Glacier Ridge 50

Yesterday was my sweet sixteen….my 16th ultra, that is. I ran the Glacier Ridge Ultra, which is about 45 minutes north of Pittsburgh. I honestly was not excited for this race. I was only doing it because I need to have completed a 50 (or longer) in the last 2 years in order to qualify for Grindstone in October.

I went went to sleep the night before the race pretty sure I was developing a sinus infection. I woke up feeling pretty gross and with a ton of sinus pressure. Wonderful.

The first 20 miles consisted of some of the prettiest single track I’ve ever seen. It was gorgeous and bright, bright green. I felt like I could run forever. I thought about taking more pictures but instead decided to simply enjoy it.

Then mile 21 hit. At that point we had to run on about 8 miles of dirt road, in the blazing sun, with lots of thick muddy patches. It was brutal; I hate roads. The only good part was that I was able to keep up a decent pace. In fact I had to keep slowing myself down. I was afraid I wouldn’t have enough gas in the tank at the end.

At mile 29 we got back on trails and did a pretty crappy loop up to a pipe with a phone book attached. We had to take a page from the phone book and bring it back to the aid station to prove we did this little loop.

From the aid station we got back on those roads and ran the 8 miles back. That really messed with my brain. It all looked so similar and I just couldn’t help but look at my watch all the time. During this time I had a bit of a nosebleed, so that was fun. Thankfully it wasn’t a gusher like it often is.

The final 10 miles were the same as the first 10 miles. They were described as rocky. On the way out I remember thinking that the rocks weren’t bad at all and that it was pretty runnable. It definitely seemed more rocky on the way back. I had several moments when I thought I was lost because many of the ribbons marking the course were gone. I got to the point of getting out my phone and reading the detailed directions. I thought back to the guy I had seen repeatedly during the first 30 miles. He had a course map rolled up and was carrying it throughout the race. I thought that was really odd but at that point wished he was nearby. I came to realize that they only left up ribbons at intersections and turns. Once I realized that I worried a lot less and decided to get moving. And then I slipped on icy-slick mud going down a hill. I landed on some branches, on my thigh. It hurt but at least I had plenty of padding. I got up, appreciated my new abundance of mud and kept going.

I was hiking a lot more in this section than I had hoped and kept telling myself to run. Suddenly the skies opened up and it began to rain. The temperature dropped quite a bit. I started running again and then realized running had become a lot easier with the new coolness. I was able to run most of the last 4 miles, except for the super slippery muddy parts.

The last 1.3 miles were on a path that was part pavement and part crushed stone. I ran all of it as hard as I could, even the up hills. The had a number of signs on this section. Some gave us remaining miles while others were “motivational” (except they weren’t). I swore at the one sign that told me there was 0.75 mile remaining.

I was so happy to finish. I just wanted to be done and get my vegan milkshake back in Pittsburgh. I cleaned up, retrieved my drop bag, nursed my daughter and we headed back.

Oh! While I was on that horrible dirt road the first time I looked into the woods on my right and saw a bleeding hearts bush. I should have grabbed my phone to take a picture but didn’t. I’ve never seen one in the wild. My mom used to buy hanging baskets of bleeding hearts when I was a kid, so I always associate her with it. I think that was her way of saying hi!


I am so done with winter

I really hate this season. I hate the cold, the snow, the ice, the increased electricity bills, the mountains of laundry and not being able to take the kids outside to play every day. Bleh.

This week did bring good news, though. After 3 weeks and an amazing recovery, my nephew was able to come home from the hospital! He has some restrictions to deal with but he is back to a fairly normal life. Thank God!

We’ve been watching the Olympics, working, homeschooling and all the normal things we do. I did do something neat, though. My best friend is getting married and instead of a bachelorette party she wanted to go weaving. I didn’t feel that it was my type of thing but I went anyway. It was a really neat experience. I made little wall hanging that I’m quite proud of. I have an of something else I’d like to make, so hopefully I can get back to that studio soon.

On Saturday I got in a good 25 mile run. The elevation gain was just what I was looking for and it had a lot of rocks . It was pretty fun. I haven’t run that particular route in a couple of years. It’s a tiring one!

The trails were sooooo wet.

Does anyone know what these are? They make me so happy.


This boulder is as tall as my shoulders.

Today’s run was nowhere near as fun. We got about 4 inches of wet, heavy snow. I ran in it early and it sucked. It took me 1:47 to do a 7 mile route that normally takes 1:17-1:20. Going up the mountain took FOREVER. To add insult to injury, there was a section that was WET. I love me some wet and muddy trails but not during a snowy run. That just sucks.

This week is supposed to be warm. Hallelujah!


Busy week

What a busy week! I put in a bunch more hours at work than I usually do, which is great. I work part time from home, mostly when the kids are asleep. It’s a good gig. Folks love when I bring my kids to meetings. At one point the Little Avocado ran out of Cheerios and ran out of the room. One woman ran after her and by the time I got out there the two of them were hopping down the hall, pretending they were frogs

I went to the hospital several times to visit my nephew. He has come off the ECMO machine and the respirator, so things are definitely looking up. I am anxious to go see him tomorrow and to be able to chat with him!

