All posts by Laura K

Spirit, heart and rhythm....

I am an Ultra Runner! AAR Stone Cat 50k 11/2/19

The desolate view in main picture is what the finish line looks like when you are fourth from last.  This is the view from the back of the pack.  I still have an ego and I have to say this hurt.  There was no joy, not even relief having it over.  It was just done.  A few cheers and support when I finished but it’s nothing like a marathon with crowds cheering you much of the way.  This is a long slog alone with yourself.  No man sang to me like in the Spartan Ultra.  Old Joe, who I ran with the first two loops and who did ~4 dirt dives with pretty good rolls, had gone out in front of me.  I was passed by a few folks the last 5 miles but I couldn’t keep up with them to maintain company.  Just me and me.  All that said, it thoughts never once crossed my mind like “why was I here?” etc… it was just about finishing.

There was no way I wasn’t going to finish.  I had to redeem myself after “Daring Greatly” at the Spartan Ultra earning 25.6 miles but not finishing.  My coach was also running the NYC marathon and said my finishing would be a boost for him – another great reason – and there is no way I will ever quit at anything I do.  At 25.6 miles in Stone Cat, I knew every step was a PR and after 26.2 miles, I was happy as I was then an official ultra runner.  But mostly I was crying maybe from just being tired with a hurt ego being almost last.  I was hurting for about 15 miles of this race with really sore hips and having trouble breathing/coughing from the cold.  This one was finished with the heart, not the legs.  The logic around most people don’t dare to do this didn’t really work to boost me at the end or after (yet).

So I’ll write out the accomplishments this year although I’m not emotionally feeling them at this moment:

  • Longest I’ve ever run by 17 miles, that half marathon happened 35 years ago when I was in high school
  • I’ve learned an incredible amount about training techniques, biking, running nutrition, hydration vests, trail running, shoes, etc learning more each week.  Each run truly is an adventure and learning opportunity – another data point to file away.
  • I will always remember I couldn’t make it up the stairs at Wachuset Dam early spring and was blown away thinking I had to do 6000′ at spartan Ultra (good thing I didn’t know the true elevation was 15,000′).  Then doing 12,200′ without difficulty.  And now after listening to these ultra dudes, thinking about races that have 70,000’…. the bar is raised.
  • I’ve learned a ton especially on Nashoba about how some things are just hard no matter how often you do them.  That you can recover pretty quickly from a hard part of the race and be ready to do it again in a few minutes.  About total muscular failure (as I almost fell over that day about 20 yards from the end) and importance of pacing.  Of running vs. walking vs. whatever it is you want to call it when you just make steady, DETERMINED, forward progress
  • Gained some pretty awesome friends and have a community of people I can empathize with, learn from and share who understand what it’s like to do these types of endeavors
  • Learned importance of consistency and training periods building up, then a rest week – it works.

This was a 3x10mile loop with an extra mile or so in the beginning and an aid station in the middle of the 10 mile loop.  Pretty much an ideal split as the mental game goes like this:

  • Loop 1:  just do it as you’re not that tired maintaining target pace
  • Loop 2:  Should be hardest mentally – make the cutoff
  • Loop 3:  Surge to make cutoff at aid station.  Then you are basically done – just run last 5 miles in (although the last 5 miles in this case seemed like a marathon of its own)

Good news is it should be easy to beat this time:



AAR Key lessons learned/strategies to implement to crush this time next time:

  • Don’t have a cold or at least bring meds with you for the trail.  I’ve been slugging cold medicine for two straight weeks and struggled greatly with not being able to breath and coughing during the last 2 loops.  I left my cold tab in the car and just did without for the afternoon which was a mistake.  My average HR was 147 (from garmin) which is absolutely crazy.  Need to turn off the “performance indicator” so I don’t get that warning that I’m below normal in the first few miles of a 30 mile race 🙂
  • Hip mobility.  Hip mobility.  Hip mobility.  If this was fixed, I could have absolutely done way better.  Starting at around mile 7 I was struggling with hip pain.  This amount of pain had never happened before – not during the Spartan Ultra or any of the long runs.  Maybe the reduced training time last 6 weeks really hurt me as I typically do more mobility and I had literally done almost zero the last two weeks before this race.  Goggins says mobility will change your life and allow you to run faster.  I am a believer.
  • I struggled with calf cramps second loop and the guy at aid station said to eat these baby potatoes coated in salt and this did help.  I also took extra electrolytes and drank a ton not knowing what was causing it.  No issues third loop.
  • Clothing: Race started out at 32F with no wind and per my history, I wore my light fleece.  This ended up being too hot to wear along with a pack.  I left fleece after first loop and need to have a lighter jacket WHEN THERE IS NO WIND.  These little factors have a lot to do with right clothing.  By end of race it was above 47F and just a lightweight rashguard long sleeved shirt was fine although hands were cold.  Ran with Altra Lone Peaks – awesome.

I can say now I know what the pain cave is – first time in it.  I probably dealt with it for a good 15 miles with my hips hurting.  Really struggled the last 5 miles of both loops 2 and 3 (see mile 20 and then miles 25-32).  I tried listening to music for a while – my standard 2019 “workout” playlist but turned it off.  Thought of snuggling with my husband and just putting one foot in front of the other.  Tried to veer off of the negative thoughts about being slow and last.  My lesson was I know I can feel bad like at mile 19 but know I can keep going for another 10 without it really getting worse – it just goes on.  Perhaps calf cramps get substituted with weird foot pains or hips but I know now you can go on.

Vs. Spartan Ultra:  This was a totally different race.  The plan was that this should be an easy 30 miles vs. the spartan ultra with ~10,000 LESS elevation gain, no obstacles, and should have been a nice finish.  But it was about 4x harder with the hip pain and cold.

  • After the Spartan ultra I felt basically pretty good the next day although getting to sleep was tough and everything hurt.  After this race I could barely get into the car, was crippled not being able to even walk, the weight of the covers flexed my foot enough to really hurt while lying in bed and here I am the next day barely able to walk. The only muscle soreness I have today is in lower outer quads which are pretty tender and a little at top of calves.
  • I felt so very strong going into the Spartan ultra with a good taper and this race pre-training was not good as I had spent 2 weeks resting after the Spartan race, did two weeks of partial training and then was out 2 weeks before doing nothing with the cold.  I did all the long runs but missed a bunch of little ones. I also traveled from Boston to CA to London for 10 days.  Definitely a strange period between the two races.
  • I was overall tired in the Spartan Ultra but it was a general body fatigue, not a debilitating hip soreness.
  • In the Spartan Ultra, at 17 miles, I had been on my feet for 7 hours with tons of elevation gain and in this race I was pretty much almost done with 30 miles in the same time. I definitely felt better in the spartan transition area than I did at the end of this race.

A few pics pre-race….used my spartan bucket (yellow lid below) and the race directors wife played bagpipes which was pretty cool!


Here’s to my first Ultra race, the Stone Cat 50k.  May my subsequent ones be easier!!


