Green Lakes Endurance Runs: DNF

I suppose some day I will get used to not finishing a race. I do not say that lightly, but it happens often in ultraraces. What many people do not understand is that the beautiful things shown on the internet are often a compilation of many fails, many loses, many DNFs.

Coming from the road, where people do not DNF as often (because you really don’t have to walk that far from the finish) it is very hard to get used to. During half marathons, there isn’t really enough time for too many things to go wrong that would prevent one from finishing.

In ultra races, that is simply something that happens often, actually it is expected. I recently heard about a 100 mile race down in New Mexico that had a 5 person expected finishing rate. Not 5%, 5 people.

Not finishing an ultra often times is not a test of will or wimping out, it is an injury or the physical inability to run. If you cannot run or move forward, it is wise to stop.

That long introduction is basically my way of saying I DNFed my race today. I participated in the GLER 50K and stopped after 3 loops of the 7.7 mile course. To sum it up, I am happy that I stopped (after everyone convinced me to stop) but feel guilty for feeling happy about that.

Shouldn’t I feel more remorseful? Granted, it took a lot of condoling to get me to pull the plug. I was ready to limp for as long as I could on the last loop. After trying to do so just to get across the timing chip, my father told me I should stop. The RD, when I came over to say I was dropping said “Yup, I pulled you 20 minutes ago. It isn’t worth it today for you.”

So there’s that. I DNFed and honestly, it sucks, but I feel less ashamed about it because I know it was right.

Ok, back to the course and the race.

The 7.7 mile loop is run 4 times around Green Lake State Park outside of Syracuse. The weather at the start was perfect. 48 degrees and clear skies. The race began at 7AM and Laurel Leone (a very fast road racer) and I led together for the first 1.5 loops. It was well marked and we were told to “keep the lake on the right.” Which I took very literally and actually missed a turn early, but straightened myself out pretty fast.

On the descend at about mile 5, I felt something in my gluteal and back muscle twinge. It wasn’t a pop or anything, and I was running 7 minute miles feeling great, so I figured it would work itself out like things do sometimes in ultras.

Long story short, it didn’t. It kept getting worse, so much so I almost dropped after loop 2. However, I thought it was my negative thinking about it, and decided to press on. Going up hill was fine, it was the going down where each step brought tears to my eyes. I had no idea what I did, but it was becoming evidently clear that not only should I slow down, I needed to stop.

I struggled to the last aid station on loop 3 and saw a familiar face, John Donaldson, who told me I looked kind of bad. Well, yes, I was crying and debating with myself whether to stop after loop 3, stop now or try to walk to last loop.

I hobbled the last three miles to the finish and saw my dad, who was immediately concerned. I was in tears because I wanted to keep going. I asked him if he would be willing to walk the last loop. He said he would, but shouldn’t I sit down or something? I was afraid if I sat down I wouldn’t get back up.

Someone gave me some kind of IcyHot to put on the pain, but I think in my mind, I knew if I couldn’t even walk up the hill to the aid station, I was done.

I tried so hard. But it was not my race to get injured on. I was basically pulled from the race. It hurts, I feel down, but it was a great long training run. I did not fall. I ran the downhills until I couldn’t.

I may have DNFed but I am far from finished.


Thank you to Red Newt Racing, Strong Hearts Vegan Power, On Running, Barney Butter and Rabbit for all your support.

Thank you Wekdeb, for getting me here and for our future adventures.

I do not Escape the Voices in my Head

I’ve read on many other runner’s, especially ultrarunner’s blogs, that running is an escape for them. It quiets their anxious mind, it silences the thoughts, problems fade away.

I used to think this was my story as well. After I started running a few years ago till now, my life has gotten so much better. I respect myself and my family, I am strong physically and emotionally and I do not tear myself down as much. I believed running was eliminating the bad feelings, the mistrust, the self-hatred.


I believed running stopped the running thoughts. Running quieted the voice inside my head telling me I wasn’t good enough. Running allowed me to get away from those things.

My real story is different. Running has not stopped the voices. Running has not helped me hide from them.


Running allows me to face the voices, acknowledge them, and then allow them to pass. Running helps me “sit” with or hold space for those voices. It challenges me to be uncomfortable in my body and my mind. It holds me accountable to what I know to be true.

Running keeps the voices there until I’ve faced them enough times and convinced myself of their lies. Then it allows them to fade away, occasionally reappearing in moments of vulnerability or exhaustion, only to be fought again. Largely however, they are dealt with, proven false and invisible to me.

