Dear Runners and Dreamers,
Now that the busy holidays are behind us, we want to take a moment to say how grateful we are for the immense support that we’ve received over these last three-and-a-half years. rabbit has evolved from a simple, but at times seemingly impossible, idea between two running friends into a cutting-edge performance running apparel brand represented by runners (you!) all over the world. Seeing how much we’ve accomplished in the three-and-a-half years that rabbit has been around, it’s hard to possibly imagine how much we’ll accomplish together in the coming years!
But we runners like to look forward. We wait with anticipation for the next season, or race, or workout or product launch. As a forward-thinking brand, we at rabbit have our sights set on an exciting year in 2020 and we can’t wait to share it with you. We hope we’ll see you on the roads, trails or somewhere in between. Here’s a sneak peek at our busy and bustling year ahead:
As a brand and as a community, we are so very proud and amazed at how far we’ve come and we could not be more excited about our future. And we know none of this is possible without you. For the years of support and love we’ve already received and for the many more years to come, we want to say thank you.
We don’t just have your back in the coming year - we’ve got you covered from head to toe. Here’s to making memories, building friendships, and running in style and comfort in 2020.
-Monica and Jill, co-founders
We are so incredibly proud and excited to introduce our newest rabbitPRO, Adam Kimble. Adam has been a member of the rabbitELITEtrail team for the past two years, but after numerous outstanding performances, it was clear that Adam earned his place on the PRO squad. On the blog, read all about Adam's journey from D1 baseball player to professional ultrarunner to rabbitPRO, all from Adam himself.
My road to becoming a professional ultrarunner has been an unconventional one to say the least. I’ve always been an athlete, but wasn’t a runner until much later in life. I played Division-1 college baseball at Bradley University and during my career, I really didn’t enjoy running at all! As a baseball player, running was often a punishment or just what we did at conditioning, neither of which I enjoyed very much. It wasn’t until after my baseball days that I started to develop a love for running. After I graduated, I realized that I really missed the “game day” competition and camaraderie of teammates. As such, I was looking for a new outlet. Enter distance running.
After my wife convinced me to run a half-marathon to “get in shape” in 2011, I ran my first ever marathon a year later in 2012. Upon completing the race, I can very vividly remember telling my friends that “I’m never doing that ever again.” Less than two weeks later, I signed up for my next one! However, with ultrarunning, it was different. I signed up for a trail 50k in 2014 and showed up at the race underprepared for the trail conditions. Less than a mile into the race, we were trudging through knee deep water. And though you might think that would have left a sour taste in my mouth, it actually made it more memorable and appealing to me. I was attracted to the challenges and obstacles that trail racing presented, and it made me curious for even longer distances. So, just under two months after that first 50k, I ran my first 50-miler. After crossing the finish line, I was intrigued by the thought of what happens after Mile 50, so I signed up for my first 100-miler two months after that. Each and every time I ran a longer distance, I found more joy in the process and ultimately, more success in the races.
In 2015, while traveling internationally with my wife, I decided to test my merits on the international level and compete in the 4Deserts Gobi March self-supported 250km multi-stage race. I raced for five days (150 miles total) against competitors from over 40 countries and to my surprise, I ended up winning the race! At that moment in time my eyes were opened to the possibility of a career in professional ultrarunning. Since that race in 2015, I made one major promise to myself: build your life around your greatest passion. For me, ultrarunning and its incredible community is that passion and calling. From the time I won that first big ultra, I’ve been able to run across the US, set the FKT for running self-supported across Great Britain while summitting the Three Peaks, set the second-fastest time ever for the 172-mile Tahoe Rim Trail, and finish on the podium at four different 100-mile races. I’ve also become a USATF-certified running coach, a Race Director for the multi-stage race organization called Beyond the Ultimate, and a motivational speaker. All these things fulfill me and allow me to intertwine my love for running across a variety of platforms.
As I mentioned earlier, I was missing both the competition of sport and the camaraderie of my teammates after I finished playing baseball. Racing at the highest level of competition in ultrarunning fulfills the first part, and the community around our sport fulfills the rest! After moving to Lake Tahoe from Chicago three years ago, I was thrust into a different world of running. Rather than the flats of Illinois, I was running at elevation and mostly on trails in the Sierra Nevada mountains. It took to time to adjust to that, but what didn’t take time was the love the trail and ultrarunning community in Tahoe showed to me from Day 1. When I told myself to live a life built around my passions, I had no idea that ultrarunning was going to lead me to cross paths with some of the kindest, most supportive friends I could have ever asked for. And I’m not just talking about running friends and people I met at races; I’m also talking about sponsors who treat me like family. Just over two years ago I started wearing rabbit clothing, and instantly fell in love with the product. It’s the most comfortable running clothing I’ve ever worn! But that’s not the only thing I look for in a sponsor. More importantly, I want the support of rad people who believe in me and are doing rad things to give back to our sport. To be a part of the rabbitPRO team means the world to me, and I couldn’t be more excited for the journey ahead! My 2020 race season kicks off with the Tarawera 100-Miler in February in New Zealand (part of the Ultra-Trail World Tour), one of my favorite countries in the world. After that, I’m slated to run some combination (TBD) of the Pioneer Spirit 50, Lake Sonoma 50, UROC 100k, TRT 100-Miler and California International Marathon. One of my biggest goals for the year is to set a new personal best at every distance from the marathon to 100 miles. Knowing that I have the full support of the rabbit family behind me on these endeavors makes me that much more confident that I’ll get it done. I couldn’t be more stoked for huge accomplishments in 2020 and beyond!
