2014 – A look ahead

There are so many exciting things going on right now, and among them has been planning the 2014 race schedule! I am through July now in terms of firming up what my plans will be……I should probably say that they are as “tentatively firm” as any other pro’s race schedule can be of course 🙂 Let me know if you’ll be at any of these events. I love seeing familiar faces and meeting new friends in the sport!

March 29 – Ironman Los Cabos. I knew before I got on the plane to come home last year that I’d be heading back to Cabo one way or another. I loved everything about this race and can’t wait to get back to the sun!

May 3 – Wildflower 70.3. I’ve heard so many great things about this race. Plus the atmosphere sounds like it’s right up my alley, so I am very excited to put this on the calendar.

May 18 – Columbia 5150. An oldie, but a goodie. If I’m going to try my hand at an olympic distance as a pro, it best be on my home turf!

June 1 – Rev3 Quassy 70.3. Third time is the charm, right? 🙂

June 29 – Challenge Atlantic City. I’m super excited for this inaugural event. Looks to be flat and fast but I’m sure the heat and wind will keep things honest!

AND then to cap off the first half of the year, good friends Leslie (fellow TeamHPBer) and her fiance, Nate, will be coming down to Charlottesville to join me in coaching the East Coach TeamHPB camp! More information is here – but there is really no better place to spend a long weekend celebrating the fourth of July than in this historic town, and riding lots of miles on two wheels! Perfect for those of you who are getting ready for a late summer Ironman or 70.3 Please e-mail me with questions about the camp and I will be happy to fill you in on any more details.

I traded my shovel for an umbrella.

I just wanted to tell a little story to remind people that as a wise man once said, it’s not always rainbows and butterflies. Okay, maybe Adam Levine isn’t really the wisest man in the world, but still.

In the one(+) week I’ve been a Charlottesville resident, I could almost count the hours where the temperature outside has been above freezing on my hands. And, I could probably count the days when it’s been dry for any number of hours of the day on just one hand.

Sorry guys, apparently I brought some crappy weather with my move!

Again this year as I find myself ramping up training for that early season Ironman, I’m faced with the battle against the weather. I had a bit of dejavu this weekend as on Saturday I woke up to the notion that the weather forecast was, in fact, correct and it was pouring and cold outside. It can be hard to trust the weather forecast! Let’s be honest, it isn’t always right and sometimes I feel wary about what it says on the TV because I have been caught out a few times before. I have heard of that Wunderground system made by rainwise.com that can give you your local weather forecast plus some other predictions straight to your phone so you can be more accurate with what is happening outside, it’s worth it so I can be consistent with where I am doing my running!

Anyway, the current weather confirmed my decision to swap my run and ride day, and I began to gather my running shoes for the track workout on tap.

“Neat, I’ll try out that track I’ve driven by that’s only a couple miles away; perfect for the warm up!”

I headed out into the cold rain, legs not feeling too terrible, and a couple miles later got to the school with said track. I made my way down some steps and onto the track and began to jog a loop…..and then finished that loop in <75 seconds. Now, I've made some progress in my training lately, but let's just say a 75 second 400 obviously isn't even in the realm of possibilities for a jog. What the.... I stopped. Looked around. Hmmm, this does look awful small. Crap. I found a miniature track. (note: I looked this up later and it is, in fact, 6 laps to the mile if you run in the 3rd lane. wtf.) The rain picked up as my brain began turning: where is the next closest track? While it wasn't too far, if I ran there, then had to run home, I would be making this run wayyy longer than intended. So, I picked up my water bottle, promptly fell into a mud puddle, and began to jog home. As if I wasn't already at wits end, the rain just got harder, and even thunder and lightning began. Dear god. I got home, and before I could really think much more about it I grabbed my car keys and headed off to the (real) track. By this point I had now run over 4 miles and was cold again, so I had to warm up another mile before hitting the workout. Believe me, when you're setting up for a workout and supposed to hit times much faster than you've ever done before, the last thing you want on your mind is that you've been on your legs 3 miles more than you should be going into it. At this time, in my head, I called a "reset." Reset's are something I mostly use in swimming, but have to pull them out in the other sessions too. Basically it's a way I trick my brain into forgetting everything that happened before that point. Many times I don't hit the first interval in a long swim set, and I call a reset, start entirely over, and get it. It's all in your head!! So, I called a reset on the day, and hit the track. First interval - Nailed it! Just kidding! I didn't hit the time. Sure, I was close. But at that moment I had an urge which honestly is pretty rare for me in training: I just wanted to cry. I was cold, alone, way behind the schedule for the day I wanted, tired and had barely started the workout, had already used up my reset, and now wasn't even going to make the intervals. But, I didn't cry. Instead, I just kept running. And this is that mental part of endurance sports which is impossible to articulate. There is no way to wrap words around what it was that made me tell myself to suck it up, and just run. Hit the best interval you can, and do it over and over. Eventually this workout will be behind you. Instead of focusing on the time I was missing the interval by, I forced myself to hang on to the promise that I was so close to the goal – maybe I would get there with this next one. I turned up my music and switched songs so that the beat of the next one on shuffle could maybe get me to pick it up – some Ke$ha, Britney, anything. I’m not even kidding when I say that instead the Les Mis soundtrack kept popping up — someone really was working against me today. (PS – love the soundtrack, just not for running)

