Hallucination 12 Hour Race Report

What: Hallucination 12 Hour

When: Early February

Cost: ~$100

Terrain: Mountain Bike Trails/Grass; course is a loop a little over two miles long

Weather: 30s – 50s; very comfortable

My husband picked this event out in November as something to motivate him to keep running all winter… I figured I’d tag along as a nice excuse to run in some warmer weather sans face mask.
We flew into Charleston Airport and stayed at a Hampton Inn ~1/2 hour away from the event. Charleston is a small airport; it didn’t take us more than 15 minutes to get through security. This included the time it took airport security to search our bags (I didn’t take the batteries out of my headlamp), and swab our drink mixes.
I love the beds at Hampton Inns. We also tend to save a lot of money staying there since we usually load up on snacks during the continental breakfast and stash them in our room for later. Hoarders much?
The event started at 8AM. Unfortunately, they only had one port-a-potty, so this led to a bit of a wait and sub-par conditions. The Race Director promised this would never happen again though, thankfully. 🙂
Fortunately for us, the weather was gorgeous. Zero rain, beautiful temperatures and even a little sunshine. The course was mostly dry with pretty much no mud. I actually wore road shoes and had zero complaints. The trails were pretty well packed down and it was easy to get traction on.
The loop was pretty interesting. It twisted and turned A LOT, which helped with slowing down and maintaining a more even pace. The Hubby said he had a tough time with getting up to his normal speed due to the twists and turns; I didn’t have this issue. I actually liked the variability and felt that it helped maintain a more even, consistent pace.
100% of the course is runnable. I don’t wear a GPS watch or any of that fancy stuff so I have no idea what the elevation breakdown is, but the course was pretty darn flat aside from a couple of small rollers. These were really fun to try to run fast. I like to build up momentum on the downs and use it to carry me to the top of the next hill. I have yet to succeed in making it to the top of the next hill on momentum alone.
I really enjoyed this race. The short loops made it easy to keep track of nutrition. Part of the course runs out and back on a flat grassy area, which is right next to the parking lot/port-a-potty. We bought a tub to tuck out things in during the race from Walmart, but it would have been just as easy to put things in the trunk of our rental car if it has been raining. I liked to use this part of the loop to walk and eat.
The race director and the crowd were friendly and accomodating. I liked how neatly the aid station was laid out at the start/finish.
All in all, it was a fun event. We would definitely consider going back next year, especially as a reprieve to get away from the Upstate NY weather.
The Race Director also offers special pricing if you sign up for his race club. We can’t afford to travel that much, otherwise we’d probably consider it. I haven’t ran any of his other races, but we’ve got our eyes on a few of them. When/if we do, I’ll keep y’all posted.
Did YOU run the Hallucination 6/12/24 Hour this year? What did YOU think of the course? What about the other events in this series? I’d love to hear your comments below.
Much love,
Stephanie

 

Naked Bavarian 40 Mile Race Report

What: Naked Bavarian 40 Mile (20 Mile Option too)

When: Early March

Cost: ~$35-$40; refunds offered if you drop before a certain date!

Terrain: Single Track/Double Track/Some Road Sections

Weather: -50F to 100F. Just kidding, it’s Pennsylvania in the end of Winter. Anything can happen.

