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Category: Ambassador Highlights

Welcome, 2017 Ambassadors!

Welcome, 2017 Ambassadors!

Each year we open a process that invites enthusiastic supporters of our brand to join the Headsweats family in a more official capacity. After pouring over hundreds (!) of applications, the 2017 roster has been finalized. These outstanding individuals were selected based upon their athletic accomplishments and leadership within their sport. The lineup includes 11 new and 17 returning athletes from across the United States who compete in running and multisport events.

“We see our ambassadors as an extension of the team,” says Headsweats President Mike McQueeney.  “They are out living the active lifestyle Headsweats was founded on, and we’re thrilled to support and outfit them through their training and racing.”

This year’s Ambassadors include, but are not limited to, Lyndy Davis, a 2016 Marathon Olympic Trials Qualifier looking to break the 2:40 barrier; Danielle Cemprola, a marathoner and popular blogger for Women’s Running; Nadia Ruiz, the youngest Latina to run 100 marathons in the world; and Peter Burrill, an ultrarunner who completed five 100-mile races in just four months. This diverse group of athletes will fly the Headsweats flag while training and racing, sharing their experiences via blog posts and social media along the way. Headsweats Ambassadors also play an integral role in testing and supplying feedback for future products and designs.

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Left to right:  Lyndy Davis; Danielle Cemprola; Nadia Ruiz; Peter Burrill

The complete 2017 roster comprises:  Smitha Arons, runner; Stuart Barrington, multisport endurance athlete; Jen Boudreau, runner; Joe Dean, ultrarunner; Danielle Cemprola, runner; Nadia Ruiz, triathlete; Joe Rainone, runner; Matthew Johnson, runner; Susan Schenberg, ultrarunner; Nunzia Lopez, runner; Linda Nguyen, runner; Angela Gillis, runner; Scott Wesemann, runner; Ryan Delany, runner; Jessica Rinehart, runner; Ricky Roane, ultrarunner; Peter Burrill, ultrarunner; Josephine Hoffman, runner; Stephanie Franklin, runner; Lindsey Dillon, triathlete; Paige Kinucan, runner; Jill Monroe, runner; Charles Fox, runner; Jeff Stein, runner; Dan Nestor, runner; Brian Cronin, runner; Andy Cohen-Wray, runner; and Taralyn Summers, runner.

We’ll be introducing each of these accomplished individuals in more depth over the coming weeks. Stay tuned!

Headsweats Ambassador Joe Rainone – Daytona 100 Race Recap

Headsweats Ambassador Joe Rainone – Daytona 100 Race Recap

Did you ever wish you could run a 100 mile race on a course that catered to your style in perfect weather conditions?  Well, that’s exactly what we got this past Saturday, December 10th, 2016 in Jacksonville Beach, Florida for the second annual running of the Daytona 100 that is directed by ultra running legend Dave Krupski and his wife Alex.  The Daytona 100, only in its second year, is a newer 100 mile ultra here in the state of Florida that starts at the One Ocean Resort and Spa in Jacksonville Beach and travels 100 miles south, ending at Daytona Beach’s North Turn.  It starts at 6am on Saturday morning and ends at 12pm on Sunday, giving you 30 hours to complete the distance.  The course is flat, fast roads with a few beach sections thrown in for good measure.  As luck would have it, a small cold front moved in the day before, so the temperature at start time was in the upper 40’s, daytime temps were only in the low 60’s and nighttime in the upper 50’s.  To make it even more perfect, throw in a 10mph tailwind to push you along.  To say that we were anxious to get going was an understatement.

Jennifer Van Vlack, my ultra running partner in crime and co-member of Team Truckin’ On, and I, started planning this race back in mid-September, shortly after completing our first 100 mile race at Aaron Thompson’s and Ben Pangie’s Wildcat Ultra.  This one would cater to us though since, as much as we love the trails, we are more used to running on the roads.  Being that a cold front was moving in and the weather forecast was calling for temperatures that would be ideal , (highs in the low 60’s and lows in the high 50’s) we couldn’t wait to get started.  We both believed that we could sub 24 this race if everything worked the way we wanted it to. Our plan was to run 5/1 intervals from the very beginning, for as long as we could, before making any kind of adjustments.  A perfect scenario would be to hit 50 miles in 10 hours so that we could set ourselves up for a nice back half.