Daring Greatly vs. DNF. And Goggins Got me Again With His MOAB 240 Results…

Daring Greatly.  Much better classification than DNF.  Trying something you are afraid of.  Showing Up.

So Goggins had to “recertify as a fucking savage” and signed up for MOAB 240.  Besides going off trail for ~14 miles and then moving back up to the top 10, he had to go to the hospital around course mile 200 because of a heart issue where he was told to rest and not go back up to altitude.  He went out the next day and finished the race (although unofficially).  He does things that make me crazy.

There Was No Plan for Not Finishing

I meticulously planned my nutrition, my clothes, my strategy and pace, detailed timeline for the day of the race, etc but never made a plan for how to meet up if I did not finish the race.

Not finishing wasn’t a consideration.  Realizing this months before actually took a lot of stress away and made priorities clear.  You can work now or you can have a tougher time during the race – easy choice.  Deciding you are doing the race no matter what is an important strategy.  When I left GE and was totally stressed about starting a business (which ultimately didn’t work) and paying for my condo I loved, the night I decided losing the condo wasn’t an option and I worked around that plan, everything was easier.  Related to this record, a guy posted in StrongerU about inspirational quotes and someone put this:

“Anytime my brain says “I don’t really want to…..” I immediately shut it down and say “fuck you, you’re doing it just for thinking that.”  Move forward with no fear!

As I wrote up my lessons learned in the former Ultra AAR, I am torn to say if you should have a plan for not finishing or not.

I was pretty lucky that somehow Kenny figured out where the timeout point was and that I hadn’t passed it yet else I would have been wandering around trying to find him after the Killington ultra.  I also then forgot to stay and root the others on because it never occured to me I would be done before them 🙂

Laura vs. The Dark, AAR Hollis Trail Run 10/5/19

My hips hurt.  This is what I felt like after 20 miles at Killington but am only at mile 10.  I can barely see the trail.  Should I flag someone down at the next road?  Maybe I’ll pass someone on the trail who has a car at a trailhead.  Why didn’t I bring that headlamp?  Why did my phone die so quickly?  I have 1% battery left – better shut down the screen. Why is this run so hard?  Am I not recovered yet or is it the electrolytes I forgot to bring?  Have an hour left.  Better pay attention to the trail or I will fall. Man am I hungry.  What will I do if I get stuck out here in the dark and cold? Listen for traffic.  I have no way to call for help. I can’t believe my phone is still working…take a left here…

And about an hour later, I finally saw the yurt and trailhead where my car was.  What a relief!



This was my first long run since the Killington Ultra (race + 3 weeks).  Today I did 17.1 miles over 4:21 hours.  This was a busy day with a late running start:

  • Had a bee in my pants.  Picked dahlias and brought one inside my pajamas
  • I accidentally jammed my toothbrush up my nose (and it hurt)


  • Kenny left at 3:15am to go on a diving vacation in Roatan, Honduras without me on our anniversary (darn work!)
  • I got my new Suburu Crosstrek
  • Had to do 4.5 hours on flatter trails to simulate more the Stone Cat 50k I’m training for on Nov 2. I wanted to run the Beaver Brook trails and see if I could connect them with the conservation land trails to get up to Silver Lake area.  Alltrails app rocks!

Lessons Learned:

  • Always bring a headlamp.  Always also take it from the car and put in hydration pack.  and backup batteries and light stick.
  • Always bring an extra phone charger.  Phone went from 95% to 0% over 4 hours even in airplane mode just using screen with Alltrails.
  • don’t forget electrolytes.  I could barely move later.  I forgot salt stix tabs so figured this was a good day to experiment with 50% less than planned…. NOT!
  • Listen to my coach.  I went way faster than he asked me to and was mostly in Z3 vs. Z2 despite good intentions.

As always, love the variety of environments you run through on the trails.  Not many people out today despite heading into peak foliage season.  Started out at Beaver Brook crossing Proctor Hill Rd to get to the Beaver Brook Pond:



I took a lesser trail to get north, which was at times a little hard to find.  Came back on a larger parallel one starting from the more west trailhead (two are very close together on Rocky Pond Rd – one has more space to park) that I would recommend.

Then ran past Rocky Pond Rd to get to the Big Hill and Silver Lake area – this started out with a debris strewn path before turning into a soft pine trail – also had some very narrow single track trail:




Then you came out into the big farmfields and the Noreaster trails – all the pumpkins had been harvested earlier in the week and the fields mowed which had a ton of tall weeds (similar to Killington) lying on ground to run through:


And the beautiful 2.5 mile Silver lake trail (2 miles without the run to the primary sign from the parking lot):



I was pretty crippled at the end and could literally barely walk later on.  Good thing I had my handy vibrator and my neighbor Marguery/Richard to feed me dinner and give me a warm blanket!



Shared Experiences…Books 2019

It’s getting late in the season – picture is from the TARC Fall Classic 10k I completed yesterday beating my coach, Gary  Lombardo (who was running with me, went ahead, got stung, ran with me…), for what may be the only time!

I’ve become engrossed in reading about other peoples’ journeys and day to day stories about training, about why they do it, about problems and problems solved and have enjoyed the comaraderie from these writers!


This one is better with a face to face summary given first:




Not recommended – can’t finish:


2019 Killington Plan Details

killington 2019 bucket planning

Note:  This has been updated with lessons learned…..

2019 Killington Ultra Plan & Transition – Laura Kozel

Leave bucket night before/drop warm soup in morning along with foot gel and chafing stick.

OVERALL RACE STRATEGY:  26:30-27:00 AVG entire race, 1st lap 26”/mi, 2nd 28”/mi

  • Start time: 6:45, cutoff 2:30 in transition ~15 miles must be faster than 30”/mile, 6pm pipe lair, 7pm beater, 9pm course shut down (28”/mile)
  • Finish 26:00/mi=13 hours (7:45pm), 26:30/mi = 13.25h, 27:00/mi = 13.5 h, 28:00/mi = 14 h (8:45)
  • Ok to get assists on some obstacles (tall walls)
  • Burpee out of jungle gyms and ropes in middle of swing
  • Conserve on first lap – step up burpees


  • Eat 4:45  (oatmeal, milk, blueberries, 2 egg whites, 1c coffee)
  • Turnoff phone Bluetooth
  • Get to course ~ 6:00
  • Eat fuel for fire 6:15
  • Warmup 6:30


  • Changeout water bottles and bladder
  • Refill food and electrolytes
  • Eat chicken soup! Bring PB&J to eat


  • Critical spares bag – bring before race:
    • Contacts and solution
    • Fuel for fire for before race
    • Chargers for garmin watch, phone, headlamp, big battery recharge
    • Chafing cream
    • Foot lube
    • First aid in baggie –blister bandaid and moleskin, regular bandaid, antiseptic wipes, Scissors
    • Recoverite post race
    • Sunblock
    • Spare jacket
  • For hydration pack
    • First aid in baggie – liquid bandaid, blister bandaid and moleskin, regular bandaid, antiseptic wipes, Tylenol, TP
    • Water/tailwind
    • Spare jacket in baggie
    • Plastic cup
    • 4 gels (2 w/caffeine) + 2 cliff blocks (expect 8 hrs/leg worst case + 2 extra).  If decrease water during race, make sure compensate tailwind with food
    • 8×2+ spares Salt Stix condensed tabs
    • Three spare tailwinds in bags


