50 Miles of Gratitude: (12) Training & XTERRA Events

….and My Story Runs On….

Yesterday, I did the XTERRA White Tank 20K “race”. I put race in parenthesis as you know I normally use races as training runs for my bigger races (first 100K in 6 weeks!). I already blogged about Aravaipa races awhile back.

This race is no joke from an elevation profile. Their website describes it as:

“For those who prefer a course with pain and punishment, the long course is 20k of grueling single track with over 1500 feet of climbing. Starting from the group campground, runners wind their way up Ironwood to the Waddell trail. Once you reach the first aid station be prepared to go up, the next three miles are all climbing….”  You can see my Tom Tom results here.

Cheryl Miller from Miller Endurance Coaching is one of their sponsors and she hosted a preview run a few weeks ago that I was able to attend. I actually did this race back in 2012 when I was training for my first marathon but I can’t find my results anywhere. At any rate, I knew what I was getting myself into…

Which is why I wanted to do it!  Hills are part of most trail races and I love to train on them to keep improving my ChiRunning technique.  White Tanks are also a great change of scenery for me so I was excited to do this one.

First I want to thank XTERRA because a portion of their race proceeds go to my favorite local charity Girls On The Run Maricopa County (GOTR-I’m currently on their board of directors serving as Secretary). If I’m not racing their events, I’m volunteering because I really appreciate their support!

Now on to my learning lessons from this race!

The more running story develops year after year, I have found that I prefer to preview runs if I have a chance. This gives me a chance to get familiar with the course and know what to expect vs the element of surprise that I used to like more before. Even though I did part of the course backwards on the preview run, I knew what I was getting into!

Even though this was a “training” run, I wanted to race it…my version of racing it 😉 My race strategy was:

  • Bring my hydration pack so I wouldn’t need to stop at any of the aid stations.
  • Power hike the uphills and run as much of the runnable part as possible
  • Focus/improve upon on my ChiRunning hill technique (runnable/non runnable hills, uphill and downhill. I just taught a ChiHills class yesterday so it was all fresh)
  • Continue to get more out of my comfort zone on rockier trails and improve my technique there
  • Get myself mentally psyched up and excited for this race no matter what (this has become a regular strategy for me. Why got all worked up and nervous?  I start thinking about the friends I will see, that I’m getting to spend a “few” hours in nature, getting some ME time, burning some calories, etc.  Literally think of as many positive things as I can to get pumped up for the race to get positive energy flowing)
  • Last but not least, as much as I don’t like always setting time goals for races, since I did the preview run in 3:17 and I wasn’t as racing, I was shooting for a 3 hour finish.

It was a beautiful day! I got there in plenty of time to pick up my packet and run into many friends including GOTR volunteers/board members.


Holly is our Vice President and was racing as well!

I started running right away knowing that the grueling part would be around Mile 2. I had to stop momentarily at the first aid station to get this selfie with Bob and Cindy Hansen who are huge supporters of GOTR and I love seeing their smiling faces!


Bob & Cindy Hansen, GOTR volunteer superstars! Love the rays of sun shining on us!

Then it was all uphill so I started power hiking and using my arms, core and obliques more (which are all sorer than my legs are today!) I knew I was at the back of the pack already but OK with that. Every time there was a wee bit of level terrain or not too many rocks, I ran a bit…however if I know I can power hike it faster and use less energy, that is my strategy. (one of the many things I love about trail running as it’s more “acceptable” to walk due to the hills.) I had several more friends at aid stations that called my name out as I ran by which is always motivating!


We are pretty high up there! Pictures don’t do it justice for sure!


If you look closely, you can see the trail on the other mountain going down hill…

It was finally time to come downhill!  Was cruising in several locations but the trail was rocky so this slowed me down more than I wanted.  I was really trying to focus on relaxing as much as possible as I know any tension mentally or physically slows me down (which is why I get pumped up before a race too…to keep from having mental stress!). I almost tripped a few times but never fell.

I hate looking at my watch to reach a time goal (again more mental tension) but at this point I could tell that I was close to my time goal. I had conserved my energy so I knew the last 2 miles should be pretty easy. I didn’t realize mile 11 was a wee bit of an uphill and I started walking a bit.  I knew I was cutting it close on the time goal so I decided to put my playlist on speaker just to change up my energy and get some motivation.  Funniest thing was that I turned it off in less than 2 minutes!  The music was too distracting. I was in a really good zone (had been for the entire race between my ChiRunning/ChiWalking form focusing, being present and truly enjoying the beauty of the trail.) On a side note, I find it interesting that as my running story continues to develop, I used to only be a social runner. I couldn’t run unless I had company and someone to talk to.  Now, my solo runs hold a special place. I can’t describe it but there is something to be said about being alone with yourself for hours in nature, running on a trail.  Time flies by somehow…Mile 11 was my hardest mile of the entire race and I started thinking I wanted it to be over with.  With 1.5 miles to go, I got it together and started really focusing more on my form and breathing. Before I knew it, I could see the finish line and was getting excited. I was at 2:52 and knew I would make it on time if I kept my pace…..and I did! My official time was a 2:57:37! (and my fastest mile was my last one!)

