Dances with Dirt, 2018: My 50k Race Report.

Dances with Dirt

July 14, 2018

Devil’s Lake State Park, Baraboo, WI

Pre-race stuff: On Friday night I picked up my bib and t-shirt and the plan was to camp about 20 miles north of the start line, so Adam and I started heading up that way. We stopped at a Starbucks and the thunderstorms started. So… we totally bailed on camping, grabbed a super-cheap (like only $60), last-minute tiny cabin and went to a really good burger joint for my pre-race meal. I ate 3 big chicken wingies, a cheeseburger without the bun and a side salad. It was just right. I got to bed too late, but slept solid for about five hours.

The day started perfect! The only way I can describe it is to just go there. Fellow racers, you are going to know exactly what I’m saying here… I got to the race start, headed over to the line of port-o-johns, and had the most perfect BM you could imagine. I know I poop-talk too much, but this is a really big deal on race day – especially since it’s the first time this has ever happened for me. Every single race I’ve ever done in my past started with GI issues (my diet has changed a lot since then, so I chalk it up to that). I bounded out of that toilet over to Adam and he just shook his head and giggled at me. It was going to be a good day.

All I consumed in the morning was an instant decaf coffee with heavy cream in it. This is what seems to work best for me, as I’m used to (and prefer) to run fasted. But with a distance like a 50k, I knew I’d start to get hungry within the first couple of hours, so I tucked an FBomb (which is super-delicious macadamia nut butter) in one of my shorts pockets, along with a Pickle Power (a pickle-juice flavored electrolyte shot – so good!) and carried one small handheld water bottle with plain water in it. And off I went!

The terrain: The terrain throughout the course was mixed. There was some wide and smooth trail, some typical forested single-track, some fun-technical trail (like rock and root-hopping – my favorite), a very small section of large rocks that you need to carefully make large steps up and down from (I think I even used my hands a little), a little bit of pavement through the campground, and rarely was it flat. It seemed as though we were always running at some sort of ascent or descent, but for the most part, they weren’t too steep. I’m used to training in the Kettle Moraine North Unit on the Ice Age Trail which has super-steep, short ups and downs – these at the Dances with Dirt seemed more gradual and more gently sloped in comparison. That certainly doesn’t mean they were easy, though! Just different! I definitely walked almost all the uphills, but almost all of the downhills were runnable, so I ran when I could. The hills there sometimes felt like they were never going to end. On one descent in particular I had another girl running behind me for quite a while, and eventually she hollered out, “What the heck!? Are we running to the bottom of the ocean!?” Yeah, it kind of felt like it! The long downhill running gave me noodly legs, but the nice part was it actually felt GOOD to power hike UPhill afterward. I remember actually looking forward to the climbing! It was just an overall great mix of terrain and elevation gains and losses – a very fun course, in my opinion!

The scenery was great, too. One of my favorite things about Wisconsin is the forests. We do really have some beautiful, lush forest. And there was a lot of that on this course. There was a climb we got to do twice on the course that brought us to an incredible overlook from the top of a bluff, and there was patches of fog prettying it up even more. The wildflowers were out, too. I haven’t spent a lot time in this area, so it was nice to explore it in this way.

After a climb, at the top of the bluff.

The weather: The weather surprised me. I thought it was going to storm and rain on and off all day, but it never rained at all. It was hot, but not as hot as I thought it was going to be (but still. Very hot). I believe the temperatures were in the mid 70’s for most of the race. What made it difficult was the humidity. I was pretty much soaked through completely from head to toe within the first hour. I mean, my feet were even wet just from sweat dripping down my legs. The skies were pretty much cloudy all day, so the sun stayed hidden – I imagine if the sun had been out, mixed with the humidity, it would’ve been way more difficult. There were a few meadowy stretches that felt really warm, but when we were in the forest it felt a little cooler, and even in a few spots when we got up a little higher towards the tops of the bluffs we’d get a little breeze – and that, my friends, was glorious, even if short-lived. All-in-all, I cannot complain about the weather. It was a mid-July race, and it could’ve been hellish, but it wasn’t too bad. Just really sweaty and humid. July is still my favorite month, though! Heat, humidity and all!

Aid stations! The aid stations were great! It was nice to just carry a small handheld water bottle and have someone offering to refill it for me about every four miles. I didn’t carry any sort of hydration pack or anything, and I only ran out of water one time – and that time I rounded a corner as I squirt the last drop out of my bottle and BAM! Aid station! Perfect! There were a few minimally-stocked aid stations (due to difficulty to get stuff to them), but almost all of them were fully stocked with soda, Gatorade, salty snacks, boiled potatoes, grapes, bananas, salt, water, and probably some other things I’m overlooking. The best part was always the people volunteering to help and cheer us all on!

And for me, one of my favorite parts of this race was Adam meeting me at miles 10, 13 and 25 (the only places he can get decent access to). When I first signed up for this race, he was still going to be out west, so I wasn’t planning on having anyone there. Before the race, he offered to get a bag of ice ready to put on my neck and I just said, “No, no, no… I’ll be fine. You don’t need to do that much.” I just asked that he replenish my consumables. When I came into mile 10, he did it anyway – he put a Ziploc bag of ice on my neck and I was transported to heaven for a few minutes. Then again at mile 13, and again at mile 25. Yup. Bag of ice for the win – nice call, Crew-master Adam! (He also talked me into stretching my legs out a couple of times and helped me with that, too!)

