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Topo shoe race review

I started ultra running less than 7 years ago.  I have learned through trial and error many things.  One of those, “things”, are shoes.  I switched to a zero drop shoe around 4 years ago because of continuous nagging injuries that had occurred with many of my, “overuse”, injuries.  I had researched and learned that going to a shoe that mimics your natural barefoot form would be great to training the body to, “run naturally”.  This has prevented many injuries and helped rehabilitate others.  I was used to wearing the shoe, “altra”, because at that time it was the only shoe that had offered no elevation in the heel.  After about a year the injuries disappeared and my feet became stronger and tougher.  I then went to a shoe called, “Skora”, to train in because it was zero drop and much more like, “barefoot” than the Altra shoes.  The problem was, Skora went out of business and the Altra shoes started becoming unreliable.  {The soles breaking down during the race and the separation of the soles from the shoe early on.}  This was so disappointing for me especially since I use about 3 pairs of shoes per month.  I then started researching zero drop shoes.  More companies have started producing them.  One of those companies is called, “Topo shoes”.  What to expect from them?  A shoe that has the most comfortable fit you have ever imagined.  It also is the lightest weighted shoe I have worn.  The support on the bottom is fantastic and much better than any I have ever worn.  It makes me feel like I am barefoot running without the trauma.  The one thing I hear at the last 20 miles of my races are competitors, “crying” because their feet hurt too much to continue.  I have never had that problem and feel it is because I have trained my body to run with a minimalist shoe.  The Topo shoe meets all my expectations and will be running in them when I break the all time USA 100 mile and 24 hour records this next year. I highly recommend you to try a pair!

Arkansas Traveller 100

Less than 4 weeks after the 200.6 mile race in Tahoe,  I flew out toArkansas into Little Rock.  There Spencer and I rented a car and went to the race registration packet pick-up in a town called, “Perryville”.   This has been the first time I have ran another 100 miles with only three weeks of recovery from my last race.   This race also is extremely hilly, parts of it are in the Ouachita Trail and National Forest.  It has very long ascents and descents with the terrain being very rocky.  We did our preparations for the race and went to the hotel to sleep.  With a start time of 0600 I wanted to be in bed by 2100,  and so I was!  Spencer and I made it to the start line  at 0500 and received my number.  The race director made a point to introduce himself to me and welcome me.  That was very nice and made me feel good as a runner.  At every race it seems you always have one person that wants to tell you all the negative aspects of the, “could-be’s”.  In this race one man came up to me and told me he was from Kentucky and had ran the race seven times.  He then told me look up if I stop to use the bathroom because you have to  watch out for the bow hunters.  He said a  girl got shot by an arrow in the leg last week from one of them.  He also told me the black bears were thick out there.  {Just what I wanted to hear after I was charged by a mother bear in Tahoe}.  Then he started to tell me it was going to be in the high 80’s out there and things I should do to tolerate the heat.  After about 10 minutes of this Spencer interrupted him and told him I ran Badwater two times and know how to handle the heat!  We then thanked him and moved away!

The race began!  The hard runnable hills that challenge you from beginning to end never stopped!  The crew at the aid stations were incredible and it was so well marked!  The volunteers wanted to help you as much as they could and were happy too.  They really were incredible and I felt lucky to have them!  I saw three bow hunters but none of them bothered me or shot at me!  I did not see any bears.  I did see a baby skunk but I was able to run fast to get away from it.  The spiders were large and many!  It rained for about one hour but a soft drizzle at night.  The weather was 88 degrees during the day and never fell below 50 degrees at night.

I finished the race 25:33:29,   5th overall female,  28th overall racer out of 162 starters.  The buckle has a picture of a female ultra runner.  Told to me by the race director that it was a copy of, “Ann Trason’s sillouette “, a very well known and established ultra runner.

Was it enough recovery time from the last race?  NO. But I am happy and grateful on how I did at this hard challenging race.



