Friday, January 6, 2023

Ultramarathon Streak: I just felt like running

Ultramarathon Streak World Record

This post is probably long overdue. Today, the day that I write this, marks day 63 of an ultramarathon streak that I started on a bit of a whim. I didn't train for it nor did I plan for it. This may sound especially insane for most people, but I already run most days and since work would be a bit slow, it could take some of my usual work time. Little did I realize the challenges and intensity of experience that running so many hours across so much terrain would entail. Now at day 63, I am glad I didn't realize the extent of the challenge, I'd rather go in optimistic and idealistic than anxious and stressed. 

One of the very rare days of shorts and tank top!

How it started

I am sure that at some point over the past year or two a seed was planted that got me to where I wanted to do this streak, but I am not sure what sparked it. Perhaps it was seeing the talented and courageous Jacky Hunts-Broersma do a 104 day marathon streak in 2021 as an amputee. Or maybe it was the equally talented and courageous Alyssa Clark running a 95 day marathon streak during covid in 2020. I can't be sure because at the time of hearing about these amazing women, it did not even cross my mind that I might want to do something like this. Shout out to Alyssa who helped me prepare the week before my ultra-streak with answering a ton of my questions, giving me tips, sharing her info and verification so I could better go for the world record - thank you Alyssa, you're a star. It's very complicated to attempt a world record and without her help I would not have been sufficiently prepared. 

I do think my thru hiking adventures in Arizona paved the way for me to realize I was capable of a big running streak. I've done 400 miles in 10 days and other big weeks of high volume. Thru hiking has always been especially hard for me (but I love it so much) because I have kids, dogs and a business so spending a month or two on the trails just isn't possible. This streak however, is possible for me, and allows me to still be a parent, a business owner and spend time with my dogs. 

Fast forward to this year, to late October/early November. With the final race of Destination Trail (my company) over for the year in mid-October, the Moab 240 mile Endurance Run, I was finally able to think about what I wanted to do for fun. I always like to do something adventurous on my birthday (Nov 8) and since I was in my work off season - ok still lots of work but I am my own boss so I can be flexible, I thought maybe I'd do a marathon streak. As I researched it I wondered, "is there an ULTRAmarathon streak?! Because if there is that is way more up my alley." Although a marathon streak would be easier and take less time, I am an Ultrarunner and the Ultra streak record needed some major updating! I wasn't doing this to do something easy anyway, so ultra streak it was.

Snow Day 50k

Upon researching Guinness World Records I found a record of 22 days. Ok, I thought, I think I am going to do this. From the very start of my consideration process to starting the running was just over a week. Which is to say I had decided almost immediately to do it on a whim. All the best things I've done have been on a whim. I had a good feeling about this. I trust my gut and I just knew I needed to do it. 

I am in the kind of running shape where I knew I could do a streak, but I didn't know for how long or if my body would hold up, after all, the last 50k I did was back in August and I don't usually do more than 5-12 miles most days. Typically I take a day or two off a week at the most but do regularly take days off and have NEVER done a significant running streak. 

To my credit, I rarely get injured. I am very flexible for a runner. I used to be a massage therapist. I have been running 26 years more on then off. I knew that I would be able to problem solve my way through most issues, mental or physical. I can say now, 63 days in that not once have I wanted to quit. 

How long to streak for?

From the very start of considering the streak I just wanted to be open to doing it for as long as my body would hold up. I wasn't sure if that would even be the record-breaking 23 days, but I wanted to try. In my head, my goal was MUCH, MUCH bigger than 23. I knew I'd be disappointed if I didn't get as far as the marathon streaks, which at the time were around 100 (a bit more) and currently there is a woman who is planning 150 in Australia. 

Most of all though I wanted to do this level of running, this insane volume, to satiate my curiosity. See what I was capable of. See how my body adapts. Or if it can adapt. At the time of starting I had to stay very focused on the 23 day goal as thinking too "big picture" could be overwhelming. My next goal was (is) making it to the HURT 100 miler, which is next week as I write this, Jan 14-15 (day 71-72 of the ultra streak) and then hopefully refocus my goal farther. 

