The Feed Zone: The Cookbook That is Changing My Life

“The food you eat can be either the safest and most powerful form of medicine

or the slowest form of poison.”
― Ann Wigmore


Hello My Lovelies!

I have exciting news! I have discovered a macronutrient cookbook that is literally changing my life! A while back the hubs did some bike maintenance for a friend of ours. To show his appreciation, this same friend gave gave us (ok, the hubs) a copy of The Feed Zone: Fast and Flavorful Food for Athletes Cookbook.  At first, I didn’t take much interest. However, after all the binging around Thanksgiving, I was looking for a way to get back on track and optimize my nutritional intake. That is when I first took real notice of the book.

As it turns out, The Feed Zone is extremely well written and thought out. It not only explains the macronutrient philosophy, but also discusses food timing, determining your appropriate calorie intake, “divergent ideas on diet” (including carbs, gluten, and vegetarian), and hydration.  The book is divided into six sections: breakfast, portables, apres, dinner, desserts, and basics. Each sections is then further broken down into: quick recovery, small plates, handhelds, big plates, and “one pots” with special notation for vegetarian and gluten free recipes. To make things even easier they also have blurbs on the recipes for when is the best time to prepare and eat them. Specifically, they will tell you which foods are best for before, during, and post training, as well as which can be prepared ahead to save time.

In addition to being super organized (which will thrill those of us with OCD tendencies), the book also has several other awesome qualities. For starters, it is written by Biju Thomas and Allen Lim who have spent their careers preparing meals for “the world’s best endurance athletes.” These are people who understand the nutritional needs of athletes and how to optimize performance with the right type of food and calories. They also understand how difficult it is to eat properly with a busy lifestyle.IMG_6281

Perhaps the best part of their approach is they have made everything extremely simple. There is a basic list of ingredients which can be used to make the majority of the recipes. I cannot even begin to stress how convenient this is for a person who absolutely hates loathes going to the grocery store. Essentially, I dragged the hubs with me, and we picked up the items we needed. Then I spent half a day doing meal prep for the week.

So far the system has worked pretty well. We are over two weeks in, and I have made the following recipes from the book:

  • sweet potato pancakes- which actually worked great for pack and go
  • chicken tacos- including the recipes for roasted salsa and spicy cabbage slaw
  • dry-spiced chicken and figs- I may or may not have started a kitchen fire with this dish… (the fire department said it was delicious)
  • wine and soy sauce mushrooms
  • pork loin with chutney- the fire department also enjoyed this one… which I made sans flames
  • whole roasted chicken- so easy and tasty!!!
  • sweet potato and egg burritos
  • sweet potato cakes- yup, we like sweet potatoes… a lot
  • meatballs in red wine sauce- lots of veggies and flavor in the sauce
  • pan seared steak
  • corn cakes with crisp chicken- made with the left over roasted chicken and possibly my favorite so far…

Aside from the part when I almost burned the house down, this book has made me feel like a gourmet chef. Every recipe is so full of layer upon layer of flavor. You would never believe tasting them that the recipes are so easy to make. In fact, the first week I that brought all my prepared food to work, my coworkers were salivating over my meals. They all wanted to know where I got the recipes, so (because I’m such a nice person) I gave them the name of the book.

IMG_6286So far, each recipe I have made has been completely delicious. I am pretty sure the hubs has been in heaven with all the prepped food in the fridge. Not to mention, it has been super convenient to portion everything out ahead of time, so we can just grab and go when things are busy. Personally, I feel accomplished knowing that I have made all my food myself.

The best part is that with all my meals packed for the day, I know I won’t make bad decisions like eating something processed or unhealthy because I’m hungry and that’s all that’s available.

This book is definitely worth the investment for anyone who is looking to get away from eating processed food and on track with a nutrition plan (or if you are just looking for some new tasty recipes).  It couldn’t be more user friendly and the recipes are SO TASTY!!!!

How about you? What healthy eating habits work for you? Any recommendations?

#ProudToBeMe November Challenge

“You can be the most beautiful person in the world

and everybody sees light and rainbows when they look at you,

but if you yourself don’t know it, all of that doesn’t even matter.

