2014 Tahoe Rim Trail 100 Race Report


The Tahoe Rim Trail 100 Mile Endurance Run. TRT100. “A glimpse of heaven, a taste of hell.” Whatever you call it, the breathtaking course which spreads over the sierras is delightfully punishing. With approximately 22,000’ of vertical climbing and an equal amount of descent, all runners get to feel the burn of lactic acid coursing through their quads as a constant counterpart to the burn in their lungs from sucking precious and scarce oxygen from the thin air at higher altitude.


This is the race which my wife and I hoped to get the chance to experience when we entered the lottery. This is the race which allowed us to train with so many friends throughout the long winter and spring months who were either gunning for TRT or Western States. This is the race for which I played a crafty game of “dodge the injury” for the better part of a year, building up from a femoral stress fracture while avoiding another physical disaster. This is a race which will break you down and force you to face who you are at your most basic, stripped down form. It’s a journey which every soul who steps out there is fortunate to undertake.


The starting area was sizzling. The 100M crowd started a full hour before the 50M and 50K runners, so it was just a huge mob of restless runners spastically cheering, hugging, and impatiently waiting to begin a long journey. The energy was insane, and every time I bumped into someone I knew (which was about every five feet) I noticed the same look in their eyes, a mixture of apprehension and excitement. We all knew that whatever lay ahead, we were in for one hell of an experience.

Start Gang

Soon, we all started the first 6 mile climb. A few began conserving immediately, but by and large we were too thrilled to finally be racing to think of walking. During this section I saw an incredible amount of friends! Deirdre cruised by with her signature beaming smile. Scott flew by feeling great. (I couldn’t believe it, since he had run Western States just three weeks earlier. That guy is a beast.) Our good friend Helen, who is one of the sweetest and most generous people I know, ran with us for a bit before speeding off to run a phenomenal first 100M. Laura and I kept a moderate pace, letting our legs warm up gradually and our lungs get used to their challenging task for the day (and night, and day again).


As we chugged along through the forest we could hear loud cracks. POP….POP……POP! They sounded like gunshots, which oddly would not be a new experience running up there. I was trying to listen for how close they were when I found that they were not gunshots at all! We turned a corner, sprawled out into a clearing, and were confronted by a man with a bullwhip riding a 10’ unicycle and a fortune teller, welcoming us to Hobart Aid Station! They were fantastic, and the aid tent had been dressed up like a circus tent, with all characters present but clowns. There were FOUR TABLES full of food, and I grabbed several things in an effort to stay ahead of calorie burn.


I gave myself permission to be annoyed with how long it was taking to warm up, and looked forward to the section ahead. This is where it gets rocky, and you hug the sides of hills as you ascend to lofty views and higher elevation. We left the station, ran about five hundred feet, and I felt a problem. “Hold on a sec,” I gurgled, and dove toward a nearby stump. I completely emptied my stomach, not ten miles into the race. I briefly feared a miserable 30+ hours of solid puking ahead, but as usual I felt a lot better after the stomach reset. It’s the kind of sudden nausea I only get from altitude. No rhyme or reason to when it happens; it just happens. I stood up, said, “I’m good, let’s go!” and we resumed right where we’d left off, cruising along comfortably and soaking in the immensity of the gorgeous world around us.

Hobart Vista

Tunnel Creek was the first time we saw our crew, and it was amazing! Leslie, Erik, and Megan had hiked in three miles with our gear so that they could see us for two minutes. They sprayed us down with sunscreen, bug spray, and Tri-Slide, chatting and asking all the right pointed questions about how we were doing so far. In a flash we were launching out of Tunnel Creek and down the endless luge into the Red House Loop, and it was only 6 miles until we saw them again as we climbed out. There is one irrefutable truth about a good crew: if you find yourself grinding out a long climb, seeing their beautiful faces in the distance gives your body a sudden surge of energy. I still felt awkward and disjointed, but I was hopeful that soon I’d warm up.

Return from RHL

Tunnel Laura Smile

Tunnel Puke or Lube

Laura and I kept a good pace on our climb up to Bull Wheel, which we passed on our way to our favorite part of the course, the Tyrolian downhill. As we climbed higher, we expected to feel steadily worse. As we gained more altitude we both felt more tired and out of breath, but I finally clicked into a good rhythm and settled into a nice groove! It only took 27 miles, dammit! We ran with Tina Hyde for a bit, who was going strong and went on to earn a big ol’ bag of redemption at the finish line. I began to get a headache, but it disappeared once we rollercoastered our arses down the next four mile descent.

DP day arrival

At the bottom we rolled into the bustling party which was the Diamond Peak Aid Station at mile 30. We got to see our parents for the first time, and they lavished us with attentive care. One could not ask for a better crew than we had for this race. Stan, Charlotte, Anne, Leslie, Erik, Megan, you are the absolute best. In the craziness of that huge station, packs got filled, sunblock got sprayed, Ensure got guzzled, gel flasks got replaced, and we got tons of hugs and high fives. It was also wonderful to see unexpected buddies like the Carbonis and Mr. Brantley. It seemed that everywhere I turned, there was a familiar face. Laura cracked the whip and we took off, stopping to get doused by the hosemaster on our way out. The next two miles climb 2,000’ up a ski slope, and the reflecting heat from the white sand was not going to help.

DP day hangout

DP day climb

We gripped our poles, broke it down into smaller segments, and proceeded to grind it out. At one point a guy running the 50M caught up to us and started chatting between gasps, focusing on anything other than what our legs were doing. We rounded a corner and he let out an obscenely loud, “HOLY FUCK!!!”

There are something like 37 false summits on that climb, and it is ridiculous. However, I succeeded in drinking 5 gulps of tailwind every time we paused. By the top I was extremely happy about the calories I held in my belly but I was hot. So damn hot. I guzzled a whole Solo cup of water at the top, but as we trotted away I immediately regretted it. Again, I dove for the side of the trail and heaved my guts out for a good couple of minutes. I mean really wretching. That’s just the way I do it, all or nothing. For the rest of the race various strangers would approach and marvel at how well I had bounced back. “I thought you were a goner!” seemed to be a popular sentiment. I did feel better, but I worried about all those calories now slowly saturating the ground instead of my innards.


