Virginia Blue Ridge Railway Trail (August 30, 2020)

For a change of scenery, we did our long run on the Virginia Blue Ridge Railway Trail in Nelson County today. The trail is just under 14 miles round-trip, so we had to add some on to get the miles we needed, but that allowed us to stop back at the car and refill our water.

The parking lot was pretty empty when we got there a little before 8 and we had the trail mostly to ourselves for the first 10 miles or so.

The river meanders alongside the trail for several miles. There are picnic tables and benches and many places to access the river. I stopped to rinse the sweat off my hands and face near the end and it felt so good.

We saw many toads (some were teeny-tiny), butterflies, flowers and bicyclists and two very sweet ponies.

The morning started out nice and cool, but it was a humid 85 degrees by the time we finished. We both have quite a bit of nasty chafing to show for it, too.

Five weeks

Brian and I had been training for West Virginia Trilogy again. We were also registered for the Odyssey Trail Running Rampage 40 miler on September 7 as a training run for the Trilogy.

My last long run was on Sunday, August 4.

On Wednesday, August 7 I sprained my ankle. I joined the gym, rode the stationary bike twice and managed to do something to my knee. So then I couldn’t climb stairs, do squats or lunges (so no PT exercises) or ride the bike because of my knee. And I still couldn’t run because of my ankle.

We withdrew from the Trilogy. Neither of us were feeling very confident about our training anyway. Brian had already decided he wasn’t going to do all three races. I still wanted to try, but even before I sprained my ankle, I knew it would be a stretch. After spraining my ankle, there was no way. Luckily, my sprain came just in time for us to cancel and get a refund.

I was disappointed to not be running the Trilogy (again!) I’ve been wanting to run that race forever. But even if I only lost a couple of weeks of training (which I couldn’t afford to do) it was going to take me a long time to feel confident on the trails again. And the trails at Trilogy are some of the most technical trails I’ve run on.

On Tuesday, August 13 I went for a short run. It went fine. I still couldn’t do my PT exercises because it hurt to bend my knee deeply. But the knee felt fine running. So did my ankle. I took the next day off and then ran again on Thursday, August 15. Everything was fine during the run, but I had some weird bruising afterward that freaked me out. So I didn’t run again until Wednesday, August 21. I still wasn’t able to ride the bike, so I did nothing at all, which had driven me crazy. So I did some hill repeats that day (it just felt so good to be running again!) and may have pushed a little too hard because I did something to my hip (it may have been my glute, but to keep things simple, we’ll just call it my hip). My ankle felt absolutely fine, though. As did my knee. And there was no bruising, so I cancelled the doctor’s appointment I had scheduled for my ankle.

The pain in my hip was tolerable. I could still run. I just couldn’t run far or fast. So I did nothing but short, slow runs for two weeks. I went out that weekend, (August 25) hoping to do a long run with Brian, just around town. My hip still hurt though, so I turned around after just two miles. Feeling depressed and beyond frustrated, I went online and paid a nominal (less than $4) transaction fee to switch from the Odyssey 40 miler to the 1/2 marathon.

By the middle of the next week the pain in my hip mellowed into tightness/slight discomfort. So I planned a 14 mile run on the technical trails at Sugar Hollow for that (Labor Day) weekend. I was feeling a bit like a caged animal by this point. It had been four whole weeks (a month!) since my last long run in the mountains. Once we were out there though, I quickly began questioning my decision. I was so scared of twisting my ankle again and all of the climbing was making my hip pretty cranky. We turned around early and ended up with just under 12 miles.

Even so, I was feeling so much better. I knew I could at least manage the 1/2 marathon the next weekend. Plus I’d spent some time in the mountains and even got to enjoy some time at Snake Hole.


Things were looking up.

That last week before Odyssey, I kept thinking that maybe I could switch to the full marathon. I even went online and tried to switch, but apparently they only allow you to change your mind once. My ankle felt 100% better (well, maybe 95%). Much better, anyway, than it had when I ran a 50k two weeks after spraining it in 2017. And while that (admittedly) hadn’t gone well, this felt much different. This sprain wasn’t as bad to begin with and I’d had two more weeks to let it heal. I was a little worried that I’d lost fitness taking so much time off and not having done any long runs for the last five weeks. But people typically taper for a week or two before an ultra. Three weeks of tapering isn’t unheard of for a marathon.

So I’d taken a 5 week taper. A stretch maybe, but reasonable to think I could still run a marathon, right?







Seen on the run (April 6, 2019)

Four easy miles on the Monticello trail.

Just me.


The anxiety crazies are back. And/or I’m injured. It’s just so much fun that I can never tell the difference. The pain always feels very real.

My toe started hurting at mile 5 of my run on Wednesday. I cut my run short, but I thought I was just being overly cautious. It didn’t hurt so bad that I couldn’t run on it.