On the blog, RADrabbit Sam Snyder delivers a powerful recap of his meaningful CIM experience and the incredible impact a single marathon has across the running community.
Hobbling through the Sacramento airport every runner gave the other a knowing nod, an understanding of chosen suffering, and an embrace of a common bond, forged through both shared and distinct experiences somewhere between Folsom and Sacramento the day before.
Walking off the plane, congratulating other runners and parting with high fives I couldn’t shake the notion that CIM 2019 might have been one of my most profound experiences in recent memory.
Looking backwards to 2015, I vividly remember a cold, slightly snowy November morning. Running with my friends Kate and Jen as they spoke of the California International Marathon, of qualifying for Boston. I chuckled as we moved. “No way.” “Not a chance.” An easy dismissal, like brushing the falling snow off the sleeve of my jacket. Suddenly here I am having achieved those goals this past weekend at that very race, yet moved by so much more than the click of a clock.
Back then I knew so little. A late in life runner seeking some sanity, not speed and certainly not races, goals, BQs . . sub 3s?. I gave little thought to the larger questions about running and its impact on community or society.
In early 2016, when I applied in that first round to be a rabbit brand ambassador - a RAD rabbit - I did so out of intrigue for this startup brand that appeared motivated by a similar set of shared values. Looking back I had no real idea what it meant to be a Runner and a Dreamer.
I think, after this last weekend, I finally do.
A year ago I watched CIM from afar, vowing that I must run that race. Largely because it seemed like one of the greatest meet ups of all the other rabbits, the brand I had grown to embrace for its community, character, and collective spirit. The FOMO was palpable. Sure I was intrigued by those seeking that OTQ or setting and besting their own goals last year. But all the possible friends in real life, in one place, had me internally committing to run CIM.
Leading up to this year’s race, while focused on goals and hanging onto training, I occasionally admitted my excitement to meet so many friends in real life. I was only half joking when I told Mary Schneider, that the prospect of friends perhaps excited me more than the race. She rightly cautioned me to focus on the task at hand.
Yet that Sacramento meetup held so much more than I imagined. So many faces I knew virtually were now around me. Initial handshakes upon introductions led to deep embraces as if long lost friends seeing each other after ages. These were connections forged online, through the pursuit of running now manifest as real, powerful relationships that felt decades deep.
Perhaps the secret gift of running is community. So much of running is personal, individual, and at times very, very lonely. The long runs with tempo work forced to do alone in the dark, the time spent away from family and friends, focused on what outsiders may see as odd, arbitrary and sadistic goals. Yet, we know there are other runners out there doing the same thing at the same time. Whether we know them or not we share that bond. And when you put us all into a room together, it’s like we’re long lost childhood friends in a candy store.
So, while we all run for our own and varied reasons, one cannot deny the power of these connections, this community as a central tenet of our efforts. And on Saturday in Sacramento, we shared an electric excitement for what lay ahead.
Throughout the day, perhaps the most common conversation centered around the ever shifting weather forecast. My routine response: “it’s going to be a beautiful day. Just wait.”
The weather turned out pretty darn good - drizzle, clouds, a bit of sunshine (which this Alaskan hated for its quick heat), drizzle, and . . . OK I could have done without the headwind at mile 15 or so). But, the day? The day itself was pure beauty.
For some that breathtaking sunrise of goals set and achieved, PRs, BQs secured, and OTQs punched. For others, the crumbling heartbreak of goals missed by the whisper of time. And others, finish lines missed as bodies revolted or gave in to the unanticipated. In all cases, profound, raw, emotional beauty. As David Melly eloquently penned, it was the “beauty of humanity laid bare.”
My own race, like others, held a roller coaster of emotions. Calm, excitement, and nerves balanced between confident attack and fear of blowing up. The early miles were fun and full of opportunity. The middle miles a hopeful analysis of things to come. And those final miles, that last 5K, defined by sheer will to keep moving as the wheels threatened to wobble off the bus and into the ditch.
Three, four days later, I cannot get enough of the videos and reflections. Never mind the “shoe debate.” The video of 75 plus humans working on that OTQ train is absolute beauty. The commentary of sharing and support on board that train, an example of humanity we seem to lack in everyday life anymore.
But, it’s not just the elites and sub elites who exemplified this humanity. From the start to finish, the marathon, and certainly CIM, brings out those silent, distant bonds built on our own trails and streets, training plans, and individual efforts to get to this point. On those roads between Folsom and Sacramento the metaphysical became physical.