What I’ve realized is that the voices never go away, but my response to them has changed. I do not run away from the voices because some of them are true.

I was dishonest last week.

I didn’t run this correctly and I knew it.

I didn’t complete some job to the fullest potential, it was simply “good enough”.

These thoughts are true. The voices are right. Yet, they do not define my person. They prove that I am human, that sometimes my choices are not the best, but I am still doing my best in the grand scheme of life.

When you think about it, I could never “run away” from these voices, because they are me. Running has helped me accept these voices, realize I might have made a bad decision, but that I can move on from it.


The voices do not tell me who I am. Running allows me to see hear those voices, see my flaws and move on.

It is never an escape, it is a path toward freedom, voices included.

Did I Run Today, Strava?

I have a solid relationship with Strava. Strava is an app that tracks all logistics and data pertaining to my running. The only thing it does not record is how I felt during the activity. That, I either log on a shared Google sheet or just talk to my coach about it.


This morning, I got up and headed out the door for my long run of 17 miles. I have not run that long since Escarpment, but I wasn’t too concerned about being able to cover the distance. It was an easier run with the goal of taking in some nutrition and water to practice.

I’ve felt some doubt since Escarpment. On paper, my training looks legit and I am on track. I have been figuring out my niggles and hopefully I am over that part for now. Getting up each morning with the confidence that I will not be plagued by injury is such a blessing. I often forget, when I am discouraged or simply tired, of how lucky I am right now. I get up knowing I will put one foot in front of the other.

However, lingering doubt remains in my mind for reasons I cannot explain. I’m tired, yes, but I’ve lived that way before. I sleep well most nights, I get up feeling relatively rested, and really my life is good. Running simply just isn’t the high life right now.


I’m not saying I am burned out, I know what that feels like. I think I am happy in other areas of my life and that is overshadowing running. I am not using running to feel a sense of purpose or happiness. My life is full in other ways. Because I am not using running to get a high or numb out, I feel more things when I am out there.

I wonder why this easy run doesn’t feel like Christmas (um…hills are hard no matter how slow you go)

I wonder why sometimes I feel like I am going backward, when really I could slow down more.

I actually look forward to other parts of my day, so sometimes I am glad when my run is done so that I can see my friends or get to work.

I am living a full life, and I love that. Running just simply is a focus that rather than being everything, is simply a part of everything. Right now, I am feeling everything, but also feel nothing. I feel the steps on the ground, the stiff legs, the lactic acid, but I also let runs go by and don’t think about them.


This morning, I ran 17 miles. That is a lot for me. 17 miles and 2 hours of my life. I remember feeling the uncomfort in my legs, mostly due to yesterday’s workout, and wondering if I would eventually get into the zone.

Well, I think I did, but it took 8 miles and a salted watermelon Clif chomp to get me there. The second half of my run felt easier and I got into some sort of rhythm.

However, I barely remember this run. It was an out and back route, mostly covered by trees and foggy. Not too much to look at. Actually, the only thing I can remember was all the deer and a huge bee hive bigger than my torso. The running, I don’t remember the things I looked at, but I remember how my legs felt. No it wasn’t easy or blissful like I imagined, as I imagine everytime my schedule says “easy” or “recovery”. I forget that that means I am taking it slowly because my legs did some work the day before.

My legs haven’t forgotten the work I’ve done even if my mind has.

I started this article talking about Strava. Say what you want about all the negative stuff that happens there. The comparisons, the KOMs, FKTs, and such. But looking at my Strava reminds me what I did this morning, and yesterday morning, and the day before. Because when my mind chooses to forget or manage the discomfort, my watch keeps track.

I am not on Strava to look at anyone else’s data but my own. I don’t need to copy the workout’s of elites (hello injuries) because I trust my plan and my process.

I am on Strava for runs like today. For days when I wonder why my legs just want a break or feel stiff. I look at MY data on MY profile and remind myself how far I’ve come.

So did my run happen? Yes it did. Strava said so.

Unapologetically Myself

The other night I was telling my roommate about working for my mom and how much I enjoy the time we’ve been spending together. She stood open mouthed, because she knows how difficult our relationship had been. I met Lesley through running and those types of conversations would come up.

Most times I would brush them off by saying, “Yeah, I don’t really talk to them much…” but eventually she got the story out of me. She agreed that it probably wasn’t the best idea to regularly see my family members, as it was toxic for me.

