Tuesday, May 31, 2022

May Books

Can you believe that reading wasn't my jam growing up?! Clif Notes were my best friends in high school - I'd "read enough" to get by for a paper or test, but other than that I did not enjoy the act of reading so never did it... like ever. Maybe I wasn't reading things that held my interest or maybe it was because it was "required" so I didn't find it enjoyable, but whatever the reason, I'm glad I challenged myself to add the goal of reading 17 books in 2017 (which turned into 88 books in 201777 books in 201867 books in 201966 books in 2020 and 67 books in 2021). In the last year or so, especially since going back to work outside of the house full-time, the majority of my "reading" has been through audiobooks since I don't have as much time to sit and read physical books (not to mention I walk to work and walk on my lunch break so have two-ish hours a day I can listen to something). Even still, holding a physical book is the bomb diggity and I hope to get back to adding more reading vs listening. Just like in years past, writing a monthly recap of the books I get through is a great way for me to both record what I'm reading and to stay accountable. So here are the books I finished in May:

  • Under the Whispering Door by TJ Klune - I was so excited when I saw this book hit my Hoopla app. TJ's previous book, The House in the Cerulean Sea, was one of my favorites that I read last year and is on my short list of my favorite books ever. I have been wanting to check out this new one for months now, but it hadn't been available as an audiobook and I realistically haven't had time to read a physical book recently. All that to say I was stoked to finally give this title a listen. Truth be told, because I loved The House in the Cerulean Sea so much, I probably had unrealistic expectations for this one, but I am happy to report I really enjoyed it. I know some folks have said they like this one better, but I think I still prefer The House in the Cerulean Sea. This one is definitely awesome and kept me interested the entire time, but I think I liked the "subject matter" of the previous one better. Although the genre is not normally my go-to, I still enjoyed the book immensely. I would say that it felt a little predictable, but who doesn't love more of a happy-ever-after ending, #AmIRight?! Here's to hoping that TJ puts out another book sooner rather than later ;) I would give it a 9 out of 10.

  • Dolly Parton, Songteller - I'll be honest, I haven't been super inspired by the books I have saved in my Hoopla app. I'm not sure if you noticed or not, but I actually didn't finish ANY books in April! I still scroll through the app frequently to see if something catches my eye, but for the past 6 or so weeks I haven't been excited by what I see. I thought I'd change it up a bit and go for more of a biography this go around and picked one my Dolly (she also reads the audiobook, which is awesome!). #RealTalk I am not much of a country music fan, so I don't know a ton of songs that Dolly sings, but this book is not only about the songs she sings, but also about the songs she writes, her creative process, those people who have shaped and impacted her music, etc. I definitely walked away with a deeper appreciation for this woman than when I started. Also, I sort of LOVE that when she's talking about a song she often will say it's her favorite. I don't even know if she realized she was saying it every time. Obviously they can't all be her favorite, which is why it made me smile every time she said it. (Although, she described her songs sort of like her kids - you love them all even if they aren't perfect ;)) Note: if you are interested in this one, I'd totally recommend listening to the audiobook if possible because it plays a portion of the song she is talking about at the time. Also, Dolly's voice just makes me smile! It "reads" more like a long interview than I was expecting, but it kept me engaged and smiling the entire time (with a career as long and successful as Dolly's, she definitely has some stories to tell). I would give it a 8.5 out of 10.

With that, May has come to a close. My reading may not be going gang-busters like it has in the past, but I hope it never completely stops. If you have any suggestions, let me know! I'm always willing to add them to my library wait list! 

PS I created an Amazon list that includes all of the books I've read and would recommend to others. Check it out!

What's the best book you've read lately? 

Sunday, May 29, 2022

Workout Recap - Week 22

Sunday, May 22nd – 15 miles of walk 1 mile, jog 6 miles, walk 1 mile, jog 6 miles, walk 1 mile

Monday, May 23rd – Rest Day

Tuesday, May 24th – 4 miles (my PT gave me the go ahead to JOG IT ALL, but it had to be on flat ground)

Wednesday, May 25th – 15 miles of walk 1 mile, jog 6 miles, walk 1 mile, jog 6 miles, walk 1 mile

