A spin around the Sonoran Desert……….Javelina style!

“Of all the paths you take in life, make sure a few of them are dirt.”

~John Muir

I think one of the best things about ultra running is reflecting back on the races.  Granted, living in the moment is the ideal way to live your life, yet, there is such joy reminiscing about the journey of that one day you tackled.

My Javalina Jundred trek started in the wee hours of October 25, 2017, amid a torrential rain storm in VT.  We dropped our boys off the night before our flight at my parents house (Thank you Mom and Dad, they had a total blast hanging with you guys!!!)  knowing we’d be leaving super early to catch our six am flight out of Boston.  Our flights were great, no problems with connections.  We landed in Phoenix around 11am, AZ time (3 hour difference for this East Coast girl).  Shuttling over to the rental car, I took in the different landscape, nothing like the green back home, but yet so intriguing.  Giant Saguaro Cactus lined the roads and desert as we drove up 17 towards Flagstaff.  Our friend CJ, who is also the Founder of Run Far told us you’ll see over six different eco systems on the way to Flag and he wasn’t kidding! He even told us that the Giant Saguaro can take 100 years to grow an arm…..Whoa!  We’re not in Vermont anymore!

Immediately after checking in, I turned towards my hubs and said…. “We gotta go hiking!!” We were running on fumes, but the crisp sun shined air got us moving.  We can’t sit still. Never have, never will.

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I have to laugh at this photo, because we got out of the car and sprinted up the trail and BOOM…..seconds later we felt utterly and completely drunk, and we we don’t drink!  Our heads were spinning and my hubby was especially feeling woozy.  Then it hit us, this must be some sort of altitude dizziness.  We drove up this crazy road to get to this trail and were now around 8-9k in elevation.  In Vermont, our highest Mountain, Mt. Mansfield sits at 4,395 above sea level.  Our bodies had never felt any kind of altitude.  We slowed and took an easy stroll through what I liked to call, the “Candy Land” trail, and regained our bodies back.

The night finished off with meeting our friends at Run Far.  We had a lovely dinner and chatted about life, races, Run Far, and the upcoming JJ100!! It was wonderful putting the voices to the faces I’ve been working with these past five months. So blessed to have these people in our lives.

With awesome hiking tips from CJ and Mallory, we opted not to visit the Grand Canyon (we’re saving that for a grand adventure with our boys) and decided to head for Sedona! Wow, Sedona blew us away!  We celebrated our 26th year anniversary together (yup, high school sweethearts) hiking, eating, playing, laughing, shopping, and more eating.  It was a phenomenal day.  I felt like the luckiest girl alive.  Give me some hiking shoes, a good trail, my man and some food, I’m set for life.

The beauty and quietness was quite amazing.  We just sat and took it all in………I will never forget our time in Sedona.

Friday we were up early! We couldn’t wait to help man the Run Far booth at Javelina.  I would be meeting more Run Far peeps, it was like Christmas in October! Let me tell you, it’s WAY hotter in McDowell Mtn Regional Park than Sedona or Flagstaff.  When we stepped out of the car to get to the booth, I felt like I was walking on the sun’s surface. And we were told this is cooler than last year! Yikes!

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Run Far gear

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setting up

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open for business, one of our fearless leaders Mallory and my hubs, Guy

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The Run Far team

It was awesome meeting and chatting with fellow runners and telling them the Run Far message.  At Run Far we raise awareness about veteran Suicide and PTSD, while raising money for the children of our fallen veterans who have lost their battle at home due to suicide.  All proceeds from sales/donations goes 100% to the Sergeant Sean Northcutt Scholarship Fund.  We are out running and going beyond our goals to let these children know there are so many people rooting for them and to always know, “Never Give Up”

We got a quick pre-race photo by the photo extraordinaire, Howie Stern and then headed back to our hotel for some rest and relaxation before the big day.

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Our race day started at 7 am.  Walking to the start I was very calm, which is funny, because I am typically an anxious person.  I work on it daily, as it heightened after my horse accident.  I however am not competitive when it comes to running.  For me, it’s a chance to see the world around me at a slow pace. I consider myself a snail when it’s comes to running, much different than my equine endurance life, I LOVED the competitiveness in that sport, but with running I just love the pure joy it gives me.

