Tag Archives: Nashville Running Company

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.

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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

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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.

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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.

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 “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

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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?)

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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.

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.

Newton Distance IV Review

Obviously, trails are my true love, but out of convenience, a lot of my runs are done on the road. Thanks to Strava, I can keep track of how many miles my shoes have logged. My road shoes have over 600 miles on them, and I thought that warranted my review of them.

Since 2012, when I first started shopping at NRC and discovered there was a whole world of running shoes outside of Brooks, I’ve only worn Newtons on the road. I have had no less than 7 pairs, including the Distance III. I’ve loved each and every one but not like I love my latest pair, the Distance IV. As soon as I put on this shoe, I was obsessed. I’m not saying that it was exactly like Meg Ryan’s infamous scene in “When Harry Met Sally,” but it was close. Two days after I got them, I ran a marathon in them. Two weeks after that, I ran a 41 mile race in them, and my feet felt great (well, for having run 41 miles on the road. In hilly Tennessee. In May).

Rocking the Distance IV at Strolling Jim

Rocking the Distance IV at Strolling Jim

There were just a few changes from the Distance III, and aside from the color, I think they were all for the better. Newton is known for their lug technology; the lugs encourage midfoot running, as well as maximize running efficiency. The Distance IV is a part of the POP 1 (POP = point of power) group so there’s a whole lotta lugs. The lugs on the Distance IV seem to be more prominent than on the other models, and they haven’t worn down much even after 600 miles. Also, I definitely think that the lugs on the IV are more responsive than with lugs past. I feel a little more pep in my step from these. The heel of the IV hasn’t worn down as much either which I can only assume stems from the advanced lug technology (and perhaps, I’m finally getting better with my form). The tongue has less material and is less “cushy,” but it actually stays in place better. Even though the IV is a little heavier (and by heavier, I mean .6-.7 ounces), I haven’t been able to tell a difference.

Probably, the biggest thing for me is the toebox seems a little wider. One of the issues I’ve always had with Newtons is that my pinky toes would start hurting in the middle of long runs. The IV hasn’t given me this problem at all. Like I said, I ran a marathon and 41 miles in them, and my feet were about the only thing that felt good at the end.* My only complaint, and which really isn’t a complaint at all, is based solely (ha get it) on aesthetics. I may be one of the few people who is not a fan of flashy, loud shoes, but color is no reason to buy or not to buy certain running shoes. The Distance III was a beautiful white while the IV is BRIGHT YELLOW (which is still better than pink). The neon yellow was blinding at first, but after 600 miles, they’ve dirtied into a more pleasant, subdued hue. However, even if these shoes bright orange and blue, I’d still wear them. They’re that good.

Looking pretty good for 600 miles

Looking pretty good for 600 miles

So to sum up this succinct review — I really, really flipping love these shoes.

*Full disclosure: I wear currexSole insoles in all of my shoes as recommended by my PT. I have terrible arches and a (finally) healing but weak ankle.

**Super full disclosure: I run on NRC’s Race Team which is sponsored this year by Newton, but as I said earlier, I’ve been wearing Newtons since 2012, long before I was fast(ish) or on the team.

They Say You Never Forget Your First Time

View on drive from Salt Lake City

View on drive from Salt Lake City

Well, it finally happened. I knew it would — you race long enough (both in frequency and in distance), it’s bound to happen. The dreaded DNF. I went out to the River of No Return 108K knowing that I was undertrained for both the distance and the elevation, but I thought that heart and grit could make up for whatever training I lacked.

Obligatory pre race pic

Obligatory pre race pic

Friday morning, Steven and I met up with Jobie, Sherrie, and their awesome crew of Andi, Clint, and Cole, outside of Salt Lake City. As we drove towards Challis, it was clear we weren’t in 400 feet above sea level Nashville any more. This would also be abundantly clear about 2 miles into to the race the next day. Steven and I got to the start line around 4:30 am on Saturday. Kevin and Theresa were pulling up at the same time. It’s always nice to see familiar faces before a race, and as Jobie was sick back at the cabin, it was exceptionally nice to see Kevin. Steven got me all ready for the adventure ahead, and soon I gave him a quick and, admittedly, scared good-bye. I settled in beside Kevin, and we were off. The first two or three miles of the race are on a trail running parallel to the “main” road of Challis. We kept a nice, easy pace. Soon, we headed onto a trail that would snake us around to the top of the first mountain. Kevin and I found ourselves in a nice little pack. We hiked up the next four miles, turning around every so often to watch the sun rise over the mountains behind us. Eventually, we made it through the aid station at mile 9. After a quick fill up, we set off on some nice trails and quickly found ourselves at the mile 12 aid station. I grabbed a quesadilla as we trucked on through.

