2016: The Year of the Ultras

Back in November of 2015 I wrote a post, titled “First and Last in 2016,” and in it, I was already calling 2016, “The Year of the Ultras.” It felt very strange reading this old post because while some things turned out slightly differently than how I imagined, I’m amazed at how much 2016 actually panned out. 

JANUARY

2016 started off with my first big race of the year and my second 50 mile race. It was this month my friend Crystal and I would crash the expo for the Carlsbad Marathon/Half Marathon and do the San Diego 50 together. It was the first time I think I struggled hard physically during a race and eventually, mentally when those darn coyotes started howling up a storm and my mind began to play head games thinking they were going to come rushing out and start noshing on my legs. That would have prevented me from finishing the race so thankfully that didn’t happen.

On the red carpet at the Carlsbad Marathon! Ok there was no red carpet.
After we conquered 50 miles
January total: 108.18 miles

FEBRUARY

This would be considered my cheering month! I cheered on all the Olympic hopefuls at the Men’s and Women’s Olympic Marathon Trials which took part in Downtown LA. And then….

…the day after the Olympic Trials, I cheered on friends and all the LA Marathon participants (well most of them) with my spiffy sign which I got many positive reactions from. Eh, there were a few runners who didn’t find the humor uplifting for them, but they still looked way better than “that guy.”

February total: 91.68 miles

MARCH

For the first time in my ultra running life, I decided to participate in a race on a whim – usually I plan these things weeks, or months, or in some cases, a year in advance. This time, I signed up within a matter of a few days of the race. I figured the Run Deo Run 50K would serve as a training run for the upcoming Leona Divide 50K. And not only did I end up with a PR (personal record), I discovered some new trails in Griffith Park. I think that’s a win-win-win right there!

March total: 99.5 miles

APRIL

Looking back, April was not the best month for me for many reasons. To be honest, I’m surprised I actually ran as much as I did. In terms of mileage it was a HUGE jump in miles from the previous month and that was helped by me helping to sweep the course at the Ahmanson 12K with my friend John aka “Magoo” who I barely even knew here. I think it was the second time I had actually spoken to him AND I believe it was on this day he mentioned if his schedule and training permitted he would pace me at Javelina Jundred. The Universe really does work wonders bringing people into your life.

Buffy the Trail Slayer and the Grim Sweeper

April also had me running the Leona Divide 50K – a race I had earmarked and had a score to settle with. I finished it with another PR! Okay, just kidding. I didn’t.

April total: 131.89 miles

MAY

The month of May had me partaking in my biggest race challenge to date and that was just getting over car sickness on the way to the start of the Miwok 100K. Oh those darn winding, up and down, roller coaster curves of a road. Bleh. That was the worst part of that whole race. The glorious scenic majestic views sorta made up for the nausea, but with harsh unforgiving time cutoffs and cold hard rain, my race ended at 26 miles and a DNF. Good times.

The views and beautiful trails were worth the hurt.

This month was also the first time I have ever started to experience a dull ache in the back of my left knee and it was another bullet point on my list of “oh great, what else am I going to have to deal with this year?”

May total: 117.53 miles

JUNE

I decided to do something different and expand my training sphere by launching my vlog channel on YouTube – A Running Mess. Honestly, I’m not exactly sure why I did this. My training for Javelina Jundred was about to kick into high gear and I think I basically wanted another outlet to show a bit of my training and what I was doing more visually rather than just writing about it. I’ve actually enjoyed putting these videos together and will probably continue them into the new year.

I participated in sweeping duties for the second time at the Valley Crest Trail Half Marathon, where I of course, put together a video.  A week after Valley Crest, my left knee started to give me another issue all of a sudden. I tried hard not to dive far into panic mode when it started to pop and click whenever I went downhill but it was difficult. You could say, I tried to not get all bent out of shape. Get it? So I focused on cross training, strength training, and foam rolling and it eventually sorted itself out.

13.1 miles of running and sweeping some dirt

As much sadness as there was surrounding some unexpected celebrity deaths this year (Bowie, Prince, etc), there was no tougher sadness than dealing with the loss of a friend. The end of June had me dealing with a huge loss and a loss in my L.A. LEGGERS running family. My dear running friend Mike passed away after his battle with cancer and it greatly affected me. I really struggled emotionally with it and since August I’ve only run with the club a couple of times because it’s difficult for me to be there and not see him there. Part of me was really focused on training for Javelina so I had the excuse of running trails on Saturdays instead. Another part of me feels like it’s just not the same without him there, and so I have a certain level of disconnect. But I know I have other friends still running and I do miss participating with the group runs so I’ll get back there soon.

Final time I got to see my friend Mike (Feb. 2016)
June total: 111.92 miles

JULY

July was the time to really pick up the training for Javelina Jundred because the heat was on! And then off. Some days, it wasn’t as hot as I was hoping it would get, but other days I would welcome it with open arms as much as possible.

Embracing the heat with peace.

This was also the month for some adventurous treks up some big mountains. The first was on the 4th of July when I joined my friend John and went up to Mt. Baden-Powell.

Celebrating America’s birthday at 9,400 ft

This was followed up by my first time up to the summit of Mt. Baldy. Ooh wee, what a blood pumping, heart pounding treacherous and technical adventurous day that was! But I made it and I conquered it! Slowly. Very, very, very slowly. You can watch that video here.

My idea of getting high.

I finished the month off with the first of my course preview training runs on the Bulldog course and completed my highest total mileage ever in one month!

