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Wednesday, December 30, 2015

My 2015 Year In Review!

As 2015 comes to a close, I like most people tend to look at the past year and reflect on both the good and the bad and make all sorts of resolutions on how I can make the next year better.

If you know me or follow this blog, you know that 2015 brought both the best and the worst for me. I am grateful for both as learning experiences, but would prefer not to feel as sad this year and really focus on what I can do to be happy, be a good friend, listen more, and help and inspire others. So in this look back at 2015, I will remember how hard I worked to reach my goals and how blessed I was to have such AMAZING people like all of you to push and inspire me to achieve every one of them.

Here are my highlights of 2015:

January started out with a bang! Not only did I love pacing at the Louisiana marathon, we had our first ever DOUBLE Marathon Maniac/Half Fanatic reunion at the Mississippi Blues and First Light marathons, where I ran my first sub 4:00 marathon! 

2015 Goal #1: Run A Sub 4:00 Marathon- CHECK

January prepared me for February and I ran my very first 50 mile trail race at the Rocky Raccoon 50!

2015 Goal #2: Run a 50 Mile Race- CHECK

March brought two rainy marathons, The Land Between The Lakes and the Georgia Marathon, where I got to do my second Maniac pacing gig of the year!

April brought an anniversary for me. On April 18th 2009, I ran my first marathon at the Salt Lake City Marathon. On April 18th, 2015, I was back pacing the 4:30 group!

May was life changing. On May 16th, in the freezing and pouring rain, I ran my very first Boston qualifier with a time of 3:44:08, just shy of 11 minutes under my qualifying time!

2015 Goal #3: Boston Qualify- CHECK

June brought me another Boston Qualifier and a first time podium worthy finish at the Utah Valley Marathon.

July was all about getting ready for another big goal (running a 100 miler), so I picked up 2 very hard races at Capitol Reef (the 50 miler that turned into a 50k) and The Full mOOn 50k.

August 24th, my name was added to the SRI/USRSA list after I completed another goal of running at least one mile everyday for 365 days. As of today, December 30th, my streak is at 493 days!

2015 Goal #4: Run Every Day For One Year- CHECK

Again, September was all about getting ready for the big double goal, but I did manage to grab another Boston Qualifier at the Big Cottonwood Marathon!

October was the biggest month of my life when it came to my running! In October, I ran my first 100 miler at the Arkansas Traveller 100 to complete 100 marathons/ultras!

One week later, we also had our first ever Maniac/Fanatic international reunion at the GoodLife Fitness Victoria Marathon in Victoria, BC where I was also pacing with my good friend Patti Krebsbach!

The last week in October, I ran my 5th Marine Corps Marathon, adding my name to the Runner's Club! No more lottery for me!

2015 Goal #5: Run A 100 Mile Race- CHECK

2015 Goal #6: Complete My 100 Marathon/Ultra Goal- CHECK

In November, a last minute decision to head back to the Williams Route 66 Marathon paid off in fun with over 2,000 Maniacs/Fanatics!

My last race for December was the  4th Annual Yeti Spaghetti Trail Marathon, put on by Jason green and the Yeti Trail Runners. It was great way to end the year!

My last goal of the year was to run 2,015 miles in 2015. As of today, I have run 2272.6 miles!

2015 Goal #7: Run 2,015 Miles In 2015- CHECK

I want to thank everyone that has supported me this year. I know it hasn't always been easy. I can't tell you how much I have appreciated every message, email, kind comment or call. You all kept me moving forward this year. THANK YOU!

I want to give a special THANK YOU to my twin, Angel who always is there for me and kicks me in the butt when I get down and to Rob Benson. Rob is not a runner, but he sat for months, eyes glazed over as my life revolved around running. He did his best to support me on this crazy journey. Even though it was not enough for him, I am blessed that he still supports me as my friend. I love you both.

It is my wish that we all have a great 2016 full of love, happiness, extra cash, PR's and BQ's! Happy New Year my friends!

Monday, December 28, 2015

The 4th Annual Yeti Spaghetti Trail Marathon!

When I found out that I would be in Atlanta for Christmas, the first thing I did was to look up what day the Yeti Spaghetti Trail Marathon was taking place. I found this "fat ass" run last year when I came for Christmas and knew I had to come back! My sister didn't want to get up early to drive me out to Douglasville, so I went out to the airport Saturday night and rented a car for the day just to make sure I could get there.

The Yeti Spaghetti is free, but all runners are asked to bring a few bottles of good craft beer and something for the aid station, so there was LOTS of great food and drinks out there!

This race is for everyone. The course is multiple loops of a little over 6 miles, but with all the rain and flooding the area experienced the last week, Race Director, Jason Green mapped out an alternate course consisting of loops a little over 4 miles. This is called a trail marathon, but runners can run as many loops as they want and let's be honest, the more loops you do, the harder it is for most folks to pass up the beer, food and fellowship. So very few people make it past "temptation station" for the full marathon.

The beer cooler was overflowing before the race.

The food table filled up fast too!

I made my way out to Douglasville (about 45 minutes from my sister's house) and got to the run just in time for the 8:00 AM start. I had just enough time to drop my offerings off at the food and beer tables before the race was started with the words "Get the f#ck out of here!" and we were off.