Here is some info on the record and rules as well as some facts about the streak thus far:

  • I started on Nov 5, 2022
  • I've run well over a 50k (min 31.06 miles) every single day beginning on Nov 5, 2022 until current day
  • No days off
  • All runs are done at once, not broken up throughout the day
  • All runs are done outdoors and no treadmill or mechanical equipment is used
  • Verification will be submitted to Guinness World Records upon completion of final day
  • Verification follows all Guinness World Record requirements as outlined in their handbook and material for this specific record, defined as: Most Consecutive Days Ultramarathon Runs"
  • I officially applied for the Ultramarathon Consecutive Days Runs record before beginning the streak
  • Current verified record is now 11 days held by Katie Spotz as of the day of this writing as the 22 day record that was in place when I began was changed mid-attempt (my attempt) to a non-binary record. I surpassed both those records in November. 
  • Runs are mapped and recorded on two GPS calibrated devices and runs are no less than 31.5 miles, most being 31.6-32 miles 
  • Runs must start and end on the same day and rest breaks are recorded and governed by Guinness Records so as to not "break the run up" throughout the day. Runs are timed start to finish with watch time running without being stopped the entire run 
  • Runs for me typically take 5-7hrs at an "easy pace" depending on weather/temperature, route, amount or presence of snow and ice, inches of snow, energy levels and pain/injury. For example, we have gotten 12 inches of snow for some days, others we had negative temperatures (-15F). I run no matter the conditions so it does take more time some days. Typically snow days are up to an hour slower as there is often significant ice and snow to run through. I have had some days with more extreme pain that were also slower. Thankfully, those days are over and runs are more predicable now. I have gotten faster overall - my easy is now an hour faster than it was when I started.
  • Injuries: I have had a number of issues, none of which have stopped me yet. I have been able to treat and even fix most the issues that have come up. Others have improved but not gone away. I have had extreme bilateral shin pain, achilles tendonitis, back of the knee immobility and pain, hallux limitus and accompanying swelling and sensitivity, back and shoulder pain, osteitis pubis (pubic symphysis pain). Various tendonitis issues in the legs. I think that's about it. My body has shown great resilience and strength overcoming most of these issues, but I still have to work on them daily to make sure they stay under control. Some days I spend an hour or more stretching and rolling/massage, however I am happy to report as of this writing that PT and massage is being required less than it was just a week ago.
  • I am balancing work (running a business), caring for my children (teenagers, makes it easier!) and playing with my pups with doing a 50k every day. There's not much time for anything other than work-kids-50ks right now, but my daughter has joined me for the end of the 50ks from time to time and my dogs regularly do the first 5-10 miles with me - depending on the conditions
  • I do 31.5-32 miles a day /224ish miles a week /992ish miles a month that's about 45 hrs of running a week 
  • I'm running in Boulder, Colorado at 5,400ft. This time of year temperatures range from low single digits to 40s/50s F but seem to typically be 20s-30s F. During my streak, I have seen temps -15F to 60s. 
  • I mostly use the Nike Alphafly Next% road shoes, and alternate between 5 diff pairs. I have also used Altra torin and Altra lone peak on trails but they don't provide enough cushion for me for 224 miles a week
  • I have no idea how many calories I consume or burn. I just try to eat a lot. I have breakfast and coffee in the AM. I eat a few items on the run and drink 40-50oz water and/or coffee (love grabbing a mocha along the run). Remember it's quite cold in CO so I don't sweat much. I eat a snack after the run, then a big dinner and try to have another snack before bed. I do not follow a specific diet. I do eat meat. My fav meal is rare steak, vegetables and rice. I prefer not to eat processed food. I like fatty food more than sweet food. I like all foods!
  • I think I have lost 10-15 pounds in the first month of doing this. My weight seems to be more stable but has fallen bit over the past few weeks, but very slowly. I think it is still leveling off. I do not know my starting weight, so I cannot be sure about exact weight loss since start. I have started weighing myself lately. I can tell about the weight loss visually and can feel my bones more. My energy levels are great and I still have a regular period. 
  • "How long do I plan to go?" is a non stop question and I will not answer it because I have not decided and I do not want to answer it yet. I want to take one day at a time. I cannot go forever as I am sacrificing many aspects of life to do this, however I really love my runs and know I will miss them when I am done. I can see now that it is possible perhaps for some people, perhaps even myself, to do a streak like this for quite a lot longer than I thought previously possible... if one is willing to put aside the time. Once I reach my final goal, I may have to acknowledge that I seem to be able to go on forever but must quit so as to make room for a more balanced life. I hope to quit on my own terms like this - not out of injury. And hopefully at a number that I can be proud of (and 63 is not it!)
Thank you for reading, I am grateful to share the journey, for the ability to run and to explore my inner world through my outer world adventures. May you too have such incredible journeys! You can follow my on Instagram @runcandicerun twitter at @runcandice and TikTok at @runcandicerun where I mostly post daily updates. 