  • Spare clothes: pants, shirt, long sleeve shirt, spare socks/shoes (altra lone peaks)
  • Critical spares bag:
    • Spare contacts & mirror
    • Hand sanitizer wipes
    • First aid – liquid bandaid, blister bandaid and moleskin, regular bandaid, antiseptic wipes
    • Toilet paper
    • Washrag in bag
  • Lap 1 bag (empty – dump whatever in it after)
  • Lap 2 bag
    • 4 gels, (2 w/caffeine) + 2 cliff block
    • 16+spares Salt Stix condensed tabs
    • Headlamp, Glow sticks
  • Spare food: Electrolytes, crackers, gels, RXbar,  PB&J (WHITE BREAD, honey, thin almond butter, banana) chicken soup & thermos, waffles
  • Garbage bag

Pacing – Not all Courses are Equal! & Stats

There are a lot of factors that influence your pace with the major ones being:

  • Road vs. Trail
  • Rocky/technical trail or easy trail
  • Hills or no hills
  • Obstacles
  • You’re better with training!!

I developed a simple way of comparing longer runs I’ve done to understand my pace in different situations.  One major factor is the elevation gain so I have calculated an elevation gain factor for each run which is:

elevation factor = total gain in feet/distance in miles

2019 History (arranged from flattest to most elevation gain/mile, T = technical rocky trail, O = included obstacles, pace is moving pace)

Pacing stat tracker pdf Page 001

I Can Only Get Better…Either Do It or Shut Up About it, 9/24/19

I’ve been thinking and thinking and thinking and taking a few lessons and thinking about being someone who can improvise for 20 years now.  I’ve been so ashamed I am tied to the written page, sometimes afraid I will have nothing musically to say, and afraid to really try.  Now that my big race is over, I called up Billy Novick, clarinet teacher extraordinaire, who I found through a famous New Orleans clarinetist who a friend of mine went to Harvard with a few years ago.  He declined and said he was retired but then offered to see me irregularly.  I went to his house the next day!

Hadn’t played in over six months, squeaked, tonguing was horrible, scales were horrible, and he made me just play in C or D while he played some chords on piano.  I WAS TERRIFIED!  I did better than I thought but also was pretty bad – gotta start somewhere.  I was thinking he had no idea what he got himself into when he offered to see me next week as well….

Have some hard homework in memorizing chords and improvisation to do for next week but the journey has begun…

Recovery (T+9), Some Big Thoughts and My Next Ultra Attempt in a Month

Last Thursday (T+4) I went out for an hour easy run – first one since race, Zone 2 and my heart rate bounced between 80 and over 150 – couldn’t maintain Z2 for the life of me.  Crazy.  I felt pretty hurt the night of the race going to bed after telling Kenny “DO NOT TOUCH ANY PART OF ME.”  I felt great the next day – a little stiff but honestly better than after the 2 Spartan Supers and after some of the weekend long runs.  My only pain was the top of my foot above my bunion which has taken over a week to not hurt all the time.  Felt worse on Monday – darn tired and emotional driving to work being proud and sad at the same time.    The following Sat, I did a 30 mile bike, 2000′ climb in total with some friends to family apple picking and they worked me! This included the biggest hill I have ever gone up on a bike (the first steep one).  This is the famous “Mt Vernon” hill….Note that a few hours later I was fast asleep in the middle of 30 people and worn out for the rest of the day!


I’ve pretty much been tired every night since the race.  Today I missed the standard Nashoba hill runs but did six in my neighborhood that used to be scary and were surprisingly easy!!  That is exciting as I used to only get to the 2nd mailbox…..and was pretty psyched a few months ago when I actually made it (barely) to the top.

I did have enough energy though to get myself into the Stone Cat 50k on Nov 2, which will replace the marathon I had been planning to run.  I want to be able to say I am an ultra runner.  Decently flat course – 3 10 mile loops and one month to recover and prep.

I also found a podcast I like:

and found two things in this podcast I’ve been thinking about:

  1. I think I like long runs and training because of the problem solving aspect.  I am always learning something, or doing something I have never done before, seeing new things, making new friends, getting super tired and beat up with bruises all over – I love it!  You run into the void not knowing what will happen and just do the best you can – it’s you against you and I am a formidable enemy.
  2. I disagree when they went on and on about how “nothing matters.”  I agree that petty worries don’t matter and that we are all pampered with not a ton of real serious issues – waking up after having my rib taken out proved to me how happy I was just to be alive and put things into perspective.  Plenty of stuff that doesn’t matter has bothered me over the years and I’ve tried to get better at dealing with it.  But a lot of things matter and they don’t have to be big huge things like the planet is being destroyed.  Just being kind to someone who’s having a bad day matters.


What you CAN do after shoulder surgery – An athletes’ guide to recovery

It was difficult to find any online material around what you COULD do after rotator cuff surgery so I created a guide to help athletes realize there are options, especially around training legs (important for all you trail runners out there!).  I do crossfit, so the exercises noted relate to crossfit lingo –

Exercises after Shoulder Surgery – crossfit spin

Here is a video I made just before six weeks when I could take off the sling with some advice:


Remember, do NOT watch youtube videos about people saying how horrible the pain is.  I did and it made me afraid to take off my sling 2 days after surgery.  Turns out, with good breathing to help stretch out the arm the first time, it felt good, not bad.  Remember when doing anything you are afraid of, to breathe – my husband did it with me and helped lower my arm down a very small amount each breath out and it was absolutely fine.

He also became good at doing my hair!

Also note and discussed in another blog post, do NOT do a trail run after taking off the sling and being “freed.”  I did the same week and did a total face/side plan on a gravel trail (luckily on my good side) that could have been catastrophic had I fallen on my hurt side…play it safe on the road to recovery.

It’s Stressful Being a Spectator, AAR Killington Spartan Ultra 9/14/19

Around 6:30pm I emerged from the muddy woods after 25.6 miles, 12,141′ of hill climbs and 11:48 hours at a 27:41/mi avg pace, alone with my headlamp, happy as I did absolutely the best I could but tired and sad (crying) I didn’t finish, to find my sweet husband along with a few others clapping for me at the timeout obstacle.  I missed the time cut by over 30 min. He told me how proud he was with such sincerity. He told me he had been there for ~4 hours and spent the whole day scared something happened to me while listening to the radios of the race officials as people were carried down the mountains with dislocated shoulders, twisted ankles, etc and seeing the tired faces of people coming in.

Later, he said he was so happy and relieved when he first saw me smiling come down the mountain into the base area right for a few obstacles like sand bag carry before transition around 1:45.