I did finish the workout, and you know what? I never did dial in on the goal pace and maintain that. But, I still had the best set I’ve ever run for that particular workout. And, as Hillary put it “yay we got bonus miles!” When you get a response like that to a workout log where you drone on about how terrible it is and woe is me, you remember a few things. One – keep it in perspective. And two – just because the progress isn’t what you want, doesn’t mean it’s not there. So when workouts get tough and it seems like everything is against you, Pack your shovel (and your umbrella). No excuses. And most importantly, instead of focusing on the reason to stop or the reason things are going wrong…..find a reason it’s going right. And hang on to that as hard as you can.

Instagram makes even a cold wet track look okay.
Instagram makes even a cold wet track look okay.

Oh hello, 2014.

The online world has certainly been abuzz in the last week with new years resolutions and goals and the like. The thought crossed my mind for a second last week that I too should sit down and narrow in on my goals for the year. And then I realized that I was moving to a new city, for a new job, a new apartment, etc. And while these are all super awesome and exciting….just “getting settled and racing well” this spring seemed to me to be a pretty solid goal for at least the first part of the year.

The good news is that things are going well! For me, the biggest thing about the move was being able to get into a routine as soon as possible. That meant no adjustments to the workout sessions (didn’t even ask for a day off to move!), looking into my workout facility options ahead of time, and being proactive about things like meals, snacks, etc.

I’ve also been making sure to act fast on the opportunity in my new world to get more sleep.  I even downloaded the “Sleep Cycle” app, which wakes you up not necessarily at a specific time but when you “should” be woken up according to the pattern of sleep you’re in. After 2 days of being woken up 45 minutes after I intended to be awake, I’ve decided that app may be pushing it a bit too much right now for my type-A self, so I’ve put that one to rest (no pun intended, haha), at least for now.

One of the most common questions people ask when they hear about all these life changes I’m making this year is “are you scared??” Ummm….duh! There were certainly moments of panic as I walked out of work for the last time, or out of my home, or into my new apartment, etc. But, time moves on and the panic moment slowly fades. I may not be a wise old lady just yet, but I have lived enough to know that if you’re kind to people, patient, and work really, really hard, good things will happen.

So for now, for 2014, doing those things is my focus. And that seems like resolution enough for me.

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my favorite reading corner of the new apt!

Best of Baltimore: Part II — Info for runners and triathletes!

Falls Road Running –  This encompasses a lot, actually: Federal Hill Runners, Tuesday Night Track at Gilman, many of the local running races, and the group of girls I spent many a mile with for long runs on the weekends! When I moved to Baltimore I showed up to a Monday night run and never looked back. They are some of the most talented, loyal, welcoming people in the city for runners. With someone at every pace level running just about any distance there truly is a place for everyone. This group is my second family, and that’s why I know that they will stay close even when I leave the city.