Thursday, May 26th –  5 miles of .5 mile walk, 2.5 miles jog, 2 mile walk

Friday, May 27th – Rest Day

Saturday, May 28th – Nanny Goat 12-Hour Race

Well, let's just say this week did not exactly go how I would have liked. Last week I had the Bishop 53K on Saturday and then ran 15 miles on Sunday. They legs felt much better than I was expecting. At PT on Monday I did strength and weight training (which went well, but I could tell my legs were fatigued). As you can see, by my Thursday run my legs were donezo. I was supposed to have 6 miles (.5 mile walk, 5 mile jog, .5 mile walk), but as soon as I started my jog portion I knew I was going to have to cut it short. My hammy was acting up and with my 12-hour race on Saturday I needed to listen to my body. When I went to PT after my "failed" run, she worked on my leg a bit and I was hopeful for Saturday's event. My PT did mention that had it been last week she would have been fine with me shooting for 62 miles (100K), but with the issues that I ran into on Thursday she thought I should probably pull the plug once I hit the 50 mile mark - which is what I did. My body definitely wasn't at 100% during the race (more on that in the recap that I still need to write ;)), but now it's time to recover and train smart for these last 6ish weeks before my 100-miler. #WhereHasTheTimeGone

How were your workouts this past week?

Friday, May 27, 2022

Eating Around the World - 2022 Challenge [May - Mexican]

I came up with a fun "challenge" for the hubby and I to tackle in 2022. You see, we try and limit our eating out to once a week (because I'm frugal like that ;)). With that said, we tend to stick to our tried-and-true favorites (you gotta make the most of those dining-out experiences, right?!). Well, that means we usually eat at the same two restaurants. Hear me out, I am NOT complaining, but I thought it might be a fun "challenge" for the year to try a new place once a month. To take the idea one step further, I thought we could try a different cuisine every month - that way we aren't just trying a new Mexican restaurant every month (because, let's be real, I can never turn down great chips and salsa ;)). Here's how it went:


[Originally this was going to be a single post, but blog readers said they preferred monthly, so ask and you shall receive.] 

January - Indian

February - Korean

March - Pizza

April - Vegan


May - Mexican

Let's just say, when people ask "if you could only eat one thing for the rest of your life, what would it be?" it's immediate... Mexican is my go-to. With that being said, we already have our go-to spot so we normally don't stray away from our fave. Even still, when it was May's turn for a new-to-us restaurant, I was feelin' Mexican, so we thought we'd give it a shot. Like months prior, we turned to Yelp (I've been a "Yelp Elite" for the past 5 years, so clearly we rely on "the people's" expertise on a regular basis!) to help us narrow down our choices - since obviously SoCal is teaming with Mexican food. We decided on Casero Taqueria for this month's new-to-us restaurant. We liked the slogan, "Baja Inspired. Carlsbad Made." 

The place had a very cool vibe (but I did feel a bit under-dressed
since I came from working at the running store all day...).

The hubby and I started with an order of the Mexican Street Corn. (I LOVE CORN ON THE COB! I'd say my top choice is plain or with light salt sprinkled on it, but Mexican style can be tasty too.) This corn was scrum-didily-umptious! I think the only thing that would have made it better (especially for the hubby because he mowed down) was if there was more... 

I don't know how much corn normally costs when you eat out (because I normally just eat
it at home), but $7 for what equates to a full piece of corn on the cob did seem a bit high...

When it came to entrees, both the hubby and I ordered the BRC Burrito (pinto beans, rice and cheese) and added guacamole. I'll be honest and say I normally prefer black beans and no rice, but this was really the only veggie burrito offered, so we went with it. Don't get me wrong, the burrito was yummy, but I don't know if there was anything special about it. It tasted fresh and the green salsa I asked for on the side was flavorful, but because we already have our favorite Mexican spot, I knew this was really going to have to blow my mind to take over the top spot and I wouldn't say it did that.

Next time I'd skip the guac, it didn't taste amazing do not worth the $3 in my opinion.

Oh yeah, and how can I forget the chips and salsa?! No matter how good the meal is, if the chips and salsa are sub-par, I can almost guarantee I won't return. The chips had a seasoning that made them different from your standard tortilla chip. The salsa was good but a bit thinner than I would've liked (and a bit more chipotle flavored than I normally prefer).

You can see the seasoning on the chips in the photo. I'm normally a purist, but it wasn't terrible.

Again, I know there were unrealistic expectations in my mind, so I have to say that there was nothing "bad" about this place, and, the hubby and I both agreed that if people came into town and wanted more of a sit down Mexican dining experience (our go-to spot is fast casual, where you order at the counter), we would definitely come back... But this was pricier than our normal spot and I wouldn't say any better, so it probably won't be making it into our normal rotation.

When was the last time you tried a new-to-you restaurant?