He had been watching all kinds of people at the sandbag obstacle right there curse, and sit down unable to move, and struggle carrying the bag up/down the hill, and said he was so impressed at what good shape I was in.  He said it was exciting and almost made him want to do it too:)

In retrospect, his being proud of me (and my coach) means way more more to me than how far I went or what I actually accomplished.  I have done it – learned to love the journey more than the result.  And unfortunately for Kenny, his sign still applies:


My own distinct memories of this run:

  • A man with a beautiful voice singing to me in the cold and rain as we hiked up a hill past transition on a lonely 2nd lap
  • A Wolverine, Duncan, who agreed to give up our college rivalries for a little comaraderie on the trail
  • My coaches note the night before that made me cry telling me that no matter what happens he is proud of all my hard work
  • I never hit a limit or was discouraged.  I got tired a few miles into the second loop but never thought about stopping
  • I learned early in loop 1 that you can’t afford to think about “doing it again” in loop 2 – ultra math doesn’t help so forget about it.
  • Going uphills are way easier when you walk uphills sideways 10 steps facing left, then turn and 10 right, slow and steady and sharing load between legs.  Nothing on my legs or knees got noticeably tired going uphill or downhill.  Now, the cumulative effect hit apparently me later but doing the many death marches wasn’t bad at all.  My feet – may lose the left foot big toenail.  The are on my right foot near bunion also still hurts a few days later – maybe larger toebox with Altras will help there.
  • I thought the Death March and the sandbag carries were not difficult
  • The Ultra loop had a steep uphill through a beautiful field with super tall wildflowers
  • Bring on the bad weather – I thrive in the worst conditions and the coldness and rain at the top was appreciated more than being a negative
  • My downhills had gotten way better with my rockster Inov8 X-Talon 260 Ultras allowing me to run while many slid down on their behind
  • Me and my fellow ultra runners found out about where/when the timeout was after it was impossible to adjust to make it.  I think we had 2 miles to go and only 30 min left.  We kept going anyway but knew we would get the hook.

What I will do differently next time:

  • Absolutely no regrets this race – thrilled with how I did – but will be a little smarter next time.  I want to be able to say I am an ultra runner but it will not be today.
  • Will not leave my light jacket in transition – should always have that in questionable weather.  I froze on second loop after swim and this may have slowed me down a lot.  Debriefed with coach today and had forgotten to tell him that.  I wasn’t sure why I was going so much slower than first loop when I felt great at transition – have no reference for “bonking” and was thinking I didn’t drink or eat enough.
  • I was starving on 2nd loop.  I should have eaten more food/grabbed my PB&J and eaten it on the run.  Just had chicken soup and didn’t really feel rejuvenated.  Definitely need extra gels for 2nd loop to account for unknown extra mileage or extra fuel needs 2nd half

My dreams second loop!! of my jacket and PB&J


  • I cut back my water after around mile 10 as I started to get dizzy and thought I was overhydrating….I may not have caught up on the extra carbs by eating more though.  Need to bring extra gels and figure out the right water intake based on temperature for my body or figure out why I got dizzy
  • Need to work on longer term strength/endurance with perhaps more mountain runs and get my upper body back in shape to be able to do all the obstacles to bring my pace down.  I ran at 27:41 pace and my friend finished at a 26:30 and had consistency between 1st and 2nd laps (while I slowed a lot).
  • Take better inventory of water and electrolytes before and after.  I just threw in extra electrolyte tabs and dumped my lap 1 water cleaning up.  Now that I want to figure out the dizziness thing, I am missing data!!
  • Do age group to get an extra 30-45 min for cutoffs
  • Every time you can, push a little faster as this could have allowed me to finish/wasn’t sure how to pace myself and as I was going faster than plan, I thought I would be fine.  By the time I realized I was going to time out, it was too late to catch up
  • I didn’t know how to time the second lap.  Next time, get the name of the timeout obstacle and time it from the start so you know how far to get there from transition, that way you can pace yourself to make the cut.  I didn’t know where it was/how far from transition to know if I’d make it or not until it was too late.

A little time history of the last week:

When I saw the race profile released around Wed, I got scared as it became real and showed 16000 ft!


But proper training and planning brought me back to calm confidence before the race:

Details of my plan here: killington 2019 bucket planning

Got there early to checkin Friday and had an amazing dinner at The Foundry:

Then after getting up at 4am to eat and prep for a 6:45 start, met everyone at the race:

Once again, had to face the wall to even get to the starting line – a wall that makes my arms shaky as I lift myself over it – what if I can’t get over it to even start the race?!?!

Nothing so different on obstacles (or burpees!)  – here are a few Kenny caught:

The day started out warmer than expected at around 53F but forecast rain before noon that would clear up a few hours.  I hadn’t really planned on a jacket and brought one in a plastic bag if needed (it was – at the top which had high winds and rain) but need to get a smaller one for next time.  Rain didn’t clear up and it got colder so leaving my jacket in transition bucket became a mistake (lesson learned).

This muddy hill prior to the Death March had been just field debris the first time I went down it and became a muddy nightmare the second.  and Death March.

It was a good day and I am proud of it.  I left with a DNF.  No medal.  No recognition at all in race results.  No recognition I did 10 miles more than the Beast.  I don’t need any of that to know what I did.  I raced further than I ever had before with twice as much elevation that I’d ever done under my planned pace.  I crushed the hills and downhills and never gave up (although a few tears were shed).  It quickly went from thinking ” I don’t really need to do it again” to “hell, yes I have to do it….”

The Race:

IMG_6555    IMG_6556



IMG_6558  IMG_6559

Post race emotions:  Felt proud even while timing out, then cried I didn’t make it, felt proud all night, woke up crying and tired and emotional.  Felt pretty good rest of day, then cried all night and en route to work.  Felt better then way better after speaking with coach….. I have gotten the post race blues and love the activity/discussion after a big race but miss the thing that brings so many people I truly love being with together.  Must plan more and keep the team theme going!!

I am just so happy with all I’ve learned this year (remember crying in the basement when you couldn’t remove and put your rear tire back on? remember spending hours figuring out accessories required like cadence meters to use zwift or what trail shoes or or what hydration packs are….?  remember repeatedly falling while learning how to run rocky paths and crying on the side of the trail while people laughed at you? remember the first time you ran Z2 and thought how could this help me….and then realizing I had only run one speed for the last 30 years and maybe there was a better approach :)…..on and on).  I am a goal oriented person.  I am also always afraid so learning also means being afraid a lot or as I like to say to myself, means having courage a lot of the time because it’s extra hard for me.  I like being ordered around a little and being around people who know way more than I do and who will put up with me even if I slow them down. Remember the late night my coach tricked me and had me do 9+ miles of intervals that took an entire Friday night 🙂 Remember the absolute gut wrenching fear of running up Nashoba (my new best friend)?

enough rambling.  Ready to move forward with no fear.  to nourish the new friendships and to build on what I have done this last year and recover what I have lost thru my adult life with my shoulder and posture issues.  I will come out stronger in the end and keep working towards my best self.  I would love to feel like I am helping others as well and really enjoyed coaching my BLF (best little friend) thru the OCR course so perhaps I can help younger women get stronger mentally for work and physically for life…. a new career path!

