50 Miles?!?!!?

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I have been tossing this “crazy” idea around in my head for a good 6 months now. I don’t know the moment I decided “someday I want to run a 50 miler” but it was likely after too many Ultra Runner Podcast reads/listens combined with a few post long run beers. Up until the last month, however, it has been something I was able to shrug off saying “I’ll wait until the kids are old enough to stay home alone.” There was safety in that, they are only 4 now! The last thing I have EVER wanted to do was for this hobby of mine to make my family life any more difficult to schedule. Somewhere in the last month this fleeting thought rushed to the front of my mind and I took the first step into the danger zone and googled “how to run your first 50 miler”. EEEEKKKK Second step was putting a call out on a local trail running group’s Facebook page for advice. A phone call and a few e-mails later (I LOVE the running community, always so willing to help!) I was convinced it is at least do-able, I am not the ONLY person to EVER run a 50 miler with kids and a job.

This week I had a talk with my wife, who will have more/longer weekend mornings to captain solo at home, and she thinks it is manageable. Her main point was “why wait, you never know what can happen so do it now!” That makes sense in the case FOR running a 50 miler in 2014 but AGAINST my brain is still pushing back, “I will miss things, and these are the sweet years for the kids. I won’t miss much when they are teens who sleep until noon!” Another point my Mother-In- Law made FOR was that the race I want to do is looped. I COULD drop at 30 miles and since I was planning a 50K that weekend why not go with the A goal being finish 50 and B goal do the 30 I would have done had I stuck to my original 2014 plans. Not that I would use that as an excuse to under train OR DNF it DOES make it seem less terrifying.

The only other AGAINST is this leg issue I’ve been dealing with for a while now. It seems to fade/go away just to come back again. I got a once over from a sports med doc who couldn’t seem to say anything more than “possibly” overuse.  It doesn’t hurt WHEN I run so there’s that. It feels like a knot in the top of my calf which sometimes runs up behind my knee and into my hamstring. Why would I sign up for something so scary when I have this to deal with?!?! Honestly I think if I was 100% I would have already registered.

I have until August when prices go up (unless they reach capacity) to decide.

The race – Farmdale Trail Run have you done any running here? How was it?

What got you to register for a race you were afraid of?

Quick reminder – our next FUN RUN is Saturday, March 29th 9am – Groppis in Bay View! DETAILS

Tighten Those Laces! LET’S RUN!!!



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I had a pretty good weekend of runs (a friend joined me on my long run and blogged about it here) and for the first time in my training cycle actually had sore quads on Monday! I don’t buy into the idea that if you are not sore you didn’t work hard enough, just an observation. After not a lot of rest Sunday or Monday night (thanks Oscars and Breaking Bad) I was not too happy with my alarm at 5:15am this morning. This was not helped by the fact that it had snowed last night.

I am trying REALLY hard to make as many planned workouts as possible so I got ready and headed to the Y for my 4 miles + strength. I’ve heard a million times that 98% of the time you just need to take that first step or you will ALWAYS feel better after a workout. TODAY was NOT one of those days. I’m truly apathetic about going. I went, did my workout, was STILL not in a good mood and still tired. MAYBE I should have just slept! I am dragging today!!!

This doesn’t mean I won’t get up and run tomorrow or the next day or that I don’t still love running. It just means we all have bad days. It’s not their existence that will derail your aspirations it is how you deal with them that will. Much like on a long run when bad/dark times happen I am choosing to acknowledge it and do my best to move forward!

Tighten Those Laces, LETS RUN!


Trail Dog Running

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I was searching for some trail races to add to my calendar and happened upon Trail Dog Running. Two things caught my eye 1) they are in the planning stages of a trail running camp here in Wisconsin (I think one of the first here). 2) Their races are on new to me trails not too far from family (babysitters). I am really excited about this new venture out of Eastern Wisconsin so I wanted to share it all with you. I spoke with

Hillary Danaher, Co-founder

Why did you start running? How long have you been at it?

I started running in 2009, primarily because I had been told that I couldn’t do it. That’s the short version. Longer version: I grew up with kind of severe asthma and all the Nervous Nellies around  had me believing that I couldn’t handle things like long distance running. In case any of them are reading this…I just signed up for a 50 miler.  And, btw, running actually helps to alleviate asthma, the better shape you are in (at least that’s my personal experience).

