Race Report: Shadow of the Giants

Of course I would follow up a race in which I played it smart and everything went right, aka Quicksilver 100K, with a race where I did everything wrong and was, well, estupit.

This is Farin being cocky: I did a 100K and got third overall female, I did a half marathon the next weekend and got second overall female, so if I sign up for this 50K last minute I might get first overall female… right?

I debated registering for Shadow of the Giants, but when I went to check the registration there were only 3 spots left. I impulsively took one of those remaining spots. I didn’t have anyone to watch my kids during the race, but those details could be figured out later.

Thankfully, fellow Wascally “The Princess” offered to go up the Green Meadows with her 5-year-old daughter and turn the race into a play date. (Thank you, again!!!)

Training was minimal, but I figured I hadn’t lost that much fitness, with the previous two races and my regular 6-ish-mile runs with my group.

This is where things got estupit. I asked to borrow a new Nathan vest from another fellow Wascally so that I could try it out. I loved the pocket design and it was so light and soft, I thought it would be the end to my hydration pack chafing dilemma.

Then I decided to eat something I had only had on one other occasion (and not right before a race), the night before the race: tempeh. Ginger-curry tempeh salad with green apple, grapes, cashews and sweet potatoes from Green Chef, to be exact. My stomach has been fine with my plant-based diet, so I figured tofu’s cousin would be fine, too.


The morning of the race I had to wake my kids up at 4:50 a.m. to get on the road by 5 to make the 75-minute drive. It was early, and the race started at 7 a.m., so I figured coffee was a good idea. Never mind that I NEVER drink coffee before a race.

I also brought along an energy gel I’ve never tried before.

Estupiter and estupiter…

Parking is limited, but I arrived early-ish to get a good spot. But the person directing traffic pointed up a hill instead of down the hill, where I had parked last year. I was confused but assumed that all of the parking had been taken and I was SOL… the kids and I would have to make the trek down. I parked my little bitty Ford Focus in a treacherous area where my tires were slipping and I had zero clearance underneath my car. (Yeah, something is probably damaged under there.) My son complained as we made the long walk down to the start/finish area, lugging our picnic blanket, chairs, snacks and toys. I was irritated to find SO MUCH PARKING along the road. We got settled in and, sure enough, I was asked to move my car because it was “blocking the road.” How could it be blocking the road when, clearly, three vehicles had gone around it and parked in front of me? Ah well. Thanks to help from Team Instinct teammate Mark, my little car and I made our way down the hill to a much better parking spot.

(I include this in my Race Report so that next year I remember to go straight down the hill.)

By this time I was flustered, didn’t have any of my stuff ready, still had my pants and jacket on, and hadn’t visited the toilets. And I had 6 minutes left until the start.

I dashed to the restroom, where I realized that my stomach was NOT OKAY. I don’t know if it was the coffee, the previous night’s tempeh, or both, but I knew I was in for a rough race.

I stripped down to my shorts and singlet, grabbed my borrowed hydration vest and headed toward the front pack of the starting line. Then I dashed back to my kids’ picnic spot to grab my phone and headphones, 1 minute before race start. I had planned to listen to downloaded podcasts throughout the race, expecting to be lonely.


Quick pre-race selfie with Mark!

With a countdown start, a mob of us made our way down the road from Green Meadows outdoor school/camp and then up the fire road where my car had been precariously parked before I moved it. On the way up the road, a box of caffeine-laced chocolate balls popped out of my vest. I had to turn around and run like a salmon against the current to retrieve it. This vest was losing points with me, already.

Climbing the first two miles wasn’t terrible, but no matter how much I tightened the vest, it wasn’t sitting correctly on me. This is what I get for trying something new on race day!

The next two miles involved lots of downhill to the first aid station (an out-and-back).

In a move that could never, ever in a million years be replicated, I ran behind Mark Dorman on a downhill and his shoe kicked up a tiny pebble directly into the back of my throat. Miraculously the rock didn’t hit my teeth, my eye or any other part that could’ve hurt or caused a lot of damage. Nope, instead it went straight into my mouth (I was breathing really hard) and my gag reflex stopped me from swallowing it. I coughed and the piece of gravel came rolling down my tongue into my hand. I had to sprint to catch up to Mark to let him know that he had inadvertently almost killed me. Ha!

The vest was TERRIBLE on the descent. It bounced so much that it tore up the skin on my collarbone within minutes. I couldn’t ditch it soon enough. I left it with a 38-weeks-pregnant woman who was manning (womanning?) the aid station and assured me that she would be at the finish area “sometime.” (Thank you!!! My borrowed pack, including my new Samsung Galaxy S8 and $140 headphones made it to the finish line and back into my hands. Ultrarunners/volunteers are the BEST!)

I carried a gel, a packet of maple almond butter and the box of caffeine chocolate balls in one hand and my Ultimate Direction body bottle in the other hand. Dammit, why hadn’t I just carried a handheld in the first place? Estupit.