We stared out winding through an alley of crew tents and cheering, slowly turning into a single track in the desert.  I kept wanting to pinch myself, to enjoy everything my eyes and senses were experiencing.  I was running along side my hubs and great friend, Missy.  The terrain is totally different from VT.  Way flatter, Way hotter, and no humidity. And oh yeah, Cacti. Some people at the start were wearing jackets as Guy and I were already hot, oh dear.  First loop brings you to the first aid station, Coyote Camp (4.0 miles in) This came relatively fast as we were gently cruising down the trails.  We got our ice bandanas out and filled up our arm sleeves with ice (This is a MUST DO…..it will save your race. Ice on you, not in YOU) filled up our bottles with tailwind and off we went.  I was consuming about 17 oz of Tailwind every 45 minutes.

It would be 6.5 miles until our next stop, Jackass Junction. There is a rocky section, so you have to be careful of your footing, mindful not to twist an ankle.  I was excited to see this aid station.  I’ve heard so many stories about this one, it’s like legends passed down from one runner to another. The volunteers greeted us with cheer and were so helpful filling up ice bandanas and water bottles.  I nibbled on a few potatoes before snapping a few pictures.  Thanks John Christley for capturing some great shots of us.  The sun was starting to get a little stronger in the sky, but we were locked and loaded with ICE. Thank you Aravaipa Running for having so much ICE.  This northerner thanks you!

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Jackass Junction…about 10 miles in

Our sights were now on Rattlesnake Ranch, 5.2 miles out.  I felt really good leaving JA, I always feel on a high as I leave an aid station. So much adrenaline.  On this section of the loop we were starting to see the front runners of the 100 coming at us.  I have to say, this was such a high for me.  Seeing some of the elite racers, so focused, yet so kind.  We’d yell, “Great job” and in return they give the same.  We were mindful to get to the side, as they were really RACING….it’s quite impressive to witness.  The first loop is the longest, it adds about 2 miles or so before you get back to Javelina Jeadquarters. The sun was becoming relentless, but we marched on, we couldn’t wait to check off our first loop!

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Map of the loops

Coming into Javelina Jedquarters was a hoot.  You wind through camp and literally cross through the finish line and loop around and head back to your aid station tent.  Our Run Far family was there helping out with whatever we needed.  I actually changed out of my cute stars skirt and into my more comfy, fashionable Inknburn shorts before heading back out.  I also grabbed a ginormous sandwich, I was eating!!!!!

Loop two would be reversed of what we just did, minus the 2 extra miles.  So our first aid station would be Rattlesnake Ranch approximately 3.7 miles into loop 2. After filling up with yet more ice, you can only imagine how fast that stuff melts in a desert, we trudged on for 5.2 miles to Jackass again.  This is where my wheels were starting to fall off.  I felt like something was off.  I had been drinking my tailwind and determined that I may have added a double dose to both bottles by accident.  I knew I needed to drink, but the overly concentrated tailwind was messing with me and the unforgiving sun was really starting to make me feel junky.  During races, I normally dry heave.  It’s just what happens to me. So I felt the anxiousness creeping up. When this happens, I honestly don’t want to have anyone near me.  I pulled back from Guy and Missy and stayed in my bubble.  I worked on my breathing and mantras.  I thought long and hard about what I overcame at the VT100 a few short months ago (I began dry heaving at mile 7 there, but ultimately finished).  Guy could tell I was struggling a bit and chatted with Missy, telling her she should go on, that we were going to walk for a few miles into Jackass.  I felt bad not saying goodbye, but I was so thankful for the miles I got in with her.  I craved shade, a seat to sit down on, but I knew I had to keep trekking towards the aid station where there would be shade, ice, and a much needed bathroom.  I have to thank my hubby again for his sweet friendship, he could easily lap me, but for some odd reason, he loves being out there with me.  I truly love running with him. He gives me so much strength and support, he’s been my coach this whole year and I’m forever grateful for his love and guidance on and off the trails.