Every second that you spend on doubting your worth,

every moment that you use to criticize yourself;

is a second of your life wasted, is a moment of your life thrown away.

It’s not like you have forever, so don’t waste any of your seconds,

don’t throw even one of your moments away.”

― C. JoyBell C.

Happy Monday!

I hope you all had a fabulous weekend! Having spent a good part of mine on the trails, I certainly did! Of course, my goal today is not discuss my weekend, but rather fill you in on the full details of the #ProudToBeMe Campaign I participated in last month. As I’ve mentioned previously, the #ProudToBeMe campaign was started by fellow blogger and Sweat Pink Ambassador Kathy of You can read all about it on her blog here.

What I loved about the campaign was how well it promoted self love through its message that it’s ok to be proud of who you are and what you’ve accomplished. I am a huge fan of anything that involves empowering others (especially women), so I was excited to participate. Below I have listed the prompts for each day and my responses. The great thing about this gratitude challenge is that anyone can participate, and you can start at any time. With the New Year just around the corner, what better time to join in than now?

Help us spread the message that it’s not selfish or vain to love yourself. It’s a necessity!

Nov. 1 – I love my (personality trait).


Nov. 2 – I’m proud that I


“I’m proud that I am a THRIVER! What a blessing to be part of such a strong and empowered community. We are more than surviving. We are THRIVING!!!”

Nov. 3 – I do ________ well


Nov. 4 –I am (positive adjective) because ________


“I am successful because I believe anything is possible!”

Nov. 5 – I recently (action you did) that made me feel proud of myself.


Nov. 6 – I love my (body part)

10389238_723912064366098_6067005243693889421_nI love my SMILE! Why? Because it’s a reflection of my upbeat personality. It also has the capability of brightening someone’s day- including my own. I never stop smiling! Frozen, terrified, exhausted, starved for oxygen, suffering- these photos cover it all. However, I am still smiling in ALL of them because SMILING MAKES EVERYTHING BETTER. Regardless of whatever temporary pain I’m feeling, I am still happy and grateful to be alive and healthy.”

Nov. 7 – I am a _____ person (positive adjective)


Nov. 8 – Two positive words to describe the way I treat others are _____ and _____


Nov. 9 – 1 thing I do to help others is ________


Nov. 10 – 1 strength I have is my ability to ______


Nov. 11 – 1 unique quality about myself is that I ___________


Nov. 12 – Today I will focus on my (name a positive trait) ___________


Nov. 13 – 1 positive thing my body allows me to do is ________


Nov. 14 – I love my (1 positive thing in your life) ________


“I love my husband, family, friends, and dogs!”

Nov. 15 – I am a great friend because I __________


Nov. 16 – My (body part) is/are perfect


Nov. 17 – I’m thankful for my _________


“I am thankful for my integrity because it makes me who I am.”

Nov. 18 – 1 positive word that describes my work ethic is ________


Nov. 19. – I’m strong because I can __________


Nov. 20 – I am a good person because I ________


Nov. 21 – I inspire others by ________


“And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same”

Nov. 22 – Today I will take care of myself by _________


Nov. 23 – 1 thing I did well yesterday was ________


Nov. 24 – I’m proud of my ability to _______


Nov. 25 – 1 accomplishment I made for which I’m really proud is ________


Nov. 26 – 3 things I do well are


Nov. 27 – I am thankful for _______


Nov. 28 – I am a good _________


Nov. 29 – I worked hard to accomplish ______


Nov. 30 – 1 thing I promise to do to continue to find my strengths is ________


So there you have it- my full 30 days of gratitude! Some days were more challenging than others, but overall it was a lot of fun and definitely worth the time and effort. If you decided to join in, be sure to use the hashtag #ProudToBeMe with your posts and leave a link in the comments below (so we can find you!).

Have a fantastic day!!!

