Women on High

Picture1Fanny Bullock Workman with a newspaper that reads, “Votes for Women”. Photo from the New England Historical Society.


Stories of sweeping landscapes, tragic hardships, and epic treks to the most remote regions of the world, these tales that define the genre of mountaineering and adventure culture literature have always interested me as an avid hiker and climber. What escaped my notice for the longest time was the fact that most of the books that were popular and readily available on the subject were all written by men and about all-male expeditions. This realization hit me when I stumbled upon the book, Women on High: Pioneers of Mountaineering, in Quechee, Vermont after a two-week-long backpacking trip in the White Mountains of New Hampshire.


The discovery of this book seemed very timely, so I took it home and was incredibly glad I did. Written by Rebecca Brown and published through the Appalachian Mountain Club, Women on High: Pioneers of Mountaineering follows women’s active involvement in the mountains from the first woman to ever summit Mont Blanc in the Alps to the “Trampers” of New Hampshire who popularized hiking as a hobby in America. This compilation of courageous and inspiring stories about the pioneering women in our sport revealed a whole history of amazing women who were completely new to me. The stories of these women proved integral to discovering an appreciation of the trails blazed for me literally and figuratively in our outdoor space. Brown details the social stumbling blocks these climbers had to overcome to be taken seriously and even allowed to climb the high mountains. The expeditions are brought to life in colorful detail with the accounts of the treks themselves and the very specific gear and food lists that were needed. In stark contrast to the spandex and down puffy jackets of today these early climbers summited mountains in long, heavy woolen skirts, and many many layers of flannel that would freeze stiff and impede their movement, making their successes in climbing even that much more impressive.  Brown uses all of these details to paint an engaging portrait of what it took to be an early mountaineer- man or woman.


Unexpectedly, Brown’s multitude of impressive climbers provided me with inspirational role models that I didn’t know I was lacking. One of these formidable climbers who left a significant impression on me was Mrs. Fanny Bullock Workman. Aside from discovering that Bullock Workman shares the hometown of Worcester, Massachusetts with my father’s family and instantly liking her based on this alone, Fanny’s alpine career bolsters its own reputation. Bullock Workman held the record for the highest altitude ever summited by a woman with her 1906 summit of Pinnacle Peak, standing at 22,735ft, and had many first ascents in the Himalayas for either men or women. Additionally, Fanny was a naturalist, scientist, and an active supporter and participant in the women’s suffrage movement and contributed heavily to all of these fields. Fanny’s spirit and drive were unabashed in the pursuit of her alpine career in the all male’s club that was alpine climbing at the time. There is a famous photo of Fanny that encompasses all this,  high on a mountain in 1912 at 21,000 feet atop the unexplored Siachen Glacier in the Himalayas reading a newspaper with the headline “Votes for Women.”


Dora Keen as well, who was from our very own Philadelphia and a graduate of the local Bryn Mawr College, had an impressive alpine resume that brought her all over the world from the Alps to her venturing into the Alaskan wilderness for her own first ascent. Dora made history by achieving a first ascent in Alaska at a time when only Mount St. Elias of the great Alaskan peaks had been climbed. Mt. Blackburn was introduced and described to Keen as “never ascended” and “worthy of the hardiest mountaineer.” So Keen tried for two seasons and in a climb that took thirty-three days to achieve the summit, Dora Keen summited Mt. Blackburn on May 19th, 1912.


I now have so much love and admiration for a myriad of women I would not have been exposed to otherwise. The history of women in mountaineering has been shrouded by a culture in which only men could be celebrated mountaineer-a culture in which a mountain was deemed not worthy of climbing anymore if a woman could do it. This sentiment can be seen echoed by one of Britain’s most famous alpinists, Albert F. Mummery, who, in response to climber Lily Bristow’s successful summit of the Grépon, said “that all mountains appear doomed to pass through the three stages: An inaccessible peak- The most difficult ascent in the Alps- An easy day for a lady.” Seeing people I can relate to in the mountaineering and outdoor realm deeply impacted me, much more than I could have imagined. Now, however, I see it as invaluable for all women in the outdoor community to understand what the climbers before us went through to establish a community in which women everywhere can enjoy the outdoors with equal opportunities for zeal and acceptance.






