Guest Post: 7 Fitness Tips That Will Improve Your Life

It’s no secret we have been busy lately with increased responsibilities/roles in our professional lives and have been traveling a bit for family events. While we have upcoming fitness goals and race recaps to share with you soon, we’d like to thank our friend Michael Volkin, creator of Strength Stack 52, for writing the following guest post for us!

There is so much to learn about working out properly, it can be as confusing as you want to make it. However, there are some simple tips and tricks that anyone can employ to make working out easier and more effective. Below are some simple fitness hacks that you can incorporate today to take your fitness to a higher level.

Eat more meals. I am not saying eat more food; I am saying break your meals into smaller portions and eat more frequently. Ideally, you should eat a meal every 3 hours. Doing this will keep your blood sugar levels in check, keep your appetite under control so you’re less likely to binge on an unhealthy snack, and increase your metabolism.

Tell the world. Tell the world, or at least your world, that you have a goal to lose weight, gain muscle, or even finish a 5k. Most people are willing to let themselves down before they let down friends and family. Whatever your goal is, telling your friends and family will keep you accountable to them and not yourself. Social networking websites are a great medium for announcing your goals.

The “new exercise” rule. Too often I see people in the gym doing the exact same exercises day after day. Your body has an amazing ability to adapt, and exercising is no exception. Over time, doing the same exercises over and over will decrease the effectiveness of your workouts. Make it a goal that every Sunday night you will search the Internet for one new exercise you want to do at least 3 times during the upcoming week. Not only will this new exercise be a learning experience, it will take your fitness to a higher level.

Workout with a friend. Fact: Working out with someone will make you less likely to skip a workout and more likely to complete a workout. So grab a buddy who is a similar fitness level to you and be amazed at how far you push yourself.

Reward yourself. This tip is especially useful for someone who can never seem to work out consistently. One of the biggest problems newbies have is they quit because they don’t have an end goal, or their goal is too long term. Make a short-term goal, just a month or two away, and if you complete your goal reward yourself with new workout clothes. Having a short-term goal and a reward will make you more likely to finish what you started.

Exercise to fast music. A recent study concluded exercising to fast-paced songs made people exercise harder and longer. So load your phone up with heart-pumping music before you exercise to increase the effectiveness of your workout.

Active work meetings. Why does a day at work have to involve sitting at a desk 8 hours a day? A recent study concluded sitting is deadly, literally. Schedule an active work meeting. Instead of sitting at a conference table with others, burn some calories and take a walk around the building.

Torrey Pines Gliderport

Note: If you can’t make it to the gym for a workout, we’re fans of using the great outdoors (like hill repeats at Torrey Pines Gliderport).

If you haven’t had a chance to check out Michael’s work yet, click here to learn more about the Strength Stack 52 bodyweight fitness cards that make exercising more fun, while providing long-term results.


Race Recap: The San Diego 100-Mile Endurance Run—My First DNF

It’s been more than three weeks since my first DNF at mile 64 of the San Diego 100-Mile Endurance Run.  In that time I’ve replayed the race a hundred times in my head, analyzed the highs and lows, and have come to the following conclusion: I needed that. But I’ll explain what I mean by that later. Here’s the recap:

C and I picked up my buddy Mark—who was also running—and headed out to the pre-race meeting at Lake Cuyamaca. Once we got out there I saw several other people whom I had trained with and had the chance to chat and check in with them all. Race Director Scott Mills gave a great pre-race briefing, and then it was off to our hotel for the night in Julian.


The pre-race briefing

I slept surprisingly well and was up by 3:45 a.m. getting ready and at the start line by 5. The next hour was the worst. I just wanted to start running!

SD100 At 6 am sharp, I got my wish and 222 runners took off from the start.

Lake Cuyamaca – Paso Picacho 1 (0 – 6.8)

The first section had about 1,300’ of gain so I took it easy, settled in and climbed. My strategy for the day would be simple: walk the ups, jog the flats, and run the downs.