At that point I was in third place and it took me several miles to catch up to second-place Katie Burns. In the meantime I dropped that stupid box of chocolate once and had to go back and pick it up. Why, oh why, didn’t I move those chocolates into a baggie instead of that dumb box??

I ate the chocolate and the gel within minutes of each other, just so that I wouldn’t have to hold them anymore past the next aid station.

Runners were becoming more spread out, which was a good thing, because all of the downhill was jostling my digestive system. I’m not ashamed to admit I was farting — loudly — as I ran. I had to look around to see if anyone had heard. If they did, I couldn’t see any indication on their face. Maybe they were just embarrassed for me.


I caught up to first-place Nicole McManus around Mile 10-ish, I believe, shortly before the water crossing. Last year I remember the water coming up to my knees, soaking my calf compression sleeves and allowing them to keep me cool for a few miles. This year, as Nicole and I came crashing through the water together, I was in up to my hips and I think she slipped and fell in a little farther. Hooray for a wet year!

I lost Nicole around Mile 14. I slowed down to fart, honestly. And then my right hamstring got extremely tight. With a shorter stride, I just couldn’t catch up with her again.

The second half of the race was spent trying to go as fast as I possibly could without injuring my hamstring. I ran very carefully and was disappointed to see my pace getting slower and slower as my watch dinged each mile.

My only consolation was that the course is BEAUTIFUL. I pictured my kids enjoying their time with their friends and exploring in the woods. I couldn’t wait to get back to the finish area!

Yup, definitely having fun!

My goofballs!

I knew the podium probably wouldn’t happen, so I had to come up with a new goal. Obviously today wasn’t my day, being all Farty McGee and with my tendonitis flaring up. I decided to just try to cut as much time off of last year’s finish time (5:12) as I could. To be more ambitious, I’d go for sub-5-hours.


Coming up to the touristy part…

Last year I loved the little touristy Shadow of the Giants hike, which is about a mile or so. There’s an aid station just outside of it that you hit twice. This year, I wished the tourists had stayed home. There were too many around to let one rip, and it really hurts to hold in farts. That mile felt SO LOOOOONG.

I don’t particularly enjoy the two-or-three-mile stretch that comes after it, either. We pass by the Calvin Crest Christian Retreat camp area on a stretch of fire road. It’s hot and boring and flat. I had ditched my phone and headphones with the vest, so I had to entertain myself with songs (or at least, one to two lines of songs) that kept repeating in my head. I was so ready for this race to be OVER!

During that stretch, the podium slipped away from me as Michele Van Ornum passed by. She tried to rally for me to push with her, but I didn’t have it in me. She warned me that the next girl was right behind her, so I tried to stay on pace and put distance between us. Elizabeth Ochoa finally caught me at the last aid station, three miles from the finish. So we meet again, fifth place! I came in 5th female last year, so I guess we’ll make it a tradition.

The last 3 miles seemed to take forever. Although they were downhill, I was favoring my right leg due to my tight hamstring and couldn’t fly the way I usually do on descents. It was exciting to hear the crowd and a bell ringing as I got within earshot of the finish area.

Sprinting through the last stretch of single-track through some trees — hopping over a few that had fallen across the trail — I crossed the concrete bridge and rounded onto the asphalt near the volleyball court. My son saw me and waved his little bottle of Gatorade. “Mom! I got this Gatorade!”

Then my daughter came out of nowhere and said, “I’m running in with you, Mom!” and she sprinted to the finish line by my side. Thanks to Juanito capturing that moment on camera, I’ll remember the race with joy.


I didn’t break 5 hours (missed it by 30 seconds), but I did PR on the course. And I had stopped farting, thank goodness.

A volunteer gave me an ice cold towel to cool down with, Coach Brad popped an open grapefruit Sculpin into my hand, and I ate two bowls worth of vegan soup from the cafeteria. My kiddos told me all about their adventures while we waited for Big Baz’s post-race “magic” raffle, and then they took off again to go play with their friends while I enjoyed my beer, the awards ceremony and the company of all of the other awesome ultrarunners.


I had done everything wrong, race-wise, but being in such a supportive running community made the day turn out right.

Results: Here.

Strava: Here.


Added to my collection of wood from Elevation Culture!

Behind-the-scenes: The kiddos apparently had their own fun. (Photo credit: my 7-year-old daughter)



How I rocked the Quicksilver 100K

Now is not the time to be humble. I kicked that race’s ass.

Quicksilver 100K was the smartest ultramarathon I ever ran. Yes, everything went well for me on race day, and I thank the ultra gods for that. But the way I prepared physically and mentally for this race was completely different from my traditional M.O.

I went into Quicksilver having qualified for the 2018 Boston Marathon at the Modesto Marathon two months prior with a time (and 5-second PR) of 3:29:31. A week later, I ran 75 miles during the 24-hour Barn Burner. Then, due to the hubby being out-of-state “launching freedom,” I took two (much needed) weeks off of running.

