Category Archives: Trail Training

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.

Chamonix: I Don’t Like It; I love it, love it, love it.

On our second day in Chamonix, mom and I went  up the cable car opposite of Mt Blanc and up to Le Brevent. From there, we got spectacular views of the mountains and the valley below. I mapped out a run that took me from the cable car stop at Planpraz, up to Lacs Noirs/Lac Cornu, and over to L’Index.


Game Day, y’all!

The run began with a hike up a fire road before hanging a right and onto lots and lots of rocks — a theme that would continue the entire run. A lot of the run was run for 10 yards, hop rocks for 20, run for 5 feet, scramble for 15. It was delightful. The first two miles I climbed roughly 1200 feet and rocked a 18:00 min/mile average. I was the only one running, but there were plenty of hikers most of the way.


Long way to go to train for the rock garden @ Stump Jump


Luckily, the trails were marked well enough to where even I couldn’t get lost

I passed lots of people having picnics, especially when I passed by Lacs Noir. I looked down and there in the valley was just a random lake. Of course, I didn’t look for long as I needed all the help I could get at staying upright. I finally made it to L’Index but wanted to keep going. About a tenth of a mile later, it seemed that the trail just ended . . . until I noticed a “handrail” along the side of rock. I realized that I was supposed to use that for the next quarter mile. So, I thought, what the hell? If I die, at least I’ll die in the Alps.


So I grabbed it and kind of crawled across the rocks until finally making it to a “trail”. It wasn’t as bad as I thought since it was going slightly uphill. But things got a little scarier when I had to make my way down in the same fashion. I was glad no one was around to watch me do it because it was probably the least graceful thing I’ve ever done.

I back tracked all the way back to the Planpraz cable car stop. My time improved a little bit on the way back as I became a little more surefooted. As I got closer, I started hearing bells. My first thought — is there seriously a Mississippi State fan with a cowbell out here?! (I mean, it was game day after all). Then, I realized it was goats!


I finally made it back to Planpraz where they had a bar/restaurant. I got some more water, fueled up with Huma (thanks, Steven!!!), and started the 3 miles back down to Chamonix. I had no idea I could go that slowly on a downhill, but with rocks and sharp turns, it was basically a shuffle the entire. A shuffle with an incredible view though:


Total running time: 2:30; 10.5 miles; 2600 ft’. Not a bad day at all.


This is my “I can’t believe I’m here, I never want to go home” face

Chamonix, Chamonix Ain’t No Place I’d Rather Be (part un)

Clearly when the Dead wrote that there’s nowhere else they’d rather be than in Tennessee, they had never been to Chamonix. When Mom began planning this trip, I asked her to go to Chamonix which is the home of the Ultra-Trail du Mont-Blanc . . . so obviously I was DYING to go run there. As soon as we got off the train, I was in love with this place.

The first day, Mom and I rode the cable car up to Aguille du Midi to take in the breathtaking views of Mont Blanc. From there, I began my first run in the Alps. The terrain was a little more technical than I expected, but it was still pretty runnable. I kept turning around though to take in the jaw-dropping views. IMG_1352


Most people were hiking except for two other girls, but all were super friendly and encouraging. I even had an elderly dude yell “you’re already late for the beer!” The entire time I was hiking or jumping from rock to rock, I kept thinking “this is the coolest thing I’ve ever done” . . . and it was. Some things are great to experience with others; however, running in the Alps and doing it solo was perfection. And it was just what my body and spirit needed. It was absolutely surreal, and I have never had a better time in my life than when I was bounding along pretending to be Emelie or Kilian. I ran the path from Aguille du Midi to Mer de Glace which is home to an actual real life glacier (Which is NOT the same thing as an iceberg. Deep down I knew this, but my 18 year long obsession with Titanic kept trying to convince me otherwise).


After reaching Mer de Glace and exploring the glacier with Mom, I ran from Mer de Glace back down to Chamonix.

At Mer de Glace

At Mer de Glace

The first part of this trail was basically all rock and all downhill. It was the first trail in the forest though, and it was spectacular.


Eventually, I popped out on a giant rock and into the great wide open. I also happened upon a little bar set out in the middle of BFE with people just drinking, hanging, and cheering on runners/hikers.