The Walt Disney World Marathon 2019

We’re not mousin’ around here. I really ran the Walt Disney World Marathon.


And it was so. much. fun.

But before that, what happened to the 50k I was supposed to be running in December you may ask? Very good question. I too thought I would be running the Naked Nick 50k, my stomach however disagreed. A stomach bug and freezing rain kept me at home in bed instead of out on the trails. I am not the kind of person who quits without going through why over and over until quitting is truly the only option left. And on this day there was no way I would be able to race. Too dehydrated and exhausted from a week of throwing up to even consider racing, I texted my run buddies and let them know. Even though I had every reason not to run the race and knew logically why I wasn’t running, making the call and sticking to it made me so upset. Months of training all culminating to a week of being sick and more importantly, no race. The only consolation left to cling to during my self-pity party was the 2019 Walt Disney World Marathon. Less than a month away, it was something to look forward to.

One of my good friends signed up for this race back in the fall and for weeks kept trying to get me to join her. Finally, on a drunken October evening, I caved. I registered, paid,  and my mom booked my flight as an early Christmas present. I was all set.

img_1790Now I’m not really a road runner. My road running m.o. is easily getting bored and disheartened. The trails seem to trick my mind into thinking that running is just fast hiking. And I like hiking.  Whether or not that makes actual sense who knows, all I can tell you is that I used to hate running, then I started running on trails and here we are now. For this race I figured, it’s one race I’m sure I can handle road running for one race. I really didn’t expect to have as much fun as I did.

Something new I’ve decided to do is a journal about my races/ make a race prep list all in the same notebook as a helpful little guide to look back on for what I prepped well for and conversely what I forgot to think about.  I made lists of gear, expectations, and day before and day of prep. Honestly, I’m not really a huge list maker but this was super satisfying and I know for a fact that when the next race comes around I will be grateful to be able to look back. So the following list is what I packed for the Walt Disney World Marathon:

Race Packing List: 


Running shorts (The North Face)                 Sports Bra (Patagonia)

Shirt (REI)                                                         Shoes (Brooks, Hoka)

Socks- 2 pairs (Feetures)                                     Sunglasses (Native)

                    Fleece (TNF)                                                     Windbreaker (Patagonia Houdini)

Hat (Outdoor Research)                                   Underwear (ExOfficio)


Hydration Vest (Osprey Dyna 1.5)                          Watch (Garmin Fenix 3)

Bib and safety pins                                      Medical Id (Road Id)

Driver’s License                                                  Sunscreen

Body Glide                                                     Headphones

Phone                                                             Buff

Extra Hair ties

compression socks (Sockwell, for recovery)


Advil                           Epi-Pen

Pepto Bismal             Benadryl

tums                           Zyrtec

salt-tabs                    Moleskin



Nuun – caffeinated and non-caffeinated

Energy Chews (Honey Stinger in pink lemonade and lemon-lime)

I felt pretty good with this list, it was curated with the knowledge I gained from fellow runners and my own experience with my last long distance race. My only wild card really was which pair of shoes I decided to wear. I brought my trail shoes (Brooks Cascadia 12) and a pair of Hoka road shoes (Bondi 4). In theory, I wanted to wear the road shoes because of the extra cushion because I didn’t know how my body would react with running on asphalt. I ended up running in my trail shoes purely based on I know how they perform on a long race day. I would rather stick with what I know works for my feet. The Hoka Bondi 4’s just didn’t fit my foot just right and I knew it would cause an issue at some point in the race. In an ideal world, I would have bought some road shoes well in advance for this race but you live and you learn. My feet were happy campers which is all that matters. In hindsight, I still agree with everything I covered on this list. It is a good list, so if you need some ideas for what to pack in your race bag feel free to use this as a template or a jumping off point.

In addition to a packing list I sat on the plane to Orlando and listed out all my goals and expectations for this race:

Goals and Expectations:

  1. Finish the Race
  2. Keep a good mental game
  3. Run most of the time
  4. Help keep Reese motivated (She didn’t end up needing me to help keep her hype at all lol)
  5. Have fun (My boyfriend laughed at this being all the way down at number 5)
  6. Remember that I’m a badass, who can and has run this far before.
  7. Hydrate heavily post race


All very attainable goals. I was getting hype. All that was left to do was hydrate, eat a bunch of carbs, and sleep. Our car had to be there and parked by 3:30am. Really fricken early, but we were so excited. All the prep finally came to this, RACE DAY.

