Sunday, April 20, 2014

The secret of making the perfect breakfast burrito


First an injury update. I have taken two weeks off, my foot felt good, so I ran some Friday. Saturday, back to pain. Sunday, no pain so I ran again. So, I think that is the plan – run when it doesn’t hurt because it seems whether I rest or don’t, this plantar fasciitis is not going to heal any quicker.

Anyway, enough about that, you didn’t click to read about me.

So, here is how you make the perfect breakfast burrito.

1. Cook bacon. Feel free to add any other processed pork product you wish. I prefer floppy bacon.  (Top ten tip, start cooking the bacon in a little water, it will start rendering while the water is evaporating).

2. While bacon is cooking, dice up a potato into 1/4” dices

3. Remove bacon, and put aside. HERE IS THE AMAZING SECRET. Add about 3/4” inch of water to the pan you cooked the bacon in, and boil the potatoes in this bacon flavored water. You see, as the spuds soften up, they absorb this delicious bacon-y goodness. But, there is more – as the water evaporates, the bacon elixir gets more and more concentrated! YOU ARE MAKING BACON FLAVORED POTATOES!! Keep cooking, and just before the water has all evaporated, add diced onion and sliced mushroom, and the mushroom will also absorb the concentrated bacon soup. Finally, all the water will be absorbed and evaporated and you can crisp us the spuds and caramelize the onion. Now is the time to add jalapenos if you want them.

4. Remove potato mix, and cook egg in same pan – just as the egg is starting to solidify, fold in the bacon and the potato mix. Add hot sauce or salsa if you like.

5. Add to flour tortilla, grate some sharp cheddar, roll it up and enjoy the most awesome burrito on earth.

6. Don’t forget to add a lettuce leaf to the plate so it can be classed as a salad

photo 2

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

How to run 100 miles with plantar fasciitis and no training -Number 2 will inspire you

1. You can't run 100 miles with plantar fasciitis and no training. Or at least I can't. Truth of the matter is, it was always going to be a stretch.  But LOL and WTF? and all of that stuff, plus an OMFG for good measure

2. HA HA HA!!!! CLICK BAIT!! You fell for it again! :)

3. I did get my 50th ultramarathon finish, 5 years to the day after I got my first one. That's very cool.

4. Umstead, as always is an awesome event.

5. It was so fantastically awesome to catch up with so many friends. I love living in CA, but I truly miss y'all

6. I can be such a dumb ass. I lost my laptop on the flight to NC. Duh. So I'm typing this on kindle on a plane on the way home. It's a pain, and does a lot of auto-correcting, I may miss some typos, sorry. Oh well.

7. It is a blast hanging out at the main aid station through the night.

8. I had decided to make my 6th Umstead my last one. It seemed fitting, what with being the 50th ultra and all. I changed my mind as soon got there on Friday. So, I will see you next year.

9. Thank you to all of you fantastic volunteers, you are who make this event so special to me.

Thursday, April 3, 2014

A list about Umstead. Number 7 will amaze and shock you!