After waking up just before 4am, I got ready for the race.  I had prepared what I was going to wear the night before so there would not have to be any thinking in the morning.  I decided to wear my newest Headsweats hat, Ugly Christmas sweater, since it was that time of year.  I also chose to wear my 26.2 INKnBURN shirt over a long sleeved compression shirt to start with plans to change into my 50 after I passed the 26.2 mile distance and change into my 100 after passing 50 miles.  I also wore a little bit thicker Balega pair of socks since it is the only brand I run in.  My shoe brand of choice to run in is always Altra.  I went with my Paradigms, the most cushioned road running shoe that Altra makes.  I felt it was the most appropriate choice for the terrain we were going to be running on.   I also brought two handhelds with me filled with Tailwind Nutrition, my fuel of choice, because it really works.  My crew had the rest of the Tailwind that I had brought with me in the car and would continually replenish my bottles each time I saw them.  Fortunately for me, Tailwind Nutrition was the official fuel/electrolyte replacement drink on the course and so it would also be available at every aid station.  Our crew dropped us off at the hotel/starting line at about 5:20am since we were required to be there by 5:30am to check in.  After heading into the hotel lobby, where all the runners were gathering, we said hello to a number of people that we recognized or knew from other races.  At about 5:45am, Jen and I headed back outside to get a few pictures by the start.  Being that it was still a bit chilly at that time, everyone was bundled up with layers.  I even took out my gloves to start the race with, only to find out I had grabbed my Injinji toe socks instead, mistaking the toes for fingers.  We really laughed at this.  Talk about a funny moment to take the edge off.

A few minutes later a prerecorded National Anthem was playing, and as always, I removed my hat out of respect for my country.  Less than 2 minutes after that, the timing clock was counting down from 10 and before we knew it, we were off on our quest.

Because of the location of the race, crews were only allowed to crew in 5 designated areas for the first 31 miles, the first being between miles 3 and 4.  Jen and I knew that we didn’t need our crew that early, so we told them to meet us at the second location, the Mickler’s Landing parking lot, which is right around mile 13.  During these first 13 miles, the run was going great and we were sticking to our plan.  We weren’t pushing ourselves and the scenery of all the homes was keeping us from even thinking about the run.  It was here that our most awesome Team Truckin’ On Pit Crew got to work.  Jen’s friends, Chris, Lindsay and Sara, all flew in with Jen to crew the both of us since we were running this race together.  I had already met Chis and Lindsay back in September when they crewed us for Wildcat. Even though Sara was the newbie, she fit right in.   We met them in the parking lot, took a couple of layers off, refilled our handhelds, and then were on our way.   It was at this point that we were originally supposed to enter the first beach section, but because of Hurricane Matthew and the damage it caused, we had to run along the shoulder of A1A to mile 16.5, where the first aid station/check in was located. We told our crew to meet us there as well since they were able to.

We reached AS1 a short while later by continuing to stick to our plan.  We let the aid station know our bib numbers, refilled our handhelds again at our crew vehicle, ate some food and then continued on our way.  We would be seeing our crew again at mile 22, where AS2 was located and the first beach section would start.  Jen and me continued with our 5/1 intervals and were keeping each other preoccupied by telling stories and keeping up the conversation.

By the time we got to mile 22 and saw our crew again, Jen and I had been running for about 4.5 hours by now.  We were just over our pace to hit 50 in 10 hours, but were close enough to feel good about where we were.  Again, we shed any layers that we wanted off, refilled, ate and then hit the beach.

To be perfectly honest with you, I’m not a fan of running on the beach, even though the surface was pretty solid.  Beach running can really sap the energy out of you very quickly.  Maybe this is what got into my head at this point because this section was taking me down the wrong mental road.  Not even a mile into this section, Jen knew that something was wrong with me when I just got really quiet.  She was trying to make me talk about things to distract me from thinking about what we were doing, but my answers were short and it was not working.  As runners, we know there are times that this can happen and it’s nothing against anyone you might be running with.  It was at this point that we cut our intervals down to 4/1 to see if that would work.  Just under 2 hours later we were finally at mile 28 and leaving the beach section.  The Team Truckin’ On Pit Crew met us here where once again we refilled our fuel/hydration, ate some food and changed some clothes.  I changed out of my 26.2 INKnBURN shirt and changed into my 50 INKnBURN shirt like I had planned.  Right before leaving I heard my name called and turned to see Claire and John Kelly, new friends of mine I had met at Justin Radley’s 8 Hours of Hell race series.  Claire was the only one running though as John was crewing her.  This was her first 100 miler and I was rooting for her.  I gave them each a big hug and john got a picture of the two of us before Jen was pulling me along to get going.  I was so glad I got to see them!