IMG_1395 (1)

I picked up the double track trail and ran the next 3 miles or so down into Chamonix. My first run in the Alps was all that I wanted it to be — Just an all together glorious, unforgettable, I never wanted to stop run.

Hey down there, Chamonix

Hey down there, Chamonix

J’aime courir a Paris

Paris was the second stop on the Bama Does Europe Tour. Our first full day there was a “rest” day for me, but Mom and I walked a ton that day, including 300 steps up and 300 steps down the basilica in Montmatre and down the Eiffel Tower. The next day we were headed to Chamonix so I got up before sunrise for a run. Apparently, Paris doesn’t wake up before 7am because it felt like I had the city to myself.

Our hotel was about a half mile from the Seine so I headed there and ran along the river. It was amazingly lit all the way until I turned off towards the Louvre. I barely saw a soul for that first mile which, after walking through the hustle and bustle the day before, was beautiful. I ran in front of the Louvre, through the arch, and around the Tuileries and Carousel Gardens because they were still closed from the night before.

The Seine

The Seine

The Louvre at dawn

The Louvre at dawn

At the Louvre

At the Louvre

I then picked up the Avenue des Champs-Elysees, ran past all of the stores, and ran all the way to the Arc de Triomphe. It was just beginning to get light, and the Arc was spectacular. I’m glad I liked the view too because with the light of day, traffic was picking up, and it took me quite a while to make my way around the roundabout.

Arc de Triomphe

Arc de Triomphe

IMG_1280Finally, I made it all the way around and was back on Champs-Elysees. By the time I got back to the Tuileries, they were open. Apparently, this is where people come to run because I saw many others with the same idea as mine. The gardens with their statues and flowers was breathtaking. Plus, the terrain was kind of “trailly”.

Tuileries: Gardens of the Louvre

Tuileries: Gardens of the Louvre

I passed back by the Louvre and ran back along the river. My pace was faster than anticipated so I had a little extra time. I crossed over the river and ran to Notre Dame. Again, I was the only one there which was great as it meant no one was trying to sell me selfie sticks or Eiffel Tower keychains.


Notre Dame sans Quasimodo

As I ran back to the hotel to get ready for adventures in Chamonix, the sun was rising over the river which perfectly capped off a beautiful run and my own private tour of Paris.


London Running

“I [ran] by the river”

London was the first stop in the Bama Does Europe Tour. As we walked around the first day through the throngs of people, I thought that running here was going to really suck. As per ush, I was wrong.

The first day I crossed over from our hotel to the South Bank and ran along the River Thames. My first point of interest: MI6 Building. What better motivation than trying to find James Bond or at least a Daniel Craig lookalike? No luck, but it was still a beautiful run down to MI6  as you could see Westminster Abbey, Parliament, and Big Ben along the river.

Daniel Craig, where are you?

Daniel Craig, where are you?

I continued next to the river until I got to Battersea, and then I crossed over the bridge in front of Mick Jagger and Marianne Faithfull’s old house. I ran along the streets of Chelsea — they did NOT seem used to runners — and made my way through the swanky area of Belgravia. Somehow or another, I found Hyde Park. From there, I saw the London Eye up in the sky and knew that was the way back to the hotel. I ran through Hyde Park and found a “trail”!

London's single track

London’s single track

Hyde Park

Hyde Park

I ran through Hyde Park until finding myself in front of Buckingham Palace, said what up to the Queen, looked for Harry the hottest Ginger ever, and made my way through the Royal Horseguards, past Big Ben (which is probably my favorite sight in London), and finished in front of the London Eye. 14 gorgeous miles.


Buckingham Palace

Buckingham Palace

The next day I took Milner’s and Wade’s advice and just went straight for Hyde Park. It was fun people watching, and there were a ton of other runners out. I ended up following another “trail” until I was in front of Royal Albert Hall and next to what John Lennon thought was a psychedelic rocket. I turned around and ran back towards the ever-watching Eye. 6.5 sweet ass miles.



