead of flapping in the wind), and incorporating core, hip, and ass work.

I have a new, HUGE appreciation for those that can do the Grand Slam and recover so quickly. I also have a new, huge appreciation for rest and recovery. But, it’s time to get back on the horse.


My Christmas Wishlist

In case anyone wants to get me something for Christmas, I’ve compiled my ultimate Christmas wishlist.

Private Dance Lesson from Channing Tatum (his hot wife can totally be in attendance)

channing tatum

To Be Yelled at by Nick Saban


A Scouting Trip to Bend, OR


Three More Pairs of Lone Peaks 2.5

lone peak

Entry into Western States


A National Championship


To Be Serenaded by JT

justin timberlake jay z suit and tie

To Be a Part of This


To Be Jenn’s Best Friend

jenn shelton

And Finally, Absolutely Anything Trail Running Related


Who are you wearing — ultrarunning style

If you read my race report on Pinhoti 100, then you know that nothing crazy bad happened — even with the cold and incessant rain. Aside from stellar crew and pacers, my gear and clothing choices were a big reason why I stayed as dry as possible, had no real feet issues including blisters or trench feet, and suffered from ZERO chafing (seriously, 25+ hours in the rain and not one spot). I’ve had a lot of people ask me what I wore so here are the highlights:

First and foremost is the love of my life, my shout it from the roof top, completely obsessed with,  Altra Lone Peaks 2.5. Before I got these bad boys, after about 16-18 miles or so, my feet would hurt. There was no injury, no pinpointed cause of pain other than just time on feet and technical terrain. Knowing this couldn’t and wouldn’t fly for a 100 miler, I tried on a variety of shoes before slipping into the Lone Peaks. As soon as I put them on — Heaven (My feet are weird in that my heel is really narrow and toes splay out wide. The footshape toe box is a god-send for my toes.). The first time I took them for a spin – super technical trails in Chamonix. Then a 24 mile training run, then Stump Jump 50K — NO PAIN at all. I decided to buy a second pair to take to Pinhoti. In weeks leading up to the race, I even wore my first pair for any road runs I did. My newest pair was my go-to shoe on race day. I took them off once to change socks (thanks, rain and creek crossings) and was happy to put them right back on. They were great — no painful feet, and they held up great on the rocks and in the rain/mud. I saw multiple people fail to get traction on some of the steeper, muddier sections. I never had a problem at all. After Pinhoti, I’m a Lone Peak lifer.

Boring Stuff: 9.2 oz; moderate cushioning; footshape toe box with zero drop platform; 25 mm stack height (Apparently, Altra improved the durability of models past — not sure about other models, but I can definitely attest to the durability of the 2.5s)

lone peak

Speaking of wet feet, like I said, I had no real issues. Only a small blister that formed on my big toe around mile 82. Pain went away around mile 83. With all of the water, it could have been a recipe for foot disaster. Honestly, I was shocked. Why was I so lucky? Besides drinking a lot and making sure not to get dehydrated, I slathered my feet in Skin Strong Slather at the start of the race and again when I changed socks at mile 65 (well, Ryne slathered them for me). I also used it everywhere there was a potential to chafe. Stuff worked great. It stayed on so nicely that I think I would’ve been fine if I hadn’t reapplied at mile 65 (But better safe than sorry. Plus, Ryne gets to relive that nightmare for the rest of his life). Along with the Skin Strong, I wore Swiftwick wool socks (1″ to start, 12″ starting at mile 65). My feet were wet by about mile 3. The wool wicked the moisture great and left my feet in great condition. I love these socks and have never raced in anything but — including the super wet Stump Jump, which also proved blister-free.

Boring Stuff:

Skin Slather: super long lasting; no gross smell — made with tea tree oil; made for triathletes who are the pickiest folks in the world so it’s gotta be good


Swiftwick Pursuit socks: Merino wool toe and heel — for padding and wicking;  arch support; full-cushioned footbed; no toe seams; half density weave for no “bunch” movement

Finally, my Ultimate Direction Ultra jacket — I haven’t been this excited about a purchase since my horse cardigan in 2011. This jacket kept me about as dry as I could be in those race day conditions. If I had changed my base layer properly, I wouldn’t have had a problem at all. I wore this jacket from mile 30-90. The hood and bill were great for keeping the never-ending rain out of my eyes. It was light enough to carry in my pack before needing to put it on. The flip mitts on the sleeves were amazing — I have huge problems with freezing hands, and these served great with and without additional gloves. Plus, it’s just freaking pretty. Just a solid, solid jacket. (Before I wore it at Pinhoti, I got in the shower with it on to see if it’s really waterproof. Success).