  1. I haven’t written a post for ages. Ooops. I blame that on the fact that I don’t spend anywhere near as much time on planes as I used to. I am on a plane now.
  2. Umstead was my first ultramarathon, April 5th 2009. 50 miles.
  3. 5 years later (to the day), it will be my 6th Umstead, my 50th ultra and my 70th of 26.2 or above. I didn’t plan it that way, worked out well though.
  4. My record at Umstead is mixed, some successes, some failures as follows:
    1. 2009 – went for 50. Got 50
    2. 2010 – went for 100. Got 100.
    3. 2011 – went for 100. Got a cold, and got 50
    4. 2012 – went for 100. Got 62.5, a 50 mile PR and strained Achilles
    5. 2013 – went for 50. Got 50. But slower than I needed to get Western States qualifier.
  5. I have been suffering with plantar fasciitis for the last 6 weeks or so. It sucks. I have averaged just about 2 miles a week since then and a daily 1 mile walk with the dogs. I am showing up this time well and truly undertrained. I am going to see how far stubbornness, and the company of good friends at the back will get me. And math. My walks with the dogs take 17 minutes. Do that 99 more times and I will finish under 29 hours.
  6. Some of the best people I have ever met will be running, volunteering or just hanging out at Umstead. I didn’t know any of them that day in April 2009 – by the end of that day, I had met many new friends, and learned about the Mangum Track Club. That day changed my life. Thank you Umstead.
  7. Really? WTF? LOL!! CLICK BAIT. You fell for it! LOL. (Yeah – I know, I keep falling for it too, it’s getting old isn’t it?)
  8. If I finish, I will have 32 tickets in the draw for Western States, giving me an 80% chance of being selected for WS in June 2015
  9. There are still 3 rocks under the tree at the top of Effing Hill (I think), there were 8, I put them there before the race in 2012 – I collected one after each of my 5 loops that year. I still have them, and look forward to collecting the remaining 3 after laps 6, 7 and 8 and bringing them home.
  10. Toe Break Ridge, Pee Tree and Two Mile Tree are three places that I named in Umstead State Park, and they never stuck, and I am the only person who probably remembers where those places are. If you run with me, I will point them out to you. And then test you in subsequent years.
  11. Almost every year, as soon as I pass the “1 mile” marker, I overhear someone who says “Ha ha, only 99 more to go. HA HA!”. Yeah, ha fucking ha. It wasn’t funny the first time.
  12. Umstead is an amazing race, I am looking forward to #6, and regardless of how it ends, I am excited to be back and look forward to catching up with some awesome people.
  13. Cheers!

Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Long, epic, self absorbed year in review post, along with mileage totals and goals for 2014


I just know this is the blog that everyone is eager to read. But really it is just some Facebook fun, and an utterly pointless post.

My truck passed 200,000 miles yesterday. It has had a good year, well apart from the time I drove into a ditch off of the side of my driveway.

The year started well, and ended well.

In January, we began our 2,916 mile journey across the country. Took 3.5 days – epic!!!!

It also got a new set of tires. And some oil changes. And new brakes. I think we did a tune up too.

It needs new ball joints. Spendy. That’s the goal in 2014. New ball joints.

Sunday, December 22, 2013

WTF is going on in Death Valley?


The officials at Death Valley National Park have made a rather bizarre decision to suspend sporting events within the park’s boundaries (for some background, read this page on the AdventureCORPS website.)

Instead of shrugging my shoulders and saying WTF? and LOLing to myself, I am going to write letters to my US Senators, Congressman and anyone else I can think of. Badwater is an awesome event, staged in an awesome place, and the thought of not being there as part of a crew this coming July is heartbreaking.

EDIT – I have added the addresses and names of the people who should receive a letter………..

Kathleen Billings, Park Superintendent
Death Valley National Park
PO Box 579
Death Valley, CA 92328

Senator Diane Feinstein
331 Hart Office Building
Washington, DC 20510

Senator Barbara Boxer
112 Hart Senate Office Building
Washington, DC 20510

Representative Col. Paul Cook (Ret.)
8th Congressional District
1222 Longworth House Office Building
Washington, DC 20515

Sally Jewell
Secretary of the Interior
Department of the Interior
1849 C Street, N.W.
Washington DC 20240


I am kinda surprised to see that this page is getting several page views – not just the normal 3 per month, but several hundred in just a couple of hours. WTF? So, for all you newbies……. a couple of requests………

There is an online petition here: 

Feel free to sign the above petition, but I truly urge anyone to who reads this website – yeah, both of you, to also mail a real letter to the addresses above. We CAN make a difference. We really can.

Anyone can post to a Facebook group or do some Twittering – but I truly believe that your voice will be heard louder if you use a stamp and an envelope.



Dear __________

I would like to make you aware of the decision by the management of Death Valley National Park to suspend all sporting events within its boundaries. From the Death Valley website: “Effective immediately Death Valley National Park will temporarily discontinue issuance of running and bicycling event permits. Future event permits will not be considered until a thorough safety evaluation of this type of activity has been completed. Activities that already have a fully-executed permit will go on as planned. Our website will be updated once we have completed this safety evaluation.”

I am particularly concerned about the effect this will have on the Badwater Ultramarathon, one of the world’s most prestigious ultramarathon running events (please refer to The reason given for this moratorium is “safety”, and yet the Badwater Ultramarathon has an excellent record of safety. There are mandatory safety briefings for all crews and runners given by race management and CHP and there are medical staff at every check point. In addition, each runner has a crew who are dedicated to ensure their runner’s safety. The safety of everybody involved with the race is the number one priority of the race management. In fact, their unblemished safety record should be used as an example.

