Let the training begin…again!

Last year, we began the journey of training for the Keys 100 ultra race. We had created great plans. We tried to stick to those great plans. However, as time passed and race day grew closer, so did the Adam's dissertation defense date. Reality set in. We would not be able to accomplish both. Of course, we chose to defer our race registration to May 2018 so Adam could graduate!

A few months have passed and it's time to get back at it! Below is our training plan. You can follow along as we log ALL. THE. MILES…1865 of them, to be exact! We will actively post on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram with the following #'s: #UltraStark #RunSanity #Keys100


Dealing with the Deferment

As a perfectionist, it is hard to come to terms with a race registration deferment. We have been training for nearly a year for the Keys 100 ultra marathon. Training was going well, then life happened. Glorious, wonderful, life. We learned that Adam could defend his dissertation during this spring semester and could graduate in May 2017! What great news, and hard work, but mostly great news! However, that meant he had to spend more time writing than running. 

What people don’t tell you about the PhD process is that defending is actually the easier part of the end. Once you defend, it’s the editing and formatting and deposit process that can be super time consuming and frustrating. But he did it! We are now, humbly, house Dr. Stark or Dr./Dr.!

While he wrote, I ran. While I ran, he wrote. 

I am in great shape and ready to take on our first 100 miles race. However, we have been dreaming of the Keys 100 for the better part of a decade. We run ultras together. 

We finally came around to the difficult decision to defer our race registrations to May 2018. 

While I am excited Adam was able to finish his academic journey, it was difficult to swallow the deferment. I am highly competitive and love to accomplish goals. It took a moment or two for me to get over it – it’s not about me- and realize my goal still exists only now I have another year to become even stronger. I can alter my goal from one of completeling the Keys 100 to possibly placing! 

I share this story as I am sure I am not the only competitive spirit out there that struggles with the idea of postponing my goals. Now we get to finishe the Keys 100 as Dr. & Dr. UltraStark! What a cool way to accomplish a dream!

The #1’s and #2’s of long distance running

When you start to train for long distance runs, your training runs can be anywhere from 5 miles to 5 hours. Your mental, physical, and physiological prep is drastically different for runs covering many hours.

Here’s what we have learned about the #1’s and #2’s along the way…

  • Humans with external plumbing have it a bit easier for navigating the #1’s


Humans without external plumbing, don’t despair. While I have not tried it myself, I have read and heard stories about how you navigate the #1’s nearly as effectively as our counterparts. There are even clothing lines now to help make it a bit easier.

  • Regardless of your plumbing construction, plan a route with restrooms!


We have key gas stations we often include on our longer runs. We’ve often scared a few gas station workers as we approach the establishment at 4:00am, in the dark, with bouncing headlamps. We always make sure to buy something…gummy bears, a bottle of water, potato chips…something so as to not only be in there just for the needed facilities.

  • If you have to use a port-a-potty…


Choose one that is on flat ground or leaning forward. Backward leaning units make it really hard to stand up after. If your only option is leaning backwards, don’t stress too much. There is a metal bar in the middle of the door on the inside. This bar is wonderful for when you need a little help standing back up.

A few other tips for the port-a-potty adventure. Check the TP reserve before conducting your business! Better yet, always have some on hand in your running pack. Fold it up all nice like and put it in a ziplock bag to protect it from rain and other sources of water (you know, like yard sprinklers that come on an scare the —- out of you).

  • Carbo-loading the night before is not that great of an idea!


Not a good idea. Why? For us, a good pasta dinner the night before leads to a healthy #2 mid-run. When you don’t follow the advice of #1, that #2 the next day is going to be less than pleasant. (TMI: many runners have #2ed in their pants on a run. It’s a thing. It happens. Not on purpose. Not something we are proud of. If you are new to running and fear this part of running, don’t. We’ve all been there!)


There are many other tips and tricks for navigating the #1s and especially the #2’s out there. Ask a runner near you how they make it happen while on the run.

Running Stinks! 

Running Stinks! 

