Going away west, coming home east

It’s been that way since I can remember. 

Even after years of living in Colorado and Arizona, I always think of my home as New Hampshire and my home airport Boston. 

From 2004 to 2012 my home airport was Denver and often confused it by saying Boston when I began traveling frequently. 

Today I’m on my first trip back to Colorado for the Leadville Marathon and to spend time with Mary, Whitney and George; three, true forever friends.  

It’s been over two years since I left and I feel like I’m coming home.

But Colorado wasn’t my original western place despite Denver being the first city I moved to at 17 with a plan to live there permanently. I came home after a few days. My first western dream-place was originally Montana, a place with far fewer people and more wildlife; or so I had heard and experienced with frequent trips in my 20s. 

I dreamed of the west for a decade and tried to figure out a way to get there; I was too scared to go without a job. In 2004 I finagled a way to move to Steamboat for my job – so Colorado was chosen for me. Almost every year while living in Steamboat or Granby, I thought of moving home but never acted upon it. Then I had a chance to move to Tucson and escape cold, mountain town living, essentially running away from a place that I thought would be my forever-place. I took the Tucson job and moved to the southwest knowing noone. 

Colorado had its grasp on me and three years later I moved back to the place I left, for a job that is my favorite occupation to date: editor of a newspaper.  Denver was my home airport again.

Just under two years later I moved back to New Hampshire; for many reasons. In reality, running away, running back. I’m a runner; a self inflicted label I want to change. 

I run in two-to-three year increments; a pattern I’ve followed all my life. The thing is – I’m not afraid of endings and I’m not scared of beginnings; it’s the quiet times of staying still and stagnant that frighten me the most. It’s two years into this stint back in New Hampshire and finally feel like I’m getting my footing back; and being the person that is joyful, engaged in outdoor pursuits and reaching athletic goals. 

This feeling started with a bike, a mountain bike. Well, it started, really, when I got into the Leadville 100 Run. To finish this race would be the hardest thing I’ve ever done. I wanted that feeling to cross that finish line. I started with so many baby steps and here I am two month before the race prepared for the next cycle of training. I’m so ready and feeling confident. But it was the mountain bike that reminded me of joy – the joy of downhill riding and laughing. You don’t really get that joy from running, or at least I don’t. Mountain biking teaches you about living in the moment. Running is more mental, calculating. 

Of all the races I could’ve entered or been excited about, why Leadville? Why did the sequence of events happen that led me on this journey back to Colorado? Why did Colorado get chosen for me again? I think it comes back to going away west, coming home east. It was the opposite for Wallace Stegner who wrote that he was born a westerner and had been coming home west his entire life. Maybe Leadville is my coming home west – the fulfillment of the hero’s journey where you go out on adventures and then try to find your way home.

My favorite thing to hear on my phone when mapping a destination: Arrived

Leadville 100 Training, Week 11 update

Just 26 miles this week. Yickes. I spent the weekend in Maryland supporting Mark during his Eagleman 70.3.

Cambridge, MD
My favorite Instagram Story from the Portside Restaurant where dogs are allowed and the crab cakes are freaking awesome!
Mark, Ironman Crab
I love the crab crawling up the MDot.

Maryland is beautiful and we got to discover Easton and Cambridge on the Chesapeake Bay. It was great to come south and see this gorgeous landscape. But now it’s time to get back to reality.

I’m a bit behind on my training heading into Week 10 of the 100 mile training plan but seeing the athletes on the Eagleman course is truly inspiring; all ages and body shapes. I actually have been thinking about, maybe, doing an Ironman next year. Maybe. Ironman just announced they are bringing back Ironman St. George that ended many years ago due to dangerous swim conditions in the reservoir. I had such a great time at St. George 70.3 (two-times) despite hot conditions the first time and frigid conditions the second time. Or maybe Lake Placid, since it’s so close.

I’m actually more excited about off-road triathlons and I’m thinking about Mont Tremblant Xterra in September. Maybe. I just get so excited about all the racing possibilities. Back to ultra running……

This week I’m going to try to get some miles on my feet and bike before flying to Denver on Friday. I can’t wait to see how my body responds to 10,000 feet and to hang out with Mary, Whitney and George! I really have missed Colorado!

I WILL be Leadville Tough!

Peak Blood Ultra 30 Mile Race Report

I found my people today!

What a great day.

The Peak Blood Ultra 30 Mile course was tough: two big climbs, so much mud, branches everywhere,  and it was 30 miles.

I went out knowing that I would walk most of uphills and that turned out to be a good strategy. The first climb seemed to last forever and when I finally got to the top it was like my legs forgot how to run. I’m so glad I tapered this week and started this race on fresh legs instead of using it as a training run. While the course was hard I never had the ache-all-over feeling I had at the TARC 50K a few weeks ago.

The best part of the race was the aid station people. They were so wonderful and kind and helpful.