Food, drink, salt: I’m still trying to figure out my stomach on long runs, because I’ve dealt with nausea, loss of appetite and diarrhea during long runs in the past, and it’s not fun. But lately I’ve found the less I can get away with eating, the better I do in that regard, so I didn’t really consume much. But I’ve been able to get away with that comfortably since I adopted a mostly-keto-lifestyle (I consume carbs during and around long runs, but am otherwise usually in ketosis). This allows me to go longer without eating a bunch because my body is trained to use my body fat. This is liberating. I felt like this run, especially, that everything was going almost perfect. I felt my body asking for something about 8 miles in, so I ate my FBomb Macadamia nut butter, and at mile 13 I had a piece of banana and a few sips of Coke from the aid station. After mile 13 I think I grabbed a chunk of banana and a sip of Coke from every aid station that had them available, and once I had a few potato chips. It doesn’t seem like a whole lot, but I don’t think I needed much more! I really felt dialed in, somehow. It must’ve been a combination of planet-alignment, luck, and miracle. But really, I think the low-carb/keto thing has made miles of difference for me, and I hope it continues! I could almost feel my body ask for that carb trickle, which is what the bananas and Tailwind seemed to provide. The Tailwind is a powdered electrolyte mix. I had some premixed in a bottle that Adam dumped into my handheld at the 13-mile and 25-mile stops. I had the tropical buzz flavor, and I was nervous my stomach wasn’t going to tolerate a flavored drink, but the flavor is really light and it turned out to be one of my favorite things from race day! Also, in between everything I had the Pickle Power shots, which I alternated with S-caps (salt capsules), and at one aid station I actually licked a shot of straight table salt from my hand, which was totally disgusting, then realized they had a bottle of S-caps there! So I took one of those, too. I think the consistent salt/electrolyte intake helped replace what I was losing in sweat. I just mostly consumed what I felt like consuming and it worked out pretty well! Oh! And I can’t forget my secret weapon! Caffeine! I don’t normally drink caffeine, so when I do during a race, it’s like I get a kick in the rear and the turbo jets come on! And it’s so fun! I think this is why the Tailwind worked so great, too. I had a shot of coffee at mile 13, then trickled that Tailwind buzz drink and did the same at mile 25 – and that brought me into the finish – fast and strong!

Post-race notes: I had three goals going into this race, and being my first 50k ultra, I really wasn’t sure what to expect, so I set my first just to finish. Second, to come in under 10 hours. Third, to come in under 8 hours. So I crushed it coming in at 7:20! In hindsight, I maybe underestimated myself… But I’m still learning. I don’t want ultrarunning to turn into an “I’ve gotta be faster” kind of thing. I just want to get out there, run on trails, talk to people, have fun, and hopefully finish! I accomplished all of these things, and came in pretty much right in the middle of the pack in all categories (age, sex, overall). I seriously don’t know if I would change ANYTHING about the day. It was completely satisfying!

Recovery: Today is Sunday, and my muscles and feet are a little sore, but I think I might go for a short run in the morning – meaning, I’m already recovering well in that respect. The worse that came out of it all was some chafing on my feet, which I’ll try to quickly explain. I run in sandals, which I could write a whole other blog about, but I really prefer them to shoes right now. I love the way my feet/toes can spread out, the air on my toes, and they’re super-minimal, so I can feet the terrain beneath my feet. Simply said, I find them more comfortable than dealing with socks and shoes. So instead of blisters and black toenails, I now get some chafing from the sandal straps (a trade-off I’m totally cool with). It’s usually a non-issue in dry conditions, but if it rains, or apparently, if it’s so humid that I’m soaked for over 7 hours straight, little particles of sand, dirt or whatever get lodged (I think) in between the strap and my skin and cause rubbing. Usually by the time I realize where it’s rubbing the chafe is already set in, so until I figure out a solution for that, I just run through it. On race day, that feels like part of the whole package (some pain), so no problem. But today, those little spots are pretty tender and annoying, so I’ll be babying them for the week to heal them up. I also had two teeny chafe spots on my back from my sport bra, but I didn’t even notice them until I was able to look at my back in a mirror last night. I use an anti-chafe product called 2Toms in my armpits and lady area and it worked pretty great.

Faves from the day: So in the end, my favorite things that assisted me in this race were first, Adam. He’s really got a natural talent for being a crew-guy! Neither of us really know what we’re doing with this stuff right now, but what we’re doing is working so far! It should be fun to come up with a strategy together for the 50-miler (August 18!!). Second, third, fourth and fifth in no particular order are my Bedrock sandals, my InkNBurn clothing (seriously SO comfortable!), the Pickle Power, and the surprise one was the Tailwind! Those things are all on the top of my list for my next race for sure!

Stats: Just a few if you like that sorta’ thing. I find them interesting, but I’m not in this to compete with anyone else (and besides, I’ll never be fast enough! Haha!). I enjoy competing with myself and the races are great because you can totally feed off the energy of all the other racers – which is so much fun and helps motivate me to keep going and get better!

Finish Time: 7:20:08

Overall: 68/111

Age group (35-39): 8/14

Female: 24/48

Distance: 31.2 miles

Average pace: 14:07 minutes/mile

Elevation gain: 3,733 feet

Calories burned: 3,148

Personal records: 50k (well, it was my first official 50k, so that was easy)

Tonight I love birthdays. Yup, after all my “Oh, I’m so totally keto and stuff,” I’m gonna shove a whole bunch of delicious sugar in my face – because know what? It’s my birthday tomorrow. And that’s what I want! A carrot cake muffin and a weird-looking cookie. Yay birthdays!

Post-race dirty sandal feet!

I have a really stupid look on my face! But I’m happy! LOL!

Finisher. :)

Let’s get muddy! 31 miles of muddy!

It’s so ON!

Tomorrow’s the day! I’m going to try to run 31 miles through the woods! And it might rain and storm the whole time, so the Dances With Dirt might turn into a Dances With Mud – and that’s okay, too!

I kind of failed at my first tapering week. I really didn’t think I’d have any trouble cutting back on running, but I ended up getting a trucking run to Spokane, WA and had a little extra time along the way, so I stopped twice at amazing places and couldn’t resist enjoying some trails! So two days in a row I trail ran 8 miles, but it was so worth it!

The first place I stopped was the Painted Canyon area of the Theodore Roosevelt National Park in North Dakota. I got on the trail, turned around at about four miles and it started to rain. Running in and out of little stream canyons turned into quite a challenge, as it got super muddy, but the storm clouds and intermittent sunshine was making for some pretty amazing views and colors down in the canyon.

Painted Canyon area if the Theodore Roosevelt National Park

The next stop was near Butte, MT on the Continental Divide Trail! I parked at a rest area, crossed over a stream, scrambled up a steep hill, over a fence, along a busy ATV trail, through a swamp crossing, and finally got to a dirt road that led me to the CDT trailhead. I smiled as I ran the smooth single track trail slowly uphill through tall pines and huge, rounded boulders and enjoyed the fresh air. Again, at about four miles I reluctantly turned around and went back to the truck. Yeah, I totally could’ve kept running to Canada!

The Continental Divide Trail! Oh, my heart!

