Black Hills 100 50k, June 23, 2018

On Saturday, June 23, 2018 I completed the Black Hills 100 50k run. I am an ultramarathoner! I am so stoked! I have been working towards this goal for the past 4 months. I’m not going to lie – it is also a relief to be done!


The run is on the Centennial Trail which goes through prairie grasslands and up into the Black Hills National Forest. The trail was built in 1989 to mark the 100th anniversary of S Dakota’s statehood. The trail is 111 miles total. Wow! I was happy to only (!) be having to traverse 31.2 miles of this trail.

I had run the 30k as part of this race last year. It was tough but so rewarding. There is nothing comparable to this trail in North Dakota. It is hard to train for and apparently I like a challenge? I decided to go to the 50k distance this year upon the encouragement of my friend I met in 2017 at the 30k.

(Long post alert – you are warned.)


In the week leading up to the run, the Black Hills experienced a LOT of rain. I think the director said they had 7 inches of rain the week of the run. This made me nervous for extremely muddy trails. The race day report also called for an 80% chance of rain. This was not ideal, but what can you do? Race day weather is generally never ideal.

My parents were my “crew” meaning they were able to follow me along and stop at 2 of the 4 aid stations and drop me at the start and meet me at the end. They were going to haul my food, drinks, clothes, shoes, first aid kit and whatever else I might need. I knew they would be vital to my overall mood; especially my mental outlook.

We took off from home Friday morning and arrived to Sturgis, SD to rain. Drats. We went out on Vanocker Canyon Road to find the trailheads where they could meet me. We found them all fairly easily but one was not easily accessible due to strong rain and a big washout in the gravel road. The 100 milers had already started running and I was bummed they had to face strong rain, thunder and lightning only a few hours into their journey.  We went into Sturgis to get my race packet, check into the hotel and grab some dinner and a couple of beers. The rain continued on but happily, the radar looked to clear for Saturday. I was relieved but knew we’d be facing challenging conditions. In fact, the streams had been dry the week prior and the RD emailed that all were flowing and to be prepared to cross them. OK!


Saturday we woke up to cool and sunny weather. Perfect. Perhaps a bit humid but no rain clouds in sight. My folks took me to the start and after a sendoff they took off to the next aid station they could access. This was the one in rough condition and they thought if they could get there before the crowds at the start, they could get a better position. We started at the Dalton Lake aid station. We took off and it was single track so I just followed the person in front of me and tried to seed myself in the middle of the pack. I quickly found myself behind some women from Sioux Falls and made it a goal to stay with them. The group was walking up hills and running the flats and down. Perfect. The first aid station came at Crooked Tree about 7.5 miles in. I stopped for some fuel and was back out with the gals again. I had told my parents I was hoping to get to Elk Creek (14 miles in and the first place I’d see them) in about 2-2.5 hours. I realized that was slipping away from me as this section of trail became very muddy and runnable sections were now spent walking very carefully so I didn’t fall on my face. This was frustrating but what can you do? Soon we came to several creek crossings and the water was COLD but it felt good. The sun was starting to warm up but in the forest we were shaded. The shade was nice but it was also stifling and humid. I splashed water on my face and neck to cool off at each crossing.


Shortly after the crossings we were at the Elk Creek trailhead at about 13 miles. This is where I got to see my parents and they were able to access the trailhead with no problems. It was a great feeling to come in and see them and hear them cheering me on. My mom had a new pair of socks and fresh shoes laid out for me and a chair to change my shoes. They also had a water, a Gatorade, some food and a salt tab for me to take when I saw them. I visited a bit and was off (I remember I was about 3 hours 10 minutes in) to the Elk Creek aid station which was straight up hill almost a mile in. That section wasn’t so fun.


My strategy was just to make it from aid station to aid station and not become overwhelmed by the sheer distance I had yet to travel. I was feeling good at this point, but I was pretty certain I couldn’t keep up with the Sioux Falls women. I wanted to run smart for me and finish strong and feeling good. The year prior, I finished very dehydrated and weak. No bueno.