There are only the trained and untrained.  who are you?  I AM TRAINED!  (Denzel Washington, Man on Fire)



Race Pace and Mental Preparations…T-7 days

Spent some time this week getting mentally prepared….remembering all the hard work I’ve done this year, all the friends made, how much I’ve learned and improved…


I also spent some time trying to figure out if my coachs’ recommended mile pace (26 min/mile 1st loop and 28 min/mile 2nd loop) was in line with what I’ve been doing on my last big runs.  I made this comparison to compare runs.  Critical factors:

  • Elevation gain/miles run –  Great comparative factor
  • Obstacles (bonefrog, boston super/sprint)
  • Super rock technical trail (and slowest times) (Skyline, mountain runs) vs. grassy run
  • Similar obstacle course on grass with elevation (Bonefrog)

Comparison looks like this and Garys’ recommended time of 26 min/mile 1st loop and 28 min/mile 2nd seems right on if not a little conservative.


I’ve got my plan and bin ready to decorate also – my plan is to get in/out of transition as fast as possible.  During tomorrow’s last longish run (90 min), I will eat chicken soup and try taping calves in preparation so its not the first time I do this in the race.


I am surprisingly not nervous about it.

AM JUST GOING TO GO OUT AND DO WHAT I DO…. work hard over a long time loving every second of it.

Old Speck..A Few (14) Notable Miles on the Appalachian Trail AAR 8/24/19

Last long run before the big race!  Tried to pick something with a ton of elevation and a goal of being out around 8 hours.  This weekend ( Aug 24) we were camping at Papoose Pond in Waterford, ME so I found Old speck about 40 min away and spent my Sat on vacation going up and down this 4000′ mountain twice!  I was pretty psyched because I had just finished Scott Jureks book North about his adventures and difficulties he encountered while he set the record for running the entire AT going north.  GREAT BOOK AND FANTASTIC SECTION OF THE TRAIL!


and I know cause I did it twice.

I was also researching trail apps just in case I got lost (as I did on Skyline) and chose Alltrails over Gaia GPS because of this feature (lifeline) to let your loved know you are OK while running.  Unfortunately, it only works if you have cell service, which I had for about 2 minutes the entire 7.5 hours I was on trail and if it isn’t sending out messages from me, turns out it was sending little notes like “she should have checked in by now” to worry Kenny 🙂

Well, this was a fantastic section of the AT and it was a seriously varied run, not just in the terrain which went from forest trail to very rooty to being absolutely beautiful with everything covered in green….but also emotionally as it was foggy and grey the first time I got to the summit and then beautifully sunny the second.  With all of these things going on, I don’t understand why anyone wants to play music while running/hiking.

What went well

  • Got in 6000′ in 7.5 hours – good prep for the big race although mostly hiking with all the rocks
  • Tried out my new Altra Lone Peak 4s which were awesome – I think I’ll like these better than the Inov8 Talon Ultra 260 because of the wider toebox and they recently handled better in loose rock on the Nashoba hill runs
  • Met an awesome trail runner – older guy running in pants with an enormously long, scraggly beard who told me the secret was to just watch your feet and plan where they go one step at a time.
  • People gave me compliments when I passed them a second time and they realized I was doing it twice
  • No blisters
  • No falls!!!  This is huge – am getting better each weekend with practice and hopefully stronger so less likely to trip

What didn’t go so well

  • Got super dizzy at the top after the 2nd ascent – I blame it on too many electrolytes.  Good thing I was followed down by these two folks and their dog – made me feel better if I fell or needed help having them there.

I spent a lot of time thinking about how peoples’ observations are such a matter of perspective.  A woman declared the trail very muddy and I was thinking it was dry.  Was it long, hard to do, steep….. am I obsessive or just training towards a goal…  I take peoples’ warnings with a grain of salt and realized that most of the times when someone says something was hard, it may have been challenging for them but I wonder how much they have challenged themselves.  I am trying to find out how I can push myself and do more than I thought – as I improve weekly, I realize that I may not hit a limit.  What if there is no limit?  That may be the biggest lesson learned this year; however, if there is no limit, it makes every workout challenging as you keep trying to beat your personal bests 🙂

Loved this hike and our few days at Papoose…this run earned me two breakfasts the next day!

The Doubt, 14 day countdown, Aug 30, 2019

Did I do a good job training or not?  Overall, I feel great about what I’ve done, the massive amount I’ve learned, the records/improvements I continue to make weekly, the solid effort I have done every week – I never half ass a workout.  But –

Sometimes I forgot to do things like askill workout or flexibility like crossover symmetry.  or to read the sheets carefully and just totally missed something.

Sometimes I purposefully didn’t do things – had issues on Wednesdays and often missed the Wed or Thurs bike ride.  Was just too beat down from work and got home just in time to eat and it was 9pm.  Spent a few minutes (literally) before bed with my awesome husband 🙂

How could I follow within +/- 5g a day a food plan for 7+ months yet struggle so much in maintenance?  Here I am, not sure what I should weigh, if I am eating too much (as I did gain a few pounds), or too little (I was tired and felt better eating more).  And I keep having this little Baileys drink too often….

I definitely do not have the body I thought I would have after this – no sixpack, weak arms due to shoulder issues.  Upper body strength has been my biggest disappointment as I am typically great at that but temporarily weak with the shoulder (right and left) issues.  I have recovered from left surgery well and know I’ll regain all but I can’t (won’t) do the overhead obstacles at Killington for fear of reinjury and not enough practice/strength.

I have also overcome major, major back pain by improving my posture, not doing any barbell two legged weight exercise and working single legged weights – I can run any distance and not be absolutely crippled at the end with back spasms like I used to be.  Its not totally fixed though as a recent “take my back for a spin with a bunch of empty bar front squats” resulted in having minor spasms and creakiness for about two weeks 🙂

I missed some of the crossfit workouts.  I struggled with enough hours in the day to do aerobic, crossfit, skills, flexibility and do my job.  Sometimes I made the decision to stay late at work to reduce the guilt there.

I have thoroughly enjoyed this last year and the process of getting better.  I have also learned how crazy happy I can be after doing something I was terrified about – ie Boston Super twice.  I was going to say give me the journey without the race except my friend told me the race is the “gift” you get at the end and I’ll take that too.

The Goal

I have been thinking about what my goal is/why I am trying to run this Ultra race.  At first it was just a far away “hard” thing to do and a marathon on the road never had that much appeal to me.  I absolutely loved the 5K gone bad races at crossfit and Spartan seemed to be closest to that.

Now, after training and reading a ton of books from marathon/ultra runners I think my goal has evolved to be trying to find my limit and to see if in adversity, I will continue vs. fold.  Or if I fold, if I go back.  Need to prove I am tough – even if I often cry on the side of the trail or before a workout late at night 🙂

Problem is what if there are no limits?  Or is that the lesson?