Wednesday, May 25, 2022

Mental Health Update

May is Mental Health Awareness Month, so I thought it was the perfect time to give you an update on where things currently stand with mine. {Holy crapoly, I can't believe it's been OVER A YEAR since my post about "my darkness"!} [Note - I'm NOT sharing this because I am looking for pity or even for input, but I am opening up with the InterWebs because talking about our mental health should NOT be taboo and should be just as normal as taking about our physical health or even the weather. Let's stop the stigma surrounding how we are REALLY doing. #ItsOkayToNotBeOkay]

In case you didn't read the post last year entitled "The Darkness, My Darkness", let me give you a brief summary. I had been struggling with what I was calling "darkness" (I didn't want to call it depression without having it clinically diagnosed) and nothing I was doing on my own was making a difference. I knew I needed professional help, so a little over a year ago I admitted to myself, to those closest to me and then to the InterWebs that I couldn't do it on my own any longer.

Sometimes a year can feel like it flew by in the blink of an eye and other times it feels like an eternity. I guess you can say both about this past year when it came to diving into my mental health. It started by going to my primary care physician. She did a complete physical and lots of bloodwork to see if what I was feeling had a physical component to it. We found out during this testing that I actually have Hashimoto's Disease - an autoimmune disorder that causes an underactive thyroid. Because your thyroid controls/ regulates a lot in your body, my PCP decided the first line of action should be to try and get my thyroid under control. After about 6 months (where I had to continue increasing my medication dosage to get my thyroid to respond appropriately) we finally got my thyroid in a "normal" range but my darkness was still there. 

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Once my doctor determined that the thyroid issue was not the cause of the darkness (or at least that getting my thyroid where it should be didn't alleviate the darkness I was feeling - the whole reason I went to the doctor's in the first place) we started on antidepressants. (She didn't want to change too much at once in case I either had an adverse reaction and she wouldn't be able to pinpoint where the issue was coming from or had an improvement and she wasn't able to find out what to attribute it to.) I know there are folks who are opposed to medication, but I was all about trying whatever might help. 

A few of the medications I have tried in the past year...

In the past six months I have tried multiple medications at different dosages and, unfortunately, to no avail. To say I am frustrated would be an understatement. All I want to do is feel better and it just feels out of reach. I realize the field of medicine is often a lot of trial and error, but I really wish it was a little lot more of an immediate fix. But, even still, I am not giving up (or at least I am trying to remind myself on a daily, if not hourly, basis that giving up isn't an option because it won't get me closer to feeling any better). My primary care physician has recently suggested that because what we have tried hasn't seemed to help anything, it might be time that I look into another doctor to see what they may be able to do. 

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I'll be honest, I feel like a failure. I realize it is the medication that has failed, but it's hard not to think it's somehow my fault. I know it will take more guess and checking, but I feel like my life and happiness hangs in the balance and let's just say it is NOT fun. I am also hoping that I can find some therapy options that will fit into my schedule (and accept our insurance). Hopefully I'll be able to share an update sooner than a year from now, but at least I'm still doing the work and trying... 

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Again, I'm not looking for pity [although a little grace and understanding would be greatly appreciated]. I just want others who might be going through something similar to know that they are NOT alone and that they are worth fighting for!

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How are YOU doing right now?

Tuesday, May 24, 2022

Bishop High Sierra Ultras 53K Race Recap

Last weekend was the Bishop High Sierra Ultras, and I tackled the 53K (Note: Apparently the race was originally measured as a 50K, but year after year the runners were getting more than 31 miles, so the race director changed the distance to a 53K. And, shoot, since I’d never run that distance before it’d be an automatic PR {personal record} for me ;)).

AWWWWW YEAH!!

But, as with all my race recaps, I’ve gotta rewind to the start and give you all the deets that led to the finisher photo.

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If you’ve been around my corner of the InterWebs for a while, hopefully you know that I’m currently training for my first 100-mile race. I’m sure you can imagine, there are a lot of training miles to get your body ready to go the distance. The training plan I’m using has long back-to-back runs on the weekend (for example, this weekend I have 30 miles scheduled on Saturday and 20 miles schedules on Sunday – the point being, you're training your body to run on tired legs), so instead of running the same routes on my own week after week, I started looking for local-ish races that'd fit with my plan.

Yes, in case you were wondering, I still use an old school pencil and paper calendar to keep track of my training.

When I saw the Bishop High Sierra Ultras while I was scrolling through UltraSignUp, I wanted to chat with the hubby to get his thoughts. We love the Bishop/ Mammoth area and any reason to go is good enough for us ;). Since I had a 30-mile training run on the calendar for Saturday, the 53K (which translates to just under 33 miles) would be just about perfect-o.

