Trail Bound Mom

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Ole Bull Midnight Madness

I haven’t been riding much this summer. Aside from family rides on the local Rail Trail, Mark and I have gotten out about once a week to ride dirt roads. After crashing hard on a trail last year, I haven’t been eager to get back to the woods. I didn’t let that stop me for signing up for a mountain bike race:  Ole Bull Midnight Madness.

The race takes place at Ole Bull State Park, which is located in a remote area of Potter County, PA. The park is absolutely beautiful. A few years ago, I encountered a bear while riding through the campground. After a long staring contest, the bear (thankfully) took off into the woods.


The park is named after a famous Norwegian violinist who, in the 1850’s, purchased land in the Kettle Creek area to establish colonies for his countryman. Although the colonies were abandoned within a year, the park is now a favorite spot for fisherman, campers and outdoorsmen.

Ole Borneman Bull. Photo courtesy of Wikipedia

Ole Borneman Bull. Photo courtesy of Wikipedia

Ole Bull Midnight Madness is organized by a local bike club: The Tioga County Ridge Riders. They do a wonderful job of running this race. One of their goals is to encourage mountain biking among youth. In addition to Midnight Madness, they host a kids’ ride through the campground of the park on the evening before the race.

Midnight Madness runs from 12pm to 12am. The idea is to get in as many laps as possible on a 13.5 mile course. The course is a combination of dirt road, single track and logging road. The race can be done solo or as a team. This race has something for everyone. It appeals to novice riders like myself because the terrain isn’t too technical or intimidating. It appeals to more experienced riders who like the challenge of trying to go all day and night. I imagine there are folks who enjoy riding through the woods at night too, although I’m not one of them. I signed up solo knowing that I only had one lap in me.

We started with a lap around the campground during which we were cheered on by campers. We then began a three-mile climb up a dirt road with 800 feet of elevation. There is a race to the top during the first lap and the King and Queen of the Hill win cash prizes. I paced myself slowly since I hadn’t had a chance to pre-ride the course and wasn’t sure how bad the climb was.  After the hill climb we turned left into the woods and wound around the top of the mountain on single track for seven miles. Bouncing around on tree roots is not my idea of fun but I held on and managed not to fall. The trail eventually smoothed out and I started to really enjoy myself and the beautiful scenery. It was a perfect day for riding. Warm and slightly humid with a sunny sky and fluffy clouds. After leaving the woods I had a great time descending the road we had initially climbed up on. I said hello to the racers who were already starting their second lap. I caught a glimpse of Mark before turning right into the woods again. I soon found myself descending a steep trail which, thankfully, turned out to be pretty smooth. I rode my back break the whole way down while willing my tired hands not to lose their grip on the handlebars. After a few switchbacks through the woods I came back out on the rode and down into the campground. I finished the in 1:42. Overall, the course was 13.5 miles with 1200 feet of climb. I didn’t break any records but didn’t break any skin or bones either.

The best part of this race is hanging out afterwards and camping. The campground has a swimming area, fishing area and playgrounds for the kids. Alas, I had to head back home after my lap. We’re already planning to make it a family event next year complete with camping and entering our kids in the youth race.

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I’m Back…..

Hi, remember me? I used to write a blog here until Winter took over. Now it’s Spring and I suddenly feel motivated to write again. Does this happen to anyone else?

Kudos to everyone who has managed to keep running through the long Winter! I know people who’ve already completed the Hyner View, Frozen Snot and the Mile Run Trail Challenges this year. Amazing! I have a friend who just ran the Boston Marathon. Twenty mile long runs through the ice and snow to get ready! I admire these people but….I’m not one of them. I stick to the roads and the treadmill when the weather gets rough. And so I’m just now starting to gear up for the 2015 season. Here’s where you’ll find me this year…

May 18th – The Chief Wetonah Trail Challenge half marathon – Last year I ran the 7 miler. This year I’m going for the newly added half marathon. This one takes place at Mt. Pisgah State Park in Troy, PA. Single track, mud, beautiful views and 2,000 feet of elevation gain. Having only done 2 trail runs this year, I’m a bit nervous. Did I mention they give cookies away for prizes?

I'm smiling because I just won cookies!

I’m smiling because I just won cookies!