By this point I was feeling like a well tuned car, purring along the trails with ease despite having a problem with fuel intake. The next ten or so miles were very pleasant, and we talked a lot, picking up other runners and forming a kind of train up to Snow Valley Peak, the highest point of the course. A storm was clearly moving in fast, and the highest point is no place to be when lightning hits, so we laid it down and rushed off of that mountain as fast as we could! It’s a good thing, because as soon as we got just below the tree line the top started to get struck. The flashes were blinding and the thunder shook my bones. Rain was now falling, but we barely noticed in our haste to get away from the damn electrical death beams shooting down from above! As we met up with our trail buddy Karen the hail began. I did my best to calm her down while thunder boomed like cannon fire, but the truth is that it was a scary situation. We ran together all the way to the 50M turnaround.

Spooner 50 rain

The 50 mile point was insane. There were those finishing their 50 mile races and those with 50 more to go, so the mood was a mix of relaxed celebration and determined tenacity, with a healthy dose of manic pit crew action. As I hiked up the last little climb into the station, my dad cheered loudly from under his Raiders poncho and the rest of the amazing family crew was not far away. Megan wrapped me in a hearty tacklehug and my friend Matt ordered me to down some hot soup.

Spooner Soup

I sat to reset my body, mind, and gear for the next 50 miles, only to realize that I didn’t really NEED to reset. I was ready. I felt comfortably warmed up by the first half and was confident going into the second. We were about 45min behind our projected pace but I felt good about the steady level of effort we had been employing. It was sustainable, and that’s the whole point. Laura and I both guzzled some Ensure/coffee mix , and as I fiddled with my shoes, I noticed two friends sandwiching Laura in a hug burrito to keep her warm. The weather was horrendous, but here were countless people willingly toiling in the elements for others. It was spectacular to see.

Spooner 50 Sitting

We shot out of the Start/Finish and down the trail with our first pacer, Tom, trying to fight the shivers and warm ourselves from the inside. Tom is a beast. Tom ran sub-24 at WS100, then showed up to pace us 30 miles through the night. Tom is also like a goddam human stopwatch, and as we chatted about everything from novels to footwear, he led us on a pace which completely shaved off those 45 minutes by the time we hit Tunnel Creek. Laura had started throwing up and I was getting worried about her being able to run on fewer and fewer calories for any duration, but here we were, flying through the night.


The Red House Loop, despite being the lowest point in altitude, is probably the most mentally draining aspect of the whole race. It is a long steep downhill, a long boring uphill, then a really steep uphill back up to Tunnel. Tom pulled out a genius ploy from his bag of ultra tricks and kept us going in 40 pace blocks, with 10 second breaks. We churned out all the climbing this way, and picked up a few tagalongs. We were later told that Tom’s Train was the only thing that got some of those people through Red House!


Tom did his best to keep us on track, but we slowed progressively during the night. After running for 20 hours straight, it’s easy to get tired in that 1-4am window. Really fucking tired. Add in the fact that neither of us could stomach any solid food, and the energy levels were at a 10-foot-deep-pit kind of low. Trusty Tom still got us to mile 80 right at our goal time, but Laura had been puking for the last ten hours, I had been raging my own internal battle against the vomit reflex, and our legs were feeling the fact that they had covered 80 miles. The night can be a dark time for the soul.


When we entered the ski lodge aid station, our crew swarmed like concerned and loving bees. They took our packs and did everything, while Laura and I slumped into chairs, trying to muster up the gumption to stand up and take on the 2,000’ ascent waiting just outside. I wanted to bear hug Tom and thank him, but he had already disappeared into the crowd. I tried to eat soup. Gross. Dad handed me Ensure/coffee. Not bad. I drank what I could, feeling guilty for not downing the whole thing and thankful for the wonderful people in my life. I looked over and caught Laura’s eye. We sat looking at each other for several seconds of shared exhaustion, pain, and understanding. We were both feeling hollowed out and broken down, but this was what we were after. Hardships breed the strength to endure. Strength breeds humility and gratitude. The journey celebrates the love of life and the courage to live it fully.


Megan yelled at us to get in gear and we shuffled out the door with the goal of reaching the top of the slope by sunrise. I had my doubts but was ready to surrender the planning to someone else, and I trust the fantastic Miss Lacey. She knew better than to trust our sense of what we felt was doable, and demanded more from us on that hill than I thought was possible to give. We passed countless vomit stains on our way up Diamond Peak, our beaten feet slipping in the thick sand. Megan navigated the most solid path, and I held on to the knowledge that the sun would rise soon.


As we crested the top, the sun showed its first glimmer over the mountainous horizon and washed away the misery of night. I felt new energy course through me, waking me up and making me appreciate all the loveliness surrounding me. We were in the most beautiful place I’ve ever been, I felt connected to the earth and those I was with, and I made it a point to consciously soak up the warmth of the second sunrise since I had begun running. So what if I was about to blow chunks. Nausea can suck it.


The next 18 miles are a bit hazy for me, not because I was out of it, but because I didn’t know how to process what was happening. By all accounts, my body felt terrible. My legs ached, my chest felt tight, blood was soaking through one shoe, I had eaten nothing but liquid for the last 18 hours, and my anti-chafe efforts were proving to be dismally ineffective. Nonetheless, I was honestly enjoying myself. Some parts were hard, and some were harder, but by that time nothing felt easy. Our focus was reduced to staying upright, moving forward, and talking when we could. Once again, I was baffled by how much Laura can deal with and run through. She was getting dizzy and faint, but kept trucking along. When she paused, it wasn’t to feel better; it was because she NEEDED to in order to stay conscious. That sparkly exterior belongs to the toughest, most determined person I know. My hero.

Final Stretch

I cannot express how glad I was to have Megan guiding us. She made us run when we didn’t want to, eat when we didn’t want to, drink when we didn’t want to, and she did it all with endless patience and a spectacular amount of care. At one point I watched her gathering supplies and remembered that she had soaked her cankles nearly 24/7 for three solid weeks to recover from States, flown down to California, gotten up at 3am to see us start, crewed all day, met us at 4am the next day to run 20 miles, and was attending to our every need while accepting the agonizingly feeble pace we could maintain. I thought, “That woman is a good person, the kind that’s rare to have as a friend.” The three of us laughed, chatted, commiserated, celebrated, and enjoyed the unique camaraderie that I imagine can only come from pacing each other to our first 100 mile finishes. We hit Spooner Lake and could see the finish tent across the water. This is when I knew it would happen. We would get there.


As we closed in on the finish, I could hear our family and friends cheering ahead. I knew that Megan could feel the overwhelming pride that we felt, since she had experienced it only weeks earlier. It isn’t just pride, though. It is knowing that you can achieve far more than you think possible. It is knowing that when you find yourself in a deep, dark pit, when the world is crushing you and there seems to be no hope, you can trust yourself to buck up and weather the storm. It’s having found faith in oneself, and in loved ones to step in and guide you when needed.  In one moment, I understood the amount of caring and selflessness shown by our crew and pacers to get us to this point, and it nearly made my heart burst from my chest.