I personally have been involved with the Badwater Ultramarathon for the last 4 years, and during that time, I have fallen in love with the magnificent scenery and natural beauty of Death Valley. Being within a few hours’ drive of Death Valley National Park is one of the reasons I moved to California from North Carolina earlier in 2013. Over the last 4 years, the teams I have been a part of have spent in the region of $30,000 as a result of their participation – much of this was pumped directly into the local economy and into the coffers of the National Park itself. Consider the effect that there are 90 teams entered into the Badwater Ultramarathon each year – the financial impact alone is significant; approximately a total of $1 million annually as a result of this one event alone.

The 90 runners in the 2013 edition of the Badwater Ultramarathon represented twenty-five countries Australia, Brazil, Chile, China, Czech Republic, Canada, France, Germany, Iran, Italy, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Philippines, Portugal, Serbia, Singapore, South Korea, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, United Kingdom, United Arab Emirates, and United States of America (and twenty-one America states).

With crews, race officials and runners there would be approximately a 1000 individuals, from all corners of the world, and all over the United States who would be a part of the Badwater Ultramarathon in 2014. As a result of this moratorium, these people will now not be able to enjoy one of the crown jewels in the National Park system, and one of California’s finest treasures, and in likelihood, will spend their dollars elsewhere.

Please do what you can to reverse this decision.

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Thoughts on the new Western States qualifying standards

As of Sunday November 17th, 2,761 is the number of applicants for the Western States lottery, up from 2,295 last year. A very rough guess and I imagine that I will have about a 30% chance, first timers around 5%-6%.


This is why they are changing the qualifying standards

The summary. 50 mile runs no longer qualify. Only the biggest 100 mile runs – 30 of them. (I guess it is biggest amount of starters.) Some 100km races are qualifiers – not sure what the criteria is – but one of my favorite races (Weymouth Woods) is out.

It has taken me a while to consider what to write – so I guess that would mean that the changes neither jump out at me as being good, nor do they jump out at me as being horrendously bad. I don’t think it will harm my chances of qualifying – I am already in one qualifying race (Umstead). It does put pressure on me to finish though!

This year, I went to great lengths to get a qualifier – worked with a coach,  crossed the country – but mission accomplished, I got my qualifier.  So, should Umstead not work out for whatever reason, I am pretty sure I would go to great lengths again, and if I had to travel across the country again, then I would do so.

There was some inevitable hand wringing on Facebook and IRunFar. Mainly because of the lack of races local to Auburn, or lack of races on the East Coast.  Looks pretty evenly distributed between East and West to me. Perhaps a legitimate gripe if you live in the heartland though.

(Blue – 100m, green -  100k, purple -  ‘other’)

The other concern I saw expressed was the worry that all qualifying races would fill up too quickly or would need a lottery. Perhaps this is also a legitimate concern – would the amount of WS applicants in other races, ruin it for locals who just want to run their hometown race? Good questions, and time will tell, and maybe some of these races would keep some spots for locals (an example is the way Western States allows each aid station to select a volunteer to enter the race the following year)

There are other changes the board could have adopted – tighter qualifying standards (for example, Sub 24 hour 100). Obviously I am glad they didn’t implement that one! I am pretty sure human nature dictates that most people want standards to apply to them, and as few a number of people as possible. Smile

They could also have made it so that if you win the lottery, you can’t apply the following year, reduce the lottery pool– I like that idea (see above what I said about human nature!)

I also think the lottery could be structured in such a way that it favors more heavily the people who have been the most patient. (Again, see above about human nature), about 1/2 the race will be filled with “first lottery entrants”

The WSER board opted to make these changes to reduce the number of people entering the lottery. As someone who has a better chance of becoming a 5 time loser than getting into the race on December 7th, I have to applaud the efforts of the board for at least coming up with something. I guess we will find out this time next year when we see how many people throw their hat into the ring to see if it has worked.

Good luck on Dec 7th to all who read this.

