Archive for nature

The Quadruple Dipsea: Part B

Posted in motivation, photos, running, shoes, trail with tags , , , , , , , , , , on December 23, 2016 by afuntanilla

So, as I mentioned in the last post, I was dejected after not finishing the Quad. It was the right decision for my body on that day, but i still felt really disappointed.

During the week that followed, as I would relay to others what happened, I followed my comments up by saying, “i’m going to go out again…i will do this and finish.” I wasn’t sure if it was going to be 1 week later or 1 month later. But, I knew I was going to go back.

5 days after not finishing the race, I had decided my body was good to go for it again the following weekend. I let myself rest during the week, stretched, ate well and felt good. I had the added benefit of further inspiration as that Saturday (Dec 3) was The North Face Endurance Challenge here on some of the same trails. I didn’t go watch in person, but followed via social media and was super pysched to follow some of my favorite runners do their thing, especially Zach Miller, who was the 50 mile winner.

So as Saturday went along and then into the evening, I noticed that mentally I was where I wanted to be and where I should have been on pre-race weekend. It was a noticeable difference. So, i felt both physically and mentally ready and now i just needed sleep and to get up and go.

I had my nutrition figured out and took extra shoes in case i wanted to change half way. I packed a PBJ Sandwich cut in 1/4’s, orange slices, Hammer Nutrition gels and Tailwind. I was ready to go.

I began at 8:30am and believed it would take roughly 8 hours. Anything more was gonna push me into post sundown. That would not be good.

I was up the Dipsea steps and onto the course and on my way. I knew early on that I was ok and felt much better than last week. Many parts of the trail were still a bit muddy from recent rain so my Nike Kiger Trail shoes were perfect for the gripping nature needed. They don’t have much cushion but they do grip well and are light! I was just basically humming along and enjoying myself and knowing I had many hours ahead of me so i just tried to settle in, but still stay cognizant of time. I made it to the Stinson turn around and headed back to Mill Valley. Once I got to Mill Valley, i knew I had 2 things to do; 1) grab some food from car, change shoes 2) turn around and get back up the stairs. I didn’t allow for any thoughts to enter my mind around how hard it was gonna be or anything like that…i just kept saying to myself, “get up the stairs, get up the stairs..” And I did. Once I was on the stairs, I felt like THAT was a WIN. I smiled. And kept moving.

A woman actually stopped me prior to me heading up stairs and asked if i was doing a double. I said “No, a Quad.” Her eyes widened and she said; “well, good for you. i know you will do it.”  I so appreciated those kind words.

I figured the 3rd leg, which i was now on, would be the hardest and it was tough. By approximately miles 19-20, I was really starting to feel it..my back started to hurt a bit and i was getting some ache in my legs. But, I just had to keep moving. I made it to Stinson for the 2nd time and as soon as I turned around to head back for the final leg, I smiled and texted my friend, Tim, to let him know where I was…that i was going to finish. I mean, really, at that point, my options were limited anyways…what am i going to do? Walk the rest of the way back. Hitch a ride back to Mill Valley? I better get moving as fast as I can cause the sun in starting to go down.

Let me tell you now. The 3rd leg is NOT the hardest. The 4th leg is. Even though this was the “homestretch”, there was No adrenaline rush. I was moving slow. Very slow. Different body parts were starting to really hurt, as I had anticipated, but it IS still always tough when the hurt sets in and you have to begin the battle. However, what most non-runners don’t understand is, THIS IS THE PART that makes it all so worthwhile..the HARD PART. Experiencing myself as I work through and navigate the rough patches. This is the part where I truly have to show up, stand up, rise up and above and get it done. I’m one of those people who gets absorbed in moments like these BECAUSE they are such great teaching moments…the moment that fully consumes me and I am engrossed in the nature of this particular battle…with the course, the elements, my body and my own will. I’m fascinated by how I respond. And not just how I respond; this is one of the things I’ve truly been captivated by in sports for my entire life…watching athletes of various levels and different sports compete in the most challenging moments. Deeply engrossing!

As I slogged up Dipsea near the Coastal view, I passed some fellas hiking for the 3rd time.  By now, they were wondering what I was doing and after learning, offered me words of encouragement. Thankful for that!!

