Be Happy


When was the last time you sat back and thought “I’m really happy”?

It is my belief we allow life to sort of ramble on, sometimes as speeds so fast we can’t remember what you ate yesterday, much less what projects we worked on.  Oftentimes, when we find ourselves exhausted, it’s because we haven’t stopped long enough in a days to reset our brain and take a deep breath.  While the entire human species is guilty of this, I feel women tend to hit that point of exhaustion without warning a bit more often.  Why, you ask?

Women are professional multitaskers.  Or so we think… Studies have shown over and over that we can only focus on one task at a time.  Yeah, I know…. “But I multitask all the time.”  Sure.  I do too.  What ends up happening is I lose track of what I am working on and end up with things in various stages of completion.  When that happens, in comes the stress.  Studies have also shown this type of induced stress from multitasking can be bad for the brain.

All that being said, I have been taking the time to consider where MY stress comes from and what my level of happiness is on a daily basis.  Some days I have to dig deep to find peace in my work.  The same goes for the external forces of life.  The things that make me consistently happy are the people in my life who I adore, the animals who accept my unconditional love and the hobbies which enrich my brain and help me maintain my health and fitness.


I am currently in a lull, where I have chosen rest over running, and I am using it productively to evaluate ways to enrich my life.  In the last ten days I have climbed back into the saddle again, spent time on the range teaching and catching up on those half-done projects that got left behind in a flurry of multitasking and training. I have also committed to seeking ways to simply my life and focusing on what is truly important.  Life is too damn short, I have to many miles to run and ride and I want to keep growing personally and professionally.

By reducing (I didn’t say I stopped!) the level of multitasking, I am easing up the pressure in my brain and making way for those feelings of happiness that comes with focusing on the things I love and CAN control.


Find your happiness…



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I just came back from a week of work travel followed by rest and relaxation up north.  During this past week, I got to thinking about a few things in particular.  The conclusion I came to was impacted by four things:

  1. Consulting with my coach and my PT as to how to proceed with this fall and early winter because…
  2. My calves haven’t wanted to heal despite the self care.  I have had calf tightness and cramping in the past.  I haven’t had to deal with it for a number of years, but something isn’t right with my body right now and I am blaming….
  3. Stress.   This is a road I have been down before.  Stress wreaks havoc on healing.  I bite off a lot professionally (and personally) and have no doubt I need a break right now from structure.
  4. Break time… I haven’t ever taken a self imposed running break and it’s time.  I’m ready.

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My coach and my PT have been absolute rocks through my training.  It’s because of them I tackled and accomplished a monster year.  It’s also because of them I am confident now is the right time to break, reset and move forward.  I am always 110% and suffer (like many runners) from FOMO – Fear of Missing Out.   The trails will always be there.  The mountains will always call.  Right now, I want to get healthy so I can tackle 2018 with strong legs and a smile.

I am committing to meal prepping, smart workouts that will enable me to maintain fitness but heal the parts that need time off and catch up with those I don’t see enough.  Training is a part time job… I am missing the people, the range and time to myself that isn’t structured.  I am positive this will bring me back stronger and eager in the New Year!  

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I said “nope” this week.

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Stopping to enjoy the fall sunshine!

If you know me (even if through this blog), you are aware my drive is something that generally doesn’t shut off.  This week… it came to a grinding halt.

There have been warning signs since September.  Signs I simply chose to ignore, blaming them on the fatigue of getting back into training.  Blaming it on rolling my ankle.  Blaming it on being mentally tired from work.

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Exploring new trails… it’s choose my own adventure time!

I am done with the blame game.  I have been able to get the workouts done, but I haven’t enjoyed a single one… not the way I was in May and June.  My body doesn’t want to recovery between sessions and that became a huge warning flag for me.  This week was an “easy” week and my calves were in 100% revolt mode.  I am not injured and I AM LISTENING to my body.  I had a huge year…. multiple marathon+ distances, 50 miles and 100 miles.  I’m physically tired right now.

