Wednesday, January 6, 2016

Reflecting on 2015: A Tougher Runner but with Some Hiccups Along the Way

The year sums up with what toughened me up and the hiccups to prevent me from accomplishing more.

The toughening up -

  • 3 ultras - 1 with scree field! 1 with altitude.
  • 1 marathon
  • 1 trail 25K
  • 2 trail half marathons - 1 with altitude.
  • Crewing and pacing a 200 mile race. And learning to live for 5 days with basically no sleep.
  • Camping in 29 degree weather.
  • 20.5 mile run through Bryce Canyon - including trail wayfinding and running in snow!
  • 22 miles (over 3 runs) in the Marin Headlands
  • 28 miles and an overnight solo fastpacking trip in Colorado, over 4 12,000-ft-elevation mountain passes.
The hiccups - 
  • Spent all of January recovering from double ear infection and strep throat
  • Felt "off" in May and went to the doctor
  • Spent half of August and all of September ill until the doctors found I had an incredibly low Vitamin D value and started treating me for Vitamin D deficiency.
  • Directing two wet icky races, which are always harder to clean up and bounce back from.

So here's how the year went down. What a full year!

January 1st of 2015 began with the second day of New Years Double. Both days, the temperatures hung right at 32-33 degrees, with icy rain the second day. After having a cold over Christmas, being outside in all of that for two straight days left me with a double ear infection and strep throat. Any hope of running Bandera 50K or any distance at Rocky Raccoon 100 or 50 miler was shot. Most of January was spent recovering from illness.

In February, I started building back and Jeremy invited me to head to Arkansas to crew him at LOViT 100 miler. It was a cold, rainy, wet, muddy two days of racing, and I ended up jumping in to pace him the last 18 miles.

March means spring break and the family headed to the east coast, working our way along beaches from Jacksonville, Florida, up to Hilton Head, South Carolina.

At the end of March, my base was back somewhat, and I wanted to race somewhere new but convenient. So I went to Oakland, California and ran the Canyon Meadow 50K through redwood forest on a very pretty day.

April started with the first time I could run Hells Hills in several years (it didn't overlap with my Fairview Half race directing), so I headed down there with Elaine and Mike. Mike and I ended up running the whole 50K together!

I directed the Fairview Half the next weekend, and it went off without a hitch.

I had committed to a big camping trip in May, having never camped a day in my life, so Aubrey and I headed to Isle Du Bois (Lake Ray Roberts) one Saturday and camped overnight.

My big trip for May was flying into Denver to drive 9 hours with a bunch of crazy ultrarunners to Bryce Canyon for a weekend of camping and running. Sherpa John of Human Potential Running Series organized the trip. I had met him once briefly and had another acquaintance Steve going - otherwise, it was all strangers. The first night we camped was 29 degrees and snowed several inches. I was happy that all my new camping gear kept me warm!

The next day, I was like a puppy on roller skates running through so much snow on the trails for the first time, but I ended up completing 20.5 miles from one end to the other of Bryce Canyon, all alone the majority of the time. It was amazing. We camped another night and then drove back to Denver where I then flew home. I made lots of new friends, and it ended up connecting me with my sponsored athlete to send to Western States in 2016.

In June, the family headed to Colorado for a long weekend vacation. I was planning to run the South Park Trail Marathon, but the night before, I ended up with a really awful allergic reaction to something there in Colorado and spent the rest of the trip dosed up on Benadryl! So I ran the half marathon, which was still a bear of a race. Basically go straight up up up at altitude then turn around and run back to the start. And such beautiful views.

At the end of the month of June, I was back at Western States 100 for my 4th straight year.

My sponsored athlete, Robert, had a rough race day and needed to drop at mile 30.

I was able to then go see Rob Krar repeat his victory at the Auburn track.

The next day I drove all the way to the Marin Headlands to run their trails for the first time. It was amazing to think people have somewhere where they can run a 6 mile loop and get 1500 feet of gain/loss!