At this point Jen and I were back out on the road and on our way to AS3 which was at mile 32, the start of St Augustine.  Crew restrictions would now be lifted after going over the small Vilano Bridge at mile 31.  Right after starting on this next 4 mile section though, I was in a bad spot.  We decreased the intervals again right away to 3/1, but for me, everything was just going south.  As much as I would have loved to run this whole ultra with Jen, I also didn’t want to hold her back.  She’s only 31, 16 years younger than me and I’m just the old guy trying to keep up.  I knew she would sub 24 this race if she went off on her own, so a short while later I told her to go on without me.  She asked if I was sure because that’s just who Jen is.  We planned to do this together and she would have stayed with me if I wanted her to, but I didn’t want to hold her back.  I said to go and sub 24 this ultra!  I was going to walk a bit more, make my way to the next aid station slowly and go from there.  She reset her watch back to her intervals and went on ahead.  She would tell the crew to wait at the aid station for me.  By then I had about 3 miles to go.  During these 3 miles I thought of so many things, one of them being that I had nothing to prove to anybody since I had already run 100 miles and I was going to pull myself from the race.  Every now and then I would think otherwise, but with about 2 miles to go I tried to start running again and my calves started cramping and I had to stop and walk the rest of the way.  I texted my wife Kasi to let her know what was going on and she called me.  She told me that I knew how to listen to what my body was telling me and to listen closely.  She supported any decision that I made.  Kasi always knows what to say to me.   By the time I finally got to AS3, I had been running for just over 7 hours and I was still having a moment.  I decided to take some S Caps at this point if the aid station had any, which they did.  I swallowed two, had some food and rested a bit.  I then actually did tell my crew, as well as the AS, that I was dropping out.  Well, neither my crew nor the aid station people would let me.  The AS guys said that I had to run through St. Augustine and over the Bridge of Lions first and after doing that, if I still wanted to drop, my crew would get me.  I moved around a bit and realized that the cramping in my calves was completely gone, so I said I would continue.  There was even one runner, an older guy that my crew nicknamed The Mayor because of how he acted.  Before leaving the aid station, he asked me to give him a thumbs up to let him know I was ok.  Everyone was overjoyed and was so happy for me.  The S Caps that I had taken helped me so much that I would continue to take them every hour for the rest of the race.  I must say, I held it together pretty good, but shortly after getting to mile 33 I had a pretty emotional moment all to myself.  I knew that 90% of what I had just gone through was all in my head and I would have been pretty bummed if I had dropped.  Sometimes you just hit a really low moment in a race like this and for me, this was mine.  Luckily it was the only one I had.


So now here I was, back out on my quest to complete my second 100 mile ultra in 30 hours or less.  Since Jen and I made such great time early in the run though, I was still at a great place time wise.  My A goal of sub 24 would really be a push at this point, but B goal of 27:00 to 27:30 was definitely in reach.  I locked in to the adjusted intervals and made my way through St. Augustine and over the Bridge of Lions.  I really enjoyed seeing the town.  I definitely plan to come back with Kasi to stay for a weekend and enjoy the history.  The breeze off of the water lifted my spirits and really cleared my head.

After leaving AS3, my crew went on ahead to meet Jen at her next spot and then doubled back to meet me somewhere around mile 36 or 37.  They noticed right away how much better I looked and were really happy for me.  I asked them how Jen was doing and where she was mileage wise.  I did this each time I saw them.  I found out later on that she asked about me as well each time she saw them too.  Since AS4 was going to be at mile 40, I told them to meet me somewhere around mile 44 or 45.  I refilled my handhelds, drank some coke, took a turkey wrap to go and was on my way.

The next 8 or 9 miles went by in no time.  There was some cloud coverage now, so I was happy I had on my heavier pullover.  I stopped at AS4 at mile 40, replenished my needs and was off in no time.  By the time I met the crew again just after 44 miles, I had been on the road almost 11 hours.  Since it was closing in on 5:00pm, I proceeded to put my headlamp, safety vest and front and back blinking lights on for the nighttime hours.  I ate some more food, refilled my handhelds with my Tailwind Nutrition, made sure all was a go and was off.  I would be seeing them again at mile 52 where AS5 was located.  This would probably be the longest stretch of the whole run before getting more aid.  Because of this I brought some quick eats in my pockets.

I continued to trudge along A1A, running, walking, running, walking…over and over, not thinking of anything but getting to AS5.  All I kept saying in my head was, “get to 50 and you could start counting down”.  When I finally got there around 7:00pm, I was feeling pretty good.    Crew members Lindsay and Sara were there like we had planned and once again got what I needed, made sure I ate and had fresh Tailwind and made me get going.  They would be meeting me around mile 57.

This was the start of running through Flagler County all the way to Marineland.  I got to mile 57 without a hitch, got what I needed and planned to meet them again somewhere around mile 65 or 66 since I was going to be getting to AS6 at mile 61.8 first.  When I finally got there around 10pm (16 hours in) I was really happy because my friend Jamie Woyton was captaining that aid stations with his sons and some other people.  When Jamie saw me, he shouted my name, gave me a big hug, sat me down and fed me some warm food.  Anyone who knows Jamie knows that he is just an awesome person and someone you want in your life as a friend.  He’s so positive.  I was feeling good when I got there, but I felt even better when he kicked me out a few minutes later telling me that he can’t miss me if I don’t leave.  He did give me another big hug before I left and told me he was proud of me and that buckle was mine.  Talk about an emotional boost, especially since I had 38 miles to go.