Haven’t mastered the art of the selfie without looking like the hag from Snow White


We left for Paris early on Tuesday morning so in solidarity with my Tuesday morning interval peeps back in Nashville, I did intervals on the treadmill before we left.

To sum it up: London was beautiful, I liked it much better than I expected, and I had a blast exploring it by foot!


Back Where I Come From

As someone with a personality of the “grass is greener”, the next adventure is always better, my favorite race is always the next race, it can be hard to reflect on the past (unless, of course, I’m using it as training or motivational tool). I hadn’t been back home in over a year when I returned last week to drop Gyps off with her Pop before leaving on our trip. Since it had been so long,  I decided to take the time to reflect a little bit on my past . . . and what better way to do that than on a run.

Big-eyed fish

Big-eyed fish

I started my run as I had done for over ten years – I ran out of my parents’ driveway, out of their sleepy neighborhood, and onto the busy “highway”. Before I had even warmed up, I passed the spot that was exactly 1.5 miles from home. I knew this without looking at my watch; this was my regular turnaround spot for years because who needed to run more than 3 miles at a time?

Standard view on my run for years

Standard view on my run for years

I did the loop where, when I felt froggy one day, I ran 5 miles for the first time ever . . . after which I thought I was going to die and was sure no one else had ever run that far. I ran past my old high school where I lived it up from 2000-2004. While there, I thought I had found my permanent identity, a hodgepodge of hippie/jock/nerd . . . and I guess that still stands in some form or fashion (mostly in the form of running. And the hippie part of me has calmed down a bit). I saw the softball fields that I thought would be my future and my ticket out of town.

Dear ol' high school . . . where the magic happened from '00-'04

Dear ol’ high school . . . where the magic happened from ’00-’04

All of these places and experiences shaped and molded the present day me — for better or for worse. For instance, my right arm will always be massively bigger than my left thanks to 10 years of pitching/softball. I recognize the importance of acting like everyone is watching because, well, they were. I appreciate the “big city” of Nashville. On runs, I learned how to hurdle road kill, how to dodge trucks who think it’s funny to drive directly at you while you’re running, and how to answer cars that pull over asking “do you need a ride?”.


“Downtown” Alex City

Even though I won’t stop obsessing over what I’ll race next year or the next or where I’ll live in the future (looking at you, CO), it was a cathartic and cleansing visit to the past.

Shrine to me . . . or my parents' house

Future shrine to me . . . or my parents’ house

Things to Keep in Mind When Dating/Married to/Friend of/Parent to an Ultra & Trail Runner

  1. When we say we “need” to go for a run, we mean it. Whether it’s for sanity’s or training’s sake, we literally need to go run. After we get that run in, we’ll stop talking about it . . . until the next day. In that same vein, we may sometimes complain about HAVING to go for a run. Yes, we know we could technically “not go” . . . wait, actually no, we have to go. If we don’t, it’ll pick at us all day, everything will remind us of the fact we didn’t go, and we’ll be cranky and miserable because of it.
  2. However long we say we’ll be gone on a run, it’s safe to add AT LEAST an hour or two. Sometimes, we fail to take into consideration travel time, bonk time, refueling time, or “we felt good so we just kept going” time.
  3. Grocery bills will increase along with our training. And yes, we are eating AGAIN.
  4. Friday nights are usually more tame than any other night of the week BECAUSE Saturday morning alarms for long runs are usually much earlier than week day alarms for work.
  5. Vacation time is still running time.
  6. We may accidentally leave wet shoes, dirty clothes,  or sweaty hydration packs in our car from time to time which means it may smell like a dead body in there from time to time. We’ll also come home smelling like ass, covered in sweat, mud, and God knows what else. We promise we’ll take a shower and get back to our normal, sexy selves as soon as we peel ourselves up off the floor.
  7. We think about running . . . a lot. We follow obscure races and geek out over runners you’ve never heard of before. This only intensifies when we get around our ultra/trail running friends. Eventually, we will talk about other things; be patient with us.
  8. Ultrasignup can be a more dangerous website than Ashley Madison. If you see us on there, rein us in. We could easily sign up for 10 races in 10 different states at any given time if left to our own devices.
  9. We, at some point, will likely (literally) fall victim to our sport. We may twist an ankle, bruise/skin knees, pass out, need IVs, or piss blood. Yes, we know we brought this on ourselves. Still, listen to us talk about it again and again, tell us what bad asses we are, and try to spare us a lecture (until at least maybe the wounds and urethras are healed). We also realize you’re only concerned about us and appreciate and love you for it.
  10. We love our sport, and we love you. We also understand that you, more than likely, are not obsessed with what we do (or at least to the degree we are). And that’s ok. However, nothing makes us happier than when you show an interest (even if feigned) or want to crew/support/spectate/talk running. That being said, it’s not always expected. We know we’re weirdos and are thankful you love us in spite of it.
Gratuitous Jenn and Tony pic