 Why did you start Trail Dog Running?

My husband and I believe that we should leave the world a better place than we found it. There is nothing more positive, more healthy, more life-changing than trail running, in our opinion. I vividly remember finishing my first marathon and choking back tears (okay, I cried my eyes out) at the intensity of it all. The world is a beautiful, amazing place, and life is very short. Our goal is to bring those experiences to as many people as possible.

Can you tell us more about Trail Dog Running as a company?

Trail Dogs, by created definition, are those runners who seek out the trails on all corners of the earth, regardless of the weather, the warnings, the altitude, or the lack of a good trail map. The company is named for those runners who just simply love the trail. One of our runners described Trail Dog quite succinctly…two words: “unpretentious fun.” We have a longer version, however; I am stealing this straight from our website. It encapsulates our philosophy: For those of us at Trail Dog , the word “Unleash” is actually a philosophy. It’s a way of life. We recognize that “Unleash” means something different to everyone. To those of us who have dogs, and those of us who run with our dogs, being Unleashed is about freedom.  Watching a dog run without boundaries, without worry, without The Leash, is to watch pure joy. We all run for different reasons. Running is a release, a sanctuary, or a time to clear your head.  Some run for challenge, or the endorphin rush, some run simply for health. Others compete, some push, and there are many who run just for fun.

The Trail Dog  is all of these, with the occasional excursion off trail to chase a squirrel, sniff, or just sit down and enjoy the view. Regardless of the run, regardless of whether or not you even own a dog, it’s always about being Unleashed. Running Unleashed   is to run with passion and without burden. It’s about letting the expectations of life melt away for a while. And at the end of the run, at the end of the day, at the top of a ridge, or at the end of the trail, the Trail Dog finds his favorite spot to just sit and enjoy the benefit of time spent Unleashed. Maybe it’s easier for a dog than us humans, don’t know. We do know that it’s worth taking time out of each and every day to Unleash.

 Can you tell us more about your next few races?

I could talk for hours about our next few races, I am so excited! The Seamus Scramble 5K is all trail, up in Glacial Blue Hills Recreation Area. March 15…we have a fantastic partnership with West Bend Tap and Tavern (truly amazing food and fantastic people). If you bring in your bib after the race, the bartender will give you a free beer or Bloody Mary. AND The person who sets the first official record time for the 5K will receive a free registration to any 2014 Trail Dog race.

Rocky’s Rollercoaster 5K and 7 miler is really one of my favorite trails to run. The Ice Age Trail is an absolutely amazing creation. We have strong ties with the Ice Age Trail Alliance; together with University of Wisconsin – Washington County, we have a beautiful course marked to run.

Luna-Tics Race Series – These races are set up kind of like a festival of races…We are having the Junkyard Dog 50K, the Mad Dog Marathon, the Hound Dog Half, and the Lucky Dog 13K.

All of the races run the Ice Age Trail north out of Kewaskum, and they are breathtaking, challenging, and just a blast to run. We are thrilled to have just secured Hammer Nutrition as a sponsor for our 2014 summer race series as well.

The two fall races are being planned right now in conjunction with the Ice Age Trail, the City of West Bend, and Washington County…we are working on a 5K to be run WITH your dogs, and a 10K trail run to wrap up the season.

What can people expect when running a Trail Dog race?

We strive to create runs that are as close to 100% trail as possible. Every once in a while we have to add in a few feet on a connector road, but that’s it. You can expect the fantastic atmosphere that surrounds the running community. Healthy, kind, positive people who love pure, genuine fun. We have a commitment to quality running experiences, from the packet pick up to the trail itself, to the aid stations to the post-race experience. We intend to make those experiences memorable from  beginning to end, rather than just from start to finish!

What will make your races different than others in the area?

Every race is unique and every experience is personal. It is our goal to create personal experiences for runners that are transforming; life-changing. Or at the very least, extraordinarily thought-provoking. Trail Dog has partnered with local businesses to help promote West Bend and the fantastic State of Wisconsin, which will play a huge part in each aspect of every race. Each race has a designated recipient that will receive a portion of the registration fees…the Seamus Scramble is donating to the West Bend Dog Park. Rocky’s Rollercoaster Run will donate to the Humane Society. Other recipients will include the Ice Age Trail Alliance and the Full Shelf Food Pantry.