My right shin of all things started to give me some real trouble. Weird, i thought. I guess from all the stairs. It was super tight and hurting. Going up the final Dipsea stairs after crossing the bridge @ Steep Revine intersection was insane. My labored breathing, my slow movement of lifting one leg and then other to step up again and again. I stopped, looked around the forest…no one in sight..beautifully quiet…and I simply said THANK YOU, out loud to this place…this place that has become my 2nd home. And then, I kept moving.

Finally, atop, and on my way to pass Cardiac for the last time. Next 3 miles all downhill and no, not easy. Just a few hours ago, i was flying down this section and now I was slowed to gingerly running down. As I crossed over the roots and rocks, i was so glad i had changed my Nike Kigers for the additional cushioning of my Hoka Challengers. Again, still no adrenaline rush. Still had one little climb after I labored DOWN Dynamite and into the Muir Woods parking lot. Ok…here I go…lumbering up and knowing now that this is it and trying to push faster in any way i could as I was less than 2 miles from the finish. Finally , I get up to Panoramic and take a quick glance at the gorgeous scenery and i smile big…this is it…1 mile downhill to the finish. I went as fast as I could on the Dipsea Stairs down into the finish at old Mill Park, where I began, 8 hours and 5 minutes earlier.

I was done with my Quad Dipsea.

I’m good and me and the Dipsea are good.

Thankful for this Body, this Life

 

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Muir Woods

Posted in running, trail with tags , , , , , , on May 9, 2016 by afuntanilla

My slice of heaven. Not belonging to me but a place I am fortunate to visit as often as I wish. Thankful for the logistical proximity of this stunning place with its ridiculous amount of microclimates, luxurious forest, refreshing aromas, and climbs that will stall you in your shoes.

The run today began on the Stinson side and up Dipsea. An unusual late start, nearing noon, I expected to encounter many hikers, especially also being Mom’s day. Legs feeling anything but fresh, but away i went as I simply could not stay away from this enchanting area that lures me in. Mile 1 – the familiar, wide, mostly crushed & loose rock section that opens up with ocean view about half way in….a mixture of white & gray clouds and just a tad of sunshine at the start. Mile 2 begins with a brief descent and then the steep ascent on the main heart of the Dipsea. This section is no joke. 2nd time in about 3 weeks I have “run” it..er…panted my way up the steep ass trail/steps…yowza. 14% incline over .9 mile. As I huffed and puffed & willed my way forward, I had this internal dialogue with myself…”i want to keep doing this section…especially this section until it gets easy…not easier, EASY”  Hence, I trust I will be going out there for a long time. The stunning beauty of the canopy of trees, the faint sounds of trickling water in the nearby creek and the feeling of being cradled in goodness makes the difficulty so much more manageable.

I wonder if mindfulness attracts trail runners or trail runners become more mindful. There is no way to be on these trails and NOT be mindful. My mind is full of nothing of my life…my awareness is completely wrapped up in the next step…over the roots, over the fallen redwood truck, up the stairs, up more stairs, descending over huge roots of trees whose age I cannot even imagine. The history. The stability. The consistency & durability of this beauty…unfathomable. I’m cognizant of the my steps and how I must be careful of these slippery descents as we did get just a bit of rain past 2 days…coming into Mile 4, I am finally done ascending and onto Matt Davis Trail where I know i can really run a bit. Narrow, twisty trail that will allow me to feel like I have a stride once again. Here is where I noticed a lingering fog that added a chill. My hands got cold and I loved the coolness on my cheek. A surge came over me at one point and its that kind of surge where I just want to scream because I am so happy and fulfilled in that moment…I want to scream it out to the world. Instead, I smile and feel it all in my chest and let it keep fueling me. Somewhere around Mile 5 or just after is the long descent back to Stinson Beach. Utter fun. Some danger due to the wetness that left some areas very slippery but all in all, a time to let loose, to let go and fly down…I could not hold back, could not go slower, I kept pushing, sometimes effortlessly, down this narrow trail. I had another internal dialogue happening; “why should i not try my best, why should i not go as fast as i can…why save the legs? what if this is the last time i get to do this?” Because we don’t know, do we…we never know…and so it was…today, in Muir Woods.

Moving up?