Saturday, October 26, 2013

Guest Blog–Coach Shannon’s Tussey MountainBack Race Report

I mentioned in my own Tussey Mountain race report that I wouldn’t have been able to get my WS qualifying time without the coaching and advice of my good friend Shannon McGinn.

Shannon and I thought it would be fun to swap and share race reports. Shannon’s blog is called
“Creating Momentum!”

Newton’s second law explains how the velocity of an object changes when it is subjected to an external force. The law defines a force to be equal to change in momentum (mass times velocity) per change in time.

In other words, I was an object with not too much velocity. I needed an external force. Shannon was that external force. She Created Momentum. Smile

Please enjoy her write up, and please check her blog out from time time. It is filled with awesomeness.

[Shannon’s original post can be found here]


Tussey Mountainback, USATF National 50 Mile Road Championship, State College PA. 10/20/13

Course Review:  As I stood near the finish line I could hear runners sharing a wide variety of opinions about the race as they came through the finish: "The best course ever!" "That just sucked!" "That was the hardest thing I ever did!"  "The hills were horrible!!!"  "The hills weren't as bad as I thought!"  "The views were pretty." etc...

I really liked the course.  For a ROAD 50 Mile National Championship race it was a great course.  (If you want a trail race, you may prefer the USATF 50 miIe Trail Championship that usually takes place in March.)  This course seemed to weed out the unprepared and allowed those who worked hard to shine.  Unfortunately, I was one of those under-prepared and I felt that this course just ate me up and spit me out.

The race is one single 50 mile lap that has more downs than it has ups, but the ups are long climbs.  For example Leg 6 contains an 3.7 mile stretch of continuous uphill at I believe about a 7% average grade.  Leg 11 has a stretch that reached about 11% grade.  If you are able to run hills like that, you will get rewarded with an extremely fast time due to the blazing descents on runnable terrain that follow each up.  Out of the 12 legs, only 5 are uphill, with the worst being leg 6.  Three of those 5 uphill legs are in the first half.  Once you get to 25 miles, there are more downhill legs than ups left!  But leg 11 has the steepest of the climbs just before the final descent. Once over the last crest, the last 4.2 miles to the finish can be as fast as your heart desires.
The terrain is mixture of mostly gravel and asphalt road. I found the gravel roads to have single track-like sections of dirt where car tires pushed away the gravel.  It was much easier on my feet than running continuously on thick gravel.  At some point the gravel, which was large gravel, could be felt through my shoes.

The Race Director and his crew did a fabulous job of marking every mile.  I wasn't sure if I wanted to know this much information but I found it absolutely motivating to know where I was on the course.  There were also markers indicating 1/2 mile to the Aid Station before each of the 12 well-stocked pit stops. My only minor complaint is that they only served HEED as the sports drink.  They did have water and Coke (no Mt. Dew) so I basically ran the entire race on Coke, water, 3 gels, a few potatoes and some chips.  Each Aid Station supplied Hammer gel, potatoes, sweet and salty snacks, lot of drinks. Runners need to carry very little for this event.  If you need anything not supplied, you could use drop bags.

The elevation chart:

The night before the race Alanna pulled up the race website on her phone while we waited for a table for dinner. I scribbled on the back of a gas receipt which legs were up (1, 4, 6, 9, 11) and which were down.  I put an asterisk next to the hardest legs (1, 6, 11) and then committed the up legs to memory.  Sometime between dinner and bedtime I misplaced that receipt.

What to wear?
I pretty much packed a backpack full of clothing I could wear for any permutation of weather.  I checked the weather just before bed and it predicted that the rain would pass over night and leave the morning 37 degrees feeling like 33 with windchill.  It was supposed to fell like 33 for a few hours.  Wow.  I have not run in weather that cold in a long time.  The temps were to rise into the mid-40's by the time I should finish.  The only thing I was certain of was that I would wear my capri pants. (I could have gotten by with shorts).

I never use drop bags in races but I packed one for this one.  One lap ultras scare the crap out of me.  I actually have self-diagnosed myself as having some sort of revere claustrophobia.  I can feel perfectly comfortable inside an MRI (and get some of the best sleep of my life in them) but put me on a trail that is too long and the moment I realize that I wont be able to get out for hours and I start to feel trapped.