Boring Stuff: waterproof with fully taped seams; exceeds waterproof/breathability standards required by UTMB (?!); internal chest pocket holds/protects iPhone and has headphone port (seriously?!); underarm vents; flip mitts — self storing, waterproof mitts

ud jacket

I fully, 100% believe that without my Altra Lone Peaks, Skin Strong, Swiftwicks, and UD jacket, race day could’ve gone horribly awry. You can find all of these at Nashville Running Company. (Christmas is coming up, hint, hint!).

Pinhoti 100 — Race Report

Not going to lie, trying to figure out a way to put the Pinhoti 100 into words seems almost as daunting as the race itself. I know there are things I will get wrong, sections of the course and people I will forget, and I will never do this experience justice. However, here’s my attempt.

Pinhoti weekend started with me picking up Jeff in our rental car — a huge Suburban that could’ve carried the crews of 2-3 runners. We drove the 4 hours or so to Sylacauga, AL but not before stopping at the amazing Tennessean truck stop (where we contemplated buying an entire cured ham, opting instead for an Alabama car flag) and eating at Applebee’s in Gardendale, AL (where we were treated to the wall of Alabama “celebrities”).


My mom met us at packet pickup which was great. We talked to Scott and Cary before heading to the hotel with Steven and Kimber. The drive was only about 40 minutes but long enough to hear the “Whisper Song” 3-4 times. Ryne and Khette met us at the hotel, and we noshed on some Mellow Mushroom before turning in for the night. After some pretty decent sleep, I was awoken with the Alabama fight song from Khette’s phone (and in case you don’t know, Khette’s a HUGE UT fan). She even wore a Bama shirt and hat. #BestCrewEver We all grabbed some breakfast at the hotel and set out towards the start line. By then, it had started to rain some, but with the humidity as high as it was, the rain was almost welcome. After some last minute lubing up and a pee break in the woods, it was go time.


Because of the rain, the race actually started at Aid Station (AS) 2 and did an out and back to AS 1. The first 13 miles were single track on pine straw which I kept thinking felt soft enough to be God’s mattress. I don’t remember ever running on pine needles before, but it was very nice. I saw my crew at AS 2 and grabbed my pack from them (I started the race out with just my handheld since I knew I’d see them fairly quickly). I settled back into a really nice, easy pace and was feeling great when I rolled into AS 3 at mile 18. I grabbed a clementine from Khette and some chips. Since I knew this would be the last time I saw my crew until mile 40 and that there were a couple of unmanned aid stations on this section, I grabbed a 3rd flask filled with Skratch to put in my pack along with some extra Little Debbie cakes.

Start Line

Start Line: Photo Cred – Greg Gelmis

I still felt good as I headed back into the woods and onto single track. Because of all the rain, we were presented with some really beautiful waterfalls. Even though it was a pretty section, this was the first time that my mind tried to get in the way. I started thinking “how the hell is this going to happen? How am I going to make it all of this way?” I pushed out these thoughts as best as I could and focused on making it to the next aid station. Phil made me a bracelet with the distances between each station and my expected arrival times at each. Aside from being incredibly helpful, it also gave me something to do every now and then — check the bracelet, check the time, recheck the bracelet because I couldn’t remember what the bracelet said the first time. As we made our way to the next manned station at mile 27, I had to scramble up some slippery boulders. That definitely got me out of my funk, as did spotting the aid station tent. And then I heard someone yell my name. “Season?!” I had no idea Season and Hunter were going to be there, and it was such a great surprise! Season had my drop bag all out and ready for me. Hunter gave me the rundown of the race so far. It was hard to leave them, but I knew I’d see them again at mile 40.