Once again I met up with my crew just past mile 66 in a Publix parking lot along the route.  I ended up getting there a minute before they did.  While I was standing there, a woman came up to me and asked me what this walk we were doing was for.  I just smiled and told her it was the Daytona 100.  She told me she saw all of these people walking and was wondering what was going on.  I don’t think she really knew what it was we were doing, but she made me smile when she said good luck.  My crew pulled up at that point and this time it was Chris and Lindsay.  Sara was out pacing Jen at that point.  The Team Truckin’ On Pit Crew was working like a well- oiled machine at this point, going to meet Jen, then backtracking to meet me, over and over, putting more miles in the car than we had planned, but never complaining once.  After once again getting what I needed from them I headed on out making that push for AS7 at mile 70.

I ended up getting to mile 70/AS7 just before 12:15am.  When I arrived I saw the older guy I had seen at AS3 back in St. Augustine who told me to give him a thumbs up to let him know I was ok.  As soon as I saw him and said hello, he took one look at me and said, “Hey, it’s the thumbs up guy! You made it”.  That made me smile.  I sat down, had some coke, refilled my bottles with water in one and Tailwind in the other and had some food.  One of the aid station workers said that she had brought mini pre made toothbrushes, if anybody wanted one.  My eyes lit up!  How refreshing that was to brush my teeth at that point in the run.  These are the little things that keep you going when taking on an ultra like this.  Again, not spending too much time there, I got up and headed on out since I was going to be meeting my crew again around mile 75, which went without a hitch since I was still running the same intervals that I started back at mile 32.  Lindsay told me she had a shot of Fireball at AS8 that I was heading to next.

I got to AS8, mile 81, at around 3:15am.  It was set up in the TGIFridays parking lot.  I sat down for a sec and again went through my routine of refilling my bottles, eating some food and drinking some coke.  It was at this time that we were to cross the road and run on the beach side of A1A since we were going to be heading back out onto the beach fairly soon.  One person at AS8 was telling everybody that the turn off was 7 miles up, which would make it mile 88.  I decided to meet with my crew again shortly before this around mile 86, which I did.  I got what I needed pretty quickly this time since I knew they wanted to get to the finish line to see Jen finish since she was around 10 to 12 miles ahead of me.  Lindsay did mention that Jen’s Garmin got screwed up around this point right before the beach and to be careful.  Being that I was 86 miles in, I could not think too clearly, but said ok.  I wish I had paid attention a little bit more.

Since the person at AS8 was telling everyone that the turn off onto the beach was 7 miles up the road, which would mean 88 miles based on my Garmin, when I got to 88, then 88.5, then 88.8, I started panicking and was texting Lindsay to find out if I had passed it.  She told me I hadn’t, not to worry and just keep going.  Long story short, the mileage was more like 8.5 to 9 miles to the turn off.  When I finally saw the signs for the turnoff onto the beach, I was so happy.  It did throw off my intervals a bit though, but I was not worried.  I had only about 10 miles to go.

When I finally got onto the beach and made the right turn, I had a little less than 4 miles before getting off the beach and hitting AS9 and meeting my crew for the last time before seeing them at the finish.

Slowly but surely I made my way on the beach.  By the time I was getting to the exit, Lindsay said she was going to come onto the beach so I could see how far I had to go.  It was now getting light out even though the sun wasn’t up yet and I was finally at AS9.  For the final time, I got what I needed from the car, refilled my bottles, ate some food and headed on out for the final 7 miles.  Lindsay was going to come with me to talk me through the final stretch.  We set on out and didn’t run much of this last stretch.  We talked, told some stories and even ran into a guy who at first made a funny comment after overhearing a story Lindsay was telling, but then went on and on, bragging about how great he was.  After about 10 minutes of this one sided conversation, I couldn’t take it any longer, and said we were going to run for a bit again.  We laughed about it after leaving him behind.

Finally, we were back on the beach for the final 2 miles and I kept looking to see if I could see the finishers arch that I would be crossing.  My walking pace at this time was somewhere around 19 or 20 min/mile.  When I was about ½ mile out, I was able to see the finish.  Jen and the crew were there waiting for me.  I crossed over with an official time of 27:17:05, a PR from my first 100 by just shy of 8 hours.


