Our Pre COVID Life-2020

Leaving Seattle in the middle of winter to drive to Utah is never a good idea. The weather in the mountains was calling for snow for the foreseeable future and the longer we waited the more driving we have (per day) to get to Moab in time for our race at the end of January. We considered staying longer and just forgoing the race but weren’t sure that staying any longer would afford us any better weather. So, as planned, we decided to head out. We had originally planned on driving to Bend to visit some friends before heading east but the weather that direction was really not good. So we decided to head over the pass and into Idaho before heading south into Utah. I am not sure the weather could have been any worse, except if they closed the pass. We were traveling no faster than 30 mph (if even that fast) behind the plows as they cleared the roadways for all the anxious drivers behind them. It was a bit nerve wracking but David is an excellent driver and really the best place to be is behind the plow as it clears the road for you. We would have snow just about everyday on the way to Moab but had plenty of time to get there. On the way we stopped for a hike or a run and to see our friend Scott, just outside Salt Lake City. We had dinner, chatted about life and visited before we got on our way again the next morning. We arrived in Moab to more gloomy skies and snow, but according to all the locals the snow never sticks around and its pretty rare to have no sunshine. So, we were hopeful that the sun would come out, the snow would melt and we would have some glorious, cold, but glorious weather. We were there for over a week and I think we saw the sun once, maybe. It snowed several times, including the night before the race and as a result the race was re-routed and shortened a bit. We did get to run some trails, visit some iconic arches and visit Arches National Park during our visit but some trails were inaccessible due to the snow and ice. We were disappointed to miss the sun rising over Delicate Arch or the beautiful sunsets over the red rocks, but we were happy to be there. The camping in Moab is so easy,  so much public land, plenty of room for boondocking and very, very quiet.


Mad Moose Events Arches 50K was cold, snowy, muddy, slippery and a bit harder than either of us anticipated. We were both happy to run a bit shorter in those conditions. It is a beautiful course though, in a beautiful location, with super nice race directors and very well organized. We volunteered to help out, prior to race day, but they were so efficient that we weren’t really needed. We didn’t stick around for much longer, as the weather wasn’t looking any better. So we got on the road and headed south.

We made a stop at the Four Corners, high tailed through New Mexico (the weather was terrible) and into Texas. We would ultimately spend a month in Texas, visiting our favorite Texas State Park, Palo Dura, as well as a lot of other beautiful state parks. We had the opportunity to meet up with one of our Hyland’s teammates for the 2020 Boston Marathon. We had 2 races in Texas, both Tejas Trail Races, Rocky Raccoon 50K and Spider Mountain 12 hour relay. Rocky Raccoon 50K was a great race for both of us. Held at Huntsville State Park, it is not at all rocky but definitely rooty but very very runable. We were both super happy with our race and felt that it was a good building block for the season ahead. Spider Mountain 12 hour relay was much more challenging than either of us anticipated. It was a 4 mile loop at the Spider Mountain Bike Park, so basically steep uphill sections followed by steep downhill sections, rocky, technical and twisting. David and I decided to switch off every 3 hours, so neither of us really got much sleep, just enough time to get a little bit of rest. We would finish with a total of 13 laps, 55.9 miles and 3rd place in the relay division (there were only 3 teams but we were the only team of 2, both the other teams had 4 people). While in Texas we also were able to visit with our friend and Orange Mud owner, Josh. We were sad we didn’t get to spend more time with him and his family but we knew we would see him soon enough in Stillwater, OK for the Mid South Gravel.


While in Texas we had some unplanned medical issues with Miss Mira. She began having severe diarrhea which turned into bloody diarrhea and the need to seek emergency care. It was extremely scary for us, not knowing where to go to get the best care for her, and we had to trust that the closest emergency vet in Ft Worth, Texas would take good care of her. She was ultimately diagnosed with a bacterial gastroenteritis, likely from contaminated water that she drank, was given antibiotics and IV fluids, admitted for 2 nights and sent home with a laundry list of medications. She recovered quickly from that ordeal and was back to her normal self, or so we thought. Many months prior to this we had noticed a lump on the side her face. It did not seem to be bothering her and it wasn’t growing rapidly, so we left it. Sometime in February we noticed that the  mass began to grow, and grow rapidly. It was extremely vascular and we didn’t want it to become an emergency removal, so we found a veterinary surgeon to remove it. Again, we did our homework on local veterinary practices but we had to hope that we made the right choice. Her surgery went well and her recovery was unremarkable. We were grateful for the amazing care she got at both the emergency vet and the surgeon. Since both episodes Miss Mira has seemed to be more energetic and playful, and we even joke that she lost 5 years with that mass removal. Maybe it was bothering her a lot more than we ever knew.

While in Texas, I tool a quick trip to LA for a Hyland’s event. I was the team captain for a group of Hyland’s employees for a Fitbit challenge. Hyland’s brought together a small group of athletes to represent and lead the teams in this challenge. It was an incredible 2 days, filled with catching up with old friends, meeting Hyland’s employees, running and sun. I am grateful everyday for the opportunities I have had since joining the Hyland’s team.


Back in Texas we visited more State Parks, ran, hiked, worked and David cycled (including a 100 mile gravel ride). March came around and we were a bit tired of Texas so we decided to head to Stillwater, OK. We had planned to be there for Mid South Gravel on March 13/14 anyway, knew the area well and enjoyed the town but mostly it was about seeing the people. We got to visit with friends we had made last year, joined the YMCA and ran a 25K in Oklahoma City where we met up with some of our Hyland’s teammates.



Mid South Gravel weekend arrived and it was just as COVID-19 was making headlines in NYC and California. Things were shutting down on both coasts but the middle of the county was still up and running, for the most part. The Mid South 50K took place on Friday, March 13, with a few changes, limited touching, lots of hand sanitizer and no Bobby hugs at the finish line. The weather was perfect and the roads were dry but the forecast for the 100 mile gravel ride, the next day, was not good. It began raining late in the day on Friday and rained until mid morning on Saturday. If you know anything about Oklahoma red dirt roads you know it can be really ugly in the rain. It sticks to everything and becomes the consistency of peanut butter. Now, imagine riding 100 miles in that. Well, lots of folks did, including David, who miraculously finished the race after 11 hours, with one pedal. As he rounded the last corner to come into the finish line his pedal broke off the spindle leaving his foot in mid air.


March 24th is David’s birthday and this year happened to be his 50th. Several years ago, prior to our van life, I was planning a big trip for his birthday. Well, van life happened and the trip was put on the back burner. But, I wanted to do something. I reached out to some of our local Stillwater friends as well as some other friends that would be in Stillwater for the race and I pulled off a surprise party. The day after David’s epic finish at Mid South Gravel I surprised him with 50th birthday party. Twenty or so friends that we have made since our van life journey started all gathered to celebrate. I could not have done it without our friend Ruthie, who helped me plan everything from start to finish. I was amazed that David was truly surprised, he never saw a single text message regarding the plans and no one spilled the beans. It was an amazing ending to an amazing weekend and little did we know this would be the last social event and race for a very long time.


By Tuesday, Stillwater was shutting everything down, along with the rest of the country and we knew we needed to figure out what we were going to do. We rely on recreation centers and swimming pools for showers, laundromats and public bathrooms and we go to the grocery store almost everyday. All the rec centers and pools were closed and using public facilities and going to the grocery that often gave me anxiety. We both felt that it would increase our risk of getting sick and we needed a place to stay, at least until things settled.

We weighed the few options we had and thanks to our friend Coral we found a wonderful place to call home in Asheville, NC. Ultimately, we would spend 9 weeks in Asheville at a lovely Air B and B, enjoying the mountains, exploring the trails, doing virtual races and challenges, working and relaxing.

It’s Been Too Long-Part 2

We had plenty of time to get to Sacramento and had a few places on our list that we wanted to explore, Death Valley and Bishop, California were at the top of the list. So, off we went to Death Valley National Park where we had perfect weather to explore without Mira (most National Parks don’t allow dogs on the trails). We spent 24 hours there, just enough time to scratch the surface and to know that we want to return someday and spend more time on the trails. We met a couple, Debbie and Joe, who planted a seed about visiting another National Park in California, Pinnacles NP. Debbie and Joe are part time van-lifers, who live on the coast of California. We chatted for quite some time about life on the road and amazing places to visit. We have come to realize that every time we meet someone who travels, it just adds more and more locations to our bucket list of places to visit.


After 2 nights in Death Valley we headed to Bishop, California. David has wanted to visit Bishop for a long time and was happy to finally make the trip there. Visiting in the summer or early fall would have been ideal but it was now mid-November and the weather was starting to turn a bit colder. We pulled into Bishop and there was a chill in the air and snow in the forecast. We walked around town a bit and then ventured off to the outskirts of town to find a place to call home for a few days. We awoke to snow in the peaks and cold temps which meant we would be staying in the lower elvation for the duration of our stay. We were a little disappointed that we couldn’t get up into the mountains and the road to Sabrina Lake had just closed. We did some exploring close to town and ran along the canal but decided to venture up to Sabrina Lake despite the snow. We parked along the road and made the 4 mile hike to the lake. It was sunny, cold and crisp and worth every step. We checked out the local climbing area (just hiking, no climbing) and when the forecast was calling for a major snow storm, we hit the road!!