 Favorite bike groupRace Pace Owings Mills, these Thursday night group rides taught me how to ride a bike. Seriously, between these rides and the graciousness of the Ryan/Pat/Zero crew in the city, I generally always had people around me in the first few years I was on a bike to plan rides and let me sit on their wheels…..and wait up when I inevitably got dropped. I’ve come a long way on two wheels now, and I did not get there alone!!

Best bike shopTwenty20 Cycling. I go to the Hampden shop (there’s one in Savage Mills too) and have always been taken care of well. These guys know bikes, and they are good honest mechanics (especially Johnny!). I don’t trust many with my bike and they make the cut!

Best running storeFalls Road Running. This should go without saying since they are the brick and mortar behind the running team. But, slightly north of the city it’s always worth the trip. You never know what is going on in the store that day…..and, for me, it has always been that place where “everybody knows your name”. Plus, Jim Adams is nothing short of a Baltimore legend!

 Best Long RunGwynns Falls Loop. This is also the “best kept runner secret” of Baltimore. I’m amazed at how many people will run 15+ miles back and forth around the harbor to get miles in when this little gem is so close.  And there’s plenty of space when you pop out in in Druid Hill Park to add on miles before heading back down south. This route will make you forget you’re in a city!

Best Medium RunShady Seven. Okay so, never run this alone. Seriously – it’s not called shady because the trees are plentiful. But, this run gets you out of the city blocks so you can run and not be stopped by lights, and, despite running through some questionable neighborhoods, it’s actually kind of pretty sometimes. 

Best long rideLineboro. I still remember the first time I tagged along for this ride (115 miles from the city) and I thought I would never make it home. It’s hilly, can be really hot in the summers, and it goes to Pennsylvania. There’s no more gas station in Glen Rock, but still takes the cake for best long pedal out of the city. You get to stop at Leone Spring too which is always a treat to refill water that’s actually spurting fresh from a spicket in the ground. 

Best local Running raceClub Challenge. A local 10 mile race in February in the hills of Columbia is not most people’s favorite. But, that’s why I’ve always been a bit different! I think I generally run well here which contributes to my like of the race, but, one year I did run the course 3 times for ultra training, and I wouldn’t have done that if I hated it! Plus, rivalries are fun, especially when you’re on the winning team every year.

Best local triathlonHalf Full. Okay so, full disclosure, due to timing with a certain race I have been going to in Hawaii, I’ve never actually made it to Half Full. But, there aren’t too many local tris in Baltimore. Really, the vote came down to two. And, this one took the cake no problem simply based off what people say about it. Supporting the Ulman Cancer Fund, this race represents what it means to be Half Full: having hope and optimism in the face of adversity. A great day of racing for a great cause!

Best Trail System – Patapsco State Park. Just 10 minutes down 95 from the city, these trails are always open and well maintained. I have spent many hours in the woods there and was happy to have some semblance of trail running close to the city for my time in Baltimore. One time Carly and I also made a video about running in the dark at Patapsco – it’s pretty amazing

Best pool – This one did have to be divided….best indoor pool goes to the MAC. Open at 5am, always clean, with separate pools for the aerobics classes and kiddos, this is definitely my favorite indoor swim spot out of the city options. But, who doesn’t love an outdoor pool? So, the Merritt Fort Avenue pool does get the win there. 25 meters, 3 lanes, and never crowded. The only downside is that when you swim on the weekends you will undoubtedly be the only one without a beer in hand! Ever want a non-city option? Check out the indoor North Arundel Aquatic Center — totally worth the $6 for this one!

Best treadmill – At the MAC….the fourth one in from the right in the back island of treadmills. It has a cracked plastic piece at the bottom and if you run too far to the back left of the belt it makes a weird knocking sound. But, I’ve had some of my best runs on this machine and the TV always has a clear connection!!

Merry Christmas!

Despite this past month feeling like it’s being lived in fast forward…..or really, if fast forward could be fast forwarded, THAT is what life feels like, I am doing my best every day to pause and be thankful for the amazing people in my life who have made this year such a dream. There have been so many generous and selfless people and moving parts that have helped things come together in such a way that I’m able to make this life change for 2014, and I can never thank everyone enough. I am so excited to get settled and focused in the new year on the challenges that lie ahead. Plenty of fun to come, and I thank all of you for following along on this journey!