Other things changed for me during this time period, as well. I went from being a 99% vegetarian (I ate 5 or 6 meat-containing meals during the entire 11 months) to a 100% vegan as of April 1.

I also started a regimen of 30 burpees a day throughout the month of April, and continued with 20-a-day in May. I felt stronger, I dropped four pounds from my 5-foot-2-inch frame, and my arms gained some definition.

After my short hiatus from running, I began to train for Quicksilver, beginning with a 16-mile training run on the actual course — at least, the first several miles and last few miles of it. It was a huge wakeup call. The hills were brutal, and that wasn’t even the hardest climbing section of the course.

It gave me a sense of what portions of my home trail I needed to train on. I prescribed myself a hefty dose of Pincushion repeats, a Pa’san Loop and weekly Casino Hill repeats. But, like any average patient, I didn’t follow the orders to a T. Yes, I did the loop; yes, I did my Casino Hill repeats every Wednesday. But I never got around to climbing Pincushion, which, I think, most closely mimics Quicksilver’s dreaded Dog Meat climb.

My PT once again became my best friend as I went in for my pre-race tuneup. I had a trouble spot in the arch of my left foot and tightness of the right hamstring near the ischial tube (or something like that. I don’t really speak anatomy). Tightness in my left psoas also returned, a problem I developed while training for my first BQ in 2014.

Just a few weekly visits later and I felt as ready as I’d ever be. Things were still a little tight from all of the training I was doing, but I wasn’t injured injured.

As the other two Fresno runners prepared in the week before the race by looking at the aid station charts, elevation profiles and maps, I did my best to not research anything.  I didn’t want to see the climbs, I didn’t want to estimate neither my finish time nor the times I’d get to each aid station. I didn’t know how many aid stations there were or how far apart they were.

I had just one plan: run.

The realization that I should have drop bags waiting for me forced me to look at the aid station chart to see how many bags I should pack. I threw a buff, a pair of socks, a Gu and a single-serving pack of Tailwind in each one. I put an extra pair (of brand new! lol) trail shoes in one of the drop bags that I would see twice during the race. Maybe I’ll need ’em, hopefully I won’t. I labeled each bag with the aid station’s name and then hid the aid station chart, never to look at it again. (Until now, as I’m using it for reference to write this race report.)

Just run. 

The best change I made for this race was to book a quiet, cozy AirBNB all for myself. I love having my family at races to support me, but it was SO NICE relaxing on my own the day before the race.


I picked up my race packet, shopped at Whole Foods for pre-race breakfast, bought some new batteries for my headlamp at CVS and dined at MOD Pizza, devouring an entire 11-inch pie stacked with every veggie and topped with Daiya vegan cheese.


Back in my minimalist-style, tidy AirBNB with a private entrance, I had no kids to take care of, no one sharing the bed, no movements, no sounds… I slept a peaceful 6 1/2 hours, waking up at 2:50 a.m. to get dressed and head out to the Hacienda entrance of Almaden County Park for the 4:30 a.m. start.

My digestive system cooperated, allowing me to start the race with empty bowels and a tummy full of banana and a few bites of espresso-laced vegan dark chocolate.

I met up with Fresno friends Juan and Bobby, and we soon found Brandy, a former-Fresno friend who flew in from her now-home state of Florida. We were all in good spirits and prepared to have a great race.


The rocky, uphill start was illuminated by an almost full moon and about 200 headlamps. Starting off in the back of the pack, the four of us power walked for the first half-mile. Both seemingly a little impatient, Juan and I ran a few stretches, passing a half-dozen people at a time. We continued with these intervals until the course leveled out a bit. I started to run and didn’t see anyone I knew until a couple of miles later when Bobby shouted some words of encouragement during an out-and-back.

I wouldn’t see either Juan or Bobby again until I was about a marathon into the race — just after leaving Kennedy Road aid station at 25.8 miles. I never saw Brandy. (I found her after the race near the medical tent. She was injured around Mile 27 and couldn’t bear weight on her right leg, forcing her to drop.)

The first part of the race was a blur. I didn’t know where I was, placement-wise. I had no idea which climbs were coming up because I had refused to look at the elevation profile. I remember running into the first aid station, Hicks, and spotting my drop bag right away. Shalene, Bobby’s wife, said “Hey, Farin! You’re here already! You’re the first one.” I smiled, because, honestly, it’s kind of cool to be ahead of the guys.

She asked if I needed help finding anything and I glanced into my drop bag, realizing it was so early on in the race (6.1 miles) that I didn’t need anything. I grabbed three red grapes from the aid/station table and took off.

I grabbed a section of boiled russet potato from the next aid station (Wood Road), dipped it in salt and sped off again.

Just before I reached Lexington Aid Station, I heard the distinct voice of my Mama Gazelle, Audrey Crow, yelling “Yeeeaaaah, Farin!!!” I hadn’t wanted a crew. Remember, my entire methodology for this race was Just Run. But it was pretty nice to have a whole cheering section of Fresno folks who drove 2 1/2 hours just to watch you run for a few minutes every dozen or so miles.