June 6, 2015 – God’s Country Marathon – This race runs along US Route 6 from Galeton to Coudersport. It’s known for a three-mile monster hill climb up Denton Hill at mile 14. I ran this as part of a relay team last year and loved it so much I decided to do the full. My goal is to finish with a 10:30 mile pace and eat lunch at Olga’s afterwards.

June 20, 2015 – PA State Laurel festival 2 mile Fun Run – My first race with my daughter Megan! We’re already training. She’s 5 so training includes watching her dance backwards up a steep hill for a mile and run at top speed back down. The hardest part will be keeping her on the course. Staying on a straight path just doesn’t make sense to a 5-year-old.

My running buddy! Yes, that is a caterpillar on her finger.

My running buddy! Yes, that is a caterpillar on her finger.

September 12th – Pine Creek Challenge 100k – Signing up for a 100K race feels like pure craziness at this point. My longest run has been 15 miles this year. Last year my longest race was the Green Monster 50K. I can only explain it by saying that I feel a bizarre need to run all the ultras within a 10 mile radius of my house. Luckily, there are only two. Also, I paced someone for 16 miles of this last year and now I want the hand-made finisher’s mug. This one is entirely on the Rail Trail (flat and no getting lost!) and takes an out and back route from Asaph to Slate Run. Check out this video that a Paul Encarnacion, a 2014 finisher, made last year. It really shows the beauty of the Pine Creek Gorge.

Mary and I coming into the Blackwell Aid Station

I paced a woman in the 100 mile race of the Pine Creek Challenge last year. Here we are coming into the Blackwell Aid Station

Looking forward to getting back into blogging and reading about all of your achievements this year!


Catching Up

The end of the 2014 racing season and subsequent sadness

Since Sausage Cross is over and the racing season has pretty much ended I’ve been struggling with not having anything to train for. My plan is to run 15-20 miles a week throughout the winter and do at least one Core & Agility class per week. So far I’ve been able to avoid the ‘dreadmill’ and keep running outside. This recent cold spell (17 degrees and it’s not even Thanksgiving!) will probably change that soon. I can take the cold, the snow and the rain but the wind just does me in.

The Beer Mile

To combat the onslaught of the winter blues, I’ve been busy preparing for the Beer Mile!  A few months ago I read an article in Runner’s World about the Beer Mile. I mentioned it to my running buddies and we decided it would be a great way to end the racing season. It’s happening this Saturday at my house. I’ll be wearing this costume:

We'll be drinking Coors but I still liked this costume!

We’ll be drinking Coors but I still liked this costume!

I found these for prizes:

Draft Beer Flavored Jelly Beans for the winners

Draft Beer Flavored Jelly Beans for the winners! Could there be anything more perfect for the Beer Mile?

Pepto for the first person who pukes

Pepto for the first person who pukes

I’m really excited about the race but, to be honest, I suck at chugging beer. I timed myself the other night and it took me 6 minutes and 15 seconds to drink one. I’m thinking I might enjoy this one from the sidelines.

My dead mother spoke to me from the grave!

I had a strange experience last week in the local cemetery. Our cemetery is one of the few spots in town that has a paved path and gets little car traffic. It’s used by a lot of runners, walkers and kids learning to ride bikes. I like that it’s a community space and not just a burial ground. If you stay to the outside of the paved road that weaves through the cemetery one loop is about 1 mile. Anyway, I run there a lot and recently I’ve been warming up there before our Thursday Running Club meets. My mom is buried in this cemetery and it had been a while since I’d visited her grave site. I had just watched a video that a friend posted on FaceBook about ghost hunting in a Lycoming County cemetery. In the video a voice, supposedly of a child, is heard saying something that the ghost hunters interpreted as ‘help me’. You could definitely hear something. I don’t know if it was ‘help me’ but it gave me the heebie jeebies!