This 100 miler was so much different than the first but was just as rewarding.  Even though I ran most of the race on my own after Jen and I had split up, it never felt that way.  This was a journey of EPIC proportions and I am so thankful for being given the ability to do things like this.  These are the challenges in my life that I thrive off of and motivate me.  This ultra would not have been possible without the best possible Pit Crew a runner could have.  They not only crewed 2 runners, but did so by going back and forth along the route over and over again since Jen and I were at different places.  They didn’t complain once and handled it flawlessly.  Thank You Lindsay, Chris and Sara, from the bottom of my heart, for volunteering your time to come and help Jen and me accomplish 100 #2.  It meant everything to me and I know it meant everything to Jen as well.  I also want to thank my brands I am an Ambassador for, Tailwind Nutrition for fueling all 100 miles and keeping me going the whole way, Headsweats for the awesome trucker hats that I never run without and INKnBURN for the incredible tech shirts that I always wear when running and even when I’m not running because they look and feel so good.  I’d also like to thank Altra Running for making shoes for running that work for me better than any I have ever worn, and Balega International for making the most comfortable running socks, again in my opinion that a person can run in.  I also want to thank all of my friends for all of the words of encouragement and support during the entire run.  It’s always very humbling.  I tried to garnish every ounce of energy from wherever I could to keep me going.

Last, but far from least, I want to thank my wife Kasi for being so supportive of this quest and believing in me that I could get it done….again!  Love you honey!

Run Hard, Run Strong and #stayvertical my friends.

Truck On!!


Joe Rainone

Joe Rainone is a Headsweats Ambassador and ultra marathoner who blogs at  


Five Simple Things That Will Help You Have a Healthy Holiday Season

Five Simple Things That Will Help You Have a Healthy Holiday Season

Headsweats Ambassador and Deseret News Columnist Kim Cowart provides some crucial advice on how to fully enjoy the holiday season without losing sight of your health and fitness goals!

‘Tis the season to eat all the foods, enjoy all the parties and indulge in all things. That’s what makes the holidays wonderful and horrible at the same time. It starts with Halloween, but it ramps up to warp speed between Thanksgiving and New Year’s.

I’m not going to try to teach you how to party in moderation. I’m not going to tell you how to substitute your favorite dessert with a healthy alternative. Frankly, I enjoy the holidays — cookies and all. But there is a way to partake and participate without burning out.

 1. Be active. Remaining consistent with your workout routine is not only kind to your waistline, but it’s kind to your mental health as well. This season, as joyous as it is, can be stressful, even when everything is going well. But here’s a little secret: When we expend energy, we gain energy. It’s why we feel so tired after a long car ride. It’s why we’re sluggish after a Netflix marathon. Our bodies are meant to move. Get your blood flowing. One hour of physical activity can do wonders for our energy levels. It boosts our mood and helps us get through our days a little easier.


2. Be realistic. Now’s probably not the best time to try that new fad diet or sign up for a marathon if you’ve never run a 5K. Big goals come in small steps. If you know the next few weeks are crammed with family get-togethers and activities, don’t tell yourself you’ll hit the gym every morning for two hours. You’re more likely to get something done if it’s a manageable expectation. Only have time for a 30-minute run? Put it on the calendar, get it done and be happy about it. Going to a party where the hostess always makes your favorite pecan pie? Plan on eating a slice, enjoy it and move on.

3. Be kind — to yourself, that is. It’s easy to make the holidays about everybody else, especially if you’re a parent. And that’s OK. In fact, that’s part of the fun and joy of the holidays. But there’s no joy when you’re exhausted. Carve out some time to do something you enjoy. I have to schedule my life to make it happen. Last year, I was frustrated because I bought a book I never got to read. I was wrapped up in holiday hoopla. I became resentful that everyone else was enjoying what they loved, but I wasn’t. But they didn’t force me to do all the baking, wrapping and planning. I put that on myself. I neglected what I loved. That was my fault. This year, I have a new book and for one hour while the kids are making lunches for the next school day and getting showers, I shut my door, ignore the laundry and read. It’s only been a couple weeks, but I’m loving it. Take a long bath. Take a nap. Do something kind for yourself.

4. Be cruel. “Wait! What? I thought she said to be kind?” Now I’m telling you to be cruel. Look at your calendar. Look at the planned activities, the must-do’s on your holiday to-do list. Which of those items make you happy? Which do you absolutely have to do? Which do you dread? What can you cut? I’m never going to skip my children’s school concerts, but I gave up Christmas cards years ago. I just hated doing them. I love watching “It’s a Wonderful Life” with the family, but the annual trek to Temple Square started to feel like drudgery. Now we only do it when the mood strikes. I realized years ago that a lot of the activities I thought were traditions were actually constraining our family. I was doing us all a disservice by forcing us to be merry. Letting go of the obligatory activities and doing what we truly loved has given our family the gift of time.