The next four miles held about 2000 feet of descent to the Bayhorse aid station at mile 16. I came in here feeling awesome. Steven was waiting for me and had all of my stuff ready to go. He told me the average time in and out of the aid station was 2 minutes and to hurry up because I was 4th female. This was his first time crewing, and he was crushing it. I knew the next section was going to be a beast so I wanted as much fuel as I could carry. He loaded me up with Honey Stinger chews, gels, waffles, and Picky bars. I filled up a bottle with coke and one with water, and I was on my way out of there. I had been doing such a great job with my nutrition up to this point. Every 30 minutes, 100 calories in. We started a 2400′ climb, and I excitedly unwrapped half of my Picky bar. However, my stomach had other emotions and revolted against the bar before I was able to even choke it down. Ok, let’s just stick to chews for this climb, I thought. We climbed and climbed and climbed. And my stomach continued its revolt. I puked every half mile or mile.


Finally we reached 8500′ and got some downhill. It helped my tiring glutes and hammies but did nothing for my stomach. However, the downhill wouldn’t last long, and soon we were making our way towards the last couple of climbs that would take us up to 10,000 feet. Now, along with the puking came dizziness and shortness of breath. Every quarter of a mile or so, the guy I was running with and I had to stop and catch our breath and rest. Alexander ran RONR last year, knew how much tougher this year would be, and brought along his poles. Even poles weren’t helping him at this point.

We thought we had made it to the highest point, Ramshorn, when we came upon a dirt bike and water stop. This should mean there was about 4 miles left until the next aid station and that it was all downhill. However, the biker man informed us it was actually at least 6 miles . . . and the 500 ft shale climb that we’d all been warned about was coming up. We trudged a little down hill and started climbing again. We watched those ahead of us climb up and over and up again. We finally reached the dreaded climb. It seemed like it was 500 ft straight up. After stopping to rest on some snow that hadn’t melted, we finally made it up to the top. Ramshorn at last. The beautiful views at the top definitely made up for the shortness of breath, burning legs, and the impossibly steep trail riddled with my vomit that had brought us there. 360 degrees of beauty and snow capped peaks.

It was hard to get going on the downhill. I hadn’t kept anything down for 8 miles, and the lack of oxygen and nutrients to my muscles left me weak and unstable. But at least I was going down! I shuffled along creating some semblance of a run, puking up some bile every now and then. Lots of rocks littered the trail, and after wooziness took over, I tripped over one of the larger rocks. The ankle that had been testing my patience and pain threshold for exactly a year roared in pain. 3-4 miles left to the aid station, all downhill, and all rocky. I hiked on hoping the pain would subside. The pain remained, and since I was hiking/running funny because of it, the heel of my opposite foot flared up in pain as well. My watch had died around mile 26 (poor pre-race planning). If it had been on, I swear it would have been subtracting miles — the aid station seemed to get further and further away.

View from the cabin

View from the cabin

I usually relish testing my mental toughness, and here was a perfect opportunity to do so! I thought about all of the supportive texts and Facebook posts/messages from friends and family in the days leading up to the race. I thought about Bree’s amazing care package and sweet card. I thought about McNeal’s awesome video he made for me. I thought about all of those hours on the trail that had brought me here, and how it was abundantly clear I should’ve put in many more. I told myself “You wanted to run with the big dogs, and here you are getting bitten. Get it together, girl.” I thought about all of Hunter’s advice including his most recent, “Be the shit, don’t get the shits”. I thought of my ultra idols Jenn and Sally. I thought about Jenn’s badassery and reckless love for the trails and the thrill of the race. I thought about Sally’s heart and ability to dig deep into places many of us have never been. I replayed scenes from her “Western Time” movie over and over again. I thought “WWSD” (What Would Saban Do) and about the Bear. I thought about a billboard I had seen on the way to the race that featured John Wayne and how he didn’t care for quitters. I thought about the RunWILD group. I reminded myself that I was wearing the sweet new NRC race kit and how I was completely failing the team. I thought about Steven who had traveled all of this way with me just for this race. I thought of the best and most frequent advice I get from my dad — “Be brave.” I thought about how this was a big step for me towards that ultimate goal of qualifying for WSER . . . and how if I didn’t finish this race, it’d likely be next year before I could attempt to qualify again.

