TEAM TROT AMBASSADOR CHRISTINA LABAY

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Christina Labay is one of the coolest people you will ever meet on and off the trails! Not only is
she an avid TROT and No Fine Print Ambassador, Christina ups her “cool factor” by being a
badass IT developer/coder for some of the largest companies in the US. While not running
trails, you can find Christina hanging out with her husband as they continue to find new
adventures!

10 Questions with Christina:

What’s the most useless talent you have?
Can I go with anti-talent? I’m 31 years old and can’t whistle. Like, not even a little bit. What’s up
with that?

What is the dumbest way you have been injured?
About 13 years ago I was heating up a bowl of food in the microwave, one of those ones that is
mounted above the counter, and when I pulled the bowl out it was way too hot to handle (too
cold to hold) and I dropped it. The food inside shot up from the impact and ended up landing on
me. I ended up with third degree burns on my palms and down my entire left forearm. The scar
is mostly gone. It gets noticeable when I tan!

What’s the most interesting thing you’ve read or seen this week?
Code. All I read is code. And how to code better. Haha. Life of a developer.

What is the most distant place you’ve visited?
My husband and I drove from Normandy to Belgium a couple months ago.
Fun fact: French gas station food is incredible.

Favorite running shoes
Altra Escalante. So cozy. Toe room for days.

Favorite time of day to run
There’s something beautiful about starting your run before 5am, when every logical person is
still sleeping.

Favorite song on your playlist
I can’t make a playlist to save my life, but lately I can’t get enough of Lights’ version of Nice For
What, and any song by Jonie Mitchell makes me happy.

What accomplishment are you most proud of?
Paying for college without taking a loan. It was miserable, but definitely worth it. I had that goal since I was a wee-one.

Favorite ice cream flavor
Ice cream destroys me but Tillamook -Oregon Strawberry is the bees knees, ankles, and toes.

What trait do you like most about yourself?
My complete willingness to suffer in order to achieve big goals. Not to say every goal entails
suffering, but usually they require some sort of sacrifice, right?

TEAM TROT AMBASSADOR TIM PEARSON

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Representing San Antonio and Renegade Endurance, Tim Pearson is a first year ambassador who is already making big waves in the racing community with his positive nature and approachable style. Tim is a hardcore triathlete who is currently training for his next Iron Man in Chattanooga, TN!

10 Questions with Tim:
What’s the most useless talent you have?
The most useless talent I have is that I can disassemble and assemble and M16A2 rifle in 1 minute
and 15 seconds

What is the dumbest way you have been injured?
I was roasting turkeys for a thanksgiving meal in a commercial kitchen. I was wearing shorts. I
opened the oven door and reached in to pull the turkey out. In doing so, I bent down and put my
lower leg right on the oven door. As a result, I proudly wore a "Hobart" tattoo for about 6 months.

What’s the most interesting thing you’ve read or seen this week?
The most interesting thing I read this week was a boy invented a machine to help clean the oceans of trash. With all the money and technology available today, why does it take a 14 year-old boy to create something. We need our earth!

What is the most distant place you’ve visited?
The most distance place I have been is the Korengal Valley (also known as Death Valley) in
Afghanistan, a few miles from the Pakistan border. Some of the most beautiful and surreal mountains I've ever seen, interrupted by the sounds of war.

Favorite running shoes
My favorite running shoes are ON. Best trail shoes I have ever worn for traction and the road shoes just as awesome.

Favorite time of day to run
Favorite time of the day to run is early, early morning. Especially here in Texas. Not only do you beat the temps, but you get to share the world with nature and the wildlife alone.

Favorite song on your playlist
My favorite song on my playlist is "Just the way you are" by Bruno Mars. Actually, anything by Bruno.

What accomplishment are you most proud of?
I'm most proud of becoming a TROT Ambassador, duh! Lol. Also, having the opportunity to lead an entire unit of America's men and women to a deployed location as a First Sergeant. You will learn more about yourself then you will about them.

Favorite ice cream flavor
I don't eat ice cream unfortunately. But I can eat a dozen Krispy Kreme glazed donuts in about 2
minutes.

What trait do you like most about yourself?
The best trait that I have that I like is that I don't judge people. I may not agree with you, but that doesn't mean you're wrong. We are all our own individuals and what we each do is up to us.  

TEAM TROT AMBASSADOR JENNIFER LEE

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When not studying for her board exams as a Radiation Oncology resident at UTHSCSA, Jennifer is traveling all over the globe to run in some of the most awesome places.  After seeing her in action in Bryce Canyon, we know that Jennifer is the REAL DEAL when it comes to inner strength and overall bad-assery! Her next adventure takes her to Oman with her fiancé, Tyler, as he races 137 km across the Middle East.  Get to know Jennifer Lee and watch her as she takes on the world!

10 Questions with Jennifer:

What’s the most useless talent you have?

I am a dizzy bat race champion.  I am also excellent with a t-shirt launcher. (I worked for the Yankees in college)

What is the dumbest way you have been injured?

In attempts to escape the safety of the womb, I decided to try to come out a space I was way too big for (10lbs 8 oz) and broke my clavicle.

What’s the most interesting thing you’ve read or seen this week?

MU = D · 100% / [D 0 · PDD(d,ra, SSD) · Se(ra, SSD0) · ((SSDeff(r) + d0)/(SSDeff(r) + d0 + g))^2]   (Sorry it’s the week before my board exams)

What is the most distant place you’ve visited?

In which direction? From where? Geographically or theorectically? Be more specific. Geographically from Texas, it’s probably Fiji to the island were they filmed Castaway. There was also a coup while I was there and we had no communication with the outside world. Although theoretically more distant and isolating was camping in the Kalahari Desert, but I did make friends with a hyena when I went to use the bathroom during the night.

Favorite running shoes

I PR’d the Berlin Marathon in Skechers. So I like those. I escaped a wildfire running Bryce Canyon Ultra with Bhakti and Carmen in New Balances. I also saved everyone’s belongings from the burning Air BNB all while they were still running, so those are pretty useful, too.

Favorite time of day to run

I’ve got a pretty awesome 5am Crossfit and yoga crew at The Union San Antonio, so I usually run after work. Gives me more flexibility to go longer especially if it’s been a stressful day at work.

Favorite song on your playlist

My fiancé used to be in a screaming metal band in college – anything but that. Love you Tyler ;)

What accomplishment are you most proud of?

Helping write the national guidelines for cancer care in Botswana.

Favorite ice cream flavor

Is this a preference for future ice cream challenge TROT race? I’m lactose intolerant so I request rainbow cookies or carrot cake. Oh, or s’mores.

What trait do you like most about yourself?

My adaptability and ability to take things in stride. I often take trips without booking anything other than my flight. I never look at course maps before races.  I purposefully do things that scare me (part of the reason I don’t do more research).  I never let anything set limits on what I can do even if science and every expert opinion in the world is against me.