Once in Spokane I met up with Adam! I was picking him up there, and he was going to ride along with me until we got home! I was retrieving my husband from the west coast! We met up with our friend Charlene and had dinner and drinks and hung out in Spokane. It was a fun night.


After a couple of deliveries, we ended up parking in Yakima, WA and taking my 34-hour reset by enjoying a 4th of July fair, complete with fair food and a really fun demo derby!

Cars dragging boats. Best thing ever!

The next morning I ran my last long run of only 8 miles, and it was time to cut off my miles. I decided to not run at all the week of the race – that way I’d be super-antsy to get on the trail and run on race day (that worked, by the way!).

I actually accomplished the no-running goal without any problem – but mostly because I got sick (so awful when I’m over the road!!). I mean, the throwing-up-in-the-rest-area-toilet kind of stomach bug. I hate throwing up, and I’m horrible at it, as for some reason it always wants to come out both ends. Is that TMI? Maybe… Anyway, it made for a rough next couple of days, as I was pretty exhausted from being sick, trying to finish up my week over the road, and then trying to scramble and replenish lost nutrients so I could still, hopefully, feel ready to run the 50k! What a bummer!

So! The race! I’ve given myself three goals to shoot for, which is kind of a thing I like to do. Goal #1 is usually one I’m pretty confident I can attain. Goal #2 is a little more specific, and goal #3 is usually something I’m unsure of. Well, for this one, being my first 50k ultra race, they’re all up in the air, as I really don’t know what to expect. So…

Goal 1: Finish

To be totally honest with you, I really think I’ll finish. I just hope it’s a good running day – which means I don’t feel like I’m bonking at mile one, and I’m not crazy-tired (which may all depend on whether or not I sleep through the thunderstorms tonight – we’re camping!). Also, again, maybe TMI, but I’m getting my period tomorrow and it’s going to be my heavy day, so that’s going to add an element of fun, but as I’ve said before, I’ve never let it stop me before. Tomorrow will be no exception! So finish. I can do that! Right? Haha!

Goal 2: Finish in under 10 hours.

I would have to run somewhere around 20-minute miles to finish in 10 hours, and I should actually be able to hike that pace, so… This should be attainable. I think. There’s hills and maybe mud, which my worn-out sandals don’t get much traction in. Am I already making excuses!? Haha! Lookit me! No. I CAN and WILL FINISH this thing in under 10 hours. There. 😉

Goal 3: Finish in under 8 hours.

This one puts me at running somewhere just under 4 mph, which is possible for me if I’m having a good day, but on hilly trail, unfamiliar terrain, and coming off of the stomach flu, bonks might come into play here if I go out too fast or something. Again! What’s with me and these excuses! Oh, I dunno – I think one of my biggest hold-ups might be aid stations. I’ve run long on trails before, but they’ve always been self-supported, so this will be different. But sooo awesome!

NBD. Right? This is the back of the race shirt – and it was on the waiver I signed. So there’s that!

So… all in all, I feel good about this, and thank GOD, I feel recovered from my evil stomach bug! And I’m actually really excited – more excited than I’ve been during any of the road races I’ve done in the past. Why is this so different? Because I get to run something really hard, get dirty, be in the WOODS for hours on end, and there’s going to be freaking tables of food about every five miles. Seriously? What could be better!? Yeah, I really think I’m going to love this ultrarunning thing.

Will I be saying that tomorrow at mile 28? Umm, probably not. But during that post-race beer, I’ll be looking for the next race I can sign up for… I bet ya.

At the start/finish line during packet pick-up. See ya, tomorrow, race!

Wanna track me as I run? I start tomorrow, July 14th at 5:30am. Go to this link and put in bib #239 or my name!

Tonight I love solid bowel movements! Because, you know, I’ve been sick… So yeah. It’s a big deal! 😋

The 50k is coming!

First of all, I’ll start with a happy update since my last post – my coolant tank has been holding coolant steadily at the “full” line! This is a big deal for Delores the Volvo! And me! I did have a couple of long waits at shops for a trailer light and a goofy situation getting a tire repaired this week, but that’s just truckin’. Always something. But at least it wasn’t coolant-related! Yay!

Ready to rock ‘n roll! Should I wear these insane shades for my race? Haha!

So on to the subject I popped on here to write about: My upcoming 50k race!

I just finished my peak week of training (at 44.8 miles! Holy moly! In one week! That’s a lot for me!!), which means the next two weeks are taper weeks, which means I run less and less leading up to race day, which is July 14th, which is 21 days away! My plan for the actual race week is to run zero miles and focus on sleep. Because… I’m tired.

So looking forward to this!

Runners generally talk about the difficulty of taper weeks – after all the training, it’s hard to just back off suddenly. And I get it, I really do. And I might find myself there once I’m deep into taper-ville. But right now? I don’t think that I’m going to have any issues with that – At – All. I’m just worn out and looking forward to the slow-down. (But I hear that’s what they all say.)

So I managed, so far, to stick to my wacky, flexible, truck-drivery, homemade 50k training schedule, without missing a beat, for 14 whole weeks! When I look back on that, and all the places I’ve run to make this shit happen? That’s craziness! But, because of my perfection-ish obsessiveness, I feel ready to run those 31 miles. I think it’s going to go just fine and be really fun – I mean, as long as I don’t have a major bonk day, which could happen, and dangit, I’m due for my lovely period that very day (not awesome, universe). But then again, that’s never held me back before. So whatever!

135.8 miles in these last four weeks! And my legs feel good!

The race: The 50k I’m signed up for is called Dances With Dirt at beautiful Devil’s Lake State Park, which is just north of Madison, WI. Definitely check it out! There’s bluffs, a lake, forest, and apparently, dirt – and in addition to the 50k that I’m signed up for, there’s also a 10k, half marathon, full marathon and a 50-mile event, so there should be lots of fun trail people hanging out. I’m really excited to dive into the ultrarunning culture and meet some other crazy-awesome people – I hear so many great things! And? I’ve heard ultras referred to as eating events with some running. Yeah, I think I’m going to really like this stuff.

