TRT50: Race Recap

…continued from here.

I woke up bright–well, dark–and early at 3:15 am. I had gotten advice from a seasoned ultrarunner to eat as much as possible before this race, because I wouldn’t want to eat anything else all day long. (His words would come back and haunt me.) Unfortunately, breakfast at the host hotel was pretty sub par. I had a bowl of cereal, and a GIANT gluten free cookie brought from home, taking in roughly 700 calories total.

Breakfast in bed..? Breakfast in bathroom!

My crew (Mom, bro Jason, and boyfriend Tony) took me to the start line a few minutes before 5 am, which was an hour early. As we walked up the path, we realized we were facing the start line, and there were a bunch of headlight-wearing 100 milers ready to charge us!

 It was cool to get a chance to see these hard-core crazies start their race. I will be one of them next year have no idea what would possess someone to do a 100 mile race on this course. Mad props to those who finished it.

Soon enough, it was time to start the 50 miler and 50k. While we were milling around, I ran into a few people I knew from ZombieRunner (the store I work at). It’s great seeing familiar faces at a race, especially when you’ll be sharing the trails with these people for the next 15 hours.

At 6 am we all headed out. There is no mad rush in a ultra race. We all kind of trotted along, and after 5 minutes or so several people were walking. It was a gorgeous time of day since the sun was just rising, and we had some amaaazing views to check out as we headed up the trails to the first aid station.

I felt great for the first 17 miles or so. At that point, we’d tackled one of the tough climbs of the day, the “infamous” Red House loop, which wasn’t bad at all. At the aid station, I changed my socks which had gotten soaked in some creek crossings. I was feeling great, hydrating well, and tolerating food.

Then, it all went to pot.

As I left the aid station, I grabbed a turkey and cheese sandwich to go. Suddenly, my stomach wasn’t liking the bread. I tossed the sandwich, not thinking much of it, and kept going. 3 miles later at the next aid station, I had a tough time taking potato chips. Usually this is my go to food since it’s salty and dry, but I really couldn’t stomach anything. Soon I started to feel the affects of either not eating enough, or being at altitude (about 9,000 ft). Or…the 85 degree weather. I couldn’t tell which was what, and just struggled to make it the next 9 miles to the aid station at Diamond Peak, where I would see my family and get a much needed mental boost.

I jogged into Diamond Peak looking for my family. This was the only car-access aid station so I knew it’d be the last place I’d see them before the finish. As I handed my pack and my water bottle off to a volunteer to be filled, I walked around looking for them. Then I picked up my phone and tried calling them. After leaving messages on all their voicemails I finally managed to get ahold of my brother. “Where are you guys??” I said, panicky. “We’re almost there!” “What, like 5 minutes?” “More like 20 or so.” (Please excuse my dialogue-writing skills btw.)

I was crestfallen when I realized I wouldn’t see them at this aid station. If I waited 20 minutes (and turns out it would’ve been more like 30-40), I would’ve cooled down, as well as lost momentum. I didn’t actually need anything from them, but all I wanted in the world was just to see their faces and hear some encouraging words. I actually began sobbing when I talked to them on the phone, and made quite a spectacle of myself there. I found out later that a lot of people dropped from the race at this aid station (since it’s right before the longest and hardest climb of the race). I feel foolish now for being overly emotional about not seeing my family when there were people who physically felt horrible enough to drop from the race.

After a few minutes of crying, I grabbed a turkey sandwich, realized I was 28 and not 5, shut down the tears, and kept it moving.

Once I set off from the aid station, it was time to get serious. Diamond Peak was no joke. The climb starts out innocent enough, and you think, Oh, that wasn’t so bad. That’s what everyone was worried about? Then, you turn the corner and think, Oh sh*t. THAT’S what everyone was worried about. After 20 minutes of inching up the 30 degree incline, you reach a false summit. And then again 20 minutes after that. Seriously, there were so many damned false summits that I though I was in an MC Escher drawing. Sisyphus and his boulder have nothing on Diamond Peak. It was torture. The whole time I was thinking of the poor 100 milers, most of whom would have to make this climb in the middle of the night. I said a little prayer for them.