WAKE UP:   2:20am January 13th, 2019.

Everything we needed we laid out the night before. I got dressed, applied sunscreen everywhere, filled my hydration bladder, and got HYPE. We made some quick oatmeal and fruit, grabbed our race bag, and headed out the door. Very surprisingly I felt super well rested the morning of. My last race I barely got any sleep the night before (nerves I’m assuming) and feared that would repeat itself but it didn’t! We went to bed at 7:30 the night before and I actually slept very well. We met up with Adrian, another friend running the race, once we were parked and all headed to the start line.

There were 20,000 runners for this race. That meant 16 corrals and a lot of late starts for the people in later corrals. Luckily we were in corral D. Normally I don’t really care what corral I’m placed in but the scheduled high for the day was supposed to be 80 degrees (F), meaning earlier the start time, the cooler temperature to run in.  The first corral set out at 5:30am with fireworks and a count down from the main mouse himself. What I thought was really special about this race was that they had Mickey countdown and had fireworks for every corral. Disney knows how to make something special.

Running out of the Castle

The course for the day is as follows:

Start in Epcot, run to Magic Kingdom. From Magic you have a decent highway stretch to Animal Kingdom, which marks the halfway point. From there it’s Animal to ESPN, to Hollywood Studios, and back home to Epcot. Easy, right?

Prior to this race, Reese and Adrian had never run anything longer than a half. Totally fine and amazing, however very quickly I found that we needed to reel our paces back in. We wanted to start by warming up not killing ourselves in the first 5k. After reminding them how much we had left to run the first 5 miles felt good,  a nice easy 11:00 min/mile pace average.

As far as fans go, I’d say I like Disney a lot. I wouldn’t say I’m obsessed or am the kind of person to only go on vacation to Disney World like some of the racers there but I like Disney. With that said when we rounded the corner in Magic Kingdom to head down Main Street towards Cinderella’s castle, all of it still lit up in the dark, I got emotional. It’s just not the kind of thing I’d ever thought I’d be doing. I remember being a little girl walking down that same street and my mom telling me about when she went as a little kid with her parents and her grandfather in the parks. The nostalgia hit me like a brick wall and in that surreal moment, I became that much more invested in the race. I can’t articulate that moment more than just overwhelming excitement and joy with what I was doing.

Left to Right: Adrian, Reese, and me

After quick bathroom and Advil break (getting ahead of the pain with good ol’ vitamin A) in Magic Kingdom, we kept running. Feeling fresh and with new excitement, we kept going strong until about mile 11. It was here that Adrian started to really feel it. His quads locked up and he looked visibly tired. Something I learned in my last race was that it’s ok to run your own race. It’s great to run with your friends but sometimes you have to keep going without them, and that’s just racing. As we were coming up on a medical station we said goodbye and good luck to Adrian and kept going. The only physical issue I really dealt with during the race was around the time we left Adrian I drank a little bit too much water pretty quickly and had a side stitch for about a mile. I could hear my track coach from high school telling me to belly breath in through my nose and out through my mouth and sure enough, it went away.

Something the Disney marathon did very well was entertainment and pure fun. There were DJs, character photo opts everywhere, and never-ending hype and support. I’m not a huge headphones user when I run, especially when I run races, sometimes though I’ll listen to a book or music but usually I’m not listening to anything. For this race, I didn’t feel the need to break out the headphones at all. There was so much going on all around making such a unique experience that I didn’t want to miss any of it.

Animal Kingdom marked the halfway point for the race. We reached the half at 2:41:34 at about 8:30 a.m. At this point, I don’t think I had stopped smiling. Our pace was easy still and I wasn’t really pushing myself, I was just enjoying running around the happiest place on earth. It wasn’t until around mile 14-16 ( can’t remember exactly when) that our walking breaks became more frequent and Reese told me to go ahead and keep going. I really wasn’t planning on running ahead but I still felt really fresh and agreed to just keep going. I’ve never experienced a race like this where I honestly felt super fresh until the very last mile. Mile after mile my excitement bolstered me forward and I felt amazing. I danced mid-run, joked with other runners, sang along to the variety of music playing from the DJs, and was just overall stoked to be there running ALL DAY LONG.