But. A big but. That 50 miler is one short month after this 50k, and while I’m trying to stay focused on one race at a time, I do know after seeing some online videos, that the Marquette Trail 50 is tough. Like, seriously, there’s a good chance I could just not be quick enough and get pulled from the race for missing a cutoff time. So I can’t help but have this in the back of my mind, too. I’m going to give it my best shot, you can bet on that! And, 50 miles feels crew-worthy, so Adam is probably going to be my guy! He’s gonna feed me, fill my water, and kick my butt back out on the trail from the aid stations when I want to linger. So that’s going to be yet another whole new (awesome) experience.

And why all this? The very original idea was to run a 100-miler in 2019 – because I’ll be turning 40. I mean, why not? Reasonable. Right? Haha! Nope. Not at all. But that’s how I roll. We’ll see what I say after hopefully crawling to a finish at the 50 miler. And the 50k. First things first! I gotta focus!

Maybe I will have a tough time tapering! I’m pretty wound up!

Tonight I love the Ten Junk Miles podcast. They really kept me great company on a lot of my runs. Thanks, guys. ❤️

A funny sweat story:

A few weeks ago I went for a run and was laughing at myself when I got back to the car because, well, this! Sweat patterns can be so weird!

Then tonight, I took my shirt off to change, and… this! Oops! I did it again! Didn’t realize I chose the same bra/shirt combo. And there were a LOT of people on that rec trail! Probably gave ’em all a good chuckle. 🤣

Work Run Repeat

I need a vacation soon. This has been a trying week, but mostly because it started out with needing a new radiator last-minute, totally throwing off any sort of schedule that I can never really count on, anyway. Here’s what happens: I plan, plan, plan. Then it changes. But, that’s just trucking. Heck, that’s life. So… I’ve got a delivery 1,200 miles from home, and my trailer will be ready at 2pm. I’ve got it all figured out, so I get up a little later than normal and head to town with my duffel of clothes, clean dishes and a huge tote full of healthy food for my fridge. I know it’ll all just barely fit in there, too. It’s a small fridge, but bigger compared to the fridges I’ve seen in most other trucks. It’s one of the features of this truck I really love. Anyway, fridge-lovin’ aside, I get to my truck, toss in my stuff and pop open the hood right away. It’s Tuesday and the shop where I park is still open. I always like to do my pre-trip as soon as I can just in case something is a little off. That way there might be time to have them take a quick peek. Usually all is well, and I move on with my planned day. Not today.

Turns out my radiator is cracked. After all was said and done, I was set back a precious 7 hours (but better than the two days if they hadn’t had the parts – silver lining?) and I was on my way – only to have to make another pit stop in Milwaukee to have a hose clamp adjusted and my coolant topped off again. Because almost all of it leaked out, setting off my red-blinky-noisy-scary stop-alarm on my dashboard. And after that was all taken care of, I had to wiggle this beast of a vehicle through a construction-peppered downtown Milwaukee at night. That was fun. Well, no, it wasn’t fun, it was sketchy. But I made it unscathed. Sometimes I look back on stuff like that and wonder how. How did I even?

So, yeah. It’s been a stressful week. Adam’s still out west, and in order to not miss him I’ve been trying to not think about him (he’s so busy with the movie set that we’ve hardly talked -at all – mostly just some text messages here and there).

In Oregon getting beardy and doing movie things!

It’s impossible not to think about him, as it turns out, but the working and running has kept me busy enough, I guess. But I’m feeling a little disconnected from him. And a little blue. I know once we see each other those feelings of disconnect will dissolve and we’ll be back to normal in no time, but I’d be lying if I said it wasn’t wearing on me a little bit.

And I’m thinking more and more about using a week of my vacation to, I dunno, do nothing? I want to hike and visit friends and visit family and catch up with people I love and camp and sleep and eat ice cream and float down rivers and sit in front of bonfires and go for long runs and see more friends and more family and catch up some more and sleep more and hike a really long trail for like 8 months. But I have a week. When? What? Vacation is even stressing me out right now. What’s my best use of a week off? When should I take it? Who do I see? Where do I go? How do I do everything all at once? I need to do all the things and immerse myself in the company of all my people!! Because I miss everyone so hard! Ugh. Guess I’ll just keep working. It’s too much to think about.

I do have two events coming up that I’m looking forward to, though. Just weekend deals, as of now… And it’s races! It’s been forever since I’ve done a race, and I’m pretty excited, actually. I signed up for a 50K (31 miles) in July, and a 50-MILE race that’s in August, because apparently I’m officially crazy. I was on the wait list for the 50-miler and honestly didn’t know if I’d get in, so I kind of put it out of mind and focused on my 50k – that one was a for-sure thing. So I came up with a very flexible training plan about 2 months ago and got to work on it.

Because of my job, I did get the opportunity to do a couple of “runs” in the mountains. Which thoroughly kicked my arse.

Training for an ultra race is hard as a truck driver. Mostly because finding time and places to run is exhausting. Also because if I’m not running, I’m sitting. Driving. A lot. And my legs get twitchy and need to stretch and move. Whenever I’m home I get in a longer run, and on the road I try to get in two our three shorter runs and some body-weight strength workouts in where I can. And, lately, headstand attempts, which I’m terrible at.

Headstand in the truck! Getting there, but still pretty horrible at them!

I’ve somehow managed to keep up with my plan so far, but it’s kind of tiring me out, and I’m trying to take it easy this week – and already looking for the next chance I’ll have to run. Tomorrow, I think. If there’s a safe place to run from wherever I park my truck. Sigh… Turns out actually running is the easy part of this. Who would’ve thought?

Oh. And then suddenly? I’m #2 on the wait list for that 50-miler! So chances are pretty good I’m going to get in. And now I’m kind of freaking out. My last 20-mile run was a beatdown, and I’m already nervous about my last long training run (25 miles) and my 50k race. Can I even DO 50 miles? Yes. I can. It’s going to probably hurt – really bad – but I can do it. Right?

I keep thinking about the Frozen Otter. I’ve done that twice, and it’s 64 miles. But it’s also a winter race, which really is a whole different beast. And I had 24 hours to do that one – it was probably mostly hiking and some running. These races are going to have shorter time cutoffs and I hope more running than hiking. And a lot more sweating. I’m a total noob when it comes to ultrarunning. So I’m definitely learning as I go, and we’ll see how it turns out. I’m really just winging this thing.

As of right now, my confidence obviously isn’t super-high, but I’m just going to keep plugging away and try to focus on the 50k for now. That’s on July 14. One month away. 50k. Focus.