This 2D picture doesn’t do it justice. And it’s only a fraction of the climb.

Nothing like an angry self-photo to make things seem less serious

After finally, finally reaching the summit, I felt fantastic. I felt invincible, and mistakenly thought that the rest of the race would be a breeze from here on out. I’m sure this would’ve been the case if I’d being more meticulous with fueling. Instead, a few short miles from Diamond Peak, I found myself struggling to keep up a slow jog. I had used all my fuel during the climb, and was really falling behind on calories. Another problem was starting to occur as well. The Diamond Peak climb was basically all sand. It was like climbing uphill on the beach. Without gaiters (rookie error Megan!), massive amounts of sand had compiled in my shoes. I could feel the friction, yet didn’t want to stop, sit down, and empty my shoes. Since there was a lot of sand on the entire course, I knew that they’d be filled up again in a matter of minutes. I thought I could tough it out, but in hindsight I should’ve just stopped every half hour to empty my shoes. Would’ve saved me a lot of pain.

I breezed through Bull Wheel, the next aid station after Diamond Peak, just filling my water bottles and grabbing some potato chips. A few minutes later, I remembered that I needed to consciously eat as many calories as possible. I pulled a Bonk Breaker bar out of my bag, took a small bite, and gagged. I couldn’t even stomach a small bite. At this point, with blisters forming on my feet and feeling lightheaded and nauseous, I knew that the next 15 miles were going to be the most uncomfortable 15 miles I’ve ever gone. While the pain forming in my feet was pretty bad, the worst thing to deal with was feeling like my heart was going to beat a hole through my chest and that I had no energy whatsoever to lift my feet up time and time again. I knew I was going to finish, but I also knew it was going to take a while, and be a rough go of it.

This view is the reason I was only 90% miserable

The discomfort lasted for miles and hours. Finally, at the second to last aid station, I knew I had to force food down my gullet or I was in danger of collapsing on the trail. Seriously. Fortunately, these kind souls had soup going that I knew was mostly for the 100 milers heading out into the night, but was the one thing that calmed my stomach down. They also had some protein packed strawberry Ensure smoothies that, when slowly sipped, I was able to tolerate. I fear to think now, after knowing that I ran the last part of the race in the dark, how things would have turned out if I hadn’t refueled properly here. I can only be grateful that I finished the race the way I did, and didn’t come across worse circumstances.

10 miles left in the race. I took it easy while my body absorbed the calories I’d just ingested. What a waste would it be if, after struggling down all that food, I spewed it all along the trail? Thankfully, I kept moving and kept the food down. And soon enough, I felt good enough to run.

And run I did, until I realized that half my right heel, as well as under my toes and under my arch were covered in blisters. Really?? After 40 some miles, and finally well fueled, I found it painful to land on my feet, of all things. My legs felt great, but with every step I felt a sharp and painful stab at my heel. I wanted to stop and cry, but more than anything I wanted to be at that damn finish line, so I kept it moving, wincing every time I stepped, but knowing that the blister had to give at some point, and either way every step I took was one step closer to being done.

Finally, finally, finally…the blister popped. (Lovely, I know. You’re welcome.) I was able to run, and run I did. Not because I felt new, or energized, or had a second wind, but because the sun was setting. I ran the sh*t out of those last few miles and only stopped about 1 mile out from the finish, because at that point it was too dark for safe footing. (If you know me, you know I’m prone to eating it on the trail. I don’t stay on two feet easily. Falling is my middle name.) I pulled out my iPhone flashlight app and power-walked my way towards the finish line while trying to hold back panic and tears.