The mud patches became less and less. There was several runnable sections but I was beginning to get sore. I met up with another women, Cat, and we ran for quite a while together and shared stories. She was from Colorado. Somewhere in this section, I got a severe cramp in my right calf. I never experienced anything that bad and fell over. Fortunately, into a soft section and I didn’t get hurt. I walked off the cramp but dang, it affected me the rest of the way. Bulldog Aid Station was at mile 20 and I stopped to eat a few cookies and drink several glasses of water and chat with those stopped. I was beginning to feel a bit sorer so stretched and squatted a bit. I knew Alkali Creek Aid Station was only 4.5 miles away and I could see my parents again.

Again, I ran a bit with Cat and enjoyed the miles. It was pretty and we were getting out of the forest and more into an open, hilly area. We had to go through a tunnel and my shoes got soaked again. Less than a mile up though was Alkali Creek where I got fresh socks and shoes and a mental boost from Mom and Dad. I was feeling good mentally but a little slow physically. Another Gatorade, water, salt tab and food. I told them I knew I’d finish but there would probably be a lot of walking. I remembered this section from last year and I don’t know if it is because a person is so tired or what but it feels like so much of it is uphill. At this point, running downhill hurt and the flats my run must have been about as fast as a walk. 7 or so miles to go to the City Park and the finish!

For this section, I was alone a lot. I was mostly trying to think positive and have gratitude for the situation I was in. Not to be too hippy dippy but there is no way I would have ever envisioned myself completing a 50k run 5 years ago. Or 80+ pounds ago. I was so happy to be ABLE to complete this. And to have my parents with my through the whole journey.


Before the finish I wanted to highlight a few changes that took place during my training that I believe helped me complete the 50K:

  • I went from running alone to running with others and asking their advice. I am often one of the slower people in a group and that makes me nervous/shy. That is OK. Experienced runners will run your speed and give you advice. I almost prefer running with someone else now.
  • Cross training. It’s important. Do it. I biked and worked out twice per week with a trainer. He knew my goals and helped me be able to finish in one piece and not feel like death.
  • Switch it up. I got off the treadmill, ran outside, ran trails, ran gravel roads, ran in town, etc. I tried to make sure my long run was in a different place each week whether it was on the east side of town to the south side or in Bismarck or wherever else. Running early in Hazen during the week gets real old real quick. I ran some trails in the dark and put myself in some uncomfortable situations. Slow and steady was my mantra throughout. I have so many long training runs to get through.
  • Stretch. I have worked to do but I stretched at least 4x a week consistently although maybe not long enough. Just being honest.
  • Sleep. I made sleep a priority. Sleep is where your body recovers and repairs. For me, it is crucial. So I might have missed out on some fun nights but I think it paid off in the long run.
  • Spring event. By keeping my “A” goal big event in the spring. That means I have all summer to enjoy myself and maybe make up for some of those missed fun nights out. I find myself living a precarious balance of eating healthy and working out but also saying you only live once so live it up and party hard.

What I’d do differently:

  • In retrospect, I think I would change a few things. My training plan was 16 weeks and I think that was a little too long. I came in running a high weekly mileage so the four months really drug on and probably the last month I was just going through the motions with my running.
  • That said, my training plan was something I created myself. I have no idea what I am doing. I think I would have reached out to some more experienced people to help form a better plan.
  • I ran 6 days a week, all 16 weeks. In additional to cycling and working with the trainer. This was probably too much. Although I have time, I think I got a bit burned out.


The last mile or so is leading into the city of Sturgis on their walking/biking path which is concrete. This is actually quite brutal to run on after 30 miles of trail. It feels hard and jagged. I wanted to run this whole section but quickly switched to a run walk. It had started to rain just a bit prior to this but a nice rain that cooled me off. I was feeling quite warm in the exposed section of trail and this was lovely. The rain stopped and the sun came out as I approached the finish line. How appropriate!