So last Thursday as I headed out in the cemetery I thought to myself, “Great, now I’ll be scared to run here.” It was dark and starting to snow but instead of feeling scared I felt peaceful. I figured, if my mom’s spirit was there she wouldn’t want to hurt me so what’s to be afraid of? I stopped at her grave, told her I missed her and asked her to give me a sign to let me know she’s still with us. I half expected her spirit to appear right there. It didn’t and I went on to have a great run with the club. The next day, Mark mentioned to me that he had forgotten to bring my mail upstairs the day before and had left it by the front door. I saw a letter on top and mistakenly thought it was from a friend that wouldn’t normally write me. I grabbed it as I ran out the door to take my daughter to school, curious as to why this friend would be writing me. It was a stressful morning; we got to school late and I hastily stopped at the coffee shop on the way home with my son. As I parked the car I finally got a chance to look at the letter. It wasn’t from my friend at all. It was from a friend of my mom’s that I haven’t heard from in a years. The letter contained photos of my mom that that this woman had come across when she was cleaning out her house. I’m not a believer in “signs”…in fact, I’m a total skeptic. But I started crying when I saw the pictures as I couldn’t believe the coincidence of my finding this letter one day after asking my mom for a sign. I know the letter technically came in the mail the day before but it still gave me great comfort to think it was my mom reaching out to me.


Other than receiving signs from the Great Beyond, I’m planning my 2015 race calendar. Potter County Marathon and the Pine Creek Challenge 100k are heavy on my mind….

Have you ever received a sign from a loved one who has passed on? Do you have your 2015 race calendar planned? Have you competed in a Beer Mile?


Sausage Cross – The Wurst Ride Ever!

It was the best of rides, it was the wurst of rides…..

Sausage Cross was a group ride on dirt and logging roads through the Tioga State Forest. Full disclaimer: I did not do the entire Sausage Cross ride of (hee, hee) 69 miles. I did the Vienna Sausage…32 miles and 3,000 feet of elevation. I think it was my longest ride ever. At least since having kids. It was definitely the most climbing I’ve ever done in one ride.

I almost bailed on this one. Stomach issues had me up the night before and a heavy rain in the morning killed any desire I had to be out on my bike. However, I had already asked my sister-in-law to babysit and offered to reciprocate. There was no way I was missing out on a child-free morning.

My lack of sleep caused me to leave my house without my helmet, Garmin or gloves. Luckily, I live close to where the ride starts from and was able to turn around to get those things. I was late for the 9am start but it turns out group rides are not like races and don’t start on time anyway.

Milling around at the start

Milling around at the start

About 25 riders showed up. We left from the Asaph campground around 9:15am and started climbing Left Asaph Road. After about two miles we turned left onto a double-track trail. I haven’t been eager to ride any kind of trails since a spill I took earlier this summer on my bike left me with stitches in my arm.

So this happened in July and has me leary of riding trails...

So this happened in July and has me leery of riding trails…

I made it through the logging roads with no falls, despite the ground being covered in wet leaves. I got to practice my newly acquired skills of not riding my front brake on the downhills.

It turned out to be a beautiful day for a ride. It’s peak foliage season here so the scenery was beautiful. The weather was chilly but the rain had fortunately stopped until the last few miles of the ride. I’m not really sure where we rode but it was muddy.



After a few miles on logging roads we ended up on Route 6 by Rexford. We rode up Painter Run Road and Painter Leetonia Road to Colton Point. I stayed in the back with my riding buddy Sherri. A few of the folks who took off at the start ended up getting lost (the course was unmarked). Sometimes it pays to be slow.

My riding buddy, Sherri!

My riding buddy, Sherri!

The view from the Rexford bridge.

The view from the Rexford bridge.

We stopped for a quick rest before splitting off from the riders who were doing the full Sausage Cross. In keeping with the theme of the ride, pickled sausage, fried sausage bites and Pabst Blue Ribbon were available.

Fueling for optimal performance!

Fueling for optimal performance!

Eating pickled sausage at the rest stop. Yum...

Eating pickled sausage and drinking PBR at the rest stop. Yum…

We took Colton Point Road back down to Route 6. We got on Marsh Creek Road to get back to the Asaph Picnic Area. Sherri and I finished around 1:30pm, completely exhausted.

Check out our helmet hair

Nice helmet hair

We ended up with some surprise swag: a beer mug/mason jar that says I rode 69 miles. I brought the kids back to the campground a few hours later for a healthy dinner of cooked sausage and sausage pizza. A long bike ride and not having to cook dinner? Score!

A finisher's medal given out at the start of the ride. I like that!

The finisher’s medal


The Green Monster 50K

Phew. It’s done! The monster has been slayed. You know it’s a good race when you’re still cleaning the dirt out of your toenails two days later. Here are my thoughts on the GM50K:

First and foremost….the swag!

The swag bag included a long sleeved tee, Darn Tough socks, copy of Trail Runner magazine, Udo's oil and a ProBar.

