Latest reviews by Deanne Avery

"Triple Lakes is Exceptional!! "
Aid Stations
Course Scenery
Expo Quality
Elevation Difficulty
Race Management

It was not my intention to run two marathons this year. My plan for turning 40 was to run a marathon, meaning 1 marathon.

I do always try to sign up for the next big race before completing my upcoming big race and I happened to run across the Triple Lakes 40K in Greensboro.

Perfect I thought. That’s less than a marathon so I can do that and how cool to run a 40K for my 40th year!

I immediately signed up.

I quickly thereafter did my best peer pressure work of all time.

I managed to convince my friend Kim, her husband John and my friend Meredith to go along with me on this crazy journey to 40k!!

We developed our training plan and got right to it. Running more trail miles than ever before and getting more vertical gain than ever before!

In the midst of our summer training I was diagnosed with Asthma which is exacerbated by exercise. I am so glad I went to have my breathing situation checked out though! Having my inhaler now makes my run so much better. I no longer feel like I’m sucking air through a flattened straw! I no longer run scared that I will pass out or worse on the trails a million miles from help.

Through the summer training we had some of the hottest most humid days ever! It was tough but we were tougher!

A few days before the 40k the race director announced that the 40k course was going to change. Unfortunately the area had been severely affected by the hurricanes that came through and many of the trails were impassable.

In addition to the 40k the race also had a half marathon and a 40 miler. The race director had to make last-minute changes to the course so that the all the races could still go on. The half marathon course was passable and so they made the decision to have the 40k run the half course twice making it a marathon and to have the 40 miler run the course three times!

Of course this sent us into a silly frenzy. We started bantering back and fourth about how we did not train for 42k but only 40k and what in the world would we do! A 40k is 24.85 miles whereas the marathon is 26.2. That mile and a half roughly was sure to get us lol!! We were kidding of course. I was already pretty mentally prepared for a marathon. Most places I looked listed this race as a marathon while others did say 40k. Either were really fine with me.

I laid out all of my clothes in advance for the race but totally forgot to take a flat runner pic as I usually do!! In hind sight I am not sure if hardcore trail runner girls do this or not so good thing I didn't. Make no mistake I am a hard core trail runner girl now!!

I decided to wear my Skirt Sports Spanky Skirt, a black tank top from WalMart, the Skull and Bones OTC Crazy Compression Socks, of course my Brooks Cascadia shoes, a baseball cap, my Nathan VaporAiress Hydration vest and last minute I picked up some Nike Sleeves at Dicks Sporting Goods.

The sleeves were the best decision ever!!!! I knew I would be cold starting out and I don't love being cold. I love being cool but not cold. If I wore a jacket I would have had to remove my pack to get the jacket off once I warmed up. With the sleeves I could peel them off mid run and they are so thin I could easily stuff them in a pocket of my pack! That's exactly what I did. Within the first three miles these puppies were off and tucked away for the rest of the race!

I had a busy weekend and so there was no good way for me to get to Greensboro the night before the race. I would instead make the two hour drive the morning of the race. Kim and John drove down that morning as well. We all got up at 3:30 am and met up at the interstate at 4:30 am to caravan down together. We had a 2 hour drive ahead of us and we needed to get there about 6:30 for packet pick up.

We stopped just into Greensboro to take a quick potty break and I ran to the convenience store for some last minute fuel. The night before the race I realized my hubby had eaten all of my mini Payday's (trail running fuel of the Gods lol). I had to be in Boone Friday night for a Gala with my youngest daughters sorority and so after she and I went to Walmart to buy another bag of mini Paydays. As I was heading down the mountain after dropping her off she called to tell me she had the Walmart bag with my PAYDAYS!!! So.... I grabbed what they had at the store which was a sword sized Payday that just barely fit into one of my side pockets in my pack lol!!

