100 Mile Training, Week #4


Easing back into the mileage this month, especially since it is now August and that means a super busy time for me as a teacher.  Planning ahead is going to be key in fitting everything in!

This has been a great week with some fun runs, ice cream cake for my birthday, a meet up with my awesome running friend Karen, and even a college visit for Hunter.  I’ll let the pics tell our story this week…

A College Visit!

Hunter and I drove the 3.5 hours out to Clarion University for a preview day.  His first college visit!  We learned a lot about the school and had a great time on the tour.  Hunter will be a junior this coming school year, but we want to get him thinking about his options early, especially if he is going to wrestle in college!   The school was so nice and it reminded me a lot of West Chester U where I went.  It makes me so excited for him!

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The dorms are absolutely amazing inside!

 

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We finished our tour right before the storms let loose.

We had a nice dinner at the Pizza Pub to talk things over before heading back home.  It was a fun road trip for us!

Hawk Mountain and Lunch with Karen!

Saturday I met up with my friend Karen for some hiking at Hawk Mountain.  We’ve known each other since our kids were little (and they are pretty much the same ages), so we had a lot to talk about and catch up on!  Karen and I met in an online running group back when I started running and had no running friends!  It was awesome to find out that she lived in PA.  We continue to meet up whenever we can, around our busy schedules.  We’ve also run a few races together, although Karen is a fast road marathoner and I am an ultra trail runner, so races have not been our meet up event in awhile!

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Karen bought me this awesome orange sticker for my birthday :).  You actually had to pay to get on the trails at Hawk Mountain, so I would recommend getting your money’s worth and doing the Skyline Trail like we did.  hahaha

Can you believe this trail we chose?  We literally had to climb right over that rock where the blue paint is!  And then for another half mile or so down to somewhat flat ground!

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You definitely could not hike this trail with something in your hands!

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Here is a view from one of the first lookouts.  Honestly, you drive to the top of the mountain to park and start your hike, so the elevation we did wasn’t crazy.  You can see this view without too much effort!

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To the left in the center you can see the “River of Rocks” which is kind of like Boulder Field if you have been to Hickory Run State Park.  We didn’t take the 4 mile loop trail out there because we were ready for lunch, but that would probably be a neat area too.

A Long Run

Here’s my favorite view from today’s long run on Buck Ridge Trail.  I haven’t really run here all summer, so it was fun doing the out and back to Pine Grove.  It’s a 6 mile trail connecting two parks.  I usually start on a trail farther from the trail head for Buck Ridge so I can get some extra miles in.

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This Week’s Mileage

Monday:  10 mile cycle

Tuesday:  4 trail miles

Wednesday:  gym for lifting/core and 7 evening trail miles on the AT, and the day I officially entered a new age group!

Thursday:  off (This was not a planned rest day.  I just got caught up in doing things…or not doing things…around the house.  I planned to go in the evening after I took my son to work and then we had some storms moving through so I bagged it.)

Friday:  2 faster road miles @ 8:30 avg pace, then it was time to hit the road for Clarion!

Saturday:  2.5 mile hike and 4 slow trail miles with my aging dog.  He’s pretty sore today.  He may be done with runs and stick to walks from now on.

Sunday:  14 trail miles

Exciting Week Ahead!

I will be running the Ragnar Trail Appalachians Relay in West Virginia this Friday and Saturday with an awesome team!  Hi Team, if you are reading this!  Because of my birthday timing we get to compete as Masters.  isn’t that awesome?  I have never done any type of relay before, but I love my trails, so I’m pretty sure it’s going to be epic!

Before we go, I need to do a night run to test out my new headlamp.  And of course I need to pack.

I plan to do another blog post before Thursday, so have a great week until then!

Have you ever hiked at Hawk Mountain?

Have you ever done a Ragnar Relay?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Week # 3 Training & Random Pics


My husband and I were reminiscing over a small Jamaican restaurant we used to order from every now and then when we lived in the Poconos, so  I decided to spend a few hours in the kitchen on a rainy evening putting together this Jamaican meal.  It helped with fueling up before my weekend mileage, too!

