The Blonde Runs

Colorado lovin'


…after the 50k

In my first moments of finishing the 50k, I swore them off. Not for me. Not my cup of tea. I’m not meant to run this far. No way. No how. What was I thinking? Who does this thing anyway? I’ll take anything shorter. I’m probably meant for shorter.

But in these past few weeks, and even as early as a day or two after the race, my tune changed. I chalk it up to forgetting all the pain. But, I started shopping for 50k’s… Am I hooked? Maybe. Could be too soon to tell. But what I am hooked on are trails!

I have loved getting away from pounding the pavement and instead making new discoveries on our beautiful Colorado trails. I’ll admit, it’s certainly easier to find a frequently used bike path or take to the neighborhood sidewalks and streets, but as much as I can, I’ll spend time in the hills. Thankfully, the summer months will afford me the time to continue my exploration and truly be a part of nature.

Don’t get me wrong. I love a good road race! I have several on the race schedule in the next few months, even:

Lucky Mile – 5.23.13
Bolder Boulder 10k – 5.27.13
Napa to Sonoma Half Marathon – 7.21.13

And of course, I’m shopping for more trail races in the summer and fall that I can jump into, either here in Colorado or in Minnesota for Nick’s and my trip back at the end of June.

As for that 50k I was shopping for…I’m still looking. And I’m open to locations. I don’t think it will happen this calendar year, but we’ll see where I stand at the beginning of 2014 and where the rest of this year takes me.



…Greenland Trail 50k Race Report

The moment you’ve all been waiting for…

3am-We were up early on Saturday in order to make it to the 7am start area on time. I didn’t want to be there too early, as I wasn’t planning a warm-up. But I needed to get my race packet and didn’t want to feel rushed with any final preparations. The boy and I ate a quick breakfast, packed up the truck and Chase (it would end up being a very long day with a grad party later that night), and made sure all of my race gear was prepped. I was definitely feeling nervous. And I was definitely still coughing and stuffed up.

4am-We left our house (north Fort Collins) to make the two hour drive to Larkspur and Greenland Trail Open Space, which is south of Denver by about 45 minutes. I tried to sleep, or at least rest my eyes, on the drive. We made a couple of stops along the way and still made it to the race start a little before 6am, thanks to the early hours and no traffic.

6am-Arrived to a cool mid-30’s race area. I was able to quickly pick up my bib, t-shirt, and race packet; not just because I was there earlier than expected but because it was a smaller race that was well-organized. I’m tending to like these types of races that aren’t driven by pomp and circumstance, but instead by the pure love of running. I’m not saying I don’t have a love for the big races (Hello, Boston!!) but I feel a little more comfortable in these locally organized, mom-and-pop type races. I took the next hour to finalize my gear and get my fuel bag ready for the boy to have at each loop.

I found it a bit ironic that I was bib #1. I know it’s sometimes based on last name, and most assuredly in this case. However, the irony comes when I recalled that I was also bib #1 in the marathon where I said I wanted to run a 50k. And now at that 50k, bib #1…


The Race
7am-The start of the 50k! The cooler temps at the start was refreshing, as I know this race is “iffy” when it comes to the weather. I knew it would only get up to the low 50’s at most, throughout the race. I donned my Oiselle arm warmers which would not only be great for the temps, but would also serve me well throughout the race for things entirely different than warmth.


The course would be 4 lollipops in the open space. Each would be roughly 7.8 miles, with a final .25 (or so) to the finish. At each turn-around point, the spectators gathered. I knew the boy and Chase would be there for me to support my fueling or whatever I needed. I was actually happy to have a course that I would be able to see him a little more often. I would certainly give me something to look forward to during each lap. Especially when the going got tough.


Lap 1-7.8 miles
I started the race at a mostly conservative 9:30 pace. I was feeling really good, despite the constant snot rockets and spitting. The arm warmers were perfect for quick wipe-ups of the nose. 😉 I felt badly for those around me who probably thought I had a real problem. I guess I kind of did. I think it was just more annoying than anything.