Getting ready to start!

The first 1/4 mile started on the road before we hit the trail-head. Some of these trails were created by Jason Green and the Yeti Trail Runners, so they are not easy, groomed trails. There are so many leaves on the ground now, it was hard to tell what was underneath. The mud did not make them any easier.

We may or may not have ignored this sign. Nobody got shot so it was all good!

The thick mud made the course slippery.

The mud on the course was thick. I wore my gaiters, not really for the rocks, but more to keep my shoes on my feet in the mud and water crossings. Yep, even though the course changed, we still had a few creek crossings. If you do the Yeti Spaghetti, your feet will get wet!

Sweetwater Creek was much higher than last year!

Our first creek crossing!

Our second creek crossing.

Can you see the trail?

This area is so beautiful!

These trails were like a box of Cracker Jack. What surprises live underneath these leaves? Rocks? Roots? Mud? You will find out soon enough!

Yeah, I am sure we will be crossing this guy soon.

Yep. It was so hot and humid out the creek crossings felt really good and helped clean the caked up mud off our shoes.

I could not help but take in this beautiful scenery from the middle of the creek!

Heading down the trail. (Photo by Samantha Smith)

This climb got a little harder after every loop! Thank goodness it was not muddy. I don't think we would have gotten up it!

After the first loop, the party was already going! 

On the third loop, I tripped and fell flat on my face and lost my sunglasses! I was covered in mud, but not hurt. After a few more trips, I made it through the third loop with my new friends Paul and Holly. 

My new trail buddy Paul and I coming in after three loops!

The more loops we ran the muddier the trails seemed to get, so when we finished, I was pretty much covered in mud. Before hitting the party, I went back to my rental car and pulled out my Orange Mud Transition and Seat Wrap I got at the Route 66 marathon and changed into some dry clothes. That thing is great!

It's just a little mud!

I easily ate and drank my way through every calorie I burned on the trail! People were very generous in bringing some good stuff!

Who's that Yeti?

Fellow punk rocker and Race Director, Jason Green and I. He does such a great job!

I had to take a pic of this sweet doggie! Her name is Gracie and she walked right up to me and just started snuggling me! I wanted to just scoop her up and take her home!

Thank you Jason Green for giving me the greatest running shirt EVER!!!!  (If you are a Smiths fan, you will get it.)

If you are ever in the Atlanta area over Christmas, you owe it to yourself to check this race out. I have had the best time both years I have run. If you are in the area at other times, check out The Yeti Trail Runners and all of the other cool races Jason puts on. They look like a total blast!

Thanks Yeti Trail Runners for another FANTASTIC year!

Wednesday, December 2, 2015

Oh Boy! Winter Training Just Got Good!

So, I decided to drop another race I had on this year's schedule. Run For The Ranch will have to wait until next year. Luckily I am not out any cash on this one (love Southwest Airlines), but I am disappointed. So instead of getting down, I just signed up for the Rocky Raccoon 100 on February 7th-8th! I can't think of anything more motivating to keep the winter training on par.

You may recall, I ran the Rocky Raccoon 50 Miler earlier this year and LOVED it. With my first 100 mile having a bittersweet ending, I want to go into this race with a mission to have a great and miserable time!

I will be looking for a crew! If you are interested in helping out. Please contact me! 

See y'all in Texas!

Sunday, November 29, 2015

The Thankful 13 Half Marathon!

For the 4th year in a row, Thanksgiving morning has started with the Thankful 13 half marathon. There are so many "Turkey Trots" in the area on Thanksgiving, but most of them are 5k's and I like the idea of not only getting a long run in, but going into Thanksgiving dinner with a calorie deficit.

This race is held in Lehi, Utah, which is about 15 minutes from my apartment in Draper. With the race starting at 8:00 AM, I did not have to wake up super early to get there on time.

Ready to freeze my giblets off!

I got to the start line and it was 23 degrees, so I didn't do  much socializing, instead I stayed in my car with the heat on until 5 minutes before the gun went off.

So happy to see Franz at the start!

My plan was to take it as a recovery run. After running the very hilly Route 66 Marathon 4 days earlier, my hamstrings were still kind of tight and the cold weather just made them tighter.

The Thankful 13 course starts at a place rightly called Thanksgiving Point and runs along part of the Jordan River Parkway and through the neighborhoods. The course has some nice rolling hills which makes it not the easiest half in the area, but nice none the less.

I felt pretty good the whole race. I wasn't going hard, but felt like I was doing a good enough pace to keep me warm and still come in under 2:00. At around mile 7 I caught up to the 1:55 pacers and just hung out with them.

At around mile 13, I felt this pop in my hamstring and had to slow up. Thankfully, I was still able to run, but when I tried to speed up, it would hurt so I didn't push it and finished in 1;52:04, which was still a course PR for me. Not too bad for just running a marathon and not going all out.

At the finish!

I saw Blaine and Adrian at the finish!

Maniacs John, Jamie and I at the finish.

John was volunteering! It was great to get my medal from a friend!

The Thankful 13 medal is beautiful!

After the race ha had a cup of hot chocolate and some of the yummy pumpkin cake, then I hit the road back home to spend Thanksgiving with friends.

If you want a fun and challenging "Turkey Trot", this is the one for you!