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Jamaican jerk chicken, coconut milk rice, coconut Jamaica bread, and mango jalepeno salsa.

The homemade bread was a hit and we still have some in the freezer for another day.

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The salsa was amazing.  It also has avocado in it and was so easy to make.

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This is how we spent two of our afternoons/evenings last week.  Parking cars at the Shippensburg Fair for the Newville Wrestling Association.  It was hot out there!

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I had to go back to this lake for a run early last week since Jeff and I had walked it with the dog.  It is exactly 3.7 miles around, so it makes a nice option for a weekday run.  Plus it’s not too far from the house.

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Opossum Lake

This is from a new-to-me section of the AT, a couple of miles out of Caledonia heading south.

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This is a scene from the Koppenhaver Trail in Pine Grove.  It’s only a mile around but I always try to add it to my runs there because it is so gorgeous.

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This little mole was making his way across the AT out of Pine Grove.  I was so close to crushing him with my foot because I didn’t see him!

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Monday:  rest

Tuesday:  6 trail miles

Wednesday:  5.5 trail miles, core & strength

Thursday:  5 road miles

Friday:  legs and some upper body @ gym

Saturday: 12 trail miles

Sunday:  7.5 trail miles

 

 

How were your runs this week?

Do you have a favorite salsa recipe?

Week #2 of Devil Dog Training & The Niggles


It’s been super humid and hot most of this week, to the point where running isn’t fun.  It was time to dig deep and just get out there and slog through the miles.  I can’t say they were all bad though.  I had some good company on a few runs which always makes things more enjoyable!

Dealing with Niggles

I was noticing a twinge of pain in my left knee cap area recently….only a few steps per run so nothing major, but definitely something to nip in the bud.  I’ve battled with runner’s knee in the past and don’t want to go back there!  So, the focus this week was to take care of that.  I had already planned to kick the mileage back down to the twenties for the week.   I was aiming for extra rest days and no double digits.  Here are the actions I took to help the niggle subside and hopefully not turn into an actual injury:

  • Ice the area post run.
  • Extra rest days or just cycling days.
  • Ibuprofen after the run just to keep inflammation at bay.  ( I don’ t like to mask any symptoms with meds before the run or I won’t know how it’s doing and could risk more damage)
  • New shoes (This is a BIG one!  Really thinking I ran too many miles in the previous ones past their prime which added to the niggles.  Plus running a 10 miler on roads in the old ones a few weeks ago was probably not smart either.)  Isn’t it funny how loved the ones on the left are?  These are the same exact shoe down to the color.  One has about 500 miles and the other 0.  They felt like heaven!image
  • Strengthening around the knee with lunges and squats (I have to admit I could be doing these more regularly so this was a wake up call!)
  • Less climbs and steep downhill running.  This part makes me sad but it had to be done!

Thankfully my last 3 runs have been totally niggle free, but I’ll continue some of the strategies above through this next week to ensure things are back to where they need to be for when my training gets more demanding!

Week #2 Breakdown

Monday:  REST  (hamstring, quad stretching)

Tuesday:  3 easy miles  (stretching + lunges + squats)

Wednesday:  8.5 mile cycle  (stretching + lunges + squats + upper body)

Thursday:  Gym workout (upper body/ back/core)

 

Friday:  6 easy trail miles with Eli (incorporated more walking & explored)

Saturday:  8.1 trail miles (Hoka demo day with Appalachian Running Company)

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These were the shoes I tried out for 5 of the miles.  Hoka Speedgoat 2 (men’s since all the women’s in my size were taken).  My verdict is that I’ll stick with Altra Lone Peaks.  There is nothing quite like my Altras.  I prefer to feel the ground more underneath myself and always feel more confident flying down technical terrain in the Lone Peaks.   But…. I could see these Hokas being a refreshing shoe to wear after being on your feet for 50 miles or more in an ultra.  Actually I am excited to try Altra’s new Timp shoe for this reason.  The zero drop and wide toe box make me a loyal fan!