One of my favorite "trails" on my daily route

Tuesday, May 3, 2022

Something Altogether Different

There’s a point at which you cross the threshold of day and night becomes inevitable. The weary hiker at this time begins to set up his tent, makes an evening meal and watches the sun paint the sky. The sun is nothing if not an artist and at first she paints with yellows, reds and oranges as though it’s not truly a goodbye, and then with darker blues and purples.

By now the hiker is in his sleeping bag, insulated from the cold night and safe from the monsters of the mind that make themselves at home in the dark blanket of night. The hiker knows that night doesn’t play by the rules of the day, that even the normal shapes of the land and terrain change and a new, blurry, dark world comes to life:

Glowing eyes peering out from the hillside, a screech of a wildcat from a rocky outcropping, a rocky trail that weaves in and out of a riverbed so feverishly that the water is dried up and all that’s left is heavy sand and if you’re lucky a cairn or two to mark the way. A trail barely etched in the mountain, one side falling dangerously into an inky blackness.

At night getting lost or hurt is as real of a danger as the wild, stealth hunters who prowl these forests and hillsides. At night is when the hiker knows he’s no longer the most dangerous animal, he’s just a nearly blind, stumbling and almost hairless creature that must sleep, a creature who has little protection from the harsh world of the night.

I look longingly at a tent, the hiker inside surely sleeping peacefully, as my legs continue their rhythm of forward and upward progression. I’m not a hiker really, and I’m not one of the wild beasts of the night— I’m something altogether different and I move quietly through the night and up the mountain. For me the night is peace. It’s quiet. Pierced by howls and crackle-snaps—- what’s out there? I don’t know, but I am okay in the unknown, I’ve learned that’s where dreams are born. It’s a world I must explore, plus I have 20 more miles to go before the night overtakes me

Monday, March 8, 2021

Your Kind of Love is Dangerous

 Your Kind of Love is Dangerous

I can’t get enough of you
Each evening you take off your blues and grays,
Revealing deep purples, pinks, yellows

At dusk I am briefly embraced by your colors
At your most beautiful, you fade quickly
to cold darkness and I’m alone,
making me realize I was alone all along

I bring my own light for these runs,
Even on your darkest night
I can find my way, my feet hitting trails
Surrounded by mysterious darkness,
Everything is gray in absence of your light.

I run all night until you’re back in your sweet yellows and oranges, turning to blue as sunrise ends.
I cannot look at you you’re so bright,
but it’s impossible not to know you’re here.

Your light warms up all the dark, cold corners of the earth, warming my heart through my black tank top as I sit on my deck looking up occasionally to see your vibrant colors and reading Nietzsche:

“Independence is for the very few; it is a privilege of the strong”

The desert can be a brutal place, it’s where you like to reside. Everyone around you has to carefully adapt to survive your heat or die trying.

The Saguaro cactus grows abundantly
but slowly in your light. It is covered with hard spines and flexible bristles as a method of defending the water stored inside.

I’m like the Saguaro thriving in the toughest
of climates and terrain, choosing the difficult over the easy.

There is no reward in taking an easy path,
Only the difficult path will give you the fiercest sunsets and the darkest, coldest nights.

The morning is still young and I finish my coffee
with Nietzsche, having lost my spot I reread:

“Independence is for the very few; it is a privilege of the strong. And whoever attempts it even with the best right but without inner constraint proves that he is probably not only strong, but also daring to the point of recklessness”

[Poem “Your Kind of Love is Dangerous” written by me on 1/18/21, Nietzsche quote in this poem from his book “Beyond Good & Evil” translated by Walter Kaufmann]

Your Light & Dark

In the evenings I run through the desert’s mountains, sweat on my bare skin glowing yellow and red in the disappearing light, mirroring the vibrant colors of a disrobing sky. How is it that as the sun exits it seems even stronger through its stunning curtain call?

