Listening to my Own Advice

Sometimes, listening to my own advice means stepping back, evaluating my circumstances, and deciding to pull out of a race before it even starts.

On May 6th, I did just that.

Months ago, I had registered to run my third Frederick Running Festival Half Marathon. The Frederick Half was the first half I ever ran, way back in 2009, and holds a lot of nostalgia for me. It’s my hometown half, and that means I get to run through the streets of the ‘big city’ I grew up outside of.

My mom and I have made a mini tradition of running the Twilight 5k together the night before the half. So on Saturday, we headed to the fairgrounds and lined up at the starting line.


We were joined this year by my boyfriend Chris, who planned to race the 5k to the best of his ability. I was planning on hanging back with my mom and just enjoying a nice 3 mile jog. No pressure, just fun.

I had the half marathon the next day looming in the back of my mind when we went to packet pickup, when we arrived at the race, and when we were lining up at the start. I just was not feeling it, and knew I had not trained properly. My PT hadn’t necessarily said I shouldn’t run the half, but she also did not give me a glowing recommendation. All she said was ‘be careful’.

In the back of my mind, I knew I wasn’t ready for this race.

Sure, I ran 22 miles the weekend before, but that was broken up over 4 legs of a Ragnar Relay. Not the same thing as 13.1 continuous miles on pavement.

I kept thinking about the race I have in August, the Maryland HEAT 25k in Patapsco State Park. That is a race I’m excited to run and compete in. I don’t want to have to battle through injuries this summer and limp to the finish. I want to run hard, and see what a shorter trail race can get me in terms of age-group place.

So I made a decision.

I pulled out of the half marathon.

I went to dinner after the 5k with my family. I enjoyed a beer and a mint Julep (it was Derby Day after all!). I ate a big goat cheese omelet and home fries. I enjoyed myself.

Normally, I would have been stressing about the food I was taking in, knowing that I’d be running in less than 12 hours and not wanting my stomach to turn while I was running. I wouldn’t be drinking because dehydration is a killer out on the race course. I would definitely not have chosen to eat what I did, even though it was DELICIOUS. I would have had a sad salad and maybe a slice of bread.

I’m so glad I listened to my own advice. Learning the lessons of previous injuries are going to help guide my future training and race decisions moving forward. Life is too short to be constantly injured.

I’m ready to train smart, race smart, and listen – actually LISTEN – to my body.

On Garmin's Support of the Modern Fish Act

Raise your hand if you are a runner and own a Garmin watch.

I bet a lot of you do. I do too. It has been with me through two marathons, two ultramarathons, thousands of training miles, bike rides and hikes.

But today. Today Garmin broke my heart.


On May 2nd, Garmin joined the ranks of the Center for Sportfishing Policy, a week ahead of their annual fly-in. As someone who organizes fly-ins for ocean users, including fishermen, lobstermen, shellfish growers and more across the country, I am in full support of the idea of constituents coming to DC and talking with legislators.

What I’m not in support of is their stance on fisheries management bills moving through Congress right now.

The Center for Sportfishing Policy is a staunch proponent of S.1520, the ‘Modernizing Recreational Fisheries Management Act’, also known as the Modern Fish Act. Sponsored by Senator Roger Wicker of Louisiana, this bill as it currently stands misses the mark when it comes to addressing issues facing the long-term sustainability of America’s fisheries. This bill would amend the Magnuson-Stevens Action (MSA), the gold standard in fisheries management legislation across the globe, weakening accountability for recreational fisheries, creating disparities between commercial and recreational fisheries, and more.

‘Wait a minute’, you might say, ‘what interest does Garmin have in recreational fisheries? I thought they were a running brand.’

Garmin is much more than just a running brand. Garmin manufactures products for the automotive, outdoor recreation, aviation, and maritime industries – including chartplotters, fishfinders, autopilots and more, that most fishermen these days use to one degree or another.

Garmin therefore has a special interest in ensuring more people are out on the water, catching fish and boating. And so do I.

As someone who grew up fishing with my dad along the Potomac River, Chesapeake Bay, and down in the Outer Banks, I want people to be out on the water. I want local outfitters and charter boat operators to have successful businesses. I want the local economy to be continuously tied to outdoor recreational activities like saltwater fishing.

I recognize that regulations can feel burdensome to anyone and everyone that is subject to them. And when, for example, you’re just a regular fisherman out there trying to catch a fish with your daughter, you can feel very far removed from the fishing industry as the economic powerhouse that it is.

Trust me, I get.

However, when we start relaxing regulations and rolling-back science-based provisions, we quickly start heading in a direction that could lead to overfishing of key populations. The MSA’s unique system of stakeholder inclusive, science-based fishery management has proven flexible enough to accommodate the needs of diver fisheries and fishing sectors, while promoting innovation that betters fishery management.

Garmin, as a marine manufacturer, is looking out for their interests in supporting S.1520, at the expense of our nations fish stocks, and the long-term management needs of recreational fishermen across the country.

I am disappointed in Garmin, a brand I have come to know and love over the years. They have taken a stance that goes against the conservation ethos of so many of us in the running community, aligning themselves with powerful economic entities that put dollars before everything else.


Lessons Learned from two years of Injuries

This is a story of highs and lows.

For the past 2 years, I have been plagued by an unfortunate series of running injuries. I don’t know what has brought on this onslaught of misfortunes, but I can tell you one thing: I hate it.

I hate feeling on top of the world, peaking in training and preparing to concur dream races only to have my soul crushed in the most epic fashion.

I have learned a lot about my body over the past two years. I no longer ignore pain, twinges or slight discomfort. I’m not afraid to walk when I feel ‘off’. I’m not afraid to take a rest day. If you are familiar with my struggles with body image, you can correctly guess this has been a really hard process.

I haven’t taken the time or space on this blog to document the history of my injuries, especially my most recent one, but as I head into an aggressive training cycle this summer and fall, I wanted to reflect on my past as I prepare for this upcoming race reason.

The Stress Fracture that Ruled Them All

My first injury, my pelvic fractures, made themselves fully present in my life just 4-weeks shy of New York. It was October and I had just come off of an insane September. I ran the Parks and Navy-Air Force Halfs and the National-Capitol 20-miler. I felt strong. I felt ready. I was training like crazy, pushing my pace, grinding out hills, and obsessing over my race strategy.

At mile 14 of a 21 mile training run,I felt a twinge just inside my inner left leg, at the point where my leg connects to my pelvis. It wasn’t much of a twinge, so I did a couple of strides and shook it off. After all, I was leading a group of runners on the ‘Big Loop’ for their first time. They didn’t know where they were going and I needed to make sure they at least dropped down into Rock Creek Park and headed south to Georgetown.

At mile 19, the twinge turned into something more. I stopped running. I told my running partners to go ahead without me.

I walked it off for a quarter mile. I tried to start running again. The pain was worse.

I walked some more, then turned onto the C&O canal, nearly done with the run. I figured I could just walk/jog back to Iwo Jima, and head home to ice.

I put my left leg up onto a fence post in an attempt to stretch out whatever I had going on.

Turns out, that was probably the worst thing I could do.

I put my foot on the ground and shifted my body weight onto my left leg. Pain like none I had felt before seared through my pelvis, radiating up into my back and down into my leg.

I pulled out my phone and hailed an uber.

