“Run smarter” – Antelope Island 100K recap

People often tell me that I make running look easy.  And for most of the Antelope Island 100K I was relaxed, comfortable and having fun. I train and run smarter, not harder and rely on an efficient technique to get the results I desire which is to run injury-free, perform well and do what I love.  And it really paid off with a win and the 2nd fastest time ever.

I made the decision to do the race just the week before.  That week was spent doing hard, manual labor for my brother’s landscaping business including moving over 2.5 tons of rock in one day.  It wasn’t ideal right before a race and I went into Antelope a little fatigued and beat up.  No worries, I just had to focus on efficiency even more.

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The start of the race was glorious.  We ran underneath a huge full moon and the stars all overlooking the Great Salt Lake.  For nearly 1.5 hours we ran in the dark with the moonlight shimmering on the lake.  The sunrise and brilliant alpenglow on the Wasatch mountain range was also spectacular.  There were lots of bison and antelope out there as well.

The first 50K I ran with friends and was pretty conservative.  I was trailing behind Zac Marion who was in 1st and caught him at the halfway aid station. We took off together comfortably chatting and discussing the day so far.  We had a pretty fast first half and I decided that if I pushed it I might have a chance to go under 9 hours. So, I took off.  I ran miles 32-52 pretty fast.  I was all alone and was reminding myself to run smarter, not harder.  The course was fairly technical and hilly with some long, gradual climbs including one of over 1000 ft.  When my hamstrings were tired I focused on pelvic and spinal rotation.  When my quads were fatiguing I focused on engaging my core. Around mile 52 my left quad starting seizing up from a deep bruise I got when I pinched my leg between a large rock and wheel barrow a few days before.  This threw my technique off a bit but I was determined to keep moving.

I never carry a watch when I run so I actually had no idea how much time I had to break 9 hours.  I just decided to keep pushing it.  I repeated a mantra, “I am light, I am strong” thousands of times.  I finished fairly strong with a 1st place finish and the 2nd fastest time ever of 9:06:40.

I was happy about my race because I had fun, enjoyed being out with friends and took in the spectacular scenery.  My consistent work of practicing technique sure paid off.  The amazing thing is that I never really got sore after the race.  Even 4 days after, I literally feel like I didn’t do a race.  I attribute this to my efficient running technique, smarter way of training and plant-based diet.  Now it’s time to look into doing another ultra in a few weeks…

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I wanted to thank my friends and family for all their wonderful support.  Also, a thanks to my sponsors, Altra shoes, Hammer Nutition and Macrolife Naturals.  I am grateful to be able to do what I love, thank you!

Photos: Courtesy of Lori Burlison

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Community, support, faith and losing my Self

My passion and love for running and community continues to grow!  I really enjoy racing for it encourages my Self-Realization.  For me, races aren’t about competition, time or winning.  They are about meeting new friends and deepening existing friendships, pushing my limits, breaking my boundaries, being inspired by others and doing what I love to do.  Racing is an exploration of my Self and this place we call home, Earth.  I am so grateful to the wonderful family of running friends I have and being able to run.

I recently ran Bozeman’s Run to the Pub Half-Marathon and didn’t have any goals other than to have push my boundaries and have fun.  And did I ever!  I had such a great time chatting with other runners, checking out goofy costumes, cheering runners on and enjoying a beautiful day!

I do have to admit, I was surprised at how fast I ran and how effortless it was.  The past five months I have run an average of 2-3 days a week.  By far, most of it at a 8-12 minute/mile pace with 1 day of speedwork in 5 months.  But somehow during the race, I ran over 13 miles at almost sub-6 minute pace finishing at 1:19:54.  I keep asking, “how is that possible?”.  I believe it is a result of my very efficient technique, relaxed mental state and overall health from eating well and practicing yoga.  Chi Running continues to amaze me!

Six days later I ran the Buffalo Run 50K on Antelope Island.  This gorgeous island is on the Great Salt Lake and has unique geology, plants and bison on it.  Not to mention being surrounded by water and magnificent, towering mountains all around.  My goals for this race were to have fun and again, push my limits.  I went into the race feeling ill prepared and under trained.  Running 20-35 miles a week for 5 months is not great preparation for a 50K.  But I relied on my efficient technique, mental strength and health to guide me along.