The swag bag included a long sleeved tee, Darn Tough socks, copy of Trail Runner magazine, Udo’s oil and a ProBar.

The Green Monster’s corporate sponsor is Darn Tough and they generously provide a pair of socks for every racer. These socks make all the pain worth it. Who doesn’t get excited about a free pair of merino wool running socks? There was also a long-sleeved tee, Pro-Bar, jar of Udo’s oil, and a copy of TrailRunner magazine. The finisher’s medal is a laser engraved wooden medallion that doubles as a key chain.

The finisher's medal

The finisher’s medal

Race Logistics
This is a very well-organized race. All the information about the race is on the website. The course maps, course description and race day information are all up-to-date. Mark and I were able to practice the course weeks before the event using the maps provided on-line. Packet pick-up is held at Wild Asaph Outfitters 2 days before the race, convenient for those of us living close by. You can also pick-up your packet the morning of the race at the registration tent.

The check-in process the morning of the race went smoothly. The registration table was well-staffed and there was even a fire and complimentary coffee to keep us warm in the 30 degree weather.

The course is well-marked. The entire course is blazed and the 25k course is marked with trail signs. Come race day, everything was also marked with tape. Unfortunately, we have a problem in our town with people tearing down trail markings before races. This happens at our mountain bike race as well. This may have contributed to a few folks getting lost during the event. Thankfully, the course is also entirely leaf blown, making it easy to follow the trails even if you miss the markings. This also helps avoid tripping over roots and rocks as you can actually see what you’re running over.

Rock of the many ways the trail was marked.

Rock piles…one of the many ways the trail was marked.

The aid stations are spread out about every 3-5 miles along the course. They were staffed by friendly volunteers, many of them local cross-country teams and running/hiking clubs. The food was plentiful; peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, fruit, trail bars, chips, fritos (my personal fav), Gatorade, water and soda were provided at every station. Some of the later stations also had pierogies, S-caps and soup available.

The Course

The course is 32.5 miles of single-track and double track trails. No loops on this course! There is 7,800 feet of elevation gain spread out over 8 hill climbs. The mountain climbs are approximately 700-1,000 feet high and 1 mile long. For a good explanation of the topography of these mountains, ready Bill Yacovissi’s Pine Creek Canyon Bike Rides.

Some of the climbs have short, steep sections while others are long and winding. A few are both. Four of the toughest climbs are within the first 12 miles of the race. This is both a blessing and a curse as you get the worst of it over with early in the race but then your legs are spent and you still have 20 miles to go.

The Green Monster also has a 25k option. The 25k is the first half of the 50k course. The 50k runners start 1.5 hours before the 25k runners. Thus, the slowest of the 50k racers (me) get passed by the folks who are in the lead on the 25k course. This was a source of anxiety for me before the race but turned out to not be a big deal at all. Everyone who passed was polite and encouraging and there was plenty of room to get out-of-the-way as they blew by me on the course.

What follows is a detailed description of the course. If you’re not into that, skip ahead to hear about the after-party!

Course Description

It’s easiest for me to tackle the course if I divide it up by hill climbs. The race starts off on a dirt road but quickly veers off-road onto Left Strait Trail. After about a mile, we began the first hill climb up Deer Trail. This is, in my opinion, one of the nastiest climbs in the race. It starts out steep and technical, reducing most people to walking. There is a flatter, runnable section in the middle and then it gets steep again before the top. After Deer Trail we turned right and ran about a mile on an old logging trail called Stone Road before turning left to come down the mountain on Water Trough Trail. This trail has large rocks at the top which had me walking again. Eventually, we turned onto the more runnable Horse Run Trail which brought us out to Canada Run Road around mile 4 of the race. This is also the location of the first aid station.

After crossing Canada Run Road, we turned right onto Oil Well Hollow Trail. We crossed a creek and started up a gentle, very runnable, path. We took a right onto Barkslide Trail which turned into the steepest climb on the course. Although the steep section is only 1/4 mile long, this trail feels like something only goats would climb. I had to stop at least once to catch my breath. After cresting the top we took a quick left onto Matson Trail and then another left onto Lost Trail for a steep, technical descent back to Oil Well Hollow. A right turn on Oil Well Hollow had us climbing again (but not so steeply) until we came out to Baldwin Run Road and the 2nd aid station at Mile 8 of the race.