While I didn’t have the pleasure of working with a pack of dozens like that OTQ train, somewhere between the 3:05 pace group and the 3:10 pace group there was a rotating dozen or so of us, who chuckled at signs, offered comments or encouragement along the way, and when the headwind found us at mile 16, we had a moment of acknowledgement working together toward calmer roads. But the power of my race came in that final mile and a half, when the wheels were mostly off. A much faster friend whose race had deteriorated due to a nagging injury, slid up beside me and then willed me to the finish. I, like others, attained a goal through the selflessness of others.
Upon crossing that finish line, avoiding puking and catching my breath, I took a moment to ponder all that I had accomplished. Then I quickly scanned the crowd for friends. Where were other rabbits? Or my Alaskan crew? Did Ryan break 2:30? How massively did Julianne crush her goal? I urgently wanted to hear their stories and celebrate their work. And, there in the celebration of their pursuit, I lost sight of my own self.
And in the end, what seems to some like a selfish pursuit, is so very selfless. Yes, we run for ourselves, but it’s the others around us who do everything from directly supporting to unknowingly inspiring. It’s the friends lost to tragedy (#fuckcancer) for whom we run and embrace the privilege to suffer. It’s our children who silently watch us grind and greet us at the finish line, asking if we “won.” It’s those faster or slower than us who inspire the additional step when we feel there are no steps left.
That, I have learned, is what is all about. That is the lesson of Sunday.
It turns out, Sunday was indeed beautiful. Sunday exemplified the power, emotion, and meaning of the marathon. To borrow again from David Melly, the beauty of running and dreaming was laid bare on those roads between Folsom and Sacramento.
rabbitELITEtrail athlete, Jake Jackson competed for Team USA in the 24 Hour World Championships last month! Read all about his incredible experience and an amazing top 10 finish!
Life and ultra running share many similarities. If you're not very good at adapting to problems thrown at you, you'll never be very good at either one.
I was fortunate enough to be selected to run for team USA at the 2019 IAU 24 Hour World Championships in Albi France, held on October 26th. My qualifying distance of 157.589, run at last years Desert Solstice, placed me in the number 3 spot on the men's team consisting of Olivier LeBlond, Rich Riopel, Steve Slaby, Harvey Lewis and Greg Armstrong.
Both the US men's and women's teams were comprised of some the the best ultra runners in the world and I was feeling extremely under experienced compared to my teammates. My training leading up to the race had been going well and as the race day closed my confidence grew. Experienced or not, it was only running and I knew how to do that.
After a long flight out of LAX the family and I settled into one of the host hotels, Grand Hotel d' Orleans. Jet lag was nothing I had ever dealt with so I was happy to arrive a few days early. We had one day of team meetings, team photos, and sightseeing. Then, the Friday before the race, the 45 teams from all around the world gathered for a opening ceremony parade starting from the Sainte Cecile Cathedral and ending at The Grand Theatre. While the town of Albi isn't very big, it has a rich history and is quite beautiful.
The race started the following day at 10am under clear, cool skies. The coaches, crew and athletes frantically got the aid tent prepared and before long the race was starting. The plan prior to the race was to have my wife Missy crew me while the kids were looked after by my mother-in-law. Unfortunately my mother-in-law fell ill before our flight and couldn't make the trip leaving me without a designated crew. We got word the day before the race that only a handful of passes were to be given to each team limiting the amount of crew available. Thankfully Camille Herron's husband Conor offered to crew the both of us so things were set.
The few moments before the starting gun was sounded I had an overwhelming feeling of pride to be wearing the American flag on my chest and to be able to represent our country, on the highest level of this sport, was all too surreal.
The race takes place on a looped 1500 meter course. 400 meters on the track inside the Albigeois Sports Stadium, the rest on a slightly uneven blacktop and concrete surface around the stadiums perimeter. We started on the opposite side of the stadium so getting to run past the crowds and all of the aid tents only added to the electricity.
My nutrition plan was to take one Spring Energy gel every 30 minutes and consume one bottle of water mixed with Spring Electroride every hour. The first 6 hours went off without a hitch averaging 8 minute miles and feeling very comfortable with my effort. Conor was putting one of each of the two gels types into the pocket of my Orange Mud handheld which made hand offs at the aid tent flawless. Every 30 minutes it was consume gel, drink fluids and drop bottle a lap later.
The day started to warm and I noticed quite a few runners using ice bandannas but there was a nice breeze and I wasn't sweating nearly at all so I continued on without needing any extra cooling. There were two stations set up along the course that had tubs filled with cold water and sponges so I'd occasionally dip my hat or hands into it to clean my face and stay cool.
Hours 6-12 my pace had fallen between 8:15-8:25 but my legs were still feeling good. By this point the winds had picked up some and there were a few stretches outside the stadium where you'd turn a corner and get blasted. Some drafting techniques I'd learned marathon racing came into play but we were all grateful to be out of the heat heading into the cool night. I was sitting in 10 place at the end of 12 hours and feeling determined to help the men's team secure a podium spot. Steve and Greg were having some issues earlier but I wasn't that much ahead of Olivier, Rich, and Harvey so we were still on the hunt. I believe at this point we were sitting in 5th place but had heard the Japan team was starting to falter and losing steam leaving the Hungry, France and Poland team still ahead.