Our plan was to go north and drive through Lake Tahoe to get to Sacramento, but that quickly changed with the weather forecast. So we headed west to the coast before heading north and back east to Sacramento. On our way to the coast we made a brief stop at Red Rock Canyon State Park. The park is located where the southernmost tip of the Sierra Nevada converge with the El Paso Range. It features scenic desert cliffs, buttes and spectacular rock formations. We had enough time for a short run up one of the washes before dark.


We camped close by and the next day made it to the coast, specifically Morro Bay. We would ultimately spend 5 days in Morro Bay, including Thanksgiving. We ran along the water and out to Morro Rock numerous times, spent a lot of time just watching the sea otters and sea lions, hiked some local trails, ran the San Luis Obispo Gobble Wobble 5K and spent Thanksgiving at the community center for a meal and volunteering with clean-up. The weather was far from ideal (they had more rain in those few days then all year) but we made the most of our time there.


We left Morro Bay and made our way up the coast, stopping along the way at big vistas, the Elephant Seal Rookery and the most famous bridge on the California coast, the Bixby Canyon Bridge. We still had plenty of time to make it to Sacramento so we decided to take a little detour inland to Pinnacles National Park. A park that we had never heard of prior to meeting Debbie and Joe in Death Valley and some place that was never on our radar. They had told us about amazing hikes and huge caves, so we thought, why not. The weather on the coast had been monsoon like all week and wasn’t any better at Pinnacles. We decided to venture out anyway (you can’t let the weather stop a great adventure) and were not disappointed. We explored Balconies Cave and Bear Gulch Cave and had an experience in the caves that most people don’t get to experience, water flowing from above and below with no one else around. These caves are actually made from very large boulders falling from erosion over time (read all about it on the website) not your typical lava tube cave. This means there are plenty of openings in the “roof” of the cave allowing light and water to enter. Some of these boulders are the size of a house or larger and lay precariously above the trail as you make your way through. This was a bit outside my comfort zone but so worth it. It was an unforgettable experience, one that we would have never had if it weren’t for that conversation with Debbie and Joe. This brings us back to a recurrent theme of this journey, the people we meet!! (No photos from Pinnacles but we have a really cool video at Instagram.com/david_amy_mira)


From Pinnacles NP we made our way to Napa to visit David’s old diving buddy, Jason. We had visited Jason when we first left on our vanlife journey and we were excited that we could swing back through Napa for another visit. This time we were able to visit his tasting room (Rebel Vintners) and enjoy some Uncharted wine. If you are ever in the area you should definitely check them out.

We finally made it to Sacramento where we would meet up with friends from all different chapters of our life. We got to spend some time with Linda and her husband, Mike. We have known Linda for 10 years but have never met her husband and have never seen her outside of Kona. We both met Linda at the Ironman Medical Conference and continued to meet up year after year for the conference and to volunteer at the Ironman World Championship. It has been 2 years since David and I have been to Kona , so it was really nice seeing her, catching up and finally meeting Mike. We also met up with a friend, Kurt, we met at the coaching class we took in Portland in January 2019. He took us on a tour of some of the local trails and we talked about training, racing and running. The last visit we had before heading back to Seattle was with Bonnie and Jerry. We got to know them during our Rim to Rim to Rim adventure and were happy to spend a little more time with them. They were so welcoming to us and unfortunately we all forgot to get a photo before leaving. It is such an perplexing thought, that all of these people live within 10 minutes of each other, they are all runners/hikers and they don’t know each other, but we know all of them.


Our primary reason for being in Sacramento was for the California International Marathon.We were there to work the expo and support the Powered by Hyland’s team. This company and team is near and dear to my heart, so whenever we can meet up with them, we jump at the chance. We spent time with some “old” teammates and met so many new ones. We were there on the race course and at the finish line to cheer and support our team. We always come away from these events with more friends than when we arrived and memories to last a lifetime.


While we were there, it happened to be the lottery drawing for the Western States 100. If you are not familiar with WS 100, it is the grand daddy of 100 mile trail races and almost impossible to get into. It is by lottery only, a somewhat complicated lottery system, and David and I, along with one of our Hyland’s teammates each had 1 ticket in the drawing. If you show up to the lottery and your name is already in the mix, you get a second chance at getting a coveted spot. So, of course , we went. There were 27,000+ tickets in the lottery for only 369 spots, so needless to say, none of us walked away a “winner”. It didn’t matter as it was an experience just being there. While we were in Auburn, we got to visit the famous Auburn Aid Station and No Hands Bridge, mile 96.8 of the race.


It was now mid-December and we were heading to Seattle to see family and friends. We would ultimately spend 1 month there, visiting, training and racing before venturing off on what will likely be our last year as vanlifers.




It’s Been Too Long-Part 1

I cannot believe that it has been well over 4 months since I sat down to write. I love writing about our travels and adventures so I am not sure why I have been absent. In any case, we are about to embark on a new year, a new decade and another year on the road. My goal for this coming year is to continue writing a post once a month, no matter how busy I am or how tired I am, I commit to writing. This blog started as a way to keep a “journal” of our vanlife adventures and I don’t want that to disappear.

So, my last blog post was about our summer in Colorado, and what an amazing summer it was. We have been to so many places since then, had epic adventures, made new friends, visited with old friends, seen family, raced and volunteered. Our first stop after Colorado was Ketchum, Idaho. A place that neither of us had visited before, even though it is only about a 12 hour drive from Seattle.  We spent almost a month in Ketchum, racing, David raced the Big Potato (100 mile gravel race) at Rebecca’s Private Idaho and I did the Cirque Series Sun Valley (10 mile mountain race), training, and exploring. We had a short visit with friends from Seattle, Jonathan and Victoria, and a visit with my parents. It was such a joy having all of them visit us on the road and we hope to have more meet-ups in 2020. So, if you want to take a trip somewhere, look us up, you never know what adventure awaits. We fell in love with the beauty of Ketchum/Sun Valley and put it on our list of many places we would like to go back and visit someday.


We left Ketchum at the beginning of September and headed to Salt Lake City, Revel Big Cottonwood was the next race on our schedule. This was a big race for both of us, one last shot for a BQ for 2020 and 2021 (the only weekend that will qualify you for both years). This was a Powered by Hyland’s team race which meant spending some quality time with our Hyland’s family and meeting some new members of the team. I had some lofty goals for this race. My BQ time was decreased by 5 minutes after the incredible amount of qualifiers for 2019, this meant running a PR to have enough cushion to not only qualify but actually have a chance of getting into the race. After a summer of trail running and not much of a focus on speed, I really wasn’t sure how that was going to happen. I went into the race with a solid plan and was determined to stick to that plan for the duration of the race. I  had studied the course elevation map, there is an out and back section where the elevation flattens with some small rolling hills between miles 18-22, and I knew I needed to bank some time as I was going to need to walk a good portion of that section. My plan was to run the first 3-4 miles of the course at a pretty fast pace and then begin my run/walk segments. This would hopefully give me the time cushion I needed before the out and back section. I carried all my own hydration and nutrition, as I had no time to stop at aid stations and I hoped that I would not have to stop at the porta-potty, as I really had no time for that either!! It had to be perfect conditions, on a perfect weather day, with my body feeling great and my mind totally focused on the task at hand. The stars must have aligned that day, the first 4 miles went by in a flash. I started my run/walk with more of a run/slow jog so that I was moving a bit faster during my rest portion of my intervals, I thought to myself, anything to bank some time for that out and back section that everyone talks about being so sucky. The miles ticked away seamlessly and before I knew it I was at mile 18 and making a right turn on the out and back section of the course. I looked at my watch, although any type of math during an endurance event is not easy, I calculated that I was ahead of pace at mile 18, this meant I had some cushion to walk some of those “hills”. I say “hills” because they are really quite insignificant compared to all the hills I was climbing in Colorado but at miles 18-22 after running steep downhill for all those miles, flat and small hills felt like a mountain to me. I ran when I could, and I power walked in between. It was on this section that I saw David (several miles ahead of me) and a handful of my other Hyland’s teammates. A smile and wave and a shout here and there does wonders, a boost of energy and motivation to keep pushing despite the discomfort and desire to slow down. I got through the out and back section and knew it was all downhill to the finish line, no really it was all downhill. I made another right turn, back on the main road with a little more than a 5K to go and about 35 minutes to cross that line under 3:50. The faster I ran the next 3 miles, the better chance I would have at getting a spot on the start line in Hopkinton in April 2020. I took one more walk break and then I ran those last 3 miles with my heart, my legs were burning and tired, my body was screaming at me to stop but my mind was totally focused on the goal at hand. I crossed that finish line in 3:47:48, my best marathon time ever and a BQ. David was there waiting for me at the finish, with a hug and a smile and tears ran down my face as I realized I had hit my goal. David did not achieve a BQ that day but we were both proud of the race he had as it was only 4 weeks after his first 100 mile trail race. We collected our race bags and sat down in the shade to celebrate with our Hyland’s family, as many of them qualified and were able to register for Boston right then and there!! It was almost surreal to me. Me, the person who grew up being unathletic, who tried everything to get out of gym class in high school, who was sedentary until the age of 30, had just qualified for the Boston Marathon for the 3rd time, what an incredible weekend!!!


While in Salt Lake City, we had a chance to hang out with a friend of a friend’s son, Scott. Scott is a 20+ year old endurance cyclist, skier, climber, and all around athlete. We didn’t know him very well prior to our visit but we spent a few days hanging out with him and had such a good time. He is down to earth, has a great work ethic, is a big outdoor enthusiast and genuine. He offered to take care of Mira while we raced and gave us a warm place to hang out, shower and do laundry. We love these connections we have made with people which may otherwise not have happened. We will certainly swing by SLC again for a visit.