Tahoe 200 Mile Endurance Run

The Tahoe 200 Endurance Run was one that I had on my, “Bucket List”.   With 40,000 feet of assent and 40,000 feet of descent. It was in the Sierra Mountains and ranging from 4200 feet of altitude to 9800 feet of altitude. A total of over 70,000 feet of altitude change. I joined an incredibly-exclusive club: of the 107 billion people who have ever lived on the planet, well less than 1000 have ever run 200 nonstop miles! (By contrast, about 8000 people have climbed Mt. Everest…) race was for sure the most challenging event I have ever encountered. It is a single 205.5 mile loop mountain race in the USA. You travel threw the Tahoe Rim Trail, and detouring off the TRT to the aspen meadows, rock garden, small lakes and forests. There is a 100 hour cutoff to complete this race. What I did not realize was how difficult this race was. For one, the climb was immediate with the change of 4000.00 feet initially. {Coming from sea level this was extreme for me.}. I encountered terrible altitude sickness with symptoms of altitude sickness can show up immediately or gradually. Symptoms of altitude sickness include:

rapid heart rate
shortness of breath (with or without exertion)
skin discoloration (a change to blue, gray, or pale)
coughing up bloody mucus
chest tightness
decreased consciousness
inability to walk in a straight line
shortness of breath at rest

I had all of these and knew I was combating this issue.

This scared me very much. I was wheezing and short of breath from the first 7 miles of the climb. I live below sea level and have trouble with altitude anyway.  I knew I was going to be at a disadvantage.
The second challenge I had was with the drop bag. I could not see anyone for the first 50 miles and by then I needed a head lamp, warm clothes , and more fuel. Not a secure feeling to not have these things available. It had rained in the evening for about 4 hours. I was not only wet, I was cold {hypothermia}, and my fuel source was extremely limited.
Then came the first 100 miles. It all seemed to come together but I was already with out sleep {One hour in the 100 mile time limit.}
Sleep deprivation induces significant reductions in performance and alertness. Reducing your nighttime sleep by as little as one and a half hours for just one night could result in a reduction of daytime alertness by as much as 32%.
Memory and Cognitive Impairment: Decreased alertness and excessive daytime sleepiness impair your memory and your cognitive ability — your ability to think and process information. I also was, “hallucinating” {seeing things that were not there}. Rained on, chased by a bear, lack of sleep for three nights was truly not a fun race for me!
Onward to finish the race. I felt extremely like an Asthmatic patient wheezing to catch my breath. The day running was fine but the night time running was so dangerous for me. I feel it should be extremely necessary to have a familiar pacer to get you threw the summits but more importantly to get you out of the mountains. The ribbons that mark the mountains are not that well marked. You definitely need someone to take you threw them at night. I also feel a, ” Garmin”, hand held to show the map of the mountain and the altitude change is a must.
Then came night number 2 with pouring rain and visibility not good!
I’m not only going threw Altitude challenges but hypothermia challenges as well.
When the balance between the body’s heat production and heat loss tips toward heat loss for a prolonged period, hypothermia can occur. Accidental hypothermia usually happens after cold temperature exposure without enough warm, dry clothing for protection. Mountain climbers on Mount Everest avoid hypothermia by wearing specialized, high-tech gear designed for that windy, icy environment.  I did not have specialized gear.

However, much milder environments can also lead to hypothermia, depending on a person’s age, body mass, body fat, overall health, and length of time exposed to cold temperatures. A frail, older adult in a 60-degree house after a power outage can develop mild hypothermia overnight. Infants and babies sleeping in cold bedrooms are also at risk.
Being that I am 61 years old and from the heat of Southern Texas…..I FROZE.
Then came the, charging of the mama bear. Yes, it happened. There was a bear in the woods with two cubs and I was running the trail. All of a sudden she came roaring after me and backed me down the trail. I was shocked, scared, and thought my life was over! I jumped in the woods and hid for about an hour. I am sure it was not the smarted thing I have done but it was instinctive. I then got enough nerve to come out of the woods and continue on. I was miserable!
I slept a total of 3 hours the entire race. I felt more sick than I ever have. I finished the race in 98 hours. {Two hours short of the cut off}. Done and Done.
Recommend the race? Maybe with several pacers, valuable GPS equipment, clothes, and a knowledge of the TMT.  But for me I feel the race did not have, “Enough running”.  It should have been called, “Ultra hiking and mountain climbing with polls!
I have completed the race. I am blessed and well watched over by angels!
One and DONE!!!!!