Hours 12-18 was where things started to get somewhat more difficult. I was still able to click off miles at a decent pace but Conor was trying hard to get Camille on track and our communication each lap was starting to be interrupted. There was a few laps I was expecting a bottle or something else I needed that got missed. Thankfully 1500 meters isn't very long but this late in the race a missed hand off can mess with your mind and rhythm. Not having Missy crewing and knowing exactly what I need was difficult but I was determined to make the best of the situation and keep a positive mindset.
I had started to get some flavor fatigue from all of the gels and was relying on whole foods from the aid station. Mostly dark chocolate, crackers and crushed Pringles in a cup. Megan Alvarado, who unfortunately had to pull herself from the race due to an injury, thankfully offered to take over for Conor and crew me the rest of the race. At some point I got the craving for some of the fries I kept smelling. Megan put out the word and the US coach Howard Nippert was kind enough to pick some up for me. I don't think I'd ever been so happy to be eating fries and by the looks of the runners I passed I was causing some jealousy towards me.
Hours 18-24 were as you would expect rough. The men's team had methodically moved up into contention and were charging. I was sitting in 7th place and closing. At 20 hours my legs were having a hard time staying underneath me. I'd find myself leaning forward too much and with the momentum having to play catch up. I knew we were close but 4 hours of running might as well feel like 100 when you've been at it for that long. Rich had come up with a quad strain and was struggling so he was out of the top scoring 3. That left Olivier, Harvey and myself to go after gold. Steve and Greg were still on course giving support and pacing whenever they could.
Greg, in-particular, was my saving grace the remainder of the race. We shared many laps together and with his constant encouragement, motivation, and help with pointing out when I was leaning to far forward, I was able to move at a good pace. (Thank you Greg!! Despite not having the race you'd hoped for, you were a huge part of the success of my race and I will forever be in debt to you for your kindness and generosity. I hope our paths cross in the near future my friend)
Sometime before the sun came up, crew chief Zane Holscher, gave word that if we all just kept moving the pace we were at we'd have gold locked up. What an amazing thing to hear!!
I finished 7th overall with 265.650 km(165.07 miles) and Harvey Lewis was the 3rd scoring member finishing 13th with 258.620 km (160.7 miles). Not only did we take gold we set a new record for men's team distance with 799.755 km (496.94 miles).
When the final second clicked off I couldn't quite grasp what myself and more importantly the US teams had accomplished. I had just run nearly 7.5 miles further than I did at Desert Solstice on the biggest stage I had ever run on. The monkey that had been on my back for nearly a year since was finally gone. I wasn't a one hit wonder. My final distance places me 6th all time on the US list of 24 hour performances. Just shy of legends Rae Clark and Scott Jurek. Not too shabby for a truck driver.
Nate Guthals is an ideal example of a hard worker. Nate started out as RADrabbit and now is the newest member of our rabbitELITE squad after he cruised to a win and a 2:17:50 PR at the Beyond Monumental Marathon. We are so proud of you, Nate!
I still consider myself fairly new to the marathon scene, so the CNO Financial Indianapolis Monumental Marathon was originally one I picked out as a good option to gain some more experience prior to the Olympic trials next February. It also helped that: (1) the race fit nicely into scheduled training build ups, (2) I had heard it was a good event and a fast course, and (3) I felt like I would have a good shot at bringing home a bit of prize money. Since hitting my OTQ at Grandma’s Marathon this June, training had gone very well, despite some minor hiccups caused by the difficulty of training through the hot and humid Midwest summer. I was feeling very confident coming in race week as the cooler fall weather had resulted in a number of strong workouts as I tapered down.
Race weekend began for me on Thursday, with a 7 hour drive from Kansas City. After a good night of sleep, Friday started with an easy shake out run with fellow rabbit athletes Jarrett LeBlanc and Dan Nestor (congrats to him on a big win and OTQ in his half marathon debut). Later on, made a trip to the store to pick up some extra throw away layers to be prepared for sub-freezing projected race-time temperatures, as well as a few other race day items that I had forgotten to pack. The day finished up with a packed out technical meeting for the elite fields, a classic pre-race Italian dinner with my coach, Tim Goldsack of RunCCG, and a few of his other athletes, then returning to the hotel to lay out my gear for the race and try to relax a bit so I could get a few good hours of sleep.
Race morning began with a 5 am alarm so that I could get in a small breakfast with plenty of time to digest before the race. About 2 hours later, it was time to head down to the athlete hospitality room and get started on a short warm up. I got in 10 minutes of light jogging, a few drills, and a couple trips to the bathroom before shedding most of my warm up gear and heading to the start line. I got in a few strides, then we were called to the start line and, in what many described as the most confusing moment of the day, the signal to start was given (with about half of the front line not really ready).
The race was underway, and I took off trying not to get too caught up in the quick pace of the half marathon field, while simultaneously trying to find others who I knew would be competing for the top spot in the marathon. I was able to locate Juris Silenieks and we tried to settle into a pace that would set us up to run near the 2:15 time that we both had in mind as a goal for the race. After coming through the mile right around 5 flat (too fast) we pulled back a little and cruised through 10k at just over 5:15 per mile pace. The pace quickened a little over the next few miles as we ran with a slight tailwind for much of the first half, resulting in our second 10k split being closer to 5:07 per mile (a little under 2:15 pace, but not too much).
