Tag Archives: Ultra running

Run Rabbit Run Race Report 2016

It has been almost 3 weeks that I have been processing Run Rabbit Run 100, so its finally time to write a blog post.  I apologize, its written as though I threw up every memory onto a page, which is sort of what happened. I like raw, unedited race reports though…I hope you do too.

Fantastic crew at the start (minus Drew)

The story really starts 2.5 weeks out from RRR.  I decided to do a shake out speed run on the trials..just an easy 4 miles. 1 mile from the house I caught a toe under a root, rather than holding and just pulling my leg, it broke as I was aiming to launch myself over a waist high fallen tree… as it let go I slammed my opposite knee into the tree and flipped me over it landing on the back of my head. At least that’s how I can work it out going back to the area.  I don’t remember landing, I don’t remember getting up.  I remember just thinking I had hit my knee and shin so hard they immediately blew up and I had to hobble home.
I must have talked to some people and then fallen asleep because a few friends of mine a day later knew I had fallen, and I didn’t remember telling them.  I think for the next few days there are holes in my memory. I finally went to the doc, who told me under no circumstances should I run 100 miles at altitude… but I should be ok to fly in a week. I then talked to a PT who deals with head trauma and he seemed less concerned.  Told me to lay around so my brain could stop moving and the headaches would go away.  So my taper mostly consisted of napping and laying on the couch and meditating…. for three weeks.  I finally ran the Wednesday before RRR and decided the world didn’t spin anymore when I moved so I would be ok.  I do think that my head was more sensitive to altitude than normal, but I’ll get to that later.

with a little help from my friends

So Ringo and I headed up to northern CO to exchange Cari for Gumbi and meet Drew, ET and gyro in Steamboat(our fantastic crew).  Gumbi would end up pacing Ringo 60 miles, and the rest would be my wonderful crew for all 105 miles!
The weather was clear for the race, sunny and warm during the day(80s), and cold at night(20s/teens depending on elevation).
Ringo started at 8 am and I followed at noon in the Hare division.
There was a slight change to the start, due to a mud slide on one of the ski slopes we hike up, so thinking we were going on more single track than normal, not 2 miles into the race I realized we were off course…. oh well, no need to panic yet, it was just the first 30 min of the race.
Most people hiked the steep incline, a few tried to run it.  I distinctly remember one guy who was expending so much energy trying to wave around people, I KNEW I’d either be passing him again, or he would drop.  At mile 45 I saw a headlamp heading back towards me, I called out that it was the wrong direction… it was afore mentioned runner heading back to drop at the previous aid station.
Anyway, the aspens were pretty great, the sky a clear blue and I continued to head up to 10,500 to long lake.  Long lake was a little out and back and I could see I was toward the back of the pack, but not far behind a large group of runners.  Remembering my drop last year, I not only had LOTS of warm clothes, but I also kept to my own pace and didn’t worry where I was.  I also remembered that around mile 30 I would start catching the Tortoises too, so no worries.
Ok, so maybe this is TMI but this is something that we female 100 milers deal with- PMS during races.  Mostly I just had to stop quite often feeling like my bladder/colon was full all race long-kind of a pain, but ya deal with it.
Anyway, down fish creek falls I caught a few people-Monica was one of these runners.  A runner from Washington state who would play leapfrog with me the entire way, slowing at higher altitude but speeding up at lower altitudes, just like me.
I hadn’t really seen many people up to this point, so when I finally saw Drew it was really nice.  The Hare division allows no pacers or poles, so many of us spend the entire race mostly alone, however, there is a 4 mile road section that doesn’t have a shoulder so they allow a safety runner to accompany you to make sure traffic is aware you are there.  This is about mile 15-21 and then again back up in the dark around mile 42ish.
Coming into Olympian Hall I was having some knee pain, probably leftover from the fall a few weeks before.  In a matter of minutes Gyro worked his magic , having me make sure to rotate over my hip, and for the rest of the 80+ miles my knee gave me absolutely no problems-THANKS GYRO!!
Et made sure to feed and refuel me because I would have no aid or water for the next 10 miles.  This is my favorite part, nice single track trails and rolling hills from mile 21-42, low enough that I could actually run it all, I think its all between 6,500-8,500 feet… perfect for running!  The night was cool, but not cold at that point and the full moon was AMAZING! It was so bright a few times I looked into he trees thinking it was someone’s super bright headlamp on a switchback ahead.

