29 December 2013

More to Explore at 44…

“There is a fountain of youth: it is your mind, your talents, the creativity you bring to your life and the lives of people you love. When you learn to tap this source, you will truly have defeated age.”
– Sophia Loren

Here’s to another year above ground – clink clink – and what a year it has been! This year I ran two marathons along with nine ultras ranging in distance from 31 to 85 miles. Five of those ultras were at least 48 miles or more. My Garmin says I logged over 1,500 miles and 273,000 ft of elevation gain in 2013. Dang.

Other than when my first child was born, it’s hard to imagine a year full of more change and adventure than this one. I feel incredibly blessed and lucky to have legs that work, mountains to play in, friends to run with, my husband's support and the flexibility of schedule to enjoy the trails. I'm grateful for those I've met in the ultrarunning community that want to keep exploring the wild places and their own limits. I've long felt like a 25 year old in a middle aged body and for once, I don't feel I'm alone in my need to pursue these sorts of physical challenges. There are so many mothers over 50 that are running strong with no thoughts of stopping, I can't help but be inspired. 
Deb Pero* - bonafide Hardrocker
Marvelous Mimi* - Record-Setting Granny
Meghan Arbogast* - The Queen
To name a few.

Just 'cause there's snow on the roof doesn't mean there's not a fire inside.” 
– Bonnie Hunt

I’ve been reading a lot of Year-In-Review blog posts the past couple of weeks but had no particular inclination to post one of my own, mainly because I have already chronicled it thoroughly during the past 12 months. My offseason however – which began three weeks ago – has given rise to reflection as I look ahead to 2014. Not running (along with a birthday and new year fast approaching) leads to contemplation about running and life in general.

It’s clear I’ve tapped into something that has me wanting to explore the limits of what I’m capable of as an ultrarunner. While I don’t expect to run as many ultras in 2014 as I did this year, I really want to see just how well I can perform with proper training. I’m not “a natural” when it comes to endurance running – my large muscle mass is better suited for sprinting. But I prefer the longer distances, so I’ll stubbornly work to make myself better at them. Could I eventually become a mid-packer? It’s anyone’s guess. That’s what I want to discover though -- my potential.

The challenge in 2014 is not just pushing my limits athletically; it's figuring out how to train and race when finances are tight and my future in the workforce is hazy. With no positions locally in my specific field and the closest opportunities an hour away, it seems I need to make a shift of some kind. The kind of opportunities that abounded for me back in 90's and early 00's seem to have disappeared as I've seen nothing in the past three years that resembles them. While I am capable of doing many jobs, the pay has to justify the additional childcare costs that are required. This is why you won’t see me working as a barista at Starbucks or selling shoes at the local running store.

It may be that when we no longer know what to do
we have come to our real work,
and that when we no longer know which way to go
we have come to our real journey.
The mind that is not baffled is not employed.
The impeded stream is the one that sings.
- Wendell Berry

I'm called to work and use my natural abilities, strengths and skills to make a contribution to the culture. I'm just not sure where I will do that, outside of the home. I have a few ideas brewing that I'm going to pursue. I get a lot of satisfaction from taking care of my family and managing the household affairs -- keeping things running smoothly. It may be that this is my calling for now, along with spending more time with my kids.
Hoarfrosted Trees
So, I’m learning how to navigate through this season of my life. As a planner, I'm being stretched to live each day in the present, appreciating its gifts and opportunities, rather than fearfully imagining a future disaster. It’s easy for me to imagine a series of cause and effects that has our family living in a cardboard box under the overpass, as silly as that sounds. Balancing the strong desire to pursue my running goals against the growing need to get back to work has been really difficult. As you can see from my sidebar, I want to finish my first 100 miler in Sept. It’s hard to plan that far in advance not knowing how flexible my schedule or finances will be. So, there’s a few question marks in my mind as to whether I’ll get to all those races this year or not, but I’ll do my damnedest to do so and try not to make too much of it if I need to take a step back. The races aren’t going anywhere.

So what have I been doing these past few weeks of not running? Cycling on a trainer for starters. I’m doing four 90 minute sessions per week, aiming for 90 rpms and ~145 -150 HR. Additionally, I’m doing some core work (planks, situps, bridges) and hip/leg stability exercises (single leg squats, deadlifts, lunges) and various yoga poses to increase my hip and general lower body flexibility. All of this is useful in combatting common running injuries, such as the bursitis I’m pretty sure I had by November.

I’ve registered for some shorter local races in Jan/Feb that will supplement the speedwork I’ll be doing each week. The first race is in two weeks (7 miler), so in honor of my birthday, I kicked off a new season by running easy for 44 minutes and with the exception of an SI joint niggle, felt great. Looking forward to adding some dirt to my workout each week, along with the cycling.

Scenes from today's jaunt around Ute Valley:

Happy Trails,


*Photos courtesy of Chris Black, Mimi Anderson & Meghan Arbogast.


  1. Happy Birthday, Shelby!

    You might want to consider running the 50K at Jemez instead of the 50...it's awfully close to your 100 and the 50 takes it out of you, just ask Deb she ran it last year. I think She's running the 50K this year.
    Best of luck with the training and the injury, you're on a good path.

    1. Hi Steve, I'm really wanting to get a 50 done sometime in the prior month so I'm not going from 30 - 100. I'm hoping that I'll recover sufficiently during the three weeks in between, like I did between pacing 48 at Wasatch and The Bear. Since I ran very little, I felt fresh by the time the three weeks had passed.

      Will we possibly see you at the Colorado Sps fat ass? It's on, you know!

  2. Best wishes for a successful 2014, Shelby. See you at Fat Ass Jan 18?

    1. Oh yes, Lori... I just saw JT's post on the CRUD site. I'll probably do the shortened version since I won't be doing big miles until mid-late Feb. I look forward to seeing you again. I'm signed up for the PPRR winter series as well. :-)