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At one of my favorite places in the whole wide world! Lifting makes me so happy… even more so that I have Altra HIIT XT shoes to do it in 🙂

I need a break.

What that means is knowing what I can expect from myself in the coming months.  The 2018 season is already massive for me, with my own prep and A race plus pacing duties.  I need to roll into that healthy and strong.  Right now, I am just ready to hit reset, hike, run for fun and crew for races.  Crewing and pacing makes me so happy!  I decided to drop the Fells 50K from my schedule in December, opting to crew for Tony instead and cheer on the other racers.  Taking this break also means I can hang out in the gym more and work on crafting a social running boot camp activity once a week!

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Working races, crewing and pacing are a few of my favorite parts of this sport!

I love running so much and know that in order to do it long term, I need to slow down a bit!  I am grateful I chose to do it without pushing myself into injury.  I love the idea that this fall is “choose my own adventure” territory!  I hope the moral of this story for others is it’s ok to take a break… there is no shame in saying “nope.”

Born Primitive Edge Tank and Halloween themed sports bras! I absolutely adore their gear for running and lifting. Check them out and use my code LIFTNRUN15 for 15% off the goods!

Breaking 1000


I finally did it.  After being a runner since 2012, I finally reached the goal of breaking 1000 miles!  My journey included weight loss, learning how to run, learning how to strength train and a lot of education (on my own and through others in the field).  I pulled my Strava data to get a picture of what each year looked like.  Here is the rundown, with a quick memory from each year.

2012 – 443.5 miles: This was my first year seriously trying to get into running.  This was a year of tremendous growth but also discouragement.  I realized my job (which at the time consisted of many 3rd shift hours) was impacting my ability to shed weight consistently and gain strength.  I had been working 3rd shift hours on and off for over twelve years at that time.  Despite all of that, I found TRAIL RUNNING that year.  Check out my recap post for that year, which includes many of the big dreams I had for myself!


2013 – 638.1 miles: I clearly remember starting 2013 with illness and injury.  I had a hamstring strain from slipping on the ice early in the year followed by bronchitis, the croup and a rectus sheath hematoma.  The highlight though was finishing my first 25K at one of the muddiest Pineland courses to date.  That race sucked but I LOVED how it felt to finish. Hooked.


2014 – 651.2 miles: This will be known as start of 18 months of ankle rehab.  I rolled my ankle HARD in the spring of 2014 on the Sweet Trail and wound up in a brace with a high ankle strain and a pre-stress fracture (bone inflammation).  I was crushed, as I was hoping to break into the 50K distance that spring at Pineland.  I was cleared to run the week before the race and needless to say did not make it to the starting line. I went on to trail run, hike and roll my ankle two more times that year.  The highlight of that year was my solo on Isolation.  I hiked when I could, ran more than I should have and finally figured out that I had to STOP running and start strength training and rehab late that year.  I started at Athletic Instinct (then Progressive Training) with Ben in October 2014 and haven’t looked back.  He introduced me the concept of “functional fitness” and being strong for every day life.  I began working out twice a week by and that has remained a staple in my training.  Ben was the best thing that happened to my running (and ironically he is not a fan of running!).


2015 – 394.8 miles: I spent much of 2015 rehabbing in the gym and hiking.  Many of the miles listed here were done in the Whites as I didn’t really start running again until that November.  I did a ton of solo and group hiking, to include an overnight at the Galehead hut.  I found happiness in the mountains when I couldn’t run the way I wanted to!  I also committed to strength training, discovered acupuncture and came back slowly using heart rate training.


2016 – 956.4 miles:  This was a huge turning point for me!  I trained from November-May and completed my first 50K at Pineland.  I followed this up with pacing 30 miles of Vermont for Tony and stayed healthy all year.  I had some failures too (bailed Pemi attempt) that kept my perspective where I needed to it to be to stay injury free.  I made a decision to go big in 2017 with both a 50 miler and a 100 miler. What was I thinking???? When I look back at it now, I KNOW how insane that idea was at the time.  A shout out to all who believed in me and Altra for taking a chance on this very “average” runner! Choosing a coach was the right move for setting the stage for 2017.