Coming into mile 30-Cow Creek AS

I saw them again at mile 30sih for more food and my headlamp.
The section from 30-42 went along uneventfully, just me and the night, illuminated by the moon.
Back to Olympian hall at mile 42 there was discussion about how many clothes to put on me.  The problem is that from 42-50sih you hike really hard going up from 6,500 to a little over 10k and in the middle of the night.  Working hard over rocks that are big enough I need my arms to hoist me up in places so I create a lot of heat. There is no drop bag in this section, and the aid station is at mile 52 and is flattish enough that in those two miles you can get hypothermic really fast-this is exactly what happens to sage Canaday in this section, he ran in just a light jacket and was warm until just a few miles from the aid station… got cold… and dropped.
I put up little resistance as they dressed me like Randy from the Christmas Story” I can’t put my arms down.” I of course took it all off as I powered up fish creek falls until mile 50 as the moisture froze on the plants around me, all of my clothes went right back on.  I had on heavy winter tights that are wind proof over my quads, over that a down skirt, and then my puffy and a hat and mittens.  Unlike last year when I got into that aid station shaking so violently I couldn’t put on clothes, I waddled in nice and warm, grabbing some broth and an orange, leaving behind several very cold and nauseated runners. This is mile 52 and 10,100 feet and people were feeling the elevation, effort and cold.

Me? or Randy from a Christmas Story all bundled up.

mile 52-57 roll uphill to a little over 10,500.  This is the aid station that I sat at last year for 40 minutes trying to gather my brain and get warmed up. No problems this year, aside from not wanting to eat at all from mile 53-65 (all at higher altitude). Again I saw no one on this section.
mile 57-65.5 is all downhill. Though it was supposed to be 8 miles, it was much closer to 10 (the race works out to 105 miles and this was where the mileage gets stretched) I would say I had a bit of a low moment for those two miles where I thought the aid station should have been-but not bad.  I tried to eat when I saw Drew at 65.5 but didn’t get much down.  I knew the sun would start to rise soon and I was again taking off layers, but we plunge down to a low section where a lot of the cold air sits, so I didn’t want to really take everything off.  Just a few minutes from mile 70+ I ran into RIngo and Gumbi moving well.  This is another out and back so I knew they were less than 15 minutes ahead of me… but I needed to take off my clothes and change into warm weather pants because the next section was an exposed uphill section that got HOT!

Ringo and Gumbi just 15 minutes ahead!

Lucky for Ringo I took my time at that station- but in the back of my head I was still hunting them, looking for them around each corner as we hiked back up to 10,600 and mile 83.  From mile 83 to mile 100 the course weaves through forest and fields up above 10,500 on single track.  I was so focused going uphill for those 15 or so miles in the heat that I didn’t drink much and arrived really dehydrated.  Not sunburned though, I forgot my hat but had chapstick with SPF 30–so I might have rubbed that stick all over my face…mmm cherry scented face.
Monica rejoined me in this aid station. I offered that we were both going to struggle in the high altitude since we were both from sea level and that maybe working together we would feel better.  So from 83-90+ we hiked, gasped for air, and shared running stories.  Somewhere around here was when I started coughing up, what I assume to be, was part of my lungs..pinkish foam.  Many of the other runners were having the same problem, coming into the aid stations hoarse from the dry very dusty thin air. I told myself not to worry, only a dozen more miles to go, and lung cells regenerate pretty quickly!
Somewhere after this aid station..mile 93 or so I let Monica go. My coughing was getting worse and I was finally really slowing down-a lot.  My head hurt, my chest hurt, I was wheezing, oh and still wasn’t drinking.  For the first time in a race my hands were SO swollen.  This is also where the 50 mile racers merge onto the course with us and start passing us.  A bit disheartening but they were all nice and encouraging.  I got some water from one runner who looked at my hands and said –you are so dehydrated.  A 27 hour finish slipped away, a 28 hour finish did as well. I sat a bit gasping for air and allowing a second or two to feel bad for myself before getting back up and hiking uphill again.  Before this race I decided it was time to practice more mental aspects of racing 100 miles.  I found a good meditation guide that teaches to just clear your mind, don’t allow thoughts to hang around because it takes effort to continue positive self talk, and often its a fight to keep negative thoughts out so this was really the first time I actually let myself think and feel bad.
 Finally around mile 98 the last aid station at 10,600 feet came into view.  I collapsed into a chair finally there and asked for some tailwind.  Something I have never drank but I was depleted.  I got a bowl of it from a volunteer and downed it, as I eyed my watch. Shit- I had 50 minutes to make it the last 6.5 miles downhill to get a buckle.

Go get it!