I was planning to run Friday morning, but I decided not to because the toe was still hurting (I did a lot of walking around on Wednesday and Thursday). I also spent a lot of time Googling everything I could think of involving running and toe injuries. Stress fractures of the metatarsals are common in runners, but stress fractures of the phalanges (which is where my pain is) are not.

It could be metatarsalgia. There is some pain under the toe. And my second toe is longer than my big toe. And I always have a callus in that spot.

Or it could all be in my head.

Or just mostly in my head.

The fun is that there is no way to know.

I nearly made myself sick worrying about whether I should try to do a long group run this morning. There were two that I really wanted to do. One was a training run on the Promise Land 50k course. But I also knew I didn’t want to drive all the way down to Lynchburg when I wasn’t sure if I’d even be able to do the run. I wasn’t even sure if I wanted the hassle of driving to Sugar Hollow and meeting up with a group only to possibly have to turn around after a mile or two.

By the time I went to bed last night I was pretty sure I was just going to do a short easy run in town to test it out. Then, if all was fine I could still do my own long(ish) run on Sunday. I’m not convinced that I should be running 20+ miles on consecutive weekends anyway.

The run was fine. My toe was just a little achy.

I walked to the City Market afterward though and it hurt. Not bad enough to make me limp. Just bad enough to keep me guessing.

Fun with anxiety and running.

Poison ivy

This poison ivy has brought back the anxiety crazies.

I noticed the first spot on my arm on Wednesday, July 5. By the end of that day, I had a big patch on my right hip and some spots on my inner thigh. For the next few days, some smaller spots showed up all along my arms, stomach and upper thighs. Since the biggest spots were on my right hip and upper inner thigh, I figured that the poison ivy oil was on my shoes and when I put my shorts on, it transferred to the inside of my shorts and onto my body.


I threw out those shorts (they were old and not good for running anymore anyway).

For the record, I always take my shoes off before I change my shorts. Except the Sunday before I hadn’t. Because I usually change out of my sweaty wet clothes in the woods at the trail head. But the day before I’d found a tick crawling on my shoe when I did that. And a few days before that, I’d found a tick attached to me. So I didn’t feel like changing in the woods. Instead, I pulled off the Blue Ridge Parkway at a picnic area to change. It was still fairly early in the morning though, so it was deserted. Ever since I’d read about the Seattle runner who was attacked in a bathroom, I’ve been leery about deserted restrooms. I really wanted to get out of my soaked clothing, though. So I went in and quickly checked all the stalls. I then changed as fast as I possibly could, while standing with my hand holding the main door closed. So I didn’t take my shoes off. Until I got back to my car. Then I put them on the floor in the back of my car. Then probably into an old grocery bag with the rest of my wet clothes to carry into the house.

It wasn’t until this Tuesday, a full week after finding the first spot that I started thinking about everything that I and my shoes may have come into contact with, though. I started thinking about this because after a few glorious days of not finding any new spots, some new patches showed up on my wrist and lower thighs.

Since my last major anxiety flare up, I’ve been doing really well! I can’t say exactly what I’ve been doing to get it in check, but I think the main thing was cutting way back on my training. I’m pretty sure that I was over-training last summer, trying to follow my half-ironman training plan. I also started doing gentle yoga everyday (that only lasted a couple of weeks) and cut way down on caffeine. I still make 6+ cups every morning, but I only use 2 scoops of regular and the rest decaf.

But dealing with this poison ivy is making me feel pretty crazy again.

It’s not helping that I’m not getting much sleep because the itchiness is keeping me awake. And thinking that everything I touch could possibly have urishiol on it is driving me mad.

Today I scrubbed down both pairs of my running shoes with technu, and then washed them in the washing machine. I also used the technu to scrub down my steering wheel and seat belt, and washed both of my backpacks and all of my reusable grocery bags, because any of them may have been on the floor of my car. The hairbrush that I keep in my car and my windshield visor are on the floor now, and since I don’t want to touch them, I just plan on leaving them there indefinitely.

Watching this You-Tube video initially made me feel a little better, but now I’m scrubbing my hands three times after I touch anything. Soon I may not have any skin left to scrub. The video said the Dawn dish soap works better than anything else, so I used some from a bottle that someone had left in my apartment long before I moved in. The date on it was 2009. After scrubbing my raw, open-sore arms with the stuff, I became paranoid that it was contaminated with god-knows-what and all of my sores were going to get infected, so I doused them with alcohol and went and bought a new bottle.

See? Crazy.

None of this has kept me from running in the woods, though. I’m heading to the mountains tomorrow. I’ll just be scrubbing like crazy afterward.

And searching for ticks.


Zion 100K race report (April 7-April 8, 2017)

The Zion 100K:

“A challenging and scenic run through the southern Utah desert adjacent to Zion National Park.”