Coming into Jackass, I was feeling crummy, I had just come off a DNF at the VT50, so I really, really wanted this finish.  It’s was humbling knowing that I was only 50k into my 100k, essentially half way, feeling like crap.  I immediately went and grabbed ice and sponges to cool off.  I longed for the chair, please let me sit in the shade.  I sipped on gingerale and politely asked the nurse if she could check my pulse.  My heart was racing a bit, but she said you’re fine, just sit and cool off.  Had a nice chat with a gentleman who was doing pretty much the same thing as me.  He told me broth would be served soon, which surprisingly sounded yummy given it was a cool 92 degrees out (I was told last year hit over 100….Holy Hell) Guy was looking for me, as last he knew I was in the bathroom. I forgot to tell him that I was going to sit and chat with the nice comforting nurse, so he began knocking on the porta-pottie “Krista?!?!?!??!” My bad.

Of course I spotted Jim Walmsley from my chair and so wanted to say hi and course take a selfie with him. I’ve love following his running career, he has so much guts to just go for i, I admire that.  I whispered to Guy and said, wouldn’t it be awesome to get a pic of us with Walmsley?  Guy said, “I already talked to him and asked him when is he coming to run VT????” He needs to come East. So he walked over and asked if we could snap a shot, that it would really cheer his wife up. I have to say, this kid is so nice, soft spoken and genuine.  Thanks for cheering this old gal up!

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This cheered me up! Selfie with hubs and Walmsley

About 45 minutes had past and we knew we should get out of dodge.  The one sweet spot about this 100k is there is really no time pressure.  You have 29 hours to complete.  But we had a goal, that we wanted to be kinda close to.  I can’t tell you how nice my body felt to cool down, fuel up and relax.  It’s all I needed to get my temperature down.  Leaving Jackass, we knew we’d hit the rocky section again, but it would be mostly downhill into Coyote.  I could actually run again! The sun was starting to sink closer to the mountains in the distance.  I finally knew we were down to a few hours left of that unwavering sun.
Coming off loop two was a relief!  We ran fast through the timer’s mat, changed and refueled for the last and final loop.  I have to say, it’s nice knowing where you’ve been.  Up hill climb to Jackass and the rocky section, but then we could coast into the finish.  Well, after 19 miles or so.  The night was a welcome relief.  I knew I had some pretty hefty blisters, but I chose to ignore them and my whiny feet.  They could wait, especially since I wasn’t going the full 100.

The desert was amazing at night, you could hear the coyotes yipping in the distance, yet at times I felt like they were right behind me!  We saw our first Tarantula……she was indeed docile like our friends told us she would be.

Crossing the finish line with your best friend is priceless……….. A little piece of my heart will forever be in the Sonoran Desert.  Thanks to Aravaipa Running, the volunteers, and all the runners for making our first time to Arizona freaking amazing!!! Congrats to all who took on the challenge….if you are running Javelina next year, you won’t be disappointed!
Until next time Arizona………
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Happy Trails and keep inspiring……..
See you on the trails…
Krista xoxoxoxoxo
A glimpse of the trail…sorry it’s so bumpy! Beware of motion sickness 😉

Spreading hope………

“Once you choose hope, anything is possible.”

~Christopher Reeve

 

Hope…what does this word mean to you? To me, it means life.  There is so much hurt in the world right now, you can’t even turn on the news without seeing another mass shooting or a natural disaster.  The sadness can bog you down.  I keep telling myself… hope is what makes the future bright, hope is what keeps us all moving forward, hope is life.

Many of you know how much passion of have for Run Far and their mission.  For those of you who don’t,  Run Far is an non-profit organization based in Prescott, AZ, who are raising awareness about veteran suicide and PTSD while providing scholarships to the children of fallen United States Military service members that have taken their own life.

We believe that the brave men and women who have protected our country respectfully deserve to have their families protected as well. Through the Sergeant Sean Northcutt Scholarship, we will provide educational benefits to the children of these fallen service members who have lost the battle at home. 

