50 Mile Fail

Well, mission incomplete. I’m a little bit devastated, but it wasn’t in the cards for the Colossal Vail 50/50 this weekend.

The weekend started out great. My running buddy and I headed out to Vail, a city about 25 minutes southeast of Tucson, early enough to get our bibs at Fleet Feet.

After that, we got some pre-race carb loading in at the Tamale Company. Their vegan tamales were AMAZING!

We got to the hotel early and hit the hot tub for a few minutes with a glass of wine to settle the nerves.

Saturday morning I woke myself up around 3:30 am with a debiliting leg spasm in my calf. After working through the immediate pain, I rolled the knot for a few minutes until I fell back asleep.

We woke up and got ready, and as I went to grab my hydration bladder from the mini-fridge, I realized it had somehow made its way to the freezer tray. Not only was it frozen solid, by it was also stuck to the freezer tray.  Susana (my running partner and roomie) started pouring water on the bladder, trying to melt it off enough so we could get it out of the fridge. Finally, I was able to free it and we tried to melt it in the shower and sink.

After awhile, we were able to dump the ice from the bladder and refill it with more water. It was time to go.

It was super easy to find our way to the parking area as well as to the starting/staging area. We marked our drop bags and turned them in, and attached our timing chips to our shoes. Then, it was just about time to line up at the start.

The profits from the race go to preserving and maintaining the Arizona Trail, an 800 mile long trail that goes from Utah to Arizona.

We started just after 6:30am, and quickly encountered a very steep hill. After making it up, we got several nice miles of running out of the way, and before long we arrived at the first aid station at 4.9 miles. We moved through this stop quickly, and continued on towards the next aid station at mile 11.

The mile 11 aid station was themed like Harry Potter and all the volunteers were wearing Hogwarts robes. We quickly continued on, encountering some rolling hills, but nothing too rough.

Mile 12 is where we got off track. We slowed down quite a bit, hitting several hills. We were about half a mile off our goal pace, but the difference between our projected plan and reality continued to expand as he hit more and more intense ups.

The next aid station was around mile 17, and required a good two miles of up. Not just up, but UP, UP. I settled into a quick power hike and made it to the aid station. I fueled up waiting for my partner in crime to get there as well. When she reached the aid station, she explained that she had thrown up on the hill and was still feeling a bit queasy.

We headed back towards the 22 mile marker, realizing that we were much more behind schedule than anticipated. We had a very short time frame to make it to the first cutoff, and I started worrying that we might be too far off to make the last cutoff at 5:30pm.

We made it to the first cutoff at mile 29.9 with a bit of time to spare, but it was questionable if we were going to make it to the next cutoff at mile 39.9 in time.

As we started heading out, it quickly became apparent that there was virtually no chance for us to make the 39.9 mile cutoff. Disparingly, we decided to head back toto adds the finish for the “50k” distance which was really just under 35 miles.

Even though I crossed a finish line, it wasn’t for the race distance I trained so hard for. Yes, I’m grateful that I was able to complete 35 miles, but I was so close to my 50 mile goal and failed.

I have been training so hard for so many months, and crossing that finish line short of my goal brought me to tears. I’m still not okay with it.

I have decided to use it as another long training run, and plan to register for the McDowell Mountain Frenzy 50 miler for an attempt at redemption. More to come over the next few weeks, and hopefully I can finish what I started.

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Ragnar Trail AZ

This past weekend was a blur!  I was lucky enough to be able to run Ragnar trail AZ at McDowell Mountain Regional Park near Fountain Hills with several of my close running buddies.

I volunteered to help with set up Thursday night, including setting up the tent and claiming stake to an area for our team.  We signed up to be in the larger campsite lovingly known as “Aravaipa Land”, which includes some additional benefits such as more campsite space per team, communal hang out space, cooking equipment, etc.  25 teams were signed up to be in the roped off area, and teams were expected to send at least one person per team to help with set up.