From SLC we headed to Arizona where we would spend the next 6 weeks (with 2 side trips, Virginia and New York City). We had an incredible time in Arizona, visiting with friends, an epic crossing of the Grand Canyon, exploring Sedona and Flagstaff, and racing.

Sedona is one of my most favorite places we have been on this journey. The weather in the fall is perfect for running/hiking/exploring, the trails are varied and plentiful and the scenery is breathtaking. We spent as much time there as we possibly could (in between all the other adventures) and it still wasn’t enough. We explored the trails everyday, sometimes with Mira, sometimes without, and never got tired of the views, the terrain or the perfect temperatures. It was a great place to train for all the adventures that lay ahead in the coming weeks.


We spent quite a bit of time in Flagstaff as well. We did not enjoy it as much as Sedona but it is still a beautiful place to explore in the fall, plenty of good trails and cooler temperatures than Phoenix. We climbed Mt. Humphreys on a crazy, cold windy day, walked through an Aspen grove at the peak of the color change, joined a fitness center so we could work on some strength training and have a place to shower!! In total we spent about 3 weeks in and around Flagstaff and Sedona before and after our epic adventure in the Grand Canyon.


One of our bucket list adventures, something on our list for a long time, is the Rim to Rim to Rim of the Grand Canyon or R3. R3 is a traverse of the Grand Canyon from one rim to the canyon floor, back up to the opposite rim and then you turn around and go back to where you started, all in one day! Depending on the route you take, it is a 46-50 mile trek with over 10,000 feet of climbing and descending. It is completely self supported and no one is coming to rescue you unless it is a true medical emergency, and even then rescue is hours away and can be difficult. We had been planning this epic adventure for 10 months and we were so excited that it was finally here. We posted about our idea on Facebook and asked anyone if they wanted to join us. We had quite a lot of interest but after it was all said and done we had 6 people arrive at the South Rim of the Grand Canyon on the evening of October 5. David and myself, our friend Joan from Phoenix, friends from Sacramento, Bonnie and Jerry and a fellow Orange Mud ambassador whom we had met briefly (several weeks prior) at the Big Cottonwood Marathon. Carrie is from Alaska and expressed interest early on and never wavered. She was all in on the idea even though we had never met, and yes, she was coming all the way from Alaska!!  We sat around the dinner table that night looking at maps, talking about logistics including water and pace and expectations and made plans to meet at 4:00am the next morning to begin our epic trek. We piled into Joan’s car and Russ drove us to the South Kaibab trailhead. Trekking poles in hand, headlamps shining bright and full packs, we set off into the darkness for what would be an amazing adventure. It was slow going at first, and some of us were a little more cautious as it was very dark and steep as we made our way down the trail onto the canyon floor. The weather was cool and crisp and as the sun emerged over the horizon the canyon lit up. It was more magnificent then I could even imagine, being in the canyon, seeing it up close, there is no substitute. As we approached the 7 mile stretch across the bottom of the canyon, we split into 3 groups. All of us had a buddy, Joan and Carrie took the lead, David and I in the middle and Bonnie and Jerry at the back. The 7 miles felt almost effortless as the temperature was cool and the terrain was an ever so slight uphill grade. We regrouped with Joan and Carrie at the last water stop before the climb up to the North Rim. The North Kaibab trail is another 7 miles of steep, sandy and rocky terrain. As we started to climb Joan began to struggle and as we topped out at the North Rim she knew she needed to call it a day. There is no room for ego in this type of event. You need to know your limits, you need to know when to bow out, you need to know that your safety and the safety of your teammates is more important than anything else. She was able to catch a ride with some other R3 hikers that had decided to end their day at the North Rim and get a ride with a buddy back to the South Rim.  David, Carrie and I were all feeling good, we ate, refilled our water and headed back down, just in time to beat the mule train. On our way back down to the canyon floor we passed Bonnie and Jerry (they were less than a 1/2 mile to the rim). Jerry was struggling a bit and they decided to call it a day. Ultimately, they would take the rim shuttle back to the South Rim, a 4 hour bus ride and $90/person. We were down to 3 of us now, meaning we could move a bit faster, but only as fast as our slowest person, me!! So, I took the lead and we kept a nice pace all the way down the North Kaibab trail. It was quite warm by this time but we had plenty of fluid. As we made our way across the canyon floor the sun started to drop behind the canyon walls, it was perfect timing, we had shade during the warmest part of the journey but plenty of sunlight left in the day.  We made it to Phantom Ranch around 4pm but the canteen had just closed for the day, the lemonade that we talked about all day was not going to happen. We sat for a bit, ate some snacks, refilled our water and off we went, the last 9 miles of our trek, most of it climbing up the Bright Angel trail. Our goal now was to make it to the restaurant before closing time at 10pm. As the sun set and the temperatures cooled, we pushed through our fatigue and soreness. We made one last stop at the 3 mile rest house to refill our water, and then pushed to make that 10pm deadline. As we approached the South Rim there was a big group waiting for some friends (they had seen us earlier in the day), they began to shout and cheer and congratulate us for completing the R3. It was 9:45pm and all we could think about was real food. We headed straight for the restaurant and had one of the worst meals you could ever imagine, but it didn’t matter, we just spent 17 hours crossing from the south rim to the north rim and back to the south rim of the Grand Canyon. We had an incredible, epic adventure that we will treasure forever. Carrie was an acquaintance, a fellow Orange Mud ambassador, when we began this journey but we finished as friends. We were inspired by the courage she showed by committing to such an adventure with strangers and so glad she took the chance on us. We hope to share more adventures with her in the future, but in the meantime we will at least get to share the experience of the Boston Marathon. Carrie qualified for Boston at Big Cottonwood (just as I did) and was accepted onto the Hyland’s team as a legacy member!!! I can never say it enough times, this journey is all about the people.


While in and around Phoenix I ran 2 races, both with Joan, both Aravaipa Running races and both at McDowell Mountain  Regional Park in Scottsdale. The Javelina Jundred 100k was on my schedule for months. The plan was to run the entire race with Joan and for David to run the last loop, approximately 20 miles, with us as a pacer. This would be my 2nd 100k and Joan’s first. Joan had mentioned that there was a night run, on the same course, a few weeks prior, Javelina Jangover Night Run 50K. We were in Sedona but decided to make to trip down to Phoenix, it was a good opportunity to run on the Javelina course, run at night and run with Joan. I struggled with both races and realized that it was temperature related. I have a pretty good tolerance for the heat and have never had too many issues running in the cold, but this was different. It wasn’t exactly cold once the sun went down but it wasn’t hot either. It was just cool enough to be chilly when walking but then it seemed like I would overheat when I was running. My heart rate would soar and my face would feel like it was on fire, I would slow down and walk and get cold. During the day at Javelina I was absolutely fine, no issues in the hot sun, I was staying hydrated and had on plenty of sunscreen. As soon as the sunset and the temperatures cooled I started to struggle. Ultimately, I finished both races with the help and encouragement of Joan and David and I have yet to figure out what the real issue was for me during both of those races. This is something I will work on as I would like to avoid the same issue in the future.



After our epic Grand Canyon adventure we took a quick trip to Virginia (yes we flew) for the last IGNITE SwimRun race of the season.   We were excited to see our IGNITE family and support all the athletes at the race, the National SwimRun Championship. It was great seeing a lot of familiar faces and ambassadors out there racing on what proved to be a fun and exciting course. The water level was low enough to allow for a new section to be added to the race, a race where there is a mix of urban trails, roads, big river rocks, ladders and pipelines. David took photos while I supported the racers on land throughout the day and swept part of the course. It was a quick trip but a great end to a fun SwimRun season. We are looking forward to the IGNITE 2020 season and I have plans to actually race this year along with supporting the athletes!! I am looking for a partner for Maryland and Minnesota, any takers???


We made one other trip by plane from Arizona. One week after completing Javelina 100K I ran the NYC Marathon. Many months ago, my friend and fellow Hyland’s teammate, Stephanie, asked me to accompany her the 26.2 miles through the streets of NYC. She has MS and has used a guide for her past several marathons (NYC was her 12th marathon). I was honored and delighted that she wanted me to be her guide for this incredible race. I had raced in NY twice before but this time would be different. This wasn’t about me or my race, this was about Stephanie, making sure she was safe and that she had an incredible experience.  We met up at the expo to pick up our race bibs and talk about the race and logistics. Race morning arrived and the weather looked like it was going to be perfect. We met up at the AWD (athletes with disabilities) bus and enjoyed our hour or so ride to Staten Island. We were dropped off right near the AWD area, where there was a warming tent, food and bathrooms set up for athletes and their guides. It was inspiring seeing all the AWD athletes, wheelchair, push rim, blind, amputee, etc… all lining up for the most exciting one day event in NYC. We milled around, then sat down and waited to be called to the start line. At around 9:40am, we approached the start on the bottom level of the Verrazano Bridge in Staten Island and off we went. For the first several miles we had the streets to ourselves, as far as runners go. AWD athletes start at the back of the first wave, so it took several miles for the next wave to catch us. From that point on, it was crowded with runners the rest of the race. I found myself grabbing Stephanie’s arm a few times, making sure no one got in between us and protecting both of us from being plowed down. There were some very large pace groups that came from behind, all whom were very serious about keeping on time with their goals and no one was going to stop them. We didn’t let that deter us from keeping a steady pace, we listened to the roar of the crowd, we stopped for a few bathroom and stretch breaks and found ourselves turning into Central Park before we knew it. I knew it would be an emotional day for me, but I didn’t realize how much of an impact it would really have. I became teary eyed as we ran through the park, so proud of Stephanie and so honored that I could accompany her in the biggest marathon in the world. What an incredibly humbling and rewarding experience it was to help someone else accomplish their goal. We crossed the finish line together and then walked hand in hand through the shoot, picked up medals, took some photos and headed to meet Jeff and David at the AWD finish area. We went our separate ways to shower and then had a plan to meet up for dinner later that night. Although we waited forever to sit down for dinner and it was extremely loud, we chatted about our day, about racing and training and life in general. I felt a new connection with Stephanie that we did not have prior to this experience and an even greater respect (if that is possible) for her perserverence and drive to continue to run despite the challanges she faces. I will forever be so grateful that she asked me to be her guide that day and we already have plans to run together in Sacramento in December at the California International Marathon.