Posted in photos, running, trail with tags , , , , , , , on November 2, 2014 by afuntanilla

Well….what’s that saying…? ‘Be careful what you wish for’
Yeah…that…
Well, I DID GET IN TO THE NORTH FACE 5O MILER.

50 Miles. All trail. Somewhere between 9-10k feet of total elevation. All up, down. Repeat. Repeat. Repeat. Until you get to mile 50!

So. I finally got the word about 2 weeks ago and of course, am relieved & delighted to have a spot. And scared. And excited. And scared.

I completed another solid month of training in October.
Final numbers are:

Miles: approx 117
Elevation: 35,409

Most miles I have run in a single month all year and most elevation ever in a single month. (on top of what i have done the months prior) And you know what, it might not be enough. Of course, I’m still not done training. In terms of long runs, I have this weekend and then not sure if I will do my last push Nov 8-9th or Nov 15-16th.

I will see how it all goes and assess if it would be better to change to the 50k.
I hate to even write that, but that’s where I am. I’ve been preparing to the best of my ability and I am feeling like it’s still not enough. I become frustrated over how my body recovers of lack thereof from the long, demanding runs. I’m not careless with things….eating well and getting proper nutrients into my body. So much of it just seems to be strictly leg recovery. After my 15 miles today, aerobically, I felt like I could keep going, but my legs were pretty beat. A bit frustrating.

What does it mean when I say “it may not be enough”….i guess it means a few things.
-may not be enough to finish the 50 miler
-may not be enough to finish the 50 miler in a way I want…I.e. Not completely dead at the end.

I see that I am assessing where I am, where I want to be, where I think I will be and what experience do I want and will be ready for?
As I was running today along the Tennessee Valley Trails; Rodeo Valley, Bobcat, Alta, Miwok, Old Springs & Marincello, I thought to myself: “I wish there was a 40 mile distance. 50 does seem a bit far, and 30 (~50k) seems too short….

Why I don’t want to run the 50k;
-because I already did this distance. In Chattanooga, Tennessee at the Rock Creek Stump Jump. 2007
-because the 50 Miler is a distance I have yet to conquer. Pretty simple.

Even with 2-3 more weeks of adding miles, I can honestly say this; I did not prepare this much for the New Zealand race last year. (DNF at mile ~27 of a 37.2 (60k) race because I was totally spent)

I did not train this much for the 1st 50 miler I attempted; The JFK 50 Miler. (Missed the time cut-off at mile 34.4)

So….this will be an interesting next few weeks to truly assess what I think I am capable of…..

Stay tuned.

“There is no hope unmingled with fear and no fear unmingled with hope” – Baruch Spinoza

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March

Posted in motivation, photos, running, shoes, trail with tags , , , , , , on March 31, 2014 by afuntanilla

As March 2014 comes to a close, just a few brief comments. Longest run was the Portland 15k race mid month. Continually working on my speed and absolutely love seeing the improvement. In addition, I have wanted and needed to get in some trail runs and I got 2 short runs done both last Sunday and yesterday on trails near home. Yesterday’s run was just one of those perfect running weather days….it had rained during the night and still drizzly as I had morning coffee & Clif Bar. By the time I got to the trail though, the rain had ceased and we were left with a gray sky.  The air was cool and everything was quiet, clean. I did not take my music with me so I could purposefully just listen to the surroundings….listen to the quiet! As I crested the first section, I looked around at the amazing beauty …all the hills in the distance glowing and glistening after the drops from the sky….all green, rolling hills beneath the gray skies. Was gorgeous.

This was only my 2nd time back on the trails since New Zealand last December. A most welcome change from the city pavement. Going serves 2 purposes; to get in some hill work and get off pavement. The trails were a bit soft from the rain and I had fun trotting thru various puddles. As I was coming around a bend on the opposite side of the park, I looked ahead and saw about 6 Cows in a line, RUNNING. The Cows, they were RUNNING. I have NEVER seen this before and I’ve seen a lot of cows! Honestly, I didn’t even know they could move that fast. It was quite beautiful. They were in a line moving south to north and they reminded me of horses as they trot along…it was startling, funny, and gorgeous. COWS.

The best part of the route I do at this park, Helen Putnam, is the last .85 miles. It’s down-slopping, weaving right and left and straight, etc… and I can really pick up my pace and unleash my stride. That’s the best feeling…a mixture of feeling most alive, most free, most abandoned in the moment. Truly awesome.