Styr Labs Badwater135 2017

The, ” Styr Labs Badwater135″in Death Valley is said to be the hardest foot race in the world.  I was honored to be chosen by Chris Kostman again this year to join the,”Badwater family”, and compete in the race.    This year, I felt like part of the family!  I wanted to repeat this race to attempt to break my own course record that I beat last year by over 3 hours.   My goal for this race was to beat my own time.   I was not at my best health  last year and so I wanted to give it another try!   I had my previous crew with me and an added, “Bonus” crew/pacer Heath Thurston.  Heath is Jarom Thurston’s brother.  He is a professional triathlete and a welcomed addition to our team!  Once again, Jarom, Andre, and Spencer were along for the race!  I felt confident going into the race with the very best crew ever!

As the race started the temperatures were registering 120 degrees with humidity of 28% and the dew point of 30.  This was at eight p.m. my start heat.  I felt it was cooler than last year but not sure if it was because physically I felt better or if it really was cooler!!!!  Training in the Texas heat did help with the heat training!

Off I ran in the night!  Being 61 years young, my night vision isn’t as good as it was when I was 40!  Nevertheless, head lamp on and one spare in my pocket I was off!  After 42 miles, you can have a pacer.  I ran until the early morning and picked up Heath to pace with me!  My time splits were minutes better each check in I had.  On the down hills Jarom Thurston got out and paced me in his sandals!   I thought, I cannot wait until I can do that!   How gentle he directed me to slow myself down and save my quadriceps!   I remember looking at the desert and not really noticing how beautiful it was last year but this year it stood out.  The entire race was breathtaking and very emotional for me.  It was just beautiful!   The second night Heath took a picture of the sunset over Mt. Whitney with me running backwards!  It was the most serene landscape with a sunset made just for me!   I hydrated and ate what I could mostly fueling off of Bio2.   Andre Nader was overseeing my fueling which is a sports nutrition food that sponsors me from Brazil!  They are really good with their products!  Andre also has a,” phd ” in exercise mobility so I had all my bases covered!   I had no idea how well I was doing compared to other runners because I Always Run My Own Race,  but I knew I was going to beat my time from last year.  Then came the dreaded diarrhea at mile 122.  ugh!!!!!!!  I could not understand why I was slowing down and everything went threw me like water!   I finally realized it was a salt pill I was unfamiliar with and very sensitive to one of the nutrients in it!   I finally stopped eating and slowed way down.  That is where my crew took over and cooled me off, allowed me to sit for 10 minutes, and  I change my clothes.   This all lasted about 4 hours!!!  I believe they got a little annoyed /frustrated with not knowing what to do so they then put Spencer {the driver, my husband} out of the van and said to him, “you walk with her a bit.”  Spencer always knows what to say to stimulate my senses!   He knows me better than anyone!   After a mile, he got back into the van, I was pumped and primed and found my second wind!  I  was ready to run into Lonepine!  There I ran into Dave Krupski.  An avid ultra runner/awesome coach  {Team Zwitty}  who told me how well I was doing!  He said I was going to be the first female to cross the finish line!  {There were 3 starting times}. REALLY????  We all were amazed!  I was so excited and thought I might place 10th overall female!  Wow oh Wow!   Climbing up Mt. Whitney was the last 13 miles.   I looked at Heath and said, “are you ready?”  Hell yes!  was his response and away we ran!  Six miles we were up in no time and then the mountain got extremely steep.  Spencer went back to McDonalds and purchased breakfast for us and met us up the mountain.  I had not had anything to eat for 7 hours.  It was the first time I had solid food for 7 hours and never knew it could taste so good!    Fueled and feeling strong Andre was replacing Heath and away I went.  Finally, finishing strong at 35:48 beating my record by 5 hours 14 minutes from last year and coming in 3rd overall female!

I am very blessed!  I loved the race again this year!  You are as Good as you Crew!  I OWE So MUCH to them!  THANK YOU CREW!  Thank you Chris Kostman!  Thank you volunteers!

Most grateful to all of you!



Badwater135 2016

Filling out the application I was so excited this time in January has finally come!  I had met the director, “Chris Kostman”, three years ago at the Florida Keys 100 mile race.  At that time I told him I was going to run his race when I turned 60 years old and beat the record. He smiled at me and said, “good luck”!  I had found him charming, dedicated, and extremely organized which I came to admire.