In those final steps, nearly thirty one hours and a world away from where we started, relief rushed over me as I took my wife’s hand and caught her eye.


THIS is the experience we wanted. THIS is the culmination of our dedication to training. THIS is redemption for past failures. THIS signifies the healing of my broken body. THIS is what makes us strong. THIS is what I love. THIS is who I love. THIS is the life I love.







American River 50 Mile Endurance Run 2014 Race Report

Hey guys, it’s been a while!


I’ve been sort of in and out of training for, oh, the past year or so. Once my stress fracture healed up I started the slow and steady build up to what I would consider normal volume. About six weeks ago I rolled and twisted my ankle on a nice run on the Western States Trail from Foresthill to Driver’s Flat, and the time since has been a mix of vigorous rehab and testing the waters on my injured Achilles tendon and sprained lateral tendons on both sides of the left ankle. I attempted to sweep Way Too Cool 50K on Laura’s birthday and made it through, although it set me back a bit. After some more time off and more quality time with a masseuse and lots of home rehab, I finally reached a point where everything felt ok.


The question was whether it would be ok for fifty miles.


Laura, Saucy and I sprang up at the stroke of 4am Saturday morning. Ok, more like staggered up in a fog. We had prepared everything the day before so all we had to do was throw on clothes and joke around until my folks (AKA Mastercrew) showed up at 4:30. The whole way there I tried to force myself awake and work my ankle around to loosen up as much as possible. I had felt a little stiffness in my first steps that morning so I was a tad apprehensive. I didn’t want to add to anyone’s nerves, but I was also certain I’d caught a stomach bug the night before and hoped I’d be able to run through it.

pre race

My plan for the day was to start the race and see what happens. Ultimately, AR50 was to serve as a training race, with my main goal being to arrive at TRT100 in July in one piece. If at any point it felt like running was causing any harm or further setback, I was firmly committed to step out. After all, its use as a productive training run would be gone. The girls were going for PRs, which was wildly different, so I planned to stick together for a while and fade back, taking pleasure in the fact that they were both running so well.


Even split into two waves, a thousand runners is a lot of bodies. The race began and the mob crowded down the paved road, thinned out a bit, then crammed onto the singletrack. We burst out onto more pavement and settled in for a smooth and fast first half. When we clocked off a couple 8:40 miles, I decided I was better off dialing it back a bit and wished the dynamic duo well. I was riding the nausea line and was paranoid about pushing my leg too intensely.


By the time the next aid station popped into view, I had decided two things:

1)      I wasn’t going to be able to eat much, so I’d rely heavily on Tailwind for calories.

2)      Since I didn’t need to carry food, there was no need to carry a vest.

Surrounded by the cheers and energy of the Buffalo Chips, who were running the station, I tossed my vest to my dad, snagged a new 26oz bottle of Tailwind, and for the first time in a race strapped on an iPod and jammed one earbud into my head.


I won’t lie; I had a really rough first half. My ankle cooperated fully, feeling better and stronger with every mile, but each time I ate something solid I soon… un-ate it. It became clear that I’d just have to focus on taking in at least a full 26oz every two hours, which held 300 calories. I figured that’d be enough to keep me going. I ran when I could and hiked when it felt too forced, trying to keep my walk hovering at least at 15min miles. Usually my “shit miles” are reliably miles 18-27 in a 50 miler, and this time they appeared to be miles 1-30.


With the help of The Gorillaz and Tool, I put one foot in front of the other until about 30-35, when I began to feel better. At that point the race is entirely on trails, and mentally I was feeling refreshed. My stomach was no longer revolting so I was able to eat a couple cookies, and my legs were finally waking up and firing on all cylinders. I had crossed the halfway point in 4 ½ hrs, so a 10hr-ish finish didn’t seem too outrageous to hope for if I could keep things going strong.


I ran into friends all day long, running the race, cheering trailside, or working stations. I saw my parental crew at each accessible station, and they were phenomenal. It was a major boost to see smiling faces, and it highlighted the fact that although I had been feeling like poo all day, I had still been having a great time. I guess that’s how you know you love something, when despite whatever obstacles darken the experience, the feeling of passion still lights your way.


I felt a little out of practice, having not run the length of fifty miles in approximately nine months. The steady mental focus I try to cultivate was waning. I had the following conversation with myself often:

“Well, this is a downhill. I guess I’d better run it.”

“But I’m tired. I’m hot.”

“Of course you’re tired, you putz. You’ve run 40 miles. Stop being a weenie and enjoy yourself!”



The last portions of the race are beautiful, enjoyable singletrack, and I was having fun. Most runners I passed were fading, but I seemed to be gaining energy as the mileage stretched out. I was lucky to be running strong, not puking, and making good time! I reached the last 3 mile climb at 9 ½ hrs, and hoped the girls were crossing the finish line any minute. Only three miles and 1,000’ climb stood between me and the end, and I’d be damned if I was going to peter out. Speed hiking and running kept a 12min avg pace, and when I turned the last corner there was a beautiful woman in a brand new finisher’s jacket waiting to run me in. A big ol’ grin spread across my face and I felt transcendent as I cruised through the arch with my baby among the cheers of friends into the arms of family.

finish line


The Numbuzzzzz:

10:06:51 Finish Time

33 minute PR

283rd of 826 finishers

22nd in AG

1 cool new Patagonia AR50 jacket



I’m back!!!


Run happy and healthy, friends!

Western States Endurance Run 2014 Lottery Drawing

Saturday Laura and I headed up to Auburn for this year’s WSER Lottery Drawing. For the first time, we had our names in the hat and were filled with a mix of excitement and trepidation. As we entered the Placer High auditorium, just around the corner from where the historic race finishes, I felt the same mood emitted from a large room full of runners. There was definitely a healthy dose of hope and fear, all carried in a huge basket of nerves.


As more and more people showed up, it became apparent that it was going to be a very full house. For many, this was the last chance to get in before qualifying gets much more difficult to do. For 2015, the list of qualifying races has been chopped down to very few 100Ks and 100’s, with all 50 milers being cut out completely. Personally I think it’s a good thing, as the race was probably a little too easy to qualify for, but it will take a couple years for the national racing community to adjust, and although I can imagine many races expanding to offer a 100K option in the future, this coming year looks a bit bleak in that regard.


We settled into a nice place close to the front and kept an eye out for people we knew. There were a ton. It seemed every other person who walked past stopped to say hi and catch up. It was awesome to feel so entrenched in the local trail running community. It is one which is unabashedly friendly, unrelentingly hopeful, and soaked with ibuprofen.