Here we caught Carpenter Trail, which is a runnable downhill to Spoor Hollow Road. We then turned left and climbed Spoor Hollow for a brief section before turning right into the woods for the 3rd hill climb, Stinger. Stinger is another steep, lung busting climb that reduced me to walking. Many of these trails are used in our local mountain bike race and I couldn’t help but think about the cyclists who ride down Stinger in that race. It’s a favorite spectator spot because of all the spectacular falls that happen on that descent. Hiking up it is a bitch but it’s a million times better than trying to ride down it!

The pay-off at the top of Stinger is a nice, long section of single-track that winds across the top of the mountain on Plantation and Observatory Trails. Observatory brought us out to the 3rd aid station at Baldwin Run Road and mile 11 of the course. We crossed the road and got back on Stone Road for a short while before turning right to head down the mountain on Jim Close Trail. Jim Close crosses Strait Run Road and becomes Birch Still Trail. After crossing a creek, we started climbing again. Thankfully this trail has only one short, steep section towards the top. Birch Still brought us out to the 4th aid station at Broad Ridge.

Following this station we ran through one of my favorite sections of the course; a gentle, flat, tree-lined trail that is so picturesque, I half expect to see fairies whizzing by overhead. Unfortunately, this section lasts only a short while before turning into the dreaded Frankenstein’s Forehead. This is a rocky, slippery, straight down descent that reduces many people to crab-walking or hanging onto trees for dear life as they attempt to switch back down it. It was exciting (and nerve-racking) at this point in the race to be passed by some of the fastest 25k folks. I quickly got out of their way as I saw they were running straight down Frankenstein’s Forehead like it was it was a flat section of trail. I wish I was that fearless! Frankenstein’s forehead leads down to a creek and this is where the 25k and 50k racers split off.

The 50k folks hung a right and, after a few creek crossings, started climbing again up Wildcat Hollow. We then descended down a mountain biking trail and wandered through the forest to an unmanned aid station at mile 17 of the race.

We made our way back up a mountain on Viper Trail and out along the ridge on a logging road before turning right into the woods onto Fireman’s Trail. This trail brought us out to Scotch Pine Trail; a gentle, flat double track that brought us into the 6th aid station at HesselGessel Millstone and mile 19 of the race.  This is also where our drop bags were being held. I had agonized over what to put in mine before finally deciding on granola bars, triscuits, socks and chapstick. I used none of it of course! I ended up using my bag to unload half the trail bars I had stashed in my hydration pack and my garmin, which had died after the first 5 hours of the race.


Megan and I at the Hesselgessel aid station grabbing my drop bag.

After leaving the HesselGessel aid station we navigated a rocky section of the course that had me cursing the race director. I had to stop a few times before picking my path down through the rocks.


Megan and Peter on the Hesselgessel rocks.

Megan and Peter on the Hesselgessel rocks.

After getting down the rocks, the descent was a runnable gentle one down to Right Asaph Road. We followed Right Asaph road downhill for a short section before turning right onto trails again. Lower Bear Wallow Trail was another runnable, fairly flat section of trail that brought us to Black Ash Swamp. After passing the swamp we turned left onto Middle Ridge Trail. This section became so muddy you couldn’t run much of it. I’m talking sink-to-your-ankles in mud every 5 feet for a good mile. Hence the source of my dirty toenails. Eventually we veered right onto Big Tree Hollow which is a steep, rocky descent that brought us out to Left Asaph Road. We then crossed the creek twice (I was thankful to get some of the mud off) and came to the sixth aid station at mile 24.5 at the bottom of Frying Pan Trail.

The kids at the Left Asaph Run creek crossing.

The kids at the Left Asaph Run creek crossing.

Left Frying Pan is a moderate climb back up the mountain to Goodall Road. I took this climb slowly knowing we still had one more steep climb to go. We descended back down into the valley along Goodall Hollow Trail which only got steep at the bottom and ended with another creek crossing. This brought us to the last aid station at the bottom of Scotch Pine and mile 27.5.

The last climb of the course is one of my favorites. It’s a fairly steep, rocky ascent along Scotch Pine Trail. It follows a creek bed that is dry now but in the spring-time is filled with water. There’s something about running by water that feels invigorating. We were rewarded at the top with a 2 mile downhill section of trail on Darling Run. This would normally be great but by this point in the race I was so exhausted that I had to stop a few times just to gather myself together and make sure I didn’t fall. The trail felt like it went on forever but we finally reached the bottom and came out on Strait Run Road. A half mile more along the road and we reached the finish line!