We got to the race Saturday morning just as packet pick up started. We were able to meet the race director which was a lot of fun. We had been bantering back a fourth a bit on Instagram as we prepped for the race. We then we met up with Meredith and loaded up our packs. We were lucky enough to meet in person Jacky Hunt-Broersma aka ncrunnerjacky who is an ultrarunner also from North Carolina. She has an incredible story of surviving cancer and now running as an amputee through the toughest trails you can fathom. If you don’t follow her you should be, she is incredibly inspirational and her journey is unlike anything that I could ever imagine. Jacky was there for the 40 miler!!

The race started in waves with the first wave being the half marathoners. A bit later the marathoners lined up and the 40 milers would start after us.

The weekend before this race Kim and I ran 13 miles on the Fonta Flora Trails. Kim is a stronger trail runner and much better pacer than me and last weekend I decided to run behind her the entire time. That run was probably the best trail run ever and so I decided I would do the same, run behind her, for as long as I could at this race.

I made her swear she'd not hold back for me and that if I fell behind she would go on. She promised and I promised her that even if by some miracle I felt like a rock star at the end I would not pass her and instead push her to the finish!!! I did not feel like a rock star and instead let her drag me behind her to finish lol!!

We ran the first half of the race almost non stop. We power hiked maybe twice on two steep climbs.

Training for a trail race, especially a trail marathon is a challenge in and of itself. Training for a trail marathon that you have never been able to test out is even more of a challenge.

All I had seen were these two videos of the course.

For a road race a pacing strategy or a run walk strategy is doable. For a trail race with varying terrain not so much.

We ran so strong for the first half and slowed down a bit for the second. We decided we would try to do a 3:1 run/walk for the second half and for the most part stuck to that!

My legs were heavy by the time we began loop two. I had mentally planned to fall behind but decided I would work as hard as I could to keep up with Kim.

The trails were challenging and the terrain was ever changing. The rooty areas very rooty where it felt like we were we were doing some fancy footwork you see in those football player drills. There were areas where it was very packed dirt which was great and there were areas of super slippery mud because of all the rain. The trail had sections where boardwalks had been built in the woods, these areas were low spots that most likely got the wettest. The course also had a few short spurts along the road and dam of the lake.

It rained almost the entire day but that tree cover and canopy kept us from getting soaked. The temperature was perfect, it was nice and cool. It really was the perfect day! We have some great trails in western NC but this trail in Greensboro makes me jealous!

We gained about 1,800 feet of elevation overall which was not too bad.

The aid stations were well stocked and well supported. I did not take a lot of pictures on this route. I normally am the picture taking queen but I was focused on running instead and did not want to slow us down. On the trail I have to focus on maintaining my footing. If I take my eyes off the trail I tend to find myself in a face plant position on the ground lol!

I took in fuel about every 30-45 minutes and sipped on my Nuun Water in between that as needed. I had Gu, Salt Sticks, Peppermint, Gummy Bears and my giant Payday as my fuel sources and alternated between them throughout the race. At the aid stations I grabbed a cold water which was refreshing! This fueling and hydrating strategy worked well for me this race!

A few times during the race Kim was in it to win it and I thought I might die in the process. If there was another runner on the trail we'd suddenly speed up to pass, most of them out for their morning run and not part of the race lol!! Once she did ask a lady behind us her age group, when the reply was 45 buddy we picked up the pace again lol! Turns out she was running the half dang it lol!!

After the race we ran up hill to the finish and we received our race awards from the race director and were directed over to the post race food. They had a fully catered hot meal ready for us at the finish!! They had Beer, BBQ, Rolls, a big salad and so much more!! I grabbed a water, roll and some veggie straws and collapsed. The spread was very impressive but I had Pizza on the brain!

I finished in 6:15 which was way better than I expected! I didn't exactly know what to expect so I had just planned to finish before the eight hour cut off. Kim and I came in fourth and fifth in our age group woot woot!! Next year we are gunning for a place now that we know what to expect!

Oh yeah! We will be back! This race was awesome!! Well organized, well staffed, well supported! Not one single complaint or critique!