Sunday Funday Runday

“Today I will run for the pure, absolute joy.”
-Lopen Lomong


This morning I got up to some pretty chilly weather. In fact, when I checked my Authentic Weather Ap, it looked something like this:


Now I know it’s December, and there are plenty of FREEZING days in store between now and January; buuuuttttt I live in New England. The weather here is unpredictable. Sure today it’s in the 30’s, but tomorrow it might be in the 60’s.  I’m not taking any chances, which means taking advantage of the really cold weather when I can. None of that unseasonably warm stuff for me. I have a sub-freezing ultra to train for!

Besides, I just got a sweet deal on a Pearl Izumi Elite Barrier jacket, so I obviously needed to test it out. In addition to being wind and water resistant, it was supposed to also be thermal. Given the light weight paper thin fabric, I had some doubts. As it turns it, it really was warm. No false advertising there. Good on you, Pearl Izumi and your freakishly warm paper-thin jacket.

Aaaaannnnyway I picked the Larkin State Bridle Trail because it’s a nice long, flat out and back that is about as close as I’m going to get to the Winter Beast of Burden terrain… minus the multiple feet of snow. In fact, despite the freezing temps and recent snow fall, there actually wasn’t any snow this morning. We’ve had some heavy rain over the past two days that likely washed away any that was left from our most recent storm.


Trails make me happy.

As usual, the scenery was breathtaking. I spent the entire run out soaking in the views without stopping (and soaking in general thanks to some flooding…). Then I gave myself the liberty of snapping a few photos on the way back. Unfortunately, I couldn’t run the entire trail because at just over eight miles in, it was completely underwater. Having already run through some ankle deep freezing water prior to that point, I really wasn’t excited about the prospect of wading waist deep. I know, I’m a wimp.


Um, yeah. No

My goal going into the run was to try to get in an easy ten. However after about four miles (when my legs finally warmed up), I was feeling surprisingly good. That’s when I decided it might be fun to take on the entire out and back and get in a 20 miler (yes, I just used fun and 20 miler in the same sentence). After all, I’m never one to waste a good runner’s high!


 Doesn’t get better than this, right?

Not being able to run the full route meant I would have to do some extra miles at the end. I took this at a fantastic opportunity to do some mileage at my favorite place on earth… which conveniently happened to be just across the street (Yea! Lucky me!). I think I would have enjoyed the scenery there more if I were not hitting the 18-20 mile wall; however, it was still pretty awesome.


With the plan to go extra long, I thought today run would be perfect for my Emma’s Little Wonder Virtual Fun Run. Emma’s Virtual Fun Run is a fundraiser started by an awesome young lady runner as her Bat Mitzvah project. According to the website for her run “Little Wonder is a non-profit organization that enriches the lives of patients going through cancer treatment and gives them and their families a night out by providing them tickets to local concerts, family entertainment, live theater, and sporting events free of charge. The funds we raise will help spread the word about Little Wonder and increase awareness for patients, hospitals, and vendors.

Like a said, she’s a pretty awesome young lady to set up a fundraiser for such a worthy cause, but then we all know that runners a generous, giving breed. As someone who has been touched by cancer both in my personal life and as a healthcare provider, I was honored to take part in supporting her project.

Furthermore, I would like to encourage all of you to participate as well. You have until December 31st to register. What better way to motivate yourself to get out and run now that the weather has turned cold (at least in my neck of the woods)? Emma recommends a 5K walk or run, but is encouraging everyone to put forth their best effort and do what they can. She is even recognizing winners in the following categories:

Best 5K time Boys under 12
Best 5K time Girls under 12
Best 5K time Boys 12-18
Best 5K time Girls 12-18
Best 5K time Boys 18-35
Best 5K time Girls 18-35
Best 5K time Men 35+
Best 5K time a Women 35+
Longest Run (for those venturing beyond 5K)
Coolest Place to Run
Best running picture (must be a selfie)
Oldest Runner
Youngest Runner
Best excuse to donate and not actually run/walk

So there you have it folks! The gauntlet has been issued! It’s only $18 to register and the money goes toward a great cause. Plus, you have to opportunity to win one of these great titles (because if you aren’t motivated by charity, you might be tempted by the chance for glory). For those of you considering going for the longest distance, you’ll have to top my 20 miler from today… which was epic by the way (except for miles 18-20 which sucked miserably).