20 mile marker
I really never stopped grinning, I wasn’t kidding.

Everyone told me the worst part of the race course was going to be the ESPN World Wide Sports Center. It had earned this reputation for having no shade and a course consisting of running the track, big open fields, and the dreaded baseball field lap at mile 20. Probably because everyone told me I was going to hate it, I really didn’t think that it was that bad. I still felt fresh (which in hindsight like how?) and was having so much fun. The only thing that started to get to me at this point was the heat. As the temperature was steadily climbing, so was my attention to hydration. On any race day hydration is key, add an 80 degree outside temperature with the blaring sun and you just made that importance just increase exponentially. And did I mention that I was running this race during my period? That means added importance to dehydration. Honestly, I thought running a marathon on my period was going to be a much bigger deal,  but it really had no effect on my running. To avoid the chafing I stayed away from pads and I’m not really a huge fan of the menstrual cups so it was tampons for me. Always use what works best for you and your body. As the old marathon adage goes, have nothing new on race day. Stick with what you found worked best on your training runs.


My one regret came in the last mile, mile and a half-ish. I didn’t check my water bladder at the last water station. A rookie mistake (yes, hello, hi there! I’m a rookie). You’re probably thinking to yourself, meh what’s the big deal, you’re only a mile out from post-race water and true I did, in fact, make it. However, I’m the kind of person who likes to sip water all race long not just dump it on my stomach at aid stations. It just works better for me and on an 80-degree day, I was really feeling the lack of water. Spoiler alert, I did survive and make it to the finish line. Just a note to myself for next time: check your hydration bladder at the last water station.


So what are the numbers you may ask? What was my final time? WELL, I’LL TELL YOU.

Around 20,000 runners began that morning, and only 11,960 finished. Of that 11,960, 5,976 were women. I finished 2,018th for my gender, which is the top 30% and I am very pleased about that. For my age group, I finished 199th of 483, and my overall time was 5:26:34. Now I know there are faster times out there, but all things considered for the day (the heat, the heat, and did I mention the heat?) I am very happy with it. I’m super stoked that I actually finished since apparently, so many people dropped out.  I’m also just very happy that I as much fun as I did while still having a decent overall time. Reese ended up finishing about half an hour after I did and Adrian about an hour after Reese.

My absolute favorite part of this race as far as my goals go was feeling amazing the day after. No stomach revolting against me, just a mildly more sore than usual Kerry walking around Disney World, living her life. I also loved the just overwhelming sense of joy and realization that I kick ass at running long distance and the more I work at it the better I’m becoming and the more I love it. It’s a really foreign and unsettling idea, but I think I may actually love running… If you told me even a year ago that I would love running this much or more specifically running long distances this much, I would think you were absolutely crazy. But here we are, less than a year into running again and I have a 50k and a marathon under my belt.

Walking around Disney the day after the race was pretty surreal. Normally the day after a big race your friends and family are still proud of you but no one else in the world really cares. It’s not like we go around shouting about how we ran a big race the day prior (though we may want to). At Disney you have all the fun of Disney World usually has to offer plus the added hype and congratulations from everyone there. Just a really special experience.

All in all, we had an amazing weekend, an amazing race, and will definitely be returning in 2020. Maybe even an attempt at the Dopey challenge?


Africa by Toto

Get it? … because rain…

My beautiful wounds before the blood got everywhere.


Ok so the week was not young my friends, and my total ended up being 5.5 miles. BUT I did go swing dancing, cross training is important? Quite honestly the only reason I think that I was in shape enough at all to run my first 50k was because I was in really good swing dancing shape.