Hip 2.png

I posted this on Instagram after the uber dropped me off near my car. The text of the post tells an interesting story of my denial:

"Post-21 this morning. Pace was great, until it wasnt. I felt good for the first 20 then life smacked me in the face. Don't be fooled by the half smile, I did something terrible to my groin on the run, and can barely walk now, might have cried when I got home. Here's to icing, advil, and ALL of the rest for the next week. Good thing I have so much school work to do, that this will force me to avoid procrastination. Also, my first hat run ever! "

A month later, after the first doctor didn’t believe me when I said this pain was unbearable and something serious was wrong (I had to have my boyfriend put my socks on for me), I finally got my MRI results back and the doctor read them. Two stress fractures at the point where the hamstring attaches to the bone.

The next 7-months were miserable. I couldn’t run. Biking hurt. I couldn’t push off the wall of the pool, making even my first love (swimming) uncomfortable and frustrating.

I gave up.

I was finishing my graduate degree at this time. It was ‘nice’ to have all this extra time to study and write papers, but if you know me, you know I only function when I’m able to peel away and lose myself in exercise for a little while.


I couldn’t do any of that. My mind and my body were suffering. It was quite possibly one of the lowest points of my life.

As April and May rolled around, I began to flirt with the idea of trying out a real run for the first time since October. Slowly and steadily I worked my way back up to running consistently, albeit short distances.

By October of 2017, I had trained my way back up to completing a 50k ultramarathon.

Just when the going’s good

After my ultra in October 2017, I took some time off to travel, enjoy my family for the holidays, and relax.

I joined the Montgomery County Road Runners Winter Trails Program as a casual way to get back into running with a group. I stuck with them through the New Year.

 Saturday mornings with MCRRC

Saturday mornings with MCRRC

In mid-January, I went out on a casual 10-mile road run. At mile 9, I turned down a hill that leads into Rock Creek Park, a hill I’ve run a million times, up and down. It’s long and steep and has a slight s-curve to it. About 100 meters into my decent, my knee buckled under me.

Cue panic

I had spent 7-months in 2016 and 2017 recovering from two stress fractures in my pelvis, an overuse injury that sidelined me from New York and my Boston Marathon qualifying attempt.

That recovery experience made me hyper aware of every little twinge my body has.

I took a day off, which was perfectly fine since I was travelling down to the Florida Keys for work anyways. The next day, I woke up and attempted to do my normal sightseeing run I do everywhere I go. I made it a mile. My knee buckled again.


I messaged my doctor, who advised me to rest and come see her when I was back in town.

My first visit with her was reassuring. A tight IT band was the diagnosis. Nothing a little bit of time can’t heal. She told me to take it easy for two weeks, then try running again. Biking was fine, and so was swimming, so I hit the gym under her advice.

Two weeks later, I tried to run again. My knee did the same thing.

Back to the doctor I went, this time, she referred me to a PT to work out my IT issues, strengthen my glutes (I may have a big butt, but that doesn’t mean it’s strong), and assess the situation in more fine detail.

It took me until mid-March to get an appointment (have I mentioned I hate DC?).

As soon as I had my first PT appointment, I was immediately reassured that I was in good hands. My PT Sarah was awesome, is a runner and former swimmer, and worked with me twice a week through later April.

Just enough to get me through a Ragnar Trail event I had committed to months before.


The knee is still not 100%, but it’s getting there. It’s been another long three months of injury.

I’ve struggled with this injury because I didn’t even have grad school to occupy my mind. Work hasn’t been the best of late, and so all these forces have combined to put me in a pretty big funk, mentally and physically.

I’ve gained some weight, and briefly fell back into some bad food habits. I’ve had some anxiety attacks that strained my relationship with my boyfriend. I’ve lost confidence in myself – mentally and physically. I’ve been lost.

Lessons Learned

There are a handful of lessons I’ve learned that I can translate into my future training programs, and also incorporate into strengthening my belief in myself, mentally.

1.      Listen to your body

With my stress fracture, if I’m being truly honest with myself, I probably started noticing twinges in my pelvic region related to the emerging stress fractures a few weeks beforehand, but had brushed them off as nothing.

Our bodies are powerful things. They are incredibly dynamic and are capabale of withstanding more than we probably give them credit for. However, they need care and feeding, and our minds need to work with them to protect them from injury.

I didn’t listen to my body until it was too late. I hope I don’t do that again

2.       Don’t over train

Part of the reason I wound up with the stress fractures was because I had an insane training schedule and had not properly built a base to handle that load. I ran three races, coupled extra training miles on top of the half marathons because they were not ‘enough’ and didn’t match my training schedule.

I would race on Saturday, then go straight back into speed and hill work on Monday mornings. I wouldn’t rest. And that was my downfall

3.      Cross-train

My IT Band issue during this past winter is directly correlated to my lack of cross-training. Endurance athletes, especially those who only run, are especially prone to having tight IT bands. I won’t claim to understand all of the mechanics and anatomy of my leg, but I do now know that the glutes are attached to the IT band, which runs to your knee and below, and is directly associated with outer and upper knee pain in particular.

My glutes are weak because all I do is run.

Now, I have learned my lesson the hard way. But I’m equipped with exercises that will strengthen my glutes long-term, and have a newfound appreciation for light strength work, spinning and swimming.

There are a lot of other lessons that I learned through this two year journey of injury and recovery, mostly focused on my mental health and my ability to trust myself. But, that’s for another day.

The exciting news is, I’m almost healed, and am cleared to run again. I just completed a Ragnar Trail Event in Richmond, Virginia, logging 22 beautiful miles on trails. I am running a 5k with my mom tomorrow. I am training for a 25k trail race in August, a 50k trail race in October, and maybe even a bucket list item of a 50-miler in November.

Stay tuned for training plans, updates and injury reports (hopefully none of those!)



On ‘Being Consistent’

Consistent (adj): to have as an essential feature.


I’ll start with saying this: this is not a normal post for my blog, but I think it’s important. This is not a comprehensive post. I have a lot more thoughts and feelings I've left out here. But this has been weighing on my chest recently, and sometimes writing is my release. So here we are.

I'm sure there are a lot of folks in the running community who likely have the same thoughts, difficulties and struggles as I do. I might not articulate my struggle fully here, but as we enter a new year, I want to shake the struggle and start fresh and rejuvenated.

So, without further ado, here are my thoughts on 'being consistent' and the dangerous consistencies I've fallen into in my life:

On Running

For over a decade, I have considered myself a ‘runner’. That term has been consistent in my life, though it has had different definitions in my mind in each iteration of my running career. In high school, I considered myself a recreational runner, using cross country as a means of cross training for my true love, swimming. In college, I considered myself a slow runner, and then an injured runner, and then finally a recovered runner. After graduating, I began to consider myself a long distance runner, tackling my second half marathon, then my third and fourth and so on. And then, I considered myself a marathon runner, tackling not one, but two marathons, achieving a sub-4 PR in Baltimore in 2015. By 2016, I had evolved to an ultramarathon runner in the spring, then a competitive marathon runner in the fall. Then injury struck again, and I was an injured runner again. Here we are in 2017, and I’m again an ultramarathon runner, tackling my second 50k in October, and training with a real trail club for the first time ever, looking for 50k number 3 in March.

Running has been a consistent feature in my life, from highs to lows. I've loved it, cherished it, and hated it all at the same time, and at different intensities, since I was in high school. But, beyond the consistency of ‘runner’, there has been another common, underlying consistency. 