I found my drop bag and Mikey sprayed my legs with sunscreen and helped apply some KT tape to my collar bone where my hydration pack had started to chafe my skin. Meanwhile, I asked Audrey to grab some grapes for me from the table. As I put my pack back on and prepared to head out, Audrey shoved an entire bunch of grapes in my hand. It was literally the size of my head, with at least two dozen ginormous red grapes dangling from it. “Dang, girl!” I said, an astonished look on my face. She met mine with an equally astonished expression. “You said to get you some grapes!”

I ran out of the station laughing, somehow picturing myself as Baloo, the bear from Jungle Book, as he balances a fruit salad on his claw while singing “Bare Necessities.”

To be honest, I ate about 10 grapes before I felt full (I’m telling you, these were HUGE grapes!) and had to toss the rest into the forest. Is it littering if it’s compost?

That’s when the toughest climb of the course came — Dog Meat. Four miles up and then four miles down. I had mentally prepared myself for this climb, picturing it as going up Pincushion x4. I guess the elevation gain wasn’t really as bad as that, but there was no way I was running up this thing. I slowly and steadily power hiked, hands on my knees, going up, up, up until I reached the top and saw a photographer. She snapped a few shots and then smiled at me, seeming a little annoyed. “You’re going to have to look up at me so I can see your face.”

I laughed and looked up, smiling for the camera. Looking up also forced me to see how much farther I needed to go. Thankfully it was only another quarter-mile or so to the peak. Then it was all down from there.

I LOVE going downhill. My stubby legs are built for it. They may suck at climbing, but my thunder thighs absorb all the shock while tearing down steep declines. I enjoyed every moment of the descent into Kennedy aid station, where I found my cheering crowd once again.

As we left, I chatted with JJ, a woman who I somewhat leapfrogged with on Dog Meat.

“From what I can see, we’re fourth and fifth,” I told her. “Were there more women ahead of those first two? They were far ahead.”

“No,”  she said. “You’re right. We’re in fourth and fifth right now.”

“That’s insane,” I said. “I’m normally not up here in big races like this.”

It was a little after this, I believe, that I ran into Tim from Sunnyvale, whom I had met during my one training run on the course a few weeks prior. He recognized me and we chatted a bit about how our training had gone after that run. Neither of us, it turns out, had returned for the second and third training runs organized by Quicksilver Running Club. I asked if he had any pacers or crew; he didn’t. I said I didn’t have a pacer, and I didn’t intend to have a crew, but my faithful teammates had driven up from Fresno that morning and it was nice to see some familiar faces.

“They drove up from Fresno?!” he asked, impressed. “I couldn’t get anyone to drive 20 minutes from Sunnyvale to be out here.”

That’s just the Wascally/San Joaquin Running Tribe way… we support each other!

By this time I was tackling the “Dead Kennedy Rollers” — an up-and-down ride on steep, dusty, rocky trail. I had put on my Trekz Titanium headphones by then — they conduct sound through your cheekbones, leaving your ears open — and was listening to an audiobook.

“The Stranger In The Woods” is a true story about a man who disappeared into the wilderness one day and didn’t rejoin society until 27 years later, when he was caught stealing food from a camp and arrested. The author, a journalist, did a fantastic job researching hermits and an even better job of storytelling. It was a great listen for a long run.

I reached Hicks Road aid station for the second time and was slightly bummed that my cheering crowd was missing. Either they were lunching somewhere or they didn’t expect me to get there that fast. (I found out later that it was the latter.)

Grabbing a stick of Tailwind from my drop bag, I asked a woman at the aid station if she knew how many girls were ahead of me. I needed to know if it was true — if I was really that close to the podium.

“Three,” she said, in an English accent. “But that third girl looked weak.” She winked at me. “You look strong.”

A huge smile spread across my face. “Thanks for that!” I said. I took off, this time on the hunt for a girl wearing a skirt and toting trekking poles.

My book had ended, and during a flat stretch I started going through the contents of my pack that I could reach without pulling it off. I wasn’t really hungry, nor thirsty … I was kind of just, well, bored. I found a sample packet of sunscreen and thought, now’s a good time to put this on.

As I rubbed the cream over my face, ears and neck, I wasn’t looking at the trail. I also decided that I was wasting time by walking, since it was flat anyway, so I started to run while still applying sunscreen. Ten seconds later I was sprawled out on my right side on the ground. My right big toe had caught a rock, sending my supermanning it into the dust. The sunscreen on my hands mixed with dirt, and I had a light brown, powdery coating of trail all over my right leg, right arm and shoulder.

Idiot! I laughed at myself.

“Are you OK?” yelled a runner several yards behind me.

“Hahaha yeah, I’m just stupid.”

“You’re more badass now!” he replied.