Ragnar trail is a bit different than most races.  It’s a relay trail race, completed with a team of 8 runners who take turns running different legs of the relay.  In this particular race, each runner goes three times running a red loop (6.7 miles with a large hill), yellow loop (technical loop of about 4.8 miles) and the green loop (an easy, nearly flat 4.1 miles). The race starts on Friday and runners take turns running until all three runners have run all three legs sometime Saturday.

Thursday night was most certainly an adventure.  While waiting to get to the gear drop area, a giant dark cloud rolled in and moments later the rain started.  It took another 10 minutes or so to get to the gear drop.  The volunteer instructed me to leave my stuff on the ground and go park my car.  I explained that I was alone, and it was raining, so they permitted me to move my items to the tents, which we were told were already up and waiting.

I ran my first load of supplies over to the campsite, and quickly discovered that there were no tents up.  One staff member from Aravaipa was busy trying to set up the tents alone and in the rain.  Another camper/runner and I helped set up all the tents, as the rain steadily increased in intensity, and lightening came closer and closer. I ran back to the car, and grabbed the rest of my stuff, and just in time.

The real storm started, as me and my new camping neighbor, Jack, bunkered down in the closest tents.  The first tent I ducked into did not yet have the rain fly up, so it was not any help.  I popped into the next tent, where Jack was waiting out the downpour.  After maybe 20 minutes or so, the rain slowed to a normal rain, we continued to finish setting up the rest of the tents.

Around this time, several of my teammates showed up and we unloaded their gear.  When we were done, we headed over to check our team in and watch the required safety video.  As it started, another team member arrived, and I went to help her unload as well.

The weather seemed to level off for a bit, and we were able to organize the tent and get set up for bed.  That’s when the adventure began.  Gale force winds started, and it felt like we were sleeping inside a parachute someone was violently shaking all night long.  At some point, we fell asleep for an hour or two, and when we woke up, it was still and completely silent.  It was very eerie.

We got up, and evaluated the damage to the campground.  Many tents were blown over, collapsed and flattened and nearly every tent’s stakes had been ripped from the ground. Before long, more and more teams started to arrive and the Ragnar village came to life.

I was runner 2, meaning my first leg was just before 11am.  The weather seemed to be clear, however it was extremely humid out.  My first loop was yellow, the technical loop, and I was already exhausted from lack of sleep the night before.  It was super hot, and the humidity was completely unexpected as we live in the desert, but I was glad to get it out of the way.

After this loop, I realized that I was started to seriously chafe in a very bad area.  I still had 2 runs left, so I went to go purchase some anti-chafing stuff from the 2Toms vendor I had seen earlier.  The table was completely cleared off and shut down, so I went to the Ragnar tent as they have race essentials for sale as well.  Nope, not a thing.  I felt slightly defeated, and all the additional walking was not helping the chafing situation.  Someone mentioned seeing the Squirrel’s Nut Butter display on one of the tents in the Team RWB area, so we went exploring.  I found Tommy, and he said he was out but there was some I could use in the RWB community tent.  After applying, I instantly felt better and within an hour, the soreness was gone and the chafed area was healed.  I instantly became a lifelong fan of Squirrel’s Nut Butter.

My next loop was not until evening, around 8pm.  The green loop is known as the easiest, as it is the shortest and nearly flat (as far as trails go).  I found it boring, and hard to get momentum as it was slightly uphill or flat with no hills.  It felt longer to me than the other 2 loops.

I returned from my run, and wanted to get some sleep in, but as with any Ragnar race, that is a very difficult task.  I tried foam ear plugs, and got about an hour of sleep until the ear plugs fell out.  Then, I moved on to the sticky, swimmer style ear plugs, and got another hour or so of sleep, until those fell out as well.  I gave up at this point, and headed out of the tent to start waking up as there were 2 runners until my final leg.