On Insecurity

In high school, some of the guys on my cross-country team told me I would never be that fast, because I ‘wasn’t skinny enough’. In college, I suffered from perpetual shin splints that ended my collegiate running career, and led to a spiral of depression and increased weight. I ballooned to a weight I’d never been in my life, barely fitting into my clothes, and hating how I looked. I became so insecure it took me 2 years to think about running seriously again, and I shut off from the world for quite a while. By 2011, I went on a 6-month trip to a beautiful country full of beautiful people. The culture was active, healthy and fun. I found myself running, playing ultimate Frisbee, and being overly active. But, as I got more involved, I became insecure with myself yet again. I wasn’t thin enough, I wasn’t toned enough. I began running a lot, too much. I had again swung the pendulum of insecurity to the point of starvation and excessive running. I lost 40 pounds in 2 years. You could see all of my bones. It was probably the lowest I’ve ever been.

For the past few years I’ve struggled with these insecurities. I dug myself out of the horrible hole of anorexia, in part thanks to my wonderful boyfriend, in part because I realized I couldn’t be the runner I wanted to be without nourishing my body with the food it needed (fats included). But the lack of self-confidence permeates every aspect of my life. It has only gotten worse in recent months, as I look at social media, run with new people in my community, and try and engage on another level with the ultramarathon community. I see myself as unfit. As chunky. My butt is big, by thighs rub together. Photos of me make me hate how I look. I can’t find holiday dresses I like because I’ve gained some weight recently. It makes me not want to run, which then makes me hate myself more. It’s a horrible cycle of self-deprecation, stemming from a false vision of what I think I should look like as a ‘runner’.

My struggle through the years with insecurity, as captured by photos:

On the New Year

The holiday season is particularly hard on me, which is why I felt it time to reflect on my struggles, and reinvest in myself, find my confidence, and shake my doubts.

For the New Year, many of peers vow to ‘loose the weight’, to ‘eat more healthy’, to ‘get more fit’ and ‘go to the gym more often’. I hear these things, and feel like I have to do them all to. But I don’t.

I’m a runner who has run two marathons, two ultramarathons and has 10 years of experience under her belt. I’ve been at the highest of highs and the lowest of lows, and everywhere in-between. I can run 15 miles like it's nothing. Trail runs don't scare me, they excite me. I am always looking at what my next distance will be, what the perfect time for my first 50 miler, 100 miler, and multi-day self supported race might be. My body is incredibly durable, capable to doing things many of my peers have never even thought of doing (because let's face it, ultras are a bit crazy). I can't be both a good runner, and constantly tear myself down with insecurity.

In the New Year, I need to focus on what matters most. Being healthy, happy, and physically and mentally sound. There is no guiding rule that says I should weigh ‘X’ amount, that I should have ‘X’ number of miles under my belt every week, that I should wear ‘X’ size running pants or ‘X’ size dress for work.

I’ll always have insecurities, and I’ll always have running. It’s up to me to decide which of these consistencies wins out. Hears to making 2018 all about running and not about insecurities.

Patapsco Valley 50K | Race Review

Last weekend I laced up my trail shoes, slung on my hydration pack, tightened my headlamp and headed out on the trails. This was what I’ve been training for, for the past 5 months. This is what I had given up most Saturday’s for. This is what I had woken up before the sun for, day in and day out. This was my redemption race, the moment I proved to myself that I was healed, that I was whole again.

I am so happy. This race was my everything, it was exactly what I needed and it went as well as I could have ever expected.


Time on the Trail

As I headed up the first big climb of the race, conveniently within the first half mile of the start line, I couldn’t help but look around and smile. All around me were fellow runners, like-minded athletes that were out there to test their bodies and their minds.

Bright white lights dotted the trail as far ahead and as far behind me as I could see. I settled in to a nice pack of about 6 runners at the top of the hill, and we took off at a steady pace. Not too fast, not too slow – just enough to warm up the legs and settle in for the hours that lay ahead.

The folks around me were chatting about races they’ve run, upcoming races, and their experience with previous years efforts on these exact trails. It was nice to hear their perspectives, but at around mile 5, and after a constant stream of two folks in particular just talking non-stop, I was starting to feel drained and annoyed, so I let the chatty folks get ahead of me, and cruised on along behind them.  

The first 7 miles of the race were great – slow undulating single track that took me through forests and fields, weaving nauseatingly around u-loop bike trails, and through small stream crossings. I hit the aid station, which was well stocked and well manned, grabbed some m&ms (my guilty ultra pleasure) and headed out quickly.

Miles 7 through 9 were nice – and featured a beautiful waterfall backdrop followed shortly thereafter by some steeper climbing. That climbing then dumped us down at the Patapsco River. My first real river crossing in a race.

And boy was it cold!

I’m a wimp when it comes to the cold, so I knew to expect chilly waters. I closed my mind to the cold, a cruised through the water as quickly as I could. Halfway across the river there was a little island of rocks that took us out of the water for a brief respite before dunking back in, this time with water getting up to my knees (or maybe a little lower, but it felt high). This was a ton of fun, and I hope there are many more river crossings in my future!

At this point it was getting warm, so I stripped off my outer layer, secured it to my pack, and got back to the run. Heading up to the second aid station, I took my time cruising along by myself. A quick fill-up of water and another handful of m&ms (with some pretzels this time), and I was off again.

We now were entering the very hilly and rocky section of the course that stretched until mile 20. I spend some time running on my own and some time running with a few guys who were quite nice and appreciated my penchant for quite running. We all collectively agonized over the STEEP hills in this section of the course, begging out loud for them to be over, for the next one to hopefully have a switch back on it (they never did!), and praising the top of the hill and the upcoming downhill.

Around mile 17.5 one of the guys in front of me let out a loud gasp as he hopped over one of the zillion mountain bike obstacles on the course. I ran up, and asked what was wrong. He was perched on a log, with a plank stuck to his shoe. Peeling it back, a 3-inch screw revealed itself, lodged into the rubber of his shoe, but thankfully missing his foot. To those sick people who think its ok to place traps on the bike trails in hopes of popping tires, you are not just putting bikers at risk, you are putting everyone at risk.

At mile 20.5, I got to see my parents! Mom and dad, my constant cheer squad, were waiting for me at the aid station. I said hello (I was pretty tired and kind of dreading the next 12 or so miles), handed them my jacket and gloves, grabbed some Gatorade, shouted ‘see you in 2.5 hours’ and got back on my way.

The final 12+ miles of the course were essentially a repeat of the first 12 miles. We ran up until the waterfall again, then turned right instead of left, and headed towards the finish. Around mile 30, I got a second wind out of nowhere. I was feeling pretty rough, and desperately wanted to be done. My pace slowed significantly from the first time I ran this section, and the thought of being done became an unwitting motivator to ignore the pain and push through

This motivation survived until about mile 31.7, when I was still on single-track trail and not heading downhill for the finish line. Where was it, I kept thinking. So too was a girl right infront of me, who turned back to me, asking ‘where is the finish line, I’m at mile 32.5!’ I noted my GPS was slightly different than hers, but that we had already passed what I expected the finish to be at. My mind began to lose conifidence, and all I wanted was for the next valley to lead me to the finish. I said to myself ‘if after this uphill climb, the downhill to the finish isn’t here, than I don’t know if we’ll ever get there’. I said that about 4 times before it actually became reality.

Heading towards the finish, I started to get emotional.