The forecast for race day called for partially cloudy skies becoming more cloudy in the afternoon with temperatures in the high seventies.

IMG_20170407_055610890IMG_20170407_055627590 (1)

(Miles 0-15)

The 100 milers started a few minutes before the 100K runners. The first mile was a gentle uphill climb. The second was too, but with several little dips that dropped about 8 feet and were so short you could almost stand at the top and jump over them. Mile three got quite a bit steeper as the Flying Monkey Trail took us up the side of our first mesa of the day. At about the three-mile mark, the single-file line of runners came to a halt. We stood there. And stood there. We pulled out our cameras. We saw a beautiful sunrise. We started talking to each other.


IMG_0388About a half hour later, a shirtless guy squeezed his way around the line, to the front. At first I was a little irritated. Everyone else was just waiting patiently in line. But then I realized that he was trying to get up to the rope climb that was the cause of the traffic jam. He showed everyone a way to get around the rock without using the rope. It was on loose rock on the steep canyon wall, but it got us moving again. There were sections where the trail was crumbly, sloping and barely two inches wide. I took deep breaths and kept moving forward.

The first aid station was at the top of the climb. We then did a loop around the mesa and hit the aid station again before descending on the same trail we’d climbed up.

Flying Monkey aid station (miles 4 & 10)

I was expecting there to be some flat running on the top of the mesa, but there wasn’t. Instead, it was a roller coaster of short steep hills. The trail was also a lot rockier than I had expected. Somewhere up there, we ran into Cory Reese, the author of Nowhere Near First, which Brian and I had both read and loved. The Flying Monkey Trail was scarier on the way down, but at least the traffic jam was only backed up for about 5 minutes, as opposed to the 35 minutes on the way up.

A much shorter traffic jam on the way down


The section from the bottom of the Flying Monkey Trail to the next aid station (Dalton Wash) went by pretty quickly.  We talked to the girl with the “Do epic shit” picture for a while. She was doing the hundred miler. It was her first. This was the greenest section we were to see all day and included the only river crossing. The race guide said that you usually don’t have to get your feet wet. There were people trying to hop across on the rocks, but we just sloshed through. We’re used to running with our feet wet.

This was the largest ultra that I’ve done. I’m used to volunteers coming right up to me at aid stations, asking what I need and offering to fill my hydration pack. These aid stations weren’t like that. Honestly, all the attention at most ultras makes me a little uncomfortable, but as I struggled to push the water cooler button with one hand and hold my hydration bladder open and keep the mouth piece from dragging on the ground with the other, I found myself wishing somebody was there to help.

(Miles 15-30.5)

After Dalton Wash, we had a long climb up to Guacamole aid station, where we would again run a loop around the top of the mesa and hit the same aid station before descending the same way we’d come up. The top of this mesa was a little less hilly than the first one and there were plenty of views where the trail ran along the edge of the mesa. I stayed as far from the ledge as I could on these sections. We also ran for several miles on sandstone, which was uneven, hard as rock (ha!) and sometimes required a two-handed hop up or down. In other words, not easy trail.

Descending the short steep climb after Dalton Wash aid station. We had to go over that damn hill twice.
There were many, many miles of running on sandstone on top of the mesas.


IMG950397I ran out of water about a quarter of a mile from the aid station. When we got there, we were told they were out of water. One of the volunteers was furiously peeling oranges, telling runners to squeeze the juice out for fluid. I was dumbfounded. We were in the desert, 7.5 miles from the next aid station.

We headed down the trail. Less than a mile later, a truck pulled up and a guy hopped out, asking if we needed any water. He apologized profusely for running out, letting us know he’d sent out several texts saying they were getting low and needed water. He said the last one was; “NEED FU&*ING WATER!!!” In all caps.

I’ll say. But whatever. I was able to refill my pack before it became an issue and I hoped everyone else was, too. A couple of miles later, another truck stopped to make sure we had enough water.

The sun started peeking through the clouds on this section. By the time we reached Dalton Wash aid station for the second time, the sun was out in full force. I was hot and a little annoyed at the weather forecast. It was supposed to be cloudy, dammit!

The section leaving Dalton Wash to the bottom of Gooseberry Mesa was my least favorite. We had to cross a busy road, then we were on a long, hot dusty road that stretched on in full view in front of us. Even though I’d applied sunblock at Dalton Wash, I could feel my face burning. My lower back was hurting pretty bad.

My least favorite section

Once we started the unbelievably steep climb up Gooseberry Mesa, I actually felt better. The climbing eased my back pain and the different terrain was a nice distraction. My only complaint was the damn sun beating down on me. Stupid wrong weather forecast. Most people were not as happy about the climb as I was. We passed more than a few people seated on rocks or the ground on the side of the trail, suffering from cramps or just plain exhaustion.

This group of three was pretty somber when we met them on the trail. We ran into them the next day at the hotel and they were MUCH happier. They hated this climb and ended up dropping about 8 miles later.