As the show got on the road, we were given a breakdown of how many spots were allocated to the different types of entries. The entire team behind WSER really do everything they can to keep everything transparent, which is admirable. 20131209-145635.jpg

After we had a handle on the breakdown, we got a good look at our odds…


For each year you don’t get selected, you get an additional ticket in the hat the next year. With only one ticket, many of us had an extremely remote shot at making it in.

The relatively new RD began the program, explaining the process and why they choose the numbers they do. There are innumerable factors which go into this stuff that you would never think of. Many people put in hours and hours of work to make WSER happen, in most cases just for the love of the race and its tradition.


There were several guests actually doing the drawing, and the first was the man credited with first running the race, along with the horses in the Tevis Cup race back in 1974. The one and only Gordy Ainsleigh.


Next up was a legend in these parts, Ann Trason. She has had an incredible career and has consistently pushed boundaries for women in trail racing.


There were many other guests, but believe it or not, all those pictures turned out even worse than these! Needless to say, they were those who have given their time, effort, and souls to keep this race the very special experience that it is. They are dedicated to the integrity of WSER.

With every name pulled and announced, my heart skipped a beat. We knew so many people hoping to get their chance at conquering this legendary course that I spent the whole two hours on the edge of my seat. Whenever a local name was drawn, the auditorium erupted in cheers. When a far away friend was drawn, I jumped out of my seat. This all happened many, many times.

When all 270 names and bonus drawings were concluded, the gaggle of focused runners turned into a cacophony of commisserating and congratulating. There were smiles, hugs, and laughs, and it felt as if everyone let out a collective sigh of relief as the looming tension of the unknown instantly broke apart like thick clouds and the light of the next few months shone through.

I didn’t get selected, and in retrospect that’s the best possible scenario for me. I can train hard this year, build up base fitness and speed, and have twice the chance next year. If only I can figure out a way for both Laura and I to run it together, I will be ecstatic.

For now, though, I am happy to be alive, healthy, and part of this amazing community of trail junkies.

6.5% Chance of Adventure

Happy Friday, folks!

Things have been going relatively well for me on the running front. Getting out there, doing some low and slow miles, backing off when I detect the any murmurs of impending revolt. I’ve been able to go out for a couple longer trail runs in our nearby Mecca for dirt fiends, and aside from some ankle soreness from being a cripple for so long (atrophy sucks) I’m feeling pretty good!

The hardest thing to get back is proving to be my lungs. My body clearly remembers how to manage energy over a long period, but I frequently feel like I’m sucking air through a wet ninja mask. Which of course I’m not. Really.

The big thing in my head right now is the lottery drawing for Western States 100 tomorrow. It’s the overbearing loud  asshat  in the club, picking fights with my prefrontal cortex over popped collars, drunkenly hitting on my cerebellum, and throwing up on my pituitary. All other parts of my brain are aware of its presence, whether they want to be or not. The fact is that June is the absolute soonest I can imagine possibly building up to being able to tackle that race, and even then it would be a long shot.

If my name gets drawn tomorrow, first I’ll be all like

happy man

Then I’ll be all like


Then I’ll settle into a comfy


Honestly, I would be unbearably excited to give it all I’ve got and terrified of an endeavor for which I don’t think I’ll ever feel fully prepared. Hey, what’s adventure if not flinging oneself into the unknown in pursuit of a dream?

It’s only a slight chance, anyway:


Have a swell weekend, guys and dolls.

Strength Stories – Tony / Endorphin Dude

Hello Everyone! A while back, while dealing with my own small setback with running, I began to think about the different routes one can take when coping with the fact that things are not always the way we’d prefer them to be. I thought about it a lot. I wanted to reach out to some people I know who have acknowledged that there was a problem and found the strength to overcome and claim the happiness which it was their right as humans to pursue. This is another one of those stories. My good friend Tony, or Endorphin Dude as he’s known in the Bay Area trail racing scene, has laid his story out in hopes of helping others:



If you’ve ever run a marathon, chances are you’ve probably seen a dude with spiky hair in a cape fly by. That marathon caped crusader probably high fived you, cracked a 4th grade joke or two, and then ran off to grab a GU at the aid station. That’s Endorphin Dude, and that dude is me. I run a lot of marathons. I run a lot of ultras too. And yes, I run in a cape and you will always see a big smile on my face. I am happy to be out there on the course because I never thought that I would be able to. Every super hero has an origin, and mine is pretty dark.
Five years ago, I was an insulin dependent couch potato. I spent my mid twenties and thirties in a cubicle slothed in front of a computer. When I got home from work, I would plop myself on the couch and watch TV while shoving my face with frozen pizzas, baloney sandwiches with extra mayo, and soda. The only exercise I got was taking my dog Chewbacca to the tree right outside my front door so that she could relieve herself, and that in itself was a laborious chore. I was always overweight, but the ten years I spent in that cubicle resulted in me ballooning up to a whopping 223 pounds. Mind you, I am only 5’6″.
To make matters worse, that sedentary life style lead to many other health problems. I was barely thirty years old and had to take meds for type two diabetes, cholesterol, and high blood pressure. In my mind, though, it was ok. I kept telling myself, “Why do I have to exercise and lose weight? Modern medicine has made it easy for the obese American! All we have to do is take a magic pill and our cholesterol, glucose numbers, and blood pressure will be regulated! Give me another bacon sandwich!” Seriously, I believed that. My doctor flat out warned me that my glucose numbers had reached such an alarming level that I was two donuts away from getting my legs amputated. She punctuated that warning with this downer: “If you continue to live like this, you will not make it past 40.” I shrugged it off.
As each day of my mundane junk food filled life passed, I became sequestered in my shoe box studio apartment. Laziness and denial dragged me further into Jabba The Hut mode. The vicious fat cycle repeated itself every day: wake up, go to work, sit on my rear in a cube all day, go home, plop on the couch, shove lethal toxins in the form of Ho Ho’s and deep fried hot dogs smothered in Ranch and blue cheese, fall asleep, wake up, and repeat. The sweat from my pores turned into a glue like substance and I pretty much stuck to the couch. There were numerous occasions when I couldn’t move my toes, let alone get up to take Chewbacca out to pee. Let’s just say that for a while, my apartment smelled like a doggie urinal. Yes, it was that bad.
One day, the routine was broken by an unexpected event. I came home from work and collapsed on my living room floor. I thought I was having a heart attack. I felt numbness on the left side of my body and sharp pain in my chest. Chewbacca barked and ran around in circles as if she sensed she was soon going to become an orphan. I seriously thought my time was up. Fortunately, this was only a heart attack scare and not the real deal. After everything settled, I got up and took the dog for a walk. When I returned, my little dog snuggled up with me and gave me that don’t-ever-do-that-again sad puppy eyes. This was the turning point. I knew I had to make some changes in my life. I took Chewbacca for a longer walk the next day. The following day we went further. Before I knew it, my little mutt and I were pulling out multi-mile urban hikes throughout San Francisco. The weight quickly dropped and I found myself feeling better, both physically and mentally. Walking my dog became my therapy.
Later that summer, a friend of mine said he was going to run the San Francisco Marathon. I told him I would be at the finish line cheering him on. This was brand new to me. I seriously thought a marathon was 10 miles! I also thought a 5k was a tax form. I knew nothing about about running. In any case, when all the runners came flying through the finish chute, I felt that second hand high. I wanted that feeling of euphoria for myself. I turned to the random stranger next to me and proclaimed, “I’m going to run this marathon next year!” I needed to say it out loud so that I would be held accountable. I stayed to the end and cheered on every runner. When the last marathoner crossed that finish line, I went home and researched all that I could on training for marathon.
Because I am not a naturally born athlete, I had to start from scratch. I remember running that excruciatingly painful first mile. I went out way too hard. I didn’t know anything about pacing. It took me a few weeks to find my groove. I kept at it everyday and after many weeks of training, I successfully ran my first half marathon in October 2009. When I crossed that finish line, I felt like I had just won the Olympic gold medal. All my hard work was coming to fruition and it excited me even more to continue the marathon training.
Once the endorphins wore off, reality sunk in and I quickly realized that running 26.2 miles was a lot harder than the half marathon. I finally understood what runners meant by “the wall.” It frustrated me to no end that I could not go beyond 18 miles! It got to the point where I had to play mind games to get me through those tough miles. In my head, I created an alternate world where I transformed into a superhero who needed to save the world, one couch potato at a time. During my training runs, I played this video game in my head, and every time I reached another mile, I would receive an energy pellet. I rewarded myself bonus points for dodging cars, knocking out coyotes on the trail, and side swiping bikers. All of a sudden, the pain I endured from miles 15 through 22 turned into a fun little quest to get to that finish line. Endorphin Dude was born!
On July 25, 2010, I ran my first full marathon in San Francisco. When I crossed that finish line, I saw all the blood, sweat, tears, and GU flash before my eyes. What an incredibly surreal moment, one that felt like a euphoric out of body experience. I had never ever felt runner’s high to that degree. I knew that day that I would replay that moment in my head, over and over again, for the rest of my life. I was on that runner’s high for days, and I admit, I wore that medal around my neck when I took Chewbacca for her walk. My legs, knees, and thighs may have been completely banged up, but my heart kept yearning for more.
The San Francisco Marathon was supposed to have been my one and done bucket list race, but running makes me feel like a super hero. I am Endorphin Dude!  Who would have thought that the guy who had a heart attack scare would become the Marathon Caped Crusader?  I am definitely experiencing a cardiac infarction of the euphoric kind these days.
Since that life changing day back in 2009, I have run over 100 marathon and ultras, with two of them being 100 mile endurance races. I really didn’t think about it at the time, but I owe a lot to my little dog. Every time I cross that finish line, I think about how my trusted side kick saved me.  Chewbacca is a rescue dog with a pretty troubled past.  She was a pregnant stray when the Peninsula Humane Society found her.  There was probably some abuse that went on as well.  Thankfully, the kind folks at that shelter took very good care of her. People tell me all the time that I did a good thing by rescuing this dog, but the reality is that she rescued me.
I truly appreciate every aspect of life now. I really like the person I have become. A healthy dude is a happy dude. Life is good!
Tony before after

West Virginia Trilogy 2013 Camp & Crew Report : Day Three

“It’s kind of fun to do the impossible. ”
– Walt Disney


Day three rolled around and we were almost used to waking up to numerous tent puddles. The four of us popped awake and enthusiastically greeted the day, and by “popped awake and enthusiastically greeted the day” I mean groaned and cursed the notion of movement.

We snagged some breakfast and as the girls got ready, I could sense a curious mix of weariness and giddiness. Their legs were pummeled, bruised, swollen, and cut from all the miles behind, but they only had a few more to go!

33 13.1 MS Laura pre race cuddle


The great thing about the third day was that there were a ton of friends running the half marathon. Laura, Megan, Lisa, Dana, Vanessa, and Bobby B were all ready to knock out those 13.1 miles. Thankfully, it started at 9 so we all had a chance to sleep in a bit and shake off the night. The crowd really began to swell as the 5K runners arrived. All races started at the same time. Soon it was time to goooooooooooo!

34 13.1 start


I’d like to highlight this particular part of the start picture, wherein Megan is clearly running with elbows interlocked with her new prospective boyfriends. We’ll call them HD and Jortsman.

13.1 start cropped


From all accounts the race went well and everyone stayed more or less together the whole time. Jen and I began breaking down our campsite and Brian and Missy took totally broke down their camp. I wanted the girls to have a place to regroup after the run and would drop the tent later.

Someone has a fantastic video of everyone from the Loop finishing at once, but again I was there to catch my baby and finish out my crew duties by ensuring the 95 milers were ok. My eyes welled up as I was overcome with happiness when my wife crossed the line after three days of grueling trail miles. I tried to express how proud I was, but all I could really do was lock eyes and say, “You did it.”

That was enough, she understood.

She crumpled in my arms as the emotional weight of the last three days culminated in one instant. Her tenacious refusal to surrender had brought her to a place of triumph.

That third day Laura’s running proved to be too much for her shoes to handle. They flipped off the boss, packed up their $h!t and quit for good.

35 Peregrine hole


Lisa had the presence of mind to get a picture of the gang at the end of the race. Thank you Lisa, this photo represents the mood of the weekend perfectly.

36 Lisa's loop pic


When everyone had had a chance to get cleaned up and hoover copious calories, there was an awards ceremony, where we learned that out of the 42 runners who began the three day quest, only 23 had finished. There were many who ran one or two of the races, but I feel like these are the faces of people who understand an experience foreign to most of us. They dug into their souls to complete this series and emerged victorious. It was an honor to get to know many of them and to help Laura and Megan along the way. It always seems to be the toughest women who smile the widest.