I took off back down the boulders and onto more single track. There were a bunch of water crossings, and I’m not talking “ooh my feet got a little wet” crossings. Water was rushing in most of these. I had begun running with a guy from NC, and we had to actually help each other across some of them. I had been looking forward to climbing Cheaha, and finally, we started climbing. As we climbed, it became a lot more technical. The trail was littered with larger, moss-covered rocks. Fog started covering the trail giving the trail a fun, eerie vibe. We hit a long boardwalk that was super slick, but that meant we were close to the aid station and my crew. They had an awesome setup under a shelter at the end of the boardwalk. Ryne gave me some amazingly warm ginger tea. Khette gave me the run down of football scores, and Jeff filled up my pack. I got out of there as quickly as I could — it was getting darker by the minute, and I wanted down Blue Hell before it was too dark.

Blue Hell is aptly named. Straight down with lots and lots of rocks. Many times I had to crawl down the rocks using hands, feet, and butt. At one point, the guy in front of me completely wiped out while running down a fairly steep, muddy section. I tried to do the opposite of what he did but ended up sliding down on my side as opposed to my back. After my mud bath, the trail smoothed out just as it started getting dark. Between the AS at mile 45 and 52, there were more creek crossings. One of them was so deep and was rushing so hard that we had to go further down, through the water, and crawl back to the trail head. I was so glad not to be alone at this point — people were falling in the water left and right. Slowly, the single track took us up and down and around until we could finally see the lights of AS 9. They had everything you could ever want to eat and drink here, including whiskey. They also had a TV set up underneath a tent — fortunately, the Bama game hadn’t started yet or else I may never have left. After an amazing grilled cheese, I got on my way. It was only 3 miles to the next AS and my crew. Some wet and chilly miles later, I was rolling into AS 10 at mile 55. Hunter gave me the Bama score (3-0; we made a field goal!) as I sat down for the first time all day. I changed shirts from the NRC race kit to a Mizuno tech short sleeve (probably my only real mistake of the race). Khette rolled out my IT band and quads as Jeff got me a quesadilla and Ryne gave me more ginger tea. It was straight up star treatment to the the tune of dub step being blasted by the AS.

Mile 55 Aid Station

Mile 55 Aid Station

Some 6-7 minutes later, I was walking out of the AS and up a jeep road. The soft, jeep road was such a physical and mental break from the technical trail of miles past. I should have run more on this section, but I was freezing, and for the first time all day, my legs just felt dead. I got passed by a lot of people on this section, and finally, I was able to talk myself into running/shuffling. This 5 mile section took a lot longer than I thought it should, but eventually the small aid station came into sight. Still cold, I drank ramen like it was my job as I listened to the game over the AS worker’s radio. I stayed here longer than needed, but they had a dog there, and earlier in the day, I was really missing Gyps. . . so I played and got puppy kisses. Season and her runner came up just as I was about to leave. Season said to run the next section with them — which I was so happy to do. We headed out on some more jeep road for a couple of miles. Scott Bell and his pacer, Brad, came blazing by us, looking and feeling great. The jeep road dumped us back on to single track, and we stuck with the Season in front, Rebecca in the middle, and me bringing up the rear formation for the rest of the way. Even though we were three tired people trying to make conversation, just having them there was so nice. We kept thinking we saw the aid station until finally we were right. My crew was there again, gave me the score (according to Jeff, we won 1000-16. It was really 30-16, but I’ll take it). My feet were soaking wet, and I made the decision to change into my tall, wool Swiftwicks. Ryne earned a huge badge of honor for reapplying Bodyglide to my feet before putting on new socks. Jeff gave me coffee that was a freaking God-send as Khette got the stick after my legs again. Steven packed me up some goodies for the “road”, and soon, Jeff and I were on our way. Picking up a pacer, along with the new socks and coffee, was the best thing that happened all day. I felt like we were running really well, and we soon started passing people. We also were talking a lot as Jeff got me caught up on the events of the day which made the miles pass by quickly. Soon, we were starting the climb up to the Pinnacle AS at mile 74. After climbing for a while, we saw and heard the AS before we snaked around the switchbacks that would lead us there. We could see headlamps below us which is always really cool. The Pinnacle climb was a pretty decent climb — harder than the Cheaha one, for sure. At the AS, we ate some delicious soup, and Jeff packed me down with potatoes, chips, and gummy bears. I was so happy here because 1. miles 65-74 were the best I felt the entire day and 2. I knew we had a marathon left, and given the time, we could basically walk the rest of it in.