However, all of the grit and determination and inspiration and motivation that I could come up with on those long miles to the aid station couldn’t drown out the pain resonating in my ankle and beginning to creep up my shin. Along with the pain came with the worry that I was damaging my ankle even further. It was becoming abundantly clear that I wasn’t going to finish the race. Even if I stopped puking my guts out, my ankle and foot were shot. The question that remained was how far would I try to get. When I saw the aid station closing in but could only force a shuffle, I knew. I knew this was my final destination at RONR. I came into the aid station and slumped in a chair as a woman dressed as Little Red Riding Hood covered my head with a wet towel. Looking around, there were 4 other racers who were dropping as well. As bad as it sounds, seeing them made me feel better about myself and my decision. I turned in my chip and crossed my bib number off the list. Just like that, my day was over, and with it came my first DNF.

I had a sense of peace with my decision as soon as I sat in that chair. Since then, I’ve second guessed it every now and then, but I’m confident that it was the right one — both in the long and short term. As much as I hate that I “failed”, it was an amazing trip. By far, it was the most beautiful run I’ve ever been on. I got to experience a race out west, and I got to spend time in the mountains. Was I overly ambitious and bit off more than I could chew? Yep. Would I do it all over again? Absolutely. Will I ever forget my first DNF? Not a chance. It will haunt me, inspire me, motivate me, and push me for the rest of my running days.

Reminder in a small town outside of Challis that DNF isn't the worst thing in the world

Reminder in a small town outside of Challis that DNF isn’t the worst thing in the world

Getting Heavy (Mileage)

Last week was the first week that wasn’t a recovery week or race week in about a month. I wanted to take advantage of this and get some really good miles in. Apparently, my body didn’t feel the same way (at least for the first part of the week). Monday, I ran from my house to Shelby with the intention of running at least 10 miles. 3 miles in, however,  and I felt like this:


I explored some of Shelby’s trails and called it a day. Tuesday morning, I ran with my pups at the Airpark. My whole body was tired, and my feet hurt. Tuesday night is RunWILD Tuesday night trails. It’s always one of my favorite runs of the week, but I decided to try and be smart and just run easy at Shelby again. Jobie and I ran at the greenway. Apparently, roller blading is back en vogue. We were almost taken out by at least 5 roller bladers. rollerblade

Yong wanted to get a long run in on Wednesday so I joined him for a 22 miler. It was hot, my legs were tired, and I was pretty miserable from about 10 miles in. Luckily, Yong was patient and encouraging. The day before I saw an article on competitor.com entitled “Eat Yourself Out of Overtaining”. In true millenial fashion, I didn’t read the whole article (or majority of it), but I assume it just said eat a whole lot and you’ll feel better. So after that brutal 22 miler, I stuffed my face with veggie dogs and coca-cola from I Dream of Weenie. It definitely made me feel better so I’m just going to keep eating everything in sight.

Thursday, as always, was RunWEST day. We had new faces for our 6am run which was fun! Before the the evening run, I decided to get some new trail shoes from NRC.


On Friday, I couldn’t wait to test drive my new shoes so around lunch time, I headed over to the PWP for a little RWB action. During my run, I decided to halfway attempt NRC’s Warner Challenge. NRC posted this challenge a couple of months ago, and I kept waiting for perfect legs and conditions. Obviously, there’s no such thing as either. So finally, I thought what the hell. I ended up just under 1:45. I’ve done way better before BUT not bad for an impromptu run, hiking all of the hills, wearing a pack, testing new shoes, and running in the middle of the day. #NoExcuses #JustKiddingIHaveATon


Saturday, I ran RWB again — this time with Phil and Ryne. We ran into other trail peeps while out there. It was cooler and a little rainy. It was a perfect day on the trails both in terms of company, conversation, and the way my legs felt. I was incredibly encouraged by this run, and it was a great reminder of why I run trails.