The few days prior to the race, I was having stomach issues.  I wasn’t able to eat much or as well as I would have liked.  The morning of the race wasn’t much better.  I didn’t eat much breakfast but hoped I could rely on Chi to sustain me during the race.  As we began to race, I had the privilege to run with many close friends.  Some from Bozeman, some from Wyoming and Utah and others from surrounding states.  We goofed around and I said awkward comments and bad jokes.  I loved it!  Running with friends is very special to me and we laughed and enjoyed the magic of another day on this beautiful planet.  I ran the first lap (about 16 miles) completely with two good friends.  We were feeling really strong that first lap.  About a mile into the second lap I started to pick up the pace relying on Chi, efficiency, gravity and relaxation.  I focused on less effort to go faster.  A strange concept for many but it really works.  Relaxation equates to speed.  After a mile, I took a wrong turn to hear a friend yell “wrong way” and was teased for my mistake.  My excuse:  “I was in the zone!”

I continued to push my limits and relax even more.  I found this deep place of peace and freedom.  After the second aid station, I proceeded to get lost once again but this time for real.  I took a wrong turn and ran up a ridge to find myself looking hundreds of feet down to the correct trail below.  I stopped to assess the situation, breath and prepare for the adrenaline and joy of bombing down the mountain.  I finally got back on track, losing about 5 or 8 minutes in the meantime.  I passed a few runners for a second time, each of them asking “what happened?”.  My response, “I was in the zone!”.  My poor excuse for not paying attention.

I continued to push the pace, running as fast as I could while relaxing.  I’m amazed at how effective this can be.  I began to have pretty severe stomach and digestion issues.  After mile 20, I wasn’t able to consume any calories or liquids.  This can have devastating consequences, especially considering the heat of the day.  75 and sunny, which for a Montanan in March feels like an oven.  I was able to sneak a couple Hammer Gels and luckily Endurolytes saved the day which prevented me from cramping.

I ended up finishing with a smile on my face and the lack of ability to walk straight because of severe low blood sugar and dehydration.   I asked the EMT’s to keep an eye on me so I didn’t pass out or get lost once again.  A little Mountain Dew fixed everything within minutes.  Totally gross but I was so out of it that it tasted like heaven in my mouth.

My second lap split was about exactly the same as my first lap, I actually sped up the second half since I got lost.  I was very happy about this and how well I ran.  I finished in 4 hours and 21 minutes for 4th place.  Not bad for a Montanan in March with very little training.  Chi Running continues to amaze me!

So really, what do I love about racing?  It’s the community, support and love that abounds at races.  Especially at ultramarathons.  Egos are checked at the door and we are grateful for doing what we love.  I suggest volunteering at or running an ultramarathon and I guarantee you will be inspired.  Over and over again actually!  I’ve run quite a few and continue to be amazed and inspired by the stories of others and seeing others overcome personal struggles, pain and mental boundaries.  I look forward to my next race, whatever it may be.

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Would you like running to be easier and more enjoyable?

I would like to share how you can transform your running so it is a more enjoyable and satisfying experience resulting in more benefits and greater happiness.  Running with a more efficient technique results in less effort and is the foundation to finding more joy in running.  Also, if you change how you approach running, it can be a more meditative, relaxing and effortless experience instead of just a workout or a way to stay in shape.  You still get the results you want but with more freedom, joy and energy gained.

Practicing a more natural and efficient technique has many benefits.  By bringing awareness to your physical body, you are more likely to be in the present moment.  And instead of thinking about your worries and stresses, you will be able to experience and find joy in this moment.  The present moment is truly a gift, for it is the only moment we have.  Also, running more efficiently is easier, obviously.  This alone makes running more enjoyable and fun.  I have found Wholistic Running to be the most effective way to run efficiently and naturally.

Why do you run?  Is it to stay in shape?  To get a workout?  I suggest letting go of those ideas.  Instead, run because you want to.  Because it is truly a gift to be able to use our physical bodies to move through space.  Run to get outside and see the beauty this world has to offer.  Run to say hello to other runners and smile because we are lucky to be able to do what we love.

Running can be a moving meditation with similar benefits to yoga and sitting meditation.  With mindful practice, remind yourself to bring your mind into the present moment.  You can do this by focusing on your form and the physical body as well as your breath.   I recommend just noticing the breath and not trying to control it.  If you are relaxed and efficient, your breath will be optimal.  Running can be more enjoyable by being aware of and appreciating the beauty of the places you run.  Appreciate the little things: seeing an old friend, the textures of trees, the smile of a child, the feel of the wind against your legs, the sound of your soft foot falls…

Remember, the choice is yours.  If you consciously allow running to be more enjoyable, you will open a door to allow running to be just that.  Focus on the physical body, technique and breath.  Allow your mind to find the present moment and give thanks for doing what you love.  Allow your spirit the freedom to enjoy this movement by giving up expectations, time, goals and just appreciate the movement and joy of what we are born to do.