Breaking 1000 is just as special as my first trail race, my first ultra and that first 100 miler.  It symbolizes how hard I have fought to get here and SO many memories built along the way.  It’s never been about the running, but rather the epic experiences that are possible nearly every time you hit the trail!  Thanks again for following along and reliving the years with me.


Back in the saddle


Cathedral Ledge on a pre-run of the Kismet Course. I worked this race, sweeping for the long course, in September.

Two months after my last blog post and I am well on my way to training for a winter 50K.  Recovery was an interesting time for me, full of emotion and for a brief period of time, lack of motivation.  I wasn’t sure what was next and simply spent some time hiking and running easy until I my desire woke back up.


Working my legs again just shy of one month post 100. Pre-running portions of the Ragged 75 (my “A” race for 2018!)

This was the longest recovery period I have ever taken.  It was certainly longer than some of my other friends, but I do not believe my base is quite at a point where hopping back into training any sooner would have been a smart idea.  To that point, I have been dealing with some pain in my left ankle.  For months, I couldn’t figure out why.  I had a few indications something was up:

  1. Left ankle soreness after Vermont, in the area where the peroneal tendon crosses over the outside of the ankle bone
  2. Minorly rolled that left ankle on both a short run on the Ragged 75 course and Mt. Chocorua.  The ankle felt unstable.
  3. Inability to hyperextend without discomfort.

I enlisted the help of my favorite chiropractor and PT to get things back in order.  The pain never grounded me and I started consistent running again mid-August.  The fact of the matter was it was a nagging soreness I couldn’t treat on my own.  While working in the barn today, I had an epiphany… I had written about this “phantom” ankle pain during my Vermont 100 recap.  That pain hit me between Margaritaville and Camp 10 Bear while negotiating some rocky trail sections.  It’s quite possible I rolled it somewhere in there and in true 100 fashion, didn’t give a shit.  I do remember the pain going away during the race (or at least I stopped paying attention) but it was there in the weeks that followed.


The Whites…where my heart soars!

I always feel better when I can put the pieces of the puzzle back together when it comes to “issues.”  While I don’t know why or how I messed things up, I am well on the road to recovery.  Here is what the last few months have looked like:

  • August: 68.4 miles and 9,090 ft of gain
  • September: 88.4 miles and 12,292 of gain

I averaged 2-3 heavy weight workouts during both months and have been giving the blessing my Coach Chris to keep on lifting heavy for now.  The gym makes me almost as happy as the trails!  Speaking of which, I am continuing on with Chris with a plan that will take me into next year.  As it stands now, the structure is as follows:

  • December 2: TARC Winter Fell Race (50K): This race is gnarly and takes down runners every year.  The field is small, the weather sometimes sucks, but I have been told it’s epic.
  • June 2: The Endurance Society Infinitus Marathon: Like TARC Winter, this course is also supposed to be epic.  I wanted to choose events I hadn’t done before and would test my fortitude.  This should do it.
  • MY “A” RACE – August 2018 – Ragged 75 3-day Stage Race: I flipped flopped between another 100 and a stage race.  I wanted to head out west, but finances and time just won’t allow.  Instead, I chose Ragged.  This race was formerly known at the Emerald Necklace and is held on a trail network in New Hampshire.  I have crewed for this race a few times and worked it this past summer.  Now it’s my turn!  Stage racing is a different beast, as you run a predetermined number of miles each day, running point-to-point and camping each night.  Getting up each day and doing another marathon or 50K is the trick.  This will be HARD, but I am ready for the challenge.