If you do decide to sign up, be sure to tag your running related selfies and photos with the hashtag #littlewonderfunrun; and while you’re at it consider giving Emma a shout out for what a terrific thing she’s doing.

Happy Running!

Yup, I did it

“To escape fear, you have to go through it, not around.”
― Richie Norton


Hey y’all!

I did something completely crazy this weekend. Yes, I signed up for the Full Distance at Cedar Point next September (140.6 miles of AWESOMENESS!!!!) No, that it not the crazy thing a did… although, okay that was sort of looney too. The actual insanity involved taking my mountain bike out on the trails for my SECOND. TIME. EVER.  ANNNNNDDD I went all by myself. (I told you: insane!)

The first time I took my mountain bike out was after the hubs bought it for me. We did a short ride, including a few trails. I was absolutely terrified for my life the entire time. I may have cried… a lot. It was ugly. All I could do was picture being horribly maimed as I careened out of control. (In reality, I was probably doing less than 5 mph.) After the experience of feeling utterly defeated and disappointed in myself, I only took it out on the roads… That is until I invested in the road bike. It’s been sitting in the garage ever since.

The thing is, I am still a HUGE chicken when it comes to cycling. I HATE riding alone, so I don’t go enough. My handling still stinks and I have zero (as in zilch, zippo) confidence on the bike. However, eventually after actually careening almost 40 mph while contending with irritable and negligent motorists, hitting the trails didn’t seem so dangerous. In fact, I decided I actually might be better off taking my chances with the trees. After all, at least they are stationery.

Plus, I found a 50 miler I want to do in January, and I figured combining a ride with a run would be a great way to kill two bird with one stone. I would ride my mountain for an hour on the trails and then run for an hour after. Not only would I have a chance to work on my handling skills and getting comfortable on the bike, but I also would start my run on fatigued legs foregoing the need for a high mileage run. Win-Win!

So I bundled myself up for the cozy sub freezing temps and headed to my favorite trails. I decided to warm up on some paved paths and then in a field. It took a little getting used to, but within a few minutes I was managing the gears without much thinking. Surprisingly, I was completely taken back by how much fun I was having. The scenery was absolutely beautiful, and I had most of the park to myself. I couldn’t believe what I had been missing out on!

Because I was feeling brave (something that almost never happens to me on a bike) I decided to try out the cyclocross cross that had been set up for a competition the following day. Other than a little difficulty with some tight turns and abrupt climbs, I felt fairly comfortable; so I set my sights on something more challenging. In the spirit of living dangerously, I started with some of the flatter trails and then decided to really test myself on my favorite running routes. I was completely shocked by how comfortable I felt even on the more technical terrain. I was by no means moving quickly, but I also was doing a pretty respectable job at keep my bike upright and navigating turns. I couldn’t believe what a difference all the time on my road bike had made in handling IMG_6141ability. I was even able to ride the steep downhills without any fear or hesitation!

Perhaps the most remarkable part was just how much FUN it was. I truly loved every second of it. I never would have imagined feeling so comfortable or at home on a bike. Furthermore, not in a million years would I have guessed that I would be more at ease on a mountain bike than a road bike… but then the trails have always been my sanctuary.

The whole experience was completely exhilarating. It was as if I suddenly became aware of a little reserve of toughness that had previously been untapped and a whole world of possibility was opened up by one short ride.

It was a terrific reminder for me of just how far I’ve come with the bike and in general. It’s been so long since I’ve had any big gains in my training that sometimes I forget I’m still making progress. Then all of a sudden there’s an “AHA!” moment, and I have a whole new perspective.

The whole experience was an important reminder about why it’s so important to keep doing the things that frighten me. It’s breaking through that fear that brings the greatest reward. The greatest joy in life isn’t doing what other people think you can’t, it’s doing things you think you can’t and never could. 

This weekend I surprised myself, and it made me feel better than I have in a long time. I felt growth, and it made me hungry for more. That is why I am committing myself to not be inhibited by fear, and instead chase it down. Who’s with me?