I sat up in the criss-cross applesauce position, planted my feet on the ground and stood without using my hands for support, spinning to face forward on the trail. If my fall looked dumb, at least my rise could look kind of cool.

A couple of miles later I reached Hacienda, where the race started, without ever seeing the third-place girl.

But I did see Audrey, who jumped out of Shalene’s car to cheer for me as I ran through. They had just pulled into the parking lot. “You’re running too fast!” Audrey said. “We thought we were going to miss you again. We missed Bobby, too, at Hicks.”

“Look! I fell!” I told her, excitedly.

“You’re not the only one,” she said.

“I know, but this was my first time, like, REALLY falling! I’m kind of excited about it!” I said. The aid station volunteers laughed (and I think I saw some eye rolls). Yeah, I’m a dork…

I quickly grabbed a couple of sweet potatoes, dipped them in salt, shoved them in my mouth and took off, shouting back to Audrey that I was in fourth place I needed to find third. “Uh, hello?!” she yelled back, holding up her iPhone. “I know! I already told everyone on Facebook that you’re in fourth!”

Within a half mile I spotted her. Hi, third place. Do I keep her in my sights and then pass her quickly later? Yeah. I’ll just hang back here.

Then boom, she turned her head and looked over her shoulder directly at me.

So much for the sneak attack.

I caught up to her and we leapfrogged a bit on the rollers. She was a better climber, probably due to the trekking poles, but I passed her again on the downhills. After about a half-mile of this, I saw my opportunity. It was all downhill from there into the next aid station, Mockingbird, which would also be the finish line when we returned to it 19 miles later.

I let loose on those downhills, sometimes skidding recklessly. Instead of slowing down, I just giggled and made little noises like, “Ah!” “Whoa!” and “Oy!” I was having the time of my life — and I was in third!

At Mockingbird I realized I was hungry, and as the volunteers added water to my hydration pack, I grabbed a big scoop of sweet potatoes into a cup. I set the cup down to put my pack back on, but then I turned and saw that the five people I had passed during that 2-mile downhill stretch were now making their way into the aid station. I took off, leaving my meager lunch there.

I realized it as I ran up the hill, just as I looked into the eyes of the now-fourth-place woman. She looked tired. Now was my chance to put some distance between us; I didn’t want to risk going back down to the aid station to grab my cup of potatoes.

The race was pretty uneventful after that. I continued to fuel with Tailwind and Gu, which I brought, and watermelon, potatoes, sweet potatoes, grapes and oranges, which I picked up at the aid stations. The first three I dipped in salt.

I popped five salt capsules throughout the race and stayed hydrated with plenty of water and Tailwind. This combination kept the cramps away, and I admit I was a little proud that I was eating healthy doses of fruits and veggies while racing. Vegan diet for the win!

I fell into step behind Paul, a runner from Sacramento. We talked about our previous ultra adventures and races we aspired to do. For a second I thought consciously about how relaxed I was. I was genuinely having fun and felt no pressure or nerves. Was this a 100K or a 10-mile training run?

Audrey ran about a mile and a half with me out of McAbee aid station and we chatted about how the race was going for me, Bobby and Juan. “I’m in LOVE with this course,” I told her.

I really was! Although I hadn’t run it before, it felt so familiar. When I was alone out there, I talked to the course sometimes. I literally said, “Oh, hi, Wellbarn!” during several stretches that reminded me of my usual stomping grounds. At another point I said, “Oh hey, SJRT!” That stretch was exactly like the second and third miles of the San Joaquin River Trail Half Marathon.

I looked forward to telling everyone back in Fresno how perfectly compatible SJRT and Quicksilver are. Even the volunteers at the aid stations made it feel like home. You had the sense that everyone knew each other and I didn’t have a single bad experience or come across a single nasty attitude the entire day. This was all smiles and rainbows and butterflies! Endorphins, much?

At Enriquita aid station, I found Stuart, the leader of the Quicksilver training runs who had graciously stayed back with me when I found myself alone behind the fast training group but ahead of the slow training group. “Hey, Farin! I haven’t seen your buddy, Juan,” he told me.

“He’s having some issues today,” I told him. “He’s behind me.”

I left my pack at this aid station to be refilled as I made a .6-mile descent, marked my bib with a Sharpie and returned on the .6-mile ascent. I felt so FREE without that extra weight. I wish I could’ve run the rest of the race that way, but alas, I had five miles (and probably an entire hour) left to go.

“I LOVE this race,” I told Stuart before taking off toward the finish. “It feels like home!”

It just wouldn’t be me running an ultra if I didn’t call my coach at some point. When I found a stretch of hike-inducing climbs and three bars worth of reception, I called Brad.

“I just wanted to tell you that I’m freakin’ killin’ it,” I told him, still focused on power hiking as fast as I could.

I could hear his smile before he even spoke.

“No way!”

“I’m going to get the podium.”

“Yeah?” He sounded like he hadn’t heard or comprehended what I’d said.

“I’m in third!!”

“What?! No way!” Now he understood. 