Last year when I did the Naked Bavarian 20 Mile, our crew piled into the car and headed down to Pennsylvania early in the day to beat an impending snow storm (we hail from good old Upstate NY).
We ended up hitting the storm half an hour into our drive and battled it the rest of the way to our hotel. Our projected 4.5 hour drive took a whopping 8.5 hours, and I nearly wet the car 10 times because we were deathly afraid to pull off the highway.
The one time we did stop, at a roadside rest area, all of the port-a-potties had holes cut out of the sides so you could see the person next to you (seriously, the entire row). And then a tree almost fell on the car.
Ironically enough, when we got to the event that year, there was no snow. None. The weather was chilly, but gorgeous. This year, we were not so lucky.
The drive was a breeze. No bad weather, we had no issues. We stopped plenty of times and I was more than happy to take full advantage of the McDonald’s restrooms.
The morning of the event, however, was another story. We had four inches of snow. The drive to Blue Marsh Lake was a bit treacherous; the plows hadn’t made it through the area yet/snow was still coming down. We took it easy and left early, so thankfully, we had no issues.
Shockingly, there were still a large number of folks that showed up despite the weather. I think close to 400 people were running (including 20 mile folks).  I love the determination of people in the north. All of you are awesome and inspiring. Keep on keeping on.
The first lap of the course wasn’t as bad as I thought it would be. The front-runners blazed a nice trail; the snow became a neatly packed little trail which made running a breeze. The course looked absolutely gorgeous.
I cannot stress this enough. It looked like something out of a postcard with the freshly fallen snow. I was geeking out so hard I nearly fell multiple times. It was so worth it.
The hills weren’t nearly as bad as I had remembered. Trekking poles would have been super helpful for the steeper parts to maintain balance, especially on the downs. I started grabbing fallen sticks after a while and using them to help me down on the steep parts to avoid sliding into the next person. No one likes a human avalanche.
The course is kind of like a lollipop. It goes out for 5 or 6 miles (loose measurements), loops back on itself, and then follows the same path back in. This part was pretty torn up by the end of the first loop; it started to get really muddy and a bit slick in some spots.
Having trail shoes was really helpful.
Someone made some snowmen at the start/finish which was pretty neat. I had to force myself back out for a second lap. I thought my husband was already way ahead of me and felt guilty because I thought I had missed him. Turns out, he had dropped after one lap and was already warming up in the car.
Brat.
I saw my mother in law on the way back out. She was cheerily chatting away, per usual, looking quite chipper.
I became super envious that she was almost done. The second lap wasn’t nearly as much fun as the first. The weather warmed up so the snow was melting off the trees… And onto the runners. I yelped a few times when it hit me. Not a nice move nature.
Heading back out on the course was tough with so many folks coming back in; things got pretty slick over the morning. I had a rough time on the downhills, especially trying to get around folks who were coming back in. The downed sticks helped a lot though.
The course never really opened up; I was always near people, which was pretty nice. I enjoyed the company though folks weren’t really talking all that much.
I was a bit worried about the cutoff with the conditions. The race director said the park wanted everyone out an hour early, which meant we only had 10 hours to finish the course. He did give an option to start an hour earlier at 7AM, but we didn’t get in early enough for that.
By the time I reached the end of the lollipop on the second lap, the course was pretty tore up. My ankles and hips were pretty sore from trying to stay stable; it took about a week to fully recover back to normal. I realized I had a time cushion before the cutoff so I slowed down a bit and decided not to push it too hard.
This event was one of my final long runs before Georgia Death Race.
Despite the conditions this year, I absolutely love this race and would happily do it again. It’s inexpensive, has super well-stocked aid stations, and a great group of volunteers. The elevation isn’t too crazy and it’s fun to get outside towards the end of winter for an event.
You even get a little souvenir when you finish. Not bad for the price tag.
I’m sure we’ll be back, probably with crampons and trekking poles for next year. Based on our track record I’d say we’re due for a warm year next time. XD Here’s to hoping!
Did you run Naked Bavarian this year? What about other courses in the Uberendurance race series? I’d love to hear about your experience.
Much Love,
Stephanie

You’re allowed to change your mind.

You’re allowed to change your mind.

The things you wanted when you were 18 don’t need to be the same as the things you want when you’re 38, 58, etc. Perhaps you’ve come to the realization that owning the latest iPhone, wearing only “name-brand” clothing and following the latest celebrity gossip won’t make you happier. Maybe you’ve figured out the career you’ve been pursuing in pharmacy is really your parent’s dream and not your own. Whatever it is, it doesn’t matter.
You’re allowed, if not expected, to grow. As you get older, you’ll change. Your body will change. You’ll learn more. You may even change your core values or outlook on life. And that is completely and totally acceptable.
I mean… If you never matured, there’s a good chance you’d still be complaining about that girl in high school who stole your boyfriend or yell at your mom for asking what you’re doing this weekend… Because hormones.
You’re allowed to change. The people in your life will change. The only constant in life is change. Adapting to it will only suit you better in the long run.
Repeat: you are allowed to change your mind.
No longer want kids? Don’t have them. Want them? Have them. Marriage? It’s completely up to you. Failed marriage? Shit happens. Hate the job you once loved? Do something else.
Don’t be trapped by the ideals you outgrew.  You don’t have to define yourself by the same standards which you did as a child, last year, or even yesterday.
Maybe you come across new information which completely debunks a belief you’ve held for years (newsflash; I totally believed that men had one less rib than women for like 20 years), or maybe, you’ve finally realized you deserve to be happy.
It doesn’t matter. Because at the end of the day, it’s your life to live. You have the right to be you. To believe what you believe. To want what you want. And to feel what you feel.
You know you best. So listen to yourself. Listen to your body. Trust yourself. And realize it’s okay to deviate.
You have the right to change your mind.
Have YOU had a change of heart? Or have you stayed on the same path for years? I’d love to hear your story in the comments below.