Sunday:  9 Appalachian Trail miles with a Ragnar buddy and a killer gym workout for sweat session #2

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Warm Up:
3 x 10 lunges with 25 lb plate overhead
3 x 10 raises with plate
3 x 50 med ball slams
3 x 10 assisted pull ups
3 x 15 ab raises
3 x 30 second flutter ab kicks
3 x 10 dumbell curls
3 x 100 oblique twists with med ball
3 x 10 tricep dips with 20 lb
3 x 10 lower ab leg raises
3 x 10 knees to chest
3 x 15 lat pull downs

Food is Fuel!

I had these romaine boats with roast beef, goat feta, sriracha lemon aioli, radishes, and green onions for lunch and they didn’t disappoint.   Bottom one has chipotle mustard instead of aioli because it ran out.  Definitely need to make more!

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And this low carb/ high protein waffle for breakfast.  Made with coconut flour and egg whites, topped with mini semi-sweet choc chips, walnuts, unsweetened coconut flakes, almond butter, and honey.  I did not miss the Bisquick waffles I made for the boys at all!

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Any tips or strategies you use to handle the niggles when they show up?

Favorite gym workout?

Of everything in the list above from today, my favorite is the medicine ball slam squats. It’s so rewarding to slam something on the ground over and over.  Hahaha!

 

Week #1 of 100 Mile Training & Comparing Ultras to Childbirth?


It is a daunting task for sure, figuring out how to get myself to the start line healthy, trained, and capable of running 100 miles.   Let’s be honest, 100 miles is a whole different kind of beast.  Anything can happen.  I know that I cannot possibly prepare for every scenario I will be faced with during a race of this distance.   At some point all the physical training I’m going to do leading up to the race is only going to get me so far.  Then I’m just going to have to keep moving forward and make sure my mental game is strong!  “Relentless forward motion,” is my favorite mantra and I’m sure I’ll think of a lot more before December.

I’ve heard others describe the pain cave of a 100 mile race as equal to or greater than the pain of child birth.  Well, if that’s the case, I did my pain management training 13 and 16 years ago!  hahaha  Two natural childbirths, no meds whatsoever…only a birthing ball, my husband’s poor hand to crush, and a nail on the wall as a focal point to manage the pain.  I figure if I can push an almost 9 pound baby out of my lady parts, then I can run 100 miles, right?  They say you forget the pain once they put the baby in your arms and you look into their sweet little faces, but I still remember staring at that nail on the wall, squeezing my husband’s hand, and feeling like I was being crushed by a Mac truck from the inside out every 30 seconds.  And that was after having puked all over the hospital floor!  Hell, I pushed for 3 hours straight with my firstborn, after about 5 hours of labor and 2 days of back labor and not being able to hold down any food.  That being said, both times were the most rewarding and amazing experiences of my entire life.  I cannot even describe how amazing it felt each time to know that my boys are here because of the pain I endured.

We can laugh about the parallels between child birth and running 100 miles, but I guarantee you that those are the two main experiences I’m going to be drawing on when times get really tough during the race.  And they will, that’s a given.  It will be one of the hardest things I will do willingly in my life, but crossing that finish line will be epic.  The best part is that there will be no diaper changing in the months to follow.  I’ll take a nice shiny belt buckle instead.  Hahahaha!

Actually the best part is going to be sharing this experience with Jen.  She is tough as nails and destined to be my trail sister.   We’re in this together!

 

Awesome Training Advice

I came across this blog post today and I think it has some great tips for anyone getting ready to run 100 miles.  I know I will be rereading this a lot over the next 5 months!