I reflected on what it took to get me here. The months of agony and depression associated with my injury. The months of thinking that I would never run again, that I would be injured forever. I reflected on the more recent months of digging deep, being patient, relearning how to run long-distances and how to ignore the pace and just enjoy the trail.

The finish line appeared in my sights, and I put on as much of a smile as I could.

I did it. I finished. And I finished strong.

AHP_PVP50k_20171028_01219 (1).jpg


The Overall Experience

Location: Very convenient for Maryland, DC and even northern Virginia runners

Packet Pickup: Very simple, morning of pickup. I got to the race really early (anyone who knows me would not be surprised by this) so I did not have to wait in any line at all. Later in the morning, the line to get bibs and check-in were much longer.

Aid stations: Amazing! Very friendly volunteers, who were willing to fill up your water bottles, get you any food you wanted, and more. Well stoked with my favorites (m&ms and pretzels). I only wish we had some tailwind instead of Gatorade, but that is me being a bit bougie.

Course markings: very good. There were only a few moments along the entire 32+ mile course where I wasn’t quite sure where to go. I would suggest the race directors focus on the downhill stream channel section after aid station 2 next year for additional markings. The trail is very rocky, hard to identify, and winding. Easy to get off course here.

Course: AWESOME! A great course with nearly 100% trail, 4000 feet of gain, and beautiful scenery. River crossings, stream crossings, big hills, flat and fast sections, winding sections and long-straight aways. There is truly something for everyone

Post-Race Food: Perfect. After my first 50K I was heartbroken to find most of the food was meat based. As a vegetarian, I was pretty frustrated. I don’t want to make assumptions for the trail running community, but I’d say the vegetarians and vegans in our bunch are a much higher proportion than the average population. Which is why my heart and soul were warmed by VEGAN chili as the post-race food. Thank you to the Race Directors and Cooks for this wonderful option that could sustain all runners.

Swag: I’m in love with my mug. Enough said.



The Takeaways

I would run this race again in a heartbeat. It was so much fun, well organized, local and convenient. It was challenging, and I think I would have fun trying to beat my time next year. Anyone looking to get into ultras, this is a good local race!

Always Prepared

I have always been one to think ahead. Planning is my modus operandi, it’s what gets me through my days. Some of that is pure anxiety – I can’t handle not planning for things, because it stresses me out. If I plan to not have a plan, then I’m OK – but I still have to consciously say ‘Katie, you’re going to NOT plan something and just go with it today’. Case in point: most of my international travels. In Nepal, I planned one big activity (hiking to Everest Base Camp and through some high mountain passes), but I had another 3 weeks in the country where I consciously planned to not plan, I went with the flow based on people I met. It worked out, but only because I planned months in advance to not plan.

My mind is clearly a special place.

Planning and preparedness has always run through my veins, and I attribute much of it to my parents. They themselves were outdoorsmen, both working for outdoor retailers in my early years. To be an outdoorsman, there is a necessary level of preparation, planning and forethought that goes into a successful trip. Gear, food, shelter, navigation to name a few are things you shouldn’t leave up to the whims of whatever Gods you choose to worship. You must know what you need, how to get somewhere, and how to survive.

I’ve been out in the woods camping since I was able to walk. On a recent trip with my dad, he was recounting a photo he has of me, a tiny little runt of a girl frolicking through a campsite next to my mom’s old truck. As I got older, I joined the Girl Scouts, my brothers were very active in the Boy Scouts, and both my parents were very involved with us. I’ll leave my opinions of my years as a Girl Scout aside, but the years I spent on co-ed trips with the Boy Scout troops solidified my need to prepare. From day trips and hikes to multi-day bike rides and everything in-between, I gained a healthy understanding of what it means to prepare, and what it means not to.


Youthful Ignorance

Based on my 25-years of preparedness, it came as a surprise on one cold, rainy morning in April of 2016 when I was utterly unprepared for the task ahead of me. As I toed the line for The North Face Endurance Challenge 50K race, my first ultramarathon, reality hit me. I didn’t have the right gear, I was unprepared. The full truth of the matter didn’t actually settle in until about 5 miles into the race. The trails were soaked, and as more and more runners pounded the same grounds as those before them, a thick layer of almost quicksand-like mud developed.

Here I was, unexperienced, young and unaware of just how foolish I had been in gearing up for this race.

That morning, I laid out my clothes, knowing it would be cold – a combination of trekking clothes and running clothes to ensure I had the proper coverage for the 6+ hours I’d be on the trails. I had my base layer (capilene mid-weight), a thicker technical hoodie, and a rain jacket. A pair of long running tights, extra socks stowed away in my running pack, and gels and blocks to nourish me. And, I had my Mizuno road shoes.

As I slogged through the first mile of mud, my reality really set in. I couldn’t pick up my feet because if I did that, I would slip and slide across the trail, with the potential of falling, twisting an ankle, overstretching tendons in my legs, or worse. I shuffled my feet like I was skiing, hoping for some respite to this horrible reality that was unfolding in front of me. My shoes had no traction on them, nothing that would grip into the mud and tell it who was boss. I was bound to the elements, a prisoner to the whims of the mud.

 April 9, 2016: The mud on my legs (especially the hand print on my thigh) gives a good visual for the conditions out there

April 9, 2016: The mud on my legs (especially the hand print on my thigh) gives a good visual for the conditions out there

A New Appreciation for Preparation

As I train for my next 50K (the Patapsco Valley 50K), I have taken the humble lessons of that first race, and applied them to my gear and training plan. I purchased a pair of amazing trail shoes that have everything I need – low drop, high traction, low weight. I train as frequently as I can in horrible weather conditions to prepare my body for the unexpected. I test new gear, new nutrition and hydration strategies, and more.

I was out on the trails for 18-miles yesterday in the pouring rain and fall-like weather. Heavy rains would drop on the DC area in fits-and-spurts. Puddles turned into lakes on the trails, covering the ground and hiding the roots, rocks and other obstacles that could be in-front of me.

But I was prepared, and I crushed those miles with a newfound sense of certainty I surely didn’t have as I toed the line for my first ultra.

 September 2, 2016: 18-mile training run on DC trails, through the remnants of Hurricane Harvey. I have never felt more prepared, from a gear perspective, for long-distance trail running. I still have a lot to learn, but am so happy to finally be on the upward trajectory!

September 2, 2016: 18-mile training run on DC trails, through the remnants of Hurricane Harvey. I have never felt more prepared, from a gear perspective, for long-distance trail running. I still have a lot to learn, but am so happy to finally be on the upward trajectory!

A Fresh Start

321 days ago, my running career ground to a resounding halt.

321 days ago, I was out on a 23-mile training run.

321 days ago, I was preparing to run the New York Marathon, a dream race.

321 days ago, I took one wrong step.

321 days ago, I fractured my pelvis.

 This photo was my last race photo of 2016, with my running partner and fellow New York Marathon runner, Maggie. Two weeks later, I suffered my injury.

This photo was my last race photo of 2016, with my running partner and fellow New York Marathon runner, Maggie. Two weeks later, I suffered my injury.

Today, I am a new runner.

Today, I have a new outlook on what success in running means.

Today, I recognize the beautiful gifts running has given my life.

Today, I take it one day at a time, one step at a time.

 Taking my running one step at a time these days.

Taking my running one step at a time these days.