The official cut off time for everyone is 36 hours-32 for the Hares, and 30 for hares that want a buckle and there was NO WAY I was going home without a damn buckle again!!!! (Last year I didn’t dress warm enough and dropped at mile 70 unable to warm up.)  I took a deep breath and told myself that the pain of running downhill for 6+ miles on a paved road would soon be forgotten once I had that buckle in my hands!
I put my head down and ran!! I passed Monica who had left me 6 miles earlier, I passed tortoises, I passed 50 milers..down down down down…I don’t need those quads..right?  I passed one tortoise who looked at me, then realizing I was a hare he looked at his watch and called…” yea you had better run… you can make it, but it will be by the skin of your teeth!”
The wide road turned into single track and I started to wonder where the damn finish line was!? You really couldn’t see it until the last few hundred yards, and I couldn’t figure out for the life of me how much farther, I had less than 10 minutes.  Suddenly I came out into a field and saw Gumbi and Ringo… with a slap on the back I passed him calling out “see you at the finish.”
The watch I had on was new, and too big and as I ran downhill it was bothering me a lot so I took it off and stuffed it into a pocket, so I thought I only had seconds left… and picked up the pace, driving my knees harder.  I saw ET, heard Gyro and saw the finish line.

Mile 105 with the finish line in sight!

There is an official hugger at the finish line-this wonderfully excited volunteer that coordinates much of the race… she opened her arms and said “you got this, right here”…I basically leaped into her open arms and let my legs turn to jelly. I had less than 5 minutes to spare.  Fred, one of the CO-RDs remembered me from last year….I mean how many women from NC sign up for the Hare division of that race….I will tell you, according to him- only me so far.
He asked how I felt to get the sub 30 buckle and all I could think to say was, “so great that I’m going to puke,’. Ha (I held it in for another 3 hours or so though). Those who know me know I am great for post race spewage
I didn’t get to see Ringo finish, as I needed Drew to help me walk around after.  We mostly just went back to the room and after rinsing off 105 miles of sweat dust, and probably drool 😉 I very happily passed out, not to wake until 5 am the next morning.
Thank you so much ET, Gyro, Drew and Gumbi!  I am so glad you all were there, as well as your lucky crew pants ET! I wouldn’t have made it under the cut off with out you wearing them! 😉 You guys took such great care of me before, during and after!! I am so lucky!
Also thanks so much to Carson Footwear ( http://carsonfootwear.com/ )  Orange Mud and Balanced Movement for supporting my racing! http://www.orangemud.com/
I finished in 29:56 107th overall of 203 finishers
A total of 121 dropped
Ringo finished 166th in 33:58, winning a spot for next year!

Me and Ringo with our buckles, fantastic husband photobomb!

And though I conquered that beast, or bunny, deep down I still want to come back and better my time, I know I can!
I would absolutely recommend this race to anyone.  Its a great challenge, its the perfect time of year when the aspen trees start to turn.  The RDs and Volunteer coordinator really put their hearts into it, and most of the money raised by this event all goes to different local charities, which is really great!
Its super easy for crew because you basically run into and out of town so your crew doesn’t need to travel very far at all leaving plenty of time for their self care, and naps even.
Steamboat is a fun mountain town, I would also suggest post race that you visit the natural hot springs for a soak after.  They have hot and cold pools which is great to get your circulation going again.
Hope you enjoyed my little race report… hop on friends!

Sub 30 buckle, YES!


Hardrock, Where are the Women? And other Lottery Thoughts.

I began this blog below a few days after coming home from Telluride in early July, but tabled it for two months not knowing how many women actually put into the lottery.  However, since then an article “How and for whom the Hardrock Lottery works,” answering many of my questions has come out in Trail Runner Magazine, relating Darcy Piceu’s story and ( http://trailrunnermag.com/races/featured-races/2274-howand-for-whomthe-hardrock-lottery-works  )

We made it! What a view!


Answer; 16% of the potential runners put into the HRH lottery were female, while 10.5% of the HRH racers were female.

Here are my original thoughts immediately following the race;

This year would be my second time in Telluride, but really my first time spectating at HRH (HardRock Hundred.)  I decided to actually check out several of the mountain passes and see what the race was all about.  Along with me was my friend Liz, another female outdoor adventurer who has a family history with the HRH.   Let me start by saying this; its no joke.  This year there wasn’t much snow at all, and for someone going out on trails like that for the first time, it was momentarily terrifying…. until I realized, hey, I can do this… pretend the scree is snow and “ski” or “butt slide,” down it.  It was thrilling, adrenaline creating, electrifying, and terrifying all at the same time.  Those Hardrock-ers have balls to run those passes in the dark after being awake for 40+ hours!  (And yes, after the initial adrenaline wore off, I realized I had become obsessed and hope to someday also finish HRH.)