What advice do you have for women wishing to start trail running?

Remember this: Everyone has their own race to run. Running is so tremendously individual, and it allows for you to focus on your own inner strength, personal goals, and internal motivation and discipline. Trail running adds to that by including the wild sense of adventure that you love to tap into.

A part of the reason that this advice is so fantastic (it was given to me by my favorite coach, who is perhaps the greatest inspiration in my life) is that it removes all judgment. When you are running, there is no room to compare yourself to others, or to compare others to you. This is you vs. you. Inner drive, hard work, maintaining your own being as opposed to making external comparisons. Applying that advice to running helped me transform how I compete. Applying that advice to all my life encompasses has helped me grow into the person I am today.

What advice do you have for women who want make one of your races their first trail race?

Just love it. When you are dripping wet after a water crossing, caked with mud from the days of rain that created pits on the trail for three days prior to the race, trip on a branch and use all of your stamina to remain on your feet…remember to look out over the vistas as you run, to breathe in the sounds of the streams and waterfalls you are going past, and to love every minute of it.

At mile nine of my first 25K trail run, I was exhausted. I won’t go into detail, but the trail was tougher than I was at that moment. I made a decision (after drinking part of a Coke and having a bite of a Snickers – I love the way trail runners eat) that I have never wavered from since that time. I decided to love every moment of every run, no matter what. With one mile left, I remember being sad that the race was about to finish. I had a terrible time and a rough finish, but the race itself was so breathtaking, I had come to a point that I didn’t want it to end.

How can people connect with Trail Dog Running?


Trail Dog Running, LLC on Facebook

e-mail rocky@traildogrunning.com

(Rocky is one of our boxers who is a great runner, despite the puppy injury he endured before we acquired him as a rescue dog)

Anything else you would like to add?

Keep your eye on our website…we have many plans in the works. Details on the remainder of the 2014 will be posted, a trail camp is being planned, look for the Trail Dog Running Club, training plans, recipes for trail run recovery food (and training food) all kinds of stuff!

Thanks for all the information Hillary!

I look forward to racing with Trail Dog at the Rocky’s Rollercoaster!! Will you join me???

Tighten Those Laces! LETS RUN!!!!


Up and at ’em 2014

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Here I am in a blogging lull again. After my 50K focused a lot of energy on recovery (eating and drinking) and gaining a good 5lb. I was being pretty lazy in all aspects of my life and you know what I am OK with that. I spent 10 months of 2013 in “training” mode. First for Ragnar Chicago and then for Surf the Murph 50K. All the while I was also juggling a lot of other responsibilities that meant late nights and early wake ups.  

So here we are January 2nd 2014! Why not be cliché and write a testament about how I won’t let that laziness happen AGAIN? Well because that’s not really my style and it probably will happen again, next October after an epic year it will be a deserved break, recharge or whatever you want to call it. I really resumed my running life about a month ago (though I had been running for fun and when I wanted the whole time) when I got bored/sick of being lazy starting building a base and eating better (subsequently loosing those 5lbs)  so this is NOT about starting new for 2014 but keeping the momentum growing.

What’s up for 2014

Monthly women only fun runs!

–          We will continue to do monthly fun runs in the Milwaukee, WI area so get connected on Facebook and Twitter to be the first to know! Next run Jan. 18th 9am The Pettit

Race Directing

–   I have accepted the position as the Race Director for Run Like a Mother – Milwaukee. This 5K race will be held May 10th (Mother’s Day). Though I will not saturate We Run This with RLAM posts I will put out a few reminders to register/requests for volunteers. This is an important journey in my running life so I will share lessons learned and field notes from my adventure for anyone considering race directing as well.