It feels like such an intimate few minutes before the sun says goodbye. The colors are so deep and intense that they penetrate through me, warming my heart and leaving me excited, even though I know this means goodbye.

I’ve been running but I stop to admire the view, my arms in the air as though I can embrace the whole sky, then hands into a prayer and a bow toward the sun, reverence for the unknown and a deep gratitude for here & now, for you.

My moment of reverence and I’m back to running, it will be dark soon. My heart is beating hard
as the trail climbs upward leading to a place I want to explore. It’s getting dark (absent of light?) and I miss the light, feeling melancholy as I pull out my running belt and light and a jacket it’s almost too dark to run without it.

Thinking about how I already miss the light and sun, miss the color and it hits me that maybe the light is the dark, and the dark is the light because without one, the other does not exist 💫

Wednesday, July 8, 2020

Unsupported FKT on the Tahoe Rim Trail

Hi there! I submitted my FKT today for the 170.8 mile Tahoe Rim Trail. I wanted to share my trip report (brief version) as I submitted the the FKT site. I'll post a longer version soon, but for now here are the basic details. Note: My first attempt on the TRT was in 2012 and supported.  I quit about 110 miles in. I made two other attempts, both unsupported. One one attempt I quit 70 miles in and on the more recent I finished in 72hrs and 21 minutes but due to intense hallucinations just 10 miles from finishing I made a call for help to a friend. This call - even though I went on to finish negated my "unsupported" attempt. I was ok with this because I was convinced I was too slow anyway. Here's my successful unsupported bid:

I started the Tahoe Rim Trail on July 4 at 10:23am from Tahoe City going clockwise with the goal of sub 60 hours, ended up just missing that and finished in 60:47:34. I ran completely unsupported and unaccompanied. I carried all my own gear, food and even returned with all my trash! 

I only refilled water from streams. The longest sections with no water resupply was from Mt Rose to Kingsbury where the trail crosses the river I think about 2.5-3 miles before the turn off to Heavenly Stagecoach lodge area - did that section with just 3L of water because I didn't want to trek down to Spooner lake and add the extra time. It was about 38 miles. Got kinda thirsty. 

I tried to sleep briefly three times but was unable to fall asleep. I propped my legs up and tried to relax knowing that just a bit of time would be helpful in resetting my eyes and body. Ultimately just laid there for 15-30 mins each time and resumed my run actually feeling better and being able to increase my speed each time so I think the laying down was very helpful even without sleep. All in all I slept zero in those 60hr 47min 34sec and it really began affecting my mental state making it more difficult, especially at night, to navigate with all the hallucinations. 

I would constantly question whether I was just running in circles and at Echo Summit almost got really turned around thinking I'd already passed the summit when I still had not arrived. I had to pay very close attention and remind myself that what I was seeing was not real. At night everything became something else and inanimate objects moved and became alive. Having dealt with hallucinations on 200s milers and last time I ran the TRT unsupported (in Nov 2019) I knew to not focus too much on these fantastical, scary and disorienting visions. 

I carried about 11,500 calories and only consumed 7,000. I got blisters from pretty early on that became pretty horrible just 40 miles from the finish. I took off my socks and that helped the pain a bit on the bottoms of my feet but caused more to form around the sides of my feet. I never get blisters and so I did not bring anything to cover them with. Won't make that mistake again! 

I ran the last 16 miles the fastest of the entire route really hoping to get just under 60 hours but even with running almost every step I missed the 60 hours in large part because it got dark and I began having some trouble navigating. All said and done, I moved almost non stop for all those 60:47 hours finishing at 11:10:34 pm in Tahoe City on July 6th to many hallucinations, my car, and went to sleep without any fanfare- typical unsupported run! I tracked on my coros watch, strava and with my spot beacon. 

I shared my SPOT tracking link with my family (kids), a few of my friends: Garrett Froelich ad Mike Tebbutt (locals) who tracked me during those 2.5 days.

Sunday, May 17, 2020

Someone Somewhere

Right now you can break the law by running on some trails.
Everything is closed, but I'm trying to keep my heart open.
People can report each other for going to work,
there's an online site you can do that from in my town.

Yesterday I went on a run and the touchscreen on my phone stopped working
but just the top 1/3 of it. The bottom 2/3 works just fine.
It's surprising how hard it is to use your phone when you can't go back
on any screen because the back button is in the top 1/3.
I wish we could go back to when we didn't hate each other.
But we are frozen like my screen.