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Our original plan was to leave Wednesday afternoon, drive to Lone Pine for the evening, then continue to Bishop when we woke up Thursday morning and camp in Bishop till Sunday morning. I got off early from work at 3pm and went home to finish packing. We kept our eyes on the map and decided we'd shoot to leave around 7pm to avoid rush hour traffic. Well, when that time got closer, we saw the temps in Lone Pine were still in the 90s, so the hubby suggested staying home Wednesday night and leaving early Thursday morning. I'm 150% a morning person, so that option was right up my alley (especially since I had 6 miles on the schedule for Thursday morning that I’d be able to do prior to us hitting the road).

You know it's an early run when Strava still categorizes it as a "Night Run" ;)

The hubby had a call he needed to be on for work at 10am on Thursday morning, so we worked backwards to see when we'd need to leave so we could be at a Starbucks in Ridgecrest by that time (he needed reception and knew Starbucks would have Internet if he needed to hotspot in for his call). We hit the road around 5:30am and got to said coffee shop with about 5 minutes to spare. Walt and I hung in the truck while the hubby took his call and worked for about 45 minutes.

Walt didn't mind the extra snooze time...

The hubby took a half day of PTO on Thursday {and a full day on Friday}, so was working while I drove and then wrapped up everything while we were at Starbucks. He wanted to make sure he got everything done before we lost cell service.

This Starbucks seemed brand new and we were the only vehicle in the parking lot

Once the hubby could call it quits with his "real job", the McDot Crew was back on the road and ready to rock 'n' roll.

Let's do this thang!

This was a random shot I took while we were driving of the Eastern Sierras (I wasn't looking,
just pointed the phone out the window and hit the button) - didn't turn out too shabby, did it?!

We didn’t really have anything on the docket for Thursday, so when we got up to the Bishop area we thought it might be more enjoyable if we made our way to higher elevations to try and beat the heat for a bit. (Yep, the temperatures were in the 90s on Thursday, but thankfully were supposed to drop to a more "manageable range" for Friday and Saturday.) We decided on Lake Sabrina and drove up for the afternoon. The first thing we did after being in the car for 6+ hours was do our mile doggy walk. While we were perusing the area, I obviously picked up litter for my #3PieceChallenge.

It is always so sad to see how much litter is left behind from folks...

After we got the blood flowing to the legs again, it was time for the hubby to get his fishing on. (#RealTalk – The vegan in me does not love that he fishes, so I might secretly cheer for him to not catch anything, but I still try to be a loving wife and tag along to support him even if I don't love the activity.) Walt and I hung out on the shore while the hubby tossed in his line {okay, okay, he was fly-fishing and I know that isn’t the correct terminology, but it’s okay ;)}. Apparently, when he was further down the stream, he caught a trout but he had no photo evidence and I didn’t see it happen so I can’t guarantee it (just kidding, the hubby may love to tell “stories” with his creative mind, but he wouldn’t lie to me… or at least I hope ;)).

He fished, we soaked up the sun.

And the wild thing is, the pictures don't even do the beauty justice!

Eventually it was time to head to the campsite for the evening. Well, like I mentioned, it was warm, so instead of staying in Bishop, we decided to drive 30 minutes to Mammoth and stay where it was a bit cooler (because it's at higher elevation).


Once we set up camp (which takes us all of about 3 minutes to pop the top and get out our camp chair ;)) it was time to make some dinner. We went real classy and had hot dogs with kimchi. (We normally use tortillas instead of bread/ buns.)

Anyone else loving the pretzel crackers these days?! No?! Just me?! More for me I guess!

Although the temps were cooler in Mammoth, the winds started howling once the sun went down. We took that as our sign to hit the hay earlier than normal. (Usually, we love sitting by the fire and hanging out in nature, but we also are very conscious about fire safety, especially with wildfires so prevalent in Southern California, so we didn’t want to risk it.)

Did a little doggy walk before it got too dark and I'll tell you, the views didn't suck!

Hubby built a wind blocker and we kept the flames low, but once the winds started we put it out.

The spot we stayed in had a tree that came in handy for wind blockage.

When we woke up on Friday morning, we went to check out the Hot Creek Geological Area. The hubby had gone on a recent snowboarding trip and wanted to show it to me. It was pretty awesome, and we were able to knock out our one-mile doggy walk at the same time. Shoot, we didn’t even need to go to Yellowstone last year to see the geological pools.

Isn't nature cool?!

Above the thermal area the creek is cold, but below it is hot. Pretty wild!