In July, Jeremy and I traveled to Idaho, both racing there for the first time. The Beaverhead Endurance Run 55K (for me) and 100K (for him). While Jeremy ended up having to DNF from altitude sickness, I pushed through almost 16 hours on that course to complete the 55K. It involved a mountain thunderstorm, a course mostly around 10,000 feet elevation, lots of ascents and descents, and most impactfully, a scree field for 3 miles from around miles 24-27 that just blew my mind. I'd never done anything as difficult as that, and I reference back to that place when I need strength.

At the end of July I had my first solo light backpacking trip. I'd like to call it fastpacking but (1) I wasn't that fast and (2) my pack ended up a little heavy for most fastpackers, at about 25 pounds. But for 2 days, I made my way through the 28 beautiful miles of the Maroon Bells Loop in Colorado outside Aspen, where I climbed over 4 12,000 ft high mountain passes, camping about 16 miles into the route. It felt great to take the plunge to just go do this alone and know I could take care of myself and think myself out of whatever situation I found myself in.

Our family headed to Seattle, Washington and Vancouver, Canada for vacation the first week of August.

I then met up with Jeremy for his adventure running Bigfoot 200. He finished in 108 hours of crossing the Cascade Mountain on some worn and some unknown new-to-humans trails. I slept about 15 hours over 5 days driving all over the remote national forest area to crew effectively, and then paced 45 hard miles during the race with him. It was a blast! It was also completely exhausting and I'm not sure I feel like it's something I want to do again.

Because after that race, the next 2 months were spent trying to figure out what was wrong with me. I had actually been into doctors in May asking the same question, but now the symptoms were so much stronger. Severe fatigue, falling asleep randomly, lethargy, cuts that weren't healing. We now think I had a Vitamin D deficiency that must have suddenly gotten so much worse from the trauma of Bigfoot 200 week.

Once we took enough blood from me to figure out that was it, the super doses of Vitamin D they put me on made me a new person. But by then, my base was gone and my weight was still up 10 lbs! I produced a great Showdown Half in October and then started working with a dietician. The 10 pounds were gone within 8 weeks thanks to her help. But in order to focus on that, I was still recovering from Vitamin D deficiency and had resorted to daily walking to at least stay active.

During September, I ran the Rough Creek Trail Half Marathon, even though I was clearly not better and suffered from serious fatigue at mile 10. But I was happy when I finished!

At the end of October, I produced the Big Cedar Endurance Run. I was so beat down when the weather decided to kick all my runners in the balls for a second year, and this time it meant flash flooding 17 hours into the 100 miler where water was up at their chest level. Big Cedar second year was canceled. First year had 12 100 mile finishers. And cleaning out from a muddy wet race is just the worst. I can't just throw everything back in storage - it has to be cleaned, dried, soggy cardboard tossed, it's just a mess.

So in late November, after the Big Cedar mess, Sarah and I headed down to Wild Hare. I woke up race morning with a big knot in one calf, maybe from driving down, and dropped down to the 25K. It was a muddy race somewhat anyway, and I had more fun hanging with Sarah all morning.

In December, I had lots of travel. I went to Auburn, California and was present at the Western States 100 live lottery drawing, and I was able to run 4 miles of the course the day before the lottery.

Sarah and I went to the Houston area and completed the Brazos Bend 26.2 Trail Run. It was much more like a road run than trail - completely flat, well groomed dirt or gravel fire road. My feet felt beat up at the end but otherwise, we were good.

Then, I went to San Francisco mid-month right after that marathon and was able to get two good days of trail runs in at the Marin Headlands, on trails I hadn't done on my June trip there.

Then I ended the year producing another awesome New Years Double, the fifth year for the Double! The weather was almost as cold as a year ago BUT no rain. Perfect racing weather!

To Infinity and Beyond!

Now on to 2016. What will happen this year? Well, given I never saw the 2015 hiccups coming, who knows? But I bet it will be fun and memorable, because that's always a major focus of mine!


  1. Love your attitude and enthusiasm! Couldn't be prouder of you! M&D