Ragnar Chicago

–   As you may know I am SO HONORED to have been selected into a group of people tasked with promoting Ragnar known as Ragnar Ambassadors. I’ll be running more store fun runs and hosting some 101 sessions to help get out the word because this is probably my FAVORITE RACE! PS Prices increase 1/10 so if you’ve been debating – REGISTER NOW

–   I will be captaining and running as part of an ultra (6 person) team again and I am SUPER excited for our cast of characters (who don’t know it but I am going to ask to feature them on the blog).

The BIG run goal

–  The BIG run goal for me this year will be to complete 2 50Ks! I had so much fun at Surf the Murph I want to capture that again and again. Timing works out perfectly from a training prospective so as long as I get in to both races I will be running Dances With Dirt – Devil’s Lake on July 12th (for fun/experience/because I have a wedding to go to in Madison at 4:00pm anyways) and the Glacial Trail 50K on Oct. 12th (for time, under 7hrs). That was scary to write!

So there it is. It doesn’t seem like much but on top of a full time job and parenting twin four year olds in a household with a lot of weekend travel it should be interesting. I hope to meet as much of the We Run This community as possible in 2014 and am looking forward to many great runs!

Happy New Year!

Tighten those laces! Let’s Run!!

–   Rachel

Race Recap: Surf The Murph 50K 2013

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I would be lying if I said I wasn’t nervous for the entire trek up to Minneapolis for my first 50K. I had a pretty great marathon 3 weeks ago and a pretty solid last double long run weekend after that. However, the pain I had been dealing with (and that caused my training to be 11 weeks not 16) in my lower right leg seemed to be inching it’s way back and I had a new behind the knee twinge that wasn’t making my nerves any better. After arriving to my friend’s house with my little sister/crew we ate dinner and were in bed by 9pm. I slept pretty good and was out of bed quickly at the sound of my 4:45am alarm. I methodically got myself and my gear ready (most of which was already prepped/packed) and we were out the door by our planned 5:45am. 

When we arrived at the park the wind was howling and it seemed darker than usual for 6:00am. Packet pick up took a total of 5 minutes so after exploring the start line we headed back to the car for 30 minutes. My nerves are high but I still felt oddly calm.

Reppin' Ragnar!
Reppin’ Ragnar!
I was more worried about running the trails in the dark then the distance. After a quick briefing from one of the RDs about 100 of us lined up and with nothing more then a “GO!” we were off.Start2 

The way this course works is it is a figure 8 you run twice. This gives you access to the main aid station four times and two other stations two times as well as the start/finish area in the middle of the race. I really liked how much aid there was and each station was very spectator friendly, especially the main one. 

I could feel I had over dressed for the amount of hills we were conquering in the first 4 miles right away. Thankfully I layered so I was just a matter of stripping down while running and NOT falling on my face. The first Aid Station seemed to come quickly as did the sunrise. I was thankful to be running in the light of day and determined to heed the advice I had read of breaking the run into just getting to the next aid station. The first 3.5/4 miles of this race are a BEAST and all I could think about was “what if the whole race is like this”. I had spent months staring at the elevation profile and I kind of psyched myself out. What followed the hills however was some really runable sections. So runable that I came into the main aid station, first time seeing my sister, a little before my projected time. I was happy with the pace but a bit scared I was pushing too hard 5.5 miles in. I left feeling confident and ready to tackle this thing.HT2 

The following miles reminded runnable, if you don’t mind horse poop. There was tons of it! I was really happy that it didn’t seem to smell in the crisp air even when you would see a pile freshly trampled through. At mile 11 I noticed something was wrong. I had been running with some other women, really more leap frogging with them, one of whom had mentioned she ran the race twice before. I was following trail markers and trying to not get into “pack mentality” and just follow. When we came to mile 11 I noticed my Garmin had only read 10 miles but I also knew Garmins CAN be wrong and trail races weren’t always marked to the T. I tried not to think anything of it and pushed on. Through the first half I felt strong. Actually the only time I felt unsure were those first 4 hilly miles. Even through the “fun zone” where I had to duck under trees and climb over others and through “smurf village” where I had to spot trail markers on the tall grass ahead of me to navigate I kept having fun. There is one climb where you literally have to pull yourself up on trees about 2 miles from the start/finish and though it was hard I thought “this is really going to suck next loop but I will be 2 miles from finishing” so I could tell I was in a good mental place knowing I would make it back to that point. 