We hit 13.1 miles in right around 68 minutes, a time that would have equaled my half marathon PR up until this September. As we began to turn and head back towards the downtown area, the breeze that had been to our benefit was now coming against us and I started to notice the fatigue that was creeping through my legs. I dropped off the pace slightly and wondered briefly if I might be feeling better if I had forced down more fluids at the first two bottle stations. I pushed those thoughts away and turned my focus to the black shirt that was now pulling ahead of me; making it my goal to keep the gap between us as small as possible.
By mile 17 the tables had turned a bit as Juris was now going through a rough patch like I had experienced not long ago. I closed the distance between us, and by mile 19 had taken a slight lead. Every turn over the next 7 miles, I had to resist the urge to look back; choosing instead to just focus on putting one foot in front of the other and covering ground as quickly as I could to stay ahead of Juris, as well as the fast moving pack of men chasing the 2:19:00 OTQ standard.
With 5k remaining to the finish, I finally shed the warm up jacket I had worn the entire race, a decision I almost immediately regretted as I made the turn onto Meridian St towards downtown and was welcomed with a stiff, chilling gust of wind. Thankfully, we had rejoined the half marathon course at this point so I had plenty of other runners cheering me on and distracting me from the dull ache of exhaustion in my legs. A combination of willpower and the energy of the growing crowd carried my through the final miles towards the finish that seemed so close, but couldn’t possibly com fast enough. As I made the last turn to bring the finish line into view, I was filled with a sense of elation as I finally felt confident that I was going to hold off the competition chasing me. I was going to win a big city marathon! I threw on as much of a smile as my cold face could muster and tossed my hands up in the air as I trotted through the banner pulled out across the finish line.
Couldn’t have asked for a better result on a tough day. A huge thanks are in order for everyone who made the event possible, and congratulations to all those who ran, especially the other 39 athletes in the half and full who hit the OTQ standards. Can’t wait to see everyone again next February in Atlanta!
This blog was written by rabbitPRO Lauren Totten, an accomplished 2:33 marathoner. Lauren and her husband Seth Totten, a fellow rabbitPRO athlete, are expecting their first child in early 2020. We are so incredibly excited for the Tottens as they start this amazing new chapter of their life. On the blog, Lauren shares her experience as running shifts towards a different meaning and purpose in pregnancy, and it is a great read. We also want to take a moment to share our company stance and policy towards our athletes who want to create a family while also maintaining a professional running career. It is our honor and privilege to support Lauren, and all of our athletes, who get pregnant. All of our athletes are protected and supported through and after pregnancy without exception. Founded by two female runners who are also mothers, rabbit values family and vows to always provide maternal protection to its athletes.
I’ve always dreamed of being a mom and looked forward to that day. As a young girl I loved running and became a marathoner by the age of 23, qualifying for the 2016 Olympic Marathon Trials with a time of 2:35 at my debut. As I watched friends put babies on hold for their running careers, I looked forward to the day I would become a mom. When I met my husband, Seth, I watched his glow for kids. After 2 years of marriage, I began to feel my heart shift to wanting kids and my running legs needing a break from years of marathoning. After Seth and I raced the 2019 NYC Half Marathon, we hoped to start a family. God gave us that blessing two short months later. I couldn’t have been more thrilled and thankful.
Embracing change and hitting pause are two things I’ve learned in pregnancy. Having a baby is one of the greatest joys and Seth and I have always known I would hit pause on my running career when that day came. And, when it did, I created new goals and found a new rhythm to my mornings and life. No more 4:45am alarm clocks for workouts or even getting out of bed for breakfast for that matter. My first trimester, though filled with so much peace and excitement, also included a whole lot of morning sickness. My last run at 4.5 weeks pregnant was 9 miles around a pretty reservoir in Orange County for a friend’s wedding. That afternoon, the first signs of nausea came and lasted through rest of my first trimester, halting my runs to morning walks and moving up my bed time to 7:00pm.
While most of myself embraced slowing down and rest, I did have a couple moments of wondering if I would run during pregnancy. If I’ve learned one thing, just like in my running career, comparison steals joy. I stopped using Strava and also, stopped paying attention to what other running moms were doing. I knew that in order to find joy in my pregnancy and truly embrace it, I needed it to be without comparison to anyone else. Some women can run all the way through pregnancy while some don’t run at all. My goal was to not have any goals except to be happy and healthy, and grow our baby strong. That meant slowing down, walking more until I felt better, and setting healthy boundaries on what I viewed on social media.