We hung out for a little bit after the race took a few more photos and then left to go get some pizza!

This race is hands-down one of my all-time favorite!! I want to do it again and again and again and again! Kim said she felt like she could have gone on to do a third loop! I did not feel that way lol. I however would love to have felt that way and so one day maybe I will give that a try!

As always I did have a good long cleansing cry on the course. I tend to do that. At about mile 21 I was overcome by emotion. I had never gotten farther than 20 miles on the trails before and here I was going farther! I felt so small in this big ole forest yet I felt so alive, my spirit totally revived by the cool crisp fall fresh air, the gentle rain shower washing over me and the beautiful woodsy scents dancing along with me on the course! It was trail magic and God for sure!

I can not recommend this race enough and I sure can not wait to do it again!!

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"Resolution Run 5K ~ December 30, 2017 ~ Race Recap"
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Race Management

My latest love are races that keep registration open basically until the start of the race.

I was so uncertain through December about what I wanted to do in the way of a race. I had set this goal to run 12 races in 2017.

I am the race director for the Night of Light in Morganton and so I no longer run that race. It is my very favorite race but I need to stay put as much as possible that night to make sure things go smoothly.

I had registered to run the Kiawah Half Marathon with my friends on December 9th but as we got into December I really began stressing about what I really needed to do.

The weeks leading up to the Night of Light are non stop, very busy. In addition I was very busy at work with several early mornings and late evenings. I just had no time to begin thinking about Christmas just yet. I knew once the 5K was over I would have a little reprieve except that I had the half marathon the next weekend which was going to take up another weekend of the month.

The weekend after that, the weekend of the 16th, I also had plans. We spent Saturday with the girls and their boyfriends and went to the Daniel Stowe Botanical Garden. We do something "Christmasy" (totally made up word) each year it's one of our favorite traditions. It gives us a minute to enjoy time together and all the sparkle of Christmas.

The 17th we would celebrate my moms birthday and then the next weekend was Christmas.

It just was not settling well with me to be gone the weekend of the 9th with so much going on, having been so busy in the weeks prior and having so much to do at home. In addition both my girls had stuff going on that I needed to be available for, Tess was going to be home from College and on top of that my stomach had been so upset for several days and I had not been running and I felt completely under trained. I was logging my long runs but skipping my daily short base miles.

We also did have our Christmas Tree but I wanted to really decorate and I still needed to shop for Christmas and my time was running out.

I was so sad to miss time with my friends but they had a great time and deferring helped relive a little stress for me this holiday season!

I also hated to miss this race because of my 2017 goals! While I had already run 12 races I initially thought my goal was a race a month and now I had deferred my December race. I looked back at my goals and realized I had actually just said 12 races so technically I was off the hook.

However... This also did not settle well with me either and I kept contemplating a race for December.

I had been seeing posts from some other local runner girls about the Resolution Run 5K in Marion on the evening of December 31st. Most Resolution Runs I see are for New Years Day and that would not help my situation at all.

I went back and fourth and back and fourth on this for days. Trying to find someone to do it with me. My marathon training partner said she would do it so I signed up on December 30th at 6:00 pm lol!!!

I then went on to peer pressure my sister in law to run it too! That conversation looked something like this:

Saturday Night 12/30/17
Me: Have you given any more thought to the Resolution 5K
Her: I don't know just yet what my plans are! Are you for sure doing it?
Me (6:00pm): Yes getting ready to register now
Her: Sorry, I wish I could say for sure, I will text you tomorrow. What are you doing after?
Me: Ok Sounds good!! Coming home after! I will text you tomorrow!