Wishing everyone some holiday cheer, and of course for all my fellow TeamHPBers, enjoy the holiday smashfests that lie ahead 🙂


Alyssa’s Best of Baltimore – Part I

This is the first in a still-to-be-determined-number series about Baltimore. With just about 2 weeks left here and a lot to pack up, see and do, I’m getting a bit sentimental. So, bear with me. And hey, maybe I’ll give you some good things to check out! For this one, I’ll keep things non-triathlon related…..

Baltimore Bench

-Best concert venue: Pier Six! I’ve seen everything from Earth, Wind, and Fire to the Counting Crows here. And without a doubt, the best thing about it is if you’re not sure you want to go, or you can’t make it for the whole show, you can always walk over with a cooler and a folding chair and sit on Pier 5 to listen in. Can’t beat that on a summer evening. 

Best pizza: Pasta Mista. Duh!! The sausage and ziti pizza is AMAZING. Plus, the people that work there have Italian accents and play legit pop music with italian words (note: their website plays it too. pretty cool). So, you’re getting pizza, but you feel cultured. It’s the best. (Honorable mention to HomeSlyce in Fed Hill. I rarely see Hillary get SO excited about places to eat, and she ate here for every meal I think when she visited because it had gluten free/vegan options AND was tasty).

-Best BYOB: This one was a tie! Thai Arroy and Baba’s Mediterranean Kitchen are both great BYOB lunch or dinner options. The staff at each are equally friendly, and each place is equally small so getting a table is always a gamble but totally worth trying!

-Best Breakfast: Big Matty’s Diner! It’s SUPER Baltimore, you feel like you’re definitely stealing someone’s booth who is a “regular” if you go. So, you have to go enough that you become a regular! The kind of place where you’ll be called “hon” and can overhear all the juicy neighborhood gossip. Note: there’s not really healthy or picky-eater options on this menu.

-Best Brunch: Little Havana’s. And, not for the food – for the $15 all you can drink mimosa’s and shuffleboard. Enough said.

Best FroYo: After’s! Partial to this one since it’s in my hood, the FroYo is still really good. AND they’re nice – the night I left my phone there they made sure to keep it safe!

-Best Dry Cleaner/Tailor: Young’s Dry Cleaners. They’ve never lost anything or ruined anything. And their tailoring is priced right and done quickly and properly! Plus, they’re always showing a funny soap opera on the TV when I go in. Win. Win. Win.

-Best SoftServe: Miss Twist. Although, you may not like her as much if your house isn’t a direct stop on her nightly route like mine is! My go-to is always the vanilla soft serve in a cake cone with rainbow sprinkles. You won’t regret it!

-Best place to work: AOL/Advertising.com. Seriously people — it’s a great place to work. Good people. Rewarding work. Lot’s of fun. I’ve never had so many coworkers as friends as I do now!

-Best route from Canton to Fed Hill during busy traffic and not taking the tunnel which now costs one billion dollars: Okay so, if you don’t live in Baltimore you’re probably like “why is Alyssa posting driving directions?” BUT if you live here, you know what I’m talking about! I consider myself a city driving ninja (although probably a ninja wearing neon pink or something noticeable given all the parking tickets and speed light camera tickets I’ve managed to accumulate). So, in case you haven’t found this alternate route, you’re welcome. (Note – this actually isn’t necessarily the best way to go the other direction, you’re on your own if you have to go that way).

-Best route to 83 from Federal Hill during rush hour: When I used to commute to Timonium from Fed Hill, I was always shocked by how many people who were trying to get to 83 would sit in the 5000 car backup to turn right on Pratt from Light Street. Stay in the left lane, zoom by everyone, and pick up Baltimore –> Gay St –> 83. Boom. 

-Best evening activity: You’ll only find me out of the house on a weeknight not for the purpose of a swim, bike or run (or getting food) once in a blue moon these days. But if I do make it out, Trivia at No Idea is a sure bet. The space is crowded, people heckle you, the bartenders play favorites, and the trivia doesn’t require rocket science. It’s the best.