About halfway up, Brian slowed considerably. Eventually he asked if we could stop for a minute. He said his heart was pounding. I was a little concerned when I turned around and saw that he was visibly wet with sweat. I sweat way more than he does, but in these hot, dry conditions, I was just salt-crusted and dry. It struck me as very odd that he was wet. A little while later, he said he felt nauseated. We trudged on, stopping frequently for breaks. Near the top, he sat down on a rock. I went a little ahead to find a place where I could get off the trail to allow others to pass. We sat for a while. I looked back and saw Brian vomiting a huge amount of water onto the dry ground in front of him. I had no idea what I should do. He looked like hell, but said he’d be fine in a minute. He was ready to go sooner than I thought he would be. We were only about a quarter of a mile from Goosebump aid station. When we got there, he went and found a chair in the tent and I got him a ginger ale and some broth. The broth went down well, so I got him some more. A lady in the tent said he was dehydrated and his body had gone into shock and stopped absorbing water. He needed to rest and re-hydrate, but should be fine.

(Miles 30.5-47.5)

We headed out of the aid station an hour before the 6 PM cut-off. We had five hours to make it the 12 miles before the next cut-off, but only 5 miles to go to the next aid station. Brian was still feeling a little weak from getting sick and I was in no hurry. Before the race, we’d talked about whether or not we’d stay together for the whole thing. The week before, I’d pretty much decided that I wanted to. Ever since my months of intense half-iron training, I’ve lost the desire to push myself.  This race was no different. We had covered more than 30 miles at this point. My back was hurting more with every step. I had zero interest in seeing how fast I could get to the finish line. I just wanted to get there before the cut-off. Doing that with Brian was much more appealing than doing that by myself. Facing 30 more miles alone was not something I had any desire to do.

The views from the top of Gooseberry Mesa were pretty incredible.

IMG950405The sky got even more beautiful as the sun started to set. It hadn’t occurred to me that we’d need our headlamps on this leg, but I soon realized that we would. We caught up to Cory again on this stretch. He asked if we’d mind taking his picture. We joked that it would probably cost us the win. As Brian took his camera from him, I asked if he’d mind taking a selfie with us in return.


Just before dark, we started running again. It actually didn’t hurt any worse than walking. In fact, I think my back felt a little better running. Cory passed us again. He’d taken a cool picture of us and told us if we emailed him after the race, he’d send it to us.

The awesome picture Cory took of us

When we reached Goosebump aid station for the second time, my first priority was pain medicine for my back. A volunteer kept coming into the runner’s tent with hot quesadillas. The ones with beans and cheese tasted amazing. As tired as we were, I think Brian and I were both eager to get moving again, if only to get the last 18 miles over with. Once again, we pulled out of the aid station an hour before the cut-off.

(Miles 45.7-63++)

The longest miles there ever were.

The descent from Gooseberry mesa was on the same trail we’d used on the way up. If you can call it a trail. The first portion was just a steep jumble of loose rock and sand.  I asked Brian if he was sure we were on the trail and he said yes, but I still had a hard time believing it. The climb down from Gooseberry was my second least favorite part of the course (for the record, my two favorite parts were the climb up the Flying Monkey Trail and the views from the top of Gooseberry mesa). I made up a song about how badly I wanted to be off the mesa and sang it a few times to Brian.

He loved it.

I’m very musical.

Once we were finally off the mesa, I started feeling much better. The pain medicine had started working, which made a huge difference. I think the back pain was from not having my hydration pack properly adjusted. It happened at Fat Dog, too. I guess I can get away with it for shorter runs, but an improperly adjusted pack starts hurting like hell after about 10 hours.

The desert in the dark is a tricky place. It feels like you can see everything for miles, but in truth, there is a lot hidden behind hills and below the valley floor. We ran and ran (and walked) for what felt like forever. When I thought we couldn’t be more than two miles from the next (last!) aid station, a man passed us going in the opposite direction wearing jeans and a t-shirt and carrying no light. A few seconds after we’d passed each other, he yelled out “an hour and a half walking time to the next aid station.” That one statement completely demoralized me. Every bit of energy I had disappeared. That couldn’t be right.

But right it was. Some time after that, a young guy we’d seen on top of Gooseberry mesa caught up to us. He asked if the next aid station actually existed. We all agreed that we should have been there by now. I was just going by feel, but they both had GPS devices that backed up what we all felt. He ran the rest of the way to the aid station with us. I thought we would see the lights long before we got there, but we just turned a corner, and there it was.

I had to use the bathroom so we took longer at this aid station than I wanted to. As we headed back out in the dark, I noticed that my headlamp was really dim. I’d never used it for more than 4 or 5 hours and hadn’t anticipated doing so this time, either. I ran my first 100K in 15 hours. Going by elevation gain alone, this race should have been easier (it was not). Taking the heat and unfamiliar terrain into consideration, I had anticipated finishing this one in 16-18 hours. I really thought we’d be finished by midnight at the absolute latest. But that hope had long since vanished.