A few weeks later I found out I was excepted to the race!  I was so excited!  I grabbed every article and book I could find to read about the race and see what could help me out.   I live in Texas and the heat here is over 100 degrees so I thought running in the hottest part of the day would help acclimate my body.  I also had put a dry sauna in my home and decided to use that to also help with the training.  I tried to get into the sauna 3 to 4 times a week.  Chris has an article on his website for heat training which I found very helpful.

The next thing was picking a crew to help me in this race.  This was mandatory and I never had anyone crew me before except for Spencer my husband.  I decided I would ask the two people I ran into in Brazil several times during that race that, “just happened to be there and help if needed.  They are Jarom Thurston a well known ultra runner and his close friend Andre Nader.  I phoned Andre and asked him and also contacted Jarom and finally a few days later a plan was in the mix.  Talk about a blessing for me!  These two guys had crewed badwater135 more than one time before so they were totally experienced which is what I needed!

The final day came and Spencer and I flew to LasVegas where we rented a car and proceeded to the hotel to wait to meet up with Jarom and Andre.  When they arrived we went to dinner and the plans were laid out.  The next morning we went to the grocery store and picked up what food we felt we needed and proceeded to the state park of, “death valley”.  We arrived and checked into our hotel and got settled for the meeting  that evening.  There we saw one hundred excited ultra runners ready to start the venture the next day.  The meeting was organized, well constructed, and positive to the staff and the crew.  I was ready.

The race started at 20:00 in the evening.  I wondered how this was going to affect me because I do not do well missing sleep.  I was going to go threw two nights with no sleep and that was a concern of mine.  I also was not feeling up to par because I was having huge thyroid problems which started a few weeks before the race.  I had been advised not to race, and go to the emergency room.  My heart rate was double my normal with several extra PVC’s.  Being in medicine all the years I have, I knew it was my thyroid and the heart was just the secondary reaction to the problem.  I was not going to let this opportunity go.  After all, this was such a dream for me.  I live to run.  Only an ultra runner understands this.   It is a passion that is so strong and a burning in my spirit that pulls me into the freedom that running gives me.  It doesn’t matter of the age you are, the sex, the position in life you hold, or the country you are from.  It is a building of the spirit that quiets your soul and leans on your God to carry your body threw the worse conditions in life that has been challenging you.   Badwater135  was something I wanted to accomplish for myself.  I went off all my thyroid medication and in three days my PVC’s had diminished.  I was feeling crappy but safe.  So I proceeded to the race and decided to get to the doctor when I finished and came home.  Besides, I have not ever run a race were something did not go wrong!

The heat was so different than Texas humidity heat!  It felt even at 20:00 that 5 people were blowing hair dryers on me and the heat was still 120 degrees even at the late hour.  The first 15 miles were challenging to me more than usual.  My leg muscles were cramping so much.  When I met up with my crew Andre made me lay down were he massages and trigger pointed all the spasm spots.  That made me feel so much better.  The night run was slow but steady.  I did everything requested of me by my staff.  Finally, the 42 miles were finished and I was able to have a pacer!  Yeah!!!!!  I picked up the speed and proceeded throughout the day.  Trying to stay hydrated and making good progress until the sun came down again.  I was extremely nauseated and knew my electrolytes and hydration was not up to par.  With the help of my crew I managed to  hydrated and attempt to catch up with electrolytes all the delirious thoughts in my head.  After completing almost 30 hours of running my pacers were spent and I told them to get in the car and sleep.  It was once again up to my husband and I to toll the line.  He had stayed up the two nights with me driving the entire way and I needed him to cover me running at night.  He did not let me alone but every two miles I caught up with him and I let him sleep.  By the time the sun came up again i had renewed my spirit and I was almost done!  The crew got up and paced me again and we were just about to the bottom of the mountain!  At that point, the bottom of my feet were sunburned, the chaffing between my legs was screaming, and the lips on my face felt numb with all the chapping that had occurred.  Still I was only 13 miles at the bottom of the mountain!