In addition to spending time with Stephanie, we were able to get together with several other Hyland’s teammates who were racing. We all got together on Monday for a post race brunch, where we got to hang out, catch up and enjoy some post race food!! David and I were also able to meet up with some Seattle friends, that now live in NY. We met up with Stella and Brannon for dinner 2 nights before the race and they came out on race day to cheer for Stephanie and me. We are sad that we didn’t get to spend more time with them (we could have stayed at dinner all night talking), we will have to make a point to get back to visit them again.


We flew back to Arizona and left the next day for California. I would be working at the Hyland’s booth and David at the Orange Mud booth at the Revel Big Bear Marathon. In addition to helping at the expo, David would be running the marathon. This was a last minute decision for him, a chance for a guaranteed entry into the Chicago marathon and by passing the lottery.  I had recently signed up with a guaranteed spot (my BQ qualified me), so we thought, why not. Well, David had not been seriously training for a marathon, he had a very big race season and was running for pleasure and with me, certainly not to try and qualify for anything. We had fun at the expo and at dinner with our Hyland’s teammates, both old and new. Race day proved to be a hard day and at mile 17, David decided to pull the plug. He wasn’t on track to qualify and he wasn’t feeling prepared for another 9 miles. So, he hopped in the car with Mike (Hyland’s coach) and I to cheer on the team at the finish line. It was a great training day for him, and the right decision.


From Big Bear we headed to Las Vegas. We were on our way to help Orange Mud at the Rock N Roll Marathon expo. We worked the booth last year and had so much fun, plus we wanted to spend some time at Red Rock Canyon Natural Conservation Area and Valley of Fire State Park, 2 treasures in the Las Vegas Valley region. We spent a week in and around Las Vegas before heading north. Our next scheduled destination was Sacramento for the California International Marathon, where we would work the expo and support the Hyland’s team throughout the weekend. We had several weeks to get there, so this meant plenty of time for some more adventures.


Thank you for sticking with me this far and stay tuned for part 2 of this extremely long blog post. This is what happens when you don’t sit down and write for months on end !!! And I promise, part 2 is coming very, very soon.




Summer in Colorado

One question we get asked a lot is, where are you going next? When our answer was, “We are spending the summer in Colorado”, the next question was “the entire summer, why”? Leadman, that is why. What is Leadman, you ask? It is 5 (or 6) races in the Leadville Race Series: Leadville Marathon, Silver Rush 50 (MTB or run or both), Leadville 100 MTB, Leadville 10K and the final race of the series, the most daunting of the 5 races, the Leadville Trail 100 run. Not only are the 5 races at or above 10,000 feet but the 100 mile MTB, 10K run and 100 mile run are all in 1 weeks’ time. David had a dream of someday doing this, well someday was this summer!!

I am not sure where the time has gone but here we are in mid-August and our time in Colorado is ending. We arrived in Denver at the end of May about 1 week before my first race. This gave us the opportunity to try and acclimate to the altitude and explore the Denver foothills. We were so excited to finally be in Colorado. We took advantage of the cool weather and spent the week hiking, running and cycling.

The first race in Colorado, the Revel Rockies Marathon on June 2, is not part of Leadman and was a race that I would run without David. He was hired to take photos for the race. He is extremely passionate about photography and was super excited about getting the job. He was stationed at mile 11 and the finish line and had a great time, taking over 2000 photos. I decided this would be my first attempt at qualifying for the 2020 Boston Marathon.  This race starts at over 10,500 feet and drops 4,700 feet over the course of the marathon, certainly not easy by any means. The day prior to the race I assisted with the Hyland’s expo booth set-up and we met up with our Hyland’s teammates, Carol and Mary. Mary lives locally and wasn’t racing but Carol was. Mary invited us to come and stay on her driveway for race weekend, an offer we could not refuse. We had such a wonderful time catching up, getting to know them better and just relaxing. I ran hard but it wasn’t enough to hit my qualifying time. I finished about 5 minutes too slow but I was still really proud of my performance. I ran a sub 4 hour marathon, which, for me, is a huge accomplishment. This was a great way to kick off our summer of racing in Colorado.

After the marathon we went to Boulder for a week to spend time with our dear friend Joan and her family. Joan was about to compete in her first Ironman, Ironman Boulder. This had been a long term goal of hers and it was finally here. A year of training , sacrifice, and very early mornings were finally going to pay off. She had asked me to coach her for the race, something I took very seriously and was honored to do. We spent the week swimming, biking and running with and without her, depending on the distance. Race day was extremely exciting, we followed along with her all day long, and she crossed the finish line with a huge smile and her goals reached.


We had an amazing week with Joan and her family but we were anxious to get to Leadville, see what it is all about and train at elevation. We arrived in town, visited the Leadville Race Series store and went for a run. We decided to stay on road for our first outing in Leadville. We hit the Mineral Belt Trail, an 11.6 mile paved trail that circumnavigates the town of Leadville. That run was more walk than run, as our lungs burned and heart rate soared in the thin mountain air.


The first week in Leadville was a challenge in terms of training. Just like our first run, every workout seemed to cause significant shortness of breath, elevated heart rate and the overall feeling of being totally out of shape. It is a feeling I haven’t had since I started running so many years ago. The end of our first week in Leadville was the Leadville Marathon, the first race in the series. David and I had both signed up for this race and we were super excited about climbing up to Mosquito Pass. Well, that never happened. The snow pack this past winter was so tremendous that there was no way the marathon could go in that direction. The course was re-routed but was still a challenging race for both of us. We were both happy with our performances and felt good about getting the first race in the series under our belts.



At some point before the marathon we met a guy outside the bike shop in town. David was inside and I overheard him saying, to someone else, that he was doing Leadman. He finished his conversation and I said, “my husband is doing Leadman too”. Little did I know that this would lead to a friendship that will be lifelong. Mark, David and I would spend quite a bit of time together over the course of the race series and we are excited to meet up again when we go to Phoenix in the fall. Yet again, I have to say, it is all about the people we have met on this journey.

We headed to South Dakota for about 10 days for the Black Hills 50K, see our Rapid City friends and visit with David’s mom (Sandy), who was driving from Seattle to visit with us. We were able to do some sightseeing with Sandy, run with our favorite running group, Black Hills Runners Club and race before heading back to Leadville. Unfortunately, it was not the visit I had hoped for as it was a week full of stress and disappointment. I am not sure if this stress contributed to my race but it did not go as planned. I did not feel well from the start and despite wanting to drop at mile 12, I stuck it out and finished. David stayed with me the entire race, supported and encouraged me and I have no doubt that without him by my side this race would have been my first DNF.



I was happy to get back to Leadville and resume training at altitude and blend into the scenery for a bit. The next race up was Silver Rush 50 and a visit from my parents. Silver Rush is race #2 in the Leadville Race Series. For Leadman, you can choose to do the 50 mile run or 50 mile bike or both (yes there are people who do both). David had signed up for the 50 mile MTB so  I signed up for the 50 mile run which took place the day before. This would be my second 50 miler but the first one all by myself. My first 50 was an amazing adventure with David and Joan at Antelope Canyon 50 miler where we stayed together for the duration of the race. Silver Rush was a high altitude race with lots of climbing and definitely outside my comfort zone. Despite this I took the plunge and committed. Orange Mud was generous enough to sponsor me for this race and I certainly didn’t want to disappoint anyone. This race was perfect, the weather was cool, my body and mind were on the same page and David and my parents were my crew. I could have not asked for a better experience and I was thrilled with my results. The following day my parents and I were crew for David as he took on the same course on his bike. I couldn’t imagine doing this course on a bike but he was up for the challenge. He is not a super technical mountain biker and this course was out of his comfort zone too. His goal-stay upright and finish before the cut-off, one of the requirements to staying in the Leadman standings. He also had a perfect day, everything came together and he crushed it.




Despite the stress in South Dakota it was so nice to spend time with Sandy and then with my parents in Leadville. Family is extremely important to both of us and we are lucky to have such supportive parents who understand our lifestyle.

Over the next six weeks we would train in Leadville and on occasion we would go to Breckenridge or Frisco for some different scenery. We got to partially climb Mt Elbert with our friends Chris and Jeremy and their cross-country kids (they are both teachers and coaches in South Dakota), We spent the day with my best friend from college and her husband, who I had not seen in 20 years. We went back to Mt Elbert to summit and did so successfully. We summitted 4 other 14ers with the Decalibron Loop. We traveled to Colorado Springs and Manitou Springs, where I raced the Pikes Peak Ultra 50k, we visited Garden of the Gods and hiked the Manitou Incline. We ran and swam and cycled (well David cycled) and hiked in the mountains as much as possible while balancing work and rest/recovery. Although we didn’t travel far from Leadville, we tried hard to take advantage of all that Colorado has to offer.



