A Little Bit About Me

 I figured a little background on myself might be in order.  How did I find myself in a position of writing a blog on trail and ultra running?  I am not sure of the answer to that myself.  Let's see if we can connect the dots...

I am a 51 year old mother of 2 incredible kids - Shelby, 25 and Josh 23.  These are two very cool kids.  I started distance running in 2006, with Team in Training - a fundraising arm of The Leukemia and Lymphoma Society.  At the time, I was active in karate, and one of my fellow students, Lewis Deaton approached me about running a marathon. I knew that he and his wife, Ellen - another amazing friend from karate - were running coaches, but I wasn't informed about TNT yet.  I laughed at the idea of running 26 miles.  To a non-runner, the idea is ridiculous.  So, Lewis suggested a half marathon.  For some reason, on that particular day, 13 miles seemed more reasonable.  I am not sure why, since at the time I couldn't run 1 mile without walking and cursing. ALOT.

So, the training began. I remember vividly the days when I couldn't run one mile without gasping for air and walking some.  I know now I was running way too fast - common beginner mistake.  But, being terribly pig-headed, I didn't give up.  I ran my first half marathon in Nashville that year, then my first full in San Francisco.

The San Francisco Team in the airport on our way to the race!
Ellen and Lewis Deaton are seated in the middle.
Rachael Delcambre and I approaching the finish line of my first
full marathon.  We ran the whole way together, and she will
forever be a treasure to me.

It was no longer a matter of wondering if I would do another race, but which race was next.  I ended up doing 5 full marathons, and countless halves.  I loved these races, but I was looking for more.  What was the next challenge?  That is when my friend, Mark Delcambre, introduced me to the concept of Ultra Marathons where people willingly, not under any type of duress, choose to run further than the marathon distance. (It was Mark's wife, Rachael, who I ran my first full marathon with.)

That is all it took.  The seed was planted.  I immediately bought Dean Karnazes' book "Ultramarathon Man".  Probably not the best idea for a wanna be ultramarathoner.  While Dean's writing is very entertaining, it tends to lend itself to exaggeration.  Yes, running 50 miles is tough - I have done it 8 times, not including the first half of my four 100 milers.  No, you will not find yourself cramping and projectile vomiting in your car after the race. Read it for fun - not as a glimpse into the real world of ultras.

I quickly found a 50 miler in Huntsville, Texas, in Febrary 2010.  I was lucky enough to hook up with some amazing local guys to train with.

Me, Keith Manuel, and Brad Delcambre
These guys tolerated my slower pace for training runs, and offered endless encouragement throughout my entry into the ultra running realm.  Heck, on my first trail run ever - a muddy 20+ mile loop of Chicot State Park, Keith even gave me a hand up one of the muddy hillsides.  (My road shoes didn't have enough traction, and I kept sliding backwards, so Keith put his hand on my butt and pushed me up the hill.)  Funny memories.

The picture above was the day before my first 50 miler.  Keith and Brad were running their first 100 miler the next day.  I have to admit - I thought they were a little insane. :)

But, I did it!  It wasn't pretty and it took me 11 hours and 48 minutes, but I did it!  Nobody did it for me, and no one ran alongside offering encouragement.  My first 50 miler, run completely solo was in the books!

Josh, Me and Shelby before the race.

50 miles and almost 12 hours later.
A whole new level of pain and pride.
By now, you probably have a little insight into my personality, so you probably know what is next.  Yep - signed up to do the 100 miler the next year.  Yes, 50 miles hurt, but it didn't kill me, and I was still somewhat mobile after leading me to believe that I still had more to give and I could go further. So how about we double the distance?  Sounds like a plan.

At this point, I no longer had any desire to do road races.  I had found my happy spot, and it was in the woods jumping over roots and climbing over trees (and sometimes falling heroically).

Photo taken with my trail buddy, Lane Gremillion,
immediately following the most graceful, and slowest fall in the
history of trail running.
Brief synopsis:  Planted foot on log; log slippery, flipped completely over log,
landed flat on back.
Anybody notice what is missing from all of these pictures?  Other girls!  Up to this point, this was a very male-dominated sport in our area.  But, little by little the ladies are not only coming over to the darkside, they are kicking some serious ass!!  Last year alone, 6 local ladies - all with families and jobs - branched out into ultra running.  (Check out one of the early posts of this blog to see all of their beautiful, smiling faces!)  More and more people are realizing that this is not an elite sport.  It is a sport filled with normal people - moms, dads, husbands and wives, who are just looking for the next challenge in their lives.  It is such a blessing to be able to watch the transformation in people when they realize they CAN do something incredible.

I have no idea how I got to this point.  I have always been the kind of person that when an opportunity presents itself, I take advantage of it.  Sometimes it works out, sometimes it doesn't.  Ultra running just seems to fit.  You never know where life will take you.  If there is something you want to achieve in your life, make the commitment to do it.  Then put a plan in place to make sure that it happens.  Sometimes it is just that simple, folks.

As of today, I have run 36 ultra marathons.  And I am not done yet. 

Happy Running!


Here are some other pix of cool people and places in my life over the last few years.

With Shelby and Josh after my 2nd 100 miler in 2012.

One of our many Chicot loops!

Chicot group run!

Christmas 2010 loop with Mark Weineke

No announcers or music playing here.

With Ian Sharman - an upcoming stud in the Ultra world.
UPDATE - He is an official badass, and I am honored to have shared the trail with him when he set the 100 mile record.

With Scott Jurek 40 miles into my first 100 miler.

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