You’re Not Getting Any Younger…

Are you self-conscious?

Do you regularly worry what other people will think about you?
Do you think you’re fat, ugly, or some other negative, debilitating term?
If you answered yes to any of these questions, allow me to help you change your perspective.
You’re not getting any younger. And, unfortunately, gravity, time and environmental contaminants are NOT on your side.
That’s right. In addition to gravity slowly pulling down your skin, your body’s failing collagen production and the natural aging process, you need to contend with a host of environmental factors which are seemingly determined to destroy any remaining modicum of youth you may still possess.
Don’t believe me? Google the effect air pollution can have on your skin. Try not to freak out… Or quit your job and move out to the country.
Now that I’ve sufficiently freaked you out about the future, take a moment to look back on those old facebook photos and instagram posts. Whip out a photo album if you’re feeling nostalgic. Chances are, you looked pretty damn good. Gorgeous, in fact. Slim, trim, fit and hopefully, happy.
And guess what? When you took those photos, you probably felt equally as awful, worried or self-conscious as you do now.
Have you caught on to where I’m headed here?
So take a deep breath. Take a look in the mirror. Focus on every single positive quality and thing you love about yourself. Be it the gorgeous color of your eyes, the great hair day you’re having or maybe the way your jeans happily hug your curves.
Because tomorrow, you’re going to be one day older. And then another. And then another.
Don’t waste your youth. Enjoy it. Wear that tight dress out to dinner. Throw on a pair of heels. Sport the bikini. Run in your sports bra. And relish EVERY. SINGLE. MINUTE.
Take the photos. Smile. Enjoy your body while you have it. You’re not always going to look like this. And one day, when you’re old, saggy and grey, you too can point to old photos of yourself and brag to your grandchildren about how hot you were when you were younger. Here’s looking at you Grams (she turns 90 this September).
Still not happy with where you’re at? Figure out why. Chances are, you’re engaging in self-destructive behavior because of some unresolved emotions from your past. Seek out a qualified therapist who can help you sort through your issues. Because you’re worth the extra time and attention. Once you process and let go of the negativity in your life, you’ll notice positive changes all around.
Have you ever felt self-conscious before? What do YOU love about you? What’s YOUR favorite quality? Tell me all of the good things about your life; it makes me so happy to see other people happy.
Much Love,
Stephanie

It’s Time to Think About Being Selfish

 

 

People-pleasing is a vicious societal norm which women have somehow been bullied into since I don’t even know when.

Women should be gracious. They should NOT rock the boat. They should worry extensively about the well-being of those around them. Sacrifice everything and anything for anyone else.

You know, that same old crap. Yes, it’s the 21st century, we should move on. BUT, it’s nearly impossible to do when we look to our mothers and grandmothers, and watch them live their lives, conforming to this antiquated ideal.

It took my grandmother 85 years and a hearing impairment before she began shamelessly speaking her mind. She no longer cares about her image and consequently will gleefully order what she wants at restaurants, will take the last cookie, or share her deepest wishes.

I want to be more like my grandmother. But I’m scared.

I’m scared that people won’t like me anymore. I’m scared that I will offend someone and they might say something mean to me. And I’m also scared I might lose some friends.

But then again, I might actually feel more liberated. More relaxed. Happier.

I felt boxed in the other night. I felt bullied. I blamed my partner for making decisions without my consent. I held him accountable while he looked at me, genuinely puzzled.

And then I realized that I had done exactly what millions of other women around me have been doing for generations. I blindly allowed him to make major life decisions for us and complacently followed along until I snapped. I told him so. He panicked for a moment, before taking a deep breath and asking me how to fix it.