Finally, I finished. Yes, no fancy way of putting it. It was uneventful, unlike my finish at AR50. 14 hours and 53 minutes. I ran it in, yes, and people were cheering, but that was it. I had no emotion left in me. I wanted to take off my socks, take a shower, and collapse in bed. I got my plaque, kissed my family, and got the heck out of there.


You’d think that after running 50 miles at altitude with 10,000 ft of incline while barely fueling, one would be hungry, right? I wish I could’ve eaten. But my stomach was a shambles. I barely got down half a baked potato and a few bites of salad from Wendy’s. I only ate because I knew I had to. Before I drifted off to sleep, I consciously propped my pillow up so that my food would digest and I wouldn’t vomit in my sleep.

Come 3 am and I was ravenous. Hunger so strong it was painful. Nothing in my room was palatable except popcorn, and since Tony had been such an angel throughout this ordeal I didn’t want to wake him up with the noise. After a fitful half hour I managed to fall back asleep. At 6 am, my subconscious knew that the breakfast room was open and I slept-walked there to eat a hot waffle. It was the best food I’d ever had in my whole life. It was only after I ate the waffle, ate a cup of yogurt, went back to the room and was drifting off to sleep once again, that I knew I’d be OK.

Final Thoughts

When I woke up for good the next day, I realized I wasn’t that sore. I’d been more sore after road marathons. Did this attest to the fact that I was in fantastic shape?? No. It meant that I could’ve ran faster, climbed harder, and come in hours earlier. In fact, this whole week of “recovery,” really just 2 days till I felt normal again, has made me a little bitter and angry at myself. How is one fully recovered 2 days after a 50 mile mountain race?? I should be sore, aching, icing and medicating. I should have pain that I earned. Instead, I earned a finish, but that’s it. I could’ve done better.

Next year I’m going back for more. TRT50, I got you. Until then, there are a few more 50 milers that have my name on them.

TRT50 Teaser

Yesterday was epic. I almost don’t want to write up a race report because I’m afraid I’ll leave something out, or won’t be able to do the experience justice. So I’m gonna take some time to piece together a proper race report. For now, just the bullet points:

-Finished! :) in 14:53 :(

-Made some very rookie mistakes that cost me some precious time–running in the dark for the last 30 minutes was NOT fun

-I’m not really sore today (day after). Which is a bummer! Means I could have pushed it more if there weren’t other complications…

-“A Taste of Heaven; A Glimpse of Hell” is the TRT motto, and very very appropriate

-Heard there was a mama bear and her cubs on the course. Thank GOD I didn’t run into her in the dark!

-There was a 100 mile race too. Twice the 50 loop. Guy who won came in 4 hours after me. Insane.

-Am already planning on signing up again next year for redemption.

Being on that course was like nothing else. It was almost spiritual in a way. Even during my lowest points I knew I’d be doing this race again.

Now, time to relax! I get to spend a week with my favorite people at a cabin by a lake in Minnesota. I’m stoked to relax, get some good reading in, and maybe go on a few runs. Oh, and find the words to describe my epic adventure yesterday.

Ok with Good Enough

If you know me personally, you know that I can be stubborn and impulsive. I have extreme emotions and opinions, and have trouble finding a gray area. There are two problems with this: I am not consistent, and I am not satisfied easily.

My “issues” have affected my life in several ways. One has been my career, or lack thereof. I have always been a smart and hardworking person, but it took me 8 years to graduate college. Not because it was hard, but because I lacked motivation and conviction about what I wanted to study. If I wasn’t 100% sure I wanted to major in something, I would take my time until I felt that passion. Even when I settled on pursuing an English degree, it was a struggle to complete because I had moments where I wasn’t completely satisfied with what I was doing.

After I graduated, I cycled through various career options. I reaaaally wanted to be a physical therapist. I new that that was my destiny. But then when I pursued that path tentatively, I found things that didn’t sound so perfect about it after all. The next “perfect” career was a dietitian. And a trainer. And so on and so forth.

