Category Archives: Becoming Badass

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