 

TEAM TROT AMBASSADOR MARC HENN

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This week we are going old school with one of the ORIGINAL TROT Ambassadors Marc Henn. A self-proclaimed trail running expert and general “know-it-all”, Marc is a familiar presence at trail running events all over the state of Texas. As an Altra Team Red member and an Orange Mud Ambassador, Marc spends most of his time discussing his favorite trail running gear with anyone (and everyone) who will listen! Marc’s next race is the Last Call 50 miler in Fair Play, CO and then he starts training for the Arkansas Traveler 100 and The Franklin's 200k!!

10 Questions with Marc:

What’s the most useless talent you have?
Being able to apply very obscure movie/TV show quotes to most situations. I laugh and the other
people have no idea what I’m talking about.

What is the dumbest way you have been injured?
I was an 80s kid…every injury I had as a kid was dumber than the next. One of the more dramatic was when I first was learning to skate board and went down a long steep hill…got the speed wobbles and face planted. I still have a scare above my lip from that one. Good times!

What’s the most interesting thing you’ve read or seen this week?
***Editor’s note – Marc doesn’t like to read very much…

What is the most distant place you’ve visited?
Switzerland

Favorite running shoes
I’m a huge fan of Altra Running shoes….zero drop and foot shaped toe box makes my feet very happy and has spoiled me from all other running shoes. Right now the Altra Timps for trail and Altra Duo for fast road running are my two favorite models but you’ll see me in almost every model they make

Favorite time of day to run
Whenever but in the summers I tend to favor mornings and in the winters evenings. Seems most of my trail running is mornings.

Favorite song on your playlist
My earbuds broke over a year ago and I have not listened to music while running since. I don’t miss it.

What accomplishment are you most proud of?
Running related I’ve been lucky to get some top finishes in some smaller races but to me the place I finish in the field is of lesser importance. I’m the proudest of various moments I’ve had when I knew in my heart I gave a maximum effort and left it all out on the trail. Those are the moments that make me proud.

Favorite ice cream flavor                                                                                                                        I like vanilla but use it to make a milk shake or coke float.

What trait do you like most about yourself?
I seem to be able to make friends with people pretty fast.  Of course, it's really easy when you are sharing miles with people on the trails.  

What trait do you like most about yourself?
I seem to be able to make friends with people pretty

TEAM TROT AMBASSADOR DION WATSON

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Police officer by day, trail runner by night – Dion Watson knows how to throw down the gauntlet when it comes to TROT races.  Representing Galveston, TX, Dion often runs on the beach when he isn’t enforcing the law and keeping the streets safe for all of us.  We can always out Dion in a crowd – he’s usually the runner with the largest grin on his face!  Make sure you give Dion a BIG HUG the next time you see him on the trails!

10 Questions with Dion:

What’s the most useless talent you have?

I can put my pinky toe on the toe next to it, and it stays put. Lol

What is the dumbest way you have been injured?

Riding Moto Cross a few years back, I landed a jump the wrong way and broke my left ankle in 3 places, damaged tendons, etc. in both ankles/feet, split my chin open, and nearly bit the tip of my tongue off.   Needless to say, that was the end of me moto crossing.   Especially when I learned there is NO “Light Duty” at Galveston PD. Lol My right ankle still gives me grief since then.

What’s the most interesting thing you’ve read or seen this week?

Well I read in the news just today that Fishermen in Japan killed 120 “pregnant” whales for “Research Hunting”!!!  WTF is Research Hunting???!!!!  Sorry, it just makes me sad when they try and smooth over the useless slaughter of such beautiful animals.

What is the most distant place you’ve visited?

I went to the Dominican Republic once - even dove a shipwreck there.  Such a beautiful place and the citizens are awesome!!!

Favorite running shoes

Altra all the way Baby!!  But, my favorite pair are my TIMPS.

Favorite time of day to run

I run when I can with such a busy schedule, but evening runs on the beach I’d say are my favorite.  It’s peaceful.

Favorite song on your playlist

I LOVE starting my run with “Lucky Man” by the Verve, but the group Of Monsters and Men have some really great songs as well….UGH… decisions, decisions! LOL

What accomplishment are you most proud of?

My Children….I can’t be more proud of all of them.   But if we’re referring to running, it would have to be finally having the “stones” to tackle the Franklins in November.

Favorite ice cream flavor

Cookie Monster at Hey Mikey’s here in Galveston.

What trait do you like most about yourself?

I do my best to be kind to everyone I meet.  You’d be surprised what a smile or a kind word can do to someone who is having a bad day.  No one can EVER have too many hugs, and I’m a “hugger”!!! ….My wife always tells everyone I’m the “Coolest Cop on the Island”, LOL.  I don’t know if that’s true or not, but rarely do I write a ticket… Cheers my Friends!

TEAM TROT AMBASSADOR TAMMY ROEN

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Tammy Roen is a fearless ambassador who definitely knows how to stand out in a crowd!  Known for her trademark hair colors and outrageous running attire, Tammy has made her mark as a 2nd year TROT ambassador.  While not running trails with her OGs, Tammy has been known to dabble in triathlons including completing the Iron Man Arizona in 2014!  We are proud to have Tammy represent the TROT brand and can’t wait to see what she’ll do next!

10 Questions with Tammy:

What’s the most useless talent you have?

Do you REALLY want me to answer this??? I think this is PG rated.

What is the dumbest way you have been injured?

When I was little, I was such a tomboy. If the boys could do it, I could do it better.  I got injured trying to out jump my neighborhood "brother" on a dirt bike.  Let's just say it did not go so well. OUCH.

What’s the most interesting thing you’ve read or seen this week?

Mattisms, DUH. If you do not follow Matt Zmolek for his wisdom, you are not living.

What is the most distant place you’ve visited?

Hawaii in 2007; I have never been out of the US.

Favorite running shoes

Trail: Lone Peaks in PINK; of course!

Road: Impulse

Favorite time of day to run

Evenings...and CERTAINLY not early mornings.

Favorite song on your playlist

I do not listen to music while I run no matter the distance, and haven't since 2011.  Triathlon training got me off using music seeing you are not allowed to listen to any music on the course.

What accomplishment are you most proud of?

Training and completing the Ironman Arizona in 2014.   I learned a lot about ME along the way; and now know I can do anything if I just put my mind to it.  One day, I would like to do another Ironman.

Favorite ice cream flavor

Coffee!!! Is there any other flavor??? Weird fact... I do not like to drink coffee, and never have, but give me coffee ice cream any day!

What trait do you like most about yourself?

My giving nature; I will help anyone and get you back out on the course to complete your goal you set for yourself.  If I am on the trail or volunteering, I got your back!

TEAM TROT AMBASSADOR VERONICA CARSON

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Veronica Carson is one of the toughest runners out on the trails today.  Already an avid road runner, Veronica was introduced to trail running at the Blazing 7s 25k race and was hooked after running through the sand at 7-IL Ranch.  Veronica has made her mark so far at Jackalope Jam (100k) and Brazos Bend (50 miles), and we can’t wait to see what she sets her sights on next!

10 Questions with Veronica:

What’s the most useless talent you have?

I can fall asleep absolutely ANY/EVERYWHERE at the drop of a hat – I will be out cold within minutes of getting comfortable.