August seemed to come quickly and before we knew it the remainder of the Leadville Race Series races were upon us. The last 3 races are back to back to back and it is a fine balance of tapering, racing, rest and recovery.

Our plan was to take Mira to doggie daycare for the weekend of the 100 mile MTB and then again the following weekend for the 100 mile run. As we dropped her off on Friday, she was promptly attacked by another dog. So off we went, on Friday afternoon, to Frisco where she went under anesthesia and had 8 sutures to close her wound. This meant she would be staying with me for the weekend.

Leadville 100 mile MTB is an iconic race that draws people from every state and many countries. It is so popular that it is a lottery only entry with approximately 1700 riders. The aid stations and crew stops can be chaotic with traffic jams and long walks but I had a good plan and the support of Josh and other fellow Orange Mud ambassadors that all stepped up when I needed help. David and Mark lined up together and the plan was to be at Twin Lakes all day, miles 40 and 60. The race started and I drove to Twin Lakes securing a parking spot about a half mile from the aid station where Josh had set up the Orange Mud tent and chairs. I set up for the day and made Mira comfortable, on her bed in the shade. We had a great day supporting David and a bunch of other Orange Mud athletes. Unfortunately, I was unable to make it to the finish line to watch David finish, but I did get to see him cross the line via the live feed. It was a tough day, with heat, rain, wind, and lots of climbing. He had some nutrition issues but stuck it out to finish under 12 hours, earning a nice shiny belt buckle and the ability to move on to the next race, Leadville 10K.



The 10K takes place at noon the day after the mountain bike. It was cold and rainy at the start but it eventually cleared up making for a nice easy recovery run, together.


Exactly 1 week after the 100 mile MTB and 6 days after the 10K is the Leadville Trail 100 run. This does not allow for much recovery time between the events, making it important to eat and sleep well and not overdo it. David took some easy hikes and run/walk sessions but for the most part it was all about rest and recovery. We had not realized that this in between week was also the week of the Trans Rockies Run. This is a 6 day stage race, starting in Buena Vista, in which some of our Hyland’s teammates were participating. Since the start was less than an hour away we knew we just had to be there for the start. We arrived and met up with Mike and Mirna and met Jacky (a new Hyland’s member) for the first time. It was so much fun catching up, taking photos and having a quick impromptu mini reunion. We went out on the course (mile19) and got to catch some photos and high fives with Mike and Jacky as they cruised by. Trans Rockies day 3 was in Leadville, so we were able to meet up again with our Hyland’s team and cheer them on. We are so blessed to be a part of such an amazing group of athletes, from all over the country, that support each other and cheer for each other whenever possible.


The week flew by and before we knew it, it was Thursday and our friend Jacob (from Emporia) and his dad along with our other crew member and pacer, Josh were arriving in town. We met up for dinner and talked about all things race related. Friday was a very busy day filled with athlete meetings, packet pick up, organizing crew/aid station bags , dropping Mira off for the weekend, then dinner and bed, 2:30am wake up call comes quick.

Neither of us slept great that evening but it was enough, at least I had hoped it was. David got up and ate, we got dressed, met up with Josh and walked to the start line in time for the 4 am shotgun blast. We milled around for a bit, David entered the corral and Josh and I hurried down the street to get a glimpse of the chaos that is the start of the Leadville Trail 100 run. David and the rest of the 800+ runners were off so we wandered back to the van and I promptly left for Outward Bound aid station at mile 24 (mile 77 inbound). My plan was to get there super early to get a good place to park and then crawl back into bed. My plan worked perfectly, except I didnt get much sleep. I was too excited and nervous and cold! Eventually I wandered out to the aid station and planted myself next to Jacob’s crew, cheering and yelling and encouraging all the runners that came through. David came through the aid station first, we got him re-fueled and sun screened and off he went. No time to sit, no time to chat, just in, get what you need and leave. Jacob was not far behind him and was in and out of the aid station just as fast. Josh and I hopped in the van and drove out to Twin Lakes (mile 38 outbound/mile 62.5 inbound). It was complete chaos at Twin Lakes, with a line of traffic and no where to park. Somehow Josh had the idea to park where we really were not permitted to, but we were off the road and thought there is no way anyone will try and tow a big Sprinter Van in the middle of this race!! We were a short walk to the aid station where an Orange Mud tent was set up for some shade. We waited, and waited and waited and finally David came into the aid station ready to change shoes for his trek up and over Hope Pass into Winfield (the half way/ turn around point of this race). He was feeling good, looking good and spirits were high and he had plenty of time before the cut-off. As soon as he left the aid station so did I. I was heading out, on a bus, to Winfield to meet up with David and pace him up and over Hope Pass and back to Twin Lakes. This year no cars were allowed to drive out to Winfield, this became both a blessing and a curse. It is a 14 mile narrow, dirt road with an incredible amount of washboard surface. (We had taken the van out to Winfield the week prior and it took over an hour to drive there.) So the fact that we didn’t have to drive was great but the bus situation was not. I waited over an hour to get on a bus and then it was a very loud, very bumpy ride in the back of a school bus, a trip that still took almost an hour. So, over 2 hours later I reached Winfield and again, I waited and waited and waited for David to arrive. (Do you see a pattern here, crewing a race like this is a lot of hurry up and wait). He came into Winfield a little more beaten down than when I saw him at Twin Lakes, we re-fueled him, he sat for a minute and off we both went to conquer Hope Pass. It was a very long hike up to the top, I muled for David to make it a bit easier for him (this means I carried all his gear along with all my gear) but he was still struggling a bit. I kept him moving with as few rest breaks as possible as I knew we wanted to make it into Twin Lakes with a comfortable cushion on the cut-off time. We finally reached the top of the pass and David was overcome with emotion, picked up the pace and at the top of his lungs screamed “Grit, Guts, Determination, I won’t fucking quit”. He took off down the trail and waited for me at the Hopeless Aid station, he grabbed a headlamp and I told him to go, I will be fine, I know my way back to Twin Lakes. He took off down the trail, into the dark, and somehow about half way down I was able to catch him. We ran into Twin Lakes aid station together where Josh and Jacob’s crew were anxiously awaiting and ready to help. David changed his shoes and socks, re-fueled, grabbed some warm gear to prepare for the cold night ahead, and he and Josh left with a 30 minute cushion. I waited around until the 10pm cut-off and Jacob had still not arrived. The timing counter was packed up and still no Jacob. This was a hard pill to swallow. I was filled with emotion, so happy that David was well on his way to Outward Bound (with Josh) and so very sad that Jacob’s day was over in Twin Lakes. I was cold and wet from the river crossing so I quickly packed up our stuff and headed back to Outward Bound, to warm up and rest. As much as I really wanted to stay and see Jacob, I knew I needed to take care of myself and be ready for David at Outward Bound and to pace him the next morning. Back to Outward Bound aid station (and no the van wasn’t towed and no ticket!!), where I rested and ate and waited and waited and waited. David and Josh arrived with about a 30 minute cushion to cut-off, so it was a quick re-fuel and off they went. Just like I had done all day, I packed up and drove to the final aid station, MayQueen at mile 88. This would be the final stop before the finish line. I arrived to a line of cars with no knowledge of how far of a walk it really was to the aid station. I would lay down in bed for a while and then gathered some supplies and headed out. I sat myself down on the cold, hard, asphalt, shivering and waited and waited and waited. David and Josh finally appeared out of the dark, again, with 30 minutes until cut-off. I knew this would be a tight time line so we grabbed some fuel, stopped for some warm broth and off David and I went, heading toward town. It was still a bit dark and the trail a bit rocky so we walked. I tried to get David to run a bit and every once in a while he would muster up enough energy to run a few feet and then back to a walk. He was drained. His feet were sore, his legs were sore, he was tired, he was ready to be done. I tried my best to keep him moving at a good enough pace to make it to the finish line for the 30 hour cut-off. As the sun came up and we hit the jeep road, we knew he would finish the race, it would be really close, but he would finish.


As we approached the pavement (with a little less than 1 mile to go), Josh was walking toward us and Jacob and his crew were waiting for us, this was a huge emotional boost for David, really both of us. We all walked side by side up the boulevard with the finish line in sight.  We were talking and laughing and as we got within a few hundred feet David said, “when we get to the timing mat lets all run in together”. We hit the timing mat, picked up the pace and crossed the finish line together, as a team. We had a big group hug, David got a medal placed around his neck and a huge congratulations and hug from Ken. There at the finish-line, waiting was Mark. Mark’s day was over in Winfield and despite his disappointment he was there, waiting for David, to congratulate him. With a final time of 29 hours and 39 minutes David became one of 60 people to become a Leadman in 2019.



Words can not explain how proud I am of David. He worked so hard, he showed true Grit, Guts and Determination throughout and he never once thought about not finishing what he started a few months prior. There is no thank you big enough for all the people who helped us reach this goal, our friends and family who sent words of encouragement and love from a far, Josh, Jesse, Kristen and the entire Orange Mud family, Jacob and his crew and Mark. Thank you, thank you, thank you from the bottom of my heart.