-Best place to relive your glory days: Karaoke at Nevins. Enough said. (Honorable mention goes to the “New” Mother’s dance floor!)

Nevin’s, 2009, singing Country Roads

-Best Beer: Natty Boh for a light option and Loose Cannon for an IPA. A six pack of each will be making the trip to C-ville with me!

-Best Charity to get involved with: Ulman Cancer Fund for Young Adults. Whether you want to help out as a member of the BOYAA or race for a cause through Team Fight, these guys are great people and are doing amazing things every single day. My fingers are crossed their work expands to C-ville in the next few years!

Some news! Job changes, a move, and a sponsor announcement!

Wow, where to begin?! I guess I’ll just go in order….

I’ve been working at Advertising.com (owned by AOL) for about 20 months. My third job since college, this is hands down the best company I’ve ever worked for. And nothing has changed about that. Ad.com has been great to me. The people I work with are smart. We have loads of fun. And I’ve been given flexibility to work from remote locations when traveling for races/training.

After making the decision to race as an elite next year, and also officially kick off coaching with TeamHPB, I examined more seriously the dilemma of the work vs. triathlon balance. I knew that the one thing I wanted out of my first year of racing as a pro next year was to never feel like I was toeing the line feeling like I could have done more. I didn’t want any “what if’s.” After much thought, I knew that I needed to take a break from the corporate world to put myself in an environment where I could truly excel athletically.  I also wanted to be in an environment that gave me proper time to dedicate to my athletes. Competing and coaching are the two things which right now I love to do, and the question kept plaguing me: why was I not making those my full time job?

And then, I decided to do just that: I am leaving AOL at the end of the year to pursue racing and coaching full time!

But, if you know me, you know I also like to be kept busy 🙂 So, I found another project to dig my hands into next year as well. I have known Francesca and Gill of Bad to the Bone Endurance Sports for many years now, since my time at UVA when I worked in their running store. Close friends and mentors of mine, we have always looked forward to a time when I would be in a position to work with them. Lucky for me, that time is now!

And so it is, my life will take a complete flip flop as I begin to do triathlon full time, and then am staying busy part-time as the Director of Marketing for Bad to the Bone Endurance Sports. I am so excited to have this outlet into the athletic industry, and even more excited to be working with – and for – athletes. This is truly going to change my entire lifestyle! You can read more on BTTB here – and better yet, sign up for one of our races!

With the new gig will come a new home base! I am going to move to Charlottesville, VA (home for BTTB) as I begin work with them. Baltimore has been great to me, and may always feel like home. But, I have always said I would love to get back to Charlottesville to live; why not now?! Charlottesville is also a east coast gem for a training ground. Plenty of pools, country roads for riding and running, and trails galore – it’s a gorgeous place for anyone who is an athlete. I am SO excited to be heading back there.

WHEW. One final update before I sign off this post: I am SO proud to announce my partnership for 2014 with SMASH 🙂 I have been a fan of the Smash style since the first Orange Crush kit, and I can not wait to see what Michele and Hillary have in store for the year. I am so honored and excited to be a part of this brand and work with such amazing, inspiring women! We had a super fun event here at the Athlete Studio in DC yesterday, and it was so fun to meet many new faces. Thank you to everyone who came out!!


Rested and Ready!

Tomorrow kicks off my 2014 plan and I am SO excited. After watching fellow TeamHPB-er Julie absolutely crush Ironman Western Australia yesterday (10:06!!!!) I am more than inspired and ready to go. As I welcome in the new year, I will be making a lot of changes. One of the biggest changes is that I have decided not to race on the Rev3 team anymore. This was a tough decision as the Rev3 family has given me so much in the past 2 years and been part of what I love about the sport so much. I am pretty sure nothing will ever replace the smiles that the daily emails from this group would put on my face!! Beyond the laughs, this group inspired me, supported my dreams, and challenged me to be the best person and teammate. Words are not enough to describe how amazing, caring, sincere, and truly selfless these athletes are. They are nothing short of the best!