The After-party (Woo Hoo!!)

I finished in 8:57, 4th out of 8 women and 1 hour better than my goal time of 10 hours. I was immediately greeted by a screaming toddler who had been out on the course all morning to cheer me on instead of taking a nap. He was temporarily placated by an all-he-could-eat-buffet of chips and cookies. I was placated by a pumpkin ale courtesy of Yorkholo Brewing Company (yum!). I sat by the bonfire (it was still going) to warm up. There was plenty of food and drink available: pulled pork sandwiches, beer, the aforementioned chips and cookies. Mark and I relaxed by the fire  and cheered on the remaining finishers until Peter started crying again and we had to head home.


Enjoying a pumpkin ale after the race.

Final Thoughts

I could not have asked for a better race! After the leg cramps, GI issues and falls I had taken during previous races, I was incredulous that nothing bad happened to me. I never bonked. I don’t know if it was the Endurolyte tabs I religiously took every hour, the fact that I ate at every aid station or the cool weather but it was truly a perfect race. I think a big part of it was that I was able to talk to people most of the way. I met some neat folks on the course that pulled me up many of the climbs. And I learned something about myself. I’m a fairly quiet person by nature but get me out on a trail and I’ve got diarrhea of the mouth. Seriously, I pity the fool who runs my pace and gets caught talking to me. I will make you my new best friend, all for the sake of simple distraction from the race.

I’m relieved the Green Monster is over. It took a lot of time to train for and I worried that my training hadn’t been enough. I’m looking forward to taking a break before tackling my next long distance race but I’ll definitely be returning to the Green Monster next year!


Green Monster Training Update

Five more days to go until the Green Monster. FIVE! I’m in full-on freak out mode. My training has not been what I’d hoped it would be when I signed up. I’ve section-hiked/run most of the course so I’m fairly confident I won’t get lost on race day. However, my longest run to date has only been 21 miles. The race is 32.something with some serious elevation. I’m not entirely sure I can finish the last 10 miles. I thought about just doing the 25k race but, at this point, I’m just going to try it. If I DNF it’s not the worst thing in the world. I’m looking at it as a day in the woods with no parenting responsibilities. This weekend is supposed to be peak foliage season so it should be gorgeous. Here are a few shots I took from the course over the last few weeks:

Don’t know why but I’m obsessed with trail signs lately..


Around mile 17 of the race you come upon the site of an abandoned millstone quarry from the 1830’s.


Here’s a partially finished millstone…


The race takes you over the rocks from which James Hesselgessel cut his millstones.


There are some  deep, long crevasses in the rocks here. Mark jumped into one and it was taller than him.


He shot this picture of me jumping over the crevasse.


I could picture a bear hiding out in here for the winter.


The course is filled with picturesque creek crossings. None of them are too deep at this time of year.


Darling Trail is the final trail in the race. If I can just make it to this trail sign it’s all downhill to the finish!



The Rim to Rim to Rim Run

Anyone else think ‘epic’ is one the most overused words in our language today? Too bad cuz I can’t think of another word to describe my run tonight! My local running club has a diabolical leader who came up with the idea for the Rim to Rim to Rim run. It sounds like a dirty joke, right? I wish. This run follows the Turkey Path from the top of Leonard Harrison State Park down to the Pine Creek, across the creek, up to the top of Colton State Park and then back down and up again. Basically, it’s running from the Eastern rim of the Pennsylvania Grand Canyon to the Western Rim and back. In case you were wondering, the name ‘Pennsylvania Grand Canyon’ IS a marketing ploy. It doesn’t really compare to the real Grand Canyon but it sure is awful purty…

This run has it all! Waterfalls on the way down…


Calf-high, slippery creek crossings…


Gorgeous vistas…


A beautiful view of the Pine Creek Gorge…


and rocky, technical trails in the dark.


Finally done! Mark is glowing with joy…


6 miles and 1,500 feet of elevation. Runs like this make living in the boonies worth it. What ‘epic’ runs have you done lately?