I’ve been working more on this nutrition angle. A lot of the reading that I’ve been doing has a lot to do with calculating proteins, carbohydrates, fats, and so on and so on… I am not about that life. I’m just not. I think there is a fine line between eating consciously and making mindful decisions when it comes to eating and calculating every calorie, macro, and micronutrient. Do I think it’s important to eat a variety of things to ensure a good balance of all of these things? Of course I do. I took a nutrition class in college I know how important all of these things are and their roles in the body (and realize I am by no means an expert), but again I think it’s that fine line between mindful eating and being really restrictive. My allergies limit me and my food intake so much already that I have a really hard time restricting myself even further. Nor do I think that being restrictive is the way to get results and be happy at the same time. So far the plan consists of being more mindful about what I consume. Because like I’ve said before I do get lazy, I go for the easy option. Being mindful to me means consciously thinking about what I’m consuming and choosing the cleaner eating path? I have already begun to eat less sugar, more veggies, overall diversify my diet to include more greens and lean proteins. Maybe at some point I’ll see the merit in counting caloric intake and my macros but for now they’re more like a guideline than actual rules (like the pirate code of the brethren).

Newest grumble of mine (not really a full complaint but more of a slight carp if anything): the rain.

I love the rain (in theory). I love rainy days in bed with some tea and the dogs. I don’t even mind the rain on the trail, it means cooler weather and less people out and about. However… there has been a lot of rain here for the last month and it has made it impossible to get out on the trails without getting just absolutely covered in mud. Before you assume I don’t like mud, let me assure you, I do indeed like mud. The caveat to my love of mud is that it means I can’t just go for a quick run before work without making it a whole ordeal of adding showering time into the mix. More importantly though I’d like to get maybe one run in the month where my feet aren’t soggy by the end? 

I’m finishing out this last week of September strong mileage wise despite the rain, we’re at 15.5 miles. I’m quite pleased. Although… we did have an incident on my last run of the week. I took a fall. Not a major one, however there was mud and blood… here is what happened.

I’ve been working on my downhill running game, just basically trying to capitalize on the minimal effort to speed ratio that downhill can afford. So far in this run I was doing pretty well, avoiding roots and picking good rocks to land on as you do. Until all of a sudden I wasn’t anymore. I first tripped on a root and then caught my balance and thought the worst was behind me. AND THEN I WAS ON THE GROUND. During my attempt to regain balance I picked some less than ideal footing and my knees just ate shit. You know you fall down too often when you rationalize your injury level and assure yourself that you’re ok because you’re body didn’t respond with instant tears. Overall I’m ok, my right knee which took most of the fall, is still a little swollen and I have cuts and bruises on both knees. I ran out the last two miles though, it was fun to watch the looks on peoples’ faces as I’m barreling (hobbling) down the trail with blood just streaming down my shins.

Maybe one day I’ll learn how to trail run without falling down but I guess for now I’ll just keep the dove soap handy to clean my wounds.


Your body is like a car

A very muddy Boone on one of our runs this week.

9/20: Currently it is a few weeks after my first 50k and I’m still running. I did 10 miles last week and up to 5.5 this week ( the week is still young y’all). My right hip is still being a little tweaky from the race so I’m not pushing it too hard yet.

A new phenomenon that I’m being confronted with on my recent runs is the realization that the way I am fueling my body is not conducive to running long distance. I am definitely feeling dehydrated on my runs from the deadly combination of massive quantities of coffee and the clearly not enough water that I drink. I also know I could be eating better. I can tell that I’m just not fueled the best that I could be.

So the next step: learn how to fuel my body properly.

All growing up my pediatrician father would remind my siblings and I, over and over again, that if you want a car to run right, you have to put quality gas in the tank. I.e. we couldn’t just eat junk food all the time if we wanted to be healthy.

Something you should know about me before we continue down this rabbit hole of nutrition is that I am living with several food allergies and have celiac disease. What does this mean? It means that I eat what everyone else eats minus a few things here and there. I thrive without any dairy, gluten, most tree nuts, dates (just the fruit kind), and I’m sure other things I haven’t discovered yet because my body likes to try and kill me. The most severe of my allergies is dairy. It’s the “send me to the hospital I could die” severe. The most common thing I get asked when people learn of my allergies is simply “What do you eat?” To which I always respond with a healthy dose of sarcasm and say food.