Finding my Tribe over 23 miles of trail running – Vermont Ragnar Aug 16-17 2019

This is our STFU Donny Teams’ grand finish – it was awesome having everyone join me for the final few meters of my last 7.2 mile run:


  • 23 miles (15 mandatory plus extra green and yellow loops) – Record for longest run and trail run within 30 hours!  Avg ~13:19 pace vs 12:45 goal 😦
  • All loop times below, I ran loops 8, 16 and 24
  • One fall that ripped open my hand
  • One awesome bunkmate – Anne L’Heureux
  • New inov8 X-talon 260 Ultra shoes ready to go!
  • One  blister to manage from Spartan Super
  • Still suffering from poison ivy from Spartan super

I ran loops 1,2,8,16,24  (8,16,24 were my official yellow, green, red loops)



At first I was planning on 30 miles.  Started out with first runner, Teresa, and then Donna and did ~7.5 miles right off the bat from around 7:15am-9:00am.

Had about 5 hours between runs so got a cowbell and cheered on the other runners as they passed by our tents – I was voted the best cheerer!


Then learned how much harder it is to run, stop and restart.  Gary reeled me back to plan of running less than 26 miles… Had my first actual run (yellow trail) around 2:30pm and maybe because it was harder, maybe it was the pressure of having my coach with me but I had calf cramps and a tough time!  What drives the cramping??!?!!  I drank plenty, ate plenty of electrolytes and fuel and did not have a ton of elevation (or mileage) for this run….frustrating!


Went to recovery tent after, found the huge vibrators and compression pants and got some sleep before my midnight green trail run (~3 miles).


I was afraid (extra afraid after the herd of daddy long legs on the trail at first all climbing over each other) but had a great run, gained confidence and loved running the trails at night!  Passed a bunch of dudes too.

I ended around 1:00am and got some sleep until 6am.  My stomach hurt really badly (hung out in the port-o-pottys a while) but recovered before my 9am 7.2 mile final run, which felt great!  Near the end, I was met with my bowling shirt and everyone ran in with me!


And our team photos:


Went well:

  • Did the miles and could have gone on longer
  • New INOV8 X talons held up well, although with a little less support than the Salomon Sense Ride2s.
  • Blister management:  band-aid protection/treatment, then tape, then moleskin around it.  New blister avoidance socks.  Although had a worse one after the first run (before extra protection), nothing got worse after.  Moleskin!!
  • Loved nighttime trail running
  • Practiced carrying bladder and nutrition/hydration but got calf cramps  Pre race nutrition of steel cut oats ~2 hrs before with fuel for fire hour before worked well – as usual.  Realized I was undereating the salt stix so ate 4x/hour

What didn’t go as well:

  • Lost gas on the hills during afternoon 4 mile run and could have done more hills on the 7.3 mile run, which weren’t even that bad
  • One fall on first run.  Generally, I felt better navigating although trails weren’t that technical.   Anne says to look 5 steps ahead (just like music) to where to step and I practiced that.  Not sure how to minimize this….will as, PT
  • Calf cramps at 11 miles after hot afternoon run – I had taken plenty of salt stix and water and food.  Switched to Hammer Endurolytes and had a better 3.2 and then 7 mile run in the morning.  Wasn’t as hot and not sure if pre eating about 4 is what partially made me sick but I didn’t cramp as bad.  Made schedule with PT to teach me how to use tape and will work on more mobility in advance of run.
  • Between runs got to the point where I really didn’t want to eat.  Want to look into Cliff nutrition/real food vs. gels during runs

This was a fantastic time and I was plenty scared a lot but hit no limits and held my own – I am proud of that 🙂

Part of my goal this year was to find new friends with common interests and it was just great to be a part of these teams – my tribe – my self abuse directors!

Victory, Two Falls, Calf Cramps and the shoulder(s) survived! AAR Boston Super Aug. 10, 2019

I have to say I have never been more proud (and relieved) than I was when I finished the second loop.  Tearful and proud I did it.  I was pretty afraid the week/day before – I am always afraid – I have been on an emotional roller coaster all weekend.  I struggled Sunday (day after race) being depressed (scared of upcoming race?) and dealing with an HR issue at work…not sure if it is just post race blues or what.  I’ve been thinking back of how long I’ve been training – since before snow on the ground – and it just takes a long time to build up endurance and strength.  I still have a long way to go.  I still don’t feel like I’m ready for 14000′ of elevation climb.  I still am just recovering upper body back.  I have overcome major shoulder issues and improved great my very painful lower back pain (it used to really hurt every second and I was crippled after Sunday runs) and learned a lot about training, met new friends,  working everyday nutrition (listening to Scott Jureks’ books now), and learned race nutrition.  I have to say although I missed about a workout a week and had a low point 2-3 weeks ago missing them on T/W/R, I have been very consistent.  I made calls I stand by for work vs. training or gardening one day vs. doing the full 3 hr bike on my birthday and drank a few Baileys along the way but am proud of my effort.  I’m going into the last race to see what I can do – will I hit the wall the ultra guys hit when they just try to walk one foot in front of the other?  I think I want to hit that and see how I perform under real duress. I’m just going to go out and do what I do – slow and steady from beginning to end.


Per spartan website for Open results (does not include women/men who ran age group I think):

  • In “open” category: 1029/4531 overall, 133/1639 females overall, 4/95 age group (50-54)
  • Had I done true “age group” category, I think I would have come in around 6th but gotta get the bar muscle ups/wall/rig obstacles down first
  • First and second loop results per my Garmin – I used Garmin for HR:
    • Loop 1:  18:28/mile vs. planned pace of 18:45, HR 146/178 (dirt on Garmin??? – strangely high).  I typically start high though but it never really got down to normal
    • Loop 2:  19:06/mile vs. planned pace of 20:00, HR 138/152 (this is more normal, mostly Z3 training)
  • Two falls (both at beginning of second loop) which ripped open my hand, 240+ burpees

IMG_5625  IMG_5624  IMG_5626

I was a little surprised my second loop was so slow.  I fell twice near the beginning of the second loop – fatigue is horrible for that but then felt way better near the end and seemed like I was going faster.


Shoes:  Salomon Sense Ride 2 for first loop.  Overall felt great as trail shoes but got blister on right foot – see below.  Switched to Inov8 Flite 235 for 2nd loop.  Not good trail shoes – not much cushion but didn’t hurt me more!  Shoes are an issue!



Ate oatmeal around 5:30am and had a fuel for fire around 8:30.  Ran at 9:15 and did scoop tailwind with ~22oz water plus a cliff gel shot every hour.  I ate 4 salt stix per hour to try and ward off cramps but this did not work.  Also ate the banana on the course and at the end between loops.  Brought hydration pack which I only took off at the dunk wall – heavy load added to burpees!  After had 2 scoops of recoverite and an Rx bar and water.  Sensible dinner!