As I am approaching this upcoming school year (in which I’ll be pursuing a teaching credential), I’ve questioned several times whether this is the career path for me. And with a lot of soul searching and a lot of guidance from Wise Tony, I’ve come to the conclusion that it’s OK if teaching is not My Destiny. It can be a great and challenging job that I may or may not enjoy. But it’ll pay the bills (ha! right), and it is worth following through on something even though it may not be perfect and I may not be 100% satisfied.

What does this have to do with running?

Not much. But as I was on my run today, the 15 miler that turned in to 6, I’ve come to the conclusion that something isn’t vibing with my running lately. And that’s OK. I may not be as prepared as is ideal for my upcoming 50 miler, but what I’ve done is good enough to get me through the race. Maybe ultrarunning is not My Destiny. Or maybe it is my destiny to enjoy it as much as possible, and embrace the bad training days as well as the good.

So I am officially on my taper. It will be a rough race. However it goes, it’ll be an experience to savor and learn from, and it will definitely be an adventure. I don’t think it’ll be the best day of my life, but who knows. I’ll be OK if it’s just good enough.

And you know what? Sometimes I don’t settle for good enough. Sometimes it’s important to hold out for perfect.


I love this guy because not only is he perfect in every way, but he sure knows how to handle me and my issues. <3 Plus, he’s cute.


Oh, and how can I forget. Some pics from this weekend celebrating my friends’ wedding in Half Moon Bay.

All in all, a fabulous weekend. :)

Racing as Training

I’ve learned over the last few months that using shorter races as training runs for longer races can be very useful and effective. For example, people training for their first marathon may do a few 10k’s and a half-marathon sometime during their training cycle. As the distances go longer, it becomes harder and harder to gain motivation to do a long run, especially if you run by yourself like I do. (Seriously thinking about joining an run club for crazy ultrarunners.) Before my first 50 miler in April I had run 3 50k’s and one marathon during training. For my next 50 miler, I’ve done 2 50k’s so far, and several long-ish trail runs.

Since running has been taking over my life, I decided that rather than do some of the 50k’s I was thinking of signing up for, but that take place on the weekends, I would just try to do some longer runs by myself on my other days off.

Tuesday I attempted to do a solo 30 mile run.

It fell short to about 21 miles. I woke up too late, wore too much clothing for the 80 degree weather (you lie!!!!), and didn’t pack enough food. If I run 20 miles in a marathon training cycle (where most training runs would be on the road), it would take me about 3 1/2 hours, and I would eat about 3 GU, or 300 calories worth of food. This is NOT sufficient for a 21 mile trail run. Climbing 5,300 ft. takes a lot of energy, and I suppose I underestimated my necessary food intake. Vastly. Towards the end of the run, the heat and hunger were getting to me. I started to hallucinate, and I imagined I saw wild turkeys on the trail.

I also hallucinated water. Sitting on a throne. Weird.

All in all, it was a tough run. I got a little lost on the trail and became discouraged. I definitely didn’t push myself as much as I could have.

Here are my conclusions about using races as training runs:


-Well stocked aid stations

-Other people on the course=competition to push yourself, and company to talk to when the going gets tough

-Conveniently placed colored ribbons so you do not get lost

-You’re forced to get up early! Good thing if like me, you’re not a morning person

-A cool coaster (or medal as the case may be) and a t-shirt

-Lovely race photos

-You have to get it done or your record is tainted with a DNF (did not finish)


-Races are usually farther to drive to than you’d go for a training run

-I like my $$ and don’t enjoy parting with it

-Most races are on the weekend. Sometimes you have to sacrifice social plans. (Pro is I’m not that popular :))

-Competition is not always good when in training. If you push yourself too much you can get injured or just take much longer to recover. Not the purpose of a training run.

-“Lovely” race photos

So although races are convenient ways to get long runs in (especially when those long runs are 30 miles), I don’t think I will be racing until the big one. I have about 2 more weeks of pushing myself and doing long runs until my favorite time of training: taper time!