Finally, as I find myself knee deep in training, I want to share that I taunted my coach one night.  I found myself with a glass of red wine in my hand and my phone in the other, writing an email about how I am done with being the slow girl on the climbs.  What that got me was an uphill running clinic with Coach Chris and instructions on how to be a better hill climber.  I now dry heave and curse on climbs on a regular basic.PreviewInstanceData

I am a very strong climber when it comes to fastpacking, but running them is a different beast.  I am ready mentally to take that leap.  Evidence of this came last weekend when I shaved significant time of one of the local race courses I ran for training.  I ran all of the ups and eased back to recover (while still running) the downs, which is the opposite of how I have been training.  Its hard, it feels different but I saw instant payoff.  THAT was enough to motivate me.

I want to take a moment and say how thankful I have been for the 2017 season I have been blessed to experience.  I was chosen late last year as an Altra Ambassador and wear nothing but their shoes (Lone Peaks and Escalantes are my favorite) while I tackled some magnificent goals this year.  I will continue to embrace zero drop as I take on some more huge challenges in 2018!  Altra changed my running life in 2016 and I haven’t looked back.


Altra is more than shoes… for me it’s a mentality. This company embraces running, no matter where it takes you, and the relationships formed along the way. RTB2017 and I finally ran into fellow Ambassador, Emilie!

Happily Recovering

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Truly resting.

Three weeks post 100 and I honestly feel great.  Would I go out and run 20 miles?  Nah.  I could, but I don’t think it’s a great idea.  While my energy level surged over the last week, I still occasionally feel fatigued (like right now as I hang out in my recliner).  Instead of pushing myself back into hard mileage, I have been resting and following the August plan Coach Chris put together.  I’ve been asked many times over the last few weeks how I have been feeling and what I have I been doing… here is what has worked for me:

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Easy workouts and climbs with friends!

Rest: Obviously.  I have slept in when my body called for it, done easy workouts starting 8 days post 100 and have generally been taking it easy. Sleep was vital to my training and has remained vital in recovery.  I am a huge fan of Onnit’s New Mood and have continued to use it for sleep.  My job is stressful and this helps to shut my brain off and leaves me well rested!

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Food: Eat the good stuff, and the salt water taffy too.  My appetite remained huge for about two weeks.  I continued eating the healthy salads and lean proteins, but didn’t stay away from white bread and candy as I craved it.  My weight has come back up to non-race standards but my muscle mass continues to grow and my pants are still loose.  My appetite is still raging because I started to hit the gym hard this week.  Here comes the after burn!

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All of the food.

Mobility and Rolling: I have a new mobility routine put together for me by Coach and really like it.  I enjoy using it before my gym workouts and as a means of getting joints moving post desk jockey work days.  I became a HUGE fan of rolling, dynamic stretching and dry needling during training.  I have not had a needling session since mid June and don’t feel the need for one right.  

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Easy runs: It’s so nice to lace up my Altras and simply cruise around with no expectations.  It’s been great for my brain and my body.  I had a hard time getting out the door for my Friday AM run but once I had been moving for about two miles I was incredibly happy!  Running really does bring me joy!  I have also been enjoying power hikes and climbing too.  I want to get back out in the Whites a bit more before winter and SEE what I missed on those runs.  I can’t wait to use my new tent and soon will be be buying my new pack and sleeping bag!

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Back at the gym and upping the weights!


Reading: I am drooling over possible goals for next year. I have some things in mind (most of which I refuse to talk about yet!) and have been eating up blogs and race reports.  Running Vermont opened up huge doors for me physically and mentally.  I really don’t want to stop!

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Training Throwback – Pemi Loop

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I promised this would have it’s own post and I have been meaning to get to it for weeks.  This training event deserves it’s own post because it was so much more than checking off miles and elevation on the calendar.  This was redemption for me.  The one day Pemi is known as the 2nd hardest hike in America, so it’s no joke!