One of my fave photos from a mountain run in Missoula, MT at the top of Mt. Jumbo. Loved this run!

But even before that, this cup of hot decaf coffee while these guys finish unloading my trailer. Then I drive towards Boston, and then towards home where I can start another crazy week all over again. But hopefully this time a good long run and no new parts will be needed on my truck. Fingers crossed.

Tonight I love seeing my coolant tank full. I really do.

That’s a nice thing right there. A full coolant reservoir!

No more PCT. But…

Adam called me from the trail one night, I think about a week ago already (I’m so behind on here, sorry!) and was going to find a hitch to the nearest town. He was thinking about getting off the trail. Like, for good. We had a nice talk, and he did end up making his way into town, got a hotel room and called the next day to confirm he was done hiking the PCT.

Disappointment was not a feeling I experienced from this news, but sadness was. It’s really hard to put into words. He made this decision because the hiking day after day just wasn’t his thing. There was a lot he did enjoy, and a lot he got from the experiences he’s had up to that point, but the thought of doing it day after day after day just didn’t appeal to him. I honestly can’t say I can quite understand because that is SO my thing, but I do know not everybody has the same level of interests, so, well, I guess I understand in a way. I certainly don’t blame him.

In fact, I give him a lot of credit for taking such a leap into the unknown in the first place and giving this a fair shot. So I’m in no way disappointed in him or his decision – at all. But I am sad – but I think mostly for selfish reasons. I was enjoying his stories, photos, emotions, blisters, smiles, tears, and seeing him crave that social interaction that comes with thru-hiking (I think he was on trail just a few days too early – he kept missing epic trail magic like grill-outs and cold beers, and the bulk of hikers hadn’t caught up to him yet).

Making trail friends!

I was enjoying sending him resupply boxes with little surprises and fun notes. I looked forward to hearing stories about him dancing at Casa de Luna, climbing into the Sierras, drinking from fresh snow-melted streams, growing that amazing beard, and maybe even glissading down a mountainside. And I was hoping to maybe visit him in June and hike with him and steal a taste of a thru-hike once again.

Also, on my end of things – I was just starting to get into a routine here at home. I’m running a lot when I can, and on my day off each week, I food prep for the next week in the truck, do my laundry, take care of the bills, tick off little things on my to-do list – I’ve been doing a pretty good job keeping myself busy.

One of my staple food prep items – duck egg muffins (the green ones are spinach and jalepeno)

I’ve really been enjoying having the car to myself when I get done with work. A perfect example (along with a little side-story) – last week Wednesday I got done with work a day earlier than I’d expected. So I parked my truck, threw my stuff into the car, speed-grocery-shopped and drove an hour to a trailhead to go for a long trail run before the sun set. I had no one else’s schedule to consider. I just did my thing and it was so awesome.

Quick side-story: I ran in my sandals because I’m trying to train for running a 50k in them. But winter won’t give up in Wisconsin, so I said to heck with it and ran in them anyway. I encountered snowy slush, freezing water and mud and thought my toes would freeze off. As it turns out, I was able to tolerate the cold feet. I made it six miles into my planned out-and-back run when I fell – running down a rocky hill – and caught myself with my left hand. A rock pierced my hand causing a large enough gash that resulted in my getting two stitches later that night. When I first saw the hole in my hand I immediately turned around and began the six-mile run back to my car with a buff tied tightly around the wound so the bleeding would stop. Once at the car I Googled the nearest urgent care clinic and rushed there, arriving 10 minutes before they closed. And got some stitches. It was quite exciting.

You see, the logistics of planning big training runs like this are easy when your only scheduling concern is your own. And to be honest, I’ve always felt a twinge of guilt going out for long runs or hikes on my own when I could be spending that time with Adam. I love the hell out of both things, so it’s a constant struggle for me.

And so during that run? I felt amazing. And free. Running is keeping me grounded while he’s gone – it’s keeping me focused, sane, healthy and happy. When I can’t thru-hike? I run. And now I’m getting to the point where I can run up some of the hills again. And five miles is comfy. I have energy to be out there, on the trail, in the woods, for hours at a time. It feels good. I want to keep going. And going… and going.

I miss Adam. I truly do. I miss his company and I miss his comfort – and his warm cuddles. But I’m just making the most of the additional time his being gone has provided me, and it’s felt kind of freeing. It’s time that I think I’ve needed, to be honest. So it feels like it might be a hard transition with this hard stop when he gets home. So much constant adjusting!

But then we talked some more, and it doesn’t sound like he’s done yet! And I’m so, so glad for him (and me, for now). Not just because I can go on my selfish way and run when I want and watch whatever I want on the TV when I’m home, and take the car wherever – and whenever – I want, but because he still has adventures to have, people to meet up with, experiences to experience, and thinking to do. And me, too.

One of the things I really hope he gets out of this time is a sense of freedom to make his own decisions and do some things he wants to do without feeling like he needs justification for them, or worrying about being judged or ridiculed or someone trying to talk him out of it all. He’s never really had a chance to do that, and now just feels like the right time for him.

So me? I’m just going to keep working for now and that gives me some time to think about where I’m going with all of this, too. Life is a pretty crazy thing. Who knows how long we’re going to be here, and that is another one of the reasons I am so happy that Adam is out there exploring himself and having this kind of freedom that I don’t think he’s ever experienced before. And I feel content working to support him at the moment, just hoping it’ll be enough to keep us going for a while. And in the meantime, I can drive down the road for miles and miles, watch the white lines fly by and dream about what my next adventure might be. I don’t know what and I don’t know when, but for now, it’s this. But I can guarantee you I’m not done. No way.

Before his decision to discontinue his thru-hike attempt on the PCT, he did have some pretty interesting experiences. He had a super-happy moment and recorded it, which makes me smile whenever I watch it.

And then a raccoon got at his food bag and sampled a little of everything, which forced Adam to throw any leftovers away. And then he hiked 40 miles, mostly uphill until he got to Onyx Summit and a ride into the town of Big Bear.

Damn critters!