Someone somewhere decides what is right and what is wrong.
"You don't need to think, just listen" they say.
Yesterday you were my friend, today you are my enemy I'm told.
You just want to know what side I am on so you can hate me.
You're like my phone, part of you is stuck and isn't working right and you know it.

I understand you because I, too, wanted to believe that someone somewhere
 is doing what is right for me. I stopped believing there was someone
that would protect me when I was 8 years old. It was a hard choice,
but I decided to think, not just listen.

I cannot see my enemy, I'm told it's too small.
I'm checking out groceries at the store and all the clerks have masks.
My clerk has her mask over her mouth, but her nose is out.
She holds the side of the mask as she talks to me,
pulling down the side enough that I can see her lips.

We talk about anything but the enemy we cannot see.
Everything I do causes some anxiety:
touching the counter, oh shit.
Touching my phone, oh shit.
Standing at the counter I feel out of my body,
like the top 1/3 isn't working right.
Am I getting sick?

My daddy is gone, but he's not dead.
I gave up believing I could be protected way before he left.
It was a hard choice, but I decided to think not just listen.

Your clothes, beliefs, and hate make you feel protected
So you can forget that you are naked under all these layers
You can forget that you are human behind a glowing screen
Forget that you will die

You're like my phone,
part of you is stuck and isn't working right and you know it.

Saturday, April 18, 2020

Using Love to Fight Fear

I woke up this morning glad that the nightmare was a dream— the fear and emotions still so real that I knew my body didn’t know the difference between dream and reality, at least during those moments of sleep.

I’d been curled in a corner with a giant Tyrannosaurus Rex looming over me like a scene in Jurassic Park. No matter how fantastical it sounds, in the dream I was being pursued by a very real and threatening dinosaur.

My family, friends and I had scattered just moments before this monstrous reptile arrived, hoping to hide. We were told, in the mysterious way we learn things in dreams but can’t remember once we are awake, that the only way that the T-Rex wouldn’t see (and eat) us was if we were able to successfully visualize love.

It wasn’t explained how this worked exactly, but I knew from my visualization work that it must be FELT to be a successful visualization. Felt in a way that our body recognizes the visualization as something we are currently experiencing.

So with all my might and mental power I threw myself into that feeling of love: the compassion, the empathy, the feeling of being warm no matter the weather or temperature. The fierce love, the gentle and kind love. A mother’s love, a partner’s love, the love of someone who recognizes that we are all interconnected.

All the while knowing that fear, a giant capital letter FEAR — embodied by the nightmarish T-Rex, was looming just outside my visual orbit of love ready to eat me if I faltered.

In my dream I KNEW that love was the only way to survive this scary creature. Waking up, there was no T-Rex smashing its teeth and ferociously hovering above me, but the metaphor wasn’t lost on me.
💖> 🦖

You want too much

You want too much.

You want beauty and grit.
You want flaws with perfection.
You want to love me and hate me.
You want me without having all of me.

Give me a moment while I find the right face to put on today. 
Fumbling through my cabinet for my makeup, 
the fake wood peeling at the corner of the mirror frowns at me.

I shake the bottle of foundation, its purpose to even skin tone, 
but it’s only skin deep. My bare fingers spread it over freckles 
and lines and follow the path of tears. A little under the eyes. 
Dab, dab dab, smooth.

I’m thinking about how someone told me to “just be positive” 
in response to a difficult story I shared. Just be positive. 
We don’t need anything negative. Take your stories and cover them up with paint. 
Don't you know that too much paint ruins a picture? 
Dab, dab dab. Smooth.

Your troubles, judgements, opinions, stories, 
your difficult, dirty, sad, messed up life doesn’t belong here. 
Make us happy. 
Dab, dab dab. Smooth.

It’s time for bed but instead of sleeping 
I’m lying on my jungle comforter, 
reading my unfinished poem not sure how it will end. 
Do people understand the power of metaphors? 
Do they understand you can’t have it all without it all?

The creek outside babbles to the rocks
 as it flows through my backyard. 
The frogs chime in and it reminds me of nights 
sleeping under the stars as a child.

I get out of bed and follow the sound of the creek, mesmerized. 
The path is full of rocks and the climbs are so steep I must crawl: 
head down, hands and feet pressing into the earth, 
heart pumping into the darkness. 
I should’ve brought a light.