In 2016, I attempted a one day counterclockwise Pemi loop three weeks after my first 50K.  It was a HOT day in the Whites and I simply didn’t have it in me.  I bonked between Garfield and Lafayette and just couldn’t get it back.  In retrospect, I believe I wasn’t recovered from the 50K and failed miserably to fuel properly.  For the first time ever, I knew it was time to bail in the Whites for safety reasons.  Tony and I came down our pre-planned bailout at the Lafayette false summit (ALWAYS have one! That is one of the biggest pieces of advice I can give you for the unforgiving Whites) and I ended the day vowing to go back.  I squeaked out about 19 miles of the Loop that day and knew when I went into 100 training I wanted to complete the entire Loop.

I watched my training calendar click away and the Pemi got closer and closer.  Here are the pinnacle training runs last two months of 100 training looked like:

  • Pineland Farms 50 miler – May 28th
  • Stairs Mountain (11 miles) – June 3rd
  • Belknap Double Traverse (21.1 miles) – June 10th
  • One day Pemi Loop (30 miles) – June 17th
  • Mt. Israel Mountain Repeats (14.5 miles) – June 25th

I did over 29,000 feet of gain in June to prepare for Vermont.  Note the location of the Pemi on this list… I had already logged serious miles and elevation before I rolled into that day.

Tony and I camped the night before just minutes from the trailhead.  It was fantastic and allowed me to practice camping, fueling and an early start… all critical points for my 100.  We ate a good dinner and went bed early.  I did drink a celabratory Boom Sauce given to me by a good friend for finishing my 50!  We should have camped after the Pemi (lesson learned!).


Boom Sauce and excitement!


Campsite Creep

We were up and hitting the trail around 6:22AM.  My excitement and nervousness was palatable.  I KNEW what I was getting myself into!  Bear in mind, I am not the fastest trail runner, but have the ability to just keep pushing (recently I was dubbed the “Bulldozer”) so I knew I would be on my feet for a long day.  I had eaten well before the start (Mountain House Eggs and Bacon and an Apple) and was well hydrated.



6:22 AM Start at Lincoln Woods!

Our packs were heavy…. and as it turned out we could have gone a LOT lighter.  The original forecast was for 50s and rain.  In the Whites, you have to plan for the 50 to mean 40.  The mountains have their own ecosystem.  In our packs was extra layers.  Instead of this forecast, we had bluebird skies and temps in the mid to high 70s.  Needless to say… I spent the day weight training!  I used my Ultimate Direction 30 pack, carried 90 oz. of water at a time and had poles and my first aid kit too.

We started in Lincoln Woods for a counterclockwise Pemi loop.  This starts with an easy, relatively flat 4.8 mile walk towards Bondcliff.  Once the climbing starts, it almost never stops for the entire day.  The day was cloudy and misty at our start, but as we broke tree line just below Bondcliff we were welcomed by a gorgeous undercast!  I started hiking in 2002 and have been waiting for an undercast like this since then!  What a treat.  We continued moving towards Galehead Hut.  I was fueling well, felt strong and was climbing well.  I used Tailwind, plain water, some natural gels (Endurance Tap!) and Fuel for Fire pouches.  We made it to Galehead Hut by the six hour mark.  I had a Chef Boyardee Ravioli cup at the hut (cold, salty and delicious!) for lunch and we refilled our water.  It was already HOT and we suspected we would need to collect more water at the Garfield tentsite to get us back to the car.  Tony and I both carry Sawyer Minis to filter water.


That undercast!!!


The section between Galehead Hut and Lafayette is an absolute BEAST.  It was this section that yanked the wind out of my sails last year and set me up for failure.  I’ve hiked it a number of times in both directions and it literally busts your balls every time. Despite my best effort to eat and drink like I champ, I found myself irrationally hungry.  I was working HARD on those climbs, was really hot but never have been more determined.  We grabbed more water at the tentsite and kept on moving to Garfield.  I felt a little relief when I got there and felt better than I did last year.  The section between Galehead and the Lafayette false summit took me 4 1/2 hours. There is a LOT of elevation gain and loss in this section.