Sometimes Walt will play along with us for the photo... not often though!

Some of the small pieces of trash I picked up on our walk.

Before we left the Mammoth area, we thought we'd go hike around Lake Mary for a bit... until we made our way up the mountain and the roads were still closed for the season. No worries, we can freestyle like the best of them, so we pulled over at Twin Lakes and walked around. We even found a Forest Chapel we had never seen before! (Too bad we don't need a wedding venue, because this would be right up our alley and seemed ABSOLUTELY AWESOME!)

How peaceful does this picture make you feel?!

It was so cool to stumble across this little zone while hiking around the lake.

The only other thing we had on the docket for Friday was to walk around Bishop to see if there was anything we “needed” in any of the local shops. (We normally aren’t trinkets and treasures type people, but we do love to buy stickers wherever we adventure.) Thankfully, for our pocketbooks, we came up empty handed ;) On the way back to our campsite in Bishop we stopped to pick up my race bib (oh yeah, this blog post is supposed to be a race recap, not a camping post, hehe).

The only picture I snapped while we were walking around town...

Apparently 357 is a type of gun, so the hubby took to calling me "The Gun" all weekend long...

The campground we were staying at in Bishop (PV Pit Campground) was literally like 5 minutes from Millpond Park where the race was starting and finishing – WHOO HOO! It was sort of like we planned it like that (although we totally didn’t ;)). 

This is a very bare minimum type campground, but we've stayed here before and it works for what we need.

After we grabbed my bib (I appreciated that I was able to opt out of a race shirt {and save $5} since most are ill-fitting), we set up our campsite. Even though it was on the warmer side (not as toasty as Thursday), we made Ramen. #AllTheCarbs

It might not look good, but it is yummy! Ramen noodles with vegan bouillon,
peas, corn, red onions, mushrooms and topped with some of the leftover kimchi. 

After we finished dinner, we had a campfire for a few minutes and then climbed into our sleeping bags for some shut eye.

The sky was a cotton candy shade of pinks and purples.

We lost the sun behind the mountains about 30 minutes before it officially set.

If you’ve been around my corner of the InterWebs for a while, you probably are aware that I don’t sleep well in general (thank you, fibromyalgia and the myriad of other health issues I deal with), but the night before a race is normally even worse. Well, it seemed like everything that could try and keep me up that night, did… The hubby’s snoring (due to the dry weather) was unreal no matter how many times I poked him, our heater alarm started going off around 1am (it sounds like a smoke detector beeping) and then we had some loud neighbors arrive to set up camp around 2am. When I looked at my phone around 3:15am I decided enough was enough and I would just get up and do some extra stretching.


I do my best not to wake the hubby and pup (I don’t want my running to be a nuisance/ inconvenience to others), and thankfully they both can sleep through most things, so I did a lot of my stretching on the foldout couch before heading to the cab to change and get ready for the race. I made sure I had everything I'd need for the race before we left the house. (#FlatCarlee photos are fun for social media, but they're also a very effective way of making sure I have what I'll need.)

This race's #FlatCarlee included: Navy Blue Lines PRO Compression SocksGunmetal Sparkle Athletic SkirtNathan VaporHowe Hydration 

The 53K was set to start at 5:25am and since it took 6 minutes to get from our campground to the park where the race was being held, I told the hubby I wanted to leave by 4:45am so we’d have time to get there, park, use the port-o-potty if I needed and get together all of my gear without having to sneak around a sleeping husband and dog. I woke the guys up at 4:40am and we were on our way within a few minutes. We pulled into the parking lot with zero issues and I was able to task the hubby with putting my bladder and soft flasks in my hydration vest while I put on my shoes and pinned on my race bib. A few minutes before the race was scheduled to begin, we walked over to the start and I got my game face on ;)

I'm ready for this!

In between the 100K and 50-mile race starts the hubby was able to snap a couple pre-race pictures for me. The sun hadn’t risen yet, so the lighting isn’t the best, but you get the idea ;) [FYI - In case you aren't familiar with trail races {vs road races}, they tend to be very low frills, which is totally fine for me, but you can see it in things like the starting line.]

"No frills" is my middle name ;)

The wind was pretty non-existent (as opposed to the previous couple of days), which made for some calm water in the ponds.

Eventually it was the 53K runners’ turn to line up. The hubby walked back toward the car and told me he would be on my left-hand side in between the start line and where we parked the truck to snap a couple pictures. I lined up towards the back of the pack (I never want to get in people’s way and I figured with my conservative start I should give the speedsters and the racers more room to run) and made sure to get my watch ready [if you read my Leona Divide 50K recap you may remember that I either forgot to start my watch or thought it was ready to go when I hit it and it wasn’t… Well, I wouldn’t make that same mistake twice… at least not within a couple weeks ;)]. Three, two, one and WE WERE OFF!