What is the dumbest way you have been injured?

Growing up, I was always super clumsy – rolling ankles, falling off moving boats, and tripping over nothing (except my own feet).  Nothing ever held me back, except for being completely embarrassed. One day at grade school, I tried to flip over some monkey bars and I fractured my wrist!  My mom was so pissed!

What’s the most interesting thing you’ve read or seen this week?

I’ve been reading all of Rob’s blogs.  He really knows how to say things that make me want to keep pushing forward. Determination, motivation, and resilience are what I feel when I read what he’s going through.  It really pumps me up.

I’ve also been reading “Relentless Forward Progress: A Guide to Running Ultras.”  This is really opening my eyes up to a lot of things I haven’t been doing to make myself become a better runner.

 What is the most distant place you’ve visited?

Cancun.  My husband and I went for our first vacation and it was Amazing! Iraq would technically be the most distant for me, but I “technically” didn’t visit the place – I was sent there.

 Favorite running shoes

My all-time favorite trail shoes so far have been the Altra Superiors 3.0. I’m still experimenting with different shoes, but those seem to be the most comfy.

For the road and my treadmill training, I love the Brooks Pure Connect 4s and Sketchers Go Run (all of them!!).

Favorite time of day to run

I’ve always been an evening runner! With work and constantly staying busy, evenings seem to be the best for me.  I also love to see the sun setting and enjoy the nice cool breeze you get at the end of a long day.

 Favorite song on your playlist

Oh My God… I just heard the new single from Bishop Briggs “White Flag,” and it has been on repeat since!! I love her!

What accomplishment are you most proud of?

I am definitely beyond proud of myself for my recent finishes of the 100k at Jackalope Jam and the 50 miler at Brazos! I never would have thought that I could have pushed myself to those limits.  Running has been an outlet for me.  I run “just cuz” – no thought behind it or real training schedule. These two accomplishments mean so much more to me.  My mental toughness has developed so much and I am beyond happy to say that I’ve accomplished mileage like that.
 

Favorite ice cream flavor

Rocky Road, hands down!

 What trait do you like most about yourself?

I would have to say my determination. Once I put my mind to something, I will complete the task at hand.  It’s hard sometimes, but quitting and/or giving up is something that is very hard for me to accept.

 

 

 

Team Trot Ambassador Christina Pierce

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If you Google the phrase “tough as nails,” you will see a picture of Christina Pierce as the only search result.  Christina is a 2nd year ambassador who splits her time between a fulltime nursing career and crushing every ultramarathon race that she shows up for.  Christina finished BB100k as the 1st Female overall, cementing her status as a true competitor in the Texas trail running scene.  Don’t even think about getting on the podium when you see Christina getting ready to start a race!

10 Questions with Christina:

What’s the most useless talent you have?

I have this insane ability to wake up about 10 minutes before my alarm clock goes off. With. Out. Fail. I work night shift 3 nights a week, and it doesn’t matter if my alarm is set for an a.m. or p.m. time. I can beat it by at least 10 minutes. I would gladly trade this useless talent for anyone else’s useless talent.

What is the dumbest way you have been injured?

When I was younger and dating the man who is now my husband, I jumped up from the dining room table and ran full speed to answer what I thought was the phone ringing. I slammed my foot into the china cabinet and probably broke a couple toes. They were purple and mangled for weeks. To add insult to injury, the phone wasn’t ringing. My ears played a trick on me.

Whats the most interesting thing you’ve read or seen this week?

I have been reading through a blog from a guy named Jacob Evans who thru hiked the Lone Star Hiking Trail recently. I’m just picking up bits of information here and there. I’m hoping that a group of friends might want to team up to complete the hike next spring.  

What is the most distant place you’ve visited?

I spent a Thanksgiving holiday in Seattle, Washington one year visiting my sister. My Air Force enlistment took me to Idaho, Mississippi, and Missouri, but I was born and raised in Texas and came back as quick as I could.

Favorite running shoes?

I am a big fan of Hoka One One. I usually run in Cliftons on the road, but for trails I am in love with the Speedgoat 2. They are the Wacky Wall Walkers of trail shoes (google that Millennials). I have taken the Speedgoat through the swampy conditions of the Horseshoe Trail run, the sands of 7iL, the hills of Cactus Rose, and to the peak of Franklin Mountain, and they have held up well in all conditions and kept my feet happy.

Favorite time of day to run?

I like to hit the road at about 4-5am. I love running in the dark. I love to see the stars and catch the sunrise. Even in a 100 mile race, those night time hours are my most favorite time. I love to be alone with my thoughts and being out there while the rest of the world sleeps. I can remember a time quite a few years ago when I was worried that in a 50-mile race I would still be out there after dark. I considered a pacer just so I wouldn’t be alone. Now I will jump at the chance to be on the trail at night.

Favorite song on your playlist?

I am always digging for music for my playlist that really inspires me or helps me to see the beauty around me when I am out running. I really love groups like The Head and the Heart and songs by Peter Bradley Adams (look them up, good stuff). My favorite song right now is a song called “Where the Mountain Meets the Valley” by Joshua Hyslop. I added it to my playlist just before Lone Star 100 and I just go back to it over and over.

Listen here https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LddPiPE1a4k

What accomplishment are you most proud of?

As hard as running a 100 mile race is, nursing school was harder by several magnitudes. I am most proud of the fact that I had the guts to go back to school after being a stay-at-home mom for 10 years to follow my dream of becoming a nurse. Being a nurse is absolutely insane, and I LOVE it! I find a lot of the personality characteristics that it takes to be an ultrarunner work very well for me as a nurse…looking at gross feet, dealing with bodily functions, and just having the ability to just laugh at the ridiculousness of situations you end up in.

Favorite ice cream flavor?

Mint Chocolate Chip. It is the ONLY flavor.

What trait do you like most about yourself?

One of my friends told me a few months ago that she admires that I always “make the payments”. I am not a “fake it until you make it” kind of person. If a challenge requires a certain amount of training or hard work I get the work done and show up prepared for the challenge.

 

 

TEAM TROT AMBASSADOR EMILY RIALS

Emily Rials is an OG TROT Ambassador who is small in stature but HUGE in personality.  Straight off her 3rd place finish at Jackelope Jam, Emily is eyeing Brazos Bend for her first 100k finish and induction into Buckle City, USA.  Emily is the brains behind the popular Huntsville State Park Trail Run group, and she is always looking to spread her love of the trails to new people and places! 

 

10 Questions with Emily:

What’s the most useless talent you have?

All of my talents are legit, but I am a professional ghost crab hunter.  Pretty proud of that..
 

What is the dumbest way you have been injured?

Only one?  Hmmm… when I was leaving my doctor’s office and I was running on the sidewalk back to my car, a toddler totally body slammed me and I ate pavement…That kid was so thug, and I still have the scar to prove it.


What’s the most interesting thing you’ve read or seen this week?

The updates coming from the Barkley’s.  Tough year and STOKED to watch Maggie take a stab at it.

 

What is the most distant place you’ve visited?

The Bahamas (don’t laugh at me). I plan to travel more someday.