The last leg was the the best.  The red loop takes you up and along the ridge line of the scenic trail, and I hit it just in time to watch the sun rise.  This trail goes up a large and steady hill for about a mile and a half, then levels off for a bit and has an amazing descent to the Pemberton trail.  The last part was long, and after the sun came up, it heated up quickly.  I was glad to be done early in the morning.

Ragnar is always full of adventures.  People are tired and exhausted.  Emotions run high.  Our team had no arguments, no tension, no grumpiness.  It was a relaxed, and quite enjoyable experience.  Can’t wait to do it again next time!

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Javelina Jangover Recap

So, I have been MIA but that does not mean the training has slowed.  In fact, that’s part of the reason I have not made time to write or recap anything… I have been running non-stop day and night, or at least that’s how it feels.

Rewinding back to Mid-September, I officially became an ultramarathoner at the Javelina Jangover, which was originally started as a training run for the notorious Javelina Jundred.

As with many of the summer time Aravaipa trail runs, we ran at night.  We started just after dark, and planned to run 2 complete loops on the Pemberton trail at McDowell Mountain Regional Park.  After a few miles, my running partner started to experience extreme cramping in her legs.  She pushed through, painful mile after painful mile.

About 8.5 miles in, we hit the first aid station.  As per usual, the aid station was extremely well stocked and the volunteers were not only nice, but extremely helpful and positive.  My running partner downed some salt tablets, and we headed out to finish the first loop.

We saw a countless number of tarantulas, a coral snake slithered across the trail only inches from my foot, and just as we closed in on the halfway point, a rattlesnake surprised me.  Thankfully, he gave a nice, loud rattle so I was able to see him there and wait for him to abandon the striking pose, and move on with his night.  We gladly trucked on towards the main aid station.

When we arrived at the main aid station, my running partner made the decision to throw in the towel as the cramps were not only continuing, but getting worse. I decided to keep on and finish one more of the 15.3 mile loops.  2 girls we had been running with off and on had made the decision to stick with me for the last loop, as it was dark and there were a large variety of desert creatures lurking about.

Gratefully, we headed off towards the aid station 8.5 miles from the finish.  I have never been more thankful to run with other people.  It was extremely late, I was overly tired and my hips and feet were starting to get sore.  One of the girls, was so positive and happy, and she was able to keep our spirits up as we marched forward (and it really was more of a march than a run, that’s for sure!).

We stopped at the aid station, revived ourselves and prepared for the final section of our adventure.  While at the aid station, we saw a giant, 4 inch scorpion walked across the path.  The volunteers told us they had seen several throughout the night.  With this knowledge, we pressed on.

I am typically a middle of the packer, but this night we were certainly in the pack of the pack.  We knew there were other runners that had left the aid station after us, but we felt very alone.  Occassionally, one of the 75k runners would pass us (the laps were completed washing machine style).

As we hit about 3 miles left, we saw people running towards us.  It was too late for 75k runners to be starting their last loop, and after a minute the runners reached us.  They explained that they were sweeping the course, and had already removed all their course markers for the rest of the course.  They had us stop, and wait as they attempted to call in and ask what to do.  After about 15 minutes, we decided to take the risk and just try to find our way back.  We were exhausted, and getting sore as we stood their waiting.

Luckily, Pemberton is a very easy trail to follow and we made it back before too long.  We crossed the finish line, and excitedly discovered that Freak Brothers Pizza had waited to make us fresh, warm pizza upon finish.  We sat down, ate our pizza, and hung out to watch the sunrise.  I officially was an ultramarathoner, with 32 miles under my running belt!

I am so grateful to have had this experience, as I learned the importance of staying positive and making sure to stay out of my own head during the hard times.  I am excited and nervous for my 52 miler, which is just around the corner now.  I will catch on with another race recap, and then we should be current.

Thanks for hanging in there!

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Vegan Brownies…AMAZING!

It’s been a terrible week at work. I’ve been craving a comfort sweet all week and since its potluck week at work, decided to make some vegan brownies. 