Andre and I headed up and the mistake I made was shoeing off my support crew.  Andre told me to fuel but I felt I would hurl with anything else in my stomach.  Big mistake……… 2016 you should learn is too listen to your crew and do what they tell you because your brain is too challenged to think properly.  I made it with Andre’s wonderful influence and finally saw my husband and Jarom so I knew the end  was close.  We all ran together to cross the line at the Badwater135 2016 race where Chris Kostman was there to hand me the,”Buckle”.  I had beat the previous record by three hours of a 60 year female.  My time 41:02 .  I can tell you I was the happiest girl around and could not have done it without the crew of Spencer, Jarom, and Andre.  I felt so grateful and blessed.  That is what ultra running does for me.  It is a making of the body and soul to constantly do better on this earth.  To sacrifice your comforts in this life and know that the spirit takes a much larger place in your body.  It moves you through even the unimaginable places on earth and puts you on the other side.  Would I do it again?  You bet!!!!


Badwater135 Worlds Toughest Foot Race

I am tapering now in training preparing myself for the 135 mile race in Death Valley California. Although I am challenging the course record for a 60 year female, I feel I am very strong and I have many people to be grateful for. I do all this as a spiritual challenge. A time to reflect on how much we are all driven by our FAITH. I am truly a, “Gods Girl”, and know that it is his hand that takes me to the finish line. With temperatures up to 130 degrees during the day and the road temperature measuring 158 degrees that is the most challenging aspects of the race. Many people have asked me who trains me. My trainer since February 2016 has be Lisa Smith Batchen. The most wonderful Soul you will ever meet. Google her name and you can read how accomplished she is. I ran into several of her students in Brazil and they praised her coaching abilities. I called her a week when I got home. She has challenged me with cross training, dietary, tire pulling, and taken into account recovery. I cannot say enough about her. She is fantastic…and a world ultra runner champion.
Next is my family. My girls are the most fantastic ever and they were with me my first Ultra marathon. I would not have finished it with out them. They are such a joy and gift in my heart! God has given me three blessings overtime I look in their eyes! Then their is my husband, “Spencer Markle”. He is the most amazing man ever. The man knows me like the back of his hand. He is not a runner but has been to all my races but one. He has been the only support crew I have had until this upcoming race. He forfeits our weekends allowing me to train hard and is my number one supporter! He always is there for me at every stop taking care of my nutritional and emotional needs. Such a wonderful man. My life has been enriched since I started sharing it with him!
I am so excited to have two men joining us to pace and help Spencer crew me. I met both of these men in Brazil this year one day before the race. I was helped by them at different times before and during the race and the experience I had was enlightening! I decided to ask them to help me in Badwater and they accepted! Both of them are accomplished Ultra runners and have been to Badwater135 several times! I am truly blessed to have Jarome Thurston and Andre Nader crewing and pacing me!
Life is about sharing and helping others with their needs. These are the people that I surround myself with. How can I fall?!
Philippians 2:4 “Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others.”

Brazil 135 Mile Race 2016 Finisher

Image 1-16-16 at 7.21 AM 12633521_10205888925445804_755393944053127018_o photo photoThe excitement started  when I received the acceptance letter from Mario Lacerda telling me I was in to race the Brazil 135!  I live in Texas so you can imagine the, ” terraine fright” I had!  How do you train for mountains with an estimate of 30,000 feet of incline and 25,000 feet of decline in a Texas flat land????  I just had to figure it out! I have 12 weeks before the race so lets get started!   I immediately had Spencer help me lift my treadmill up on 5″ boards and started the decline training!  To the gym twice a week for heavy squats, lunges, and deadlifts.  I tried to hit the one bridge in Kemah every other week but I work 5 days a week and when I get off the traffic is so bad it was difficult to do.  I ran 5 days a week making my long run every Saturday or Sunday a must. {yes, flat lands and streets mostly!}