The miles were ticking off quickly as the pack of runners was tight and I was listening to their chatting and banter. I decided to run sans-music and just enjoy the race. It was a good plan. I like being available to chat with people and make short-term friends. It’s a good support and I find I learn a lot from them. I met a man named Pete who hadn’t raced since the early 80’s. He had been focusing on mountain bike races. Nice come-back with a 50k…

There was a well-stocked aid station at mile 3.5, but I kept going, as I had what I needed for now in my fuel pack. There were some loooong gradual hills throughout the course, and after this aid station was the 2nd one. I trudged up the hill, running as much as possible (though slowing down on the uphill) for as long as I could. Some short rolling up and downs along the saddle and then another loooong gradual uphill before the final downhill mile into the turn-around point. I fueled as normal with a few Clif Blocks at the hour mark. I completed the first loop in about 1:14. Definitely faster than I had predicted, but I was feeling SO good! Would this contribute to my demise? I kissed the boy, petted Chase, and continued on my way for lap 2.


Lap 2-15.6 miles
Knowing what to expect, my plan was to keep my pace as best I could and continue fueling as normal. The course was pretty busy at this point, now that the 25k runners AND the 8 milers were also on the same loop. I enjoyed seeing so many people and having the 25kers passing me! I knew my friend, Libby, was running the 8 miler and hoped to see her out on the course.

I was still feeling great. My running nose was constant and still annoying, but I was taking care of it as best I could. I continued to ease up on the gradual ascents, and kept my eyes up to propel me to the tops of each. The miles were still flying by. I couldn’t believe how quickly, actually. I fueled again with some Sport Beans at one of the hilltops and kept a steady pace on the downhill and back into the turn-around.


I was at about 2:22 when I finished the 2nd lap, so I stopped and chatted with the boy for a few minutes, taking in some salty potato wedges I had prepared early this morning. It seemed to be just what I needed. I was still running faster than I wanted, but was still happy that I felt so good.

Lap 3-23.4 miles
I knew this would be the hardest lap. Just like the 3rd lap in the mile (thanks, Erika!). At the aid station, I made a quick pit-stop (now that there was no line) and grabbed a few potato chips. Not long after (around mile 19), on that loooong gradual uphill, I started to feel the beginning signs of upset stomach. Just the smallest niggle in my tummy. But I wanted to take care of it right away. I took out some crystallized ginger that I had in my pack and started to suck on it as I continued to run. An ultrarunner friend of mine suggested this about a month or so ago when I asked for advice about the sometimes-quesy-long-run-stomach-I-get-at-the-most-random-times-and-I-can’t-pinpoint-why issue that I have. Honestly, it worked! Or at least postponed the inevitable. I rallied. I power-walked the hills, hoping that slowing down would settle my stomach. And then I fueled again with more Sport Beans/Clif Blocks. But as I started that descent into the final turn-around, my stomach was not feeling 100% and I was nervous for what it meant.

Pete caught up with me in those final few yards into the turn-around and our chatting got my mind off of my stomach. I was also distracted by my supporters who came out to the course to see me complete my first ultra. Two of my co-workers, a couple friend of the boy and I (and their daughter), and Libby (who ran the 8 miler) stayed around the cheer me as well. Of course, I had to stop and give hugs to everyone for coming out! I stopped to chat with the boy, to tell him how I was feeling, to tell him how I was off my pace now.



Lap 4-31.06 miles
I was nervous starting this lap. I knew it would be my slowest, based on how my stomach was feeling. The next few miles out to the aid station were slow. Occasionally, someone would pass me, or miraculously, I’d pass them. I remembered to take a photo of the course on this lap.