With my head down I don’t realize I’m at the top 
until I come to a sudden stop, toes hanging over a cliff. 
The stars poke holes in the night’s blanket of darkness 
like a million leaks sprung and flowing onto the earth. 
Was the universe flowing to the earth the sound of the creek I heard from bed?

My breath catches in my chest, 
not from fear of falling but from the awe-struck moment: 
the vast expanse in front of me, 
limitless but for my body — 
a body that obeys the laws of physics and gravity.

Tuesday, March 10, 2020

Live Tracking for my 800mile Arizona Trail Speed Attempt

UPDATE: second update!! We ARE starting on March 15 after all! All gear, crew organized and we will be beginning Sunday morning. Previously posted that we are starting on the 16 but we’re able to get prepared for storm/mud/etc so we are starting on 15 after all. You can follow updates on social media by going to: @runcandicerun (link below in bullet points)

Live tracking of my Arizona Trail Speed attempt beginning March 15!

A few notes about my record attempt:
  • I begin on March 15 at the Mexico/AZ border
  • I am going South to North
  • I plan to do over 60 miles a day
  • I am running supported with a crew
  • I aim to finish in under 14 days to best all current records on the trail male or female
  • You can view current records here
  • I am fundraising for Girls on the Run in AZ. You can donate here for Girls on the Run. Also consider donating to the Arizona Trail Association! You can donate to the trails here
  • Follow updates and posts on my IG page here.

Monday, February 24, 2020

Take 2: Running the Arizona Trail for Girls on the Run

It's on! It's been a year since an injury sidelined me and kept me from running the Arizona Trail speed attempt I had painstakingly planned out. Looking back I can see how difficult it was to shelf my goal for so long, but in the grand scheme of life, waiting a year is nothing.

Take 2: Arizona Trail 2020

I will begin my speed attempt on the Arizona Trail beginning March 15. My  aim will be to finish in fewer than 14 days.

Route: 800 mile Arizona Trail
The Arizona National Scenic Trail is a National Scenic Trail from Mexico to Utah that traverses the whole
north–south length of the U.S. state of Arizona. The trail begins at the Coronado National Memorial near
the US–Mexico border and moves north through parts of the Huachuca, Santa Rita, and Rincon Mountains.

Crew Chief, Social Media Wiz: Catra Corbett
Photography Crew: Dave Wiskoski, Adam Eckberg
Videography Crew: Adam Eckberg, GoPro
Additional Pacing/Crew: Harald Zundel
Pacing: All Crew members

Goal: 12-14 days (58+ miles per day, goal: 62+). Goal is to run the route faster than any of the
supported or unsupported records, men or women which would be anything under 14 days, 12 hours.

Current FKT records (overall fastest times):  
Supported, Men: Michael Versteeg 15 days, 22hrs, 39 minutes
Supported, Women: Helen Galerakis 17days, 11 hours, 3 min
Self Supported, Men: Josh Perry 14 days, 12 hours, 21 minutes

Start Date: March 15 2020
Goal Finish Date (12-13days): March 26-27, 2020
Live Tracking via Trackleaders/SPOT tracking: Link coming

Charity: This speed attempt will be an effort to raise money for Girls on the Run in Arizona, a
program that gives young girls after school running opportunities including coaching and working
toward a 5k. Our donations will help cover the charities costs and provide scholarships for girls
that cannot afford the program. It is our hope that this FKT attempt can bring more attention and
support to Girls on the Run programs! 

Official Charity FKT Page/Donations can be made here:
**Link to donate is not active, we are working on it sorry for the delay, please check back!

Sponsor Opportunities:
Interested in becoming a sponsor to help cover our costs and get some exposure for your business? Please contact Candice at: and THANK YOU!

Sunday, January 26, 2020

Running between Dark and Light

Photo by Paul Smith

Let me lead the way because I understand the dark:
How light and dark enhance each other, how they need each other to exist. How easy it is to lose your footing, how quickly the ground will pull you down. I’ll show you how to get back up fast before it buries you. Let me lead the way.

I’m breathing the mountain: hands on quads, pressing my legs hard into Hogs Back, the rough, rocky and steep ascent leading up the first climb of this 100 mile race. The climb is so steep and rugged that runners weave in and out of paths merging and blending. In the night you can’t see where I begin and the dark ends, or where the dark starts and I end.