Of course, there was a part of me that wanted to run a race during pregnancy. I’ve always been goal oriented, even though my goals during pregnancy have completely shifted. As first trimester passed and my bump slowly started to show, I started to attempt running again. I felt really nervous, like a first time runner. Would I remember what to do? What if I felt sick the whole time? What if I never feel normal running? My first couple of weeks back running were 30-40 minute runs, 3-4 days a week at almost 2.5-3 minutes a mile slower than my usually pace. But, I was happy to be out on trails and doing what I love with our baby. I gradually increased over the next few months as I moved to 5 days a week of running 35-60 minutes of running daily with a long run on the weekend. One of my happiest accomplishments was running my favorite trail in Ojai —10 miles. That trail holds my fondest 30 mile run when I was preparing for TNF 50 in the short season that I competed on the trails to take a pause from marathoning.
I also started to learn and grow on runs in new ways. Instead of grinding and pushing in a tempo run, I learned to slow and pause. I ran up Romero Canyon a few times and took more than 6 or 7 or 8 stops (and stopped to eat snacks, of course), pausing to catch my breath but also to look around and appreciate the beautiful views and take in things I don’t usually see. I’ve spent most of my marathon career not seeing any sights when I race a marathon or being able to really pause on runs. I’ve never been out of a breath in a tempo and just stopped. I realized, being pregnant that I had that option. I’ve stopped more and hit pause; what a beautiful thing that has been to experience. I think that’s something I’ll carry on even after kids; hitting pause can teach you so much.
And, naturally, I signed up for a half marathon at 6 months pregnant. Pregnancy is full of unknowns and I had no idea how I’d prepare for the half marathon or if I’d be able to run it. But, it gave me a marker to work towards. In my “build up” I ran two 10 miles runs and an 8 mile run. Nothing longer. No workouts. No faster runs. No training plan. In fact, most days I wake up and decide if I’ll run, walk, or cycle.
The month before the half marathon, my dad was diagnosed with brain cancer and my husband and I spent lots of time driving from Santa Barbara to Northern California and back. I was tired. With a full mind, emotional heart, and tired body, the goal of my half got pushed to the back corners of my heart. I looked for a place for Seth and I to move, as we had already planned on making the move when we started our family. But, the pressing matter of being near family as soon as we could occupied my mind. And, being present with them became more important than preparation for a fun half marathon.
A week before the half, we packed up our little home in Santa Barbara and with tearful eyes said goodbye to the place where we started our marriage, where we grew our little family to three, and where we established community. Initially, I was so nervous to move to a new town and had a hard time adjusting. Oh how things change. As we signed a lease and realized the move was really happening, I felt a lot of sadness to leave what now felt like home. But, in a season of embracing change, we felt at peace with our move. Sometimes, the embracing change part can be hard and as I write this, it still is. But, there’s growth and life in that. Just like there’s a new life in me growing.
Even two days before the half I didn’t know how I’d decide if I would start. I think I secretly wanted my husband to give me permission to just not do it, which he would have fully supported, but instead, he gently encouraged me. He knew this was something I wanted. He knew I would regret not trying. And, I thought of my dad. I thought of how brave he was to start chemo and radiation this week on his birthday. And, his bravery gave me strength. Many people run for causes to raise money or awareness, which is such a beautiful thing. I ran thinking of my dad without telling anyone. I think, part of me wanted to make him proud.
And, it was almost like going for my first run after my first trimester. It was all brand new. I woke up only 40 minutes before leaving the house, eating thick slices of sourdough with butter, salt and peanut butter. Instead of grabbing race flats, I made sure I had my belly band and SNB anti-chaffing lube. And, instead of making sure I had all I needed with my race kit, I put on the clothes that fit and are comfiest. The nerves I had were the distance and if I’d need to Uber back to the finish, rather than the pace I’d run. Although, I had zero idea how to pace myself. And, that’s always been something that has come naturally. I’ve always been a metronome until baby.
As we met up with friends, Seth and his college teammate, Ben, warmed up, and his girlfriend, Megan, and I visited and foam rolled, moseyed over to the port-a-potties, and chatted. No pre-race strides. No warm up drills. No frantically putting on flats. I instead was figuring out how I wanted the number to sit on my bump, and wondering if I would chaff everywhere. I put on headphones for the first time in a race and prepared a podcast.
We picked a place to start in the middle of the crowd, somewhere between the 8:00 minute and 9:00 pace group and waited for 15 minutes until the gun went off. I gave Seth a kiss and he ran up to the front; it was strange to not start near him. Then, I turned to Megan and asked her how timing works. She reminded me to not press “start” until we cross the line. This was my first time ever, at almost 30 to experience racing in the pack. Yes, I’ve done races where I wasn’t “racing,” but I’ve never truly raced in the pack. As the gun went off, we slowly jogged across the start line and off I went.
At first, it felt so strange to have so many people around me. I quickly found I do enjoy the quietness of racing up front and racing, but that there was also something so moving to being with people of all backgrounds, ages, genders; I loved that. I felt like I was experiencing something entirely new. My podcast was entirely boring and I soon took out my iPhone and put on Florence + the Machine, my favorite artist and the perfect backdrop music to my time spent out on the course. The miles went by quickly and I couldn’t believe I was running faster than my usual run pace, running around 8:10-8:18 pace. I took Gatorade out on the course and darted into my first port-a-potty at mile 3. I was proud to only stop twice during the race when most 30-40 minute runs include 1-2 stops.