A Century or Bust

 

Training Week #1

I’ll just call last week the first week of training because I figure anything I do from here on out will be preparing me for this race.  I’ve just been trying to establish a regular running cycle lately and to work my long run back up.  I’m going to scale the miles back a little bit this week and then increase again over weeks 3 and 4.  That worked well during my last training cycle.

Monday:  rest

Tuesday:  8 trail miles

Wednesday:  travel day to Nashville for a teaching conference

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Pretty epic view from 34,000 ft though!
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Best barbecue I have ever had.  If you are ever in Nashville, you have to eat here.  Guy Fieri  featured this place on DDD for a reason!  

Thursday:  2 miles on hotel treadmill (my only option and I did not enjoy one second of this).  30 minute workout with weights, leg press, rowing machine, and kettle bells

Friday:  travel day home/ rest

Saturday:  8 super easy paced trail miles (Went exploring to find the awesome overlook I came across last spring when I almost got lost during a run.  Found it pretty easily and will definitely be making this a regular run.  I sat here for awhile just enjoying the solitude and the view.)

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Sunday:  17 miles on the Appalachian Trail (Ran an easier section that is more runnable trail than I’m used to.  I figure I should try to do trails like this more often for this training.  I’m still planning to work some elevation into my long runs though, just not every time since Devil Dog’s elevation gain is more friendly than Cayuga was!)

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I couldn’t stop laughing at the picture of the guy on this sign.  I know how it feels to do a face plant!

So that’s where I’m at currently.

What is your favorite mantra?

Have you ever been to Nashville?

I had a great time there and would love to go back again someday!

 

Miles to Go for Who?


“Miles to Go for You.”  If you’re a somewhat new reader to my blog you may be wondering why I chose that name.  Miles to go for who?  Don’t you run for yourself?  Read on and you will understand, I promise.   In order to explain, I will have to take you back to July 4th, 2010.  My first running race ever.  The picture below means so much to me.

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It reminds me of where I started and how far I’ve come.  Even though it was 7 years ago, I still remember Hunter and I lining up with all the other racers on the street next to Dansbury Park Pool.  It was a scorching hot summer day and I remember feeling like I was doing something so far out of my element, being there among SERIOUS runners.   When the gun went off, Hunter and I ran with the crowd.  We had a short conversation and then the next thing I knew, my nine year old son took off!  I tried to keep his blue shirt in my sight but I literally couldn’t keep up with him.  He was running so much faster than we had trained!  My goal for that race was to not walk, no matter what.  I thought Hunter and I would run together, but I was so proud of him that I didn’t mind.  I just kept telling myself not to stop running no matter how hard it felt.  The sun was beating down on me as I plugged along on the levee in the last mile of the race, Hunter far out of my sight.  Houses with torturous pools in their yards came into my view, but I kept moving.  When I crossed the finish line in 28:11, Hunter was there waiting for me.  He had ran a 24 or 25 minute race!  A guy who finished behind me said I had a good pace and he had used me to keep moving forward.  (I had no idea this was a thing and that I was helping someone out!).

 

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YMCA 2010 Firecracker 5K (July 4, 2010).  We have both changed a lot since then!

Hunter and I had trained for our first 5K for a few months, side by side.  We worked our way up to a 1.4 mile loop in our neighborhood, then to about 3 miles.  (Those were the days when  I had sneakers that weren’t actual running shoes.  I drove my car on the loop beforehand to measure the mileage.  And…I used the kitchen clock to estimate our pace!).  Those training runs were HARD!  Our 1.4 mile loop would take us through the dirt roads of our wooded community in the Pocono Mountains, past neighbor’s houses, past the community mailboxes, past their bus stop, and through a quiet woodsy area with no houses.  There was also a “big hill”, the one the entire neighborhood used for sledding in the winter, that we had to run down.   After we were able to do one loop well, we decided to double it and get as close to 3 miles as possible.  We would switch directions during the double loop, which meant that we would not only have to run down the big hill, but also UP the big hill!  When we finished our second lap, Hunter and I would literally throw ourselves down on the grass in the front yard and lay on our backs trying to catch our breath!  Then I would quick run inside to check the time so I would know how long it took us.