  • Burpeed out of the three rigs to save my shoulders.
  • Had a little help on obstacles requiring going up a vertical wall or getting onto a box.
  • Made it halfway across the wooden board with circular cutouts/chain/knobby grips we had at OCR training/couldn’t get feet to stick so was using knees and fell halfway.
  • Missed spear twice
  • Rope climbs more challenging at the end when you have cramping but made it up without much issue
  • All strength exercises super easy both times – atlas ball, bucket carry, sandbag, hoist, tire flip
  • Second loop I burpeed out of all rig/shoulder type ones I did on the first.  Walked around a few I did the first time that had a line and would have risked my shoulder (was happy it survived the first loop!) without doing burpees.

If I can just build upper body to get bar muscle up, practice wall climbs and the sideways wall obstacle, I could do all of them.

What went well

  • Finished without making my right shoulder worse.  It is sore/aches when I lie down but not hurt worse.
  • Met all goals for the race.  Wish I could have made it over more walls.  Shoulder issues really hindered my upper body strength training this whole year – left shoulder is absolutely pain free (surgery side)….
  • Used lacrosse ball on 1.5 hr trip to race on quads and back of shoulders – had some soreness/cramp from Xfit workout in right quad
  • Felt super great at the end finishing it!  Was very scared before/working mental toughness.  Didn’t have to really use any tricks to keep going as I felt pretty good the whole time/even on second loop.  I was tired/beat up later and the next day with bruises on knees and elbows – got a back spasm day after just doing a roller exercise.  Back feels pretty good but harder just to get up and down with knee soreness.  Also triceps sore –
  • Did 47 mile bike in record time the next day and felt great
  • Burpees were tougher than I thought they would be….although I had just done a crossfit workout Thurs (race was Sat) with 80 cal row, 100 jumping lunges, 100 burpees and mile run and had a little soreness from that…
  • Used sunscreen but forgot part of my back 🙂

What to do better next time

  • Figure out how to deal with calf cramps – more stretching?  I had started hydrating the day before and was well hydrated during race with 4 salt stix/hour
  • Need better shoes – Getting Altra Lone Peak 4 to use next week at Ragnar
  • I want to improve diet/move vegetarian and figure out the right maintenance calories for this training/am revamping my intake…. new blog on that coming out soon.  I am also cutting out all crap before the big race
  • Improved stretching daily
  • Must work upper body and get bar muscle up to do obstacles – will be goal for next year
  • Continuing to try to do crossfit symmetry daily with mobility
  • BRING LIQUID BAND AIDS for future falls/cuts

Last week:  Hit ~108 training miles although I need some penalty as some were on trainer 🙂

Next weekend:  VT Ragnar with 26 total miles!

Here’s a little glimpse of pre race training with bucket blowout carrying dumbbells up hills at Nashoba and my little bike hill training the next day…. doing two days of hills (one bike/one run), a bike tempo ride and running interval training with long weekend bike/runs to prep.


AAR 7/29/19 Not my best effort, dog days of summer and working out

GREAT THING:  I actually feel like a normal person without pain.  Soreness is all good but daily pain was awful.  This is the first time in over a year that I have been a whole person able to workout without shoulder injury, back pain or shoulder pain! Trying to be smart not to reinjure while working strength again….this will take a while/past Ultra race date.

Good things last week:

  • Right shoulder feels great so started pullups/was crippled from Fri-last tuesday.  Got pullups bars for work!
  • Did some two legged lifting at Crossfit, which ended up hurting my back over the weekend but nice to feel like a normal person again
  • Got worked on by Steph/massage therapy
  • Sacrificed some working out for work and for deciding to spend time doing what I love, gardening in my yard Saturday before my birthday dinner
  • Tried out new Salomon Sense Ride 2 shoes, which held up great during Wachusett Run.  Felt more support than Alta Superiors, only “pain” was on right foot where bone sticks out near big toe and it was fine.  Feet did not hurt at end of run.
  • Technical running getting easier
  • Love the long rides and running the best
  • Avoided chafing by going commando running/was horrible last weekend

Things to improve

  • Missed three workouts T/W/R  Was just tired in morning and after work although did Crossfit one of those days.
  • Don’t forget salt stix!  Cycling on last hard week of month was surprisingly difficult/only did 2 vs. 3 hours and was tired.  No cramping though/only difference was salt stix.  Other weeks did 3 hours and felt spectacular after – strange.
  • Fear of mountains – fear struck my heart lucking up at Wachusett ski trails.  Going to the top was actually relatively easy but its the bare slopes.  I think fear of heights vs. work but who knows?  I don’t want to be intimidated by the mountain.  I wanted to run up and down the slopes to prove who’s boss but the guys at the top told me it was against the law.(?)  I think back to Bonefrog, which I absolutely loved going up, and down, and up,and down, and up, and down….
  • I don’t do as well in competition as I do alone.  Don’t know how to fix this.  Maybe because I never feel like I start out strong and am always struggling at the beginning (even alone).  During the race, what helps me a lot is encouraging others whether they are slower or faster than me.  Gets my mind off of me.
  • Afraid of 14000′ and the time on feet at Killington.  I remember what I read about how your body will do what it is expected to and you will always feel tired at the end of any run as you know it is the end.  If you knew you were going further, your body would adjust.  Am counting on that.
  • Need to bring sun block and bug spray

Here are some pics from my Sunday run at Wachusett – no falls, no tears!  Salomon Sense 2 shoes worked well


AAR 7/21/19 HOT HOT HOT!! Records were broken, flies eaten,snakes jumped

Challenging weather – or PERFECT weather as David Goggins would say!  HOT HOT HOT and humid!

Fri night interval training: after setting PR for mile run in 7:48 min (best by 6 sec), could barely finish the next and was pretty slow on the last but solid effort!  Two flies in the mouth.

Sat bike:  Biked 42 miles – furthest ever (my tracking got messed up as I forgot to restart once en route) with Teresa Kimberley here in Hollis which is a record for duration, 178 min 1562′ elevation, 3:06, 14.1 mph.  One bee sting on leg, one chain incident, homemade pancakes by Kenny at the end!!

Sun run:  17.68 miles total 99% running on Hollis trails (all but ~4 miles shaded) in very hot/humid weather.  12:27/miles pace in 3:40 hours.  Traded off hills for distance in shade today with the heat.  Furthest I’ve ever run by ~4 miles and am not crippled at all!  Ran last mile in 10:43!  One fly in mouth, jumped a snake, chased by one dog, one tick, two idiots in cars, two bathroom breaks at Silver Lake Park, one nice farmer who helped me when I went awary into his fields

What went well:

  • Hydration and nutrition – followed plan and used new inov-8 pack
  • Felt absolutely awesome on bike – not even stiff from riding/could have easily kept going
  • Did run in heat and humidity and practiced running tired
  • Carrying toilet paper for runs paid off
  • Didn’t do a lot of downhill running and feet felt good in the Altra superiors/not technical trails
  • Because right shoulder feeling better, started doing pull ups this week (crippled today)!!!!  Let’s get working that upper body now

What to do different:

  • Fix bike light situation/rear wasn’t charged.  Need USB power strip by door to keep lights charged.  Should get light for helmet
  • More mobility

Checkin on body composition/looks – nowhere near six pack which is discouraging – maybe not the best lighting but here I am:

AAR Skyline Trail 15.79 miles, Tears Were Shed

Maybe I was overly optimistic.  Dave Fatula was planning on finishing this trail in <4.5 hours starting at 5:45 am.  I thought I could do it and then still make the final OCR clinic at 11am.