5. Be present. Put away the devices. Yeah, I know. We hear this all the time, but I mean it. So much of the holiday blues comes from comparing our reality with others’ social media facade. We may know that much of what we see is surface smiles, even totally unreal, but it gets to us still. Those devices not only invite the misery of comparison, but they also steal time from those we love who can bring us real joy. Three years ago we were celebrating Thanksgiving in our new home. Our youngest was only 6. At one point she stomped her feet and sighed in frustration. Of the 12 of us in the room, 11 of us were looking at our phones. She was the only one truly present. No phones or tablets this year. We’re pulling out our UNO deck instead.

Holiday health isn’t just about moderating our cookie intake. It’s about feeding our mind, body and soul. Focusing on how we feel as opposed to how we think we should feel. Doing the things that make us truly happy and not what others say should make us happy.

Enjoy your pie. Enjoy each other. Enjoy this season.

The original article can be found HERE!


Headsweats Ambassador Jen Boudreau – NYC Marathon Recap

Headsweats Ambassador Jen Boudreau – NYC Marathon Recap

Headsweats Ambassador Jen Boudreau is no stranger to the marathon, with 7 completed races under her belt. However, Jen’s 8th race at the New York City Marathon turned about to be a completely new and unforgettable marathon experience. Running as a member of the Boston Children’s Hospital “Miles for Miracles” charity team, Jen left her Garmin at home and focused instead on enjoying her race experience. Read her race recap below and learn out why her 8th marathon turned out to be the experience of a lifetime!

One of the longest days of my life has definitely become one of my favorite experiences. Two weeks later, I’m still thrilled to have completed the New York City Marathon.   My 8th marathon.