On Sunday, I joined Phil and BAZ for a 10 miler through Shelby. Phil pushed BAZ in the stroller, and she adorably talked for 6 miles (and passed out for the other 4). Besides being a little jealous of her bunny crackers, it was so much fun running with her (and Phil, of course). BAZ also said my name which obviously means she loves me. Later that afternoon, I ventured down to Long Hunter to run with Jobie and Tennessee the dog. I’d never been on the Volunteer trail– I love this trail! It had a little bit of everything and was the perfect way to end a heavy week of running. Tennessee had even more fun than we did — he got to go swimming at Party Cove.

Even with some tiredness and soreness at the beginning of the week, this ended up being my highest mileage week ever. Biggest takeaway from the week — Montrail Bajadas are my newest obsession. Jeff wears these, and I can totally see why. They have good support without being clunky. They have enough cushion for higher mileage runs and just feel like a dream.



Monday: 6.5 miles

Tuesday: 7.9 total

Wednesday: 22 miles

Thursday: RunWEST AM; solo  Swole session; RunWEST PM (6.8 total)

Friday: RWB

Saturday: RWB

Sunday: 18.5 total

Respect for the Jimmy

There are some races races that you never think about again after you cross the finish line, there are some races that you think back on every now and then but they don’t really affect you, and then there are races that stick with you, permeate almost every thought, leave you wanting so much more of it. Strolling Jim is definitely the latter.

Jobie ran SJ last year and said it was a good way to get some miles on the legs before River of No Return. He was running again this year as were Jeff Walton, Sinith, and Roy. 41.2 miles on the road — you want to make sure you know a few faces out there. After surviving Boston, I finally pulled the trigger on SJ with the intention of running it as a training run for RONR. Again, 41.2 miles on the road — I assumed it would be brutal, miserable, and that I’d never want to do it again. Well, 2 out of 3 ain’t bad.

Jobie and me pre-suffering

Jobie and me pre-suffering; Photo cred: Yong Kim

Sinith, Roy, and Me at the start

Sinith, Roy, and Me at the start; Photo cred: Yong Kim

I recruited my mom to come crew for me, and around 5:15 am, we headed over to Wartrace. By the time we got there, I had just enough time to pick up my packet, hit the port-a-john, give Yong and my mom a hug, say hey to Jeff, Sinith, and Roy, and toe the line next to Jobie. After an unceremonious start, we were off. We settled into a decent sized pack, right next to some ultrarunning legends. As I was running with them, I knew I was going to pay for it later, but it was oh so worth it. I mean one of the guys had run SJ for as many years as I’ve been on this Earth. When you can run with these guys and listen to what they have to say, you do it. Plus, the miles were really clicking by (probably because we were running under an 8:00 pace) . . . even with the “hills”. Spray painted on the first, shall we say, incline was “This Is Not a Hill” — a theme that would continue throughout the day. (Apparently, Laz doesn’t believe anything under 1000 ft is considered a hill and which according to this, there’d only be 4 hills the entire race) We kept trucking along, listening to ultrarunning war stories from these guys.

The week before the race Jobie warned me that 9 was an evil number — big hills fell around miles 9, 19, and 29. Sure enough, right around mile 9, we just kept going up and up. As we reached the top, the pavement read “That was a a hill”. Yeah, no shit, Laz. Even with the hill, we got to Mom and Yong at mile 10 more quickly than expected. I exchanged out my bottle and kept on running. I still felt good and kept up with the group for another 5 or 6 miles I think. I started running with one of the Huntsville guys, Tim. We ran off and on together throughout the day.