It was starting to warm up (upper 40’s/low 50’s-BEATING sun) and I thought it best to ditch the arm warmers, despite that constant flowing nose. I didn’t want to risk over heating (Hello, Hot Boston!) and I had a fleeting thought that maybe I was already too warm, which may have been contributing to the upset stomach. I took them off at the aid station, had a volunteer shove them into my pack, and continued on my way. But when I started to power walk that hill, I felt lightheaded and the queasy stomach was persistent. I tried another piece of ginger. But, I knew what I really had to do in order to finish those final 5 miles. I had to “fertilize the bushes.” I got off the trail, turned away, put my finger down my throat, and took care of business. Luckily, the runners were so far apart that only a few passed me at this point.

I text the boy to let him know what happened and hoped he would get what I was implying-that I wouldn’t be at the finish any time soon. When I was ready to start again, I realized I was at 26.5 miles. Hmmm…was this my bodies humorous way of telling me it didn’t want to do more than the marathon distance? I actually felt much better after that little episode, but it was really hard to get back into a decent pace that late in the game. I still kept a slow running pace and was actually back in the 9:30 range in the last mile or two.

When I passed the turn-around point to continue on the trail into the finish, I started to tear up. I was so happy to have completed the race, even if it didn’t end exactly how it seemed to be going initially. My whole goal was to finish anyway, and I met that goal. But I was also disappointed that I had tummy issues. I have so many thoughts around this (again) that will be addressed later. I really think that running heightens my emotions, and I also think I’ve cried in almost every race I’ve run. They are mostly happy tears! I teared up even more when I saw the boy, he joined me on the trail, and ran with me for a few strides before jumping off the trail so I could enter the finish chute solo. He teased me, “Are you crying?!” Yes!


Total Time: 5:30:44


This race might not have been pretty, it might not have been perfect, but it was a PR! I am so happy to have completed a new distance. Once again, I learned so much about myself from this race. I learned so much about the distance too. At the time, I had no desire to run another 50k. I think I needed to forget about the race, the pain, the puke. Today, a different story. I’m on board for another 50k! But probably not this year… 😉



…thoughts before the 50k

I’m running my first 50k tomorrow! What began as an off-hand comment in a post-marathon state of delirium a year and a half ago, is finally coming to fruition. I’m a mix of emotions. Most recently, EXCITEMENT!

The Training: When I look back on my training, I know that I did what I could with the time that I had. Sure, I wish I could have put in more miles each week. Heck, I have put in more miles per week in marathon training! Sure, I wish I had done more back-to-back long runs on the weekends. Sure, I wish the spring snow hadn’t been so relentless so I could have been running on the trails more. But as a commuter, and someone who works over an hour from where she lives, I could only do so much. I put in a lot of miles on the trails when I could. And these were typically technical mountain biking trails. More difficult than what the real course will be. I hope that will help once I hit the trail tomorrow!

The Taper: The past 3 weeks have been pretty minimal with running. I certainly didn’t follow a typical taper with cutting back a certain percentage each week, as I have in the past. I’m sure my body was really telling me what to do, as opposed to my schedule. It’s been an untimely sickness for me in the past two weeks. A bad cold has had me out for the count off and on. And I’ve mainly been conflicted with what to do about the race. But after 5 months of training and a year and a half of dreaming, there is no way I’m NOT going to run on Saturday.

The Goal: My only goal is to finish. It’s truly been the goal all along. A new distance will afford me a PR anyway! 😉 I’d also like to finish healthy. I randomly struggle with nausea and fueling on long runs/races. I can’t pinpoint why or when or how. So, I’d like to be smart and try to fuel properly and finish feeling good!

Thank you to all who have read about my training and have encouraged and supported me. The running community always make my heart smile. ❤



…week 2: Greenland Trail 50k Training

Oops. I’m already behind. This is what happens when you work full time, are in the midst of training, and are also attempting a somewhat social/normal life. The blogosphere becomes part of the backgroundsophere.

Here are the week 2 updates from 50k training:

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Week 2 Total: 45.74 miles

Monday: 5.66 miles
I had MLKJr. day off from work (thanks, Government!), so I spent the majority of the day painting the inside of the house. I was partially waiting for it to warm up a bit. Once mid afternoon hit, I took Chase for a 50 minute jaunt around the neighborhood. I was feeling pretty sluggish from the weekend, but we made it just fine.