Happy Running!

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The Kepler Mountain Challenge

Posted in motivation, photos, races, running, trail with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , on December 8, 2013 by afuntanilla

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Race morning began with my iPhone alarm buzzing at 4am. Splashing cold water on my face, waking up, and smiling….the day is finally here! I made some instant hotel coffee that is not half bad and eat my customary chocolate chip ClifBar and banana. I sat in bed, eating, drinking, quietly waking up to the day and feeling positive. I dress in shorts and my long sleeved “RUNATL” shirt. I put all my “required gear in my Salomon race pack; 1 long sleeved shirt, beanie, gloves, rain jacket, long wool pants, & rain jacket. These are all “compulsory gear” and we would have to undergo a gear check along the route to ensure compliance. The gear is required due to the nature of the changing conditions of the course, especially as we get to the top of the mountain. With the water in my pack, the clothing and all my GU Energy gels and Hammer Nutrition gels, my pack was beyond full.
I drove to the start of the race, about 3 miles from hotel. The streets were quiet and dark and the day was clear. No rain, but some last night and more expected later today.
Arriving at the start, I make one last bathroom stop and head to start line. As with other trail races, the number of runners are much less and the start line a lot more relaxed and low key. After a 10 second countdown, me and 449 others were off on our adventure of the Kepler Challenge; some with goals of winning, some with goals of beating a previous time, some running for their 10th time, some running the 1st time, some just wanting to finish.
That was me; I just want to finish. Have fun and finish. Enjoy the journey.

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The first 3 miles are the soft trail, surrounded by green on both sides, more trees than I can even say. Off to my right past the trees, I could heart the edge of lake Te’Anu softly bumping up against the shore. Those first few miles were very crowded, but still able to have a nice easy stride. The soft steps of all us runners in close proximity to one another is such a nice sound.
We approached out first aide station and shortly after, the long, long ascent began. I think we climbed for about 10 miles and it was unbelievable. It was difficult and with an alarming amount of jaw dropping beauty all around. The first climbing miles were still in the thick green “forest”, switchbacks, stairs, bridges, etc…as we approached higher elevation, green gave way to open expanse. No one around me was running, everyone walking, climbing, etc. I would like to know if the front runners were running this part of the course….
Soon, we arrive at what I think may be the top of the climbing…the views are just ridiculously beautiful. I don’t have the words to describe it. Mountains, and mountain, and some lakes in between….all around. It was like out of a movie….
We arrive at checkpoint/aide station #2 and this is where we have a gear check. The volunteers make sure you have what’s required and we are off again. I grab 1/2 banana, refill my water and am off. I had met and chatted with a nice woman from Australia and we were changing places here and there. She was mostly ahead of me, but at times we were together and chatting. I noticed how fast she was climbing and was like, “how???”
We continue on….climbing…we turn a corner and I think, oh, there’s the top….um….no, wrong again. Keep climbing. At some point through all this, it is getting cold. We area up at 4500-5000 feet and it is also a bit windy. I put on my jacket, gloves and cap. I’m eating my gels, but i am not keeping track of how often and that was not a smart idea. I should have been keeping track. I knew I had a lot, but didn’t know exactly how many, so I didn’t know if I was eating too many of too few for the length of the race. Why didn’t I plan this better??
My mood is good, I am thoroughly enjoying the views and the experience and I am climbing more and more. Finally, we arrive at the top and their is a photographer there who takes our picture and says, “welcome to the top”. I smile, happy! I’m also thinking how did this guy get up here? He was literally stationed on a super small area, all bundled up, taking our photos. Maybe the helicopter dropped him off.