Tim and Me around 19ish   Photo Cred: Yong Kim

Tim and Me around 19ish; Photo cred: Yong Kim

Eventually, Tim and I separated from the pack. For me, wheels started falling off after the hill at mile 19. I had already been struggling a little through miles 17-19, but my stomach and legs just wouldn’t cooperate. I chugged some coke and tried to eat a little bit before getting back after it. I still felt terrible and really had to work hard to keep up with Tim. We each reassessed some of our goals for the day. Mine became just survive and finish, and even that seemed lofty at times. I have never wanted to drop from a race as badly as I did between miles 22-27ish, but I kept thinking about something Tim said a few miles back — the only way he wouldn’t finish a race was if a bone were sticking out. Damn straight. I knew I had to just suck it up and walk the whole damn thing if I had to. (Of course, there were a few moments when I tried to think of the best way to get my bone to stick out so I could quit but those were fleeting). Around mile 23 (I think), I stopped to get some hydration and nutrition, and I told Tim to go on. I had a feeling I’d be there a while. I knew I needed to eat something so I tried a few Pringles. Nope. I threw up everywhere– my first time doing so in a race. I just drank more coke and filled up a bottle with Skratch. After she doused me with gloriously cold water, Mom told me to get out of there. I started shuffling along and pretty soon I felt a little better. I was actually able to enjoy some of the scenery– it truly was a beautiful, bucolic setting for a race.

By the time I got to mom around mile 27 or 28, I was feeling good (good being a relative term). I knew that, with only a half marathon to go, I could finish this race. Per Tim’s earlier suggestion (he was long gone by now), I had Mom mix some coke and water in my bottle. Perfection. It was nice to see Mom every couple of miles so I had her keep that up through the remainder of the race. I was so damn hot and so damn tired that the few minutes “wasted” by stopping every 2 miles were completely worth it.

Soon, I was at mile 30 or the “Walls”– just one rolling hill after another. However, it was pretty shady here, and for some reason, this was my favorite part of the race. After the Walls, we began retracing our steps back towards the finish. There was absolutely no sun, but Mom had a system down for cooling me off and getting me back at it. Eventually, I saw Tim again but our crews were staggered so we didn’t stick together long. Also, he got an amazing second wind, and I never saw him again after mile 35ish. I continued on the country road, talked to another guy, Martin, from Huntsville, really tried to enjoy myself. I was still hot and tired but felt good compared to miles 19-27. At some point, I grabbed Mom’s iPod. I rarely listen to music while I run but was desperate for any little help. “Dancing in the Dark” came on (my favorite Springsteen song) which really picked up until I saw Yong and Mom back together again around 37. Mom gave me some coke while Yong wiped me down with a cool rag. This was my first time having a crew for a race — I really like the star treatment! I asked about Jobie who I hadn’t seen in 20 miles or so, and then Yong told me to go– I only had a 5k left.

Sure enough, not too far down the road were the words “Only a 5k Left, Start Your Kick Now” spray painted on the road. It was on an incline, and my “kick” involved me walking up it. But after that, my legs got going, and I could see Mom up at the 2 miles to go mark. I had her wait there just in case I needed something to make it to the finish. Right as I was getting there, Tony, the guy who’d been helping out Tim and Martin, pulled up beside me and said that somehow the 2nd place female was coming in hot behind me. After all of the struggle and suffering, I did not want to give up first place with 2 miles to go. I dug deep, and fortunately, my legs wanted to cooperate with my heart. I ran past Mom and told her to go on to the finish. Soon, I made my way onto the main road that would carry me home. This section was completely exposed and, shocker, had an incline. I didn’t care though– I was ready to finish and finish first. Tony drove by, gave me the thumbs up, and said homegirl was about 3/4 mile back. I started pushing a little harder. FINALLY, I saw the gas station which was so close to the finish line, pushed as much as I could, and made it across the finish line at 6:16:50. I’ve never been so happy to see Mom, Yong, or Jobie in my life.

Greatest swing on the planet

Greatest swing on the planet

All I could tell people after the race was over was that it was absolutely miserable. And it was. But I cannot stop thinking about that damn race and how badly I want to do it again next year. I’m not sure if it’s the vibe or the history or the badassness that surrounds it, but it definitely has a magnetic pull on me right now. So yes, it was brutal, it was miserable, but I will do it again next year. And I’ll do it with much more respect for the Jimmy this time.

*Huge thanks to my mom and to Yong for all of their help. I think part of the reason the day was so special to me was that I got to share this experience with my mom. There were definitely spots in the race where I wouldn’t have wanted to see anyone else out there but her. It meant a lot that she willingly spent her Saturday watching me puke and suffer. Love you, and Happy Early Mother’s Day.

**Thanks also to Nashville Running Company for their support

***I think I repressed parts of the race so if description/mileage/etc are off, please forgive.