Tuesday: off

Wednesday: 6.85 miles
3x600m hill repeats were on the schedule, so I joined Erika at a local trail with some decent hills. She had 8x400m repeats to complete, so I just added a little more of a cool down while I waited a few extra minutes for her to complete her workout. Perfect! 2:40, 2:42, 2:46

Thursday: 9.15 miles
I was shocked at my 8:11 pace for this run! The winds were at a ridiculous 24mph and with my workout the day before, I thought this run would have been much slower. I would have been okay with that! But low and behold, my legs felt great, so I went with it.

Friday: 5 miles
I slowed it down a lot for this one. I knew my legs were probably more tired than I realized after the previous two days and I wanted to save something for the next day’s long run.

Saturday: 12 miles
This run was completed at Lory State Park in Fort Collins. I hadn’t been to this area before, but had read many great things about trail running in the area. The open space extends to the west behind Horsetooth Reservoir. It ended up the being a beautiful “mostly cloudy” morning. The trail was primarily muddy, which caused a lot of slipping, but coupled with the rolling hills and I was in for a great workout.


Sunday: 7.08 miles
Stuck around the neighborhood so I could bring Chase. Pretty uneventful. We both felt pretty good!

I’m always happy to run with friends. Especially for those tough workouts! Erika is so supportive and encouraging in all of my running endeavors that any workout with her is a good one. I was also happy to run in a new location! Lory State Park is a must-do. I have plenty of long runs ahead of me, so I’ll be back!



…week 1: Greenland Trail 50k Training

The week before training began, I was fortunate to be able to meet up with some of my fellow Oiselle teammates. Some from Colorado, some from out of state. And we all seemed to come from different running backgrounds with different running interests. Steeplechasers, distance runners, and everything in between. I think that’s the beauty of running. Each can find their niche in the extensive realm of running. No one distance/event is better than the other. We all just have this unspoken understanding of the beauty of running. The time on our legs together was refreshing and rejuvenating. It rekindled my passion for running and was a timely reminder of why I love what I do.

Sarah (MT), Amanda (CO), Meggie (NY), Yours Truly (CO), Jess (CO)


In my somewhat extensive research of a 50k training plan, it seemed the same program kept coming up. After much debate and comparison of my previous marathon training plans, I decided to go ahead and use it as an initial guideline, with the flexibility of tweaking it along the way.

This program is different from any other I’ve followed, as it is based on “minutes” vs. “miles.” This will take some mind re-training! In general, the first few weeks look very similar to my past marathon training plans. There is a minute range that I will increase upon gradually. While I won’t follow each workout on the exact day, I will get in each of the runs required for the week.

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Week 1 Total: 41 miles

Monday: 5.22 miles
It’s been cold here in Colorado. A brief deep freeze before we return to our traditional 40’s and 50’s. Erika and I ran a well known trail in 12 degree weather. There just weren’t enough layers!

Tuesday: 5.2 miles
This was supposed to be a hilly run and I’d say the .8 and .7 mile hills on this route were satisfactory. I’ve run this path many times and the hills are long and gradual. The downhill is fast and faster!

Wednesday: 8.5 miles
Finally in the 50’s! This mid-week long(ish) run felt “easy.” Seeing the CU track team on the trail wasn’t so bad either. Made me feel old, though.

Thursday: off

Friday: 5 miles
A quick out and back in VERY windy conditions. This trail by my work is notorious for being windy. It feels like a wind tunnel. Almost as though it has its own weather system! Post run, I joined my staff for a Holiday Happy Hour.

Saturday: 10 miles
I’ve been running 12 mile long runs in my base training, so it was nice to have a little bit of a cut back before the mileage increases over the next 15 weeks. Erika and I ran Coyote Ridge, south of Fort Collins. This is a hilly, rocky trail, but great practice that will only make us stronger!


Sunday: 7.08 miles
The boy and I have just started remodeling the interior of his house. Yesterday and today was primarily spent with paint roller in hand. He was working on taking off the old oak trim, around the floorboards and doors, and replacing them with new white trim.