At this point, we were both still 100% confident that we’d make the 2 AM cut-off, though.


My headlamp continued to get dimmer and dimmer until I finally had to resort to digging out one of the cheap back-up pen flashlights Brian and I each had in our packs. It was annoying to carry and wasn’t much brighter than my headlamp. The light also moved with my arms as I ran, which I wasn’t used to. But it was light. The nighttime desert was playing tricks on us again. It was getting dangerously close to the cut-off time and we were still heading away from the only light we could see for miles. We started thinking we had somehow gotten off trail. Reason told me that we had followed all of the signs and therefore must be going the right way. But my tired, sleep-deprived brain panicked, imagining that we were heading aimlessly off into the desert. Brian was convinced we had gone the wrong way.  At this point, that could easily mean not making the cut-off.

We backtracked about a half mile to the last sign that we’d seen. It pointed us in the direction we had gone. We turned around and ran as fast as we could in the direction we’d just come from. I had no way of knowing the time, but Brian’s watch said we’d been running for about 19 hours and 50 minutes. We had 10 minutes to get to a finish line that was nowhere in sight. It felt pretty hopeless, but we ran blindly into the night. Finally, we could see a faint light ahead. It was definitely the finish. The trail took us right by it. I couldn’t believe we were so close and still running away from it. When we finally did turn so we were running towards it and could see the clock, It read 19:59:30. Holy crap were we cutting it close. I sped up as I heard Brian say “we’re going to be fine.” How could our reactions be so opposite? I wasn’t sure we’d make it in 30 seconds, but he was right. The clock read 19:59:47 as we crossed the finish line.

We later realized that because of chip timing and the fact that the 100 milers started a few minutes before us, we actually had a little over 5 minutes to spare. But I kind of liked the idea of making the cut-off by mere seconds. I also thought that we had achieved the DFL (dead fu#*ing last) title, but there were a few people listed in the results as finishing after us. They didn’t finish within the 20 hours though. So I’m not sure if we can claim the DFL title or not.

But I think we can.

Finishing my second 100K has got me thinking more about attempting a 100 miler.

The main reason that I’ve not really wanted to try the 100 mile distance is because I hate the idea of running through the night, but it surprised me how well I handled running from 6 Am until 2 AM. I know it would suck, but I now think I might be able to handle the whole staying awake all night part. Just a thought.

There’s something to be said for finishing at the very back of the pack (or dead fu*#ing last). Neither one of us was all that sore the next day. By Sunday we felt fine (other than the nasty blisters on both of Brian’s feet) to do some hiking in Zion National Park.











Canary in the Cave 25K+ (November 12, 2016)


After a very depressing week, this race was exactly what I needed.

Canary in the Cave 25k+

I’d never been to Fayetteville, WV before but had heard good things about it. I wasn’t disappointed. It’s a cute little mountain town with a progressive, outdoorsy vibe.

Friday evening, we enjoyed some good local beer and a delicious dinner at the Secret Sandwich Society, then took a chilly, moonlit walk through town to packet pick up at Water Stone Outdoors.

Saturday morning dawned clear and cold, but the sun warmed things up to above freezing before the 9am start.

As we lined up at the start, the race director told us that the course was somewhere between 16.5 and 17 miles. He did a ten second count-down and sent us on our way.

We had about 1/3 of a mile on the road before we hit the single track. Everyone took off fast! There were only about five people behind me when I entered the woods. A couple of minutes later, my Garmin beeped. I looked down and realized it was about to shut down. I must not have hit the button hard enough, or hit the wrong one. Either way, it hadn’t started.

Since my longest run in the last eight months was 14 miles (other than Fat Dog and my 20 mile pacing run, but both of those included more hiking than actual running), I was treating this as a long run rather than a race. My only goal was to run conservatively enough at the beginning to still feel good at the end. Surprisingly, I wasn’t tempted to keep up with Brian when he pulled ahead. I was determined to run slow enough to enjoy the whole thing.

Even though I wasn’t keeping up with Brian, I still passed quite a few people  in the first mile or two, then settled in with some other runners for a couple of miles.

It was a gorgeous day and I was happy to be spending it in the woods. There wasn’t a cloud in the sky and although it was past peak for fall colors, many of the trees were still holding onto their red, orange and yellow leaves.


I hadn’t paid attention to where the aid stations were going to be, but it felt like I’d been running for a long time before I came to one. I grabbed a half a banana and was on my way.

After several miles of undulating hills, the trail flattened out some. The loose leaf litter hiding rocks and roots made footing a bit treacherous, but other than that most of the course was extremely runnable. I was alone in the woods for most of miles 7 through 11, passing just two other runners during that time.