Sunday Evening 4:00 pm (We are leaving for the race at 6:00 pm... watch and learn my friends, watch and learn...) 12/31/17
Her: I keep going back and fourth about the race. I think I will pass but just in case what time are you leaving?
Me: You should come!!!! We are meeting at 6:30!! My friend Carly is coming too! I have some paper hats, and noisemakers for us!! Should be back home by 10pm!! You need to come it will be fun!!!
Me (20 min later): You think you will come? If so I'm gonna make you something, a surprise!!!
Her: OMG girl!!! I love surprises but it's been so cold!!
Me: It's not timed and you get a medal... Price is also reduced!!
Her: T-Shirt still included?
Me: Yep!!
Her: Still Thinking...
Me: Just come on!! You then will have all the energy you need to stay up till midnight lol!!
Her: Ok
Me (at 5:15pm): See you at 6:30!!
Her: Don't forget my surprise!!
Me: Be sure to bundle up!!

I decided on what to wear and then headed out to meet these other crazy girls!

It was snowing ❄️... It was 23 degrees... It was windy.... We were possibly under dressed (but well decorated)... Carly and I ran 15 miles the day before... We felt a tad crazy... But what a fun way to wrap up 2017 🎉
Ready to run the Resolution 5K 2️⃣0️⃣1️⃣7️⃣➡️2️⃣0️⃣1️⃣8️⃣🏃🏼‍♀️🏃🏽‍♀️🏃🏼‍♀️

We had so much fun!! I had never ran in Marion before so this was a first for me! We got there, got our bibs and shirts and went back to the car to keep warm until the race.

The route was quite a bit hillier than I expected but it was a great course. The race was well supported by the local police, they were at every major intersection directing traffic and because it was an open course they drove the route in loops making sure the runners were safe! I was so impressed! I finished the race in 31:03. Considering I was on tired leg from the longest run I had ever done the day before (15 miles) I was so happy with that time!

After the race we grabbed a water, a banana and a cookie and then high tailed it back to the warmth of the car!!

I totally would do this race again! It just might become an annual tradition.

Next year though we take the hubbies and grab a drink at my friends bar Refinery 13 Taproom after! I mean were all dressed up already and need more places to go lol!

Once we got back to town my running buddy and I had another little run to do.... Grocery store run bahahaha!!

Then we were all back home with our families to ring in the new year!!

Oh and the surprise!! As I was waiting for my SIL to decide on the race I quick crocheted reflective headbands for the both of them and wrapped them around mini bottles of champagne!! They loved them!!

Pictures and more details on the blog:

Cheers to the New Year!! Many Happy Miles!

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"South of the Mountain Trail Run - November 04, 2017 - Race Recap"
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Race Management

This was my third year participating in the South of the Mountain Trail Run and each year I have gotten better and better on my pace. Trail running is very different than road running and so each year I have been very happy with my time. This year I was especially happy and sooooo close to placing in my age group! There is always next year!

In 2015 I finished in 36:53:56
In 2016 I finished in 34:58:9
In 2017 I finished in 33:51:6

I love this race. It is small town race, there were 126 finishers this year. It is a well organized event and for me it is the perfect time of year!!

I love the drive out to this race, these are the old country roads that make me feel all warm and fuzzy inside. My family is from this area so I love driving out here as it reminds me of when I was a little girl.

This year my sister in law joined me to run the race and I believe she loved it too!

I also love running into runner friends that I only get to see every now and then! My fellow Crazy Compression Ambassador and I always meet up at this race!

The course is absolutely beautiful, this race has become a tradition for me and I plan to continue to run it year after year! It is the perfect fall race for me! If you are ever in the area you should certainly check this race out!!

Come run it with me next year!

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"Pacing The Goose Chase Bluegrass Half Marathon"
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Course Scenery
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Race Management

I have never ran as a pacer before although I am pretty consistent on my pace for nearly all the half marathons I do. I have one speed and my body just naturally settles in for the run within the first mile or so.

My friend Kim S asked me to pace with her at The Goose Chase Bluegrass Half Marathon. She actually paced me in the half that I got my PR! I of course decided to join her but I was a bit nervous. Suddenly there was a bit of performance anxiety that I felt. I MUST maintain the pace because there will be others counting on me.