The best part of the day was meeting two runners, Janine and Bob.

I started talking to Jeannine in the parking lot and she was clearly nervous. She told me how she randomly signs up for races and didn’t know how she would fare today. Sounds familiar; it’s me since 2007. Her new nickname is #1 since she finished First Female. Pretty good results considering she said she is primarily a road runner.

Bob and I started talking after the first climb. He had an M Dot on his calf but Ironman talk came later – he is running the Leadville 100 and the Leadville marathon this year. He raced the 100 last year but DNF’d before dark now he has a coach and going to the camp. I had so many questions about his race, nutrition, gear. We talked about Leadville and triathlon for most of the race. It’s so much more fun to run with someone to take your mind off the pain.

At the finish I teased the race director about the three mile loop at mile 22. The trail wasn’t even a trail; it was bushwhacking. Bob noted that it was very Barkley-ish. My legs are so cut up from the briars. Why would they put that so close to the end? WHY WHY WHY? The race organizers were so fun and engaging to every racer. Such a fun day. Plus, I was completely surprised to be told I was second female and got a plaque.

It was a good day on an interesting, unique course in the mountains of Vermont so close to where I used to live in Killington. Driving to Vermont is always such a pleasure since it seems like such a different world as soon as you cross the Connecticut River. And it brings back such great memories of living in Vermont, oh so long ago. I drove by the river on Route 100 and remembered it was where my friends and our dogs would play during the hot summer.

I will do  this race again. They change the course every year so running it once doesn’t matter. Despite cursing out loud about the mud and loose branches, I loved the course and the event. Highly recommend. It was an unknown adventure I signed up for since they don’t post the course prior to the race, and that is exactly what I got. Plus, I met some new training partners.

Born Free – Long Run Playlist

For my Saturday long run I always create a new playlist. This Saturday I added some new songs I haven’t heard in a long time from the Dixie Chicks to Trisha Yearwood.

The one song I added but didn’t really know was Born Free from Kid Rock. I have some of his songs on other playlists like Cowboy and Wasting Time but I added Born Free not really remembering what the song was about but curiously remembered when the new CD came out – oh so many years ago.

As I’m running up the big Carter Hill Born Free plays and now, a few days later, I remember every word as my heart is pounding and the wind is whipping in my face.

Calm facing danger
Lost, like an unknown stranger
Grateful for my time with no regrets.

Close to my destination
Tired, frail and aching
Waitin’ patiently for the sun to set

And when its done believe that
I will yell it from that mountain high

Kid Rock, Born Free

I think a lot about my life while I’m running for hours in my home state of New Hampshire. So many songs remind me of my time out west, chasing dreams and living the life west of the Continental Divide in the high peaks of Colorado and the deserts of Arizona. I lived out west for almost 15 years and it was my dream. Now, as I get older and I’m back east, I’m trying to find out new dreams and figuring out how to make my life extraordinary. Songs like this remind me to not give up, and make me feel so lucky that I can still go find my dreams because we are born free. We are free – don’t take it for granted. Seriously, there is still so much to do, achieve, dream and be. Songs like this remind me of that.

Week 25 Recap

Week 25 went much like Week 26. All three weekday runs were on the treadmill with all the snow and ice. The treadmill sessions were tough but I got it done. Two weight room workouts where I added a few more things: hip abductor exercises specifically.

I reversed last week’s 16 mile course. It was just as hard with the hills. As I got to the top of the hill I took a photo of the alpacas. So cute. How appropriate that I will see them during the Leadville race.

When I was at mile 12 a small dog got loose and wanted to run out to greet me on a busy Route 12. I had to stop and try to get him to his owner. So scary! One interesting nutrition note: I had a big breakfast with eggs, potato, peppers and onions (no toast) and it was the perfect amount of food. I only ate one gel for the 16 miles – the Muir Energy Cashew Vanilla gel. It was pretty good; a different consistency that I’m not used to.

My knee isn’t causing problems and no more neuroma pain in my left foot. YEAH!

Sunday Plan – 10 miles. I wasn’t as worried about the 10 miles leading up to the weekend since last week went so well. While I was tired, I still ran well. This Sunday started with a gorgeous hike with Winnie at Marjorie Swope trails. We encountered a few people and their dogs who were so happy to be out on such a glorious day.

Hiking in Marjory Swope Trail Park on March 3, 2019

Then, got home and headed to Winant Park to run 10.1 miles on the trails with 1,393 elevation gain. The first five miles went well, I felt great. After 5 miles I still felt strong but my legs were fatigued. I got home stretched and foam rolled. I so glad to see my heart rate normalize as I get stronger.


Average Weight: 157

Average Resting Heart Rate: 50

Training Time: 11:37 (includes hiking and weight training)

Total Vert: 4,169

Miles: 50.0 (includes hiking)

Getting ready for Week 24:

A glorious, glorious day! Penacook Lake.