37 Trilogy finishers


Just like when we arrived, we had many hands helping to load our gear out and soon we were on the road. The next 7 hours went by in a string of games, laughs, “power” songs, and stories. We got lost in West Virgina, Jen and Laura almost got shot in a laundromat somewhere in Virginia, we pulled a harrowing mid-highway U-turn to catch a pic with Mo’s longtime boyfriend, and Hot-N-Ready pizza carried our spirits back to North Carolina.

38 Pizza road trip


Now it is a few days later and I am still feeling fuzzy about the whole weekend. The camping, the support, the laughs, the bonds, the adventures, I wouldn’t change a thing.

Here’s to living life, my friends. Put some color in your landscape, put some wind in your sails. Try crazy things because the real visceral experiences lie outside of your comfort zone.

I’ve met the most amazing people since entering the running world, and for that I am grateful.






West Virginia Trilogy 2013 Camp & Crew Report : Day Two

“I do believe that when we face challenges in life that are far beyond our own power, it’s an opportunity to build on our faith, inner strength, and courage. I’ve learned that how we face challenges plays a big role in the outcome of them.”
– Sasha Azevedo


The 50 mile story actually began Friday night. After the runners had logged their 50K, showered, and filled their hungry bellies, there was a pre-race meeting. These are not too common for road races, but fairly standard for long events 50 miles and above. They went over course markings, what to expect from aid stations, some notable warnings (such as barbed wire), and basically explained how they had marked the course. Anyone with grey matter was excited for the race ahead.

18 50 Mile meeting


Again, we woke up to a few puddles and the sound of rain outside the tent. We all headed to the warm yurt and filled our bellies, wiping sleep from our eyes.

Soon all were packed up and ready to go. It was dark and everyone had a long day ahead, and I was surprised by the lack of nerves around the start line.

20 50M Start

21 50 Mile start runners



Of course it’s possible that people were just too cold to be nervous. Here are two especially bubbly runners cuddling to keep warm in the pre-dawn drizzle. I love this photo because it represents how these two lived the entire three days, weathering the storm of adversity together.

22 50M pre race cuddle


After the racers took off, a few of us hiked over to the first vague turn to direct sleepy runners as they approached in the darkness. It was the perfect way to start the day, hanging out with friends and waiting for more to fly by in the stream of bobbing headlamps.

A good crew prepares for post race as much as for mid race, so I spent the morning drying clothes, pillows and blankets for after the race. The girls would be soaked for every minute of daylight, and I wanted to have some comfort waiting for them when they had finished the day’s work. I also inventoried the food and each runners’ drop bags to make sure we’d have everything they’d need. Sitting, playing guitar, and eating chili were also on the agenda.

When the time came, Jenster, Linnea, the giant goldfish carrying goldfish, and myself hopped into the Prius of Hazard and drove several winding unmarked country back roads to find the mile 25 aid station. When we got there the scene was completely relaxed. We pulled right up into the clearing, popped the trunk, and spread out our runner supplies and clothes.

23 25m scenery


As I had suspected, Jenster was a quicker draw than Billy the Kid with an arsenal of cowbells. As you can tell by this maniacal expression, she intended to employ them with ruthless tenacity and reckless abandon. You can’t beat a good festive jingle!

30 Jenster cowbells


The girls came through a short time later, bounding happily through the bright colors of the forest. At this point they both seemed astonishingly fresh! They looked as if they had just started, cheerfully gobbling their Ensures and cheese sticks. I was thrilled to find them in such good shape; there was a distinct possibility that the previous day’s miles could have made the current race a sufferfest!


That was a fun warmup marathon. Wanna pick it up a little for this next one? Yeah? Good, let’s hit it. Have you noticed how thoughtful and attractive our crew is? Me too, they’re the cats pajamas. Here we go! Weeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee!!!

24 25 snack time


When Nermal and Megatron shot off into the woods, we quickly packed up and raced to mile 33.7, the next aid station (they were all 8-9 miles apart).

In a stroke of good fortune, the newly repatriated Colonel Cannon had generously volunteered to join the dynamic duo for their last 17 miles of mud skating and stream hopping. My only regret is that he didn’t wear something more visible.

(I am insanely jealous of those shoes; I’ve always wanted a pair)

25 colonel pacer


Pretty soon some familiar faces began appearing, the few runners we had seen at the last station. This guy’s family had walked up the trail so he could carry his adorable daughter for a bit, something I imagine was the biggest spirit booster he could have had. The family vibe throughout the entire event really was remarkable.

26 33.6 family man


This was the best aid station experience I had all weekend by far. Once we were situated and had the gear ready, Sass, Missy, Dana and Lisa pulled up and filled out the cheering section. The fact that they had lots of cold beer was also a significant plus.

It wasn’t long before the Turbo Twins rounded the corner with guns blazing, charging into the clearing.

27 MS finger gun


Colonel was bringing up the rear, no doubt covering them from enemy stick fire.

28 Laura running in


The girls looked a tad more tired, and I could tell they were both starting to run on fumes. The legs were working, but the exertion of having logged 64 miles was wearing on their minds. I was glad Mike was going with them, as I expected the next 17 miles to be much more enjoyable with a fresh friend in the mix. Both girls may have been getting slightly punchy, but they never lost their look of fierce determination and there was never a doubt they would make it through the race and back to camp that night.

29 scenic drive


All in all, I had a blast crewing Saturday. These two women are wonderful company if you’re winding through miles of wilderness and have no idea where you are!

31 Crew


When we got back to camp, the sun was beginning to set and the fog was settling in, which made for a spooky atmosphere. The anticipation rose with every runner who came in, as we heard about more and more drops. Runners were dropping like flies, so the few who made it to the final stretch were rewarded with an enthusiastic reception. The Loop contingent was strong, and were leading the charge in finish line cheering. I overheard one race director say to the other, “What is happening? This is so cool!”

32 50M creepy finish line


The Trail Trio soon appeared, and as Mike broke off and the girls sprinted the last 1/4 mile, the sound of emotional cheers was deafening. I’m glad others were videotaping or snapping photos, because I was only concerned with one thing: giving my girl a huge hug and making sure she and Meg were ok. Those women had battled through a collective 82 miles (1 bonus detour mile) and were charging through the finish arch. The Loop family enveloped them, I wrapped Laura up in an embrace of pride and concern, and someone passed the moonshine.

In this life, I’ve been fortunate enough to collect a few memories I would call “perfect moments.”

This one left them all behind.




West Virginia Trilogy 2013 Camp & Crew Report : Day One

This last weekend Laura and I embarked on what promised to be a fun-filled weekend. After a brief stopover in Vegas, we hopped aboard another winged flight tube to hurdle the rest of the way across the continent, completely unprepared for the barrage of human teargas which awaited us.