“And I’m not giving up that podium! There’s no way I’m going to let a woman pass me at this point. I have five miles left.”

He laughed, told me to keep kicking ass, and we hung up.

Alright, let’s finish this.

At the final aid station I popped another sweet potato and a slice of watermelon into my mouth.

Three miles left! 

I checked my watch. 12 hours and 3 minutes? No. Freaking. Way.

Not only was I going to PR in the 100K distance, I was going to smash my first-ever 100K goal: breaking 13 hours. I’m pretty sure I smiled all the way to the finish line.

I thought I might make it in by the 12:30 mark, but the final mile wasn’t all downhill like I had anticipated. I crossed the line in 12:31:45, crushing my PR by 41 minutes.

Audrey, just pulling into the parking lot like she had at Hacienda, was able to see me finish from the car. The race director congratulated me and handed me a belt bucket. Sweet!

I pigged out on a vegan burger, fruit salad and hard cider served at the super impressive post-race barbecue. Their spread was amazing. The club must’ve had a dessert potluck, because there was literally every type of cookie, cheesecake, cake, cupcake and any other type of sweet you could think of. Plus snow cones! And a dozen varieties of beer! And they didn’t even mark your bib! ALL YOU CAN EAT AND DRINK!! WHAT!?!?

But I digress…

I splurged on the post-race massage, posed for a photo with the first- and second-place women, who finished about an hour and a half hour ahead of me, respectively. My sweet mining pan award will be mailed to me, and I also snagged an age group medal.



Almost two hours later, Bobby finished, securing his Western States qualifier for the year. More than two hours after that, Juan finished, crossing the line in the dark with his supporters running in behind him.

We came, we saw, we finished.


Results:  HERE

Race Report: 24-hour Barn Burner

I started the day with a goal: Join the 100-mile club.


Even without training for the race, I honestly thought reaching 100 miles in 24 hours wouldn’t be so hard. If I go 5 miles per hour (slow, for me) I’ll get to 100 in 20 hours and have a nice four hour nap at the end of the race. Easy peasy.

Leave it to a San Joaquin Running race to be much harder than you expected.

I start off with a group and don’t pay much attention to the course at all because I’m telling Audrey a story. One lap down, my story is done, and we set off on another lap keeping pace with about five or six people. I still don’t pay much attention to the course. We’re telling stories and jokes, mostly commenting on The Barkley Marathons documentary we’d all seen on Netflix within the past few weeks.


Lap 3 came around and people are getting little quieter. The novelty has worn off. This is going to be a long day.

The course is a 1-mile loop starting inside a gorgeous red barn. First there’s a small downhill on pavers, then a grassy stretch, then a gravelly road crossing, then a sandy stretch, and then a whole lot of dirt with a few small sticks and rocks to maneuver around. Right before the timing equipment that marks each lap in front of the barn, there is a stretch of gravel. Thankfully, after the first few laps, someone lays down strips of carpet to make the trek across the gravel a little easier.

I thought this was going to be a fast, easy loop because it’s almost pancake flat, however, the terrain proved to be tougher on the body than I’d anticipated. Even the tiny stretches of sand and gravel added up to be a huge pain in the ass (actually, in the feet, ankles, knees and hips).

I bust out my first 12 miles in about a 9:10 average pace. My 6-year-old daughter joins me for the 13th lap, which I clock at an 11:27.


I keep about a 9:30 average until Mile 20, when I suddenly realize I’m dehydrated and overheating. Shit, I’m only two-tenths of the way to my goal!

I stop a little longer at the aid station (inside the barn) to guzzle water and Tailwind. On Lap 23 I decide to walk the entire lap, drinking down a HUGE styrofoam cup full of ice cold water. It takes me 14 minutes, 22 seconds. Slowest mile so far.

I shove some ice down my bra and into my mouth as I start the next lap and feel almost renewed. I tick off the miles, all the way up to 30, at just under an 11-minute-per-mile pace. I’m still way ahead of my 5-mile-per-hour goal and think I’ll hit 100 miles in the planned 20 hours.

Then the terrain starts to get to me. Everything is aching. My ankles ache, my right knee is in pain, my left hip injury from two years ago has returned and I have a new pain in my pubic bone.

I am NOT hurting myself at this race when I have Miwok 100K — my Western States qualifier for this year — coming up!

As I walk a lap with Audrey we both complain about how much pain we’re in. Her knee is hurting and she’s having flashbacks to Miwok of last year.

“I’ll drop down to the 12-hour if you do,” I tell her. She says, “Ok.”

When I see Nate (race director) in the barn I ask him “If I do 50 miles in the 12-hour do I get the 50-mile finisher award? Do you have enough of them?” He questions why. “Drop me down to the 12-hour.”

He laughs.

“Wait, are you being serious?” Nate asks.

“Yes! Things are hurting that have never hurt before and I’m done.”