I have been training for an October 40k so I am feeling pretty good with my fitness level but we would be out of town the week before the race (on the go, go, go) and flying back home late the night before the race.

As you know leg cramping is one of my main #runnerprobs so I was especially worried with all the travel and very little sleep. Saturday we drove to the Milwaukee Airport at 2pm, waited on our plane until 4:00pm, flew a short flight to Chicago and boarded another plane to Greensboro at 6pm (7pm NC time) and arrived in NC at 9pm. We then had a two hour car ride home. I walked in my door at 11:30pm and was in bed by 12am.

I set my alarm for 3:30am and was up and at it with 3.5 hours sleep. I was meeting my friend Kim A at 4:30am to make the two hour drive to Johnson City, TN. We stopped in a neighboring town to pick up another runner friend Morgan and headed to the race!

I did deliberately count my ounces of water consumed on Saturday so I could at least be sure I was properly hydrated. I also had laid everything out before I left for my trip so that I wouldn't have to do any of the race prep when I got in from my flight.

We met up and made the windy two hour drive to Johnson City, TN for the race. We would meet my friend Kim S there!

We got there with a little time to spare and quickly got changed into our pacer shirts!

Snapped a few selfies and headed to the start line.

The pacers all met up for a quick group photo and then we were off!

The course was pretty flat for Tennessee with a few small hills. It felt like home. The course was also spread out well throughout the town and very very well marked! There was plenty of support and aid stations along the way with water and Gatorade. Most of the aid stations also had music!!

We were supposed to run a 12:00/mile pace for a 2:37 finish. We stayed pretty consistent throughout the race, pulling back a couple of times and finished at 2:35!

Pretty darn near spot on!

The course was beautiful and took us all over town. We ran through the East Tennessee State University Campus, through Veterans Park, by the Hospital, and through the quaint downtown.

It really was a great day! The weather was perfect and I had great friends to run with! I am so glad I did this with friends!!! Running with friends is always awesome!!

We had so much fun and I am already looking forward to the next one!!

We grabbed some lunch after in Johnson City and then made the two hour trek home. I then showered and crawled in to my bed where I stayed the rest of the day!!

It's always an adventure and I love it! On to the next!!!

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"Carolina Donut Festival's Bob to Bob's Half Marathon ~ Race Recap"
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Course Scenery
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Race Management

What a super fun way to spend a Saturday!!

I signed up for this race January 31st. I like to have things on the calendar ahead of doing the next big race. This keeps me training for that next event and keeps me moving forward. I learned this valuable lesson after my first half marathon. After all the buildup and excitement of the race once it was over I was left feeling like "now what" and sunk into a slump of no running. Keeping the calendar full keeps me excited and looking forward to the next thing.

After spending the weekend before last, however, in crazy weather at my first Ultra and being stopped short at 20 miles in I began to have some meh creep in and I wasn't feeling overly excited about the upcoming race. I actually thought briefly about not running it. I felt like maybe I needed a break.

I quickly brushed those thoughts aside. My nephew was running this same race as his very first half marathon. Actually this would be his very first running event ever! I had to be there! He found running much the same way I did and I am so proud of him!

I also had lots of friends running it too and I love running races with friends!!

I am so glad I didn't back out. This race has proven now to be one of my all-time favorites!!

The hubby and I ventured to Marion on Friday night to pick up my packet. Nothing fancy. The packet was a bib and my shirt. This shirt however is super soft, super comfy and super cute! We then grabbed dinner at a local hot spot and headed back home. I love a packet pickup turned date night lol!

I had not had time to really plan what I would wear like I normal do so I laid out all the things I would consider in the morning and went to bed.

I decided that morning on a tank and capris. I always wear Crazy Compression OTC socks but for some reason I decided not to for this race. It was ok but I really prefer my OTC socks. It helps me soooooo much with muscle cramps and at about mile 11 I had them in a big way! I did wear my Crazy Compression runners which are awesome running socks but I never run long without my long socks and I won't ever do that again. Lessons learned.