My run took place after a 2nd coat of paint in the great room. By the time I left, it was warm enough for shorts. Chase was anxious to get out of the house, as he had been secluded to only one room of the house.

Knowing I was SO close to a round number of 41 miles even, I made sure I got the .08 that I needed to make it happen. I’m particular. A little.

I’m happy with week 1. I’m watching my food intake, as far as less junk and more proteins/veggies/fruits. I’m anxious to explore more trails in Colorado, as I want all of my long runs to resemble the race course. And, come payday, I need to register for the race! 🙂



…the next big thing

I let the cat out of the bag yesterday in an answer to one of my questions posted for the Liebster Blog Award.

I’m going for a 50k!

I toyed with this idea nearly a year ago, with a thorough search of the best Colorado 50k’s and the intention of running one at the end of this year (2012).  However, with a certain pain in my hamstring, and cutting back a bit this fall, I decided to postpone the idea.  These past few months of build up and consistency has led to a revived dream…

I’ve chosen the Greenland Trail 50k, primarily because it’s in Colorado, so I won’t have to be too far out of my comfort zone for this new distance.  Perhaps I’ll even have a chance to run parts of the trail during training.  Hopefully the somewhat close proximity (just south of the Denver metro area) will also draw friends and family out to the course.  There are definitely things about the course that I’m not crazy about, like the loops, but if I go into training with this already in mind, I know I can overcome that.

Even though it’s not until May, I’ve been getting really excited figuring out my training plan and all of the races (training and tune-ups) that will happen between now and then.

I just need to continue with my base mileage and on January 13th, I begin training!



…with thoughts of Aron

On my final long run before Boston this weekend, my friend Erika and I took to some trails behind the Boulder Res. It was sunny and slowly began to warm up as we trotted along. As we chatted, Aron‘s race naturally came up, as I knew she was just beginning her dream that very morning.

I told the boy just this weekend, that I am naive enough to believe that every blogger behind the blog is a wonderful person. I was right about Aron! We met Aron last year at the Santa Barbara Wine Country Half Marathon. She is one of the nicest people I’ve met! I’m not sure what it is about the running community, but I feel that we are a different breed; in many ways. We encourage, we support, we admire, we inspire. And we don’t even meet most of the people who we read about or who read us! But it’s sincere.

I have read about Aron’s many marathons over the years, her BQ, and her Boston race. So when last fall she announced her hopes to run a 50 miler, I was so excited for her! It seemed the natural progression for Aron in her running. Ironically, I had just finished my 6th marathon on a somewhat challenging course, and had talked to the boy about running a 50k in 2012. So, I was anxious for Aron to run the 50, as I would absorb and take note of all of her training.

And let’s just say, going from “marathoner” to “50-miler” in just a few months is quite a feat! I have been amazed at her training these past 18 weeks, and feel in some way, that I’ve been a part of it, just by reading her blog posts and tweets.

So, when I found out we could watch the finish of the American River 50, via the live feed, I was kind of excited! After my long run, I logged onto the site. It was great to see the first place male and female come through: 5:53 and 6:18 respectively! Holy buckets that’s fast! 7:03 and 7:33 pace! I can barely hold that for a half marathon… ho-hum…

I was keeping up with her placement via twitter, as her amazing support crew kept everyone in the loop as to where she was and how she was doing. As she progressed, I even got a little teary eyed at a few points, because I was so excited for Aron to be accomplishing something so big! Okay, and I’ve been a little emotional lately. Taper…? But the more I watched people come through the finish, the more excited I got for a 50k in the fall. My confidence grew a little.

I was lucky enough to catch Aron come through the finish, looking strong, and wearing a huge smile! Why shouldn’t she be? She just finished something she worked so hard to attain! 18 months of hard training and many sacrifices. I am so proud of her and everyone who ran the 50 miler yesterday morning. They are all a true inspiration to our passion of running.

Maybe a 50k is attainable for me. We’ll see.