I haven’t written on here since the Parks Half Marathon in September of 2016. That was the third to last race I ran in 2016, and likely a defining moment in my ultimate injury trajectory. On October 8, 2016, I was out for a run with the DC Road Runners, as I did every Saturday morning. I was training for the New York Marathon, with grand goals in mind. I wanted to qualify for Boston, which required shaving over 20 minutes off my previous PR. I was on track to succeed.

Then, a sharp pain radiated from my pelvis. It took my breath away. I stopped running and tried to walk it off. I took a few steps at a jog. Sharp pain seared my entire pelvic region now. I stopped again, put my foot up on a fencepost and tried to stretch it out.

I put my foot back on the ground.

Now, pain seared at the most delicate of walks. My body weight was too much to bear. That stretch was the final straw, cracking my pelvis in two places – stress fractures where the hamstring muscle connects.

It took nearly a month for the orthopedist to diagnose the injury. He didn’t believe me when I said something was seriously wrong. X-rays proved inconclusive. It wasn’t until an MRI was ordered (3-weeks post-injury) that he finally came around to believing my story.

Meanwhile, I couldn’t walk more than a block. Putting on socks, pants, leggings was an exercise in pain tolerance.

It took 7 months to get to the point where I trusted my recovery enough to run more than a mile. I still don’t trust my recovery enough to push the pace much faster than 9-minutes per mile. At this time last summer, I was able to run sub 7-minute miles.

This is a fresh start.

This is my body forcing me to reconnect with why I run in the first place

This is me re-learning the fundamentals of running.

This is me refocusing on what matters most.

In May, when I began running again, I decided to give up (for now) on my dreams of a Boston Qualifier.

In May, I decided to pursue my other love in life: trail running.

 Let's be honest, who wouldn't want to run trails, when this is your view?

Let's be honest, who wouldn't want to run trails, when this is your view?

I fell in love with the trails in High School, when I first started running cross country. The open fields, closed in forests, and the wilds of nature drew me into the sport that has thoroughly taken over my life since then.

It’s time to get back to the basics, to get back to why I run in the first place.

I’ve signed up for a 50k race on October 28th 2017. I have no goal other than finishing. And if for some reason I can’t get to the finish line, that’s OK too.

I am taking each day one step at a time.

Here’s to a fresh start, a fresh outlook, and a fresh state of mind.

Race Review: Parks Half Marathon

You know whats crazy? Running two half marathons, a 20-miler, training for a marathon, working full time, and going to grad school. Guess who is crazy, and showed her crazy loud and proud this past September. This girl.

To kick off my month of insanity, I ran the Parks Half Marathon in Rockville, Maryland. Touted as one of the best halfs in the region, I was excited to run with my boss, who had run it in 2015 and fell in love. I consulted with my friends over at the DC Road Runners, and based on their enthusiastic reports from previous years, I knew I made a good choice.

This race report actually starts off pre-race, to help you understand the mentality that I had going in to this race.

  1. I was not going to push myself because I have New York coming up early November
  2. I probably could'nt push myself too hard because I was mentally and physically exhausted from 2 weeks of insanity that was the result of work + grad school
  3. It was going to be hot, and I was getting nervous, which is never a good thing

As I got to the start line that morning, the first thing I realized was how many people acutally ran this race. The chute was PACKED. The second thing I noticed was that there were not enough port-o-pots and a whole lot of people that wanted to use them. They were too close to the start line, and determining who was in line for the loo and who was in line to run was nearly impossible. I knew I didn't have a chance, and just made my way in to the starting line. 

I was also really impressed by how the race directors managed the crowds. Setting up waves by using race fencing was a great way to reduce the massive wave of people that wold likely have occurred if they hadn't. The start line is pretty narrow, and shoots you up a short, curved hill in the first quarter mile. It would have been mayhem of pace failures if they didn't think smart -- and I'm glad they did.

I was in wave 2 I believe, and kicked out and up that hill, pushing my pace too fast at the beginning. The first portion of the race is on a big road that is partially open to traffic, which caused me anxiety for the entirety of that section. I hate crowds when I run, and always aim for the outside to avoid getting boxed in. This time, that meant running right next to moving traffic, some of which was aggressively driving past the race, probably annoyed they had been slowed down. This anxiety, coupled with the excitement of the start, the rolling hills in front of me, and the first race since July, I kicked out at sub-8, a no-no for me. I crushed 3 miles at a 7:50ish before I was able to pull myself in. But partial damage had already been done.

Now, I run Rock Creek Park a lot. But I don't make it up that far north too often, and had forgotten how hilly the area could be. I remembered very quickly. Coupled with the heat and humidity of the day, the next 7 miles through the park were an unusual suffer-fest for me. I has dehydrated, hot, tired, and all I kept thinking of was 'I want my bed'. 

Heading up the hill (its steep) at mile 10 before you hop on the Georgetown Connector trail, I wanted to just quit. The cheering squad on that hill though, got me through. Once I got up to the gravel trail that would cruise us in to Bethesda, I knew the route, knew the general finish area, and just locked in mentally. 'Ignore the heat, ignore your exhaustion, one foot in front of the other' I kept saying. 

Plus, Chris and his Goddaughters would be at the finish, I had to do this for them!

As I neared the tunnel in Bethesda, I wasn't sure if we would run through it and finish on the other side, or divert left and up a hill. Divert left we did, and to my disappointment, the finish was just as hilly and twisty as I had been told. I won't lie, this was one of the worst finish lines I've ever run. It was pretty bad -- narrow, windy, and deceptively long. For all the starts accolades, I'd say the finish nulled them out.

Overall, I'm so glad I ran this race, and the post-race food was pretty stellar. Who can get a slice of pizza, a bagel, eggs, or an Italian cold cut after a half? not too many races provide that!

The biggest takeaway for me though is that when it comes down to it, mentality is everything. Your body is capable of doing extraordinary things, and you can't let a negative mindset take hold. Perseverance, belief in yourself, and the fortitude to finish, no matter the distance or day, is all that matter.

New York, I see you.

Breaking New Ground

A short one today, but one that makes me proud of myself. 

Yesterday, I ran my first sub-7 mile since probably High School. That might not mean a lot to a lot of people, but for me, that is a huge accomplishment. I had people tell me in High School I would never be fast, never be good at running because I didn't fit the body type of a runner.

Look at me now.

It's been a crazy few months

Wow, what a crazy few months it has been. So crazy, in fact, that I haven’t updated this site since January. JANUARY! For that, I apologize.

It’s not that I haven’t been running. Quite the opposite in fact.

I’ve been running more in the last few months than I have in my entire life.

I trained for and ran in my first Ultra marathon (I’ll put up a race recap soon, for posterity sake)

I took a month off in May. Not because I was injured. Not because I was in a running slump. Simply because life had other plans for me. You see, I work full time and am a grad student part-time. And you know what May is? Finals time. This year, May was also the release of a major plan for the ocean off of New England, which is what I happen to work on in my day life. Sleep was hard to come by. I ran maybe a few times, nothing exciting.

But now I’m back.

I’m taking one class this summer, and my final paper is due tomorrow (hello, procrastination!)

I’m training for the New York Marathon in November (hello, excitement!)

I joined the DC Road Runners, and have never felt more connected to the running community (hello, happiness!)

I have so many updates, so many stories, and so much to talk about.

I can’t wait to share it with you.

Join me as I try to get my life back together, and share my exciting running stories with you. There sure are a lot of them, and I would hate to not share



Snow Days, Trail Days

It snowed, I'm excited...