As I weaved through people, and was running near the 1:50 pace group, I felt so proud that I would run well under 2 hours. I had a goal of running 2:00 hours or under, but had no idea if that was realistic or if I would finish the half. I worried I might become emotional or start cramping, because, ligament pain. Instead, I felt so much joy for the whole half. Mile 11 started to feel hard, but I new I was close to the finish. I loved experiencing this special thing with our baby boy. And, the best moment was seeing Seth at mile 13. He cheered and yelled like I was running a half PR. Tears welled up in my eyes and I had never felt so proud of myself. I’ve run 1:12 in the half and 2:33 in the marathon, taking 3rd at CIM that year, but this moment in a crowd of other people — this moment was so incredibly special. I crossed the line in 1:49.52.
Hitting pause and embracing change in pregnancy has brought so much peace and joy. While you might not run a half in your pregnancy, try something new or do something you think you maybe can’t. Do it because you love it. I raced because I wanted to experience a race carrying our baby boy, and to one day tell him he can do it. He can do the thing that seems hard or impossible or challenging.
This blog was written by rabbitPRO Taylor Nowlin. Taylor has been crushing the trails including a recent 2nd place at the Speedgoat 50k and placing top four at the Broken Arrow Skyrace 52k. Taylor has managed all of this amazing running success while balancing the demands of nursing school and she shares more about how she balances life on the blog.
Odds are you already play the run-life balance game. Most of us don’t have the luxury of ‘just running’, and although I think we’re better for it, sometimes it can make training a little tricky. Personally, I’m always riding the tide of ‘on top of my shit’ and ‘shit just hit the fan’, so I’m not going to pretend I’ve got the whole balance thing down to an art. Since starting an accelerated nursing program this year, I have made a few tweaks to both my schedule and my mindset that have made training for ultras while going to school full time a little more manageable.
Here’s the top 3 thing’s I’ve learned:
Seriously, this isn’t #1 by mistake. Patting myself on the back for the miles I CAN make time for instead of hyper-focusing on the miles I CAN’T fit in has been a huge part of my mental fitness regimen. If I want to show up on race day and give it my all, I have to feel confident in my training going in. I used to get that confidence from my mileage and workout splits, but now any little victory is worth celebrating. Did I get in a couple miles before class? Sweet! 8 hours of sleep? Hallelujah! Aced a test? I’ll take that too. I’ve always been my own harshest critic, but in order to handle more in my life, I’ve had to learn to start cheering myself on, too.
For the Speedgoat 50k this year I got out of class on Friday afternoon, drove to Phoenix, flew into Salt Lake City, slept for a few hours, made it the race start with about 5 minutes to spare, placed 2nd, flew home, and woke up Sunday morning to cram for a final. What I learned during that less than 24 hour trip was this: racing locally is a WHOLE LOT EASIER. I was on the fast track for burnout with that schedule, and had to stop and readjust my expectations. Now I focus on fewer ‘A’ races, get my speedwork in through local events, and take my off days when the other parts of my life demand more attention.
Last year when I was training for the North Face 50 miler I was putting in 25 hour weeks, and I just don’t have time to log hours like that anymore, and that’s okay. Instead I give myself credit for the activities I have built into my schedule already; like biking to class and walking 10,000 steps during night shifts at the hospital. I really feel like time on your feet is time on your feet, and that long days wherever they take place translate to fitness and mental stamina on race day. Maybe I can’t run as many miles, but I can definitely do more speedwork and plyometric drills instead! Allowing myself that flexibility has made me not only a happier person, but honestly a healthier runner.
It helps me to think of balance not as something I can achieve like a buckle on a shelf, but something I have to fight for every day. And just like racing ultras, some days it’s just not going to look pretty, but that’s part of the fun.
Dani Moreno has gained a reputation for her ability to charge downhill at break-neck speed on the trails. She showed why this past weekend at the North American, Central American and Caribbean Athletic Association (NACAC) Mountain Running Championships in Jalisco, Mexico.
Moreno, of Santa Barbara, California, stormed to victory and her first NACAC Championships gold medal in a time of 1:05:28, less than a minute ahead of fellow countrywoman and second-place finisher Sam Lewis. After reaching the summit halfway through the out-and-back 12-kilometer out-and-back in second place behind Lewis, Moreno used her downhill trail skills to take the lead on the descent. She never looked back and the two Americans would go 1-2 to pace the women’s team to a gold medal in the team competition.
Moreno’s victory was not without its challenges as the course received significant rainfall in the days before, leaving the trails muddied and slick. Despite a fall in the mud and a loose shoelace, Moreno maintained her composure and used the second half of the race to build her eventual 58-second lead at the finish.
“The NACAC Championship was my first time representing the USA in a short mountain course, so coming away with the team and the individual win was extremely gratifying,” Moreno said after the race.
With the win now on her resume, Moreno will surely contend for a podium spot at the World Mountain Running Championships next month in Argentina, where she is scheduled to represent the United States again. Although the long-distance course of 42-kilometers will tax Moreno’s longer distance skill set, the mountainous course is sure to suit her explosive downhill running ability.
“I am currently training for the World Mountain Championships, so this was a great effort and confidence booster. I am counting down the days until I get to compete with the USA on my chest again,” added Moreno.