He has some videos he took during those few days – with no food – and you can tell it was a struggle. But he made it. He’s so strong. He’s stronger that I thought he was. And I think he’s stronger than he thought he was. And that experience and many others on the trail (just look at some of the foot pictures!) prove that he can do anything he sets his mind to. There’s no doubt in my mind that if he wanted to hike that whole trail, he could. If you can hike over 150 miles, you can hike 2,650. But if it’s just not your “thing,” then it’s not. And that’s okay. That’s what doing these things is all about. Learning stuff about yourself. I’m just so proud of him.

He’s got a couple of ideas of where to go from here, and he’s already planning some of his next adventures – like camping and dayhiking, visiting a friend to do some gardening (which he is actually doing now, as I write this – hanging out with an amazing friend we met on the PCT in 2013 – Lion Heart), and even being a part of a movie filming (which at this point is an exciting for sure thing, too.) In fact, I think you can like the FB page, I’ll throw a link below for you so you can follow it! This movie is being put together (produced? I have no idea what movie-maker, script-writer, etc titles are correct, so I apologise for my ignorance here) by our friend Lion King (who Adam spent a lot of time with in 2013, and I knew of because he’d also hiked the American Discovery Trail.) So – lots of stuff going on!

Link to the FB for “Get Gone” the movie:

But for now, we’re both just gonna’ keep moving.


Go Aloha, Go!

Tonight I love the band Cigarettes After Sex. It’s just been on repeat lately. Can’t get enough.

A rare on-trail soda!


He mentioned that one of the “little” things he found he really enjoyed was seeing his shadow on the landscape. Pretty cool.

PCTing, working, running

My view as I write. Trucks…

I thought it would be a good time to start another update on Adam’s PCT hike and what’s up on my end – because I had kind of a hard day yesterday. And because I’m sitting at a Safeway Distribution Center, waiting to get unloaded, and from past experience, I think that I’m going to be here a while. So I also have time.

After Adam’s crazy long day and on-trail zero in the rain, he got up the next day aged 40 instead of 39. It was his birthday. His 40th birthday! He had, I think, about 10 miles to go and he’d be in the town of Idyllwild. He was taking a PCT alternate to avoid a recent burn area, and the trail dropped him right in town. I think his original plan was to just get about halfway there and camp, then get into town the next day. But then he just hiked the whole way and got there that day! It hasn’t taken him long to fit right into the thru-hiker mold. Food and town and beds and showers and flush toilets and running water? They call at you hard when you’re on the trail, and when you’re *that* close to all those wonderful luxuries, you just hoof it. I’d say he’s gettin’ good at this hiking thing!

He did have to hike through some cold drizzly crud! Check out that snot!

Anyway, he made a pit stop at a campground along his route to town that morning, and sent me a text all excited because it had flush toilets! I responded what a nice birthday present for him! Flushies!

Break time at a campground en route to Idyllwild.

Once in town he got a room for two nights, with the plan to take a full zero and rest – and celebrate his birthday, because why wouldn’t he? It sounds like he ate food, found a good coffee shop (that also had heavy cream!), an outdoor store, got a room at a hotel that did his laundry for him (!!), and discovered since it was a weekend, there was live music around town. He landed himself at a place he thought had live music… His FB post said this:

“Oh snap! They’ve got a Jukebox here! Also, that live music I mentioned? I just found out it’s going to be provided by ME… Karaoke here at 8.”

Um, could his birthday turn out any more perfect? Karaoke is only like one of his favorite things ever! He even posted a few videos of his songs. Here’s one:

Before he left town, he stopped at the outdoor store and picked up a pair of Kahtoola microspikes for his shoes – in case Fuller Ridge was icy. Probably a pretty good idea. Especially after that podcast story I heard. Remember from my last blog entry? That girl? Who took a wrong step and slid down the mountainside, only to stop herself on a tree? I’m all in favor of those microspikes! They’ll also come in handy in the Sierra since it’s all full of snow now, too.

Some of his town booty.

Oh, and that reminds me… So Adam commented after my last blog post, “I love how you thought I didn’t know how bad you were freaking out. It was like when you have a good cribbage hand.” Yeah, it’s true. I get the biggest, stupidest smile on my face when I’ve got a good “barn-burner” of a cribbage hand. I can’t turn that off. And besides, after almost 17 years of marriage, I suppose he knows me pretty well. I really did think I was hiding it pretty well, though! I tried. I never have been a good actor.

On my end, after getting home after dropping Adam off in California, I had a weekend at home. I was crazy busy with getting some things caught up that we fell behind on in our hurry to get him ready to go last-minute. For example? Two hours of washing dishes. Ugh. I also checked off about 10 big things on a to-do list, including finalizing our tax return, going over our budget and bills and going for a 10-mile run! Among others! Hopefully my other weekends won’t feel so busy. This is taking some getting used to!

Me at the start of my 10-miler. Running is going to keep me sane. I think.

Then I went back out on the road with a load going to Colorado. Everything was going okay. Well, besides picking up my already loaded trailer with a low tire and a disconnected ABS light (thanks, previous driver, whoever you are! Grrrr!). I plugged the ABS light back in, and of course it was lit, so I had to make a stop at a shop to have them look at it. They cleaned out the connections and sent me on my way. Then it came back on and I stopped at another shop where they hooked it up, said something about a poorly spliced wire. He messed with it a little and sent me on my way. The light was out… For a little while, then it came back on again. I give up. The low tire? That turned out to be an easy one. I hooked up my fancy airline tire filler thing. It’s a hose that you hook to the airline of your tractor and you can use it to fill a tire. It was missing a valve stem cover, too, so I filled the tire, put on a new valve stem cover, and it’s held air ever since. Rough start, kind of a rough trip, and then I got to Denver and sat.

Hanging out way too long in my truck…

That brings me to yesterday. I had some extra time on this trip (which was good since I had to stop twice for the ABS light!), and my plan was to get a parking spot about 5 miles from my delivery at a Denver truck stop. No problem except that these truck stops are nearly always full. I planned to arrive in the morning, giving me the best shot at a spot. I arrived around 11am and the first truck stop was full, so I went to one on the other side of the highway and found a reserve spot for $14. I took it and shut down for the rest of the day – my delivery wasn’t until 7am the next morning.