 

Favorite running shoes

My Altra Lone Peaks!  I love them so much, there’s days they might go on the road with me.

 

Favorite time of day to run

Just before dark, especially if it’s a summer evening and a storm is coming in while the sun is going down.

 

Favorite song on your playlist

I have two,,,

Send Them Off! by Bastille and Cassette Tapes by L.I.F.T.

 

What accomplishment are you most proud of?

My kids        In running?  Horseshoe 2017 50k – my first ultra.  It was a flooded, muddy mosquito infested mess and I’m STOKED to have completed it!!

 

Favorite ice cream flavor

Starbucks Java Chip

 

What trait do you like most about yourself?

I try to stay positive and find a way to keep smiling even when things are really difficult, and I hope that makes life a little easier for the people around me.

TEAM TROT AMBASSADOR TREVOR MEDING

Trevor Meding is fast, fearless and relentless when it comes to ultra-marathon running.  But, did you know that he rarely ran before the age of 35?  After some serious introspection, Trevor decided it was time to change his sedentary lifestyle and he registered for the Red Deer Half Marathon. With only 5 weeks of training and his trusty Nike+ phone app, Trevor achieved his goal of a sub-2 hour finish time and was well on his way to becoming a kick ass ultra runner. Trevor won his first 100 mile race at River Valley Revenge in June 2017 and followed up with a sub-21 hour finish at BB100 last December.  Trevor has now set his sights on the San Felipe Shootout and the BB100k races as his next big challenges for the spring race season.  Don’t forget to wave at Trevor when he passes you on the trail!

 

10 Questions with Trevor:

What’s the most useless talent you have?

I can wiggle my ears.
 

What is the dumbest way you have been injured?

Diving into the corner of a coffee table when I was young and stupid.

Running wise I have yet to be injured (minus the battering of toes in ultras).


What’s the most interesting thing you’ve read or seen this week?

More running articles and writeups on social media leading up to the Barkely Marathons. I’ve been clicking on all those links and stories getting ready for this year’s event to follow.

 

What is the most distant place you’ve visited?

Australia, Egypt, & Abu Dhabi all for work. Not sure which is the furthest away, but they were all interesting to see and work with different people and cultures.

 

Favorite running shoes

Ever since I discovered Altra I have not looked back. #embracethespace

 

Favorite time of day to run

Usually after work to relieve some stress. But honestly I just run when I can due to work and busy family life.

 

Favorite song on your playlist

Hadouken – Levitate

 

What accomplishment are you most proud of?

Going from off the couch to running, completing, and winning my first 100mi race only 14 months after starting the journey.

 

Favorite ice cream flavor

Mint Chocolate Chip

 

What trait do you like most about yourself?

Grit. Ability to be able to grind through anything.

Team TROT Ambassador Meg Reed

If you haven’t heard the name “Meg Reed” yet, you will after this weekend’s event at the Crazy Desert Trail Race.  Meg started running a little over a year ago, and she’s already established herself as a hardcore competitor with her 1st place finish at Wildflower Trail Run Marathon, 1st place at Tinajas Ultra (13.1 miler), 1st place at Bandera (25 miler), 1st place at J&J Trail Running Reunion (50 miler), 2nd place at Paleface Marathon, and 2nd place at Wild Hare (50k).  WOW!  Meg will be bringing her killer pace to San Angelo this weekend as she races for the podium in the 100k event.

 

10 Questions with Meg:

What’s the most useless talent you have?

I can’t really think of one.
 

What is the dumbest way you have been injured?

When I was 10, I had the bright idea to jump off a swing in mid-air, turn around and land sitting down in a lawn chair. I jumped, didn’t turn, landed on the chair and broke both the chair and my arm.


What’s the most interesting thing you’ve read or seen this week?

An article about thru-hiking the AT.

 

What is the most distant place you’ve visited?

Aruba, I got to live there a couple years as a kid. No trails but lots of caves.

 

Favorite running shoes

Roads: Saucony Zealot ISO3

Trails: Salomon Sense Ride
 

Favorite time of day to run

Mornings.

 

Favorite song on your playlist

Anything classic rock or Texas country but I never listen to music while running.

 

What accomplishment are you most proud of?

My biggest accomplishment is always the last thing I have set out to do and completed. Winning the Texas Trail Championship Series last fall was pretty awesome too.
 

Favorite ice cream flavor

Mango sorbet

 

What trait do you like most about yourself?

I am very persistent. When the going gets tough, keep on keeping on.

Team TROT Ambassador Aaron McCreery

Our ambassador of the week is fresh off of his 2nd place finish at the Jailbreak 5k in Baytown last week!  Aaron McCreery is a fast AF runner who known to sport a serious beard during the race season.  As a new TROT and NFP Ambassador, Aaron knows how to represent the true spirit of Texas trail racing while looking sharp on the course. 

10 Questions with Aaron:

What’s the most useless talent you have?

I very proficient at harassing my wife in every way imaginable.
 

What is the dumbest way you have been injured?

I lived on a skateboard as a teenager and managed to fracture my skull grinding a bench in a K-Mart parking lot.


What’s the most interesting thing you’ve read or seen this week?

I’m reading Running Man by Charlie Engle.

 

What is the most distant place you’ve visited?

Colorado

 

Favorite running shoes

Hoka One One , Clifton 3
 

Favorite time of day to run

In the morning.

 

Favorite song on your playlist

Ugh, so hard to choose… Probably something by Janes Addiction or The Growlers.
 

What accomplishment are you most proud of?

My proudest running accomplishment came at Brazos Bend 50 mile race in December. I’d never run over 35 miles before that race so I was really happy with a sub 8hr (7:59:59) 8th place finish.
 

Favorite ice cream flavor

Pistachio Almond

 

What trait do you like most about yourself?

My stubbornness, when I focus on something I don’t give up.

Team TROT Ambassador Lisa Decker

If you have run a TROT race within the past 3 years, you have seen our next ambassador volunteering and supporting the runners all over Texas.  Lisa Decker is a second year ambassador who truly defines the “ambassador” role through her outgoing nature and tireless volunteerism. Get to know a little more about Lisa and see why she is one of our best!

 

10 Questions with Lisa:

What’s the most useless talent you have?

Tripping on nothing! Doesn’t matter the shoes or surface, I will trip 5 times a day!! However I rarely fall, so I have that going for me!


What is the dumbest way you have been injured?

When I was a kid, I tried to jump on the side step of my dad’s truck as he was parking (saw older sister do it a million times). I slipped, fell and my leg got ran over! Badly sprained ankle from the fall and pretty nasty tire bruise on my thigh! No broken bones though!!


What’s the most interesting thing you’ve read or seen this week?

All the Lonestar100 race reports have been interesting to read!

 

What is the most distant place you’ve visited?

Harrisburg, PA (I only remember going to Hershey Park and coming home with chicken pox!)

 

Favorite running shoes

Altra Timps for trail. Altra Paradigm for road.
 

Favorite time of day to run

Until Snowdrop, it was always sunrise. After Snowdrop, it’s between midnight and 4am when everyone is sleeping!