I felt amazing and was so dang proud of myself when I finished!….


Thanks to my friend Diane for taking this awesome photo of me finishing! It truly describes how I felt!


The GOTR Executive Team..2 of us running and 2 volunteering!

…..Until I started comparing myself to other runner friends….that is another blog post…for now, you can watch my 5 minute facebook live video from yesterday here.

All in all, this was one of my best races from strategy to how amazing I felt at the end.

Do you use races as training runs? Share your comments below!


My badass friend Diane who is an Ironman and did her first 8K trail race!


Selfie with Terry who is an amazing athlete who will be 60 this year and placed first in her age group and 13th woman overall!


You know it’s going to be a great day with this sunrise!

Click here50 Miles of Gratitude: 50 Posts about my first 50 Miler

From My Running Story to Yours….
(if you feel inspired to share your comments, do so below…I want to hear your story too!)

Week #5 Recap- 50K/50Mile Training

….and My Story Runs On….

I swear I mentioned this in one of my videos on my You Tube channel but I can’t seem to find it right now…one of the things I wish I had done while preparing for my first marathon was journaling my experience. This just came to me the other day…I’ve also been wanting to blog at least weekly so I decided to write a quick blog about my previous week training.

I’m following a training plan I created here.  I created one for the 50K on 12/5 and then will change to the 50 mile training plan after that race is over.

My plan called for 40 miles last week and I did 39.6. Close enough for me:

  • Monday is an off day. I just signed up for 2 months with Flip N Fit since they had an awesome deal.  I tried a Yin Yoga class at Naam Yoga.
  • Tuesday:  4 trail miles at South Mountain with my friend Vicki
  • Wednesday:  I was in Tucson doing 2 free clinics (Davis-Monthan Air Force and Performance Footwear).  My boyfriend and I were told to go to Sabino Canyon. It was our first time and I logged 4 trail miles there.  I love first time experiences and it was a beautiful location!
  • Thursday:  I did 3.1 miles at track and 3.6 at the Ragnar Adventure Run.
  • Friday is an off day
  • Saturday:  I spent Friday night on the west side for girl’s night and because I was attending Yoga For Runners and doing a free ChiRunning clinic at Eleutheria Wellness. I know a good 4.7 mile loop at Estrella Park (not crazy about looping but it works for safety reasons, especially if I’m alone).  Was very excited to have my friend Karyl, join me for the first lap. We met at the Breast Cancer 3-day and is a Las Bombas.  She started getting into running last year and has completed her first half marathon and doing Ragnar with us! I did 4.7 with her and then 9.3 alone.
  • Sunday:  I did 11 miles at Warpaint trail at South Mountain. Invited several friends and people were doing their own distance and their own speed.  Five of us did the 11 miles.  I believe this is my longest back to back run? I can’t remember what I did with my first 50K so maybe not…if I would’ve only journaled…I’ve done it walking for sure with the 3-Day..

I’m really making sure I focus on recovery and taking care of my body as I have a big fear of Plantar again or having my heel spur give me trouble…the Yoga for Runner’s class on Saturday was great timing.  After my back to back weekend, I spent some time in the hot tub, did a lot of stretching and leg drains (my favorite!) last night. As I’m writing this now, my legs are heavy but feel much better than I expected. I suspect it’s because of my recovery practice and my ChiRunning focuses during my runs.

Next week will be a bit of a challenge as I’ll be in Tucson Fri/Sat for another clinic and workshop.  If I can’t get my daily mileage in, my goal is to shoot for the weekly mileage.

From My Running Story to Yours….
(if you feel inspired to share your comments, do so below…I want to hear your story too!)

Running Tips for Beginner Trail Runners

….and My Story Runs On….

I’m finally getting some of my “road” runners to drink the Kool Aid 😉  The trail running Kool Aid that is!

I’ll be honest, I remember the days when I used to hike and see trail runners out there.  I’d call them “freaks” in my head….I’d think “what are they crazy? They’re going to fall down and hurt themselves.”  Then a few years ago (and for the life of me I can’t remember what hit me) I decided I wanted to try trail running….and I did…and I’m hooked!  I don’t mind road running (my trail running has actually improved my road running) but if given a choice, I’ll hit a trail any day first.