Little did I know that that one little race would open the door to a whole new world to me.  I had no idea that I would one day own things like Garmins, real running shoes, Gu, energy chews, compression sleeves, moisture wicking clothing, or balaclavas.  Hell, I didn’t even know what most of those things were!  I didn’t know how much running would teach me about myself and what was possible, and I certainly couldn’t have predicted all the new people and amazing friends that it would bring into my life.

I wouldn’t have believed you at all if you had told me then that someday I would be running trail races exclusively.  And I without a doubt would not have believed you if you had told me I’d be running a 50 mile trail race with crazy elevation and beautiful waterfalls.

The picture below means as much to me as the one above.  Hunter, now towering over me, and my son Eli, have watched me progress through the various distances of road races.  They were there to cheer me on during my first half marathon in Philly, my first full marathon in the Poconos, my first 50K at Pine Grove, and my first 50 mile race in Ithaca, NY.

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June 3, 2017.  Cayuga Trails 50 in Ithaca, NY

So, miles to go for who?  In case you haven’t guessed it yet, it’s these two right here.  My boys mean the world to me and in order to be the best Mom I can be, I run.  I run to stay sane, to stay healthy, and to show them that when things get hard you keep on pushing forward.  I run to show them that dedication, a fire in your heart, and a positive attitude can carry you for miles.

Who do you run for?

What do you remember about your first race ever?

Taking Time to Feed my Soul…


Some people run to get out of the rain.  Today I purposely ran for almost two hours in it. The temps were in the low 70’s and I was comfortable in a t-shirt, shorts, and hat to keep the rain from running into my face.  The trails provided a shelter at times from the rain, this is true, but half a mile in I was soaked and feeling an amazing connection to the dirt and mud under my feet.

Why I Love to Run in the Rain. . .

  • The glistening rocks and roots on the forest floor that I have to maneuver across, posing a new challenge, and keeping me focused on the moment I am in.
  • The overgrown tree limbs and blueberry bushes that brush against my skin leaving their wet, refreshing marks.
  •  The mossy and slippery footbridges that I have to carefully cross without my feet sliding out from beneath me.
  • All of this set in poetic motion to the sounds of pouring rain hitting the tree tops, the brim of my hat, and the earth around me.
  • The absence of others, as most people don’t tend to venture out on a day like today for a fun little hike. (Although I did see two other people out today!)

I guess in a way you have to be some kind of introvert in order to enjoy spending hours upon hours alone with your own thoughts and feelings as an ultrarunner.  As a Mom of two busy and active boys, and a teacher to about 100 middle school students, you can probably imagine why I crave and look forward to the solitude of my trail running.  Although for me it goes a little deeper.  I enjoy being alone with my thoughts, particularly in nature, moving freely through space and time with no one else to worry about.  No one needs anything from me during these times.  No one is asking me questions.   The due dates and daily demands of parenting and teaching disappear for these hours and it is just me, the earth, the sky, and the flora and fauna of the Pennsylvania trails.   It is rejuvenating and soul-filling in a way that I wish I could express more deeply to those of you who have yet to venture into this sport.

Sure I run to prepare myself for the next big race.  That’s a given.  I mean you don’t want your race to be a total suck-fest, right?   Setting huge, seemingly unattainable goals in the sport of ultrarunning can be scary, empowering, risky, and exhilarating all at the same time.  Working toward those goals, for me, is a gift.  It is a gift I give myself every time I lace up my Lone Peaks and head out to a trail head to log some miles.  It is a little slice of my day that I can look forward to and know that I am doing something to reach my goals, but even more importantly, I am doing something to feed my soul.

We all feed our stomachs, but when is the last time you thought about feeding your soul?

What is it that makes you feel the most like yourself?

 

Pics from today’s run….