Breaking through the clouds at Bondcliff

I got to the false summit and told Tony I had to stop.  What I should have said is “I have to stop and eat” but instead I said something like “I can’t go any further.”  He got worried (like he does) as I sat down and ate another Ravioli.  He was texting Lise and expressing his concerns I wouldn’t get this done and he didn’t want to be on the ridge in the dark. He told me his concerns and said we may have to bail.  Instead I literally yelled “NO F*&KIN WAY!”  in my head.  I did not come this far to bail again at the exact same spot I did last year.  NOPE.  I finished my food, packed up and took off.  Tony was still texting Lise and didn’t realize I was gone until I was picking my way towards the summit.  Yep.  Take that dink.  I had a new life to me.  Most likely due to the food, but the motivation didn’t hurt!


Lots of climbing between Galehead and Garfield

I hit the Lafayette summit and made my way across Franconia Ridge.  The view from here is amazing for me because I get to not only see where I came from, but the end was in sight!  There are over 10 miles left from the summit of Lafayette to the bridge we started at, but I knew we could get across the ridge in daylight.  I had that in me!  It was getting foggy as we made our way to Liberty and Flume so I stayed strong and consistent. The worst part of this section was losing my “up button” by the time I hit that last Flume climb.  Tony took the lead and “pulled” me up that peak.  We summited Flume around 7:30 PM with heavy fog but still some daylight.  As we started our descent, I started to smile huge!!!  I was in the homestretch with six miles to go!  My quads, lower legs and core stayed strong all day so that descent was not hard.  If my pack hadn’t been so heavy and bouncy I would have been able to run.  As much as i like this pack, I have never been able to tweak it to run comfortably in it and it will be replaced for future fastpacking.  It just doesn’t work for me.



Franconia Ridge never gets old… and we had it to ourselves

We made our way back to Lincoln Woods trail in the dark and in silence.  What I didn’t know is Tony was having a tough day.  Silence between us isn’t unusual as we spend long days on the trail.  Its the comfortable silence among friends.  I was giddy with excitement and getting choked up as I marched by way down Lincoln Woods back to the bridge.  I DID IT!!!!  HOLY SHIT!!!!  PEMI LOOP!  It has been a bucket list item for me for years and I pulled it off.  I was happy, nothing hurt and I was ecstatic!  I hit the bridge, whipped around and hugged by best friend.  I was crying (as usual) and he told me later he got choked up.  I was so excited he did this with me and pushed me through.  This is why our running relationship works.  I didn’t even hold the bailout comment against him! 😉

We got back to the truck, stripped what we could of our smelling gear and clothes and started the drive home.  We got McDonalds (my favorite post hike treat… don’t judge, it’s my thing) and sang songs all the way home.  We should have camped again, but because we are dumb it never occurred to us!


Coming down Flume!

As you know, I am a Brand Ambassador for Altra and Born Primitive.  I want to speak on two invaluable pieces of gear:

Altra Lone Peak 3.0: I absolutely love this shoe.  The pair I wore had nearly 300 miles on them that day, but my feet stayed comfortable and they are excellent on the wet and dry rocks of the Whites.  I had not foot discomfort or blisters.  I paired these with Smartwool socks for the win.  Lone Peaks are zero drop with a wide toe box (all standard on Altra shoes) and have an medium amount of cushion.   The 3.5 just came out and has just minor differences.

Born Primitive Rhapsody Bra: This is my go to running bra.  I have a number of Rhapsody Bras and I cannot say enough about their comfort.  I wore one bra for the entire fifteen hours, and while I sweat tremendously and had a heavy pack on all day, I had no rubbing or chafing issues.  My heart rate monitor fits well under them and I forget I am wearing it.  I wore the Rhapsody for the entire hundred (changed once at mile 70).  I will never wear anything else at this point!  Want to try their stuff at a discount?  Use my code LIFTNRUN15 at for 15%!  They have a complete line of athletic and leisure clothing that is to DIE for!

Thanks as always for following along my running journey!


15 Hours Later – CCW Pemi Loop DONE!

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