Our 10 weeks in Leadville and South Dakota was not only filled with some incredible scenery, amazing training, 14ers and friend/family visits but we made some new friends along the way. We met an incredibly nice couple from Vermont, Stuart and Leslie, who have been living in their RV for 5 years. Mark (who I already mentioned) and Annie. Annie is an ultrarunner herself and has completed Leadville. She is genuine, warm, friendly and has more energy than you can even imagine. We met her just a few days before the Leadville Trail 100 run and she came out to cheer David on race day. She was in Twin Lakes, hiked up to Hope Pass into Winfield to see us and at the finish line on Sunday morning. The bottom line is, we need more Annie’s in the world.

In the words of Ken Chlouber “You are better than you think you are, you can do more than you think you can.”






As we pulled into Boston a feeling of excitement, anticipation and a little bit of sadness came over me. Don’t get me wrong, I was so thrilled to be in Boston for the 2019 Boston Marathon but I wasn’t going to be running. David and I had tried to qualify during the final weekend in September but neither of us had what it took that day. We were both so disappointed that we wouldn’t be making a 3rd trip to Boston but we both thought, hey we could go somewhere different, somewhere we haven’t been. Several months went by and I was a bit jealous reading about all my Hyland’s friends who qualified and all about the new team of Hyland’s Healers. Of course I was super excited for all of them but also wishing I was joining them. Then came the email from Lisa, asking if we would join Hyland’s in Boston as support staff. As I read the email out loud to David, tears flowed and my voice cracked. I was honored and delighted that they would ask me to be a part of a very special experience. They wanted me to be a part of a team of dedicated Hyland’s employees who make the Boston Marathon an amazing, unforgettable experience for their team. I looked at David, and although I knew he didn’t have a great desire to drive back to the east coast, he didn’t hesitate to say, “of course we have to go, how can we pass on such an incredible opportunity”.


The weekend started out with an employee team dinner.  We got an opportunity to catch up with people we had met in years past and meet new people that would quickly become our Hyland’s family. Margot spoke about the Boston Marathon, what it has meant to her and what the future of the relationship between the marathon and Hyland’s looks like. We had such a great time and felt really welcomed, as always.

Friday was an extremely busy day for me. I worked for a few hours in the morning, David and I went to the expo and walked around and then I worked the Hyland’s booth for a few hours. It was extremely busy throughout the afternoon and into the early evening. I educated athletes and non-athletes about our products, talked to people about the race, encouraged first timers and met some really inspiring and dedicated athletes. I was also able to meet some of our incredible Hyland’s Healer and legacy team members for the first time. David and I then went to dinner with Mike (Hyland’s coach) and Mitch (employee) and had a terrific meal over fantastic conversation. We walked back to the hotel to sleep as we knew Saturday would be just as busy.


Saturday started with  the BAA 5K. This was the first big event for the Hyland’s team, as a team. We all met at the athlete hotel where there were lots of hugs and smiles and conversation. David and I felt like we had known these people for years (some we have known from previous years) even though we were just meeting in person for the first time. I mentioned in a previous post that some people feel that friends you make on social media are not real friends, but I disagree. We had all become acquainted through discussions on our Facebook page and a few emails, over the course of many months. Following each others training and the ups and downs that come along with that, as well as other happenings in their lives, I felt as I was seeing old friends that I had not seen in a while.  The race was crowded but the energy was electric. I lined up with David’s pace group but quickly lost sight of them as they pulled away from me. I had a great time taking pictures and video and despite all that I was extremely happy with my performance. After the race was a team brunch at Margot’s house. This was a fun filled event for the team only where there were lots more hugs, smiles, laughing along with good food. Margot gave a heartwarming welcome speech and I am pretty sure there wasn’t a dry eye in the room. David went off to the Red Sox game at Fenway with a bunch of the team while I went back to the expo to work. Although it is a lot of talking and repetitive information (for me), I found it so rewarding to feel like I could potentially save someone’s race come Monday. I again met some incredibly inspiring athletes.


Sunday we woke early and walked to the meet up location of the 7th annual #BostonRun. This is a run lead by Zoom Multisport. It is approximately 4 miles and we run so it spells out Boston on your watch app and Strava. There was a huge turnout and a few us there sporting our Hyland’s gear. We had a nice easy run, enjoying the conversation and the company. After the run we were off to the team and family brunch where we had another chance to spend time with the healers and legacy teams and meet their families. We had a very special guest join us as well, Dave McGillivray (Boston Marathon RD and runner extraordinaire). He spent time saying hello to each of the athletes, chatted a bit and took a picture with every one of us. He is a humble and genuinely nice person and we were all so thrilled that he took time out of his very busy schedule to meet all of us. Then it was off to the expo for the final day of packet pick up. We were busy right until the very end, giving out the last of our product samples and wishing everyone a great race day! It was off to dinner and bed as we knew race day would be another long but rewarding day.


Race day, Monday, Patriot’s Day started out with a repeat of the weather from 2018, with the exception of the temperature. It was windy and pouring with thunder as the athletes boarded the bus which would take them to Hopkinton. As they drove away the weather started to clear and we were crossing our fingers for no more rain. David, Mitch and I drove the van to the University Club where we unloaded all the athlete bags into the club for them to have after the race. We then met up with Catherine (Hyland’s pharmacist) and drove to several of the aid stations on the course to make sure our product was placed correctly for the athletes. Once that was done we headed back to Boston, parked the van and headed to the University Club to wait for the first of our 65 athletes to arrive. It is so hard to describe the atmosphere in the University Club. It is electric to say the least. This is how it works, the athlete crosses the finish line and is met by Margot or Lisa or Elyse and escorted to the University Club where they are escorted inside, down the hall into a room full of more Hyland’s employees, families, friends, other athletes, all who are screaming and cheering and yelling and hollering for you (the athlete who just finished the Boston Marathon). There is a DJ with music playing, an abundance of food and drink, a professional photographer (to take some amazing post race pictures) and the best showers and locker room you have ever seen. You are escorted with your bag into the locker room so you can shower and change before returning to the party to eat, drink, dance, sing, mingle, tell war stories and cheer on your fellow athletes finishing. This year, David and I got to be a part of the cheering section, a job we took very seriously as we had no voice by the end of the evening. We cheered and laughed and ate and drank until the last of the team arrived and then continued to have fun until well after 10pm.


The weekend was  everything we had imagined and more, being on the other side, supporting a team of dedicated, compassionate and passionate health care workers and legacy team members was such a fulfilling experience. Being a part of big goals, lifelong dreams and memories and friends that will last a lifetime is absolutely priceless.


“Surround yourself with people that reflect who you want to be and how you want to feel, energy is contagious” -unknown


Arizona and the Black Canyon 100K

After a month in and around Phoenix and a little over a week since the Black Canyon 100K, we are now on the road again, heading toward our next destination. We had an amazing, unbelievable and memorable time in Arizona. We were able to spend a month visiting with our dear friends, Joan and Russ, explore the area and running my first 100k at the Black Canyon Ultras.

After spending the first week in and around the BK 100 course we decided to head out to McDowell Mountain Regional Park outside of Fountain Hills. It is a beautiful park in the desert with majestic mountain views and many miles of trails for biking, hiking and running. We spent many days and nights in this park during our stay. It provided both of us a perfect place for training and is also the location of the Javelina Jundred 100k that I will be racing in October. We really fell in love with this park and its landscape and we are both looking forward to visiting again.


Along with all the biking and running we found time to go on some epic hikes. We could not pass up the opportunity to hike up Camelback Mountain. This is an iconic hike that is only 20 minutes outside of downtown Phoenix and provides 360 degree views of the surrounding city. We left from the Echo Canyon trailhead. It is 1.2 miles to the top after a steep and rocky ascent requiring  assistance of handrails and some scrambling. I was certainly cautious on both the ascent and descent as it was too close to the BK 100 to risk a fall or injury.


Another popular destination is the Phoenix Mountain Preserve. Along with Camelback Mountain, it contains another iconic peak, Piestewa Peak. We were lucky enough to be able to run from our friends house to this area. It is right in the city but feels so remote and off the beaten path. Piestewa Peak is 1.2 miles with 1200 feet of elevation and a rocky, unrelenting climb. Definitely worth the effort. Prior to climbing Piestewa, we explored some of the Dreamy Draw Recreation Area which is in the same general location. There are plenty of trails along with a paved bicycle path that made for a great 7 mile run.



We took one day to drive out to the Superstition Mountains but the mountains were so socked in and the weather so cold that we decided to go to Usery Mountain Regional Park just outside Mesa. Another beautiful park with over 29 miles of trails for hiking, biking and running. After exploring some trails with Mira we took a short hike up to wind cave and witnessed one of many amazing sunsets in Arizona.


It had rained a few times since we were in Arizona and we kept wondering how that would effect the race. We decided to go run the section from Black Canyon City to Table Mesa, a 13 mile stretch that Joan would run with me during the race. During this stretch of the race there are 2 river crossings of the Agua Fria river. We were curious to see how high the water was, so 1 week prior to race day, David, Joan, Mira and I set off from Black Canyon City trailhead. David and Mira would run to the first river crossing, about 1.5 miles, and back and then pick us up at the other end in Table Mesa. The first crossing was about knee high with moderately swift water, but overall very easy to navigate. The terrain was rocky and technical at times and really runnable at other times. We got to the 2nd river crossing and it looked a little more intimidating. Joan and I were a little reluctant but we saw a cyclist on the other side who directed us to the best location to cross. The water was about mid-thigh on Joan and a bit deeper for me but it was easy to navigate. We had a great day of trail running and course recon and were hoping that there would be no more rain before race day.