Paso Picacho 1 – Chambers 1 (6.8 – 12.5)

After a brief pitstop, it was time to head up and over Stonewall Peak. By now, runners had spread out a bit more, which was nice. Before I knew it, I was up and over Stonewall and running through the fields nearby, still feeling great.


View from the stop of Stonewall Peak

Chambers 1 – Pedro Fages (12.5 – 18.5)

I checked in and out of Chambers in less than 5 minutes and continued on my way. Not a lot to report on this section other than some beautiful singletrack.


Heading into Anza Borrego

Pedro Fages – Sunrise 1 (18.5 – 23.2)

I got into Pedro Fages and was ahead of the cutoffs by and hour. I was feeling good and was managing my nutrition and hydration pretty well, too. The next stretch left the runners pretty exposed, and as the day wore on, it quickly became apparent that the “heat” was wearing runners down.

I say “heat” because, while it didn’t necessarily feel hot out there, there was nothing protecting the runners from that sun! Staying on top of electrolytes and hydration became paramount. Before I knew it I was rolling into the Sunrise 1 and was incredibly excited to see Christina there (Sunrise was the first spot for crew access).


Coming into Sunrise 1

Sunrise 1 – Pioneer Mail 1 (23.2 – 30.4)

After talking with C and Jessica (my buddy Mark’s girlfriend), I was out of there and back on my way. Oh, and the views got better, too.


Great view from the Laguna Mountains

Pioneer Mail 1—Penny Pines 1 (30.4 – 34.4)

Felt great here and actually started getting some time in the bank, which felt great.

Penny Pines 1 – Todd’s Cabin (34.4 – 39.6)

Nothing much to report here.

Todd’s Cabin – Red Tail Roost (39.6 – 44.7)

I had run this area on several training runs (as well as during the PCT 50), so knowing what was just ahead was helpful. I’d caught up to several other runners I’d trained with in the months prior and we ran it in towards Red Tail Roost.


The last photo before my phone died

Red Tail Roost – Meadows (44.7 – 51.1)

As I came into Red Tail Roost, I was still feeling good – but was hungry. I knew I’d been on the move all day (in and out of aid stations in less than 5-7 minutes) and hadn’t rested much at all, due to skirting some of the cutoffs. I decided to sit, and have some real food before heading out and picking up my pacer at Meadows.

Boy, things did NOT work out like that.

I left Red Tail Roost feeling good, but didn’t get more than a half-mile out when I got an unbelievably intense sharp pain in the bottom of my forefoot. Sharp enough to stop me in my tracks. Now, I’ve had blisters, and “sore” feet, but this was unlike anything I’d ever felt.

I stopped and started walking, noticing that if I kept my weight off my forefoot I could at least keep moving. So, move along I did … all the way into Meadows, but my running had been replaced with a slow walk.

Meadows – Penny Pines 2 (51.1 – 56.3)

It was dark by now, and the last section had cost me dearly in regards to time. I was back to less than an hour to hit the cutoffs. Not a place I wanted to be with a bum foot.

I picked up my pacer, Paul, who was gracious enough to offer to pace me on my first 100. At this point I felt like I owed it to him to keep going. He had been out there for a few hours and I wanted to desperately believe that this pain would subside and I’d be able to keep going. I modified my stride and incorporated a walk/run and somehow managed to get to Penny Pines 2.

Penny Pines 2 – Pine Creek (56.3 – 64)

We got to Penny Pines 2, and Paul could tell that I was hurting pretty bad. I’d dropped pretty far behind him and couldn’t shuffle along for much more than 20-30 yards without having to stop.

To say I was thinking clearly at this point is probably inaccurate, but aside from the physical pain, I was mentally and nutritionally still very much in this race and wanted to believe that I could keep going. I left Penny Pines with Paul and was still somehow managing to make forward progress, even though we were predominately walking by this point.