Holy Chaos!

“We live in a rainbow of chaos.”
Paul Cezanne


Holy Chaos People!

If we truly do “live in a rainbow of chaos,” then I am getting more taste of the rainbow than a skittles commercial! Despite what it may seem, I’m not complaining. Instead, I’m just in awe of how busy life can get. Where does all the time go?

There has been A LOT going on since I last posted. I have had SO MANY things I’ve wanted to post about, but have had literally no time to get to it. I fully intended on setting time aside, but then my sister had I great report card so I celebrated with a movie night with her instead. I also spent quality time with the hubs and my mom… and my dogs. Basically, I have been preoccupied with LIVING and taking time out for the people I love.

Soooo that’s why I’ve been slacking on the writing. That and I have been super busy in general. For starters, I have been consumed with trying to find a roofer because mine is leaking and needs to be replaced. The good news is I found one, and they offer financing at a low interest rate. The bad news is taking out a loan means I won’t be able to afford to work with my personal trainer anymore. As much as I want to stay injury free, I can’t justify spending over $300 a month on training.

Initially, I was really upset devastated, but then I kept seeing posts about THRIVE Sports & Fitness in my Facebook newsfeed. I figured I owed it to myself to check it out, since it literally had my name on it. I am all about taking direction from the universe, so this one seemed pretty obvious. It turned out that THRIVE is brand new and the only MBSC licensed  facility in CT. Lucky me, that it happens to be right in my back yard.


For those of you who are unfamiliar with MBSC (because you don’t happen to be a sports fanatic or read Men’s Health… guilty!), apparently, it is kind of a big deal.  At least, that’s what I’ve been told. It’s basically a strength and conditioning model that was developed by a guy named Mike Boyle and has been used by the likes of Olympic and professional teams, including the Red Sox and Bruins. The whole program is geared around injury prevention and training with proper form. Basically, it’s exactly what I need.

On Friday I went for my “free trial” session, and I was very impressed with the facility. First, I LOVED that they had motivational quotes up on the walls, including my favorite: “Hard work beats talent when talent doesn’t work hard.” They also had a great variety of equipment from free weights, to machines, to weighted sleds, to resistance bands for pull ups, to multipleTRX set ups (and that’s just from what I saw at quick glance).

For my first workout, we started with foam rolling and then progressed to several different circuits of exercises. Each circuit was comprised of 3 or 4 exercises (which we rotated through) and repeated 3 times. Like the equipment, the exercises were extremely varied in type and difficulty (For example, one exercise might be on the TRX while another involved using kettlebells, and another the cable machine). Each movement was explained and demonstrated, and because there were only 7 of us, we had plenty of feedback on our form.

The entire session lasted an hour, but it went by very quickly. I enjoyed the versatility of the workout and found it to be challenging without being completely exhausting. I also found the short circuits and wide diversity refreshing, which is HUGE for me given that I tend to get extremely bored with routines. In addition, I appreciated the fact that every movement and aspect of the workout from the start to finish had a purpose to help improve functionality. In my opinion, it was very well rounded. Furthermore, beyond the quality of the workout, both the owner and the rest of the group were extremely welcoming and helpful so I felt very much at home. The best part is, it’s only a fraction of the cost of a personal trainer which means it’s a much more affordable option for me.

Today I reached out to the owner about signing up for sessions twice a week, so we will see how things turn out. I may have found my new home for my 140.6 training!

Speaking of which, in other exciting news I have my Ironman distance race picked out for next year! They have officially opened registration for REV3 Cedar Point, and I intend to be there! What’s even better is that I have a training buddy who is crazy enough to do it with me (and no, it’s not the hubs…). Maybe I’ll even convince her to guest blog (in her free time between being a new mom, yoga instructor, and working full time as a primary care doctor… yes, she’s my hero).