I will conclude this post with a link to an article about chicking. It’s a cool article, but the comments are the most interesting. Who knew this was such a controversial and hot topic?? Ellie Greenwood is a rock star and she’s gonna kill it at Western States this weekend. She’s ultra-runnings’ Kara Goucher. Go Ellie!

Since I “chicked” several guys at American River 50, here’s a photo of me “chicking”:

(those are my glasses in the eye holes)

Hope everyone is enjoying their summer thus far :)

Running Isn’t Everything

Running isn’t everything. This is something that I’ve been starting to realize and think about more and more in the last few weeks. Lately, running has pretty much ruled my life. In the fall of last year, I started working at ZombieRunner, a fabulous store that caters to all runners, but mostly trail and ultrarunners. Not long after starting the job, I signed up for my first and second 50 mile races. Kind of extreme, right? I’d never ran more than a marathon and already I was browsing websites to see what would be the perfect first 100 mile race. That’s right, 100 miles. I knew I’d be able to tackle 50 no problem and I was already dreaming of taking the next step to 100 miles before I’d ever ran my first ultra.

In January, I ran my first ultramarathon- Crystal Springs 50K in Woodside, CA. It was beautiful and fun and easy. (It was easy because I ran at an easy pace. I always do. If I were to ever push myself for speed, I might not have as much fun running. So “easy” doesn’t make me a super-athlete, it just means I’m a slacker.) After that, I was hooked.

Since then, I’ve been running 50K’s as training for my 50 milers. Since January I’ve run 4 50K’s and one 50 miler. My next 50 miler will be in July at the Tahoe Rim Trail 50M, and I have 2 50K’s in mind to do before then, as well as a training run at Western States training camp next weekend.

So basically, this is my life in a nutshell:

Work in a running store. Talk running, ultrarunning, trail running. Browse race/blog/shoe websites when it’s slow.

Run. Train on treadmills and trails. Speedwork, long runs, strength training for proper form.

Race or volunteer *almost* every weekend. Race as practice. Volunteer to give back (and to earn a free race entry. It’s a vicious cycle).

And I’m just starting to realize that maybe it’s a bit too much. 

Some runners have friends who are runners. I have friends who like to run, but aren’t as overly-obsessed with running as I am. I’ll read blogs about other ultrarunners who say then went on a nighttime trail run with a bunch of buddies, or had a friend pace them the last 30 miles of a race. I don’t have those kinds of friends. My friend Dan recently asked me to play softball for his team for a game. (I sucked, btw, but that’s neither here nor there.) I, however, don’t think I could ask Dan to pace me the last 30 miles at Rio Del Lago (or whatever 100 I might end up running).

Which is not a bad thing. I think if I surrounded myself with other ultrarunners, I might get a little carried away. True, my running might improve if I had more people to push me and train with me. However, I know there are other things in life that are more important to me that running:



I only began thinking about this whole running-is-taking-over-my-life thing recently because of some things I’ve been missing out on due to running. Stay out late on Saturday? No, I woke up at 6, ran 30 miles, and have to work at the store the next morning. A’s game next weekend? No, I’m volunteering *or* running 30 miles. Again.

I am extremely grateful to be able to do what I’m doing. I am healthy. I have the time. I have the means. Running can be an extremely selfish sport. Tony has had to put up with watching me run more than ever while he’s dealing with multiple knee surgeries. He’s also had to wake up at the butt-crack of dawn to watch my races. Sometimes we miss out on fun things going on with his friends because we’ll be out of town for a race. Poor guy.

All this being said, I’m not getting burnt out. I am enjoying every running-related moment I have. I know come fall, I’ll be back in school, taking graduate classes and teaching middle schoolers how to read, and running will fall on the wayside. I’ll look to the weekends like every other person and enjoy the time to relax and spend with friends and family. Running and ultrarunning will still be in my life, but maybe once a month rather than every.single.week.

Life is all about balance, and hopefully one day I’ll find one.