Then, it happened. My foot literally “gave out” and I couldn’t put any more pressure on it. Zero. And I knew right there … I’d be getting my first DNF in the San Diego 100.

After a brief mini blow up of emotions—frustration, anger, sadness, etc.—I pulled myself together and slowly (read: very, very, VERY slowly & with the help of Paul) made it to the next aid station, where I turned in my bib (I’d missed the cut off by 20 minutes).

My first attempt at 100-miler would end at Mile 64, Pine Creek, after 19 ½ hours on my feet.

-3 Weeks Later-

If my recap seems a bit blurry compared to ones in the past it’s because it is. The past three weeks have been full of me replaying the race in my head, asking myself tons of questions about what I could have done differently, and self-diagnosing myself through research. At first I was determined to find out what went wrong.

  • Was I undertrained?
  • Had I not tapered properly?
  • Was running in minimalist-style shoes a bad idea for me?
  • Did running the PCT 50 just four weeks prior set me up for an overuse injury?

The questions went on and on, which is one of the reasons it took so long for me to write this post.

After three weeks, and a lot of questions, I believe I have the answer and–regardless of what happened out there—my reasoning for not finishing was much simpler than I wanted to believe.

It just simply wasn’t my day.

Once I was able to accept that, I was able to move on and begin again. Which is exactly what I did yesterday, as I went out on my first run since the race. Time to start looking forward and stop dwelling on the past. That’s what it’s all about, right? Relentless Forward Progress.

Man, I needed that.

Book Review: Running Through the Wall—Personal Encounters With the Ultramarathon

I love reading about other people’s experiences on the trails just as much as I love running and recapping my own, which is why Running Through the Wall by Neal Jamison was a such great find.

Running Through the Wall

Published by Breakaway Books, Running Through the Wall is broken up into 40 mini-recaps, each of which left me thinking long after I closed the book. There were recaps from some of the sport’s greats (Tim Twietmeyer, Ann Trason, to name a few), recaps from some veteran ultrarunners – as well as recaps from those new(er) to the sport.

What I loved most about this book were the incredibly different perspectives on the sport we all share.  No two were the same. However, while none of the recaps were the same, there were some common themes that were weaved into the majority of the stories:

  • Overcoming adversity – be it physical, mental, spiritual or otherwise is common.
  • Ultrarunners are incredibly focused & driven individuals who demand the most out of themselves in running … and in life.
  • The comradery found within the ultrarunning community is truly unparalleled.

The book takes a good look into the minds of athletes who have run some of the most challenging ultramarathons in the country (and abroad). Races like Barkley, Western States, Hardrock , HURT 100 and more were incredibly detailed and provide the reader with an amazing look into what the athletes of these races were up against — physically, mentally, personally and more.

Without giving away too much, a few of my favorites focused a lot on overcoming adversity. While the reasons each of those people ran were deeply personal, the way they were able to talk about their experience conveyed such a real and honest sense of achievement.  A sense that they truly did overcome whatever adversity they were experiencing—either in the race or in life—by spending time on the trails.

If you’re looking for a fun, inspiring and insightful read about other’s experiences on the trails, I highly recommend Running Through the Wall. The way it’s broken up allows you easily set it down and return to it later … though I doubt that will happen once you pick it up.

Take care,


Top 3 Reasons Joining A Running Group Is Renewing My Passion To Train

When I started running eight years ago it was purely to lose weight. That was it. Then someone asked me to register for a 5K with them, so I did. And then I found longer races, and ran them. And through it all I loved the training, but I lost my love of just running.

During the past year I learned to love running again in one of the most beautiful, running-weather-friendly cities on the planet, but the impetus to set goals and truly train was lacking. G suggested I join a local running group – something I had considered in other places I’ve lived, but never done. About six weeks ago, I joined the Seaside Striders, a group that meets twice a week: once for speedwork and once for a weekend long run. So far, I LOVE it, and here’s why:

I love surprises

I love not knowing exactly what the workout will be until I arrive. That gives me zero time to dread something or imagine that I can’t do something that will be prescribed to the entire group. Talk about peer pressure! We’ve been focusing on hill repeats, followed by speedwork for the past few weeks and I can already tell it’s making a difference in my other weekly runs. It also made a huge difference in my overall performance at the La Jolla Half Marathon last month.