Of course, the best part about being a part of the Rev3 team is that even when you leave, you’re really just graduated to an alumni status and are still a part of the family! I have some Rev3’s on the tentative schedule for next year so I will undoubtedly be seeing everyone on the race course and behind the scenes. Stay tuned this week as Rev3 begins to announce the full roster for 2014 of returning + new athletes.

As I say goodbye to Rev3 I am also happy to be welcoming some new partnerships for the year! More to come this week!

My Real Off Season!

While JFK 50 was my off season project, I am actually taking a true break for a bit! I’ve never been someone to complain about some time out of the training routine, but…..I am normal and am starting to go a little stir crazy. So, I’ve been reading a lot of buzzfeed. That’s clearly what inspired this post: What my real off season is like!

“I should eat all the food”

…..Why did everything shrink.

Fat cat goes through flap door


“I should drink all the beer!”

Drinking a jug in 4 secs.

……I’m not as young as I once was.

40 GIFs That Say NO - Image 1


“I’m going to try yoga!”

Yoga girl hand stand

…….Well that made me feel unathletic.


“I can sleep in till 10!”

….But my body still wakes up at 5.


“I’ll clean my bike and get my gear ready for next season!”


….yeah right.


“I’m gonna catch up on TV!”

…..Yup, I’m really gonna catch up on TV!

JFK 50 Mile Race Report

It was 8 years ago when I first toed the line to the JFK 50 mile in Boonsboro, MD. With 3 of my good friends by my side, we ran 50 miles in honor of a good friend who had passed away a month prior. With three more finishes after that, I can frame a lot of my recent life around the years when I ran this race. After getting to 4 finishes, I went back in 2010 looking for a 5th. Unfortunately that day wasn’t my day, and I never got to that 5th finish.

While I have personally reached a new level athletically in the time since then, so has the sport of ultrarunning. When I came in 3rd in 2008,  I finished in a time of 8:05. I left that day with money and a trophy. The women’s field was competitive, but it was far from deep. Now at JFK, you will get the top 10 women all running 8 hours or better. The money has been extended to 6 deep. And now instead of women who are in their 40’s that are the biggest competition, I’m facing women my own age. This has been awesome to see develop over the past few years, and I am truly so excited for the future of this sport.

Back to this year. As I was working until Friday evening, it was going to be a rushed pre-race routine. I was so lucky to be staying with Alan pre-race. He hooked me up with my bib and got the hotel room set so I literally didn’t have to do a thing. Major thank you for that one!! While I was time constrained, there were no major hiccups and we got to bed nice and early. The morning of was also fairly uneventful. It was a weird sense of dejavu as I entered the gymnasium of Boonsboro high school. Instinctively I went to the back left corner, just where I have in the other years to set up camp pre-race! I found Emily, another Oiselle bird, and then we were shuffled off into the cold of the morning to head to the start line.

As always, the race started quickly with adrenaline and anticipation. This quickly fizzles when you hit the climb up to South Mountain, and I was chugging along nicely already picking off some women who started out quickly in that first mile. It’s hard to describe how much I enjoy running on these trails, but as soon as I hit the entrance to the AT it’s like I am another runner. My brain turns off and my instincts take over. People always ask me what I think about when I run, and it’s no more true than on this stretch of trail that I honestly clear my mind and simply run. I love the varied terrain: a half mile of rocks, a mile of soft dirt on the ridge, hairpin switchbacks on the way down. As I leave the trail and enter both Gathland Park and Weaverton Cliffs I really do have a moment where it’s like WOOSH à back to reality. Back to the race.

During this time of spacing back in as I entered Gathland, I was told I was in 4th place, and that third was just a minute up. (you can see a video of me heading out of this aid station here at 1:50 in) I ended up seeing the 3rd place girl coming out of the bathroom just ahead of me. I followed for a bit before making the pass with another man. I mentioned to the guy to just let me know if he needed more room to pass me and he took that opportunity but then turned me and said “Follow me! I vill block zee vind for you!” (yep, that’s me, typing in an accent). This guy was awesome – it was pretty windy already and while the pace was probably a bit quicker than I would have set for myself, I went with it because I was feeling good. We ended up getting caught by another group of two (dudes) and I found myself sitting third in this little group. As I continued to space out, I was brought quickly back to reality as my ankle rolled, something popped, and I let my amazing vocabulary showcase itself right there. I quickly moved off to the side and the guy behind sounded quite concerned asking if I was alright. I assured him I just needed a minute, but thanks. I was bummed as I watch the group quickly get away from me.