Pumped to have made it halfway!
Pumped to have made it halfway!

I pulled into the halfway point and began to change my socks. I handed my hydration pack to my sister to check if I needed refilling. She quickly scolded me for only drinking about 10oz of water and I quickly tried to defend myself stating I HAD been drinking my Nuun and coke as well. She was being a great crew member and told me to DRINK UP in the 2nd half. I also realized I hadn’t eaten as much as I expected so I made an effort to down almost an entire pack of cliff shot blocks by the next time I saw her (about 40 minutes later). 

For my second loop I pulled out with the same girls I had been with earlier. I knew it was going to be a L O N G 4 miles of hills so I tried to settle in somewhere I could ease drop on them. That lasted maybe 2 miles. I felt good hiking up and plowing down the hills and dropped them quickly (thank you training on the black loop at Lapham Peak). I was happy when the worst of the first half hills were over but noticed my mileage still off. After I pulled out of the main aid station for the 3rd time I felt the odd sense of this looks like a different part of the course and got nervous I went the wrong way. I saw a man in the distance and made it my goal to catch up to him. I plugged along for almost a 1/2 mile before reaching him and asking if he had just come from the station and if we were lost. He assured me it was right and I knew I had seen markers the whole time. We continued on and finally saw the sign for mile 7 so I felt better and pressed on alone. As I turned a corner around mile 10 I knew I had not run through there on the first loop. My heart sank. I was going the right way now but somehow missed this large hay field the first go, even though I kept following markers.This cost me missing a mile in my first loop. I later would find out a lot of people did the same thing their first loop. What I don’t know is if it was re-marked more obviously sometime between when I was first there or not.  I tried to remember the course was a “long” 50K at 33 miles so I would still be getting over “50K” mileage today. I wasn’t contending for a win. I was out here to prove to myself I could go the distance. 

After a mix of running and walking I was back at the main aid station for the last time and joining my sister were two of my other friends. I told them what happened and they assured me I still was kicking ass. I had asked my sister to fill my hand held and had planned to ditch my pack. The bottle I keep in the front for my Nuun was giving me some problems after 6+ hours of wear. It felt like a lot of effort to take the pack off so I just stuck with it. For the first time all day it was hard to leave an aid station. I knew the most runable section was over and I had some major hills coming up. I also knew I as 4.5 miles away from being an ultra marathoner so after some hugs and high fives I pushed on.

Hey guys this is HARD!
Hey guys this is HARD!

This was probably the hardest section for me because I was an hour and change over the longest time I’d ever run, there were big hills again including the “pull yourself up one” and downhills were pretty painful. I’m proud to say I stayed mentally tough though and kept plugging alone. I passed some people and got passed. I hit the 31 mile mark in about 7 hours and I continued to make the past push to the finish. I loved how the course had you come around a corner to a clearing to see the finish line, it made the last little hill seem a lot more manageable. I was able to get enough gusto to run through the finish and cross the line totaling 32 miles in 7:15 (unofficial).

Last kick.
Last kick.
I found my support crew and headed to brand my plaque, the thing that drew me into this race in the first place.
Sure let a 12 year old do this!
Sure let a 12 year old do this!


We enjoyed my post race beer (Mikkiller Beer Geek Breakfast) in the parking lot as I recounted the race from my perspective riding a pretty big runners high. 


Take aways:
Eat/drink MORE. I returned to the house I was staying completely dehydrated.
I thought I did enough hills and strength. I could have done more to be better prepared.
I had a blast. This is probably the most fun I’ve had running a non-Ragnar race!
Time on your feet matters but back-to-back long runs are a great way to get there!!
Have an awesome crew! I was always so pumped I’d get to see my sister and she stayed positive and attentive through the whole 7+ hours out there!
Smile. It helps!
Talk to people you pass/the pass you.
Practice recognizing negative self talk/dark times. Acknowledge the moment and move forward in your head.
Practice positive self-talk out loud. This seemed to REALLY help me.
I am REALLY proud of myself.

Think you could “never” do a race like this? I did too. I said I would do a 1/2 marathon by the time I was 30. Now I am an ultra marathoner with 2 weeks to go!

Tighten Those Laces – Lets RUN!