Seaside Striders, La Jolla Half Marathon

Seaside Striders at the La Jolla Half Marathon in April

I’m not a great solo runner

For the past six months or so, I’ve done solo long runs on the weekends while G is up before the sun and training for the San Diego 100. Though I’ve only done three long runs with the running group thus far, it has made it easier to get up and hit the road knowing that a larger group will be training along the same route. It’s also nice to have someone else select the route each week, because I am a runner of habit and tend to choose my trusty, regular routes when left to my own devices.

Seaside Striders, Los Penasquitos

A small Seaside Striders contingent running in Los Penasquitos Canyon.

I’m inspired by others

While I have new short- and long-term goals, my ultimate goal is to be a good bit faster than I currently am. I really think being a part of such a dynamic group of runners will push me in all of the right ways. At last night’s workout we talked a lot about our team mantra: “Never outrun your joy of running”, and several people shared what being part of the group means to them. For someone who has never been part of a formal running group, I know being around faster runners will challenge me in a positive way.

I’m planning to train hard for the America’s Finest City Half Marathon (which G and I ran last year) in August, with my sights set on a faster marathon time this fall.

Stay tuned!


 How about you? Are you part of a running group? What do you love about it?

Race Recap: PCT 50 Mile Ultramarathon

I signed up for the PCT 50 as soon as it opened back in January … and it was a good thing I did. The race sold out in just a few days! After doing some research and spending some time out on the trail itself, it was quick to understand why: The Pacific Crest Trail is absolutely beautiful.

The race was ran primarily on single track trail in the Cleveland National Forest, and provided unbelievable views at altitudes ranging from 3,000-6,000 feet. The race also boasted 7,500 feet of elevation gain. Needless to say, today would not have been the day to forget my race pack!

With the race start being about an hour east of San Diego, we got up at 3 a.m., picked up my buddy Mark, and headed out. We got to the start (Boulder Oaks Campground) about 5:15 a.m., just in time to pick up our packets, say hello to some running friends, and get those last few pre-race jitters out. And then—before I knew it—I heard “3 … 2 … 1!”

We were off.

PCT 50

Runners preparing to go at the start

Boulder Oaks Campground – Fred Canyon Road (0.0 – 6.4)

The race wasted no time in sending us “up”. My strategy for the first part of the race was simple: fall towards the back and power-hike the first 14 miles, since they were mainly uphill. I ran the flats and downs but wanted to conserve as much energy as I could, which made this stretch pretty uneventful.

PCT 50

A.M. reflection on the PCT

Fred Canyon Road – Dale’s (6.4 – 13.7)

I arrived at Fred Canyon aid station with no trouble. I topped off my bottles (one with water, one mixed with lemon-lime First Endurance EFS & Carbo Pro), grabbed some pretzels and an orange, and took off to continue my climb. The trail got a lot more technical during this stretch, which meant I spent a lot of time looking at the ground instead of the scenery, but before I knew it was rolling into Dale’s aid station.

PCT 50

Climbing on the PCT

 Dale’s – Todd’s Cabin (13.7 – 17.5)

After a quick pit stop, I was back on the trail and on my way. I knew the next few miles were predominately flat, so my plan was to hammer them out as quickly as I could. This stretch was mainly shaded single track, so it was the ideal place to bank some quick miles while getting a break from the sun.