At the second aid station I grabbed a handful of ginger snaps. Yum!

There was a long downhill section as we dropped into the gorge. I stopped a couple of times to try to get some pictures of the gorge, but none of my pictures came out. We had some pretty cool views of the impressive New River Gorge Bridge.

Eventually, I passed two couples and finally (once we started climbing again) caught up to a man I’d been behind since the last aid station. I kept getting close to him on the climbs, only to drop way behind again on the down hills. We talked for a while. His name was Ronnie and he’d worked in the coal mines for thirty years. He’d run a local marathon the week before and done a thirty-five mile training run the week before that. When I told him that I was from Charlottesville, he said he’d once run the Charlottesville 10 Miler in an hour and ten minutes (that’s a really fast time!). I pulled ahead, telling him he’d probably catch me on the next down hill. The secret, he said, was that you can’t be afraid to fall. So true! I’ve been working on overcoming that fear thing.

Not long after I passed him, the trail turned abruptly. It was a steep climb back out of the gorge. There were more than a few sections of stairs. I walked most of it, pressing hard on my thighs to help me up. The last aid station was at the top of the hill. I grabbed two Fig Newtons, and continued on. I was very happy to realize that I’d done a good job of conserving energy. I still felt really good!

From the last aid station, we headed back on the same trail we’d started on. I passed a couple of women, then a group of three guys, then another lady. I was never sure how far I was from the finish line since I’d started my Garmin late and didn’t know the exact length of the course anyway. I thought that I’d have the same 1/3 of a mile on the road when I got out of the woods, but was surprised to see the finish line banner in the field about 100 yards away. I had to do a double take, then check to make sure I was really supposed to run straight there. Yup! The banners pointed me straight to the finish. If I’d known I was so close, I would have sped up earlier. Oh well.

Brian had pulled ahead in the first couple of miles and I never saw him again, but I ended up finishing just two minutes behind him. Two of the three women I passed near the end were in my age group. So I moved up from fourth to second in my age group within the last three miles. The age groups are weird though. There were only 7 people in mine. I’m mostly just proud that I accomplished my one and only goal of not going out too fast. Yay me! There’s something to be said for setting attainable goals. I hope I learn from this.

There was plenty of hot pizza and phenomenal homemade desserts (that apple pie!!) at the finish line.

Canary in the Cave 25K+ wins a spot in my top five favorite races.

We lucked out with absolutely perfect weather. I LOVED the course. It’s the perfect mix of challenging and runnable, on beautiful trails with some great views of the New River Gorge.  It was well-organized, the volunteers and runners were friendly, and the food was fantastic.

I highly recommend this race.



Running for a Reason (other than a new PR)

Be More Charitable

Ragged Mountain Running Shop and C-VILLE Weekly are sponsoring a new program this year that is designed to get people to register for more races that benefit local charities. They’re calling it the C-ville-athon.

cvilleathonIf you register, and then run a total of at least 26.2 miles worth of local, non-profit races before the end of the year, you get a technical C-ville-athon t-shirt.

I don’t need the shirt, but I think it’s a great concept.

I feel like a hypocrite saying that about the shirt, though, since I just registered for my first qualifying race (the Charlottesville Ten Miler) and there was an option on the registration form to skip the t-shirt, and have the extra money go to the race charity instead, and I went for the shirt.

I wish this was an option at more races. In most cases, it’s something I would do, but I want my Charlottesville Ten Miler shirt. They’re promising a technical, gender-specific shirt for what is arguably the iconic local race. It may be selfish, but I want that t-shirt.

To my credit, though, I did make an additional donation to MACAA (the Monticello Area Community Action Agency) the official race charity beneficiary, to make up the difference for choosing the shirt.

In the past (I’m embarrassed to admit) I have often left the “additional donation” field blank when registering for races meant to benefit a charity.

I guess I figured I was doing something just by paying the registration fee, but the truth is, non-profit races are actually very inefficient when it comes to raising money through registration fees alone. Races are expensive to put on. The charities rely on people making additional donations.

So, being more charitable will be my first step in my quest to live a more meaningful life.

Running more non-profit races and actually donating to the charities is something I can do that will make all the training I’m going to do anyway a little more worthwhile.

Just for the record, I’m not completely uncharitable. Kurt and I make yearly donations to a few organizations that we both care about.

We could certainly do more, though, and I’d like to.

And the diagnosis is: Certifiable

Well, not exactly, but it feels that way.

The weekend after the Frostbite 15K, the top of my foot started hurting. After a couple of painful runs, I started worrying that it might be a stress fracture, so I called and scheduled an appointment with Dr. Wilder.

My appointment was this morning.

He poked around on my foot and had me stand on my tip-toes and hop on my foot. Of course I felt no pain, which made me feel like a crazy person. Even though nothing he did elicited any pain whatsoever, he still wanted X-rays.