Follow Moreno on November 15th when she next dons the red, white and blue at the World Mountain Running Championships.
Photo Credits: Photo 1: Tad Davis @watrailrunner
When Michael McKnight set out to complete the Triple Crown of 200s this year, he simply wanted to complete the Bigfoot 200, Tahoe 200 and Moab 240 in a faster combined time than his record combined time of 205 hours, 4 minutes and 18 seconds from 2017. In the process of successfully resetting his Triple Crown record, he also made history.
After winning the 2019 Bigfoot 200 in August, McKnight realized that he might be able to do more than just improve upon his record-setting Triple Crown time from two years ago. After all, he finished the first of the Triple Crown races, a roughly 206-mile race in the state of Washington, more than 18 hours faster than in 2017.
“I know a lot can happen at the remaining two races, but I’m feeling very confident right now,” McKnight said back in August.
He used that confidence to continue his winning ways at the Tahoe 200 last month. He won that race in the third-fastest-ever time by circumnavigating Lake Tahoe nearly 17 hours faster than he did in the 2017 race. With a roughly 35-hour lead on his 2017 Triple Crown record time, McKnight lined up for his third 200-plus mile race in as many months at the Moab 240, a 240-mile race through Utah.
Racing in his home state of Utah this past weekend, McKnight stormed to an emphatic third consecutive win by finishing in 59 hours, 30 minutes and 11 seconds--almost 12 hours ahead of the second-place finisher and an eight-plus hour improvement on his 2017 time.
The Moab 240 win cemented McKnight’s historic Triple Crown performance in the record books. Not only did McKnight shatter his previous Triple Crown record by more than 40 hours, finishing with a combined three-race time of 162 hours, 0 minutes and 50 seconds, but he also became the first person to win all three races of the Triple Crown in the same year.
“This [Triple Crown win] is a testimony to me that we truly are the ones who define and set our own limits. Thankfully, we are capable of breaking those limits as well,” said McKnight.
It’s believed that McKnight will next be napping for the foreseeable future. He’s earned it.
You can follow Mike on instagram here.
After the inception of the Western States 100 Endurance Run in 1974, 100-mile races began to emerge around the country. By 1991, after the formation of the Arkansas Traveller 100, there existed at least eight big-name 100 milers around the country: Old Dominion 100, Mohican 100, Vermont 100, Angeles Crest 100, Leadville 100, Wasatch Front 100, and the aforementioned Western States and Arkansas Traveller. These races take place across the U.S. between early June and early October. Complete all eight races in the roughly 120-day span and you’ve completed the Great Eight of UltraRunning.
If you’ve never heard of the Great Eight of UltraRunning, you’re not alone. Only four people have completed the epic feat in the past 28 years. rabbitELITE trail athlete Sean Nakamura became the challenge’s fourth and most recent finisher after completing the Arkansas Traveller 100 this past weekend in 26 hours, 39 minutes and 45 seconds. By completing the Great Eight, Nakamura also became a finisher of the historic four-race summer slam known as the Grand Slam of Ultrarunning. Nakamura is the first runner to complete the Great Eight in the past 20 years but for him the task was long overdue.
Photo: Paul Nelson
Nakamura currently holds a run streak of over 3,200 days. That’s nearly 9 years of consecutive daily running. He’s finished nine races of 200 miles or longer, thirty-nine 100-mile races and over 150 marathons. With such an impressive long-distance running resume, the forty-year-old Nakamura might have completed the Great Eight when he first learned about it years ago. But first he had to gain entry into some of the eight races through lotteries.
Nakamura explains: “The Great Eight started with a dream of getting into Western States. Five years later, my name was finally drawn for Western as well as for the Leadville 100. At that point, I knew I had to try for the Grand Slam of UltraRunning and then try to get into The Last Great Race, running the six original races in one summer, which would require another three lotteries (Vermont 100, Angeles Crest 100 and Wasatch 100) plus entry into Old Dominion.”
With six 100 milers already on his schedule, Nakamura realized that he could add the Mohican 100 and Arkansas Traveller 100 without conflict to complete an eight-race summer. “I knew that this was a once in a lifetime opportunity to go big for an epic summer,” he recalls.
Between the logistical maze of arriving at each start line, the unique challenges of completing each race, and the physical and mental demands of racing 800 miles in one summer, you’d think that Nakamura would seek out a bed between efforts. Instead, he added to more races to his summer schedule: the Ultra-Trail du Mont-Blanc 170-kilometer race and the Tahoe 200 Mile. Nakamura called these races the “cherry on top” of his quest for the Great Eight.
Now that the big summer is behind him, Nakamura has no intention of slowing down. He’ll next run the Chicago Marathon on October 13th with his wife, Jenny, who he credits with making possible his ambitious summer plans. He’ll then try his luck at Big’s Backyard Ultra, a run-until-you-drop style race, starting on October 19th.
It seems fair to assume that Nakamura’s 3,000-plus day run streak will continue into 2020, too.
Sean was just featured on The Ginger Runner. To learn more about his epic summer journey give it a watch here.