PCT 50

Solitude out on the PCT

Todd’s Cabin – Penny Pines 1 (17.5 – 22.7)

I cruised into Todd’s cabin, quickly remembering how much tougher it is to run at elevation than it is at sea level (where we live). Luckily, I had run the next 5 miles on a previous training run, so I knew when to conserve/when to push. The scenery was crazy. Apparently, several years prior, the area had experienced a massive fire that scorched the earth. It felt like you were running on a different planet at times. I started hiking up the last big climb to Penny Pines and could see C at the top waiting for me. What a great sight that was!

(Sidenote: C, and all the volunteers, crewers, pacers, medics and sweepers who donate their time and energy to helping make the runners’ day successful deserve the biggest, most sincere THANK YOU I could possibly offer. You guys/girls are simply amazing. Thank you.)

PCT 50

View from up top

Penny Pines 1 – Turnaround (22.7 – 25)

As soon as I got to Penny Pines, C went to work getting my bottles filled and making sure I had everything I’d need. My pacer, John, had also just shown up and was preparing to run the last 25 miles with me. I was talking with them when I overheard someone say “cutoff time.” I froze. It was 11:40, and all runners would need to be back through Penny Pines by 1:30. John looked at me … I looked at C … we all looked at each other, and I busted ass back out onto the trail.

PCT 50

Grabbing some fuel at Penny Pines

Note to self: pay more attention to cutoff times!

Turnaround – Penny Pines 2 (25 – 27.3)

I couldn’t believe I could have been so careless. Although hiking the uphill at the beginning was allowing for some pretty fresh legs here – my back was now against the wall and I was going to have to work hard to stay ahead of the cutoffs on my return. Luckily this section was pretty much rolling single track and I was able to cruise pretty quick back into Penny Pines.

Penny Pines 2 – Todd’s Cabin (27.3 – 32.5)

I came back through Penny Pines, picked up John, and we were off – ahead of the cutoff by about 40 minutes. We started on our way back and were making pretty good time, passing several runners along the way. Although it wasn’t hot, per se, this section of the PCT left you pretty exposed, and I could tell the sun was starting to hit me pretty hard. However, the spectacular views of the Anza Borrego Desert nearly 5,500 feet below made the trip pretty enjoyable. As great as the views were, I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t checking my watch continuously … the cutoff at Todd’s was 2:30.

PCT 50

On the way to Todd’s Cabin

 Todd’s Cabin – Dale’s (32.5 – 36.3)

John pushed me pretty hard on the return and got me in (and out!) of Todd’s Cabin by 2:15. The return stretch here was pretty rough for me, as I could feel two hot spots on my feet starting to flare up. This resulted in some sort of walk-run-shuffle-tiptoe-forward motion that somehow got me to Dale’s.

PCT 50

Heading to Dale’s

Dale’s – Fred Canyon Road (36.3 – 43.6)

There was no cut off here, but they informed us that there would be a final cutoff at Fred Canyon at 5:30 p.m. Needless to say, we grabbed what we could and took off. While I’m not a huge proponent of out-and-back courses, I will say that it was nice to know exactly what type of terrain I had to run over to get back to Fred Canyon in time.

Fred Canyon Road – Finish (43.6 – 50)

I made it to Fred Canyon by 4:55, and saw my friend Mark there getting ready to head back out. We all ran together for the first few miles, then we split up. My return to the finish was FAST! Probably some of the quickest miles of the day for me – all over some pretty technical and rocky trail. As we descended the final few switchbacks, I couldn’t help but smile. My strategy had worked!

PCT 50

PCT 50: Complete

I crossed the finish in 12:32:32—a 17-minute PR at the 50-mile distance—on the most difficult course I’ve run to date.

Overall, I’m incredibly happy with how the day went. It’s funny, as with any race, I learned so much that will be valuable for future races. Although I was feeling a bit stressed on the start of my return, I do not regret my decision to power hike the start. Yes, I lost a decent amount of time there, but it resulted in an incredibly strong finish, with enough in the tank to keep going if I needed to. In conclusion: Physically, mentally and nutritionally, things clicked.