The X-rays showed nothing.

I was happy, don’t get me wrong, but a small part of me was just the tiniest bit disappointed. I wanted solid evidence that there was something wrong.

Even though there is a reasonable explanation for the pain, without proof, part of me still wonders if it’s all in my head.

Dr. Wilder doesn’t think it’s in my head. Although, if we’re being honest, he doesn’t know me very well. His theory is that lingering tightness and swelling from my sprained ankle is causing the irritation on the top of my foot.

He prescribed Meloxicam (a non-steroid anti-inflammatory) and told me to get an ankle brace and wear it all the time.

IMG_20150205_155950_431He wants me to take the rest of this week (and this weekend) off from running, but says I can do half my training volume for the next week as long as the pain doesn’t get any worse.

I went to Physical Therapy this afternoon. The therapist agreed with Dr. Wilder that my ankle is tight. He spent some time loosening it up, then gave me some stretches and exercises to do.


I felt like I was being cautious with my training.

Here is what I was doing following the Frostbite 15K and leading up to my latest injury:


Week Eleven (of my 24 week training program)

Monday: scheduled cross-training
Actual: rest day

Tuesday: scheduled rest day
Actual: easy 6 miles

Wednesday: scheduled easy 8 miles
Actual: 6am cycle class

Thursday: scheduled easy 8 miles
Actual: easy 8 miles

Friday: scheduled rest day
Actual: rest day

Saturday: scheduled 16 mile long run
Actual: 9.25 easy miles (with O-hill X 2)
I didn’t feel recovered enough to do a 16-miler.

Sunday: scheduled easy 8 miles
Actual: 6.55
Pretty much as soon as I started running, the top of my right foot hurt. It was only about 15 degrees out and I really didn’t want to stop and deal with it, but after about a mile I had to do something. I tried loosening up my shoelaces. That didn’t help. I tried taking my metatarsal insert out. That didn’t help either. I ended up cutting the run short.

Week 12

Monday: scheduled cross-training
Actual: 6 am cycle class

Tuesday: scheduled rest day
Actual: rest day
I was pulled over by a cop on my way to work at 4:45 am (!!!) I ended up just getting a warning because one of my headlights was out, but it was NOT a very good start to an already stressful day. By mid-morning my throat was sore and I knew I was coming down with a cold.

Wednesday: scheduled 7 miles with 5 @ tempo pace
Actual: rest day
Between the hurt foot and the cold, I knew I needed a rest day.

Thursday: scheduled easy 6 miles
Actual: 6.2 virtually pain-free miles on the treadmill

Friday: scheduled rest day
Actual: rest day

Saturday: scheduled 20 mile long run
Actual: 5.1 miles
I was so frustrated that the pain was back after my run on Wednesday had gone so well. Both times I’d felt the pain I’d run outside wearing my trail shoes, so I decided to try wearing my regular shoes on Sunday.

Sunday: scheduled easy 7 miles
Actual: 2 miles
The pain came back 2 miles into my run and it was the worst it had ever been. It was 20 degrees out, but I walked the two miles back to my car.


If I’m being honest, this last set-back has left me feeling pretty unmotivated. I’ve been stuck in a cycle of negative thinking for a couple of years now. It’s time to make some changes, but I’ll leave that for another post.

Running through the years

Writing my 2014 Running, Races and Events post made me very curious about how 2014 compared to other years in regard to running and racing. Luckily, I’ve been using the online log at Runner’s World since 2010, so it was pretty easy to go back and do some comparisons.



1,306.1 miles

Races: 7

Marathons: 1
Half Marathons: 1
Ten Milers: 1
10Ks: 1
5Ks: 3
Fun Runs: 2 (not counted in total)

PRs: 0

Cycling Events: 1 Century

2014 mileage graphI hurt my knee in July and sprained my ankle in December.



Total miles run: 1407.9

Races: 13

Marathons: 1
Half Marathons: 3
Ten Milers: 1
10Ks: 1
8Ks: 1
6Ks: 1 (I’m counting the Tacky Light Run as a race here, because I actually ran it in 2013.)
5Ks: 5

PRs: 3
Valentines 5K (23:08)
Charlottesville Ten Miler (1:22:32)
Gallop and Gorge 8K (38:11)

2013 mileage graph


Total Miles Run: 1043.3

Races: 9

Marathons: 1
Half Marathons: 2
10Ks: 1
5Ks: 5

PRs: 1
Steamtown Marathon (3:52:34)

Triathlons: 1 (Walnut Creek Sprint)

2012 mileage graphI spent the first few months of 2012 trying to get over an IT band injury.