This above statement (taken from the Run Far website) is what Run Far stands for….the kids. It’s all about the kids.  As I’m out on my runs, not only are my kids on my mind, but those of our fallen veterans too. I think about them often.  It gives me purpose on my runs, pushing me harder.  It gives me hope knowing that there are so many amazing people out there spreading the same message for one cause.  It makes me smile knowing there’s a team of remarkable people coming together to make a change.  If we can give hope to these children through an educational scholarship, imagine what the future holds for them.  They will know they are not forgotten and know that someone out there really cares.  So when the world gets you down, do something to change it.  Be the voice for someone else……

If you want to get involved with Run Far, give me a shout!  There are many ways to help support Run Far and the children. First, through donations.  Every little bit helps, a dollar here or there can really add up….. 100% of the donations go directly to the Sergeant Sean Northcutt Scholarship fund.  Second, Run Far sells some pretty sweet hats and shirts, again with all proceeds going to the scholarship.   Third, my company, Red Horse and Co. sells a beautiful RWB Run Far bracelet , with 50% of the proceeds going directly to Run Far.

Our local running club, Brownsville Runners are going to be organizing a stellar 6 hour race here in the beautiful hills of VT in 2018.  ALL proceeds will go directly to Run Far…..I hope you can come join us to race, volunteer, cheer runners on, and spread Run Far’s message and love…… stay tuned for more details…….we are super excited for this!!IMG_3339

These are just a few ways to help, the possibilities are endless.  Follow Run Far on IG to see what they’re up to, and of course check out the Run Far website.  It’s a great way to stay informed on the latest Run Far news……

I leave you with this beautiful video of the Founder of Run Far, CJ Schneider III…..it’s inspiring, uplifting and brings hope.  No matter what you do in life, make sure you live life to the fullest………even in the darkest of times……there’s always hope……

 

Looking forward to meeting a lot of my Run Far teammates in AZ in a few short weeks at the Javelina Jundred.   We will be sharing our love of  running and of Run Far with so many incredible runners.  I’m truly excited to meet everyone and inspire more people to become a voice for these kids…….

Happy trails & keep inspiring……

Krista xoxoxo

 

Jay Peak & Beyond……

“It hurts up to a point and then it doesn’t get any worse.”

~Ann Trason

 

This quote can relate to many things in life, especially Ultra running. This past weekend my family and I ventured to the Jay Peak Trail Run in Jay, VT.  Driving up on Saturday, the sky was blue, the air crisp, two eager boys in the back, ready to tackle their 5k.

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The boys stride for stride at the start of the Green Circle 5k

What I like about the this weekend is we make it a mini vacation, with a side order of running. The facilities are top notch, rooms are gorgeous, we were lucky to get one overlooking the mountain this year.  Great restaurants, a general store, and don’t forget the amazing Waterpark to get your splash on or relax in the giant outdoor hot tub! A must do on Sunday night to soak your tired muscles…….

The boys enjoyed their 5k, but were eager to get to the waterpark afterwards, what kid wouldn’t? The waterslides and lazy river are so much fun…….we had many races against each other…we came to realize that whoever rode down the slide with hubs, was clearly going to win!! Hehehehe

We grabbed a nice lunch at the Pub, it was the most beautiful, picture perfect VT day.  Not a cloud in the sky, near 70….you couldn’t imagine any bad weather coming in on the horizon.  Yet we knew, they were calling for frigid temps and lots of rain…..EWWW… After getting our packs ready and laying out our gear, tailwind, simple squares for the morning….we chilled and put on a movie and settled in for the evening.  Our alarm would be going off at 5:30am.

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I thought I was buying oatmeal……maybe the worst pre race breakfast ever!

BUZZ, darn alarm…..I jumped up and started getting breakfast together and making our oatmeal….WHAT THE HECK IS THIS?!?!?!?!?  What I thought was oatmeal was some sort of pancake batter thingy.  I made mine ultra thin and you can see hubs made his thick.  Thank goodness we bought english muffins….

We walked down to the start, it was cool, no rain yet.  Some people had rain jackets, others just a tank top and shorts.  I decided to go with my Skylight Inknburn tech and Mermaid shorts. I love me some Inknburn……. I don’t love being too hot, I heat up rather quickly while I run, but I did pack a rain jacket.  Hubs and I always laugh when we stand around at the start, because as we look around, we have packed the whole house into our packs, and others have nothing.  I always feel like I’ll need something and I want to be ready, but boy, I gotta learn to minimize!!!