This past weekend we ran just slightly more than a 50k. It was great! The weather was near perfect! We successfully employed a few new strategies to keep us cool and going the distance! We ran together for the majority of the time which filled my quality time needing soul! It was a pretty spectacular day! 

So why does running stink?

Because it does! I literally smells aweful! 

I don’t care how clean you think you are or how much like roses you think your scent resembles, when you cross over to the running world, you become a stinker!

Shoes? Stink!

Shirt? Stinks!

Running pack? Stinks! 

Sweatbands? Stinks! 

Total truth? Underwear? Stinks! 

No matter how well you wash these things…No matter what internet proven strategy you try to squelch the smell…NOTHING gets out that scent!  

So what is one to do? 

Own it, baby! We are all a bunch of stinkers! 

Burnout…not just an on-the-job thing


A psychological syndrome involving emotional exhaustion, depersonalization, and a diminished sense of personal accomplishment (Maslach, 1982)

I am a burnout researcher. My December 2015 dissertation focused on burnout in the workplace. I have discovered, burnout is not just an on-the-job-thing! When training for a 100 mile race, it’s important to log a whole of miles, and more miles, and mountains of miles!

I am in the middle of a burnout period with running right now. It’s a sad sick cycle. One which I know to how to break but I as I sit here writing this on a grey gloomy misty day, I just don’t want to!

I have been running strong the last few months. Well, all year, really. Right now, I have not run in more than a week. I have continued to eat as if I am running strong which means I am not feeling so great and I have packed on a few pounds.


This is the argument in my head…I don’t want to run, but you need to run, no, I need to rest, but if you run, you will feel better!

To break this cycle, I simply need to get back out there. Simple. Slow. Fun. After two or three of these recovery runs, I’ll be back in the swing of things.


I don’t have the motivation.

I have a big race on Saturday – a 46 miler. I tell myself it’s good that I rest. I feel icky on the inside.

I need to go for a run.

This cycle is real and happens whenever anyone gives perhaps too much of themselves to work or a hobby. The key is stepping back to find the joy again. Much easier said than done.

The lesson here, you are not alone. Your cycle of burnout is normal.

Get back out there!

The Death and Dying of Toenails


We are in the beginning phases of training for our first 100 mile race. We tried this a few years ago but with northern winters, a 2 year old, and doctoral classes, it was too much. This time around, we have already registered for the race, we live in Florida, the 2 year old is now 5, and one of us is finished with school. Our plan should work this time around!

In the last few weeks, we have run the majority of a 12 hour and a 6 hour race. During these races, we have learned many things about better preparing ourselves for longer distances. One of those lessons is that of a larger toe box! Why, because your toenails die!

First, the ends of your toes feel sore.

Then, your toenails turn red. Then black, then white.

Then you pop that stuff and watch the goo flood out from under your toenails. Apparently this smells awful…according to my husband.

Then you wait for everything to dry up.

You cut off the toenail so it doesn’t snag on sock.

Three weeks later, you see you have a new toenail and cycle repeats!

It’s all part of the price you pay to be able to be among the few that call themselves ultra-runners!

I’m not alone in this. There is a woman who had her toenails removed because she was tired of this process. Check out her story…if the have the stomach for graphic pictures and video!


The decision to run 100 miles…

My husband has been wanting to run the Keys 100 for several years. We have always been able to identify several reasons why it wouldn’t work this year or why we should wait until next year or until the boy is older or until…

This past year has presented us with multiple opportunities to learn the lesson that life is too short to put off your dreams until…

This past weekend we decided we would train for our first 100 mile race, the Keys 100.

After quick research, I found a guide for the first time 100 mile racers. We plan use the advice and training plan found on this site.

It is important for runners to keep logs. Logs help us maintain confidence, identify trends, push through hard times and celebrate great accomplishes! My log as we train for the Keys 100 will be this blog! I plan to reflect weekly on the experience of training for my first 100 mile with my partner in crime, my best friend, my running hero!

Let the accumulation of miles and moments of enlightenment begin!