 

Favorite song on your playlist

“Til I Collapse”- Eminem or “Jackal and Hyde”- 5 Finger Death Punch


What accomplishment are you most proud of?

Finishing Snowdrop this year and earning my first buckle! I never imagined I could finish 100 miles and now I’m itching to earn even more buckles!!.
 

Favorite ice cream flavor

Peppermint stick ice milk from Dewars in Bakersfield, CA

 

What trait do you like most about yourself?

My stubbornness and willpower....definitely has gotten me to finish a few races I wasn’t quite trained for! LOL It’s also rare to catch me without a smile on the trails!

Team TROT Ambassador Rosalba Zuniga

It’s Lone Star 100 week, and we are highlighting an El Paso Ambassador to show you how tough our West Texas team really is!  Rosalba Zuniga completed her first 50k in 2017 at the Cactus to Cloud race in NM and followed up with the Bryce Canyon 50k in UT a few months later.  She’s running her first 100 miler this weekend at Lone Star because she wanted to challenge herself with one of the toughest mountain races in the country.  We know that Rosalba is an exceptional trail runner, and she will leave her mark on the Franklin Mountains this weekend as she races towards her epic finish.

10 Questions with Rosalba:

What’s the most useless talent you have?

Paddle boarding, definitely a useless talent living in the desert.


What is the dumbest way you have been injured?

Not running related: I was cutting butter and cut myself with a butter knife. There was blood, but instead of me getting a bandaid, my kids laughed so hard and said that must be the dumbest way to get hurt. My kids won't ever let me live it down.


What’s the most interesting thing you’ve read or seen this week?

“When you think about it, what other choice is there but to hope. We have two options, medically and emotionally: give up or fight like hell." Lance Armstrong

 

What is the most distant place you’ve visited?

Korea

 

Favorite running shoes

I'm an Asics kind of girl
 

Favorite time of day to run

Night runs

 

Favorite song on your playlist

Mis Sentimientos feat Ximena By Los Angeles Azules


What accomplishment are you most proud of?

My first ever 50k last year Cactus to Cloud with 9,000 feet of elevation gain. All vertical climbing for the first 10 miles, and the rest of the course was not easy. It was just supposed to be a training run for my first ever 50k at Bryce Canyon. I came in with a wonderful time and finished with the first 5 people. This is the place I fell in love with 50ks.
 

Favorite ice cream flavor

Cookies and cream

 

What trait do you like most about yourself?

I love that I'm adventurous and very strong willed.

Team TROT Ambassador Victor Valenzuela

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This week’s ambassador needs no introduction!  Known simply as “Vic200,” Victor Valenzuela established himself as a true endurance runner and all around trail-connoisseur in 2017 with his 100 mile finishes at BB100, Dinosaur Valley Endurance Run, Orion 100, Blazing 7s 100, Jackalope Jam, and Rocky Raccoon 100. Victor completed the Texas Independence Relay as a solo runner, and he managed to eat at every Whataburger along the route from Gonzalez to the San Jacinto Monument!
10 Questions with Vic200:
What’s the most useless talent you have? 
I can eat the spiciest food others could not tolerate. 

What is the dumbest way you have been injured?
When I was 13 I drove a moped scooter straight to a fence. Injury kept me out of school for 1 week, so I must say it was a win for me.

Whats the most interesting thing you’ve read or seen this week? 
Oh Lawwd! In spin class someone's tight pants tore up right in front of me.

What is the most distant place you’ve visited? 
610 & Kirby.

Favorite running shoes? 
It would have to be my Altra LonePeaks and my Xero Z-trail sandals.

Favorite time of day to run?
I hate waking up early so evening runs are the best for me.

Favorite song on your playlist?
Hit'em up by Tupac.

What accomplishment are you most proud of? 
The Texas Independence Relay as a solo runner.

Favorite ice cream flavor? 
Blue Bell ice cream without lysteria. 

What trait do you like most about yourself? 
My mental game.It is stronger than a Jedi..(I just can't move things by not touching them,yet)
 

Team TROT Ambassador: Jenn Kirpatrick

Let’s give a big TROT welcome to new ambassador Jenn Kirpatrick! Jenn is a CERTIFIED BADASS as she completed her first IRONMAN 70.3, qualified for Boston, and crushed her first 50k, 50 mile, and 100 mile race in 2017.  Jenn runs with the Renegade Endurance Club, and she will be pacing at Running the Rose  this weekend.

10 Questions with Jenn:

 

What’s the most useless talent you have?

I am an obsessive packer, as far as ultras go.  Now, I feel this is a very useful talent, but my teammates are merciless in making fun of me for all the stuff I bring.

 

What is the dumbest way you have been injured?

Non-running:  I tried to do a flip on rings on a swing set once, and ended up knocking off a piece of bone from the ball of my foot.  It’s still floating around in there, I’ve been told. 

 

Whats the most interesting thing you’ve read or seen this week?

I’ve been reading the book, No Meat Athlete and that is giving me a lot to think about. 

 

What is the most distant place you’ve visited? 

Seattle

 

Favorite running shoes  Road: Adidas Adizero Adios; Trail: Salomon Sense Ride

 

Favorite time of day to run  Middle of the night.  There’s something magical about it.   

 

Favorite song on your playlist Thunderstruck by AC/DC

 

What accomplishment are you most proud of? My 100 mile finish at Brazos Bend, for sure.  But it was the whole package – the race was just the victory lap.  The real transformation happened during training.  Pure awesomeness!!

 

Favorite ice cream flavor   

Isn’t the real question “What is your favorite Blizzard?”  In that case, M&M.

 

What trait do you like most about yourself?   My ability to stay calm and think in stressful situations.  It’s extremely helpful when you are managing unexpected hurdles during a race, but even more so when, let’s say, someone steals your wallet & car keys at a volleyball tournament and you’re 200 miles away from home.   

Team TROT Ambassador: Charles Fisher

The 2018 TROT Ambassador Team is here!  Starting this week, we will profile one outstanding Ambassador so you can get to know them!  We will start our introductions with Charlie Fisher, who is a newbie to the Ambassador Team but a certified PRO to the Houston trail running community.  Enjoy Charlie’s answers to our thought provoking questions below :)

10 Questions with Charlie:

What’s the most useless talent you have?

I can curl my tongue. That is the only thing that comes to mind…Useless I don't know?


What is the dumbest way you have been injured?

Not Running Related - Falling out of a tree and ending up with a broken arm when I was about 9 years old.


What’s the most interesting thing you’ve read or seen this week?

“Really Ugly Shark Tired Of Being Mistaken For Hammerhead” reported by the Onion? Fake news, who knows these things?? It was a semi intriguing read!! Poor ugly shark

What is the most distant place you’ve visited? Innsbruck, Austria

Favorite running shoes

Altra Lone Peak 3.5. I love this shoe, they were my 3rd pair of Lone Peaks. I'll keep buying them until they discontinue them. Gotta love Altras!!


 

Favorite time of day to run

In the morning, right before sunrise. There is nothing like watching the sun come up over the horizon while running. It’s intoxicating. If you are a runner you get it, If not that sucks for you. Sleep tight.