Apparently I was running so fast I was a blur... or maybe it was the bad photo quality due to the low light ;)

You can see my "humpback" [aka my hydration pack] under my jacket.

I should probably mention that on Wednesday morning I had a physical therapy appointment and discussed the game plan with my PT (I currently go to PT twice a week). She has been extremely happy with how my hamstring/ glute/ abductor muscles have been improving and gave me the green light to listen to my body for the race. I had mentioned the elevation profile (what appeared to go up for about 16 miles and then come back down for 16 miles) and she said that she would love it if I would be able to jog 8 of the first 16 miles. I sort of chuckled and told her I would give it my best shot (seeing as we were running at altitude {topping out at about 8,250 feet above sea level} and with a decent amount of elevation gain {the website said it’d be slightly over 5,000 feet of climbing} I knew it wouldn’t be “easy”, but I’d try my darndest). She reminded me that I could break up the miles (jog 2 miles, walk 2 miles and repeat) but thought doing some uphill jogging would help challenge the muscles we’ve been working on and extend their comfort range.

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And since I mentioned the elevation chart, let’s discuss that briefly… It may have made me a bit nervous. You see, I do the majority of my training on the roads. I get in my miles before work (and mostly before the sun comes up), so I’ve gotta work with what I’ve got (and where both my hubby and I feel comfortable running in the dark). {This was another reason why I added trail races to my training calendar, because I knew it’d force me to hit the dirt and get in more elevation than I might on my own.} The elevation profile for the 53K looked like we were running up a mountain for the first half of the race and then back down it for the second half. I knew if push came to shove, I could always just hike the first half of the race, but I was really hoping my legs would be strong enough so I wouldn’t have to walk the whole first 16 miles. SPOILER ALERT: My body WAS strong enough and I WAS able to jog about half of the uphill miles like my PT wanted. BOOYA!

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Remember how I mentioned that the temps earlier in the week were in the 90s? Well, thankfully the runners had enough pull with their weather gods because it ended up being just about near perfect running weather come race morning.

Temps starting in the 30s and ending in the 70s isn't too shabby! The air quality could've been better though...

It was in the 30s at the start, so I was thankful I threw in thin gloves and a light jacket to wear over my gear (skirt, tank and arm sleeves) until the sun woke up fully and came out to play. Note: you ALWAYS want to be prepared when you are running in the mountains because weather can really change in an instant. Not to mention, just because the sun comes up at 5:40am doesn’t mean it will make it into all of the canyons and crevices you’ll be running in – the big hills around you can cause big shadows, which stay cooler longer. Even still, watching the sunrise in the Eastern Sierras is MAGICAL!

The sky was starting to brighten within a couple miles of running.

The tips of the mountains were being bathed in sunlight.

Sunrise is one of my favorite times of the day!

I told myself I'd “run when I could, walk when I needed to”. I'd say I jogged maybe the first 5.5 miles or so (except for when I was stopping to take photos, of course ;)). Around Mile 5.5 I took my first major walk break so I could take my PROBAR BOLT chews and catch my breath. I wasn’t running fast but running at altitude is tough and it had me sucking air for sure.

I took my chews every 50-60 minutes (the distance was different due to the terrain, but I tried to keep
to a fairly consistent time table so I wouldn't go too long without calories and bonk later in the race.

The scenery everywhere we looked was stunning! I felt like I could have stopped every 100 feet or so to take another picture. There was still some snow on the mountains and some of the flowers were showing off their colors for us.

COME ON NOW! <3

I had a couple runners comment on my enjoyment of the course. I told them that if I wasn't going to win
(and chuckled at that part of the statement) then I better enjoy as many of the steps I take as possible.

I was doing my best to chug along. I would say after the first 5.5 miles or so, the rest of my running in the first half came in spurts… I would run on the flatter parts of the uphill and power hike the steeper sections. You can’t really tell by looking at my paces that I was running, but I was throwing it in wherever I could – a half mile here, a quarter mile there.

A lot of the first half seemed to be "false flat", where it appeared it was flat but really it was uphill.

You can even still see the moon out in this picture!



There were also WATER CROSSINGS on the course! I wasn’t really expecting that. There were quite a few places where there was a decent amount of water flowing and planks were strategically placed to help folks avoid getting soaked.

I was able to pass by all of the waterholes without getting my feet wet - SCORE!