We had been watching the forecast very closely and hoping they were wrong about the amount of rain that was going to fall on the Thursday before the race. Well, for once the weather predictions were right and the area of the Agua Fria river received over an inch of rain. In most places this wouldn’t seem like a lot, but in the desert, that doesn’t see rain often and floods easily, this was a lot of rain. I watched the website of the river levels rise rapidly over the next 24 hours and we all anxiously awaited an email from the race director. The Black Canyon course is typically a point to point course with 3 major river crossings. We knew that if the river was too high the course would become some version of an out and back.

The river seemed to be receding on Friday and as of Friday afternoon the race was to proceed as scheduled with just a small re-route. We were all excited about this as this would allow Joan to pace me the 13 mile section from Black Canyon City to Table Mesa and David to pace me the 13 mile section from Table Mesa to the finish line, perfect. And we would get to do the “real” Black Canyon course with river crossings. We knew there was always a possibility of a change on race morning but we were ever so hopeful.

The 3 of us (and Mira) drove up to Bumble Bee Ranch (mile 19 aid station), after a quick stop for packet pick-up, and spent the night there. Joan was a trooper and slept in the van, under the bed in her sleeping bag. It was a much better option then setting up a tent in the dark and muddy conditions. We woke early the next morning to an email stating the race had decided to re-route to the high water route. The river had not receded as much as they had hoped and it was too dangerous to allow us to cross. We were all disappointed but grateful to amazing race directors who work really hard to have a great race and still keep us safe. So, this meant that there was a long out and back section and that Joan would only pace me for approximately 5 miles while David would pace me for 22 miles.

The weather at the start was cold, windy and right before the 7am start it began to rain. I was thankful that I had a good rain jacket and decided to wear capris instead of shorts, at least until I saw my crew at mile 19. The first few miles were on a fire road mixed in with some single track. At about mile 3, surprisingly there was a “river” crossing. I am sure that this is not a place that water usually flows unless of course there is over an inch of rainfall 2 days prior. It was running swiftly but only about knee high, so it was easy to navigate. There were some extremely muddy sections, thick, sticky, goopy mud, the kind that will pull your shoe off. I made it to the first aid station, mile 7.9, where the views were amazing and overall I was feeling good. While standing at the start we ran into Lisa who works at the local running store, iRun. We ultimately ended up running to the first aid station together. It was there that I stopped for a porta-potty break and she kept on going. I wouldn’t see her again until the out and back section to the river, much later in the day.



The weather started to warm, the sun came out and the trail going forward was dry. The next section of the race was this amazing single track trail, not very technical but windy and beautiful and super fun to run. The miles just seemed to fly by and before I knew it I was at Bumble Bee Ranch (mile 19) aid station where Joan, David and Mira were anxiously awaiting my arrival. They had my shorts ready and waiting along with fluid and fuel to replenish my pack. They also had some chicken soup with noodles which hit the spot. I changed into my shorts, got in some calories and off I went. Next time I would see them would be at Rock Springs aid station at mile 36 (ish).

The next section of the course was also some fun single track. Along the way I made some new friends, a guy that had run the course backward, ended at the start line and then turned around to run the actual race, sisters that were running together and Filip, an ultrarunner who has done his share of ultras and was shooting for a 15 hour finish. I kept up with Filip and we chatted for a few miles before he would take off into the distance and I wouldn’t see him again until we passed each other on the long out and back section.

I made it to the Gloriana aid station which was the turn around for the out and back section. The next 7 miles (to the next aid station) seemed to take forever. For about 4 miles the trail was extremely narrow with a drop off on one side and deadly cactus on the other. It was at this point when the front of the pack runners started onto this single track and it got a little dicey at times. They were running somewhere around a 7 minute pace and did not want to slow down for anyone. The single track opened up onto a jeep road that was rocky and washed out in places but mostly downhill. I made it to the aid station, got some ginger ale and had 4 more miles until I reached Rock Springs where my amazing crew would be waiting for me and where I could pick Joan up for the out and back to the river.

I was in need of some company by this time and was so grateful that I have friends like Joan who will sit around all day and wait for me just to run 5 miles. We had a great time chatting and running down to the river and back to the Rock Springs aid station where Joan would stop and David would accompany me the rest of the way. David was waiting for us with more chicken soup and noodles, fluid and fuel for my pack, a dry shirt, rain jacket and headlamp. It was starting to cool off and it would be dark soon enough so we needed to make sure we had all the proper clothing. Well, I had all the proper clothing. David decided to forgo bringing a rain jacket or gloves and as we looked into the distance there was a big dark cloud looming in the direction of our travels. He decided to ask the first aid station we hit (4 miles from Rock Springs) for a large garbage bag in case it started to rain. Good thing he asked because the rain stayed away for the remainder of the race!!

We climbed back up the jeep road that I had descended hours earlier and finally made it to the single track trail. It was now dark and the 2 way traffic was a bit scary at times. Of course this was not the ideal situation and not what the race directors had wanted but it was certainly safer then crossing the river. David and I walked this section as I was not comfortable running it in the dark. It was at this point in time that I learned a really good lesson. If you are going to run single track trail in the dark you really need to practice running single track trail in the dark!!! And that I need a better light. I thought my headlamp would be adequate but I felt like I couldn’t see as well as I wanted. We made it to the Gloriana aid station, ate some food, drank some ginger ale and set off into the dark returning on the same trail. There was still 2 way traffic but the number of people coming toward us was decreasing as the cut-off times at Rock Springs drew closer. It was on this part of the trail that we ran into our friend Steve. He sat down on the trail and was feeling discouraged as he was hurting really bad with knee pain and cramping and was thinking about calling it quits at the turn around. We gave him some Hyland’s leg cramps, encouraged him to keep going and that he had plenty of time to finish even if he walked the entire way back. We kept moving forward, power hiking to the jeep road and then we began to run. At this point my run pace was not much different then David’s power hiking pace and we both got a good chuckle out of it. We made it to the last aid station with 4 miles to go and I knew that not only would I finish but I would finish in under 17 hours.


The last 4 miles were on the road and some windy single track. We ran the road section and then power walked the single track. As we climbed along the single track we could hear the finish line in the distance and both of us got super excited. As we came into the finish line, David backed off and let me have my moment of glory, crossing the finish-line of my first 100K. I was elated and proud and tired all at the same time. And of course Joan was right there screaming and yelling and cheering.


I could not have asked for a better day for my first 100K (well running the real course would have been better). I felt great all day, my nutrition was on par, my crew was amazing and the weather was perfect. The folks from Aravaipa Running made the best out of the situation at hand and put together an extremely well organized, well stocked, safe and memorable race. I can’t wait to be a part of Javelina Jundred 100K in October as I know it will be just as memorable.

I can’t stress enough how meaningful it was for me to have my 2 best friends with me through this experience. As they say it takes a village and I have the best village in the world!!

And by the way-our friend Steve said the stuff we gave him (Hyland’s leg cramps) worked really well (his words), he pushed through with a finish under 17 hours and earned his Western States 100 lottery spot!! Congratulations Steve on a great race!!









Boston Marathon 2018

It has been over a month since the Boston Marathon and I thought it was about time that I sit down and write about a race that was one for the record books. My Boston 2018 journey actually started the day after Boston 2017. I always thought that running the Boston Marathon would be a one and done. It took a tremendous amount of work and sacrifice to get to the starting line in 2017 and I wasn’t sure I wanted to do that again. I loved the challenge it presented but I also love trying new and different adventures. But, the weekend was such an inspiring and emotional experience that I felt I needed to come back again. So, I signed up for another qualifying race, the same race I used to qualify for 2017, Light at the End of the Tunnel Marathon. I had so many big races in 2017 so all I really needed to do was keep training, maintain my fitness, not get injured and have a perfect race day! I wasn’t asking for too much, was I!! Well, my training was on par, I stayed healthy and I had a perfect race day. David was running the same race, to try and qualify, but did not have a great day. He eventually waited for me and we met up at mile 22. I was really hurting and seeing him was exactly what I needed. Despite the fact that he was not having the day he wanted, and he was hurting, he encouraged me, pushed me and ran with me to achieve my goal, not only another qualifying time but my best marathon ever, a huge PR.


Since David and I were on the Hyland’s Boston Marathon team for 2017, I was invited back for 2018. This time I would be joined by 17 truly inspiring teachers (as well as other participants like myself, who qualified, known as legacy runners). Teachers who really care about their students, who really want to make an impact on future generations, who are so passionate about teaching, the type of teacher that students never forget. I was introduced to the team and had the privilege of getting to know all of them all via social media. They had “homework” assignments each week, which allowed the entire team, as well as the rest of the world, get an up close and personal look at each one of these amazing educators. We also had a private Facebook page where we were all able to share our training, our fears, our excitement and our journey to Boston 2018. David and I even had the opportunity to meet some of the my teammates for a run in the hills of LA.


Fast forward to marathon weekend, we flew in to Boston, met my parents and arrived at our hotel and ran into some Hyland’s teammates, people whom we had never met but felt like old friends who had not seen each other in a while. As more of us started to filter in the excitement started to build. The chatter quickly turned to the weather and race day clothing options, as the forecast for race day was looking less than desirable for a marathon. The weather is one thing that we have no control over, so I was trying not to focus on it and instead stay in the moment and enjoy a first-class weekend. Saturday started with the BAA 5k followed by a team brunch. This was a great way to really get to know each other on a more personal level and socialize. Margot (President and Chief Strategy Officer of Hyland’s) and Mike (Hyland’s Head Coach) talked about what an honor it has been to be a part of this experience and all I could think about was how lucky I was and how honored I was to be a part of this team. After brunch we had some free time and then it was off to the Red Sox game at Fenway Park, courtesy of Hyland’s of course. We couldn’t pas up the opportunity to see a game at the iconic Fenway Park. Then is was off to the marathon expo to  check -in, pick up my race bib and shop at the expo.