 

Favorite song on your playlist

Mess is Mine - by Vance Joy


What accomplishment are you most proud of?

Oh boy, I’d have to say my first 50 Miler at Brazos Bend this past December. That was a very special day for me, not only for the accomplishment but for the people I got to share it with.
 

Favorite ice cream flavor

Coffee!! A close second is Pistachio

 

What trait do you like most about yourself?

I've been told that I’m very “Go with the flow..” For example if someone asks me….. “Hey, what pace or finish time are you looking for at a race?”… I’ll generally say, “However this body performs today is what I got...” I’m very chill that way and I like to think that is how I am in everyday life. So I suppose I can be fairly chill….Relaxed and out going perhaps?

 

A guide to Habanero.

Habanero Hundred

A guide to not getting Habanero’d?

I wanted to put together a guide for those who are running the Habanero Hundred and a pretty good checklist of what to do if running a hot race in this case high humidity as well. I will reference along the way some blogs, articles and general info.

A great read with this guide is the blog by Julie Koepke who is the only person to ever complete this race 2x so she knows how to get it done. http://www.trailracingovertexas.com/blog/2016/4/21/hard-earned-heat-training-tips

I will break down the guide in 5 separate parts.

1.     Race Week and What to pack?

2.     Race day clothing, preparation, and lubrication.

3.     How to stay cool when it's hot as Hell!

4.     In race Management

5.     Iron Will

 

1.     Race Week and What to Pack-

With any race week, a key would be both nutrition (ie getting proper foods ill leave that up to your own knowledge) and also hydrating early as well. So usually 3 days out which would be Thursday Am is a great start to really focusing on what you are drinking and the electrolytes you are taking in. So starting the race hydrated is a GREAT way not to go into the hole early in the day.

With a race like Habanero, there are many things going for you like short loops, close aid stations, and a familiar loop. There are also some things going against you like HEAT, lots of sweat and irritation. So often times bringing the right things can help to mediate some of those issues.

I tell people especially running in a longer race to pack a couple of pair of everything they really need. Here is a quick start rundown on some packing items.

-Multiple pairs of shoes maybe with a ½ or full size bigger pair for swelling.

-Multiple pairs of socks or at least enough to have 2 fresh pairs and one drying

-3-4 different shirts in case you start to chafe where you never have before.

-2-3 different shorts including for guys ones with NO netting in case of insane chaffing

-A hat or multiple hats (see below) to help reduce exposure

-2-3 Jars of lubricant such as trail toes for any chafing you might have and a roll of tape as well for crazy blisters.

-A bandana, buff and/or arm sleeves (see below) to put ice in to help with the heat.

- Sunscreen

- Some sort of water carrying device ( a minimum of 40 oz is a must even for fast folks)

- A headlamp with a spare or spare battery ready to go.

-Drop bags for the main aid station and also the halfway as well if wanted. Mark it with your BIB and name as well.

- Anything that you need nutritionally that the race doesn't have or a surprise to keep you going (see below)

So that is a quick sheet of what you HAVE to have just to get going on the adventure. Lots of stuff you can add in there like hiking poles, sunglasses and other wants that are personal.

The one last note is that since the race does not start until NOON on a Saturday you should be trying to get as MUCH rest Friday night as you can. You should be able to start the race with a full nights sleep or maybe a bit more if that is what you like. Showing up to the race on little sleep is a recipe for disaster to use the time to rest up.

You can find all of our gear at www.trailracingovertexas.com/store or at the Habanero Hundred Fri-Sat and Sunday. 

 

2.     Race day clothing, preparation, and lubrication-

The race for Habanero starts at Noon or 12:15 depending on the distance. But one thing is for sure is that it will already be HOT and it will already be sunny so preparing before you step up to the plate is important.

            -Race Day Clothing- Much of this is a preference but a good 50/50       (cotton/poly) blend seems to be a clear choice for people. Pam Smith who won western states wrote on how much she wanted the contact on her skin to stay cool vs a shirt like a tech that pushed the sweat away. I would also argue that the more you can cover up in the direct sunlight the better to avoid sunburn and keep the body temp down.  

            -  I think starting the day off with some sort of headwear to minimize exposure is key as well. We made specific hats that block the sun and also have a drape on the back of the neck. If you look below Julie is wearing a wide brim hat that is minimizing sun exposure to the head, neck, ears, and shoulders.

            - Arm sleeves- While most people would see these as a tool for cold weather they are great for hot weather and can serve 2 purposes. The TROT ones have UV protection in them so they will help to block sunlight and they will keep that skin moist with your sweat. Also, you can have an aid station person who is crewing you put some ice cubes in them as well to help with body temp.

-Bandana, Buff or Neck Device- The easiest way to stay cool when its horrible is to keep your neck area as COLD as you can. I will link below but the science is that your blood is moving right there (like your wrists) and getting it cold is beneficial. We sell a 26” cotton TROT bandana that you can fill with a couple scoops of ice, fold it up and tie it around your neck. Jeff Ball wore a buff that we dipped in with ice water each time we saw him. For ladies, a BRA has been known to help in the exact same way so fill it up to say cool.

            -Lubrication can save your day but its starts early and often- I recommend lubing pre race especially on known areas and those feet. The first thing to get wet usually is your socks/shoes from the sheer amount of sweat pouring down. I normally lube my feet heavily and also lube the inside of my socks before every putting them on. I use Trail toes for my application purposes which we sell on race day. As well as my feet I hit the normal spots for me that chafe which is under arm/rib area, inner thighs and the crack. Everybody has different bodies but I can guarantee you that you will CHAFE. When your clothes get wet it's bound to happen. BUT you can prevent it getting bad by starting the race off by being ready for the slightest hot spot and getting your feet in good shape before it all goes down.

So your drop bags are packed, you have all your gear on and ready to go and the time is about to start.

3.     How to stay COOL with its HOT AS HADES A HOLE!

 I love the heat and I love heat training as well. Most people know that I wear hoodies for workouts, I purposely workout in the heat of the day etc. Part of the reason I do this is to make sure I am ready for weeks of work in the heat putting on races in Texas. Its hot as HELL out so you have to be ready. So lets talk about what can help keep you cool.

-Ice bandana/arm sleeves/hat combo- As described above using a hat to shade you, arm sleeves to reduce exposure and ice bandana will all help on exposure.

-Ice early and often- To me starting the race with an ice bandana or ice in your sleeves is smart decisions. It will already be 95+ temps and keeping your core temp down and HR down is one of the most important items you can do.  (see management). So Ice in your hat, on your neck, in your sleeves and in your bra is the way to go as you need it.

-Ice Cold Drinks- Its been proven that slushes help to get your core temp down and are life savers in a race. Habanero has Gatorade slushes and snowcones available at the main aid and Gatorade slushes at the ½ way point. The slushes can also be made with just ice/water same with snowcones. The importance here is to get something really cold in you to help keep that core temp down.