From the day I interviewed to be part of the Miles for Miracles Team, my NYCM experience was always going to be a fun marathon.  I never intended it to be a PR race.    And I believe I completely lived up to my expectations.   This marathon was by far, my most favorite marathon.
Marathon morning started out at 3am with a surprise time-of-the-month call (a week early), which sent me almost into freakout mode.  A quick google map search revealed there was a 24-hr CVS 0.2 miles from the apartment.  Very freaked out, I grabbed my pepper spray and credit card and sprinted there and back.  After that, there was no going back to sleep, so I got myself ready, ate my oatmeal with pb and maple syrup and stretched.
Just after 5, I received a notification that my Uber driver was enroute, so I headed downstairs and waited.   Moments later, he arrived and whisked me off to Central Park.
I found the Boston Children’s Hospital busses in no time.   The bus ride took a little over an hour, but it was definitely the way to go.  I didn’t have to navigate through NYC or freeze outside for hours.  Instead I was in a toasty bus that had a bathroom.  Not a bad way
to arrive.  When we were crossing the Verrazano Bridge, pre-race nerves were starting to hit.  I was really going to be running a marathon number 8 in just a few hours.
As we got off the busses, the Boston Children’s Hospital coaches gave us the warning the the security line was long and crazy, but to stick together as much as possible.  I was only able to stick with one other runner on the team.  Thank goodness I had her with me. After we passed through security, it took us a few minutes, but we found Charity Village.  Seriously.  This is the way to go.  A private village area, with a heated tent, port-a-potties just for Charity Village and our own coffee/tea/bagels.  Not that I had any, but it was a very nice touch!  Our coaches had us do a group stretch/warm-up then we took a group picture and sent us on our way to the corral.
Seeing the crazy amount of people in front of me, was super exciting.  Seeing that the last marathon I ran had maybe 300 runners, this was quite a different experience!
After the cannon went off, there was a little walking and then that walk became a jog.  I didn’t have my Garmin with me.  I also did not bring my iPod with me.  I made a promise to myself I was leaving it in Maine.  And I did.  It was rather freeing to not know my pace.   I did try to keep track of it for a bit with the first few miles.  But eventually I stopped caring and stopped paying attention to the race clocks.   I knew the day was going to be a long one and I wanted to enjoy every single step.  So I did!
Running across the Verrazano Bridge was a crazy experience.  Seeing all of the NYP helicopters cruising around was pretty cool sight.   The first part of the marathon, there are three different routes, and seeing the other groups for a bit and then seeing them pull away was a really odd experience as well, but I understand for sure.  That huge amount of runners going through a narrow part of the city would pose some problems.
I will note that not once did I feel super crowded.  I felt as though I had plenty of space to run my own race and take in all of NYC I possibly could.
When you entered each borough, there would be a marathon sign welcoming you to that borough.  But you didn’t really need those signs because the crowd definitely told you where you were!  From the signs, to the cheers, to the live bands, it was a crazy amazing experience!    I knew I was in Brooklyn for sure when I heard No Sleep Til Brooklyn blasting.
The live bands.  I seriously lost count of them.  There were so many of them, playing so many different types of music.   Sometimes when they weren’t playing music, they were cheering on the runners by name.  Making the runners, well, at least me, feel like a rockstar.
Running in a singlet for Boston Children’s Hospital definitely had it’s perks.  While it was a fun singlet that had a place to personalize it …. so I did!   I heard countless cheers for “Go Jen!”  and sometimes “Go Boston!”, “Boston Strong!” or “We love Boston Children’s Hospital!”   This happened throughout the entire race.
I loved experiencing all of the different cultures of NYC – from the way people dressed, to the music they played.  All of it was overwhelmingly amazing.
I knew Ward and the kids were going to be at mile 17 and I was hoping they would be wearing the orange patient partner shirts that were sent to us, as Tucker was my patient partner for this marathon. After I crossed over the Queensboro Bridge, which was the only quiet part of the entire race, I was at mile 16, so my search for my family was on.  I must of looked like a crazy person with a swivel head, scanning the crowd for my family.  After the sponge station, I spotted them and made a beeline over to them and hugged each of them. It was then, Ward said we’ll see you at mile 24.  Which was a change in plans, but made me SO happy!   So off I went, for another 7 miles.  7 SLOW miles.
Shortly after my family sighting, I saw the Boston Children’s Hospital crew!  So cool to be part of a team.   They really know how to make team members feel special during the race! The next 7ish miles were rather slow for me, but still amazing.  I was soaking it all in. High-fiving as many kids and adults as I could.  Chatting with runners as the miles passed by.  Walking whenever I felt like I wanted to.
Then, just like Ward said, at mile 24, I spotted my family in Central Park!  Of course I ran over to them and gave them more hugs and kisses!   Ward shouted to me “see you at the finish!” and I was off.   Running through Central Park was a like a dream come true.  Everything I had hoped it would be.   The winding road, the pigeons, the crowds.  All of it.  So freaking cool.  Then it happened, I saw the finish line and my NYCM marathon experience was about to come to an end.  But then it happened.  Out of ALL of the people running with me, the announcers called my name as I crossed the finish line!   That is one finish line announcement I will remember forever!
After I finished, received my mylar blanket, then my medal, then my food bag, I walked for what seems like forever until I entered the poncho area.  And then another mile until the family meeting area.  Of course, B was at the FAR end of the family meeting area…. so I had another long walk until I finally found my family!   By then, the hunger was setting in.  But first we stopped and I put on some warm clothes and then Tucker confiscated my poncho.
We found a great little bagel place and I finally enjoyed my first NYC pastrami sandwich while the kids had more bagels.   Then we caught a cab back to the car.  Then around 12:30 AM we were finally home!
I decided to stay home and sleep the next day, seeing that my marathon day started at 3AM and ended about 1:30 AM (because the house was freezing, so I had to make a fire before I went to bed!).
But I’ll tell you what, I felt great the next day!  Perhaps running a marathon for fun is what I should have been doing all along!
There you have it!  The NYCM recap.  My 8th marathon.  My most favorite marathon to date. And now, I think I’m going to take a break from marathons.  I originally said no more marathons.  But Ward reminded me that I’m an addict.  So, I’ll just say, I’m taking a break.
Read more about Jen’s running adventures on her blog,
Headsweats Ambassador Matt Johnson – Transition from College XC to Ultras

Headsweats Ambassador Matt Johnson – Transition from College XC to Ultras

Headsweats Ambassador Matt Johnson ran track and cross country at the collegiate level, culminating in a trip to the 2013 NCAA Cross Country National Champtionships. After college, Matt wasn’t ready to give up his competitive running career, and found a new passion for the sport through training and racing in trail races and ultra marathons. Matt’s friend and college teammate Clay Holton interviewed him on what it’s like to transition from being a collegiate athlete to an ultramarathoner and what advice he would give other runners looking to continue their competitive running careers after college.


How long have you been running? What made you start enjoying it?

I have been running competitively for a little over 10 years now.  I decided I wanted to try out cross country at the end of my 8th grade year in school (2006).  My  middle school PE teacher at the time was also the high school cross country coach.  He talked to me about joining the cross country team going into my freshmen year of high school after we ran the mile fitness test in PE.  I had always played football during the fall up to that point, but for whatever reason I decided to give running a try.  Looking back now, I can’t really think of a time when I didn’t enjoy it.  I have always loved sports that require a lot personal motivation and hard work to get better.  Regardless of my talent level in any given sport, I have always prided myself on being a hard worker.  I think that was the initial draw for me towards running.  It truly is one of those sports where you only get out of it what you put into it.  Outside of that, I have always loved the “team” aspect of the sport.  The camaraderie and respect amongst runners is unlike any other sport I have ever been around.  My best friendships in life have come through the sport of running.