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At the start..go team RunFar

And we were off on our 35.5k, adventure… so a 22 miler with two loops.  Each loop has an elevation gain of approximately 3500+ feet.  They label these races as Quad Burners and that is 100% true!!!  We start off meandering by the lodge and up into a nice slightly elevated groomed trail….climbing roughly 700 ft.  Then the BEAST climb, pretty much up the face of Jay.  The third mile has an elevation gain of 1200+ ft! In ONE mile!!!! I could feel my legs burning a bit, but the rain was holding off so we could see the majestic view below us!!!

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Rain was at a minimum during loop one

As we reached the top of that climb, we entered the “mossy forest”…as I aptly named it.  Gorgeous, rugged, gnarly, rocky, rooted trail.  After this brief climb you are almost to the top where there is a cool lodge building.  Teenaged boys handing out water, bananas, and such.  They looked so cold!  Thank you to all the volunteers for being out in the frigid temps to help us runners!!! Much appreciated!!!

 

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almost to the top! Storm’s a brewin’

From there, lots and lots of downhill to reach our out and back down the Long Trail.  This is a hard section for me, because as you are making your way down, all the front runners are hiking back up, FAST.  It’s difficult mentally knowing it’s about a mile down and then the same mile back up….but there is a cool aid station at the bottom and oh did those Oreos taste AMAZING!!! Thanks ladies……

From the top of the Long Trail section, it’s pretty much a coast home for the last five miles.  Nearly all of your massive climbing is done in those first 6 miles, don’t get me wrong, the last five miles aren’t flat, but there are more sections that are runnable.  Numerous runners had trekking poles, I think they would have been extremely helpful on the steep downhills, it was hard at times to hold yourself back.  As we headed into our tenth mile, the rain started coming down.  Luckily we had our rain jackets stuffed in our packs….they kept us warm and somewhat dry, even though our base layer was wet…I did feel warm enough.  With eleven miles done, we had the midway aid station at the starting area, and then it was back to the intense climbing and repeating the loop again…….I actually enjoyed it way more the second time, I was tired and my quads were barking, but I knew what was coming ahead and that after six miles, we would be in the clear.

*This is the “mossy trail”…..haha hubs called it an awful trail as a joke…we just kept laughing at the conditions……I have to say it was an epic day! 40’s and rain and mud….best trio for an ultra!!!

I just love this race!  I totally recommend it, it’s not easy, but you know you’ve done something after you conquer Jay!!!!!!!!!!! We’ll be back for sure in ’18!!!!

 

Looking ahead…….I may have, accidentally, maybe, uh, hmm, signed up for my second 100!!!!!  AHHHHH…..I’m really pumped for this one, because I will be meeting up with all my RunFar friends.  We will be racing the Javelina Jundred in the beautiful desert of Arizona this upcoming October.  Hubs and I are flying out together (thank you Mom and Dad for hanging with the boys…..and we get to celebrate our 26 year anniversary of being together to boot <3) Looking forward to meeting the amazing folks at Aravaipa running who put on the JJ100, and to finally meet my fellow RunFar athlete/friends face to face.  I’m so proud of what RunFar stands for. Running for them is a constant reminder of our veterans serving our beautiful country.  I want to continue being a voice, sharing their message…….getting veterans the help they need with PTSD and mental trauma can hopefully save lives and saves families.  RunFar’s mission is to raise awareness about veteran suicide and PTSD while providing scholarships to the children of fallen United States Military service members that have taken their own life. Please take a moment to check out their website, grab a sweet RunFar trucker hat/shirt or send a few bucks their way…every little bit helps…..thank you….

I leave you with a cool video from RunFar….enjoy and keep inspiring others…..

RunFar video  

Click on above link to see what RunFar athletes are up to in October…….

See you on the trails…………

Krista xoxoxo

 

A wee bit windy at the top!!!!

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boys cheering us at the finish!!! Best kids ever!