I can’t remember exactly what he said but I walk out of the barn fully intending to run 15 more miles to get to 50, then cut out. My morale is better, knowing that I’ll be done before 9 p.m., and not 9 a.m. the next day.

Conversations with other runners keep my mind off of the pain. I don’t want to disclose anyone’s personal information, so I’ll just say that it’s extremely comforting knowing that my problems are not unique and that other people have found solutions. Running is the easiest setting for therapy. All secrets can be revealed when you’re sweating alongside someone else — not sitting on a couch face to face.

Anyway, I walk and run until I get to mile 47. Three miles left! I take off and bust them out in sub-10s. 50 miles done in 9 hours, 57 minutes! That’s a 50-mile record for me.

I have two hours left in the 12-hour race. But at this pace I’m on track to do 100 in 20 hours like I’d wanted. What the hell, I’ll give it a shot.

“Are you still going?” Nate asked back in the barn.

“Don’t let me quit,” I tell him.

“Oh, I wasn’t going to!” he says.

Totally true. When Audrey is in the barn at the end of the 12-hour race, she tells Nate she’s done. He literally pushes her out of the barn and tells her to keep going.

24 hours is 24 hours. Thank God we surround ourselves with people who make us keep our word!

I’m holding steady at a 6 mph pace through 57, then through Mile 65 I barely manage to keep a 5 mph pace. (I pass the 100K mark at sub 13-hours, another record for me. But at this point I don’t give a shit.) It’s getting darker and colder outside and I’m getting slower and more tired.

I had planned for a break at 1 a.m., but my watch gives me a low battery warning — much like my body — so I stop around 11 p.m. to take a short nap and use a portable charger to give my watch some juice.

The nap is miserable. I’m outside on a plastic mattress with a small blanket covering most, but not all, of my body and the wind hitting my sweat is giving me chills. I doze off and wake up a few times until Kenny’s alarm goes off and he wakes me up at 11:35. I put my shoes back on and keep moving.

Carmen paces me for several miles and it’s awesome to have conversation again. When she leaves, Bryan steps in to pace me for two laps. (I think. I now realize that between 11 p.m. and 6 a.m., everything is a blur. I’m not quite sure who paced me at what time.)

Then I listen to my favorite podcasts: Stuff You Missed In History Class, Stuff You Should Know, and Ultrarunner Podcast. I NEVER listen to music or anything else while running, but desperate times called for desperate measures. And this is a desperate time. I need to 1) stay awake and 2) keep my mind off of the pain in my legs.

My husband shows up and walks a lap with me.

Finally, I can no longer stay awake and curl up for another quick nap. I’m smart this time around and drag a blanket to the sofa in front of a blazing fire in the barn. Toasty! I ask Carly to wake me up in 20 minutes, at 1:40.

It’s SO HARD to get off of the warm couch but I know at this rate I’m not going to hit 100 miles in 20 hours. Probably not even in 21 hours. Get moving! The podcast goes back on until Christina shows up around 3 a.m. to pace me for a bit. I posted on Facebook this morning that I would appreciate anyone who would come run with me during the 24 hours, bonus friend points for anyone who shows up at 3 a.m.

I’m amazed that Christina — someone I hardly know, since she’s fairly new to the Wascallys — agreed to come out in the middle of the night! The running community is so freakin’ awesome! We share stories of how we started running and how we’ve progressed.

Around 3:30 a.m. I hear “Heeeeyyyy!!! Faarrinnnn!!!! Aaahhh!!! Oh my gawd!!!!” and there are three drunk ass people coming toward me, headlamps ablaze. Pookie, O’Riley and Coach have been dropped off to pace us oh-so-fortunate Wascallys. After hugs and laughs, I tell them “Go sit your drunk asses down in the Barn!” and continue on my lap.

Coach decides to come with me on the next one. I tell him about the race so far (he probably doesn’t remember any of this now) and he listens, leaning on me the whole time and saying, “No shit?? No shit!” Then he pukes at LEAST an entire bottle of wine into the bushes. Just to be sure, he sticks a finger down his throat and throws up some more. Then it’s, “Let’s go!” and we’re off. We run the last half mile of the one-mile loop, with him zigging and zagging the whole way.

At the end of the lap, I’m relieved to find Roberto in the barn with four large coffees. As I start my next lap he jumps in alongside me and off we go… oh wait, Coach is following. Eh, he’ll make it. It’s impossible to get lost.

Roberto keeps me at a good pace through the wee hours of the morning until I just get so tired and so cold I can’t do much but walk. Still, one foot in front of the other, no matter how slow, is going to get me closer to my goal.

Around 5 a.m. it starts to get interesting. It’s still dark outside. The moonlight and the stars aren’t doing much to illuminate our path. I have a headlamp that I’ve changed the batteries on twice to ensure the brightest output. I don’t want to trip over anything and have it ruin my chances at 100.

Knowing that I’m going to walk the entire next lap, I grab a blanket to hold around myself in the bitter cold. That’s when things get interesting.

