Lessons from a Hard Teacher: Vermont 100 Race Report

“Experience is a hard teacher because she gives the test first, the lessons afterward.” ~Vernon Law My Vermont 100 experience was a hard test. I’m trying to decide whether I passed or failed. When I grade my students’ work, I assess it based on what I want them to learn and how well their work demonstrates that they’ve learned those lessons. In the case of racing, these “lessons” come in various forms, and one way to assess a race is to think about the goals I set for the race. For Vermont 100, I had my usual tiered set of goals: A) “super secret” goal, …

4 Tips to Find Your Race Week Zen

When race week finally arrives, it’s impossible to avoid the jolt of excitement and anticipation as I make my final preparations to achieve the goals that have kept me moving through weeks on top of months of long, hard training days. It is possible, however, to prevent these race week sensations from overtaking my emotions in a way that hurts the execution of my race plan. As athletes, we should expect and welcome some emotional arousal. But, we need to be on guard against feelings of emotional overload, in the form of anxiety, over-stimulation, panic, or fear. Trust me – I’ve tried it both ways. The latter approach sucks …

2016 Infinitus 88k: My almost first time DNF

It was Dark:Thirty. I was somewhere climbing up the Mt. Moosalamoo Trail in Vermont, about 45-ish miles into The Endurance Society’s Infinitus 88k-ish race. Before I started this climb, the nice chap at the aid station informed me, “Just 2.5 miles to the summit of Mt. Moosalmoo!” He was so cheery. I was so dirty. He said that as if those 2.5 miles were regular old road miles, and not Endurance Society FUBARed trail miles. I knew better. I knew those 2.5 miles, while sounding so short and swift, would be long and tortuous. As I climbed this, amidst rocks and …

Daddy’s Girl

Seventeen years ago, our phone rang in the middle of the night. I didn’t hear it, so John wound up answering it. He came into the bedroom, “Maria…” I stirred. “Something’s wrong. It’s your mom.” I looked at the clock it was o’dark thirty – maybe 3 a.m.? I picked up the phone and all I could hear was my mother wailing, all of these whirling noises. “Your father died!” she managed to say between her sobs. I felt myself entering a vacuum where I could no longer hear my mother on the other end of the line. I could only …

Attitude of Gratitude: 2015 Javelina Jundred Race Report

[This post is my 2015 Javelina Jundred race report which is the narrative of my experience for this race. If you are looking for a detailed course overview that will be posted separately.] “It is through gratitude for the present moment that the spiritual dimension of life opens up.” ~ Eckhart Tolle Gratitude. If I only had one word, that would be the one to summarize my first 100 mile race. I’ve raced many times, and had many great experiences. Even still, there are a precious few races that have made me feel the way I feel now. Grateful. Joyful. Peaceful. I have …

I can’t get no satisfaction: Labor Pain 12 Hour Endurance Trail Run Race Report

I am rarely, if ever, completely satisfied by a race result–or training session. Even for the races that seem to go pretty well, it usually only takes me a good night’s sleep to start picking apart what I need to do better, how I can improve, and what I did “wrong.” The Labor Pain 12 Hour Endurance Trail Run was no different than any other race in this regard. I selected this race as my primary prep race for the Javelina Jundred, which will be my first 100 mile race on October 31, 2015. G.U.L.P. My plan was to approach this …

Just Do It

Nike had it straight when they came up with this gem: By now, this tagline is cliche. But, think about it this line as if it were fresh, and recognize how powerful the sentiment is. You have a goal that requires hard work. Sometimes, you might not want to do this work. Other times, the work might seem too hard – too far outside your comfort zone. In another moment, there might be fear or anxiety about the uncertainty that comes with training and racing toward bigger and bigger dreams. Think about those moments in light of this line. Now, just …

Burning Nomads

One of the things that I like about big goals and dreaming big is the way the thought of the goal itself sets a spark that lights a fire in my core. The fire focuses me. It excites me. It lets me know I’m alive. The last big fire went out the second the announcer at Ironman Louisville said my name to step right up and grab my golden ticket to the big show in Kona. The relief washed over me with the same intensity as the fire that burned to get me there. Since that day, however, I haven’t even …

The 9% Solution: Take the Tough Option

Last year, my coach Vince scheduled a treadmill-specific hill workout that had a series of different inclines, from 3% to 9%. As if the changing incline wasn’t enough, I did each interval at the same pace (approximately tempo effort) – without any recovery interval throughout the duration of the workout, which was typically 45 minutes. Despite the lack of a recovery interval, it’s amazing how a 3% incline at tempo effort can feel like a recovery after a 9% interval. The first time I did this workout, the 9% interval crushed me. And, when I say crushed, I mean smoke blowing …

2014: The Year of the Plow Horse

Recently, when reviewing my site analytics, I discovered a blog, from Russia, that was referring visitors to my site. That’s odd, I thought. Sometimes, international sites link to my blog, which I usually determine to be spammers. But, I was curious. So, I navigated to the site, and looked through the page, to find that I was featured at the bottom. But, what does it say? Ever the curious sort, I copied the words into Google Translator, and discovered that this post was about women bloggers that this particular blogger reads. Cool. But, what was she saying about ME?! 7. Maria ( her …