-Ice Baths- At each aid stations are 2 buckets filled with ice water and sponges for you. These can really help to get on your head, neck to help you when your HOT.. PRO TIP—Lean over at the hips (not over the bucket) and have a volunteer ice bath you so that when it drips down it away from your feet. You don’t want to add more water going into your shoes/socks than you need to.

-Hydration is always a key in regulating your body and keeping it moving efficiently. The key to drinking is that you need to drink when your thirsty and need to be taking in electrolytes as well. ( Each person is different but what we do no is that too much water is a bad thing just like too little is). So drink if your are thirsty but not like you are on the desert.

So use the tools you have to stay cool in the race. Ice, Ice Baby!!

 

4.     In Race Management-  Often times in sports you will here people say well they weren’t the most talented but they found a way to win. Well folks finishing this race is a win so managing your day is what you need to do. Julie K for the most part considers herself to be a mid pack runner who ends up finishing the toughest races around. What I see though from the RD is someone who leaves the ego at the door and isn’t afraid to execute a plan.

So with that being said here are my top 5 tips to race management of Habanero Hundred.

1.     Chafe you, Chafe ME- If it starts to hurt, chafe, hinder you than FIX IT NOW. Changing socks, shoes, hitting a blister or adding lube takes seconds or minutes to fix in real time. Our minds think we are wasting time but you wont see that if you don’t finish. Take time to take care of yourself.

2.     Plan for the Aid Station Ahead- As Cal Neff would tell me come into an aid station with a clear view of what you need/want and keep going. Aid stations are great but you want to get what you need and get back to moving on the trails. So before you get there get ready to toss trash, grab a gatorita or what you need. Preparing will actually save you TONS of time in the long run if you aren’t losing 3-5 minutes an aid station.

3.     SLOW DOWN when you need to- So many people take off at Habanero like champagne corks and run at race pace so quickly. The course at 7il has sand right out of the gate so you will be working hard on that footing fast. Chances are your HR will start to go up quick with the heat, sand and push you are making. Be aware of your body and realize the race just started you aren’t running a 5k. So stay calm, move efficiently and don’t waste time.

4.     Make your move at night- At 7-8pm the sun will start to set and for the most part you can remove some items for the sun and you should be focused on capitalizing while its dark. The temp will likely fall into the 70s-80s temperature wise which give you a chance to move. So I would say that for the first 7 hours for you 100k-100m folks it’s time to get in a groove but you should be waiting to kick its ass when the sun fades.

5.     Change of Plans- I think steve monte said it best when he said any mile of Habanero can take you out. I always love the quote of “be like water.” Prepare to change it up, don’t get discouraged if something happens and remain calm. Finishing races is more to do with problem solving that it has to do with running. When I ran snowdrop last year I had to walk it all with a bum knee. After the first day I figured that I need to walk 2 loops 1.5 miles and rest for 5-10 min for my knee to finish. When we did the math it would take me 35 more hours just like that and a 4 hour nap. Well the nap we cut to 45 min since I was losing time and I finished in 54 hours. But my point is that I had to follow a plan to get to the finish even though it was nothing like I planned. Do what you have to do to finish the race!

IRON WILL

I am someone who believes that this game we play is mental. Ive seen people quit a few miles away from a 100 mile finish and ive seen people drag limbs to the end.

But it all comes down to what you bring to the line that morning. Are you receptive to the day? Is your heart clear and ready to accept the trauma it might endure?

Do you have something so meaningful that you can call your WHY? Why am I doing this, what does this mean to mean and what have I sacrificed to be here right now?

That WHY is what at time can get you to take that next step forward in a race like this. It can flip the switch when it gets dark in your mind and you let the negative feed.

So my advice is to show up to that line with your WHY as close to your heart as you can get it. Obsess over it, keep it at the forefront of your mind if needed and hold it dear.

We all have different WHYs in our lives. For me every year I run snowdrop to honor my God son who passed from Pediatric Cancer just a few months before the 1st race. It dosent matter that I have a bum knee or that I cant run around that track. But what I can do is finish the 100 every year for him no matter the pain.

 I will find a way and you must do the same.

The Trail to your Goal - A matter of Perspective

The Trail to Your Goal – A Matter of Perspective

By Tammy Roen


I remember my introduction to trail running and how I made that first leap from pavement to the feel of the earth… the actual earth… beneath my feet.  In my time running, racing and chasing my goals, I’ve had the good fortune to meet many great fellow runners along the trail, so often offering kind and encouraging words to me as they went by.  As I think of the many faces I’ve come to recognize on the trails and at events, and how so many have shared their own goals and dreams with me, I can’t help but note the diversity and the commonalities among runners.  Oh, certainly there are differences in gender, age and other obvious factors, but I’m actually referring to the diversity of motivation and what gets each of us out of bed at 0500 to light up the trail even before the sun does.  For some, it’s all about that desire to compete… to test one’s metal against a field of worthy competitors and ultimately stand on the podium.  For others, it’s simply the satisfaction of completing a course… perhaps checking another box on that bucket list of trails to be run, or improving on a previous time.  For all, it’s a time not just of personal accomplishment, but of enjoying the beauty of nature and accepting the challenges it can present.  I am no exceptional runner!  In fact, if I am ever called an “elite,” it will most certainly be followed by the sound of my alarm, waking me from my dream so I can begin my daily run.  Most events find me in the middle to the back of the pack, depending on my recent training.  Yet, over the years I’ve come to embrace some special joys that can be found there.  Not feeling any time pressure, it’s not unheard of for me to simply stroll along for a bit and become a “Trail Angel” for others who are perhaps at a low point and may really need one.


I was once asked by a friend if I ever placed in races.  I told them that I always placed… sometimes 52nd, but everyone who finishes places somewhere!  For me, I think it would be more accurate to describe my “place” in a run from the perspective of what I was able to impart to others and what I was able to take from the day.  I’ve admittedly lost the trail at times, but I’ve never lost heart.  I will always stand in awe of those runners who lead the pack and tame the trails like I may never quite be able to, but if I can stop along the trail and offer assistance to someone who is cramping, sick, or sitting on the side of the trail wanting to stop, there is a special type of good feeling I will take away from helping them out… and perhaps even a new friendship.  Sometimes, all that’s needed are a few words of encouragement to persuade them to just walk with me to the next aid station and reassess things there.  In fact, that may be all it takes for them to find the motivation to finish their race.  I love sharing the knowledge that I’ve gained over the years regarding heat training, nutrition, gear opinions, or how to recover or prevent some injuries as we continue along the trail together.   A shared journey is always an opportunity to trade information about other courses, upcoming races, or the benefits of volunteering with an organization such as TROT, which is a fairly recent endeavor for me, but one I have thoroughly enjoyed.  It gives me great pleasure to cheer people on throughout the race via high fives, kind or motivating words or just telling them “Come on let’s do the next mile together!”  Perhaps I’ve found my calling out there while sweating and trotting along toward the back of the pack.  For all of you who run the trails, I would simply say this – whether you are just starting out, or whether you are nipping at the heels of that elite level you’ve worked so hard to achieve, always take time for a little introspection!  You just may find that the trail to your goal is lined with the dreams of many… and they are absolutely amazing!