1 Plane ride


Fortunately the flight yielded a minimal number of suffocation fatalities, and soon we were greeted by a very nice Asian woman, who’s hugs were accompanied by a jingle not unlike a cowbell. Or twelve. I am convinced she carries several on her person at all times.

We settled into Hotel Jenster Wednesday night, and I eventually became accustomed to the unsettlingly silent gentleman who kept a watchful eye on the place. Audibly he said nothing, although his demeanor clearly said, “Hey you, stay cool or I will Penguin slap you so hard you’ll drop that watermelon.”

We talked, laughed, and took down the first of numerous bowls of chili that weekend.

In the morning another soul joined our road trip party fresh from an invigorating redeye adventure, during which she undoubtedly exchanged phone numbers with a hefty number of airport employees.

Soon we packed the Prius like Rick Ross in skinny jeans and hit the highway for West Virginia!

Little did we know, time actually progresses at a different rate once you cross over the WV border, so what we had mapped as a 5 1/2 hour drive took more like 9 hours, causing us to marvel at Jenster’s driving prowess in blindfold-level fog on unmarked backwoods roads at night. When we arrived there was a warm welcoming group of friends waiting to help us set up camp. They are extremely good friends, and by that I mean they are both close friends and good people.


2 Tent city


I had never seen anything like it. Everyone just camped out along both sides of the course itself! As each day passed, it became a more pleasant experience to gaze around from our camp site and see others who were putting their efforts into the same momentous task. Whether you were a runner, crew, or spectator, you were family by the end of those three days.

By the way, this is the most interesting restroom I’ve ever seen. And there were HOT SHOWERS!

3 bathroom

We awoke Saturday morning to the same drizzle which had plagued us all night. The backcountry seemed to be derisively spitting on everyone’s hopes for a smooth race, ensuring that it would be a long, messy affair for all runners insane enough to say, “F@c% it, bring it on.”

4 50K rainy morning



The air was so humid with the constant drizzle that there was a steady dripping of condensation showering us every night in the tent. Sleep was difficult at times, and I worried about the runners with 31 miles behind and 63 to go. We arose at 5am and made our way up to the yurt to grab some breakfast. Robert greeted us as we sat and nonchalantly said, “Hey, Krupicka’s over there.”

He happened to be in WV for a screening of his documentary and was traveling with a friend who’s a regular at the Mountain Institute. He just came out to see what this unique event was about! We chatted for a little bit, including some light ribbing, and went our separate ways.

krupicka pic


After the 50K started and the runners bolted off into the hills, I found myself standing by the start line. I turned and there was Tony and his buddy, not six feet away. I got to chat with them for a while about the surrounding mountains, awkward double seated port-o-johns, and injuries, since he’s had his own share of leg break related woes. They were both super relaxed and friendly, and it was a neat way to usher in the day. They were heading out in a while, so I wished them a good run and gathered my crew supplies. Missy (Brian’s sweet gal) and I drove out to the 11.3m aid station with supplies and the willingness to patch up any bruises and cuts our runner mob may have incurred.

5 50K aid station scenery

As we waited and chatted, I couldn’t help but marvel at the unfettered and relentless beauty surrounding us. The forest was alive with violent bursts of gold and crimson, rebelling against the oppressively grey skies overhead. I was uplifted and inspired in the way only being small in the presence of something magnificent can cause.

6 50K aid station


Soon our people began racing through. Here is Keith, demonstrating how a regimen of copious steroid-riddled squatfests can prepare one’s legs to power through an ultra. Seriously, those quads are just silly.

7 50K Keith


Laura had evidently decided that hovering over the ground at a safe height was much easier than actually putting feet to ground. I am sure that whatever witchcraft she was employing would not work without an unabashedly beaming smile.

8 50K Laura


Megan also came through with Laura, but due to her recent disastrous fall and possible brain injury, I was much more concerned with making sure she was coherent enough to continue than with catching her likeness in a pic. She was.

While the other runners made haste in their efforts to resupply and attack the next climb, Brian was kind enough to take the time to show us his “big tasty bag of nuts.”

Haste is not necessarily a bad thing.

9 50K Brian


Linnea would not be spotted without a smile all day. It really was quite impressive.

10 50K Linnea


Butch had accidentally severed his leg trying to cartwheel across one of the stream crossings. He was able to duct tape it back into place, but the incident dashed his dreams of becoming a champion kickboxer.

11 50K Butch


Bobby also came through smiling, despite the punishment the trail was dishing out.

12 50K Bobby


Jenster and Vanessa arrived a short time later, lighting up the forest as they ran. I challenge any and all rational people to talk to either of these two and not end up happier.

13 50K Jen Vanessa



Everyone came down the final stretch to smiles, cheers, and big hugs. The RDs had begun to get to know everyone so they would announce the runner’s names as they approached and joined us in cheering them in. The loop contingent turned in a respectable performance, handling the slick and rocky trails to get the job done. First timers Robert and Vanessa earned their stripes alongside more seasoned dirt jockeys and when the day was done, all were happy and pleasantly exhausted.

14 50K finish jen vanessa


On top of everything else that had happened that day, this guy showed up in the middle of nowhere, freshly home from Kuwait! With foreign brews, no less! Having an exquisite beer with Mike while surrounded by gorgeous scenery and cheers was one of the highlights of my weekend.

15 Colonel Beer


His generosity did not stop there. Once all runners were showered and warm in the yurt, out came the cupcakes. He may have dosed them with opiates, as they seemed to melt away aches and elicit giddy smiles as we joked and basked in the warmth of the company of close friends.

16 post 50K cupcake


This is the best group of people I could imagine spending a rainy weekend in the country with.

17 post 50K yurt mob


Run happy and healthy, friends!



However Long It Takes…

Hey guys! I hope everyone is having a great Tuesday.

I have had two conversations in the last few days which have severely altered my expectations for what the next few months will hold for me running wise. So far I’ve been on crutches for about six weeks, with the hope to get off soon and at least walk normally and cycle. We’ll see how that pans out, but I’ve been reasonably successful in keeping busy with other things in my life and have no cause to believe I wouldn’t continue to do so.

I do miss running, but I know it will be there whenever I can return. The thing I miss the most is running with my wife. It’s hard to explain; it’s not that I miss spending the time with her. We spend a ton of time together in our daily life. It’s that running was a chunk of our collective experience. It’s something we shared, and through that we shared joy, hope, ambition, adventure, pain, sorrow, regret, anger, frustration, vindication, exhaustion, victory, and satisfaction, and all of those things made us stronger in life. I always have the feeling that I’ve lost something or forgotten to do something, and today I finally put my finger on it: that shared experience is not part of my life right now. That’s the thing that’s missing.