On a similar note, I applied to be a part of Team Challenge (REV3) yesterday after some urging from my yogi friend. I am not sure I have the level of social media (or even triathlon) experience that they are looking for, but I DO HAVE a level of enthusiasm for the sport that is unmatched and a passion for sharing my experiences. Plus, I really enjoyed my experience of doing my first tri with REV3, and don’t think I would have a hard time selling how awesome their events are. Given the choice, I would really prefer to do all my distance events with them. Honestly, I think we could make it work. Plus, I think it would be INCREDIBLY AWESOME to be able to participate in all their events without having to second mortgage the house… which isn’t really an option with the loan for the new roof….


So that is all my big news… at least what I can remember of it at the moment!

PS. You may have also noticed (if you follow my instagram) that I have been participating in a November Gratitude Challenge with some of my #SweatPink sisters called the “Proud To Be Me Campaign.” The movement was started by fellow blogger Kathy from and challenges participants to respond to a different prompt each day about why you are #ProudToBeMe. All the prompts are listed in her original post which you can find here. Even though I’m not listed as a participant (I’m sure it was just an oversight), I am still encouraging all of you to join in the movement and share what makes you #ProudToBeMe. You can use any of your social media (twitter, instagram, facebook, blog, etc), just be sure to use the hashtag #ProudTobeMe. You can find all my responses on both instagram and twitter. I’m looking forward to reading yours!

Why You Should Try an Ultra

“Running has taken me in, and continues to comfort,

heal and challenge me in all kinds of magical ways.

I am not a ‘good runner’ because I am me.

I am a good ‘me’ because I am a runner.”

– Kristin Armstrong

Some trail humor... not my photo, so I can't take credit. (unsure of source)

Some trail humor… not my photo, so I can’t take credit. (unsure of source)

Today I started my second day out from the Chatfield Hollow 50K with some yoga… or at least I attempted to. I realized very quickly that flexibility and balance postures are a pretty much a joke for me post ultra (shocker, right?) Plus, my dogs kept interrupting to “help”. The good news is that, despite my recovery time getting cut short due to the fur balls, I still felt some immediate relief in my post race soreness and stiffness.

dogyoga“But you’re on the floor… What do you mean you don’t want to play?”

The rest of my day I spent doing some work on the boat with the hubs, catching up with my mom, and, of course, looking up information on other ultras… like 50 and 100 milers… Now I know what you are thinking “Jeez woman you just ran an ultra!”, but I am a firm believer that things happen for a reason. If I came across that finish line on Sunday completely victorious, that might have been it for me for the season (I know, I know! Who am I kidding). However, instead I got my first ultra running DNF; and there is no way I’m going to end my season with an unfinished race!

It’s not so much that I have something to prove. I am completely happy with my performance, DNF or not. What is different about this race is it opened the door to possibility. That course was HORRENDOUS, and yet I basically begged them to let me do a forth lap. I would have done a fifth too and finished had they let me! That is what made me realize that I totally have a 50 miler in me. What’s more, I’d like to do it sooner rather than later.

I may not have come away from Chatfield with a finish, but I did get something better. It ignited a little fire within to push even harder. I went into that race feeling fried, burnt out, and unmotivated. Yet, I came out 40K later completely invigorated. It was as if I had gone back to my roots and renewed my sense of passion for trail running… for ultra running.

The thing that appeals to me so much about ultra running beyond just my love for the trails and community is that it is so much more about character than pure athleticism. Not to say that a certain level of athletic skill isn’t required, but it’s not what’s going to get you to the finish. The drive and push to keep going when your body fails (because it will fail) and the unending pain sets in comes from the heart. Ultras are run on resiliency, determination, and faith more than physical prowess.

I am better at ultra running than any other sport two reasons 1) I love trail running, and 2) I can enduring suffering. The longer the race, the more heavily mental fortitude is favored over speed and talent… (and the faster I look since I tend to run the same pace no matter the distance). Basically, I can hang in there and keep moving regardless of how much it hurts, I am doubting myself, or want to stop. That is my running super power. Sadly, it doesn’t serve me well in short runs. Yet, set me out for a full day on the trails and I will just keep on truckin’.