He didn’t run out on me. He didn’t stop loving me. Yes, he was a little annoyed, but to my legitimate surprise, he wants me to be happy too.

Shocking, right?

We ALL deserve people in our lives who want us to be happy. We ALL deserve to be around people who will let us speak our minds. And in turn, we NEED to speak up.

The time is now ladies. And men.

So I encourage all of you to speak your mind. To stand your ground. To share your feelings and to shamelessly shrug off the desperation to be liked and wanted.

I can promise that your honesty will endear you to the people who truly want to be around you. And you’ll be much happier in the long run.

Are YOU a people pleaser? Or do you shamelessly speak your mind? What tips do YOU have on how to speak up or stand up for yourself? I’d love to hear them.

Much Love,

Stephanie

Rushing Through Life

I regularly rush through life.

Meals are consumed whilst working, driving, or while intermittently cooking for others. I’ll usually hop up from the table before anyone else is done so I can begin doing the dishes.

Work is a flurry of tasks. I dance from one task to the next without taking so much as a moment to take a breath.

And at home?

If I’m not running around, desperately planning a wedding, training for an event or cleaning like mad, I’m collapsing from exhaustion on the couch. It’s all I can do some nights to stare blankly at my partner and force a smile.

Does this sound familiar to you?

I’ve recently started to try to make a change in my life.

I set two alarms in the morning. I wake up with the first, by lie quietly until the second goes off, allowing myself a few moments of peace and solitude before the day begins.

At lunch, I step outside, and walk briefly around the parking lot. I take a deep breath, and then return to work.

I’ve changed my training from focusing solely on mileage and times to effort level.

I do yoga on my rest days to carve out more time for me.

And I’m a happier, more whole person for it.

I haven’t mastered the perfect system yet, but I know that I’ve started on a route that is much more sustainable than my former lifestyle.

Rather than racing around until I collapse each month, barely able to climb out of bed, I’m trying to live with more presence and mindfulness.

I still regularly mess it up, but then again, I’m human.

Do you rush through life? Are you trying to slow down and enjoy the process? I’d love to hear more. Share your thoughts below.

Much love,

S

Catskill Mountain 100K Race Report (2018)

What: Catskill Mountain 100K

Where: Phoenicia, NY

When: Mid-August; annually

Options: 100K or Relay

Price: $75/individual, $175/relay

Aid: None; you need your own crew

Course: Roads, point to point

Elevation: ~7500 ft total change, largest climb between miles 20 – 25

Weather: Usually hot & humid

Register: Ultra Signup

This is the second year I’ve ran the Catskill Mountain 100K. It has the potential to be a very fast course.

Only 11 solo runners started the race this year (including myself); 10 finished in times ranging from ~8:15 to ~15:20.

That’s right. The winning time was ~8:15. I can hardly fathom running that fast for a 5K.

Fortunately, for the middle to back of packers, the cutoff is 15.5 hours. If you can move along at a 4 MPH pace, you have a good chance of finishing.

The Route is point to point. No aid stations are along the course; you will need a crew to start the event. Dial it back between Mile 15 and 25; this is one of the hardest sections of the course.

Bring ice. It will likely get hot.

Wear road shoes.

A relay also runs at the same time as the solo ultra. Try not to get angry as they pass you. Remember; they’re not running nearly as far as you are.

Unfortunately, rest rooms are few and far between along the course. Be mindful of this when nature calls.

Due to poor timing on my part and poor planning, I ended up having my period during the event. And running out of tampons. My lovely partner bought some for me and I had to make due on the side of the road.

Ladies, and perhaps gentlemen, please plan better than I do if you run this event.

At least I have a funny story now though.

Several concerned crews asked me if I was okay. I tried to pawn everything off as terrible chafing. I can laugh now, but at the time, it was a low key nightmare.

All in all; it is a swell event and race director Todd Jennings does a fabulous job. If you’re not up for the full 100K, give the relay a shot. The only draw back is that this event falls on a Sunday each year, so those with limited vacation time will have to explain why they’re hobbling around the office come Monday morning.

Just me? Okay then. 🙂

Check out the Race Director’s Report here.

Have YOU ran the Catskill Mountain 100K? What tips do YOU have on training? The event? I’d love to hear your thoughts.

Much love,

-S