We left the AS, and we quickly realized the weather was not on our side. It had been raining off and on the entire day, but the next 6 miles were brutally wet and cold. At one point, we were on a ridgeline, and the wind was just insane. Jeff gave me his buff and his arm warmers. I desperately wished I had put on the Craft base layer at the last aid station. Regardless, I was so thankful Jeff was there, especially when he lifted my cold, spirits by telling me how Steven got locked in the women’s bathroom. We ran through the AS at mile 79 but not before Jeff took a video of how crazy the wind was blowing their tent. We got on a jeep road for a while — it felt a little warmer which was “nice.” Eventually, we were dumped back on the trail. I don’t know if we were moving slowly or if it was a little longer than advertised, but this section seemed to take forever. We were still moving pretty well though and continued passing a few people. As we got closer, Jeff gave me advice for the last section including “if it hurts to run and it hurts to walk, run.” We saw a headlamp bobbing ahead and ran into Brad as Scott was taking a pit stop. Just a little while longer, and we were at the mile 85 AS. As usual, the crew had a sweet set up. I quickly changed into my Craft shirt (so much happiness), ate a ton of food, got another stick rubdown, said a million thank yous to Jeff, and then Ryne and I were headed out on the last 15. This AS looked awesome and looked like it had the best food imaginable, but I was ready to get started on this last section

Ryne filled me in on what had been going on throughout the day, and the conversation continued as the “sun” came up. There wasn’t much sun, but the light of day was a nice change from the past 13-14 hours of dark. We were at the mile 90 AS pretty quickly. I was finally warm and able to shed my UD jacket which Ryne put in his pack. We grabbed some water, coke, and a few snacks before getting back on the jeep road. It was pretty easy terrain with a few gentle rollers. Ryne was great and would tell me when/how far we were going to run and then when we would hike. We did this all the way until the next aid station, but not before I saw a leaf that I thought was a dead baby turtle. I had heard about the brownies at the final AS and probably talked to Ryne about them for a couple of miles. Our plan was to grab a brownie and get out of the AS as quickly as possible. The brownies did not disappoint. At the AS was a sign that read “2 miles of trail, 3 miles of road”. Ryne checked his watch as mine had crapped out just as I picked him up. The trail was more like jeep road and some grassy spots, but we hit the road a little more quickly than expected. 3 miles was all we had. We employed the walk-run method as we passed by a farm with some donkeys and then picked up an actual road. We kept thinking we should be getting close to the school, but not yet. My legs were dying, but having Ryne there, made me run sections that I probably would’ve just walked. I told him how tired I was getting and he told me to eat. I poured some gummy bears in my mouth just as we saw Chris walking towards us. We asked how much further — “1 mile. . . and there’s no reason you should be walking this, Beth.” Crap. He was right. So we started running again. FINALLY, we saw the turn off the road and towards the school. Soon, we saw the lights of the high school stadium, and then there was the track. As we entered the track, Ryne just said “you did it. You’re a 100 mile finisher.” I almost lost it when he said that. We made our way around the track before Ryne peeled off and I ran through the finish line.

finish pic

My mom and dad were there as were the crew. So much happiness and not enough thanks could be given to anyone. I was just completely overwhelmed by what all of these people had just endured and done for me. There is NO way that race would have happened without them. Honestly, the race could not have gone better (to me). No stomach issues, no injuries, no super dark spots. Only thing I would change is putting on the Craft base layer. My crew was a well oiled machine, and my pacers were beyond amazing (I realize now what a poor job I did pacing for Jeff — I learned so much from them and I’ll be a better pacer/crew member next time!). 25:16:17. 100 Mile finisher.

What I wore/Gear

Pearl Izumi shorts (entire race)

NRC race kit shirt; Mizuno tech; Craft base layer

Swiftwick socks x 2

Altra Lone Peaks 2.5 (never once did I change shoes or want to)

Salomon pack

Boco hat; 2 buffs

Skin Slather lube at start and 65; Bodyglide for along the way

THANK YOU to everyone who called, texted, facebooked. Thank you to Nashville Running Company for all the gear and support and allowing me to be on the race team. HUGE, GIGANTIC THANK YOU from the bottom of my heart to my crew. Forever indebted to you.