My main concern was actually  what shoes to wear? My last 50 miler in April started with me in racing flats.  I had assumed I would do that again.  But I was concerned I would feel the gravel through the thin light T7's and need to swap. But when? 25? 40?  Oh boy.  So I planned to leave a pair of Launch's in a drop bag somewhere between mile 30-35.  Then I decided to add a bottle of Gatorade. Then I added extra socks.  Then a zip lock of gels.

Then I realized this is stupid.  I know I am not going to stop for this stuff.  So I decided to just start in the Launch, forego the Gatorade, use the gels on the course but carry a few just in case they run out, and drink water and soda.  I grabbed my old Nathan's race vest and a 10 oz Nathan's quick shot bottle, to be filled with gatorade at the start, and put it in the pocket of my vest.  I grabbed 5 gels and dropped them in the other pocket.  That was it.  Done.

The Race:
Jim, Alanna, and I arrived early enough for me to decide that I did not need the hat and gloves I had on.  I wore a singlet under a long sleeve tech shirt and added my racing vest over the top.  Capris and my Brooks Launch completed the outfit and I was ready to run.  At 6:55 am, I got out of the car and headed to the starting line.  Just about 7 am we were running.

I ran the first 12-13 mile with a guy who was running his first 50.  He was moving well. We had the required conversations that runners have when the end up running together in ultras...  races, paces, goals, Born to Run, Vibrams,  how many races per year is too many, etc..  By leg 4 my stomach started to get upset and I decided I needed to walk the uphill on that section.  I let my running partner go, wondering if I would see him again or not.  I make a quit pit stop at the Aid Station just around 15 miles and just as I started heading back out I saw Christian.  He told me to hurry up and I took off with him.

Christian and I have run into each other at several races over the years, but never really spent much time running together. I was just starting to get into a negative place in my head when my stomach acted up, but seeing a familiar face perked me up.  We ran, we talked, and I started to have fun again.

I was having trouble with the climbs.  I was simply just not prepared for those types in hills.  I am a very busy flatlander and simply do not have time travel to hills to train. My heart was pounding in my ears and I decided that I needed to walk more than I originally intended too.  We paced ourselves up the hills and ran hard on the downhills making up a lot of time.

When we go to the top of leg 6, the worst leg and hit mile 25 just under 4 hours we knew we had an outside shot at sub-8.  In theory, it wasn't an unrealistic thought to think we could even split this race. After all there were more uphills in the first half than the second.  I declared that we should count how many people we can pass in the second half. At Mile 25 I felt like a super hero!
But by the time we hit Mile 32, I was starting to fall apart. LOL! I was tired.  My fueling was less than ideal. Since I cant drink Heed I was winging it.  I did carry that small 10 oz bottle of Gatorade for way too many miles before I started topping it off with water. I would down cups of Coke and water at each stop.  I did take 3 gels while I was out there.  I ate a few chunks of potatoes, about 5 potato chips, and two pretzel sticks. I don't eat or drink much of anything when training long slow distance runs of up to 20  milers and have found this very helpful in preparing me for long races.  The problem is sometimes I forget to fuel when racing but I have learned to recognize earlier than I used to when I need to take in some calories.
While quickly drinking a soda at the aid station, I glanced down at my shins and noticed both were swollen. It wasn't terrible but it was obvious and odd. I have never experienced this before during a race that I noticed and especially not one as a short as 32 miles.  I still had 18 more miles to go and now I was worried that something was going wrong.

At the 35 mile aid station, as I grabbed another coke, I noticed a small bruise starting to form on my left leg, just above the ankle. Oh Great!  I pressed around my leg and found that nothing actually hurt.  It made no sense at all?  Why am I swollen and bruising but nothing hurts?  It distracted and concerned me, but we just kept moving.  I whined to Christian about it and we both agreed that I would have been much better off if I had not noticed it at all.  I am sure this was just some odd reaction to all the pounding on the down hills.

Even though the course had less climbing in the first half, I was starting to run out of steam.  Christian and I continued onward together and although our pace faded we were still managing to pick off runners as we moved forward. Some of them got us back.  We reeled back in a few who blew past us early on.  But for a good part of the many many miles we ran together, it was as if Christian and I were just out together on some well-stocked extra long training run.  We simply ended up running miles and miles without another runner in sight.  Almost 180 ultra runners in this race and 110 relay teams and for large parts of this race we were simply alone out there for large chunks of mileage with maybe at most up to 4 others in sight.  It was peaceful and quite fun, especially when spotting beautiful views as we ran across the top of the ridge.