If you want to have fun and get fit take up a class. However, If you want to learn the absolute depths of your strength and soul, take up ultra running. It’s more than a sport. It’s a mindset and culture that will change your life and build you into a better person. I can fully understand why some people say trail running is their religion. There is no other place in my life where I feel more clarity or at peace than spending 7 or 8 hours running in the woods. Nothing else even comes close.

If you have ever thought about ultra running you should seriously consider trying it. So many people think it’s too hard or far, but the truth is that if you have ever run far enough to have to push through a “wall”, then you can work up to a half marathon, marathon, or ultra. The only difference from one to the next is how many “walls” you have to run through. As long as you hydrate and get enough electrolytes and calories you will continue to get “another wind”. That is the trick to long distance running. You just need to realize that feeling terrible is going to come in waves, and if you hang in there it will get better. Most people just don’t ever push themselves past the first “wall” to realize there’s a second or third.  However, now you know (if you didn’t already), which means you are already well on your way to long distance running success.

On a more serious note, while ultra running may not be for you (yet…) at least consider that there is some distance that could push you outside your comfort zone. Rather than pick a race you know you can finish, choose the one you’re unsure of. The reward is so much greater when it isn’t guaranteed. Plus, it will help open the door to the next challenge.

Truly, there is no greater feeling than accomplishing something you never thought you’d be capable of. Don’t you owe it to yourself to try?

I’m just here for the scenery…

”Running is a road to self-awareness and reliance …

you can push yourself to extremes

and learn the harsh reality of your physical and mental limitations

or coast quietly down a solitary path watching the earth spin beneath your feet.

But when you are through, exhilarated and exhausted, 

at least for a moment everything seems right with the world…”



“I’m just here for the scenery” was the half joke I made at the start of the Chatfield Hollow State Park 50K yesterday morning. The truth is I WAS there for the scenery, but I was also there for a very important reason- raising money to support CT-ALIVE (The CT Alliance For Victims of Violence and Their Families). This was my forth year fundraising for victims of domestic violence, and I certainly wasn’t going to sell them short with anything less than an ultra distance. I picked Chatfield Hollow because one year wasn’t a long enough to wipe Bimbler’s Bluff from my memory. Plus, I thought it would be fun to race in a new venue.


Nature walk to the start. That’s my kind of race!

I was surprised when I looked at the registration list and found only 15 runners had signed up for the 50K with most runners opting for the shorter distances. Of those 15, only three were women… Clearly the rest of the ultra community (and majority of the runners present) knew something I didn’t.  Rather than get nervous over this revelation, I figured the low numbers were due to the close proximity with Bimbler’s. Besides, I was too busy enjoying the gorgeous scenery to worry about the brutality that awaited me!

Plus, I figured that if I could survive Bimbler’s, I could handle anything they threw at me. I just couldn’t imagine it being any worse. What a silly notion!

What I didn’t take into consideration was the stricter time cut offs. The total allotted time for the course was only 8 hours (an hour less than Traprock and 2 less than Bimbler’s). Like Bimbler’s, the course was extremely rocky with a good amount of technical single track trails. There were parts that literally involved scaling up and down rocks which definitely slowed me down. I am not the biggest fan of running on rocky terrain because I am clumsy to begin with; so overall the unstable footing was a detriment to my pace. That’s not to say that I didn’t still enjoy myself because I totally did!

The course was composed of five 10K loops. (Spoiler Alert: I got DQ’d after not meeting the time qualifier on my third lap; however the officials took pity and allowed me to still run a forth!) The thing that was really challenging about this specific ultra is the entire loop was up and down. Every other ultra I have run, all the really horrible climbs are either in the first third of the course OR at the beginning of the loop (For example, at Traprock of the 10 mile loop, only the first three miles were horrific and the rest were more manageable).  This race had hills throughout the loop, including rock faces that had to be scaled at the end (well played race organizers, well played). In a word, it was BRUTAL… and this is coming from a girl who did Bimbler’s as her first 50K and finished a Half Ironman less than two months after gallbladder surgery.