Getting my butt kicked on the Bulldog course…early on with a smile.
July total: 219.65 miles

AUGUST

I started out my birthday month by volunteering at my favorite 100 mile races to volunteer at. Actually it’s the only 100 mile race I’ve volunteered at – the Angeles Crest 100 Mile Endurance Run. But not only did I volunteer, I also recruited a few friends to come volunteer with me! You can see some of the action in the short video I made for it.

No, we’re not the newest female singing group. But thanks for asking.
Helping to get runners through the final 5 miles of the race.

I’d also trek up to the top of Mount Wilson with my friend John for some more ultra training.

August would end with me settling another score with a race I previously DNF’d at. This time around, it was the Bulldog 50K which took place the day before my birthday. And not only did I get to meet ultra runner extraordinaire Catra Corbett, but I’d also set another PR. For reals this time!

August total: 193.52 miles

SEPTEMBER

Do you remember, when it was myyyy September? This is a running joke between me and a friend whom I’m not sure will actually read this blog post but if he does, he’ll get this reference. To everyone else, this was my September! It was a month I reached a couple of goals, and added another notch in my Javelina Jundred training belt. First off, I reached 75% of my fundraising goal for the American Cancer Society and got to wear my short-sleeved race shirt. I was super happy!

And then literally, a couple of days later, I’d reach the full fundraising amount and got to wear my race singlet! I was completely ecstatic and over the moon! I don’t think I cried happy tears this entire year as much as I did on that day. I will forever be grateful to all who contributed.

The day after wearing my singlet and having all the happy feels, I struggled during a run/hike and eventual death march on the Backbone Trail and nearly died. Ok, I didn’t. But I was close. Ok, no I wasn’t.

This is actually how I looked before I started to struggle.

It was a few days after the Backbone Trail excursion I suffered some heal and arch pain in my left foot. But after some very intense rolling of my arch over a baseball where I yelled out in some new foreign language that has yet to be discovered, the pain eventually went away, and I was back running again. Yay! And it wasn’t long afterwards I partook in my first night trail run with friends Mitch and Sundar who also survived the Backbone Trail with me.

September total: 213.86 miles

OCTOBER

Awww October. What a month. This was THE month. The accumulation of the entire year was folded into this one single month. This month was important. This month would bring me complete and utter happiness, and it would break my heart.

First, I headed to the Windy City to run my 25th marathon on the behalf of the American Cancer Society! It was there I would meet Twitter friends Kat and Deb and get a marathon PR! It was such a great race and one I will always cherish.

And then, three weeks after Chicago, I headed over to Phoenix for the BIG race…Javelina Jundred. It was here I got to meet my Ultra Ordinary Running Podcast cohost Melissa for the first time and, my new BFF Jim Walmsley (Anything new Jim?). I also walked away with a broken spirit and broken heart. Thankfully no broken bones, so that’s definitely a blessing in and of itself.

L to R: Pacer John, Jim Walmsley, and me. Photo by: Myke Hermsmeyer
Melissa and I masking our post-race pain with smiles.
October total: 181.57 miles

NOVEMBER

If November was a movie, it’d be titled “All Quiet on the Running Front.” It was quiet. Oh so very quiet. I did a little running and watched a few movies. One of which was an advanced screening of Patriots’ Day, where I actually got Mark Wahlberg to walk right past me just so I can get some very blurry photos of him.

He’s got some good vibrations.
Yo it’s about that time…to go watch the movie.

This screening also had special guests! From left to right: Mark Wahlberg, Sergeant Jeffrey Pugliese (Watertown Police Department), survivor Patrick Downes, Special Agent Richard DesLauriers, former Boston Police Commissioner Ed Davis, and the real-life hero, Dun Meng who escaped his vehicle after being carjacked by the bombers. He got a hug from director, Peter Berg, on the end.

November had me volunteering at the Ray Miller 50M/50K/30K trail races and voting in the presidential race, which would leave my heart broken yet again.

November total: 72.44 miles

DECEMBER

I clearly didn’t have any goals set for December, but I did want to regroup and refocus on what I’d like to start thinking about in 2017. I made some progress! But really, this was a month to relax, have fun, and enjoy running.

December total: 76.67 miles

If I had to describe 2016 in one word, it would be pretty epic. Alright, that’s two words. There were certainly many highs and most certainly some lows, but this year was indeed pretty darn epic in terms of running! I had a feeling it would be because that’s the experience I set out to have for myself. And I keep trying to remind myself of that. We create the experiences we want to have! We’re only given a life, but it’s up to us if we’re going to define it as a good one, or bad one. I choose to define it as good and that’s what this year was, despite all the challenges I faced. Things could have been worse, much much worse but I am blessed.

I could’ve just said I didn’t reach my ultimate goal of completing a 100 mile race and my whole year was a complete failure and waste of training time, but I simply can’t do that because I walked away with a new found respect for the 100 mile distance and I needed to have that experience at Javelina Jundred to learn from it and become a better, stronger runner. Overall I’m proud of what I accomplished with my running this year and I loved every single race experience!

In my 2015 end of year recap, the races I had set out to do in 2016 were already lining up and I knew my challenges were going bigger in 2016. Heading into 2017, I’ll be honest, there’s a level of uncertainty surrounding it. Honestly, I wasn’t really planning on doing much racing in 2017 anyways. Of course, I think we all know how things don’t always go as planned. But there is one thing I do know, I have a big score to settle in Arizona. So, I guess I’m just gonna have to wait and see what happens.

2016 Final tally: 1618.17 miles

Thank you for reading and Happy New Year!

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3 Comments

  1. Stellar write up on a stellar year! I’m so proud of you and all you accomplished in 2016. Love you my sole sister.

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