Sunday morning the team and our families were treated to an amazing brunch at Margot’s house. It was there that we got to meet and mingle with the man of the Boston Marathon, the race director, Dave McGillivray. He is such a humble, sincere guy who, even with the marathon the following day, found the time to spend with our team. I was a little star struck!!


The rest of the day was spent back at the marathon expo and relaxing with my feet up, until dinner. My go-to pre race dinner is always sushi. Some people think I am crazy, but for me it works great, a perfect combination of protein and carbs, it does not sit heavy in my stomach and is super easy to digest. My parents and my father’s cousins joined us for dinner, cousins we had not seen in a year (last year for dinner the night before the race) and prior to that many, many years before. As the day turned into night the weather progressed from sunny and moderate temperatures, to cold, windy and snow flurries.

Race morning we woke to rain, 30 mph winds and temperatures in the mid 30’s with the wind chill. David and I dressed and walked to get some coffee, and it was raining but a normal rain. I thought well, if it rains like this during the race, well that wouldn’t be too bad, I have run in rain many times before. I felt prepared for the weather, tights on bottom, thin long sleeve base layer on top covered by a heavier jacket, a jacket that I have worn in the cold and rain before (little did I know what rain really meant). I had 2 hats on, my thin smart wool on bottom with my new Hyland’s headsweats on top. And then to top it all off I had a throw away sweatshirt and a free poncho, both of which I planned to discard at the start of the race. They were just for some extra warmth and protection while I walked to the starting line from the bus. As part of our first-class treatment with Hyland’s we have our own private bus to the start line. This means we get our own bathroom, on the bus, and we don’t have to sit and wait in the athletes’ village for hours before the race starts. I was able to sit on the bus, staying warm and dry until the last possible minute, this (I quickly learned when I got off the bus) was such a gift. The mud was so thick, so slick and everywhere, the wind and cold were so relentless with little to no protection out in the staging area. It got so bad and the rain was so heavy that the race organizers abandoned the corrals and just told everyone to start moving toward the start line, to start as soon as possible. They didn’t want anyone waiting around any longer than they needed to. There were already medical tents that were filled with participants, runners who never even had the opportunity to start as the time spent in the staging area lead to hypothermia.


I quickly dropped my throw away sweatshirt, it was rain soaked, heavy and now making me cold, but I kept on my throw away poncho. It wasn’t keeping me dry by any means, but I felt that it was keeping me a bit protected from the wind. Maybe it was all in my head, but somehow keeping the poncho on meant I would I be warm. I thought I would take it off, I thought, when the rain dies down, when the wind improves, when… That when never came and that once throw away poncho stayed with me for the duration of the race. Once I faced the fact that the weather was not going to improve and I was keeping that poncho on, I moved my race belt and number to the outside, this was a good move as it would keep the poncho from becoming a sail in the wind.

I had a race plan and I decided to stick with it. The goal was to just keep moving forward and never stop, because I knew once I stopped it wouldn’t take much for me to become hypothermic. I don’t do well with being cold and now I was also wet from head to toe. I just focused on one mile at a time. I tried to stay in the moment and not think about how long this race would take or how much harder it could rain, or how much windier it could get or how much colder my hands could feel. I tried to relish in the fact that there were spectators out, yelling and screaming and cheering for us, despite the weather. I began to notice that the heavier the rain became the louder the crowds got. They wanted us, the runners, to know that they were there for us, they were out there despite the rain and the wind and the cold and they were happy to be a part of the most iconic marathon in the world. I hit a low point at mile 11, negative thoughts started to fill my head, I was cold and wet and shivering and knew this was how it would be for the next 15 miles of the race. I texted David at that point, told him how cold I was, he offered some words of encouragement and made sure I knew that he was there for me, cheering me on every step of the way and how proud he was of me. I pushed on and would text him every once in while to let him know where I was and how I was doing. He always answered, with an upbeat, morale boosting sentiment, something that would keep me going. Mile after mile I kept moving forward, the crowds never diminished and neither did the rain or the wind. At some point I actually started to let myself enjoy the suffering and I became extremely emotional. I hit heartbreak hill and knew that I would finish, I would finish a race that would make history for being one of the wettest, coldest and windiest Boston Marathons.

At mile 26 as I was running down Boylston street, I could see the finish line in the distance and then I spotted my parents. Standing there in the cold and rain, waiting patiently to see me and cheer me to the finish. I know my parents are my biggest supporters and I know how much they love to see me race, but for them to be standing out there in that weather, waiting for me, not knowing if they would even see me, it was such a  heart warming and touching moment. I got a huge smile on my face, I forgot about how cold I was or how hard it was raining or how I was hurting, (after all I did run a marathon) and it was the last little boost I needed to get across that finish line.

I crossed that line, got my medal, and just kept moving. I didn’t stop for water or for food. I was on a mission to get out of the weather as quickly as possible. I spotted the amazing Hyland’s cheering section and was escorted by Margot into the University Club. (For those not familiar with the UC, it is an upscale athletic club, right around the corner form the Boston Marathon finish line.) Inside, waiting for me was a room full of people, including David, who were screaming and cheering for me like I was a superstar, a champion, a winner of the race. They waited on me, got me warm drinks and towels, took my amazing post race pictures, then showed me to the locker room where I could sit in the sauna, take a hot shower and put on dry warm clothes. What followed was a celebration of food and drink and music and celebration for every single Hyland’s runner. Despite the weather, every one of the teachers and the legacy team crossed that finish line that day, a day that will be written into the records books of the Boston Marathon.









Time Well Spent


It has been a bit over 3 weeks since we left Seattle and I still cannot believe how many amazing people we have met and how much we have seen and done. If you haven’t noticed by now, David and I are not ones to just sit around, drive around and look at the scenery from afar. Don’t get me wrong, we have down days and lazy days and days when we need to do laundry and chores, but those days are far less common. We started off with a stop in Portland to see my brother and nieces before hitting the road. Then, it was off to Cannon Beach which was absolutely breath taking. From there we drove down the coast to our first big stop, Jedidiah Smith Redwood State Park. We spent a few days there for some mountain biking and trail running. The trees are really magnificent and the biking, hiking and running were top notch.


Next big stop was in Napa to see an old friend of David’s. We had a great time visiting with Jason Holman and his family. Jason is a winemaker,  http://www.holmancellars.com/, who is extremely knowledgeable and passionate about his craft. We both got a crash course about wines with a private wine tasting. While we were there we were able to get in some biking and had the pleasure of running with the Vinerunners group which meet at the Napa Running Company on Thursday evening and Saturday morning. From Napa we went to San Luis Obispo where we had amazing weather and a found a great outdoor 50 meter pool. After a few days in SLO we headed inland to Palm Springs/Palm Desert and Joshua Tree National Park.  We spent time relaxing in the sunshine, swimming in a amazing outdoor pool, running, hiking and biking. We loved this area so much that we spent over a week exploring.


We then headed back to the coast to spend a few days with family in Encinitas. Janet and Ken opened their home to us and were so incredibly welcoming. We feel blessed to be able to spend time with family that we rarely get to see. Then it was on to the Los Angeles area for a family wedding. Again, we were able to spend time with family we rarely see. We were also able to meet up with some of my Hyland’s teammates for an amazing morning run through Griffith Park.


These past weeks have been so filled with adventure, exploration and family. It has really reinforced and reconfirmed that we made the right decision, to leave stable jobs and a comfortable lifestyle, for life on the road. ” Because in the end, you won’t remember the time you spent working in the office or mowing the lawn. Climb that goddamn mountain” -Jack Kerouac

Boston Baby!

Fifteen years ago, when I was overweight and out of shape, I never would have imagined that I would be 12 weeks away from my second Boston Marathon.  Just to say that, my 2nd Boston Marathon, makes me so proud of how far I have come.  I earned my place at that starting line in Hopkinton on April 16 because of hard work, consistent work, dedication and desire. I had a lot of help along the way; family, friends, coaches and my best training partner and husband, David, who truly believed in me even when I didn’t believe in myself.

I have also had the honor of being a sponsored athlete for the Boston Marathon. Again, to say these words, sponsored athlete, when 15 years ago I couldn’t even run 2 minutes on the treadmill, makes me extremely humbled  for the opportunity. Hyland’s, a major sponsor of the Boston Marathon, invited me to join their team for the second time. Last year  David and I had what we both thought was a once in a lifetime opportunity, but with qualifying a second time, I was invited to join the team again. They provided us and my family with a world class experience, brunches, baseball game, more brunches, VIP treatment to the starting line (a private bus with a bathroom in it), and an amazing after party where we, the runners, were the guests of honor. They are an exceptional company, who believe in the power of healthy living and it was (and will be again) a privilege to represent them in Boston.


So, with 12 weeks to go my mileage will increase, my time will be filled with more running, swimming, crossfit and mobility and my husband, my family, my friends and Hyland’s will be by my side every step of the way.

A wise man once said “You can not do great things without the support of great people surrounding you.”

bridle trails