My Dad was waiting at the finish for a high five. That was awesome. Then a bit further my Aunt appeared which was a nice surprise and finally I saw my Mom. Full circle. I was so happy to finish but also was again cramping up. I got my finish mug, a few photos, several cups of water and finally, a beer! I was just happy. Super happy to finish!  Super happy to be an ultramarathoner and reach a goal I set for myself.


  • 7 hours, 53 minutes, 59 seconds
  • 15:12 minute/mile
  • 22 of 44 females
  • Roughly 4k elevation gain, 5k loss


Pure Happiness!

What’s next? I don’t know for sure. I think I need a goal to stay motivated and working towards something. Recovery has been a bit slow. I feel great except for the calf I cramped up – every time I run I can feel it. I’m trying to be cautious and listen to my body. I think the post long run blues is a real thing and maybe I’ll talk about that soon. But I’m still basking in this finish. Thanks for reading!

Posted in Exercise, Feisty Eats, FeistyLife, Healthy Living, Misc | 1 Comment

Deep Dish Supreme Pizza on the Traeger

My husband is a really good cook. He is mostly into more manly foods like meat and potatoes. He has a Traeger grill and is really into smoking foods – anything from pork ribs to chicken wings to an amazing smoked salsa he made. He gets a recipe email from Traeger and always says – I am going to make this or that and THIS is one of the recipes he chose and adapted. I don’t know if this is the actual recipe he used but it is close enough. This was made on his smoker over high temp with already cooked meat, peppers and onions. You can obviously adjust the toppings to your preference. I had him only put olives on his half because, eww. Other toppings might be pepperoni, mushrooms, etc.


The basis of this pie is a deep dish pizza in a cast iron pan, filled to the top with typical supreme pizza toppings. He hit it out of the park – it was fantastic! Oh, and for good measure, he had smoked some chicken wings at a lower temperature all day so we truly had a perfect game day meal of chicken and wings although there was no game on, the food was still rad.


Deep Dish Supreme Pizza, based on the recipe from Traeger grills

  • 10 oz pizza dough
  • 1/2 lb spicy Italian sausage
  • 1 bell pepper, diced (any colors or combos – he used some from our garden)
  • 1 onion, diced
  • Sliced green olives
  • 1/2 cup pizza sauce
  • 2 cups shredded cheese
  • Dried oregano and basil to taste


  1. Set Traeger to 500 degrees F and preheat with lid closed for 10-15 minutes.
  2. Coast a 10-12″ cast iron pan with olive oil. Add dough and press out through the bottom and up around the sides.
  3. Spread sauce on top of the dough and add toppings. Top with cheese and sprinkle with oregano and basil. (I should note that he cooked the sausage beforehand and also sauteed the peppers and onions – how you prep is up to you.)
  4. Bake for 25-30 minutes or until the crust is golden and cheese and sauce is bubbling.
  5. Let rest for 5-10 minutes before slicing.

This would be perfect for the 4th or the upcoming weekend when the temps will be soaring.



Posted in Dinner, Dinner idea, Grilling, Main Dish | Leave a comment

Chicken Enchilada Skillet

Here is a great, one-dish skillet meal that your taco lovers will enjoy.


This is basically an enchilada but in a bit lazier form. No need to roll up anything and it all cooks in one dish.



  • 1 tablespoon canola oil
  • 1 (15 oz) can red enchilada sauce
  • 1 cup salsa
  • 1 1/2 cups shredded, cooked chicken
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • 1 (15 oz) can pinto beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1/2 cup corn
  • 8 (4-inch) corn tortillas
  • 1 cup shredded cheese, whatever flavor you prefer, I like spicy
  • 1 handful of fresh cilantro, for topping


Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Heat a large, oven safe skillet (I used cast iron) over medium to medium high heat with oil. Mix together salsa and enchilada sauce and place a thin layer in the bottom of the skillet.

Toss the chicken with the cumin and paprika. Add in the pinto beans and corn.