We cross the little gravel road and near a wooden gate. I notice a ski pole on the ground and make a big effort to step over it. Who left a pole here? Shit, am I hallucinating?

We walk a little further and Roberto is telling me stories, either to keep me awake or just to break the silence. I’m dozing off and zig-zagging on the trail, just like Coach was a few miles earlier. Then I step over a big milk jug blocking my path. Who the hell had milk out here?

“I just saw a milk jug,” I tell Roberto. “There’s no milk jug, huh?”

“You’re hallucinating,” he tells me, laughing. “Oh shoot!”

We keep walking, and suddenly I’m stepping on six-inch long and five-inch tall Monopoly houses and hotels. I can’t lift my feet high enough to step over them, and they’re all lined up in a row so I can’t go around them. I’m crushing them.

“I’m a giant. I’m stepping on all these little houses,” I tell Roberto.

“Oh, yeah, all those houses,” he says, laughing. “You need to drink some coffee when we get to the barn.”

I drink half the cup off coffee and then we take off running again. The only way I’m going to stay awake and keep from hallucinating (hopefully) is to pick up the pace.

Roberto runs with me for a total of three hours until the sun comes up. Definitely a lifesaver! Who knows what would’ve happened if I’d been by myself.

Running in the daylight is a bit easier. More and more people show up and/or wake up from camping in their tents. A crowd forms in and around the barn and everyone cheers at each lap. My mom and sister even show up. My sis walks a lap with me and I amuse her with my hallucination story.

I’m three miles away from 100 and someone tells me that I could be the second person to hit 100… I just have to beat the guy ahead of me. It’s on!

I take off and I’m glad to hear someone running to catch up to me. It’s Nate. He’ll definitely keep me on pace!

I run the next 3 laps without stopping and hit 100 miles sometime around 7:45 a.m. It took waaay longer than 20 hours, but at least I did it within 24!

I have no idea why, but I keep going. There’s still so much time left in the race, I decide to walk until 24 hours is up. I recall fellow competitor, Aaron, telling me days before, “It’s not a 100-mile race and then stop, it’s a 24-hour race! You’d better run the whole 24 hours.”

I’m at 101 and I’m told that the current leader (and fellow San Joaquin Running teammate) Eddie has called it quits at 102. If I go two more miles, I’ll win the race.

“I’m not going back out there, Farin, so be my guest and do two more. You can take it. I’m thinking of getting into my truck and leaving right now anyway,” he tells me.

Well okay then.

I walk another lap and hit 102. One more and I’ll win. I start walking and suddenly hear quick footsteps behind me, then see the black calf sleeves pulling head of me.

Oh hell no!! That liar!! 

Yup, it’s Eddie, who’s decided he’s not losing this race.

Ok, it’s on!

I take off after him and quickly catch up.

Nate yells, “Uh-oh! The race is on!!!”

Everyone’s cheering. After endless hours of people going around and around and around this damn loop, there’s finally some real excitement going on here!

Eddie’s stride is quick and hurried. Mine’s pretty laid back. We’re staying within a meter of each other, leapfrogging just slightly around turns. We come into the barn and I put on the brakes. “Can’t we just call it a tie??”

Apparently not. Eddie hustles along for another lap.

Screw this. Have fun, Eddie. 

I sit down and enjoy a calf massage, a juicy cheeseburger and more coffee as Eddie makes a couple more loops — ensuring that I won’t sneak in enough laps to claim the title. It’s all good. I’ve joined the 100-mile club, I’m first female and second overall, and that’s just fine with me. Where’s my belt buckle?



What do you do after a 24-hour run? Well, I took a hot epsom salt bath and fell asleep in the tub. When the water got cold I woke up and went to sleep in my bed. (Approx. 1.5 hours of sleep, total.) Then I enjoyed Easter with the family and took another nap from 5 to 7 p.m.

I went to bed, like normal, at 10:30 p.m. and woke up at 7 a.m. feeling completely rested and back to normal. I’m even moving around all right. I went to yoga at 9:30 a.m. and got a great stretch in. 103 miles actually didn’t do too much damage!  **The results say I did 104. My watch totals come out to about 105. I thought I did 103 laps… Not sure what happened. I guess I’ll stick with the official results: 104! 😉 **

Barn Burner results


So thankful to all who helped me! Not just the pacers, but everyone who cheered and gave me food and drinks. Also a huge thank-you to Nate and his awesome wife Jillian for putting on this great event and sacrificing sleep to keep us all fed and hydrated.

It’s very fitting that this race was held on Easter weekend. After two huge lows — the Mile 35 “I’m dropping down” breakdown and the 5 a.m. hallucination party — I came back strong in the end thinking, “I have risen!!!” (And, no, I’m not Kanye… I don’t actually think I’m Jesus.)  It’s amazing how much can change over the course of an ultramarathon. So much different from a road marathon!

The Wascally women came out on top, with Audrey coming in 2nd place with 88 miles and Begered finishing 87 miles. I run with badass ladies!!