But first, an update from the last few weeks: 

For those of you who follow me on Instagram, you will be all too familiar with my recent struggle with reoccurring foot injuries. I've been sidelined by tendon issues in my right (and now left) foot for the past few weeks, which has put my mileage and moral down.

In keeping with my new years goals of not over exerting myself when injuries come knocking at my door, I have shifted pretty substantially to pool time. As a former competitive swimmer, this isn't actually that bad for me, and has me dreaming of triathlon goals again! 

I love swimming in the pool, the countless laps have always been both exhausting and therapeutic at the same time. I have a lot to think about when I'm under water, and can get my thoughts and ideas in line while not having to focus on avoid tree branches, roots, or stream crossing like I do out on the trails. The only big issue with the pool is my chlorine allergy... which is pretty amusing considering I did swim for 15 or so years. But, whats a migraine between friends?

Transitioning Back to Running

It's been about 3 weeks since I pulled myself off the trails, and have only gone on short 3-4 mile runs a handful of times. Not pace pushing, no distance pushing, no elevation pushing -- just me out there with one foot in front of the other.


We had an epic snow storm this past week, dumping 2+ feet of snow on DC in less than 48 hours. What does that mean? TRAIL TIME!

Back in 2014, I snagged some crampons from a Norwegian lady while I was backpacking in the Himalaya (more on that if anyone is interested), and I figured this was the perfect time to get them back out. Strapping on the spikes I hit the fresh powder for 4 epic miles through Rock Creek Park -- the best decision I have made in a long time.

The solitude of the trails, serenity of the snow, and beauty of the landscape sucked me in. I was back in my element, back on the trails, feeling strong, powerful, and full of energy. With the snow, I couldn't push myself too hard or else I would have rolled an ankle -- or worse -- but the workout was that much more intense due to the soft surface I was working with.

Now that I've had some time off to rest and recuperate, and feeling very much rejuvenated by the jaunt through the snowy trails, I think its about high time I got back on to the serious training wagon. Here's to easing back in -- starting with ~20-25 miles this week -- then building back up for (hopefully) my first Ultra this April!!!

Stay warm out there, friends!

xoxo - Katie

Balancing Act

Here we are, welcome to 2016! I've set my sights high, and want to succeed.

Unfortunately, I already have some hurdles in front of me that I need to get over before I can begin my full journey for the year. 

I went for a trail run the other day -- nothing new for me, it was a typical route -- but when I finished, I felt a dull pain in my groin, a new place for pain I've never felt before. Am I getting old, am I overextending myself, is it something else? I decided to go out on a short 3 mile run the next morning, and the pain persisted, and something new started: my peroneal tendon in my right foot was tender, the same tender that began my downfall last January in my left foot. Is January cursing me?

I took the next day off, only hopping on my bike for a quick grocery run, but the pain persisted to the next day. I took that day off as well, resting, using IcyHot, and staying OFF my feet. All I kept thinking was, please let this just be minor.

I woke up the next morning and the pain was gone, but still took the day off. I have notoriously pushed myself beyond my limits even when I'm injured. But new year, new me. I'm listening to my body, adjusting my workouts, and focusing on full body health, not just how fast and how far I can run.

The pain is still subsided, and I think I might test out a short, slow run tomorrow morning. If it still hurts, I'll walk home and take another 2 days off. Here's to new challenges in the new year!

Does anyone else have recurring injuries that flare up at certain times of the year? I wonder if mine is due to poor circulation in my feet (due to a diagnosed condition) or it truly is just over use...

xoxo Katie

Setting My Sights on 2016

2015 was a year of extreme highs and extreme lows. I started out the year strong, logging an incredible 135 miles in January, the most I had ever run in a single month. February rolled around, and the massive increase in mileage while subsequently ignoring physical pain led to a measly 52 total miles. I was in pain, but determined to cross the finish line in March for my first marathon. Many tears, extreme pain, freezing rain and a lot of run-walking, I crossed the finish line in March at 4:24, a respectable 10:04 pace for Marathon #1. I was happy to cross that off my bucket list, but a fire had just been lit beneath me. I registered for Marathon #2 the next week.

Between March and October, I ran in two 5k’s, one 5-miler, two 10-milers (PR’ing in both), a half marathon and a 20-miler. I cut 6 minutes off my half-marathon, shaved a minute off my 10-miler, and fell in love with the DC Road Runners after my 20-miler. All of this was a lead up to Marathon #2, which, after listening to my body, pacing my runs, and focusing on me and not my competition, I PR’d by 30 minutes, clocking a 3:54 in Baltimore.

After a successful final half marathon in December (clocking in at 1:47 and breaking the 1:50 barrier for the first time!) with my new favorite running club (DCRRC), I finished the year with just shy of 1,050 miles – a record in and of itself.

With such a great year, I aim to set my sights high for 2016, but recognizing that me and my body come before any time goals, and as I become a stronger runner, I may not always PR in races. A healthy mind is just as important as a healthy body. That being said, here are a few goals for 2016:

Increase my overall mileage: The first, and simplest goal to explain – in 2016, I aim to bag 1,350 miles or 112.5 miles per month. This would be an increase from the 87.5 average I ran in 2015, but do-able bearing no major injuries


Build a stronger sense of community: Since my early running days, everyone has considered me quite a solitary runner. I value my alone time on the trails – running is my sanctuary, my time to decompress, to reconnect, to experience nature and push myself to my own limits. In 2016, I aim to step outside my comfort zone, to meet individuals in the running community that I have admired from afar for quite some time, and to build my confidence in strength and speed through a network of likeminded individuals. I have really been at awe with the DCRRC and will aim to run with the club on their weekend long runs and mid-distance runs.

Run an Ultramarathon: For anyone that hangs around me long enough knows, I have a dream of competing in an ultramarathon, the ultimate goal being a multi-stage race in 2017 or 2018. For this to be a reality, I must register and actually run an ultra first. I have made it my goal in 2015 to run a casual, no pace, no goal 50K early in the year, and based on the performance, consider a 50-miler in mid-summer

Continue my path to success in the Marathon distance: I made amazing strides in the marathon realm in 2015, going from a decent distance runner who favored half marathons and had never run more than 14 miles, to running two marathons and breaking the 4-hour barrier on my second try. In 2016, I aim to build on this confidence and experience, inching my times closer to the coveted Boston Qualifier. Though I’m still a knee shaking 24 minutes away from that goal, through my community, distance, and ultra goals, I believe that by October 2016, I can drop my marathon time down. I have my heart set, but understand that as much as I plan and train and race, everything happens for a reason.

 Focus on my internal and external health: I am notoriously hard on myself across nearly all aspects of my life. In 2015 I have begun a journey towards a healthier outlook on running and food, and aim to continue that through 2016. I will nourish my body and mind and soul as much as possible in 2016, focusing on cleaner foods, removing processed foods where possible, and reducing my addiction to sugars. I will try to make my own energy bars and focus on the health of my inside as well as my outside in all aspects possible.

Race Report: Gar Williams Half Marathon

As I crossed the finish line on the historic C&O canal, a huge smile cracked across my face. My boyfriend and his dog were standing just beyond the finish line, cheering me on as I blew past my previous personal record by 3 minutes or so. After my marathon in October, I have taken a much more relaxed training stance, running at whatever pace feels comfortably challenging, but not pushing myself hard, not trying to stick to a specific pace; running to run. This method has paid off.