Total miles run: 748.47

Races: 7

Half Marathons: 2
10Ks: 1
5Ks: 4

PRs: 1
Richmond Half Marathon (1:44:53)

Triathlons: 2 (Culpeper International/Olympic distance and I Love the Tavern Sprint distance)
Other: 1 (Muddy Buddy: run/bike/obstacle race)

The first few months of 2011 were spent cautiously coming back from a metatarsal injury that had kept me from running at all for the last FOUR months of 2010.

2011 mileage graph


Total miles run: 1125.4

Races: 4

Marathons: 1
10Ks: 1
5Ks: 2

PRs: 0

Cycling Events: 1 (Tour de Valley Metric Century)

Other: Muddy Buddy

I was on track for record-breaking mileage in 2010, but was seriously derailed by a foot injury. The injury happened not long after I started training for the Iron Mountain 50 Miler.

2010 mileage graph2010 is as far back as my Runner’s World log goes, but thanks to Athlinks, I’m able to piece together most of my running history. If you run races, and haven’t checked out the Athlinks website, you might want to! It tracks down all your events and stores them in one place. Pretty cool. It doesn’t always find events in different states, so sometimes you will have to find and add your own events. Also, if you have an often misspelled name (or if your handwriting is terrible, like mine is) you will have to look up your race results and then type the misspelled name in to find and collect your results.

athlinks*The earliest race that Athlinks found for me was the Johnny Kelly 5 Miler in Hyannis, Massachusetts in 2001. I was 25 years old and finished in 46:56. I’m pretty sure I had run at least a couple of local 5Ks before that, although there is only one 5K that I actually remember doing for sure.

*I have run races in Colorado, Massachusetts, Virginia, West Virginia, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Vermont, Maine and Washington DC.

*My first Half Marathon was the Charlottesville Half Marathon in 2006. I have run fourteen half marathons.

*My first Marathon was Marine Corps in 2007. I have run six marathons.

*The Charlottesville Ten Miler is the only ten mile race I’ve run, but I’ve run it four times.

A photographic look back:

My First half marathon, cotton t-shirt and all (Charlottesville Half Marathon, 2007)
My First half marathon, cotton t-shirt and all (Charlottesville Half Marathon, 2006)
After our first marathon (Marine Corps 2007)
After our first marathon (Marine Corps 2007)
Run at The Rock trail race, 2008
Run at The Rock trail race, 2008
Muddy Buddy, 2009
National Marathon, 2010
National Marathon, 2010
Richmond Half Marathon, 2011
Richmond Half Marathon, 2011

Running, Races and Events in 2014

Total number of miles run in 2014: 1,306.1

Number of races: 7
three 5Ks
one 10K
one 10 Miler
one Half Marathon
one marathon

PRs: 0

Triathlons: 0

Cycling events: 1

Fun Runs: 2 (I can’t bring myself to count the Tofurky Trot and Tacky Light Run as actual races)

Although I put in quite a few miles during the early months of 2014, I did not perform well at all during races. I’m not sure what happened.

This graph shows my weekly mileage through the week of the Blue Ridge Marathon:

week mileage 2014 first partCharlottesville Ten Miler (March 29): 1:27:16/8:44 pace
I didn’t even come close to my 1:20/8:00 pace goal.

Chocolate Chase 10K (April 12): 48:48/7:52 pace
This wasn’t a key race, so I didn’t have a time goal.

Blue Ridge Marathon (April 27): 4:40:54/10:44
I was hoping for a race PR (so anything faster than 4:15:36), but again, I wasn’t even close.

The week after the Blue Ridge Marathon, I ran the Montalto Challenge 5K, but other than that, I had a few easy, low-mileage weeks before I started building my mileage back up. I was (secretly) planning to run the 50 Mile portion of the West Virginia Trilogy.

That plan went out the window when I hurt my knee in July. It took until the middle of October for me to feel recovered enough to start building my mileage again, and then, in December, I twisted my ankle.

2014 mileage second partMontalto Challenge 5k (May 3): 30:34/9:52 pace
This race was a week after the marathon, so I didn’t have a time goal.

James Monroe 5k (May 17): 26:21/8:31 pace
Mostly on trails/no time goal.

Kiwanis 4th of July 5K (July 4): 25:38/8:17 pace
My only goal was to beat my slowest previous time for this race, which I did.

Tofurky Trot (September 27): A family event. We jogged a little and walked a lot.

Culpeper Cycling Century (October 4): I finished my first Century bike ride!

Skinny Turkey Half Marathon (November 27): 1:55:56/8:50 pace
My goals were to run negative splits and to finish under two hours. I accomplished both!

Tacky Light Run (December 13): I did this one on crutches because I sprained my ankle three days before.

Health and Fitness goals for 2015:

1) Run at least twelve races.

2) Complete a half iron distance triathlon or an ultra. I was all set to do the Richmond Rox Half, but then I realized that the Zooma Cape Cod Half Marathon is the week before. Can I do both?

3) Yoga!