Gratuitous Jenn and Tony pic-photo cred: luis escobar

Less Than 2 Weeks Until Go Time

Well, it’s less than two weeks until River of No Return 108K. Besides being 27 miles farther than I’ve ever run and more gain than I’ve ever seen and at elevations I’ve never been to, it’ll be just like any other race. Adding to this, my training the past two weeks has not been anywhere close to where I would’ve liked it to be. My ankle has continued to be wonky, and my sleep has been really off – two not so very good things for training. I should be doing things that would actually help me right now (like planning what I’m going to eat/drink, looking at course map, figuring out aid stations), but instead, Gifs.

When I think just how close RONR is:

Marshall (1)

Trying to give myself false confidence when looking at elevation profile:


Then when I really think about the elevation:


Listening to Jobie’s nutrition advice:


At the grocery store planning what food I’m going to bring for 67 miles:

junk food

How I envision it’ll be every time I see my crew:


Remembering Why I Run:


Week in Review: Less than a month until RONR

Photo from RONR Facebook group

Photo from RONR Facebook group

After the previous week’s heavy mileage and with 4 weeks until River of No Return,  I wanted another high mileage week. Strava lets you set a goal mileage for the week. For the first time on there, I set a goal (80 miles) . . . and failed. I did book our flights for the race though so I guess that was a success. Regardless of not hitting my weekly mileage goal, I got in 2 quality workouts and a solid weekend of running.

Monday, I ran the urban trails of East Nashville. With the high humidity and dodging hipster smoke, it’s probably the closest I’ll get to altitude training. Tuesday, we started doing track workouts at the East Lit track (open to everyone– 6am!). I haven’t done a track workout in a while so that was good/painful/fun. We had a great group show up which makes the pain of intervals so much better. Tuesday night, as per ush, was Tuesday Night Trails at Deep Wells (again, open to everyone — 7pm!) Track/trails made for a good day. On Wednesday, I was feeling the previous day’s runs so I was going to take East Nasty easy, but Marie peer pressured me into a speedy run. Thank goodness for group runs because I always struggle on Wednesdays. Thursday = RunWEST. The morning group is growing which is fun to see! After the morning run through Percy, I did a hill workout near my house that incorporated a little speedwork as well. The RunWEST pm run was a little difficult because of it, but we ended up doing our longest run to date (what I get for letting Scott lead).

Friday, I planned to do blue loop repeats, but my ankle was feeling wonky. Instead of being stupid and pushing through the pain, I cut it short. One and done. I’m glad I listened to my body because Saturday’s run felt great (sorry, Phil). Phil and I did a double RWB and met up with Matlock, Theresa, and James for part of it. It’s the best I’ve ever felt doing a double which was incredibly encouraging. However, later in the day, my ankle was angry. Lots of ice and it was ready to go by the next day. Sunday brought some impromptu Bearwaller Gap action. A tough 10 miles and 2300′ gain. I’ll take it. All in all, it was a good training week, but seeing the calendar has my heart rate increasing by the day. #IBlameJobie

Week in Recap:

Monday: 8 miles

Tuesday: track sesh (6 miles); trail work (4.5)

Wednesday: East Nasty+ warmup (5.7)

Thursday: RunWEST AM; Hill workout; RunWEST PM (16.8 total)

Friday: Blue loop

Saturday: RWB x 2

Sunday: 11 @ Bearwaller

Totals: 75.7 miles; 12 hrs 42 minutes; 8200′ vert