The morning was actually much colder than I anticipated so I grabbed a jacket last minute and headed out the door. My friend Kathleen (my Detroit running partner) came to my house to carpool and we picked up Carly (my Asheville Marathon training partner) on the way. We made it to Marion with seconds to spare to catch the first shuttle. This race is a point to point, Bob's Donuts in Old Fort to Bob's Donuts in Marion.

We caught the shuttle just in the nick of time and headed to Old Fort! We got there and had time to spare before the race start at 7:30am. If you know me I HAVE to get to the race start early, It gives me anxiety to get to the start line just before the race start. This race is small enough though that I would have probably been ok to wait until the second shuttle at 6:45am.

The weather was cold and there was nowhere inside to wait. Kathleen, Carly and I walked laps in the parking lot to stay warm. I ended up with an extra mile or so on my watch because of the warm up walk lol! The sun finally started to come up and we could then stand still in the rays and feel some warmth.

I got to meet up with other friends there too!!

I planned to meet up with Jen who I have ran some fun training runs with!

I got to see Robin and Stephanie (fellow Crazy Compression Ambassadors)!!

I saw Ruth a fellow runner from Morganton who has unknowingly paced me in a race a time or two ;)

I of course saw my nephew Jimmy!

I also go to see Kim who I ran Fonta Flora with.

The race was chip timed but there was not a starting mat. There were 103 runners and we all just started together at the countdown given by a race official.

The course was awesome! I want to run there every weekend! There were only 5 turns on the route so there were lots of long rolling roads. They had great aid stations that were all well manned. There were police vehicles back and forth throughout the event making sure everyone was safe as the course was open. I felt the traffic was minimal and I never felt unsafe at all.

There were several rail road crossings along the course and we were reminded to be alert when in those areas in particular. For the most part I stayed behind these runners most of the way. They kept a steady pace which helped me fall in to a steady pace behind them.

I didn't have a big goal going into this race. I hadn't really found a good elevation chart and I tend to be better prepared when I am able to anticipate the elevation change. I had heard there were some hills but I expected it to be somewhat of a downhill course simple because of the geographical location of Old Fort compared to Marion. My ideal was to do about a 2:30 half marathon, my half’s in the past have been 2:27, 2:29, 2:30, 2:45 and 2:52 with those last two having some adverse issues (blisters and severe leg cramps) I figure 2:30 would be where I'd fall.

I was not doing a great job tracking my pace as I ran and instead just running on feel. I did stick as best I could to the 3:1 run/walk method. I ran the first 5K nonstop then started my intervals. Over all the elevation gain is 645 ft. All of that in miles 11-12!!! What a doozie of a hill! I walked the entire thing!!

For the most part I ran the race solo. Just me and the road and the rolling hills and the pastures. I loved it!! It was peaceful and beautiful. I did my own thing and just kept moving along.

At the top of the big hill two runners caught up with me. Kim, I knew, she is a fellow Asheville Marathon Ambassador. I also knew that she was pacing this race for the 2:30 group. With only a mile and a half or so to go and with my goal of finishing in 2:30 I held on and ran in with the two of them. I thought maybe they were ahead of pace but I didn't ask and just kept on following behind. As the finish line grew near I kicked up my pace and sprinted to the downhill finish with a time of 2:24:18!!! A new PR!!! I was so excited and a bit surprised!! I feel like I still had energy in my tank but for the first time ever I didn't pull back too much at the finish and instead finished strong!

While the PR was AMAZING my favorite part of the race was having the opportunity to congratulate my niece on her first 5K and together cheer in my nephew and watch him also sprint to the finish!! I can't fully express how proud I am.

Running is hard. Running 1 mile is far. Running 13.1 is incredible. As John Bingham says "The miracle isn't that I finished. The miracle is that I had the courage to start.”

Be careful with those running shoes... You just never know where they may take you!

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