The Running Mom’s Guilt

“Mommy, are you gonna eat dinner with us or are you going running tonight?” I get this question from my  daughter every single day. “Running,” I answer in barely a whisper, all too aware of what comes next. “MOMMY! I don’t want you to go running! I hate moms who run! I want a mommy who doesn’t run.” Hysteria is in her voice and tears are starting to roll. “I’ll only be gone for an hour,” I promise her. “How long is an hour?” she asks. “As long as one episode of Sesame Street.” “How long is Sesame Street?” Reasoning with a little one is tough. Usually my getting out the door for a run entails lots of drama, tears and Mark telling me to just leave quickly. To make things harder, my 3-year-old son is starting to get in on the act too.

Now, I know I could go early in the mornings before they wake up. The truth is, I’m a 3rd generation night owl who hates mornings. That is a tough habit to break. This summer I’ve added one 5:30am run to my weekly schedule and it takes me ALL week to recover. The other problem is that my kids still don’t sleep through the night so they’re just as likely to want me at 5:00 am as they are any other time of the day. I could also take them with me. But when your kids are too big for the stroller, yet not big enough to bike along side of you, it gets difficult. The other thing is that running is my break…my escape…my chance to recharge. Is it wrong to want to do it by myself?

The guilt bothers me. I know all research points to the fact that my being healthy and taking care of myself is good for my kids. I know I’m role modelling positive behavior for them. Also, I’m a stay at home mom so I spend plenty of time with my kids. I know that taking one hour out of the day to exercise is not harming them. But it still tears at my heartstrings to hear them complain and I feel selfish for taking that time to myself. I’m also jealous that they don’t react the same way when Mark goes for his bike rides.

Of course, if I don’t run, the guilt of not running hammers at me too. Either way I can’t win. I haven’t resolved any of this and hope it gets easier as they grow older.

How do your kids react when you head for a workout? What parenting tricks do you use to deal with it?


Riding the 7 Mile Island

It’s almost Labor Day and Mark and I were lamenting the fact that we still hadn’t gotten out together for a ride this year. This is probably one of the things I miss most about LBK (life before kids)…. having the freedom to go for a hike or ride together whenever we felt like it. Well, that and going to the bathroom alone. Yep, privacy in the bathroom is the #1 thing I miss most about LBK. Anyway, we’re in Avalon for a week and are lucky enough to be staying with friends who have a teenage daughter (holla!) so we took the opportunity to ride together this morning.

The towns of Avalon and Stone Harbor make up a barrier island on the Jersey Shore that is known as the 7 Mile Island. There is a decent bike path that runs the length of the island. I’m not a road biker and despise cycling with traffic. This ride is a bit out of my comfort zone. However, people are extremely respectful of cyclists and pedestrians here and the bike lane is very wide. The only annoying part was dodging the people running right down the center of the bike path (damn runners!). The weather was beautiful and we rode before it got too hot. Our biggest problem was our failure to take a good selfie.

Note to self...don't face the sun while taking a selfie

Note to self…don’t face the sun while taking a selfie

Luckily a stranger took pity on us and snapped this Facebook worthy shot….


Oh and Mark had a flat tire that he had to stop twice to pump up.

REAL men don't use Co2 cartridges!

REAL men don’t use Co2 cartridges!

The best part about the ride? It’s flat as a pancake. According to Strava, I climbed 0 feet of elevation today.

The other best part was devouring this sticky bun from the Avalon Coffee Co. after the ride. Well, I tried to devour it but my kids ate 2/3rds. You know how it goes.





The Green Monster


I just registered for my first ultra!! Yikes, what have I done! The Green Monster Trail Challenge is a 50k. (Just a few miles longer than a marathon, right?) But it’s also a trail run with 8,000 feet of elevation. The elevation is the part that scares me the most.

On the plus side, the starting line is less than 5 miles from my house and I can train on the course. I did the shorter 25k version last year, so I’m familiar with the first half of the race. It’s also a great excuse to buy a new hydration pack!

My time for the 25k was 3:55. I’m hoping to do the 50k in 9-10 hours. I googled 50k training plans and settled on a modified version of this one. Having young kids makes back-to-back Saturday/Sunday runs nearly impossible. However, I think I can pull it off with just one long run on the weekends and 3 shorter ones during the week. Now I just need to figure out how to fuel up for such a long race. Any tips? Also, what goes in a drop bag and do I really need one for this distance?