Take each tortilla and lightly coat it with the sauce. You don’t have to dunk it, but you can take the back of a spoon and spread it over both sides of the tortilla. Take 4 tortillas and line the skillet with them, placing them so they come up the sides of the skillet. Add half of the chicken and bean mixture. Top with a handful of cheese. Spoon on some of the enchilada sauce.

Arrange the remaining tortillas on top of the mixture. Add the rest of the chicken and beans. Add all of the enchilada sauce, making sure it covers all of the tortilla pieces. Sprinkle on the remaining cheese.

Bake the skillet for 25 minutes, or until the cheese is golden and bubbly. Remove the skillet from the oven and top with fresh cilantro and any other favorite toppers such as jalapeno pepper slices, onions, sour cream, or avocado. Serve immediately.


Store any leftovers in individual containers and eat within a week or freeze for several weeks. Enjoy!

Posted in Dinner, Dinner idea, Main Dish | 1 Comment

Coulee Trail Classic, 2018

Friday, June 8, 2018 was the annual Coulee Trail Classic run in Washburn as part of their Riverboat Days celebrations. This is the town my parents live in so I have an excuse to visit. I ran this event two years ago but I must not have recorded it. I can’t remember my time either.

Regardless, the event is held at 7 pm. It takes off from the local high school track / bus barn area and runs through town both in residential areas but mostly in wooded, overgrown coulees. A volunteer (Gavin) mows the path through the coulees so thanks to him and others for doing this.

The run is a butt-kicking! While the elevation change is probably only a couple hundred feed, the terrain varies from paved road to narrow trail, some sandy areas if I remember correctly, overgrown areas, swampy areas, fallen trees, many branches and woodticks. You end by going up what they call goat hill, run down into town and through another wooded area before you climb up just a bit to the finish line. Oh and it was a hot one. I think about 88 degrees? When you get in those coulees there isn’t a whip of wind and it is muggy and stinky quite often!


Prior to the start, I had a few hours to relax and visit my parents. I just love their property. It is right on the Missouri River and the views are just gorgeous.

There were 38 people who lined up for the challenge. Included in the group were my running pals Mark & Karen, Dave and their buddy Leon.


Here is the finish line. You can see it was a gorgeous day outside. My run went better than it did the weekend before at Fort Lincoln but it wasn’t great. I have been pretty worn down with all the running I have been doing. Basically I focused on running the flats, walking up hill and carefully going down hill. There was quite a bit of walking due to steep and overgrown areas. It is just a fun time to be outside and on the trails though. Really, a perfect way to spend an early Friday evening.


There were a lot of woodticks but I had sprayed up with DEET beforehand as the race coordinators had extra available. I stuck around and made sure to cheer for the last person who came through. Everyone finished so that was awesome. There are no timing chips or mats, they just yell out your time and hand write it down. Of our group – we all placed in our age divisions!! I think Mark took 2nd overall! He is really a great runner. Karen took 2nd in our age group (we are together) and I took a 3rd place ribbon in our age group so QUITE the change from last weekend. Haha. Like I said before, I truly never expect to finish near the top but just want to finish healthy and happy with myself.


I rewarded myself with a big ass, super cold beer! I love these small events and getting to know people. It’s just a sense of community I have not experienced elsewhere.


Garmin Stats:
4.31 miles \ 46:52 \ 10:53 minute per mile

A small practice run for the Black Hills 50k coming up this Saturday. To say I am excited, nervous, scared, anxious is completely…accurate. I’ll be sure to recap here sometime in July. Please send me good vibes I survive and finish!!

Posted in Exercise, Feisty Eats, FeistyLife, Healthy Living, Informational | Leave a comment

Fort Lincoln 15k, 2018

Saturday, June 2, 2018 was National Trails Day (always the first Saturday in June) and Fort Abraham Lincoln, south of Mandan, celebrates by hosting a 5k fun run/walk and a 15k trail run. This is the third straight year my Mom and I participated. She did the 5k and I did the 15k.