The ankle post race!
The ankle post race!

I took a few minutes to try to walk, and one thing was clear: this hurt. Slowly I started to try to jog it off. I had no idea what to do, but I did know that even if I wanted help at that point I really had to make it about 4 more miles anyway, so I better get going one way or another. Little by little I was able to shake it off and I got back into a rhythm. I was pretty nervous at that point as I knew  there were still a couple very rocky sections to cross and one more misstep would probably be the end of that ankle for the day. Luckily though I managed to hang in there, and just prior to the last mile of switchbacks on the trail I passed another girl and descended from the switchbacks as the second female.

A quick bottle change with my parents who were crewing for me and it was time for the much anticipated part of the race: the towpath. 26.3 miles of towpath to be exact! Part of the reason I decided to be so aggressive on the trails this year was because JFK is a bit of a unique ultra in that you get a lot of road runners who come to survive the trails, then proceed to crush everyone in the remaining 35 miles. I knew that if I wanted to break into the top group of women I would need that cushion from the trails. I figured it also wouldn’t hurt to try to push the road girls on the trails a little more than maybe they were comfortable with. I was caught by the third place girl a few miles in, but she fell back again. After crossing the halfway point in the race, I stopped to go to the bathroom and as I got back on the towpath I was met by a group of 3 girls. Yikes! I hopped onto the back of the group and my first thoughts were “omg this is going to be so fun! what a race! the four of us can run the towpath together.”

…..and then I got dropped.

Haha. Okay, not quite so dramatically, but as I noted my Garmin was holding 7:30’s and getting faster, I knew it was in my best interest to abandon that idea and continue running my race . Having pushed the trail section left me with quads that felt pretty cooked before the halfway point, so I knew I was going to have to be very careful heading into the back half.



As it tends to go with these races, I had a bit of a low stretch coming into mile 38. My ankle was bothering me (lucky for me it hurt more to walk than run. Who gets that kind of injury?!?!) and it was here that I was passed and put into 6th place. UGH I thought. I thought I had another 2-3 miles on the towpath when I saw Ryan and Graham who told me that the end of the towpath section was just ahead. Wait, what?! They were right, and my math was wrong. Woohoo! I grabbed some coke, managed a smile:


and headed onto the roads. While 8 miles is still a ways to go, this part gets broken up with 3 aid stations, and really, when you know you’re running home it gets a little easier. Ryan and my parents were awesome supporters too, and even requested my favorite Selena Gomez jams at the aid station to get me pumped up! However, the weather gods were working against us. A cold front was moving in and temperatures had been dropping throughout the day. Increasing winds with gusts up to 20mph sent wind chills into the teens. As we ran through the open farm roads, the cross winds were blowing traffic cones!

Trying to steal all the coke.
Trying to steal all the coke.
And the potato chips!
And the potato chips!

With about 5k to go I had a guy to run with who conveniently decided I was the better pacer and tucked in behind me! He mentioned that if I keep this pace we should hit the finish in 7:39 and change. Once again: UGH. In my head, a 7:3x was going to feel way better than a 7:4x after all this work. And I didn’t want to cut it that close!

So, I slowly picked up the pace. I opted to skip the last aid station and kept cruising towards the finish. I was so, so happy as it came into view, and my dad took this sideways video as I finished in 7:38:20 : JFK Finish

With this came a 27 minute course PR. It meant sharing the stage with some amazing, amazing women who are going to be in the running scene for years to come. And it meant proving to myself that I can hang with some pretty fast girls in the ultra world, even if it means I run the race my way.

And finally, with that comes the true off season break! More to come in the next couple weeks as I look towards 2014 and making some plans!