Ridge Overlook

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Cameron/Masland Mansion at the top of the mountain in Kings Gap State Park.  I am forever running trails around it, but never stop to go through the grounds of the mansion during a run, so I decided to today because I was having so much fun.

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Built in 1908 by James McCormick Cameron as a summer home.  It has 32 rooms and is designed to look like an Italian Villa.  You can go inside for a tour on Sundays between 1-5:00.  We’ve done that and it’s pretty cool inside.

 

Kings Gap Water Tower

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Kings Gap Garden

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Today’s fuel of choice, which I enjoyed while sitting on a rock in the pouring rain at Scenic Vista Overlook.

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I know it looks like I jumped in a pool, but honestly I was the same amount of wet after my run two Saturday’s ago in sun, upper 80’s and ridiculous humidity.  I’ll take today’s conditions anytime!

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How do you feel about running in the rain?

 

Post-Race Slump & Pics from the Week


You know how it goes.  Your long-awaited big goal race that you put every last ounce of your energy into over the past 5 – 6 months, is OVER.  Your body had adjusted to the vigorous training during those months and eventually you even started to crave it, although you may or may not have realized this.  One week after the race you are riding high in your post-race glory.  A few more weeks go by and you’ve started easing your way back in to running.  No training plan or mileage goals penciled in on your calendar because it’s still a little too soon to put your body through all that again.  You have another goal race down the line but are in the interim between training sessions and realize you are feeling exhausted for no reason.  Bored.  Unsettled.  Possibly even slightly depressed. Moody?  Just feeling blah.

That’s about where I’m at these days.  I haven’t even blogged in awhile because I felt like my life was too boring to have anything to write about!  Then I realized that I can’t be the only one that feels this way in between races.  It doesn’t help that school is out and we are all home lounging around and putting true meaning to the phrase “lazy days of summer”.  No schedule to my days, no miles on the calendar….it’s all too empty and boring.  My boys are teenagers and have their own agendas.  I’ve been getting runs in.  Even doing more 8 – 10 mile runs, but I just haven’t exhausted my body enough to reap the benefits I guess.  I sleep so much better when I’m running over 35 miles per week.  40-45 used to be my mileage sweet spot when everything seemed right with the world.  I wonder if my previous cycle has ramped that up a bit?  Only time will tell, but I should have close to 35 miles this week and be back in the 40’s after that.

It’s times like this when I wonder how non-runners do it.  I guess I need the endorphins consistently running through my body, performing their magic.  The world just looks a little brighter, I have more energy, and that satisfying tiredness in my legs telling me that I did something awesome that day.

Pics From the Week

I have been hitting the gym at least!  Trying to mix it up between lifting and other things.  Kettle bells, medicine balls, weight plates, etc.

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Late afternoon run on the AT selfie fail.

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Top of Blueberry Trail in Michaux State Forest.  Good climb up and awesome run down!

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I think I like this one so much because it’s representative of how I feel lately.  Blah and boring but still standing….knowing there is something beautiful, amazing, and challenging just beyond the horizon waiting for me.

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Some deforestation that ruined part of my trail run tonight.  Dead Woman Hollow Trail with so much destruction.  I guess it’s fitting?

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Too blurry, but apparently THIS is the halfway point of the AT this year.  Right at Dead Woman Hollow Road parking lot.

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A delicious dinner.  I have no idea how my feet got in this pic…too funny!  At least you can’t see my left foot (my pinky toenail went missing).  I just found out about the benefits of black rice.  It is more nutrient-rich than white and brown rice, and contains anthocyanin antioxidants like those found in blueberries and blackberries.  Sounds like the perfect rice for an ultrarunner to me!  The taste is more nutty than brown rice and I prefer it!

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Roasted red cabbage, black rice, and a tofu/sugar snap/pepper medley sauteed in a ginger/honey/soy concoction I made up myself.  (garlic, hot pepper flakes, honey, soy, red wine vinegar, canola oil, Chinese 5 spice, ginger)

Have you ever felt the post-race slump?

Have you tried black rice?