Thoughts Looking Forward

As many of you may, or may not, know, I’m running the San Diego 100 Endurance Run on June 7. The PCT 50 was my last long run before that race. If you’ve followed along, I’m sure you’ve noticed my last few tune up races have had all kinds of issues, leaving me feeling a bit uneasy. Yesterday’s race, however, erased all of that and provided me with the confidence I needed to be able to toe the line on June 7.

Take care,


Race Recap: La Jolla Half Marathon

I have to admit part of me dreaded this course when I initially registered for the race. I’m working on completing the Triple Crown: Carlsbad, La Jolla and America’s Finest Cities, and since I ran Carlsbad in January the next step was La Jolla.

Don’t get me wrong: La Jolla is a gorgeous area of San Diego, and I feel very lucky to be able to run there. But the course is HILLY! As in almost 1,000 feet of elevation change over the 13.1 miles. And for anyone who is familiar with North County, it includes ascending the Torrey Pines trail hill, which can be a beast when you’re just out for a Saturday morning hike.

I recently joined a local running group (more to come on that in a subsequent post), and we carpooled to the race start with a woman in the group, and her husband whom G runs ultras with. G did not race this time – he’s saving his energy for the upcoming PCT 50, and it was so nice to know he would be at the end waiting for me. I planned to really give the race my all.

The start line was at the Del Mar Racetrack, and from there we made our way around the outer perimeter of the track and onto Highway 101 that runs along the Pacific Ocean. I know, I know: It sounds like a horrible view. It was so great to see G just a little before Mile 3 – the last half of Mile 1 was uphill and I was already panicking a little knowing what larger hills were yet to come.

photo 3

Just a little before Mile 3 and I see G and his friend!

From there, I took off toward Torrey Pines and enjoyed the downhill ocean view to round out Mile 4. Looming over the Mile 5 marker was the start of Torrey Pines and I was determined to run as much of it as possible. I still hadn’t seen a friend whom I usually end up finding and running with during local races since we run a similar pace. Around Mile 5.5, she found me and it was nice to have company as we tackled the hill. We ended up running together or near each other for the rest of the race.

After we exited Torrey Pines, we thought “after this it’s pretty flat until we hit the downhill stretch.” HA! When you’re driving, you often don’t notice rolling hills. Miles 6-9 were nothing but that, and to my tired legs the inclines felt like mountains, but the weather was perfect and I kept pushing.

Miles 9.5-11 were what everyone was waiting for after the hills, and the sharp descent behind Scripps Aquarium offered a gorgeous, cloud-free view of La Jolla Shores and La Jolla Cove. Home stretch time!

Mile 11.5-12.5 was probably the toughest for me overall. I had really put in the effort at Torrey Pines, and I was starting to feel the soreness in my quads from the downhill portion. As I climbed the final hill and dropped down into the Cove toward the finish line, I was all-smiles when I saw G waiting for me on the left side of the chute. I can honestly say I’ve never felt stronger during a race finish. My time was a 2:21 – about 15 minutes slower than my fastest half marathon, but a time I’m extremely proud of because of how I tackled the hills and how good I felt throughout the race.

Coming into the finish line!

Coming into the finish line!

I would absolutely run this race again – hills and all!

We have a few fun posts coming soon, so stay tuned,


How about you? What’s the one race that was a challenge, but that you would definitely run again?


Race Recap: Oriflamme 50K Ultramarathon

The Old West Trails race did exactly what it was supposed to: get me back on track. With a several good weeks of training in, I was excited to see how things would go for me at Oriflamme.

We arrived at the race start at about 6:30 a.m., got checked in, and then went back to the car to stay warm. While we were in the car talking, I noticed C start glancing around, looking behind the seats, in the back, etc., but didn’t think much of it. I didn’t think much of it until she turned to me and said “Where’s your hydration pack?”

Oh, shit!