I planned to take care of a few work chores, trip plan, do a quick workout, and then I was free to lay around and watch some Netflix. I thought it would be perfect. I did all those things and even took a nap, but I got a little stir crazy. I should have gotten out of the truck. All my fantasies of having time to lay around in my truck and just chill were not all they were cracked up to be. I need stay busier than that. I watched a show that had a girl that went to an underground wrestling match with a guy-friend and had a great time and it reminded me of when Adam got me to go to a WWE show with him and it was super-fun (they had giant beers, which helped), and it all just made me miss him.

Then he called and was heading out into the perfect, amazing wilderness in good spirits and I was just sitting in my stale truck being super sad, trying to hide it, but knowing this time that I was totally failing at it. It was hard. But after talking to him for a while, thankfully I cheered up a little bit. He has been so happy lately, and I can’t help but to eventually soak that up and be happy with him.

So I realized, that not only because I’m an active person, but also because Adam is so far away, I cannot just sit around for very long or I will go crazy. I start to miss him really bad, I start to think about how badly I’d love to be out there with him, or trade places with him, or just be anywhere else than where I am at that moment, really. You know, feeling sorry for myself in Sulk-ville.

But then, I eventually realize how amazing this all is, I refocus and keep moving forward, excited about what will happen next. Where will he be? Where will I be? Who knows! It’s a pretty exciting life right now!

Oh! An Aloha side story, before I forget! Aloha got “Aloha’d!” He got what he referred to as his “first unsolicited trail magic!” He was walking out of town on a curvy, paved road with lots of traffic and not a great shoulder when a lady pulled over and offered to give him a ride to where his route turns into a less-busy dirt jeep road. So he took the ride! Then she offered to take his trash, give him water… But he just came from town so he was all set. He could tell she just wanted to do something nice for him, and as she grabbed her pack of American Spirits, she asked him if he smoked. He told her he didn’t, but then she got this excited look on her face and asked, “weed?” Adam explained that he’s never smoked it before but wasn’t opposed to the idea. So she handed him a small bag of weed! Funniest thing ever! He’s in a state where it’s legal, so why not, right!? Haha! I don’t know if or when he’ll try it, but if he does, and doesn’t mind, I’ll let you all know how it goes! Weed! For his first trail magic! What a lucky guy, hey!? Too funny!

Just heading out… Must. Devour. Giant. Burrito. First.

On another not-as-exciting note in the story of my life, I got through a whole, successful week of 50k trail race training. My race is in mid-July, so I came up with a loose, flexible training plan. I’m actually on week 3, but the first two weeks were totally shot because that was when I was bringing Adam out to California, and I opted to trade in my training time for extra cuddles, cribbage and quality time with him (worth it!). Anyway, once I dropped him off, I jumped in on week 3 and finished it feeling pretty strong. I ran four times, my long run being a 10-miler, and all of them in my Bedrock sandals (which I’m hoping I can be ready to run the race in). So far, so good. I want to write more about that, too, so hopefully it’s not too dreadfully boring!

Cold, wet, socks and Bedrock sandals. Because that’s how I roll.

Right now, I imagine Adam is still sleeping snugly in his sleeping bag after a spooky night of twig-snapping and bear-sized squirrels stalking his little tent. He saw a coyote or something (hopefully not a kitty) right before going to bed, so he was a bit spooked. And me? Still sitting in the same dock, waiting for these lumpers (that’s what the guys unloading me are called. I have no idea why) finish taking all 40,000+ pounds of cheese out of my trailer.

Then? Onward.

Tonight I love feeling caught up on sleep. Been a while.

A taste of Adam’s amazing writing talent (this was a post he shared on FB):

[Narrated by David Attenborough]

The North American Leaning Hikertrash Tree. For those lucky enough to find its fruit, the nourishment provided can propel a backpacker to the next town or road crossing. Often when the fruit is visible, not far off are the trashpods, which birth backpackers in the morning, and the newborns pluck the fruit from the tree, carrying what they cannot eat in the versatile pouch along their spine.

Night hiking views!

The lobby of his hotel in Idyllwild. Cozy!

Foot pic! Not looking too bad so far!

I love this photo so much. I mean, I’m already attracted to him… Then he goes all thru-hiker on me! 😍

Town fooooood!

A pretty photo of the scenery coming down from Spitler Peak, I believe. Looks like rain!

Scary aftermath from a tick bite. (Which is already going away and he’s already thoroughly consulted with his sister who is a nurse, so try not to worry! He should be just fine.)

Another great Aloha selfie. 😊

Aloha’s first few days

What a great trail. This is from his first day!

Well, I just got off the phone with Aloha. He’s out there, right now, as I write this, laying in his tent listening to the rain pitter-patter on his tent, off and on, off and on. He’s been able to call me at least once/day, which has been so nice. Here’s the thing. When he left to hike the PCT, I was all cocky like, “I’m not gonna’ be the super-worried, over-fearful, totally-freaking-out spouse. I’ve been out there, I know what it can be like, I’m gonna be so fine.” But then I heard about a snow storm that was going to hit right where he was. I saw on Facebook (yes, probably my first mistake was to look on frickin’ FB), that other hikers were skipping the section he was currently in – because of the snow. I started picturing Adam trudging through knee-deep snow over a mountain pass and down slippery, icy switchbacks with no traction devices for his shoes, and nearing hypothermia because the snow got his gear wet, and I heard a story on a podcast of a girl that slid like 50 feet down a mountain side in the snow because she stepped funny and fell while wearing her Frogg Togg rain gear (which is what Adam has) and it was super-slippery on the snow, until she finally caught a tree with her leg and stopped herself, and another story about two girls that bailed on the trail to a road and hitched into town with purple lips and other symptoms of hypothermia, and Adam’s all alone… Yup, my mind was racing. I even almost posted this FB post:

Seriously you guys! I’m being the nervous spouse of a thru-hiker! Never thought I would be, having been out there myself! But it’s going to snow. And it’s going to get cold. And he’s out there. He’ll be okay, right? Tell me he’ll be okay. BTW – I hid him from this post so I wouldn’t freak him out with my freaking out, as I understand my fears might make his fears more intense. And who needs that on day 2 of a thru-hike? *sigh*

But… I didn’t post it. And I was really going to hide him from seeing it, and I also thought about other family members and friends that might also join in my fear and it would end up making everyone super-freaked out and we’d just have a huge freakout party up in here. So I’m really glad I didn’t post it. Because a short time later he called me. I told him all super-chill, “So, just so you know, no big deal or nothin’, but there’s like this snow storm coming through where you are, so I dunno, maybe just check the weather, and see what’s up…” and he knew about it. And he said he had a plan. And then I felt so better. And I was so damn proud of him, too. He’s so smart. And so fucking brave. Yes, I swore. I will swear when it really seems appropriate. I felt it was here. Because he’s just out there doing this thing, all by himself, with very little experience, and it’s amazing.