The course was flat, easy, and one I am all too familiar with. The C&O canal, a former transportation route in the 1800’s for goods and services from DC to Western Maryland is incredibly flat; the only hills are up and over the locks that control the flow of water in the canal. Having spent many summers riding my bike from Pittsburg to DC, most of which was along the 186 mile stretch of the canal, I have a fond appreciation and strong tie to this pebble path.

As the race started, we headed south on the canal from just below Great Falls, aiming for just north of Georgetown in DC. I always go out strong and fast in races, sometimes too fast. As I’ve become more accustomed to running longer distance races, I can tamper my initial speed out of the gate, knowing when I’m just caught up in the competition and when I need to pull back to save my legs later in the race. This is especially important to me right now, as I have had some strange pains in my ankles during races that shoot up my inner leg to my knee. Pacing early helps tamper this pain and relieve me of the threat a DNF poses to my psyche.

At the turnaround point in the race, I was pacing at a 7:57! This is the fastest I have ever gone out in a half, and I was boosted by this speed. Being a race that was primarily serious runners, it was nice to have some good competition that pushed me to push myself. It also helped that my fellow racers were keenly aware of what pacing during a race means, and how to pick a pace that suites them, and stick to it. Too often I will run a race that brings in both serious and recreational runners and get caught up in a mix of runners who maintain their pace as well as runners who burst and relax. This burst and relax method (one that in my experience comes from runners who do not specifically train for endurance sport) throws me off, so it was nice to have steady pacers with me the whole way that gave me that sense of peace.

Just when I was feeling strong, tragedy hit. Around mile 7 I started feeling the pain creep up my leg earlier in the race, but pushed it to the back of my mind. Now, the pain was searing my right ankle and shooting up to my knee. Internal strife ensued: do I keep going or do I stop and take care of myself. I pulled my pace back, adjusted my stride, and shorted my cadence. Taking care to tread tenderly on my right foot, I slowly felt the pain subside. Testing my ankle with a series of longer, powerful strides and felt little pain, so I cranked up my pace a bit, and settled in for the end of the race. I knew I was on pace to meet or exceed my personal best, and just had to hang on. 

At 1:47:15, I crushed my old record and pushed myself in to a whole new level of competition. Setting my sights on new and faster goals for 2016, I look forward to taking the lessons I have learned in 2015 and bringing it with me to race smarter, faster, and stronger in the new year!

Distance Goals

For many of my fellow distance runners, it is not uncommon for yearly mileage to well exceed 1,000 miles. For some of you, its over 2,000 or even 3,000 (GRACIOUS!).

This past year, I truly got in to distance running at its heart. Long, deliberative runs that connect me with my mind and my body better than I've ever been in my athletic career. I started running 10 years ago now, but it is just this past year that I've truly felt strong, confident, and able to accomplish goals that I never would have thought possible.

At the start of the year, I never thought I would run 1,000 miles by December. Well, here we are, and I am 17 miles away from breaking that first barrier. If I'd been more in tune with my body in the early months of this year, I may have broken 1,200+ but that just gives me a goal for next year!

Just wanted to share my excitement :) I have a half-marathon on Sunday, which means by Monday morning, I will be over the threshold I never thought was possible



Race Report: Baltimore Marathon

One thing I’ve realized over the past few months is that when you are simultaneously working full time, going to grad school full time, and training for endurance running, things start falling by the wayside. Case in point: this blog. So much has happened in my life since I last posted, most importantly of which was a 30 MINUTE PR AT THE BALTIMORE MARATHON!

This, my friends, is quite possibly my greatest running achievement to-date. Why haven’t I posted about it yet? Well, right after my race I had a combination of a mid-term, 20-minute climate presentation, research report, launch prep for a website at work, comment letter for a piece of climate legislation (that would set us back decades in terms of clean energy solutions) and seeing my wonderful boyfriend every so often. Now, that’s not why you’re on this blog, but I felt the need to explain my lack of attention lately!

On to the race report!

On October 17th, I laced up my running shoes with one goal in mind: break 4 hours on my marathon. Back in March, I ran my first marathon in probably the worst manner possible. I had been injured, it was pouring rain, it was 30 degrees at the start line, and I hadn’t run more than 11 miles at one time in over 6 weeks. Still, I finished in 4:24 with tears in my eyes and pain in my knees knowing that ‘hey, I just did something that some people dream of doing their whole lives’. Well, this race just wasn’t good enough for me. I was embarrassed by my time, disappointed in my training (due to silly training practices that led to my own demise. Editors note: never ramp up training from 0 miles per month due to international travel in the Himalaya’s to 140 miles per month. Something will go wrong).

Anyways, this time I was smart about training, listened to my body, and was out for some blood in this race. I scheduled my summer race calendar in anticipation of this marathon, and successfully completed 20-miles at an 8:40ish pace, giving me the confidence boost I needed to push through Baltimore.

Baltimore, however, is a beast of its own. Mountainous it is not, BUT there are some serious hills in this race that could cripple a runner who had not adequately trained. I knew going in that there was 3-miles uphill right from the start, and that miles 16-20 were often compared to Heartbreak Hill in Boston. My weekly long runs therefore made sure to incorporate significant hills usually towards the end of my run to get my legs used to the fatigue. Again, this paid off.

I started the race with the 4 hour pace group, concerned with the rookie mistake of going out too fast and ruining the second half. I stayed slightly behind them the first 2 miles as we pushed up the hill towards the zoo. Around mile 3, I started to make a move, catching the pace group and then, once we crested at the zoo and began our 2 miles of rolling hills in the zoo, I passed them. I have always been a strong downhill runner, which makes up for my lackluster uphill climbing. I zipped past runners, feeling energized by the morning sun, our penguin friends that came to great us, and the beautiful vista overlooking the lake.

I knew Chris and my mom were going to be around mile 7 or 8, so I kept this pace up. Having motivation and knowing that I would have support at very specific points along the course kept my spirits high. When you know you will have a cheerleader, that little voice in your head really pushes you to achieve greater results.

Mile 8 came and went. I high-fived my mom, laughed at Chris as he struggled to get the camera ready, and zipped passed my loved ones with a sense of strength and determination. The next 5-miles were flat as we ran around the inner harbor. At mile 11, fear crept in as my ankle started having searing pain shooting up the tendon from my foot to my knee. What was going on, I still do not know. I slowed my pace, connected with a fellow pace group member about the pain, and agreed with him that I should adjust pace, shake it out, and save my ankle for the coming miles.

At mile 13, the pain started to subside. I pushed through cautiously, maintaining a steady pace, and hitting my goal time marks still. I had an old college roommate (hi Katie!) come out for mile 15 or 16, but I had no idea where she would be, so I was running faster, watching the crowds with excitement, and when I finally saw her, it was the perfect point in the race: just as the hills started. She high fived me, and I kicked it up the start of mile 16.

The hills were actually not as bad as I thought they would be! My training paid off, as I thought I would be facing massive uphill climbs with steep incline and knee busting distances. Much to my surprise, these hills were nothing like my training runs, and for the most part, the only factor that came in to play was that there were 4 miles of them. I kicked it up the hill, zipped around the lake, and headed for home.

As I crossed the finish line, I cried, but not in pain this time, in happiness. I crushed my goal and crossed the finish line in 3:54, a full 30-minutes ahead of my previous race and a sub-9 minute pace! Hard word, determination, and a little bit of guts got me to where I am, and I am so excited to see what comes next.