I'd say 95% of the course was exposed. I was super thankful for the cooler temperatures, especially seeing as we were out in the open for the majority of the trail. Had the weather shifted a couple days one way or the other it could’ve been a very different race. With that said, there was a small portion that had coverage and I had to snap a picture for the hubby. One of his favorite smells is warm pine and as soon as I saw the trees in the distance I knew he would’ve loved that part.

Can't you just smell them?!

Oh yeah, and I forgot to mention, but as you hopefully know, I’ve been doing a #3PieceChallenge for the past few months where I pick up at least three pieces of litter on my runs and walks. Obviously, I was planning on doing it during this race too, but when I read the runner handbook before the race, I got extra stoked… You see, there was a line in it that said, “Absolutely no littering. Really – it’s 2021 and we even have to mention this? Show us some extra trash you picked up out on the course and we’ll give you a prize at the finish!”. Um… they must not know who they were dealing with because I was DEFINITELY going to win a prize! {I even posted this on my Facebook page and whoever runs their social media commented and wished me luck finding trash because the trails are “so clean”…} I already had four pieces of litter in my hand before I made it to the first aid station! With that said, I rolled up to a few of the aid stations and asked the volunteers if they were willing to touch our stuff (with COVID, I know some people would prefer to not touch your gear, which I totally understand and respect). At each of the stations there were sweet angels willing to open my hydration vest (so I could save time by not taking it off) and shove in garbage. In fact, because there was a portion of the course that was an out-and-back and I went by a couple of the same aid stations multiple times, I was even given the nickname of “Trash Lady” by some of the volunteers. (FYI – I am totally fine with a trail name like that ;) I was also told I was like ‘liquid sunshine’ by someone else on the course, so it seemed like everyone wanted to hand out compliments my way that day!)

Source

Eventually we hit the 53K turn around spot. Don’t get me wrong, I was having a grand ol’ time and wasn't wishing the race to be done or anything like that, but I was hoping that the turn around sign meant we would be getting more downhill than uphill for the rest of the race because I was ready to run again with gravity working with me rather than against me.

Thankful that the course was well marked since directions aren't my strong suit...

Normally I fuel solely with my PROBAR BOLT chews on the course, but at the turn around I grabbed a pickle spear (side note: I HATE cucumbers but LOVE pickles) and a few Red Vines from the aid station. As always, I thanked them profusely for being on the course, giving both of their time and energy to runners they have never met and may never see again.

They had a little bit of everything for us!

As I had hoped, we had a decent amount of downhill (what goes up must go down, right?). Also, the course was shaped like a lollipop, so the 53K’ers were now heading back towards everyone behind them. Some folks may not like out-and-back portions because you're doing the same thing twice, but I love seeing my fellow runners and cheering them on.

The course map from my COROS app.

After all the uphill, my legs were excited to open up and cruise for a good handful of miles. (Obviously because I was taking advantage of gravity at this point I wasn’t doing much stopping, which meant fewer photo ops - #SorryNotSorry.)


I'd say the majority of the course was very runnable (if you're adequately trained). It isn’t super technical and the trails are wide and open. One drawback, at least in my opinion, is that much of the terrain is sand. Sand is great because it's soft on impact, but it's difficult because it sucks your momentum and doesn’t give you much back in return. Another downfall was the trails are public and open to everyone during the race. This meant we were having to deal with dirt bikes and quads, off-roading trucks, people who were out for a morning hike, mountain bikers, etc. It wasn’t a huge issue, but I did have to pull off the trail at two separate points because trucks were coming through and apparently didn’t want to wait for me. I also really had to pay attention in some of the areas where the dirt bikes were flying through because with the hills you may not see each other until you were almost on top of one another. Even still, it was still pretty FAN-FREAKIN'-TASTIC!

You can see some of the sandy trails here.

Eventually it was time to head to the finish (all good things come to an end). I’m stoked to report that the body held up amazingly (I guess my PT really does know what she’s doing, hehe). Of course your body gets fatigued (especially with all of the climbing at altitude we were doing), but I wasn’t having any pain in my hammy, so I’m considering it a MAJOR win!

I chuckled at this sign because it felt very random to me - but very appreciated!