Not only were these the easiest brownies I’ve ever made, they are also cruelty free! No animals were harmed in this recipe. 

I took a traditional recipe and veganized it, and it was delicious! 


  • 2 cups flour
  • 2 cups sugar (vegan)
  • 3/4 cup baking cocoa 
  • 1 cup oil
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 cup of vegan semi-sweet chocolate chips


  • Heat oven to 350 degrees
  • Mix all the dry ingredients in a large bowl
  • Mix the liquid ingredients separately and mix into the dry ingredients
  • Pour into medium sized baking dish 
  • Sprinkle chocolate chips evenly on the top of the brownie mixture. 
  • Bake for 25-30 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out almost clean 

I let the brownies sit for 15 minutes or so, before cutting. They turned out awesome!

I think I will try reducing the amount of oil and adding in applesauce in the future. 

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Changing My Life

If I want my life to change, I will need to change what I am doing.  This is not rocket science.  Life is short, and I want to spend my time exploring the world and all it has to offer.  I do not want to spend my life working tirelessly, waiting for the day I can start to live.  So, what am I going to change?

I have absolutely no idea.

When I was young I wanted to be two things, a professional writer that was able to travel the world, reporting on things of my choice and to be a photographer for National Geographic Magazine, traveling the world to capture images that will move people from inside the yellow magazine covers.

What am I doing now? Something that is very fulfilling and makes a difference, but it is not supporting my dreams of traveling the world and sharing the magic I find with the rest of the world.

So, here I am, Sunday evening, getting ready to prep my meals for the week.  About to wash my laundry for another Monday through Friday routine.  Hiding from my dreams.  Today, I took the first step in the direction I want to go.  I submitted a story to an eBook collection, that will include myself and a handful of other runners.  I am also committing to daily writing for my first official book.

Thinking back through the years, I am remembering when I was a sophomore in high school.  I spent my time in class writing a novel in spiral bound notebooks, which several of my classmates took turns reading.  I thought I would be a published author by now.  I thought I would be able to travel the country and world, sharing my books with others.  So, maybe that is what I should be doing.

I am giving myself 1 full year from today to complete a manuscript, and to have it accepted for publication somewhere.  I am committing to spend at least 30 minutes each day writing as well, for better or worse. Right now, I am entering the deadline date in my phone for 8/21/17.

Wish me luck!

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How to Change My Life

This is the question I continue to find myself asking. How can I change my life so I can live my passion each moment of the day?  What can I do to create financial freedom and the time to explore the world?  How can I stop feeling trapped in the day to day routine of life?

I listen to podcasts where people talk about how they made their dreams come true. I follow tremendous athletes or other talents, and see how they impact the world. I always feel like I’m on the verge of discovering what my purpose is, but it always seems to fade away. 

I’ve wanted to be so many things as I’ve grown up, I don’t think I focused my intentions. Now, I have a M.Ed in curriculum and instruction in Applied Behavior Analysis, which does nothing for me. I’m not sure what to do, or where to go, but I can feel I’m meant to do something amazing. I hope I someday figure out just what that is. 

Back to reading, “The Power of Now” by Eckhart Tolle. 

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Is it hard to be vegan?

This is a question I am asked often. Today, I gave this some extra thought, as I talk to a coworker about what it takes to become vegan.

In all honesty, giving up animal products has been one of the easiest things I have ever done. All my life I was aware of how animals or mistreated, but I turned a blind eye to just how bad it really is.

While I went vegan for health reasons, I stay vegan for the animals and for the environment. It hurts my heart to think of all the suffering I contributed to with all my years of meat eating.

A few years ago, I visited a local dairy farm. One of the fellow visitors pointed to some very small hits off in the back of the barnyard. There were maybe 10 rows of these small black huts. The woman asked, “What are those small huts for? Is that where you keep the baby calves for veal?”  The tour guide laughed awkwardly, and explained how the calves were kept in the huts to prevent them from being trampled by the adult cows.