Energy is high right now, but give it another 12 hours & this climb will break runners, it’s armor too tough for their minds to get through, turning them around in their tracks, back to the aid station to turn in a bib. But that’s not an option for me, that girl doesn’t exist anymore. The inky dark highlights cheekbones, deltoids, quads and bones that were broken and will never be the same. Once you break you can’t go back. You only know this when you experience the trauma.

Sometimes I think my night lasts longer than others.
The longest moments are between the roosters call when the night is so dark that two lights barely cut through it, one light on my waist, one on my head. The moment draws slowly toward a light glow on the horizon when dark and light are still one, both exist simultaneously. ⠀

Under the surface of my skin a fire burns so hot that sweat flows even in the dark night. Strong wind clanks bamboo fiercely, like a sword battle & I’m running through a tunnel of these swords, protected amidst the storm and violence. The wind howls so loud I pull my headphones off & they grip my neck.

I’m not a runner in a race anymore, I’m an animal in the forest and my arms instinctively spread out, palms up and open to the night sky, chin up, mouth open and howling with the wind, just a little bit of glowing skin highlighted by stars & a lifting night, glistening sweat, a world amidst a world.

Photo: Paul Smith
HURT 100 1/18/20
5th finish

Thursday, December 12, 2019

Breathing into the Heart

4:45am wake up alarm, carefully pushing my body up, taking care to avoid any pressure on my back but I still wince as the pain of moving, the pain of my back and hamstrings reaches my sleepy brain. It’s been many hard weeks of training

My eyes are the last part of my body to wake up and I cover them as I enter the bathroom, switching on the light, draping my oversized blue bathrobe over my shirt with one hand, other hand still protecting my eyes. Outside, there’s a new blanket of snow on the ground and the cold seems to seep through the windows and walls. The moon sits above the mountains, a glow around it.

It’s 5:30am, I need at least 15 minutes to drive through the snow to yoga, defrost blasting, Khalid in the background:

“The days get brighter when you're here
So I gotta keep you near
Goin' crazy and I just can't get you outta my head”

Thinking about you and rereading your text. You were up at 4am this morning, “Sorry for not saying goodnight.” But I know how tired you must be from a stressful week.

It’s 6am and it’s time for an hour of hot vinyasa yoga flow class. My yoga mat curls up at the end, still frozen from being left in the car overnight. Underneath me it feels cold, like the ground beneath the snow. Above me the heat roars from vents. There are just four of us in class and at 6am class it’s just the most committed yogis. “Nice job you all have the bind” the teacher says approvingly while we are in extended side angle. Beginners don’t come at 6am

Just as it is in life, some poses are easy, and some are hard. Some come naturally, some take lots of work. I love yoga because I can make these comparisons to life all day. This pose is easy for me, even with a full arm bind, but breathing through the flow takes practice. Whenever it gets hard, I struggle and I find myself holding my breath. “Huuuuuuuh” as I let my breath go, remembering again to be here, now. Breathing in, again alive in the moment

I open my chest, my heart, with the arm bind in Utthita Parsvakonasana and my back becomes a stream of sweat as if flowing from my heart. The heat is roaring, and sweat becomes a river, drip drip drip on my yoga towel, my chest to the sky

Mile 90

I have run so many miles at one time,
Through the day and through the night,
That I’m not sure my legs will work
You haven’t ever run that far,
But I  think you know that feeling right now

90 miles in, on top of a mountain peak
My legs feel like glass that's barely held together:
Like a windshield after an accident
miraculously still in one piece by a mysterious glue 
It's veined and looks like puzzle pieces  
that a child put together but it is complete
You are too

You haven’t ever run this far
But you’re 90 miles in, in your own way.
I wish I could help you, to be the glue
I wrote this to tell you that you are close to 100 miles
close close close 

Sometimes, we make things hard so we will break,
It is a choice we make—
Sometimes, without breaking we can’t get stronger
I know this truth at Mile 90 
That's how I get to mile 100
Shatter shatter shatter

I know it’s hard to break into so many pieces
But you’re at mile 90, I promise
That's how you get to mile 100. 
I wish I could help you, to be the glue

So I write this
To let you know it’s ok to break
Sometimes, without breaking we can’t get stronger
that’s how you rebuild,
rebuild rebuild rebuild