So this isn’t me admitting to not taking care of myself, because fuck that. I have to take good care of myself. When you are living with a health condition of any kind, not just a diet related one, you find out very quickly that everyone from random strangers to close friends will have advice on how you should fix or deal with your health issue. Some truly come from a place of love and others from some deluded part of their brain telling them that they are qualified to give medical advice. As frustrating as both can be for different reasons what is important is that only you and your doctors know what is best for your body. Now in my specific instance people like to tell me any of the following: that they would kill themselves if they couldn’t have dairy (or gluten, nuts, etc.), can’t I just take a pill and have it anyway, assume that I’m lying, or tell me that how I have to eat is easy and I should just get better at it. All fun and all hilariously rude. It would be very easy for me to be angry about my health condition, and believe me I have been. But I’ve learned and continue to learn from years of doing exactly that is that it’s not worth being upset about. It is what it is, life goes on, and honestly it’s not that bad. I will always have allergies, I will always giggle at people’s responses, and I will always be grateful for the food I can eat (mini self care rant over now).  

Now, even though I take good care of my body the things that I eat and drink are not exactly the kinds of things that are the most beneficial for muscle growth and training to run long distance. I guess? Compared to a lot of people I consume a fairly healthy diet, but not unlike most people I get lazy. I also eat a lot of potatoes and bacon because they are easy. I understand why too many meals like this without some more balance is problematic for training for an ultra marathon. Moving into this new chapter of adventure where I’m treating my body like an athlete would/should I need to relearn what it is to eat for fuel. I’m not just eating for fun or necessity but I’m eating for physique and performance improvement.  Let the research and planning begin! I’m interested to see what kind of nutrition plan comes out of this with it having to accommodate my allergies and my ultra training. It’ll be a new fun twist in this ultra adventure. 

The Beginning

This image is not from an ultra marathon but I thought that my pup looked cute. 

I ran an ultra marathon.  I’m learning quickly that not many people can say that but there are a good number of us nutters out there.

I ran my first ultra marathon on September 2nd, 2018. I ran 50k completely unprepared, coming off of a head injury, and totally terrified. I was and am pretty damn proud of myself. You’re probably thinking how unprepared can you be… whatever you’re thinking just stop there and I’ll tell you it was worse than that.

I had never run longer than a half marathon in my life. I did not run at all in the training for this race. No running whatsoever. A very pesky concussion kept me from training as much as I intended, so in terms of preparedness I was firmly in the little to nonexistent category. Somehow I managed to finish my first ever 50k in 8 hours, 18 minutes, and 47 seconds. Which in the grand scheme of 50k times I don’t think is too bad.

Recovery was brutal. The absolute worst part of running the race was honestly just the recovery. The muscle soreness was not even the problem. I have been way more sore in my life, but rather it was the overall fatigue and stress I subjected myself to. My body freaked the fuck out, it had no idea what was going on in the aftermath of that race. The diarrhea was unreal, just 10/10 would not recommend running that far with a digestive track not used to jostling around that much.

Even though the recovery wreaked havoc on my body,  my brain kept telling me it could not wait to do another ultra. Something about being in the woods all day, shooting the shit with friends most of the time, and physically challenging myself checked all the boxes I didn’t know I had for a new hobby. But if running ultra marathons is going to become a new passion (?) and hobby of mine then I’m going to have to do it right this time.

Training. I am going to train. As a person who is fairly athletic and used to outdoor sports  I am fully aware that ultra running and training for ultras is a whole different kind of beast than anything I am used to doing.

As I scoured the internet and picked the brains of my friends who run ultras for as much information as I could get my hands on I realized very quickly that most of the resources on the internet are from ultra runners who are from the front of the pack. The elite runners produce the bulk of the information on the internet for the ultra scene. I totally understand why the leaders and experts in this world of ultra running have the loudest voice for the mass public, however there is a vast majority of ultra runners who are the middle and back of the pack.

I couldn’t find any average, everyday person talking about their ultra training, difficulties, dieting, or triumphs. And as a proud middle to back of pack ultra runner (at least as of right now) I decided that if that is something that I would be interested in reading and it doesn’t exist that I should just write it.

So here we are, at my corny pun of blog.

Here I will talk about what I’m learning as a new ultra runner, share my struggles, my excitements, and just overall be a voice from the middle of the pack.

I have a few months until my next 50k. So welcome to my training journal! Together we will watch me scoot down trails, try not to fall, and it’ll be great.