Little Dude turned 7 yesterday. It’s so hard to believe he is that old. As always I let him pick out all the meals. For breakfast he asked me to make this fantastic vegan “chicken” and waffles. It’s absolutely amazing; you really should try it. He doesn’t love the tofu part so he has some Trader Joe’s chickenless tenders. Oh, and he wanted a cup of (decaf) coffee.

For lunch he wanted dino kale rolls (dinosaur kale rolled up with almond butter and jelly), blueberries and carrots.

For dinner we went to my dad’s house and made pizza style mountain pies. They are soooo good.

That brings us to today. It’s Saturday so that means it’s a long run day! Today I did 23 on the Appalachian Trail with Anne, a new friend Lindsay and two of Lindsay’s friends. Anne and the two guys did 15, I did 23 and Lindsay did 30. I squeezed in 3 good climbs and a number of rocks, so it was good training for MMT. There was ice along the creek and some snow on top of the ridge, but otherwise it was dry and clear.

It took a little under 5 1/2 hours. I would have likes to have finished it faster but that was not meant to be today. And that’s totally okay – MMT is not about speed.

On my way out I noticed that someone had created some awesome art using plastic lids on the AT kiosk. Isn’t this cool?

I hope you had a fun week and are getting some fresh air this weekend!

This weekend’s long runs and a sweet boy

On Saturday I met my regular running partner Anne and her husband John and headed off to the start of a 20 mile route on the AT. We picked up our friend Megan at what would be our turnaround and dropped a jug of water in her car. We got to the start which is along a creek. We had a lot of rain earlier this week so the water was quite noisy. It was a beautiful sound.

The trail starts with a nice, long climb. I think it is about a mile and a half long and about 800 feet of gain. It’s not crazy but it’s definitely not a good runnable start. It was quite chilly and we were waiting for the warm up we were promised. Once we got to the top the rest of the route was on the ridge. It was rocky, but for the most part, runnable. Though it was chilly, the sun was out in full force. It was a pretty morning. I didn’t take any pictures but my friend Megan got this one of me at a vista.

John turned around about 6 miles in and Megan left us at the hallway point. After Anne topped off her water we started on the return trip. It was uneventful, which means no one fell. We weren’t in a hurry and just took our time. In the last hour it finally warmed up. I ditched my gloves, Buff, half-zip and sleeves in quick succession. I descended the mountain and met back up with John. It felt good to get that 20 miler under my belt.

I got home and cleaned up and then made an easy, delicious lunch: chickpea outlet with vegan mozzarella, green onions, jalapenos, hemp seeds and Sriracha. I did manage to take a picture of it!

This morning rolled around and I was tired. I didn’t want to run. I got dressed and realized it was raining. I really didn’t want to run. My friend Ethan bailed on the first few miles of the run. I almost got back in bed. But I didn’t.

I started a few minutes late and just didn’t feel very well at first. The power line climb that comes during mile 2 felt very hard and I had to walk a little bit – not much but enough to irritate me. I cut the 5 miles loop short at 4.5 so I could get back to the start and meeting everyone for the 7 mile loop. By then Ethan, Ashleigh, Dom and Jeremy had showed up and the rain started to pick up.

It was colder on the second loop but I felt much better. I “ran” (slogged was more like it) up the power lines and felt great throughout. I was pleased.

After the run I went to church and then to the hospital to visit my nephew. He has been in the hospital since Wednesday due to complications from a heart condition . Things are very serious now but are looking up. You can learn more here.

Long runs

It’s been a while since I’ve done some good long runs. I did manage to log 15 miles on New Years Eve morning and then 10 more on New Years Day but both routes were rather flat and not too terribly rocky.

Yesterday I met up with my friend Jeremy and several other runners about an hour from home for a great point to point run. My family was gracious enough to get up before 6am and drive me all the way down there. They deserve some applause. As a nursing momma, I have to keep the Little Avocado in mind when I decide where and how far I am running. I cant be gone too long. She’s super stubborn and doesn’t want anything that closely resembles my milk. She eats very well but gets angry after a while and only wants me. We are working on spacing out those feedings so I can get some longer runs in.

Back to yesterday….we got in 19 miles with some very good climbs and beautiful stretches of easy running. There waa a good bit of snow so we were a bit slower than usual, but it was fun.

When I got home I showered and tried to get my daughter to nap. She wasn’t having it. I gave up and decided to make something to eat. Everyone else had finished lunch so I thought I could eat in peace. Every mom reading this is laughing at that sentence because they know that doesn’t happen. This girl came over and opened her mouth wide for some food. I shared, of course, but I didnt want too! I was so hungry.

The kids did some Cosmic Kids Yoga (Star Wars, of course). I would have joined but my knees were achy. I’m getting old.

So today was round 2. The full run was 23 miles but I was worried about my knee with the huge jump in mileage. I met the gang for 14 instead. We had everything from snow, to slush, to mud, to ice. My ice trekkers were amazing through it all. I love them and didn’t have any problems.

All in all, I feel great despite raising my miles pretty fast. My body is remembering what this is all about. I even powered up a pretty darned long, steep climb at a decent clip. Now it’s time to eat. The kids are all ready for the Eagles game!