Got up at 3:45 and we met at the trailhead at 5:45 down in Quincy, MA.  I knew right away I was going to slow him down and we parted ways around mile 2.  One day I am going to be able to keep up!  This is me and Dave around the halfway point when he was about 2 miles ahead of me after the turnaround:


This is a roundtrip trail ~7.5 miles each way – link on alltrails below:

I had two falls around miles 10 – tears were definitely shed and I thought the gentlemen from the “Dept of corrections van” might have been laughing at me when they saw me go down near the Ranger station.  Athleta leggings trashed:

Good things:

  • Planned and executed nutrition plan, had 5 hours worth of water and more of food.  I had brought extra knowing it could go longer and this paid off.  Even with a refill of one of my side inov-8 16 oz drink pouches, I ran out just before I finished but had extra food!  Lesson learned from Tough Mudder 🙂
  • Finished 15.79 miles – one loop of a Spartan ultra, on a technically very difficult trail with 4000′ of elevation.  The hills were the easy part, navigating the rocks was the difficulty.  This one loop finish is a great mental “cookie” as it is half the race and I know I can do that even if real race has more elevation.  I am not sure I would say I “ran” it but I did ran parts.
  • I felt pretty good after and that night.  Recall that months ago, I would have been totally crippled after 6 miles with back spasms.  Not that the back is fixed (I feel it during interval training for sure) but it didn’t hurt after the run or the next day and that is a GOOD THING!!  I was too tired to do much but way less than I have been after shorter runs.  It was a general fatigue and I did my best to eat to recover!
  • Avg moving pace was 21:16 min/mile over the 20 min/mile target pace on avg.


  • It was a cool trail with some beautiful scenery and varied terrain

Things to learn from:

  • I wore my Altra Superiors.  Tread was OK and I didn’t slip very much.  Issue was need for a slightly stiffer shoe for technical runs and that it is so comfortable, my foot moves around, which around mile 9 started to hurt on any downhills with my toes hitting the end of the shoe.
  • I need practice on technical trails, one woman just flew by me.  She stopped to talk though and said she has been doing this trail for 2 years – had speedcross shoes – and emphasized need for practice.
  • I learned issues will pass – my toes were hurting pretty badly then I hit a flatter trail and recovered.  Have to admit though that I was cursing all rocks after my two falls and toes hurt!

Heading out now for a 2 hr 40 min bike ride – will see how this affects it!

Thanks to my coach Gary for calling me and helping me fight fatigue, check-in as I missed the OCR clinic, as I drove the hour home from that race!

Tough Mudder 6-29-19 AAR

I was a last minute stand-in with a great “Herd of Dirt Turtles!”  ~7.5 mile obstacle course race in Charlton, MA.

  • Morning run to get my time in pre-race:  1 hour, 5.43 miles, 11:03 avg mile pace, 127 avg HR(Z3)/142 169 cad
  • Tough Mudder: 7.5 miles, 3:47:01, 719′ elevation, 12:59/mi moving pace.  Had huge thunderstorm near end so they had a few obstacles closed and about a 20 min wait before we finished when they closed the entire course.

Lessons Learned:

  • Bring enough food, etc and not rely on the course.  Just before we raced, they said this course has tons of food so I left all but 1-2 gels behind only to have 2 aid stations over the ~45 hours.  Besides the lack of aid stations, there were also unexpected long waits at obstacles.  I did not wear a hydration vest, just brought the gels and a bunch of salt stix.
  • Altra Superior shoes were fine for this but seemed to hold more water at first than my Inov8 F-235 lites/drained eventually.
  • Being on a team is way more fun than doing it alone and I liked the team obstacles where you had to help each other
  • I skipped all the heavy shoulder obstacles but did the wall climb overs
  • Loved the hanging down electrocution strips – got zapped on my bum at the very end.

Hills & Mountains for Training


from Anne:

  • Presidential traverse 20 mi
  • Cannon Mtn loop 11 mi  then ride tram down
  • Katahdan
  • south and north baldface
  • mount chocora loop trail

(from Dave Fatula)


skyline trail

Pemi Loop! Shut in by wind and rain on Lafayette Mountain and Garfield Ridge we finally saw the sky at Bondcliffs and through the descent back into the woods! 30 miles, 9,700’ elevation gain, nine 4,000 footers in the White Mountain National Forest in just under 15 hours.


Osceola (tough footing)




Nashoba Ski Resort (Westford, MA):  Do hills there every Tuesday morning 6:30am.  Each one is 0.20 miles and 250′.  Soul sucking but convenient and am among friends with weight vests, sandbags and buckets. Latest walk/run record is 3:11 on 6/18/19, 5:08 40 lb sandbag, 4:32 20 lb vest.  Hill steeper than it appears below.  My life changed the day my coach showed me hill climbing technique and I also realized that steady “walking” can be faster than “running.”  Also the value of pacing yourself – last week I had total muscular failure near top from going out too hard – have not had that happen before.  If I go steady, I like to be able to run the last 30 yards.






Wachusett Dam:  105′ each, nice loop to go up and down with.  First time I ever did it, only made it 75% of the way.  Separate post on this one elsewhere.

Neighborhood hills on Buttonwood:  0.23 miles, ~2:27

Pack Monadnock:  Did 6/2/19, 2.77 miles, 1:07:58, 919′ elevation.  Only took ~45″ roundtrip, too short and not hard at all

Mt. Monadnock: Did 6/23/19.  116 Poole Rd, Jaffrey, NH.  Took 2 hours roundtrip, 3.85 miles and 1800′ elevation.  Not much flat part to run – very rocky and a lot of rock clambering going up.  Need shoes with good tread for the rocks, which can be steep.  Slightly wet /got one shoe wet.  Tried out new Nathan vest (very sloshy) and Altra superior shoes (tread not good for this).  Took recommended route of White Dot trail going up from visitor center and White cross trail going down.

Skyline Trail – Blue Hills 7/13/19  Super Technical Trail, 15.79 miles, 6:12:54

21:16 moving pace, moving time 5;35 (rest was crying on side of the path), HR 126/170, 4170′ elevaion. Fell twice





Wachusett Ski resort  (7/28/19) Can get a variety of courses from the North Face Endurance Races:

Started at ski lodge parking lot but opposite area from lodge, Balance Rock Trail.

I followed 2/3 of the half marathon choosing to go straight up to the top. 11.02 miles, 3:42, 2507′ elevation (to summit twice plus up a short ski lift once).  Hot day.  18:13/mi moving pace

Trails way less technical than Skyline with clambering only on short stretches near the top.  Bicentennial trail although wrapping the bottom is technical – Visitor center for bathrooms/water