Maybe a Boston Qualifier :)

Preparation for Marathon #2

I’ve made it!

Four and a half months later, I am within 5 days of finishing my second marathon (knock on wood). I’ve put blood, sweat, tears, toenails, and more in to training for this race, and…sans one minor injury this summer…have successfully made it to marathon week in 100% health. Now the nerves set in.

In March, I ran my first marathon here in DC. It was a miserable experience through and through. I started training after having spent a month+ travelling around Nepal (which meant not a single day of running). While I was trekking for much of that trip, the distances were not long. The hills? Steep, yes, but we only covered about 80 miles round trip in 15 days. The altitude was the challenge and didn’t set me up for a proper training base last winter. Then came mid-February. I got tendinitis that persisted all the way to marathon day. I didn’t run for 5 weeks before the race, and at mile 14, I almost gave up.

Fast forward to today. I just ran 13 miles on Saturday a full 15 seconds faster than my ideal race pace. If I maintain the consistency that I have seen through training, I could very well run a sub-9 minute mile the whole 26.2. Compare that to the 10:04 I ran in March, and we’ve got a serious PR headed my way.


Every race brings its own challenges. I could be feeling 100% today, but come Saturday morning, my whole world could shift. This week, I am focusing on nutrition, hydration, and a few short 3-4 miles runs. Nothing hard, nothing fast. I’ve built my base, I feel confident in my abilities, and I’m ready to rock Baltimore!

Race Report: National Capitol 20 Miler

On Sunday, I bagged another 20 miles, this time with the DC Road Runners Club along the historic C&O canal. Dragging my body out of bed at 5am, hopping in the car, and hitting the ground running at 7am was so difficult this weekend. The combination of working full time, taking 2 graduate level courses towards my MS in Environmental Science & Policy, as well as training for my marathon and ultra is starting to take a toll on me. Throw in house/landlord issues and its the perfect storm.

But you know what I learned this weekend? Hard work, determination, and a whole lot of mental willpower can get you through even the toughest of times and the toughest of races. While this was by no means a difficult course (lets be honest, elevation gain was barely even registering), I pushed my pace to 35-seconds beyond my goal marathon pace to a cool 8:40 per mile. That means, if I keep that pace at Baltimore, I could theoretically run sub-3:50, and shave 35 minutes off my current PR!

I'm feeling strong, just need to keep my head in the game as I quickly approach race day. T-19 days!

Random Musings: Fears of Failure

I had a moment at the end of a 5-mile race this past weekend where I let my fear of failing (or what in my mind I define as 'failure') overcome what should have been a celebration at the finish line with my amazing boyfriend. I went in to the race underprepared for a 'sprint'....I've been training for distances that are multiples of 5-miles, and didn't get my head in the game enough. I knew I was going to run back with my boyfriend as he competed in his longest race to date. What I wasn't prepared for was the wave of emotion at the finish, when we both surged to cross the line, and I remembered that I am terrible at sprinting and usually don't have much left in the tank to kick out the last 200 meters because I've left most of it out on the distance courses.

This was a huge learning moment for me. Instead of feeling disappointment in what I perceived as a failure (watching my boyfriend -- who by his own account would never say he is a runner --  surge ahead and toe the finish just ahead of me), I need to look at this as a training moment, a reminder that while I KNOW I can easily run 5-miles (probably in my sleep at this point) training really has an influence on your output depending on distances. I'm not training for short course running, not even training for half marathon distance (though I'm fairly certain I could crush my PR right now) but training for the long, slow, deliberate distances of 26.2 and beyond. 

Friends in the ultra community might still classify a marathon as a sprint, but for me, just breaking in to this super long distance category, everything is new to me. The emotions I feel every day on my runs varies, and its a reality check every time I lace up my shoes and hit the pavement (or more frequently, the dirt). 

In a consolation to myself this morning -- I ran 6.5 miles this morning and you wouldn't believe it, but I actually ran faster than my 5-mile race this weekend. Guess its really is all mental :)

Keep your head in the game everyone. Whatever your goals are, don't ever let a single race ruin what good things you have going for you, and the strong base you have been building in your training programs. We're all human. We're all competitive to some degree (either with ourselves or others....some way more than others too!) but we must remember that the running journey is inherently individual. Run. Have fun. Laugh a little.  

xoxo Kate

Race Report: Hard Cider 5k Fun Run

One of my favorite ways to spend time with my family is through a little friendly competition. This past weekend, 11 members of the extended family packed up the cars, strapped on our running shoes, prepped our drinking bellies, and headed to Pennsylvannia. While our goals all differed -- I wanted to win, some simply wanted to make sure they crawled across the finish line -- we all had a common objective -- have fun!

I went in to the race thinking it would be a piece of cake. Any fun run I've done before typically involves a flat, smooth course. I however, was clearly underestimating the vineyards of Western Pennsylvania. 

100 meters in to the race, we have a sharp u-turn down a hill with ground that looked more like the roads I experienced in Haiti than a lush green field in Pennsylvania. Trying to make sure I didn't roll an ankle as we flew down the hill and around the turn, I flung my arms out wide, jumped through the air, and said a little prayer.

I was in the lead for the first 3/4 of a mile, an all downhill portion that twisted and turned along the front slopes of the vineyard. My hate for hills quickly kicked in as we faced a mountain of dirt with a steep grade for roughly 200 meters. This was after a steady uphill for a little less than a 1/4 mile. Topping off  the first mile with all this uphill made me dread the remaining 2 miles.

I'm not a sprinter. I don't claim to be fast. What I am good at is finding a pace and sticking to it. My happy place is a half marathon right now, at around an 8:25 race pace. I think of a 5k as a sprint, an awful experience where I'm pushing myself to reach speeds my training doesn't always allow for. Part of the beauty of the 5k is, I know my body can push really hard for a short (and long) amount of time, and its the mental factor that really comes in to play. 

At the mile-mark, I heard something I've never heard before: "You go girl, you're leading the women!". Wow. I was leading, and only a few paces behind the actual leader, a 30-40 year old male. I knew I wanted to keep pace with him and maybe catch him if the hills stopped. So I pushed forward, through the pain and searing lungs after that dreadful uphill.

The first half of mile two was torture all on its own though. A steady uphill climb in the baking sun, no shade, and on loose straw packed ground. I kept a good distance from the leader, not pushing myself too hard, but also going fast enough that I knew I was making good time for what the race was. A water stop (they have water stops on 5k's these days!?!?) at the halfway point also signaled a turning point in my race. I knew we couldn't have much more uphill to go, so I started creeping up to the leader, pushing the pace, and challenging us both to finish strong. We had about 200 meters of striding together before a downhill and some shade hit, and at the point I took off.

The final mile was weaving through vine rows. Long straight paths that were pretty narrow and didn't allow for much wiggle room. Looping between the vines, I felt strong and in control of my race. I was out ahead of the pack (by a considerable distance) and knew that I just needed to fork over all I had left to kick in to the finish. And that's exactly what I did.

This course was no joke. I compare it to a pretty tough high school XC course (which I will note I have not run in a long time) and my time reflected that. Coming in at around 26 and some change, this clearly was no PR, but it also showed that I have a lot of growth left in this field, and can't wait to challenge myself on the next 5K course I run (hopefully running in the 22's and 23's again though!)