What ignited your passion for trail running? And when did your journey begin?
Back in 2010 my journey with running began as a rebound from a tough 3 years of being in an extremely dark place. I had lost my mom and didn’t know how to process my emotions. I used running as an outlet but it was always on roads and just around the neighborhood. I was too scared to venture out on the trails alone and frankly didn’t think I was good enough to really run, except around the block. It wasn’t until I met my good friend, Bev, who was looking for pacers for her upcoming Leadville 100 that I truly started to fall in love with trail running and understand what the ultra running community was all about. I started to join her for runs in the mountains of Colorado and immediately fell in love and knew that this was made for me. This was where I was meant to be.
If you had a single piece of invaluable advice to give yourself before the journey began, what would you express?
You can do anything you set your mind to. I never in a million years thought I was capable of running 100+ miles! I barely could run 1 mile on the treadmill but I was determined and never gave up.
What motivates you to get out the door?
I always feel better after I run. It is my therapy. Even if I don’t feel like running, I tell myself that I am going to at least run one mile and see how I feel, and I always feel great so I keep on going!
Sabino Canyon has so many trails and routes. Some that begin and extend beyond the confines of Sabino Canyon Recreation Area. Where do you find yourself most often running? Why?
My go-to’s are the tram road up and down for a quick run, Blackett’s for an early morning sunrise run with my good friend Laura, Phoneline, and most recently have been enjoying Bear Canyon Loop (I prefer to go clockwise)!
On average, how many miles are you putting in on a given week? And what is the ratio of trail to road/track miles?
It depends on where I am at in a training cycle but on average between 50-60 miles a week. Typically 3/4 of that are on the trails with 1-2 runs on the Loop thrown in for strides and speed intervals.
What was your first race? What was the biggest single lesson of that first race?
My first “big” race was the Pikes Peak Ascent and what I learned from that was NEVER COMPARE YOURSELF TO OTHERS! Everyone is so different in how they train, what they eat, how they look, how they race. I was beating myself up and always comparing myself to others and it left me with some many doubts which held me back.
Since that first race, how big has that collection of races grown? And what are some of the lessons that you've learned since?
I absolutely love racing. I love the community of volunteers and other runners it brings and it gives me something to strive for. I like to dream big and I always have something on my race calendar! In the last few years, I have raced 10-12 times per year with more than half of those being ultras each year.
With all the race distances that you've run? Is there a favorite distance? A preferred surface?
I have run everything from a 5k to a 100 mile race (which ended up being 108 miles- Run Rabbit Run) and am hopeful to do the Moab 240 this year (I am on the waitlist). My favorite distance is the 50 miler. It is a good enough distance that allows you to be on your feet all day but not experience sleep deprivation or hallucinations, HA. I am still trying to get my body used to that!
Gear in general is so subjective. Before we begin breaking down the gear that you use, what is the one piece of gear that is the highlight of your arsenal?
Good socks! I have always had issues with my feet and good socks are an absolute game changer! I am an ambassador for Balega and Balega socks are amazing!
Footwear is such a personal preference. Perhaps more than any other piece of gear. With that put aside, what is your preference when running on the trails in Sabino Canyon. Why? And what is it about them that elevates your running?
I started running in Nike Trail shoes about two years ago and absolutely love them. I prefer the Kigers or Wildhorses. They provide my feet with enough support but are not heavy or stiff. They fit like a glove and I can always match them to my outfits and hats! Nike is always coming out with cool colorways and the technology behind them is unreal. I am a big nerd when it comes to shoes.
Bottoms and tops. We live in such a mild climate here in the desert. With the assumption that it's not freezing outside...what's the garb your wear?
I run in shorts 99% of the time and do layers up top- normally a tank top and long sleeve that I can take off and throw in my pack if I get hot. If it is cold in the mornings like it has been lately, I will wear my Patagonia Houdini lightweight jacket that retains heat really well. I also always have a BUFF, either to keep back my crazy hair or around my neck to use as a mask or to keep me cool or warm!
So many ways to pierce the dark of the trail at night. Headlamps, handheld lights, belt lights, and so on. How are you illuminating the trail?
I normally run with my Black Diamond headlamp but I also love my Kogalla! I highly recommend it for long distances where you will be running through the night, such as 100 mile races.
From the heat of the summer, to the cooler temps in the winter. Whether we are running longer distances, or shorter mileage. There are so many ways for us to haul our water and essential gear. Handhelds, waistbelts, and vests. What are you utilizing (brands/models) dependent on conditions and distance?
Normally I do not bring water for runs under 10 miles. However, I learned the hard way that in the summer you should not leave the house without water, even for a short run! I have a variety of vests that I will use depending on how much water I am bringing. For long runs, I bring my Ultimate Direction Mountain Vest with 2L of water and 2 soft flasks full of Nuun and it has plenty of room for snacks 🙂
The watch. That digital device that so many runners utilize as a tool to elevate their running. So many to choose from that it can be overwhelming for some to decide what is enough, and what is too much dependent on their goals (Coros, Suunto, Polar, Garmin, and so on). What are you using currently (brand/model)? And how do you feel it elevates your running? What advice would you give someone that is early in their trail running journey on the purchase of a watch?
COROS all the way!! I have a Coros Apex and absolutely love it! It is fairly inexpensive compared to others, lightweight and the battery life is amazing! I ran r2r2r with 50% battery and still had some left over when we were done 48 miles later!
Are trekking poles an option in your arsenal? For those that may choose to make use of these tools, what would you recommend to them?
I have never ran with poles but need to start this year to train for Leadville 100 and Moab 240.
Vegan, Vegetarian, Keto, Paleo, and so on. So many dietary lifestyles out there. All with advantages and disadvantages dependent on whom you speak to or their bias. Or simply just eating healthy or not. Where are you in this endless debate?
Nutrition is definitely something I struggle with and am still trying to figure out how to best fuel for long races. I have tried everything under the sun and have found that eating clean and mostly plant based is what works best for me. If I restrict things in particular, I find myself craving them even more. So I have learned to listen to my body and have learned to be mindful of what I eat. If I am craving ice cream or a beer, that is exactly what I have. But most times, I find myself craving green juice and fruits and veggies. I do not believe in diets, I believe in healthy lifestyles and adequately fueling your body.
Whether it is 110f or 35f, hydration is the utmost of importance. We can go without calories, but we must be hydrated. An added layer to that hydration is electrolytes. With so many choices such as drink mixes, salt sticks, electrolyte capsules, and so on...how do you incorporate electrolytes? And what method(s) do you utilize to stay on top of your hydration?
I never realized how important electrolytes were until I moved to Arizona right before one of the hottest summers on record! I drink Nuun before, after and during runs! They offer so many different products and have found that it works the best for me with performance and recovery. I also chew on salt tabs throughout my long runs as well. The fruit punch and watermelon flavored Nuun is my favorite and the saltstick seedless watermelons chews are my favorite.
Gels, drink mixes, chews, and a multitude of new options added to the selection of choices before us. Or perhaps you are fat-adapted? How do you stay fueled on the trail? Do you have a formula in which you decide calories needed?
I am always hungry during runs so I always have lots of snacks. I like Honey Stinger Waffles (especially the protein ones) and Spring Energy!! My rule of thumb is to eat and drink something every hour (typically 200-300 cals an hour) on my long runs and in ultras.
What nutritional methods do you utilize to recover post-run/post-race?
Whatever I am craving 🙂 I need to get better about post run recovery, but I always find myself craving a cold beer so that is exactly what I have!