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Reached the top, now for the descent….
Oh my….ouch, ouch on the quads….wow. A bit more technical at first, with lots of small rocks to navigate. My shoes were continuously filled with small pebbles, an annoyance, and had to stop a few times to empty them when a bigger rock got inside.
I had a few bathroom pee breaks on the trail. 1 at a checkpoint, and 2 in the woods. I didn’t want to stop but…
The descent was very long and more painful than the ascending. The ascending is just plain difficult; this amount of descending all in succession was difficult AND painful. The trails in Marin that I had been running on were good training ground, I just didn’t do them enough for longer periods of time per training session.
More descending and at a point where it was switchbacks on steroids. For those who might not know, switchbacks on trails are like a zig zag over and over again. And again. Some amazing trees along the way. I was literally in a forest. Took this photo which didn’t quite show it, but the trees were almost like a Spanish moss. Lots of ferns and beech trees and who knows what else! I was about 6 hours in and I was feeling it. I was tired. Hungry. I felt like I needed some salt. Whatever electrolyte levels were in my Energy gels wasn’t cutting it. I was finally on flat ground and running. Walking. Repeat. They had a few other things to eat at aide stations but I didn’t want to eat anything I had not been familiar with and potential suffer stomach issues. I continued on for more spectacular miles. Looking right, left, and above and just seeing beauty like never before. True paradise! Wow! I actually fell a couple of times; once while turning on a switchback. I just slipped and scrapped the left side of my lower leg. No problems, just scrapping and a little blood. It was actually kinda fun. Later, I slipped on a some wet rocks. Slid completely onto my backside and

Mmy right palm was all that got a small pang. I was lucky. There were many tricky and dangerous places on the track….slippery areas and lots of rocks and rooted areas where you could easily slip and fall. I had to constantly look down to avoid a fall. It was a long day of meditative running. I had my earbuds with me in case I wanted to listen to music, but I never did. I just wanted to be be out there and soak it all in. The last 5 miles before I got to the next checkpoint, Montara Hut, were painfully slow. Walking a lot and running, um…shuffling a little. Ugh. It sucked. But, I just was running out of strength and energy. After 7 hours, my Suunto Ambit2 watch had lost all of its battery life and from that point on, I didn’t know how far I was. I had my phone so I knew the time, but not mileage. I was thinking what should I do when I get to Montara Hut? Should I pull myself or keep going? Well, I didn’t take too long to decide. By the time I arrived at the station, I checked in and then said to the 2 ladies there, “I don’t think I can go on, I think this is it for me.” They looked at with such care and sweetly said, “well, that’s ok. You’ve come so far already. But, if you want, just sit, eat and think about what you want to do.”
I sat down, had some water and one of the ladies came over and brought me some food to choose from, saying, “can I get you anything else?” She was so nice!!
One of the women volunteers who was keeping track of the runners at this stage came over and asked if this was the end for me and I said yes. That was it. My Kepler Race was over. I went to the bathroom, put my long rain pants on and then sat and waited for the boat to take me and another fella across to the start line. I sat in the sun and felt ok with my decision. If I continued on, I would have had to walk the remaining 9 miles and there was ZERO desire in me to do that in the condition I was already in.
As I write this, I feel a bit teary, but I knew not finishing was a possibility due to my level if training and fitness and the proximity this race had been to my October marathon. I knew it was a push. I knew it was a gamble. So, I am without surprise, and yet still with disappointment of not crossing the finish line. I wanted that for me. No fanfare, no one here traveling with me, I don’t even think you get a medal….but I wanted to cross, just as I do every race. But, on this day, I didn’t want to walk those last 9 miles and finish that way. I did not strain over my decision as I feel I also made a smart decision for my body.
Today, of course, I am sore; legs, especially my quads, feet and back are all feeling it. I earned every bit of soreness and remain proud of my efforts. I looked at it as an adventure, and it was. With all it’s astounding, made for gasping beauty, it really was quite and adventure.

Total time: note sure as my watched had stopped, but approx 8 hours, so min
Distance: 27.6 miles
Ascent: 5,252 feet **most ever so far
Descent: 4,377 feet **most ever so far

This was the most challenging and difficult race I have attempted. It surpasses the 40 miler, the 50k trail run Tennessee and the 34.4 miles I ran as part of the JFK 50.

I want to give a MASSIVE shout out to all the Kepler volunteers. They were amazing and so giving!!
Thank you to my friends and loved ones who have cheered me on!! I felt you with me in spirit!!

If you are a runner, put this race on your bucket list. If you are alive and breathing, put this place on your list to walk, hike, etc…

More pics some from the top and then thru forest.

A footnote on that last pic of me at my finish: I was trying to give a sad face for not finishing and it doesn’t look like I just ran what I did, doesn’t look as though I ran 26 hard ass miles. I assure you I did! 🙂
I could also not be to bummed in the moment as the ladies who helped me were so amazing and sweet!