The Wild West- Crazy Desert Trail Race

The Wild West

Guest Blogger: Christina Pierce

 

The Crazy Desert Trail Race was crazy enough that it deserves a written race report. I am a relatively well versed Gulf Coast area trail runner, so the thought of traipsing off to West Texas to run a trail was a little unnerving. I would be completely out of my element, but I was ready for a challenge and ready to spread my wings and tackle 100k out in the desert.

                I arrived Friday evening just in time to catch the race briefing. Rachel was there to give us the important details. She seemed to put everyone’s concerns at ease- especially those about bathrooms (just use the bushes!), snakes (don’t step on them), and the large cattle that roamed the park. Rachel said, “Oh they just want snacks. Just make yourself big and yell- SHOO COW”. I figured those details might come in handy later, so I tucked them away in my mind just in case. I picked up my packet, said hello to a few friends and scurried off to take care of my race prep before it got too late.

                The next morning I awoke to a crisp, cool desert morning and gathered at the start line with about 50 other runners. It was quiet and dark except for the glow of the head lamps. Fist bumps, high fives, and words of encouragement were exchanged. The next thing I knew we were bounding off in the dark. The trail began with a tight bit of single track bordered on both sides by cactus that gave little room to pass. I started my race in a pack close to the leaders but comfortably behind them. We had a good pace and stayed close enough that our headlamps kept the ground beneath us in a glow of light. The trail snaked its way through the desert while the sun ever so slowly began to peak over the horizon. We were climbing and descending, and I couldn’t wait to see the beauty I could feel was surrounding us.

                At the first aid station, I managed to get in and out relatively quickly. I dropped off the extra shirt I had on, refilled my bottle and got to work. The small pack of runners I had been in managed to disperse as we each took our time taking care of business at the aid station. The sun was starting to rise, and I was just in awe of the views. Every switchback or crest of a hill gave us another beautiful vista. Most of the time the running was on buttery smooth single track, but occasionally it was broken by rocky climbs and descents. I found my body being stressed in ways it hadn’t been before, but I was loving at how well my legs responded. I could power up one hill and bound down the other side like a kid at the park.

                About midway through what was supposed to be a 20ish mile loop I began closely keeping tabs on the time on my trusty Timex. It was cool and I was running strong, but it just didn’t seem like I was moving fast enough. I had hoped that my first loop would take four hours, but that goal was slipping through my hands as I closed in on five hours. Thoughts of not making the cutoff were bouncing around in my mind. Should I just drop now? You burned the boats, right? The start/finish was finally in sight, and I knew I had to just get in and out. No stopping. No excuses. I flew in with a great crowd cheering all of the runners on. Unexpectedly, Kelsey stopped me and explained that the course was longer than expected. I was confused at first, but then relief washed over me as I realized my five hour first loop was great. I was more determined than ever to get back out there and get this next loop done.

                I left the main aid station with a new skip in my step. The sense of defeat that I had come in with was now gone and replaced with determination. My goal for this loop was to keep a solid steady pace. The desert heat would prove to be the theme for the second loop. It was H.O.T. hot and there was no hiding from it. There was no shade, barely a breeze, and the dry desert air wicked away any moisture you tried to use to keep cool. The distance between aid stations proved to be a challenge as well. At each aid station I would drink a full bottle and refill again before heading out, but it still was not enough. An ice soaked TROT buff would be my best friend for the second loop.

                I managed to catch up to Mark Henn on the biggest climb on the course. I took the time to chat with him a bit and share in our suffering. After a few minutes, Mark shared with me that he was pretty sure I was the 3rd place female- a spot I don’t think I have ever been in in an ultra. Julie Koepke was in the lead, a lady in red (Janis Jenkins) was within eyeshot, and then there was me. I told Mark that I guess I better get going and decided to get to work to chase the podium for the first time. It was the hottest part of the day, but I did my best to keep moving. At one point I managed to move into second place, but near heat exhaustion left me to relegate myself to third as Ali Sloan passed me before the end of the loop.                  

                As I came into the main aid station Rob met me and let me know I was in fact in 3rd place and twenty minutes behind second. Rob and Amy Zmolek at the aid station helped me get what I needed (which included a second water bottle!) and sent me back out to the cheers of the awesome spectators. Thirteen miles was all that stood between me and a podium finish. The boats were burned in the hot desert sun, and I was ready to get the job done. The sun was starting to set, and I was looking forward to some cooler temperatures.

                The final loop flew by in a flash. As the temps dropped my speed increased. I flew across the beautiful single track and bounded up the climbs knowing that I didn’t have to leave any gas in the tank. As the dark started to settle across the desert I knew that I had to keep my eyes peeled for snakes and rocks. I was busy patting myself on the back that I had made it through the day without falling on the technical trails. After all, if you fell out here you would probably end up wearing a purple helmet the rest of the year like Gordon Ainsleigh. No sooner had I finished my self-congratulations when my foot caught a rock and down I went. I laid on the ground cursing and trying to get up before the rattlesnakes descended upon me. I couldn’t die like that. I rolled around for a bit as my abs locked down into a wave of muscle cramps from my efforts to try to sit up.  After a bit more cursing I was on my feet again and moving forward.

                The final hurdle in the last few miles was a cold front that blew in like a windy freight train. I only had about four miles to go, but the wind was blowing the desert sand into my eyes and pushing me back from my goal. I pulled out an extra flashlight, tucked my head down, and pressed forward. My eyes were trained on the ground even harder. Another fall like the last one could end my race. With the winds pushing me every direction I suddenly looked up to see a large cow barreling down the path straight for me. I panicked. What did Rachel say to tell the cows? I couldn’t remember. I stepped to the side to avoid getting mowed down. The cows were undeterred. I began to wave my arms and the words finally came, “SHOO COW! SHOO COW! SHOO COW!”. One by one cow after cow veered off the trail just to my left as they headed for cover from the coming storm. I got back on the trail and pushed on a little harder with an extra jolt of adrenaline from my big cow encounter.

                Before I knew it I could hear the cheers and cowbells ringing at the finish line. My eyes searched for the lights of the main aid station. Once it was in sight I turned on the after burners and flew to the finish. Rob was there waiting with his customary big smile, big hug, and high fives. It was a moment I had waited all day for as he hung that belt buckle around my neck. I think he was surprised as I was that I managed to snag that 3rd place female finish. I caught my breath for a few moments, exchanged some trail tales, and soaked it all in before the wind threatened to blow down everything in its path and sent us all scurrying for cover.

                My entire race was magical in a really difficult blister-covered feet, sunburned, heat exhausted kind of way that only ultra-runners seem to understand. The terrain and views were absolutely breathtaking. The volunteers were second to none and took such great care of all of the runners- even setting up an impromptu aid station so runners could have much needed water. San Angelo State Park staff was friendly and welcoming to all of the runners. The wildlife was absolutely WILD. And finally, Rob and Rachel gave us runners yet another chance to chase rainbows, make memories, and let our friendships grow. TROT supports its runners whether they are elite or back of the packers. TROT is family and it’s why I will always come back again and again.