As I was watching these amazing individuals run along the course, it dawned on me… there were 152 starters, while 16 of those starting were women.  Why might that be?  I decided to look up some HRH statistics.  The race began in 1992 as a tribute to the men and women who set out to find their fortunes-many losing their lives-looking for gold, silver, and other minerals in the San Juan Mountains.

The inaugural HRH had 36 male starters and 6 female starters. Over the years 2214 men have started the race, with 1405 of them finishing.  316 women have started 184 of them successfully finishing.

(note: two years the race was cancelled.  1995; too much snow, 2002; dangerous fire.)

I’m not  writing this because somehow I feel, as a woman, shorted in the lottery and didn’t get it.  In all transparency, I did put in this year,  I had a qualifier last year but wasn’t mentally ready.  This is not a rant, just questions that have sprung into mind since the race.

Can you see Liz way up there?!


Charlie Thorn, one of the many who help make this run happen, has so nicely put together all the data from every year, which is where I got most of my information.

I know that women participants make up a smaller percentage of all ultra runners, but only 10% does seem curiously low.  Are there really so few women who put in for HRH?   Seems the average overall age of finishers is age 44, a prime age for families to have children still in grade school and needing mom and dad’s support and attention.  Many of the couples I know try to split the child care as best as possible, but I still see much of it falling to the moms. (update; I found that 16% of the lottery entrants are women..so 10% of the runners being female isn’t too far off.)

Let’s talk about the two top finishers this year; Anna Frost and Jason Schlarb. (note, Jason and Killian tied.)

So Anna is an unmarried female, supported by Solomon, full time job trail running.  Jason is supported by Altra, running is also his full time job, however, he is married with a young son.  His wife was at the race, as support.  I don’t believe she is an ultra runner, she sure seems to be an active individual, but I don’t think she races-not sure though.  This is just one example, but I saw many many men with their wives, children, and even grandchildren there happily supporting their efforts.  This made me so happy to see the family atmosphere firsthand.  However, it was usually the husband running, the supportive wife, and kids in tow.  I think part of this discrepancy of men running while women support is because there were only 16 female racers, so I just happened to see this scenario replay over and over for men and not for women.

Me pausing for a break


More men than women participate in ultramarathons. A 2011 year-end review in Ultrarunning magazine sited 27 percent female ultra running participants. Similarly, UltraSignup.com found that, of those who used the site to sign up for ultras in 2013 and 2014, women accounted for 27 and 29 percent, respectively. Women comprised 22.5 percent of 2016 Western States 100 finishers and 18.8 percent of 2015 Leadville Trail 100 finishers.

This makes the HRH the lowest of the “popular mountain 100s” at 10.5%  when it comes to female participants.  As explained in the Trail Runner Magazine, the lottery tries to favor the veteran runners, and there are more veteran male runners than female.

In many ways I applaud the HRH to keeping the lottery open to all, not just elites.  With that said I think it is every person’s responsibility that if they put their name into the lottery, they realize that they are taking a coveted spot, and they put forth the effort to train hard, and fully attempt to finish each lottery race they take a spot in. There are so few spots, and so many people who are waiting to put their hearts into training for these races.  There is no shame in pulling out if you get picked in the lottery for some unseen reason; family, injury, work, life etc gets in the way.  Bow out and let someone off the wait list in.  Don’t let fomo get you to the starting line of a race you know you can’t finish.

This kid loves adventures, totally a future Hardrock-er


Neither I, not the TRM article, has a definitive answer when it comes to women representation in the HRH or ultra races in general.  I think that the HRH has every right to keep things as they are and continue the tradition of their lottery, and not save 20% of its slots for women, at the same time, it would be nice to see a deeper Women’s field in the San Juans.   It might actually encourage more women to put in to the HRH hundred lottery, or any other mountain ultra.

I do think that is one key to more women in these types of events; seeing other women succeed in tough races.  I have been lucky to have had several women I have only met through social media thank me for sharing my adventures and inspiring them to go on their own, which leads me to believe that having more women more visual in ultra races will inspire others to follow.

Whatever happens or doesn’t happen to the lottery- the Hardrock Hundred will continue to draw me to it, and hopefully other women as well!


Do you have any thoughts to share, please do!

Trailheads in Colorado; note how only one of us(a HRH finisher) is touching the rock.






Ultra Running Reflections and Personal Growth

The last few days I have been thinking about ultra running and what it as taught me..

Relaxing in the summer heat with my sister.