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trail tales

Posted in motivation, road, running, trail, travel with tags , , , , , , , on March 1, 2013 by afuntanilla

ah…here I am again! So awesome. It’s a clear blue sky kind of Sunday, with temperatures maybe somewhere in mid 40’s. Feels cold, but also good. Good in the awakening kind of way…Good in the “it’s a good day to run” kind of day. 

There’s a small crowd gathering here in one of the open spaces of San Pedro Valley Park in Pacifica. I look around and start taking notice; trail runners. trail race. Such a different vibe here than a road race. Less people. Feels a lot more casual. I’ve always loved this vibe and happy to experience it again. In line for the bathroom, I listen to the chatter of those around me…talking about the cold, the course…all I know is it looked about 3 miles or so uphill and then about the same back down. Let’s get to it. 

Our 10k race began 10 minutes after the 50km, marathon and half marathon. I was a little bummed i had not entered the half distance, but felt the 10k was more appropriate for today. It would have about 1200 feet of elevation and that quite manageable. The small lot of us began our journey….a gradual then steeper ascents up and up and turn and turn on multliple single track switchbacks. my heart was beating. a great thing. no music on my ears today…just the sound of my own breathing (which got heavier and louder as the steps ensued) and the sounds of my fellow runners ahead and behind me. Most of the trail was in the open, not shaded. A gorgeous day. One short downhill and then up and up again. we finally reached the top and I looked and saw the Pacific Ocean over yonder. A beauty. Keep going. Finally on the descent; time to fly. My small body quickly making it’s way down and down more switchbacks. Not very rooted, pretty smooth trail. Gaining speed and hoping to pick up ground on anyone who might be in front of me. but, i see no one. they must be flying too. I’m going fast. I like this…this semi out of control feeling…but I feel good. i feel confident in my steps and stride. I am not holding back. Keep going. Finally, we are in the last mile and I pass not 1, but 2 women and 1 fella passes me. He was really flyin’! I rushed passed the ladies and then found myself going full steam into a section that was basically a eucalyptus grove. towering trees. wonderful. peaceful. i kept plugging along and all of a sudden with about .5 miles to go, i hear footsteps behind me and kept a panic surge. i don’t want anyone to pass me. legs were really feeling it now after the 3 miles of flying downhill….ahhhh…keep going…..

i did. i stayed ahead.

i finished my first race of 2013. Came in 2nd in my age group women 40-49. pretty cool.

 

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awesome day. can’t wait to do it again. 

Shoes worn: Brooks Pure Flow. worked great on these soft packed dirt trails.

twenty-eleven

Posted in random, road, trail, travel with tags , , , , , , , , , on November 20, 2010 by afuntanilla

I’ve been thinking about what races, what adventures I will undergo in 2011. At this point, I have no firm decisions yet. What I AM super clear about is that I want to have more adventures! I want to go to experience new places, new terrain. It’s pretty fun just thinking about the endless possibilities. I’m also considering running 2 races i have previously run; the Mercedes Benz Half-Marathon in Feb. Why? This has got to be one of my favorite races. I love the cool/cold weather. I love the varied route and it’s not too many people. They also give out cool long-sleeve t-shirts and nice medals. The other race I am considering again is the LA Marathon in March. Why? To put it simply, because my one and only race there in 2010 SUCKED. I was not feeling good going into the race and I did not have fun at all. So, i kinda want to erase that memory. Or…I might just let it go and move on…we’ll see. I love going to LA and Santa Monica.

I’d also like to get out and do more races on trails…just craving more nature.

I’m considering a big race in June. I’ll keep you posted. Not sure on this yet. Just brainstorming. I want to run in states i’ve never been too before like Utah, Montana, etc…longing to see more open and beautiful space. I feel like there is so much I haven’t seen. The clock is ticking…

My next race will be the Las Vegas Half Marathon on Dec 5th. How’s that for some nature?? LOL

If you know me, you know I go to Vegas at least once a year and I have not been in about 2 years. I dig it. Love to gamble. Love the bigness and craziness of it. Looking forward to running on some flat land and hanging with friends.

Stay tuned for the rest. CHEERS!