As I have talked about on here, I am in the middle of training for a 50k in South Dakota later this month. My “training” called for 20 miles this day. I decided to arrive to the 15k run early and run 6 miles, do the 15k and then finish out my mileage afterwards. The weather had been rainy, very windy and stormy the night before but Fort Lincoln let us know that the heavy rain had missed them.

I did my first large loop at about 7am while registration was opening. I ran the course backwards. The trail was in good condition, a little sticky in some parts but not muddy or slick at all. The day was very overcast, still windy and cool.


The best part of any run is seeing friends. Here I am at the start with Dana and Theresa. There was a very small turnout this year likely due to the weather. I believe 10 of us started.

We were off at about 8:15 and a few small sprinkles started falling. No big deal. As we climbed up and around, there was a photographer out on the course and they posted the photos on Facebook. The trail is awesome and has great views over the rivers nearby.


As we went on, the rain kept falling and coming down more steady. It never poured but it did not relent. The trail was mostly remaining dry in the tree / covered areas. As we got into the more open areas, it was slick. In many areas I choose to run on the grass instead of the trail and my feet quickly became soaked.


Here i am just keeping it weird! What a moron. Haha.

Now, going in to ANY race or event I never expect to finish first or even near the top. I absolutely consider myself a mid packer, definitely not fast but usually not the slowest. I always tell my husband I want to finish and not finish last. He tells me, well someone has to finish last. (Foreshadow in full effect.)


Above with my Black Hills running buddy, Dave. He is awesome.

Soon, I was also soaked. Everything. Even my hat was dripping. BUT, I knew everyone else was putting up with the same conditions. I told myself just don’t quit. The thing about trail running is you are alone a lot. Once bad thoughts start creeping in, it is hard to shut them up. I was becoming defeated and very frustrated by the slipping and sliding I was doing on the trails. It was really tense on my body and I could feel my muscles working in ways they don’t usually.


This was me leaving the start line and probably the last time I smiled. Haha. Just kidding, but I was a negative Nancy for a while there. With such a small field, it was easy to know my place and I was very certain I was in last place. I actually wanted to cry for a hot minute because I felt defeated.

I gave myself a pep talk right then and there.

  • I’ve never rain in these rainy, muddy, windy conditions.
  • I was coming off of a high mileage week (ran 26.2 the Saturday alone before!)
  • I haven’t ran like this before with so many trails and miles back to back to back
  • I wasn’t doing that bad
  • Walking is OK
  • Everyone is cold and wet
  • Old me would have never ran in these conditions
  • Any run outside is better than using the weather as an excuse to not start
  • Reminded myself at least I’m not on at treadmill / it isn’t winter
  • Hurry up and finish so I can see how my Mom did on her 5k


Here I am at the finish. The last lone horse out on the trail. There were 7 of us that finished. I was DEAD last (dang it!) but also the 3rd female so there is that? I always try to look on the bright side.

Quickly, I met up with my Mom and the other finishers. My Mom CRUSHED her 5k. She walks and did so well. She is quick! I told my Mom right off I wasn’t going to finish my miles (too wet and no spare shoes) and we went straight over to the showers so I could clean up and warm up. I wish I had taken a photo of my muddy legs after. Even after the shower, I had mud! So it was a fun experience after I reassessed everything at the end. I mean, I felt kind of bad ass running in that weather! 16 miles for the day was good enough that day.

Fort Lincoln seems to have my number. I have not ever ran strong out there. Last year, it was due to a self inflicted way too fun of a night the night before. This year, just tired and weather – not every run is A+ and the best ever. It happens! There is always next year or other events. After looking at my time, I feel it was OK for me considering. I’m always happy to just be out there.

Fort Abraham Lincoln National Trails Day 15k

This is from my Garmin:

1:39:12 | 9.64 miles | 10:17 pace

Posted in Exercise, Feisty Eats, FeistyLife, Healthy Living, Misc | 1 Comment