Coming off a hard two week training cycle which included two 40 mile runs, two long back to back heat training runs, a few trail tempo runs and lots of core work I slept almost all day, ahh recovery! I had wanted to get in one more quality long run, but it wasn’t happening. On Sunday I got 5 miles into a 30 mile run and just new things were off, and not in a just-push-through- it way.   A weird 48 hour virus struck…I thought I would put off the long run till Sunday, till Monday… today I gave it up.  My husband asked if I still need to get in one more long run, probably expecting me to say “yes, I hate this, I need one more long run.”– probably expecting me to be grumpy and stressed because I missed ONE last run… But instead I replied, “meh, the time has past, it wasn’t meant to be, I will trust my training and not worry about that one last missed run..no big deal.”(who am I?) I know in the past I could have very well let that one little thing freak me out, that one little missed run could have put me off my whole taper..” it wasn’t meant to be..” huh, that’s a better attitude.

I’m sort of on a taper, but not racing anything serious, so its a not-so-serious taper that I am on.  Meanwhile, many of my friends have been on their “A” race tapers with Bighorn 100, WS100 and Hardrock coming up soon so I have been reading quite a few social media posts about tapering.

Having been there, and looking in from my position…which isn’t from exactly a veteran standpoint, but not a newbie place either..how many Ultras have I done? (stops typing to go check Ultrasignup.com) 15, ok wow, 15 races… time flies when you are having fun I guess!

Anywhoo, I have seen all sorts of ways that people react to their “A” race tapers.  There are those who freak out- not trusting in their training.(I have surely been there before!!)  They can’t sleep, can’t concentrate, can’t relax.  There are others who love the taper, perhaps they have worn themselves out training and welcome the break from training.  Others have so carefully plotted out their few weeks leading up to a big race they don’t have the time to react to the change in their training lives.

It often seems like many people fall into two camps, those who deal well with the weeks leading up to their races, and those who don’t.  Perhaps those who have learned to trust in themselves, and those who haven’t?  Or maybe who can take responsibility for their success and failures but who also know that sometimes “shit just happens” and believe in themselves to make the best out of every situation.

I think I used to be in the camp that didn’t do well in the weeks leading up to an “A” race.  I fell into that place where I wanted to control everything, if I didn’t sleep well one night, or I missed a run it would send me off into a whirl wind of self doubt. I think I also spent a lot of my life in my 20s in this place as well.  Wanting to control every aspect of my personal life because the outside world itself is so uncontrollable.

What I now see is that the most successful people in life, and in ultra running are able to roll with the punches.  Those who are hyper controlling and inflexible can be successful as well, but I think burn themselves out easier.

We can’t actually control much in our lives, the best we can do is control how we react to situations.

Life, as in ultra running, is unpredictable..messy at best.  Sure, I still try to stick to training plans, and life plans, but when things go awry I don’t quite have the same freak out reaction that I used to have.  Its quite liberating to “grow up” and learn to trust yourself and (or) your training.  I recently read an article about ego vs confidence.  Confidence was explained as feeling ready because you know you have the work to back up good results, where as ego is just being overly self-assured while you may not actually have any hard work to back that up.  I think I have found confidence recently.

Thank you ultra running for helping me grow up… not too much though, I like being a kid at heart still.

Guest Post: Ruck Funning; A Little Salty to Balance out those Last Sweet Posts.

Fuck Running

by Ben Syzek

I have a love hate relationship with running. Then again who doesn’t? I guess there are those sickos that enjoy it for it’s own sake. But like I said, they’re sick.

I primarily run early in the morning, and every morning I wake up and think, “why the fuck am I doing this?” Running is terrible. Every step hurts me, and I don’t particularly enjoy pain. The funny part is that even though I hate it and wonder every time why the hell I’m doing it, it’s still better than anything else I do all day. Pretty sad, huh?

It’s true, though. Even though I hate it and it hurts it’s still more worthwhile than anything else I do. Somehow all that pain and suffering is still beautiful. I can’t say that for the majority of my activities. Eating isn’t beautiful. Driving isn’t really beautiful. Ok, showering is beautiful, I’ll give it that, but brushing my teeth isn’t.

Running sucks, but if I don’t do it, then that day has a stain on it. The stain of inactivity. A stain that permeates all other activities I engage in. Running is the Tide stick for that stain. Running makes all of the other activities beautiful because they don’t matter. That day has been worth it simply because I ran. All the other activities are just placeholders, time fillers, filling the void until the next shitty painful run. How can something so painful and awful be so beautiful? I hate it. Wait, I love it. Shit…

Ben is an avid ultra runner who has quit the sport after nearly every single race, only to inevitably sign up for another one the following month.  Most recently Ben quit ultra running after the Grindstone 100, but he’s currently training for several in January and February.