I still think about this tour through the dairy yard to this day. I believed the tour guide’s explanation, at face value, for several years. Only after giving up animal products, was I able to understand how illogical his response was. Adult cows do not trample calves, and there is no reason to separate the baby cows from the mothers, but to take the milk for human consumption while the calves are denied their natural source of food.

These calves were kept in such small huts, that there was no room to turn around. For what other reason would these calves be restricted from movement, other than because they were soon to be sold for veal?

Now, when I see an animal cruelty video, I no longer block the images out. I accept what I see as reality, and understand that by consuming animal products, I am saying I am okay with the cruelty that takes place in factory farms. When I say no to consuming animal and animal products, I am taking a stand for the lives of animals who are unable to do so for themselves.

So, no. It is not hard for me to be compassionate. No, it is not hard for me to eat fruits, veggies and grains instead of flesh. No, it is not hard to not participate in the horrific animal abuses taking place all over the country and world. And, no, it is not hard to be vegan.

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It’s Been Awhile

Let’s be honest.  It is insanely hard to implement a perfect training plan, eat right, and keep up with regular blog posts. And in reality, I have not been keeping up with any of this things very well in recent weeks. 

It may have been a combination of factors, but I think I stretched myself so thin that I was unable to give 100% to any one specific area. For example, I was taking two full course loads at ASU to finish my M.Ed, as well as training in the Arizona summer for a 50 miler, while working full time and experiencing severe levels of stress at work. It was too much. 

I’ve been struggling to motivate myself as well as get back on track, and it’s been hard. But, this past week I somehow managed to get every scheduled mile in…all 56!  And, that including 18 miles on a treadmill in one day. 

I’m recommitting myself to my training plan, and of course this blog, in order to stay accountable. So, here we go into another wonderful week!  

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Some Weeks are Hard

This week was a struggle for me.  Work has been stressful, I’m taking my last courses for my Master’s program and ultra training in the summer…in Arizona, may have been a less than smart decision.

This week was rough.  I skipped my Monday workout and my Tuesday run.  I slept through my alarm on Wednesday, and nearly missed another run.  Somehow, I managed to salvage the week and ended up only a few miles below my goal for the week, with a grand total of 41 running miles.

I am at a point where ANY workout other than running sounds more appealing.  I am hoping this was due to my large amount of stress and lack of decent sleep, but I am thinking the 110 degree heat is not helping much.

Falling out of routine is so incredibly easy.  Even though I have been staying completely on track for many, many months, one day off track nearly ruined my whole week.  Literally, I began to talk myself out of running each day.  I had to say to myself, “Self!  You need to go run.”  I forced myself into my running garb, forced myself to drive to the gym, and then sat in the parking lot for another 10 minute before I was able to force myself through the door and onto the treadmill.  While this process was ridiculously hard, I instantly felt better after starting to run and was able to stay on track for the rest of the week.

Here’s to a new week!  Share some ways to keep motivated when you feel like stopping!

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Boxing Rocks my Socks

I’ve been looking for new ways to be active, while keeping it fresh and exciting. I’ve decided that I am going to try out a different exercise groupon each month, to help keep me on my toes.

This month, I signed up for unlimited classes at a local boxing gym. I’ve always wanted to try it, So what better time than with a discounted, no commitment, groupon?

I’m absolutely, positively in love with boxing!  I mean it!  Who would have thought that punching and kicking a bag could provide so much stress relief while toning the core and upper body, all at the same time.

This particular boxing gym is quite far from me, so after the month groupon is up, I plan to invest in a bag for home. This sounds like a family activity that everyone can enjoy!

Next month’s groupon has already been purchased, and let’s just say, I’m super hot for hot yoga!  Can’t wait to get started, but still throughly enjoying punch, punch, punching things!

What’s your favorite way to work out and have fun?

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