After a rather intense 2-3 minute freak out, I came to the realization that in my zombie-like state at 3:30 a.m., I had left at it home and there was absolutely nothing I could do about it. Luckily, I saw my buddy Mark at the start and he said he had an extra vest with ONE 20-ounce water bottle that I could use. (I usually carry 2 20-ounce bottles AND a 70-ounce hydration bladder).

So, with a borrowed vest and some scrounged-up food (one Pro Meal bar and a single GU) I went up to the start line, knowing full well I had no idea what I was in for.

It was cold and rainy at the start and all I could do is think about how my pack was doing at home, resting in the warm apartment on the back of the kitchen chair. I couldn’t think about it for long, though, because before I knew it – we were off!

A cold and rainy/snowy start – but you can see the sun coming up in the desert below.

A cold and rainy/snowy start – but you can see the sun coming up in the desert below.


My friend John (left) and the rest of us heading out.

The first five miles were on some rolling single track that’s part of the Pacific Crest Trail. Everyone fell into line and we all marched along. We caught word at the start that the aid station that was supposed to be at mile 5.4 wouldn’t be there. Apparently the car got stuck, so the first official aid station wouldn’t be until mile 13.2.


Once through the first would-be aid station, we started our roughly 5-mile descent to the desert floor. Part of my strategy was to take it relatively easy on the downhill, as I still knew I would have to climb back UP this trail on the way back (about 2,000 feet).

Heading down Oriflamme Canyon.

Heading down Oriflamme Canyon.

Once at the bottom I picked up my pace on the fire road and ran it all the way into the first aid station at mile 13.2. By the time I got there I was starving (I was saving my bar for the climb out – as I KNEW I’d need the calories). I dined buffet-style at the aid station, grabbed a few gels and took off toward the turnaround.

Sandy down on the desert floor.

Sandy down on the desert floor.

My new Dirty Girl Gaiters really performed well!

My new Dirty Girl Gaiters really performed well!

C was waiting for me at the turnaround, and I could tell she was a bit worried about what shape I was going to be in. All in all, I had managed to refuel pretty well at the 13.2 aid station, so at the moment I was feeling pretty good! I hit the turnaround in about 3 hours 10 minutes and knew the toughest part was yet to come.

I cruised through the desert, reloaded at the aid station and started heading toward the big climb up Oriflamme Canyon. I ate half my bar and started powering up the hill – but not for long. I bonked. Hard.


The start of the climb up

The run hike out was long, slow, hot and generally miserable. I was WAY undernourished and it was really starting to show. Regardless, I knew this was a good mental test for me to gut it out and keep moving forward, which was exactly what I did.

More of the climb up

More of the climb up

After what seemed like an eternity I FINALLY got to the top and reached the final aid station (Mason Valley, mile 26). As soon as I got there I took some electrolytes and started pounding shots of Coke like it was closing time at the bar. I woofed down 2 cookies and some chips, hung out for a few minutes and then took off.

The last 5 miles were some of the strongest of the day for me. The weather was good, my stomach was full and my mind was at ease.  Oh, and the views were plentiful.

Coming back in on the PCT

Coming back in on the PCT

I finished in 7:11, and in 96th out of 136 runners who started. While I was physically and mentally ready for a stronger finish, I was incredibly happy with my time – knowing that I had overcome (and improvised) A LOT on that run.

Oriflamme 2014 – 7:11

Oriflamme 2014 – 7:11

After the race I had several people ask me if I was upset that I forgot my pack. Now, during the first part of the race – you bet I was! But once I got done, and had time to reflect on how NOT having it really challenged me to adapt and make the best of an unforeseen problem, I said no.

Would having my pack have gotten me a stronger finish at Oriflamme? Probably. But forcing myself to walk up to the start line and take on a course I had NEVER run, without the comfort of my own nutrition and hydration pack, did more for me mentally than a strong finish with my pack could ever provide.

Note: Hydration packs apparently don’t pack themselves

Note: Hydration packs apparently don’t pack themselves


Up next: the PCT 50. Time to get back to it!