Recently, as I’ve mentioned, the relationships within my family, at least for me, have improved considerably. I now work for my mom and go to their house on a consistent basis. It is a cliche, but if you had told me this would happen a few years ago, I would have gotten mad and said NEVER. I would not have laughed, I would have gotten angry. It was that bad.

My roommate asked me what had changed. After giving her the surface level reasons:

“They are starting to understand me”

“I’m not angry anymore”

I thought about it on a more deeper level.

I decided to be unapologetically myself. I stopped seeing my hobbies and lifestyle as something I had to put a disclaimer on or defend. Those things simply are me and they come with the package. Making that mental shift for me released any pressure I had felt when being around my family. I used to think I had to have a reason I went on a run or a reason I was eating vegan cheese.

Of course, I had those, but I stopped needed to say them at every instance. I just did it. It became my normal. I accepted it as normal, finally, and now my family does too.

In years past, if my dad for example asked why I did a race or something, I would go into some long answer trying to explain every detail. Now, I simply say that it’s fun and I enjoy it.

When asked about why I eat the vegan chicken salad instead of regular, I just say I want to or I like it.

I wondered why I felt I had to explain every choice I made. The emotional, physical or spiritual significance when a simple “I like it.” is sufficient.

Sometimes I do expound upon my running adventures and, because it’s normal for me, it has become normal for my parents as well. Just yesterday, I sent my mom a picture of my finish line photo from Escarpment and she texted back:

“U don’t look too beat up yet.”

This was the picture as I held back tears and contemplated existence. She gets it, even if she would not want to do it.

We talk about food, weight (yes, even those issues) and basically most things. I feel so fortunate to have made it to this point with her and my dad. All I needed to do was normalize myself, feel confident in my choices, and things would start to fall into place. It’s not perfect, but really, imperfection makes life more interesting.

Easy Almond Banana Bread [vegan, gluten-free]

I receive products from Barney Butter in which to make recipes and enjoy. I think you will love their products as well, so feel free to head over and check them out!

I missed having an oven at my old apartment. Sure, I learned how to make many traditionally baked items in my toaster oven and microwave, but it simply was not the same.

I remember when I visited my current apartment for the first time to discuss the leasing agreement, my [now] roommate Lesley was baking banana bread.

It smelled HEAVENLY.

She pulled out the loaves just as I was leaving to go to a bridal shower, but seeing and smelling that bread solidified what I was going to bake first thing once I moved in.

Last week, I moved into this apartment and I cannot believe it has taken me this long to bake! Actually, I sort of can because I’ve been a bit busy at my jobs, running and getting my bearings back in Ithaca [reading the Outlander book series obsessively].

It seems all I needed to do was get a little push from Lesley “Please use up all the frozen bananas in the freezer” and a bit of extra time [between book chapters] to put my apron back on.

This recipe uses bananas, almond flour and almond meal conveniently making it gluten free as well as completely vegan. There is an oil free option which I have used previously and it tastes good but well…oil is just my jam so I use it.

I used Barney Butter almond flour and almond meal for this recipe as I find the quality just enhances the taste.

Even though I work at a bread and bagel shop, there is nothing quite like banana bread for breakfast in the morning. My co-workers quite agree and you will too! Make this bread and send me a shout out on Instagram!


Easy Almond Banana Bread

From at

Prep: Cook: Yield: 8Total:

You'll Need...

  • 2 mashed ripe bananas (about 1 cup)
  • 1 T flax meal
  • 3 T water
  • 1 t almond extract
  • 1 t vanilla extract
  • 1/4 cup oil (or applesauce)
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar, plus more for topping
  • 1 1/2 cups almond flour
  • 3/4 cup almond meal
  • 1 t baking powder
  • 1/2 t baking soda
  • 1/4 t salt
  • 2 cups of almond slivers, divided

Directions

  1. Preheat over to 350 degrees. Grease an 8 inch load pan.
  2. Combine flax meal and water and set aside.
  3. In a large bowl, combine bananas, almond and vanilla extracts, oil and sugar, stirring until evenly, but not overly mixed.
  4. Add flax meal and water mixture to the bowl and stir to combine.
  5. Add the flour, almond meal, baking powder, baking soda and salt to the same bowl.
  6. Stir so there are no flour lumps, but still lumpy.
  7. Stir in 1 1/2 cups of almond slivers.
  8. Pour into a greased 8 inch loaf pan.
  9. Top with the rest of the almond and extra brown sugar if desired.
  10. Bake for 60-65 minutes or until a knife stuck in the middle comes out clean.