As we got closer to end of the race, Christian and I somehow managed to pass a few more people on the steepest incline. How that happened I cant explain. He was having some knee pain.  I was very worried about my cankles.  We were kind of a moving train wreck, but we were moving pretty fast on those descents!  I told Christian I don't know what place I am in but I want to try to hold it if possible. As we crested the last hill I wanted to run hard to ensure I didnt just give my position away. We really worked hard on that last descent.  At one point, I noticed my Garmin reading 7:17 pace!  We settled down and logged an 8 minute mile and settled in a little more for an 8:30. We continued to run and there was no one else in sight.

As we came around the final bend with less than a half mile to go, I notice a female runner ahead of a male runner. I started to pick up the pace and Christian called out, that's a chick go get her!  I started to pick up my pace and responded back to him that I think she is Relayer, but I kept pushing my pace trying to catch her, still not sure.  As we approached the finish area,  I pushed with all I had but there were cars in the road that I had to weave around a bit.  I just did not have enough time to catch her anyway.  She was an ultra runner and I was just too late.  She finished about 10 seconds ahead of me.

Although I know I ran as hard I could at this race, I am pretty sure if I train specifically for the hills I will be able to improve my time significantly. I am a little disappointed that I needed to walk as much of those uphills as I did.  But I understand that happened because I was simply under-prepared.  Now I know what to expect.

At the award ceremony I was very pleased to learn that despite my race being a lot slower than I had hoped to run, I still managed to place 5th Open USATF Female... which was good enough for prize money :)

Almost two months ago I got a message from my friend Jim P. asking if I have room on my roster for a new client.  I had just completed training two runners and I had room.  He asked if I could help him train for a Western States qualifier.  The window closes in November and he was running out of time.  He is living out in California now and had a few races planned out there, but when I looked at the results it seemed like Tussey was the best bet for a WSQ than any other option still available.

Jim wasn't even sure he was truly "coachable", reporting that his work life is too hectic, he can't plan regularly scheduled training weeks, sometimes he is on the road for days at a time, he likes to do his favorite run and that was important to him, he likes to makes decisions about his run while on the run based upon how he felt, etc...etc...  So he was going make things tough.  We only had 8 weeks!!!  So rather than give him a rigid day by day plan that he could not deviate from that would surely fail him, I instead devised a series of training RULES and EXCEPTIONS that he had to follow.  I sent him weekly plans that he could alter as long as he followed those rules.  The rules were complicated and devised to meet a criteria I needed him to meet and allowed him to move the less critical mileage around as needed. Jim loved this method and managed to complete every single thing I asked of him despite his unpredictable crazy schedule.  He was committed, dedicated and never once sent me a daily feedback email saying he skipped a workout.  He even did the obnoxiously horrific hill climbing treadmill workout I devised to mimic that ridiculously long climb ( more often than I actually did it... LOL).

After I finished I was a little panicked.  I knew there was a high percentage of WSQing finishers at this race, but as I stood at the finish line started to reflect on the fact that this course has a 12 hour cut-off.  This means that most who finish WILL WSQ, but many will get pulled and simply DNF.  The race results did not indicate how many starters DNFd so I had no idea what percentage of starters actually made the 11 hour cut-off.  I started to fear I may have misinterpreted the data and my mistake was going to fail him and there was nothing I could do about this now.

The awards ceremony was announced at 5 pm (at 10 hours into the race) and Jim wasn't in yet.  I was jumping out of my skin.  I was watching the finish area from the bottom of the hill where the pavilion was while also trying to listen for my name.  6 pm would be the 11 hour cut off, so at 5:45 I started walking up the hill to wait for Jim and Alanna.  I was hoping they would be together.

But as I walked towards the finish area, I saw him... walking down the hill towards me... exhausted! He did it!!!  He got his WSQ and a new PR!  I was so happy for him!  He worked so hard and he did it!  Shortly, thereafter Alanna was done too.

Time: 8:21
Gender : 8th Overall Female
Open Women 5th (for prize money that paid for the trip).