The flight from Houston to Sao Paulo was great.  Less than ten hours and we were there!  We picked up the rental car and drove to our destination ,”São João da Boa Vista” where the Hotel we had reservations at had shut down!  No one in the small mountain town spoke English and Spencer and I did not speak Portuguese!  With my body and facial movements I managed to communicate with two police officers what we needed and directions were started!  We found a hotel that accepted us and we were grateful for clean sheets and a room of our own for 4 days before the race!   I did not care that we had no hot water or air-conditioning!  The 6,000 feet altitude was a slight change to get used to but I  am sure my body will adjust to the change!  We cleaned up and went to,” Restaurante Casarao”, upon suggestion of  the hotel desk manager in his broken English!  This restaurant was by far superior and we ended up eating there the three nights we stayed in that town!  The race meeting was held at the college, Faculdade UNIFAE – SJBV”, where I had the great pleasure of meeting, “Lieutenant-Commander Mario Lacerda”.  The warmest and sincere greeting I have ever had with a hug and kiss on the cheek the,”Brazilian” way!  I was then directed to the registration rooms!  There I was greeted by his wife,”Eliana Lacerda”, who had as much passion and warmth and love for life that was shared by Mario.  I felt loved and welcomed more than any ultra race I have done.  {How did we loose this compassion in the states?}  The Meeting took much of the day and the lunch served was gourmet on paper plates!  So delicious and healthy!  Spencer and I had purchased our supplies the day before and we were set.  We spent the night mostly awake but resting in our hotel room.

The butterflies in my belly were there again the morning of the race!  I had no idea of the rough terrain, the washed out roads, the 30 to 50% uphill grade, rocks, mud, water, leaves, pebbles, and sandy trail roads that was ahead of me.  I saw people I met at the meeting and wished them well and the race had started.  The first 20 miles I was doubting my 60 year old ability to handle this new adventure but I pushed my doubts away and took heed of the amazing beauty and spiritual surroundings that I was encountering.  My mindset immediately changed with thoughts of gratitude, joy, and love that I was receiving from everything around me. The energy I was receiving back from the people, the astounding,”Path of Faith” that I was so grateful to experience.  The small towns I was traveling through and the stillness I was receiving in my soul.  Somehow,after that,  I never gave it a second thought.  My spirit took over and I was there to collect and strengthen who I was, once again reborn to be the messenger of who and why I was here.  The path and all I experienced in journey revitalized my spirit, my love of life, my humbling existence.  I once again was  touched by God in ways I cannot explain. I felt the stars at night were there to grab ahold if I needed too, yet also leading me to my next foot forward.  I ran strong and fast.  I ate when my body told me too.  I drank water and electrolyte when my body instructed me and somehow I never lost the energy to continue.  I finished the race in 43:42, well under the 48 hour cut off limit!  I found out later at the wonderful party Mario and his wife through that I was the 3rd female, 15 overall finisher, and I had beaten the 60 year old female record by 3.5 hours!  My joy was that I received everything and more that  I went for.  Love, joy, gratitude, and my 43:42 hour walk with God, through the,”Caminho da Fe, or Path of Faith”.  It strengthened my spirit, filled my heart, and forever changed my soul.  I am forever grateful for this growth.

Brazil 135 Mile Race 2016

I am off this Saturday to Beautiful Brazil! I am so excited and blessed to be a part of the adventure. Although I have been ultra running for just five years, I have never rain a 135 mile race! The feelings of excitement and nervousness are all wrapped up in one! I always feel I have not trained enough! I do work 40 hours a week and train when I get home and on weekends! Sleep has been my focus these three months to recover properly and to go into this race STRONG!

More to come! Prayers!!!




I am leaving on Saturday for the 135 Mile race in Brazil! I have not been this excited about a race since my first 100 mile five years ago! Definitely, the main goal is to have fun and be safe! I’ll experience the nature I have never seen before and steal the energy the earth is awaiting to give to my body! The race is on the 21st. Prayers please from all who think about it and more to come from the blessed experience!!!!

Cleveland Endurance Run

Leaving on Friday for Cleveland, Ohio I had mixed feelings about this race. One of excitement, it was my last race for my age group 55-59 year, and one of fear, I had not trained well enough in my mind and I was going into this race with an injury. The weather Friday was sunny and warm for the Lake Erie winds but I knew that could change any time. Saturday getting to Edgewater Park at 7:00 am I picked up my packet and proceeded to help Spencer set up my tent. The weather was cool for me, 62 degrees and it was predicted to rain all day. I hate running in the rain. The race started at 0900 am and I was off running! My strong point was, I had decided I was going to have fun with this race and not worry about the gifted competition. It was a national USATF Race. The winds were 17mph, and the rain came so I was soaked all day long. With being soaked comes blisters and chafing. I finished the race and won my age group 55-59 Year female, came in 10th overall woman, and 43 overall Racer! There were a total of 166 Racers so I felt I had accomplished a great deal! This was my 10th ultra run in 4 years. My blessings are being counted!