I forgot to mention, but while I was running, the hubby drove to Mammoth Mountain for one last snowboard session of the season (he has an annual pass so figured he'd take advantage of the resort still being open). I was sending him updates every so often with my mileage and time so he'd get an idea of when to head back to the race. Originally, we had thought I'd be done around 1:30pm (which would've been about 8 hours), but as the race went on, I could see it was going to be closer to 12:30pm. When he dropped me off, he mentioned he'd try to leave Mammoth around noon anyway, just in case our texts weren’t going through due to bad reception. I figured he’d be at the finish line around the right time even if he wasn’t getting my texts. SPOILER ALERT: They didn’t make it back in time (they got there maybe 15 minutes after I finished), but they’ve seen me do plenty of races so I didn't mind (especially since it was technically "just a training run").

33.6 miles done and dusted!!

Once I crossed the finish line I saw the race director, so after I caught my breath, I got all of the litter I picked up out of my bag to claim my prize. I went over, introduced myself and told him that I had read in the runners’ guide about picking up litter. He sort of chuckled and said something to the tune of “Oh, that’s cool. Maybe next year we will have an award for something like this.” I was a little flabbergasted. Of course, I would have picked up the trash no matter what, but I was a little bummed that they didn’t come through on their end of the bargain… Don’t get me wrong, I wasn’t expecting a $100 prize or something extravagant, but he didn’t even offer a race shirt or some other free swag… #FalseAdvertising

Obviously some of the stuff I found was not from the runners, but the bandaid, fuel tear-off
tops and medicine packages I am assuming came from folks participating in the event...

Even though there was no prize, the post-race spread was pretty great. I normally can’t eat a ton after I finish, but it was still awesome to see everything they had to offer. There was even a volunteer at the grill making people hamburgers. And I LOVED seeing washing stations set up so they could use reusable plates/ cups and avoid single use items. #MajorProps

Not sure if the reusable dishes were COVID approved, but they were environmentally friendly!

I meandered about and grabbed some chips and salsa and a cookie to munch on while I waited for the guys to show up.

I didn't realize it at the time, but apparently this cookie was decorated for Christmas!

After the hubby and pup met up with me, we snapped a couple quick photos and then hopped in the car. We decided we’d head back up to Lake Sabrina so the hubby could do a bit more fishing and I could put my feet up and relax.

Whenever you have the option, ALWAYS take the scenic route!

Since I’ve been tackling longer distances (and rehabbing scared muscles), my paces have definitely taken a nosedive, but that's okay. Maybe I’ll work on speed in the future, but for now I’m just grateful to be able to do what I love pain-free.

And, yes, I did pick my MudLOVE bracelet specifically to honor those murdered in Buffalo.

I’m usually all about the numbers, but these days the enjoyment of running is where I’m focused. Even still, I thought I’d share my stats because I might want to know them in the future when I’m looking back at this post. As of sharing this recap the results are still unofficial, but they had me as 40th of 94 runners overall, 14th female (out of 37) and 8th in my age group (30–39-year-olds). My time was 7:02:35, but what matters more to me is the time spent in God’s creation!

My watch had me with an average pace of 12:34/mile, which doesn't seem too bad all things considered.

And just in case you were wondering how we refueled after the race. We went to one of the local breweries and I had a grilled cheese sandwich with extra pickles (like I said, I love pickles) and some fries. On the drive back to the campground we stopped to fill up the gas tank (THESE PRICES SUCK!) and grabbed an ice cream sandwich for dessert – YUM!

GET IN MY BELLY!

Originally, we were planning on staying the night after the race, but once we got back to the campground the hubby threw out the idea of driving back Saturday night instead of Sunday morning. (The AC in the truck went out on the trip and we thought it might be better to drive when we'd have cooler temps.) Normally I would’ve said I wanted to stay (especially since we had already paid for our campsite), but I had another 15 miles on the calendar for Sunday and knew it’d be easier to get done (along with unpacking, laundry, etc) if we got back Saturday evening rather than Sunday afternoon.

The sun setting over the Eastern Sierras on our drive back home.

We ended up heading to Oceanside Saturday evening (but I told the hubby he’d have to drive, which was a fair trade since I drove the whole way there). Leaving Saturday night also meant we avoided the Sunday travel traffic.

It also meant I could shower the same day as the race rather than continuing to live in my filth ;)

All-in-all, the weekend was a BLAST, even if we cut it short (both on the front end and on the back end). I’ll be honest, I don’t know that I’d do this race again (and it’s not just because I’m bitter about not getting a prize for my trail clean-up ;)). I didn’t hate it and would totally be down to join a friend if they wanted to tackle the course, but I don’t think it’d be one that I would need to run a second time. It isn’t easy (most races aren’t, right?!) and although the views are gorgeous, I'd be fine with exploring more of the trails in the Bishop area with the hubby on our own instead of doing the official race.

What is your go-to post-race meal?