I have a schpeel (had to look up how to spell this word ;)) that I give my newbie trail runners that I’d like to share because it can help you too:

  1. Pick an easy off-road trail. Don’t pick a trail with a lot of hills on your first time.
  2. You are more than likely going to take a fall at some point so don’t keep thinking about it.  Acknowledge the possibility and move on. You’ll deal with it when it happens, no sense in adding this stress to the situation.  Make sure your core is engaged because this well help with stability.
  3. Look for all the OPEN spaces to put your feet.  Most people focus on where NOT To put their feet.  Your eyes will find what you are looking for so if you look for obstacles, that’s what you’ll find.  Look for all those OPEN spots.  Same idea when you buy that new car or are pregnant and all of the sudden that’s all you see around you.
  4. Start out slow with short strides.  Don’t try to make big jumps in between open spots. I like to think of it as a dance sometimes.
  5. Keep your eyes focused ahead of you so you can see the terrain as it comes at you.  This will get easier with experience.
  6. As a ChiRunner, you will always shoot for a midfoot landing but sometimes the open spots are smaller so aim with the top part of your foot. This will engage your calves more so be aware not to do it all the time.
  7. Make sure are bending your knees. One of the most common reasons people fall is because their heel doesn’t go high enough behind them and they trip on a protruding rock.  Sometimes I even over-exaggerate knee bending when there are bigger rocks around. (Again, more than likely a fall will happen but we try to avoid those as much as possible with proper technique).
  8. It’s totally OK to walk!  I prefer ChiWalking myself but you get the idea.  Trails are more challenging and will tend to get your heart rate up. Don’t worry about walking if you need to take a break (and enjoy nature too)…
  9. Enjoy nature.  Stop and take photos and enjoy nature at it’s best. This is one of the main reasons I love trail running.

Hope these help you!  If you have any other good tips for beginner trail runners, please comment below so we can all learn from each other!

I also highly recommend the ChiRunning Hills and Trails DVD.  You’ll find some of these tips and more, especially the hills part!

One of my favorite DVDs!  I love hills and trail because of ChiRunning ;)

One of my favorite DVDs! I love hills and trail because of ChiRunning 😉

From My Running Story to Yours….
(if you feel inspired to share your comments, do so below…I want to hear your story too!)

Prepping for my 1st 50K-4 days to go

….and My Story Runs On….

I figured I would share a few short posts before Saturday to let you know what I’m doing this week to prep for my 1st 50K.  Would love to hear from you as well…share any suggestions you have for me via comments below!  I appreciate them!  As of right now, I’m very excited and can’t wait until Saturday.  I’m confident in my training and ready for it!

Here are some more specific things I’m doing:

  • Making it a point to get at least 8 hours of sleep a night if my body lets me 😉
  • Drinking lots of water and avoiding foods/drinks that dehydrate me.  I almost had a 2nd double espresso yesterday and didn’t…almost had a beer last night but decided to save that for Running for Brews tonight (it is my Birthday Eve 😉 )
  • Trying to focus on good nutrition and carbing up… I know I’ll be cheating a bit tomorrow. After Wednesday, I’m planning on eating the regular foods I eat before big my races days which are quinoa, grits, baked potatoes, oatmeal and pasta.
  • I took a Gentle Restorative Yoga class on Saturday
  • I belong to a Facebook group called Trail and Ultra Running and ironically someone posed this question yesterday: If you could give only ONE piece of advice to a new ultra runner, what would it be?  Here are some of the comments that made sense for me at this point being 4 days away:   Get calories every hour; Start out very, very slow; Walk (I’ll be ChiWalking when needed for sure!); Don’t think so much about getting to the finish line…when you’re out on the trails, enjoy being where you are, the scenery, the challenge, the other runners, the ability to be alone with yourself, etc.; Understand the difference between running and racing; Sleep, sleep, sleep….the week leading up to your event! Be fully rested. ; smile ; If you think your running too fast,you are; 1. Eat before you’re hungry 2. Drink before you’re thirsty 3. Walk before you’re tired  4. Don’t give up until you’ve crossed the finish line; Don’t start it’s addictive (this one made me laugh because I know it’s so true); Encourage your fellow runners along the way, thank your volunteers, and smile at the crowd (if there is one). The spiritual lift you’ll get from smiling and thanking and motivating will do your heart/mind/body good, as well as lifting up those around you.
  • Today I walk/ran 5 miles and will be doing another 3 at Running for Brews.  Tomorrow and Thursday I’ll walk a bit but nothing crazy.