10418904_716524945104810_4785371998643999263_nAll that being said, throughout the race I really felt good. I was going slow, but I wasn’t hurting or miserable. I felt better on my third lap than I did on my first or second, and that was in spite of having to repeat a mile and a half section that I accidentally missed on my second time through (in my defense, the course was marked going in two different directions and I choose the one with the flags to my left because that is what we were instructed to do… I definitely had a little internal struggle about making up the part I missed knowing I was already flirting dangerously with the cut off. However, I’m an all or nothing kind of girl. I didn’t want to get credit for finishing unless it was for the entire course).

At that point, I was a little tired of all the climbing and descending and the pounding on the rocks, but not to the degree I expected given the difficulty level.  It definitely helped that there were some great views and really fun sections which were enough to keep my mind off any aches or pains. Not to mention, I was too busy trying to simultaneously watch my footing and for trail markers to pay attention to much else! On a side note, I have to be honest that the scenery alone makes this run worthwhile… rocky terrain, continuous climbs, and all.

If the Chatfield Hollow SP 50K is a race you are considering doing, my advice would be to expect very rocky terrain and make sure you are prepared for it. Also, all the race distances start together, so expect the first few miles to be crowded and slow unless you get to the head of the pack. Another consideration is to plan on bringing your own water/nutrition. They have an aid station at the start/finish with some food, but the other two aid stations are just water stops without volunteers. There’s not going to be anyone handing out your snacks or water, so that’s something to keep in mind (Think “self serve”).

On that same note, while there are some people at the start/finish area, there are not a lot of volunteers on the course. Be10675731_716524988438139_6863402278390244130_n prepared to spend some quality time by yourself because you won’t find a lot of company or support out there (like at some other races with larger numbers). Personally, I like to think that the secret of ultra running to be really comfortable with yourself. Otherwise, it’s an awful lot of time to spend with someone you don’t like. Any demons or insecurities you have are going to be brought on on this course, so make sure you either deal with them ahead of time or have a strategy come race day.

Lastly, don’t get caught up with the time cut offs. I spent a good part of my first loop worrying about not being fast enough before I realized there was nothing I could do about it. I was doing my best, and it was either going to be go enough or it wasn’t. It turned out that it wasn’t; but, surprisingly, the world didn’t end. No one pointed a finger at me and told me I wasn’t good enough. In reality, getting pulled and not finishing did not even remotely detract from the experience.

I took on a course that was WAY out of my comfort zone, and I didn’t quit… even after I was technically disqualified. I am immensely grateful to the race organizers for allowing me to run that last loop and get in as many miles as I could. In addition to being a great opportunity for me to cry it out and work out my frustration (which lasted about 30 seconds until I reached the first climb up a set of stairs… what is it with ultras and stairs anyway?) it was also a terrific chance for me to savor the scenery and run for the pure joy of running.


Okay, so in reality they said it was for finishing the 20K

(I might have to write in a little x2…since I techincally did the it twice.)

In truth, when I did get pulled after my forth loop I felt great beyond just not being sore and feeling like I could take on another lap. Every problem I had stressed about during my hell week of tapering had completely dissipated. Sure, there may have been a little fraction of disappointment; but, for the most part, I was just happy and grateful and having had the opportunity to spend a whole day doing something I love.

At the end of the day, I’m not in this sport for the finish lines or medals (although I do appreciate the bling too… shiny things, what can I say?). I do it because I LOVE the trails and constantly challenging myself. This course was INDEED a challenge, and a glorious one at that.

As far as I’m concerned, any day spent on the trails in good company is a fantastic one in my book.

Would I do it all over? 100% YES! I have absolutely no regrets.


As much as I did this event because I LOVE trail running, this race wasn’t about me. It was about raising awareness and money for victims of domestic violence so that other women have the chance to THRIVE after abuse that I did. CT-ALIVE was there for me when I needed help, so I am happy to endure any kind of torture a race course can throw at me if it means raising funds for them to help someone else. In fact, I’ll even do it with a smile on my face.

Thank you Trails 2 Trails for a wonderful race experience and definitely living up to your “We Don’t Do Easy” advertising… although, for record, I think running 50K is hard enough without you trying to make it more challenging with 8 hour time cutoffs and such.😉