Day one selfie at the trailhead.

So how was his first few days, anyway? Well, he started earlier than March 21, which was the original plan. And thankfully it wasn’t going to be an issue with his permit since he was starting 150 miles north of the southern terminus where permits are more of an issue. That’s a whole other topic – the permit thing is kind of crazy. Anyway, he started on March 19th. He got dropped off right at the trailhead and hiked in 2.5 miles and set up camp. His plan was to go very slow. He knows about the scarcity of water in the desert and is planning around that, having lots of Platy bladders to fill if need be. His plan was to do just 5 miles/day for a while to get the hang of things and to be sure he doesn’t injure himself – he’s not trained and doesn’t have tons of experience or a fitnessy background, so he wanted to be sure he didn’t overextend himself right from day one. So his first day was nice and short, and he sent me some gorgeous photos – already! Just in 2.5 miles!

First camp.

On day 2 he went 4.5 miles. Sounds like he had a rough start. One of his three Platy bladders has a leak (I’ve had the same trouble with a Platy in the past – it’s like it’s either an amazing piece of gear, or a total fail, but it’s kind of a crapshoot. You find out on the trail, of course. They never leak at home.) So some of his gear got damp, but it didn’t sound like anything got too soaked. Then he was trying to explain to me about taking 10 minutes to unhook a zipper that was caught on something and he had trouble with his sleeping bag stuff sack (those suckers are tricky if you’re not used to them). But it sounded like he was still feeling pretty good. I know at some point he mentioned that he’d packed too much food. Just wait, hun… just wait… At the end of the day he hiked an extra mile off trail to get to a spring, where he filled up on cold water and camped for the night. I’m not sure if that was included in his 4.5 miles or not.

Day 3 was insane. So I talked to him more on Day 2 and we were talking about the snowstorm. If he stuck to his 5 mile/day schedule, he’d be on a peak at 7,000 feet the night the storm rolled in. So the one spot that’s going to get the MOST snow. He said he would do what he could, and make sure he had enough water and food to stay hunkered down inside his tent if there was too much snow, the trail was hard to see, or whatever. If he didn’t feel good about hiking, he’d wait out the storm in his tent. That made me feel better. But then he started talking about hiking up and over the peak. Like a really long day to get out of danger of the snow. And know what? He did it! He got up and over the pass, and down a bunch of sketchy switchbacks and a ridge. He started out at 7am that morning and hiked until 11pm that night! He hiked a bunch of hours in the dark to make it happen – and a rock scramble at night, too! He hiked 15.6 miles!! When he was only wanting to do 5! I was so impressed. He said he was sore, but it didn’t sound like it was as bad as he expected it to be. Then day 4? He took an on-trail zero day. He said it was raining, so he kept going back to sleep – he probably needed the rest anyway after doing such an unplanned big day.

He found some patches of snow.

So that is the current situation: I talked to him tonight, and he’s just chilling in his tent and resting up. He said to me kind of excitedly, “Tomorrow? I’m going to change my underwear! And my socks! And I’m going to get to that campground and shit in a toilet and throw out my trash!” He’s also been getting pretty excited about town food. In a couple of days he’ll be in town where he’ll take another zero day in a hotel to recoup and eat food and shower and rest and do thru-hiker things. Probably laundry while wearing his rain gear, and eat more food.

I asked him if he’s seen any wildlife. He says, “A few lizards and I think I heard a squirrel.” I don’t know why I thought that was so funny, but… it is. Right? Haha!

And I know it’s a long post, but I hope you’ve stuck with me, because the most exciting part of his first few days, for sure?? HE POOPED IN THE WOODS FOR THE FIRST TIME EVER!! This is like a rite of passage. It’s like getting your first period. Or turning 21 and buying your first legal alcohol. Or getting your driver’s license. You get the idea! And his text message to me was this (God I love his sense of humor): “I should have been a WWII bomber! War would have been over immediately.” And in case I didn’t get it, the next message was, “I mean I’m quite accurate is what I’m saying.” Nice!! I’m glad his first woods-poo wasn’t a total “mess!”

The poop is not shown in this photo, don’t worry! ;)

So, yeah, sorry for the poop talk. Actually, no I’m not. It’s a thing. We all poop, right? And it’s one of the things you just get used to talking about as a thru-hiker. I mean, we talk about poop A LOT. Okay, I’ll stop. For now. Poop. Poo. Haha! 💩

I sent out his first resupply box today. We’re totally winging the resupply thing, so hopefully it goes okay for him. I figure he’ll be able to pick up normal crap food like M&Ms, pop tarts, cookies, whatever, in towns he goes through, so I’m trying to find things that are harder to get. Some clean, organic treats (which he might say to hell with altogether soon), and some staples – which for now are coconut oil, chia seeds, good quality olive oil… stuff he knows he won’t find in a gas station. So I’m not sending him a ton. But it was fun putting a box together for him. I’ve got to think of some more fun surprises to add – so shoot me a comment if you have any recommendations! OH!! And he told me he started thinking about Nut Rolls!!!! For those of you that followed my 2013 PCT hike, you totally know why this is crazy! So I’m going to find him some Nut Rolls because I know, from experience, that’s he’s not going to find anything except for PayDays, which aren’t nearly as good as Nut Rolls.

“Hold for PCT thru-hiker” 😊

I think that’s all I have for now. I hope you’re enjoying the updates, and I hope it’s interesting to hear what it’s like from the other side – the spouse of a thru-hiker, back home, worrying. I didn’t think I would. But I am. But it’s because I love the guy, so… you’ll have that, I suppose!

Keep on goin’, Aloha! You got this! Love you!

Tonight I love meatballs. I don’t care if it’s unrelated. I made some meatballs and they’re amazing.

Another “wow” view. Great photos, Aloha!

I think this is a shot from the edge of the burn area where the PCT is closed and rerouted.

One of my photos… Maps on the wall to keep track of his location and to help with resupply planning. (Thanks, Tim!)