Anyway, it’s a temporary condition and not the purpose of this blog, so let me redirect!

Last week I emailed the guru that’s been coaching us and asked to discuss a long term plan for my recovery. I realized that not only have I never come back to running after a several month injury, I’ve never even broken a bone before! I laid out the races which I’m signed up for and asked what he thought was possible.

This is a portion of his reply:

“I would strongly suggest not considering anything longer than a half marathon for 4 months.  You’ll be starting from zero and I’ll have you on a 6-8 week program where you’ll be running in a tight heart rate range, every run, all the time.  Not to mention, we’ll be doing 2 weeks to start with simply walking – walk/jog – slow jog before we even get to the 6-8 week period I mentioned before.”

I didn’t know he even had a plan, though obviously he’s put some thought into this. I’m glad to have some solid direction, but the timeline is longer than I had originally hoped for.

The other conversation I had was with a local running buddy who called to see how I’m doing. He has a close friend who sustained the same type of fracture as I did and in the same location. That guy is on his third hip replacement. His leg is now a full inch shorter than the other.

He tried to return to skiing too soon and broke it further, requiring screws to hold it together. When the screws backed out, he needed a bracket put in. He got an infection and a series of surgeries resulted.

That’s not a path I want to experience.

No matter how long it takes, that’s what it will take. I expect up to a year to be required to safely build to the kind of running I was doing before, and it’s worth every minute to avoid the caliber of problems which can arise later if I don’t act wisely now.

I’m looking forward to crewing Laura in some crazy adventures.

Run happy and healthy, friends.


Strength Stories – Cassandra

It’s funny how happiness is less connected to events than it is to attitude. Some people are miserable despite having everything they’ve ever worked for. Some are constantly beaming sunshine in the face of hard times. It’s all in one’s outlook, and one’s outlook depends on how each and every thing in life is handled.

“A happy life consist not in the absence, but in the mastery of hardships.” –Helen Keller

I first heard this quote a few months ago, and I haven’t been able to shake it since. It is just undeniably true. Fighting for a purpose develops focus, determination, and toughness. Overcoming obstacles fosters pride, perspective, and humility. Through dealing with challenges and loss, a person grows. It’s not something that can be phoned in. It’s dark. It’s painful. It’s real.

Cassandra is a friend and a notoriously bubbly personality in our Auburn-to-Bay Area trail race scene. She is always smiling and cracking jokes, as she undertakes bigger and bigger challenges. She is one of the running junkies who uses races as a way to tread new ground, both on earth and in her life.

On October 15, 2012, Cassandra was diagnosed with IDC-Invasive Ductal Carcinoma, a common type of breast cancer. She has battled it ever since, undergoing chemotherapy while steadfastly refusing to compromise her lifestyle and goals. Cassandra has gone through every emotion a person can feel, and has used the challenge as a springboard to accomplish more, find love, and live life more fully.

She carved out a little time from her insanely busy schedule to give us some insight:

How did you feel at first?

Shocked. Numb. Pissed off. I found it difficult to believe that someone like me who lives a healthy lifestyle and runs long distance could be diagnosed with cancer.

Did/do you feel any sense of loss or grief?

Yes. I went through the ‘why me’ stage when I was first diagnosed. For the first five months I didn’t go public with it. I only told a small handful of people because I didn’t want to deal with the questions, pity or emotions that the questions may evoke.

What has been your lowest point emotionally?

When I realized the chemo really was going to take my long hair and my eye lashes. My long hair was part of my identity for most of my life, and to lose it felt like I was losing a part of myself.

Was there a specific turnaround moment? If so, what triggered it?

When I completed a trail half during chemo and saw all my old buddies again. I felt strong and I felt loved. I realized that I CAN live life on my terms. I went public with my diagnosis after that race in March and felt stronger for it.

Do you feel as if you are running toward something or away from something?

Both. I’m running towards the bling at the finish line (as always) and running away from my fears, leaving all the garbage behind me.

Is it difficult to maintain your determination? Are there times when you feel overwhelmed?

It is only difficult when I am not working out or running. When I am not active, my thinking gets muddled and I lose focus and perspective on everything.

Yes, there are times when I do feel overwhelmed. Right now I am trying to plan my wedding, which may be 18 months to 2 years in the future. Being this young in my diagnosis and trying to look that far ahead is quite a task for me and can be very overwhelming at times.

How do you motivate yourself? What kind of goals do you set?

I keep races on my schedule, volunteer at races and keep in contact with all my running friends. I draw off their energy and enthusiasm from their races and training. I am trying to pick up where I left off last year when I was diagnosed. Always having a race to work for keeps me training and working towards something, instead of just aimlessly running.

What or who has helped you along?

My mom, my fiance, a few close friends and RUNNING!!!!

In retrospect, what has been the hardest part?

Admitting that I have cancer.

What has been the most rewarding part?

Taking on the challenge of beating this thing.

What has brought you joy during the journey?

Having people share their stories with me about themselves or loved ones going through cancer, and finding out who my friends are and discovering that I have so many people who love me.

What have you learned about yourself and the way you handle things?

I am stronger than I even I knew. This is teaching me patience and how to rely on meditation and relaxation techniques.

What has it changed about you?

I have stopped taking things to heart. While I care about my friends, I am not changing who I am for anyone! Gone are the days where I worry about what others think about me. What other’s think of me is really none of my business. I have a life to live. I am focused more on living and getting the most out of each day. I have stopped rushing through my day and now appreciate the small things in life and believe in the song “Love Like Crazy”.

How has it affected your view of other things in your life?

I don’t take anything or anyone for granted.

Do you consider yourself a better or stronger person for having gone through the experience?

I don’t know about being a better person, but as I approach my one year mark (Oct 15) I know I am a stronger person. You can’t deal with cancer, chemo AND run an Ultra and not come out a stronger person! 

Cassandra recently completed her second 100 miler at Run De Vous here in Northern California, which is exceedingly appropriate in that the race is pretty much a gathering of friends who support each other as they all struggle to reach their goals. It is about loving the journey and living life on your own terms, with your own goals.

Life isn’t fair, and often it throws difficult things at us, but knowing that there are people in this world like Cassandra can serve as a reminder that it doesn’t have to rule you. It doesn’t have to steal your identity. You can find strength you were unaware of and deal with hardship with tenacity, hope, humor, and class.

Thank you, CC.

P.S.: I will supply her with a link to this blog, so feel free to leave any thoughts or reactions for her here.