Please let me know if you have any other advice for this week or race day!  Thanks in advance!


From My Running Story to Yours….
(if you feel inspired to share your comments, do so below…I want to hear your story too!)

My Slowest Marathon ever….

….yet one of my most momentous.

As a runner (or coach) have you ever been in the situation where you had to make a choice on how to run a race:

Do I run this race for me?  
Do I run this race with my friends?

Let me preface this blog by saying I really would love to get your comments below if you’ve been in this situation. I believe it’s a hard choice to make and I’d like to know how you’ve made your decisions in the past so we can learn from each other.

I originally signed up for the Pf Changs Rock N Roll Marathon to run it with a friend who was planning on doing her first marathon.  My plan was to run the Sedona Marathon on 2/1/14 so it would be another training run (along with my 50K on 2/22 now).  My friend realized she was not ready for it and decided to do the half instead (which I told her was a great call on her part, so long as she was making that choice consciously and would not be mad at herself for changing her plan).

In the mean time, I had 5 of my friends/students running their first marathon at this event.  So here I was faced with “dilemma” of what to do?  Do I run this race for me or do I run it with friends?   As I deliberated, here were the questions that ran through my head:

Q.  Why are you running this marathon?  Honestly, for me it was another training run.  It’s marathon #4 and since I’am working on 2 other distance events, my reason was to get a long run in at a race.  I try to plan it this way if it works with the training schedule. Even if I’m paying for this training run/race, I get a new t-shirt, a medal and race experience.

Q.  Do you care how fast you complete this marathon?  Speed is rarely a concern for me.  Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy pushing myself and beating my own personal records (PR) but sometimes it’s just not about speed but the experience. The Women’s Half marathon for example is usually my PR race for a half so that decision is always made to run it for myself.

Q. Do I care that the official records will show my marathon results and everyone else will know my speed?  Hell no….Again, there are times where this is just not relevant, especially as a coach.  And personally I’ve worked a lot on not caring what other people think 😉 (It’s very liberating…of course I value other people’s opinion but learning to detach from their opinion is another story…)

So as I pondered over this, one of my friends asked me if I would run the marathon with them.  I knew this was going to be my slowest group but also the group that “needed” me the most.  Based on the responses above that of course I would love to run with them as they complete their first marathon (a coach’s dream would be to cross the finish line with all their students but that can’t always be possible either).

So we start the race together and one of my friends starts having some serious pain in her hip.  The others wanted to keep moving so I decided to stay with her and help her get through it.  My heart ached for her.  The pain was persistent.   She was such a trooper. We walked as fast as her hip would allow her…at one point we turned around and realized we were the last 2 people in the race…sag wagon right behind us….As much as I knew I could mentally get her to the end, I know her hip was not going to make it and I didn’t want her to push her body to the point of not being able to run ever again.  We talked and pondered and she finally made the decision to get in the sag wagon.  After months of training and excitement to complete her first marathon, I can’t even imagine how hard of a decision that was for her. I have a huge amount of respect for her determination and perseverance and I would’ve made the same call if I were in her shoes.

At this point I thought I would start running and find the rest of the group. I selfishly admit that I loved every minute of the run.  My other friend called me and asked me where I was and we realized that I was about a quarter of a mile away from them so I sped up to catch up.

Let me preface that this friend was pretty much coerced into running the marathon. She was planning on the half but just started training with our group and before you know it, she’s sucked into doing a full marathon. When I reached the two of them, one wanted to run and the other was not feeling too hot and just wanted to walk.  At that point, I knew who needed me the most (we were half way done so still 13 more miles to go).

I did the same things that I did for my other friend: remind them of their ChiRunning/ChiWalking form focuses, stay positive, gather energy from nature and all the spectators cheering, and talk about things to keep their mind off the time.

We pretty much walked that last 13 miles and my official time was 6:17:10.  My best time was a 5:12:01.

Do I care that I was over an hour longer than my first one?  HELL NO!  

Was experiencing two amazing women give it all they had in their heart and their body worth it?  HELL YES!

So how have you dealt with this dilemma? If the answers to my question above were different, I would’ve had no problem running the race for me either.  My friends felt “bad” because they knew I could run faster.  I told them it was an absolute conscious choice and that if I wanted to PR the race and run, I would’ve made that decision.

Looking back to yesterday, I wouldn’t change a thing….

Here we go...

Here we go…

6:17 finish and Ann completes her first marathon

6:17 finish and Ann completes her first marathon

26.2 miles done!

26.2 miles done!

Great caption from the ChiMarathon book

Great caption from the ChiMarathon book

Another medal for the collection...

Another medal for the collection…