Did you run in college? What was your favorite distance to run? What were some of your best times?

Yes, I ran at Augusta University (formerly Augusta State University and Georgia Regents University).  While I ran both cross country and track at the collegiate level, I would have to say that cross country has always been my favorite.  I am a true cross country guy at heart.  As far as my favorite race distance goes, it’s pretty simple…the longer the better (an early sign of an ultra-runner to come, haha)! In college that meant the 10k.  I have to admit…I was always a little jealous of the NAIA guys though, because NAIA sanctions  a marathon national championship every year, haha.  I did race a couple half marathons in college and really enjoyed those.  As far as time goes, I ran 26:05 for 8k in cross country, 15:59 for 5k,  and 33:25 for 10k…nothing crazy fast, but times that I am proud of.  Unfortunately, I was plagued with some untimely injuries during my last couple track seasons.  I also ran a 1hr 13min (5:35ish pace) half marathon.  I had a fifth year of eligibility in track, so I had an entire fall to just train in preparation for the spring.  My coach and I decided to play to my strengths and give a half marathon a go.  I actually think that my half marathon time is my fastest PR once you start converting it to shorter distances.   I definitely think I have still have some PRs in my legs whenever I decide to take a break from the trails.

Do you have a favorite college XC/track racing moment?

I have many great memories from my college running experience, but the best would definitely have to be qualifying as a team for the 2013 NCAA Cross Country National Championships.  That was literally my biggest goal in college and had been a team goal for four years.  That entire fall was a dream season for us.  As seniors, we were able to win our second conference championship and go on to qualify for nationals.  Toeing the line at a national championship and ending my career on the biggest stage (at the collegiate level) with all of my brothers (aka teammates) was a dream come true, and a perfect way to close out my cross country career.  It is truly something I will remember and cherish for the rest of my life.


What kinds of races are you training up for now? What are some of the highlight races you’ve done since college?

My post-collegiate career thus far has consisted mostly trail racing (with a few road races mixed in).  After college I was looking for new ways to challenge myself and get me excited to train, so I decided to turn to the trails.  I have always loved running on trails, and I feel like my strengths as a runner suit me well on them.  I have raced in several Xterra races, as well as other trail races ranging in distance from 10k to 11.5 miles.  I also competed in my first  ultra marathon (50k) this past April! Racing a 50k was equally one of the most awesome and hardest things I have done in my entire life.  It tested me physically, mentally, and emotionally in ways like nothing else ever has.  I found out a lot about myself that day.


Do you have a coach or any specific training partners?

I currently do not have a coach.  I read /research a lot, talk to people, and use knowledge I have gained over the years.  That was a decision I came to after college for a couple of different reasons. One, being married now, working full-time, coaching, and having a number of other responsibilities/obligations to take care of throughout the week, my schedule is constantly changing.  I have always been a very meticulous when it comes to my training.  Now that I am in “the real world”, I have had to learn to be much more flexible with my training.  Sometimes that means switching workouts to different days because of the way I feel or a lack of time…others it might mean missing a run completely.  Bottom line, life happens and things come up sometimes.  I have learned to go with the flow and not get frustrated if my training week doesn’t go exactly as planned.  With all that being said, if I have a coach putting in the time and effort to write training plans, I want to make sure I am giving that back by following exactly what he or she has planned for me.  I have always maintained the mindset that if I am going to commit to do something, I am going to do it right.  As I continue to adjust to “the real world” and my new normal, I will definitely consider going back to having a coach.  Right now, I am having fun writing my own workouts and experimenting with new things in ultra training.  It keeps things fun, and as corny as it sounds…that is always most important!  In regards to training partners, my main one is my wife, Tia!  I also run a lot with the high school athletes I coach, as well as a few of my former co-workers.  I will always take any opportunity I can to run with people!

What is the next big race you’re training for? Any specific time/place/finish goals?

My next big race will be The North Face Endurance Challenge Championship 50k in San Francisco this December!  I would be stoked to come home with a top-ten finish!  I have learned that time/pace on the trails isn’t quite as relevant because of the varying terrain/course conditions from race to race.  I am just excited for the opportunity for the challenge of competing against some of the best athletes in the sport.  Leading up to it I plan to compete in a smaller race or two (both road and trail).


What kinds of workouts are you focusing on? Do you have a favorite workout?

Again, the specific workouts I am focus on really depends on what race I am training for.  However, throughout most of the year my training is usually going to incorporate some sort of tempo run, long run, and faster paced intervals or hills, among general mileage/recovery runs.  I also do strides throughout the year to help maintain foot speed/overall running economy (even when training for an ultra).  More specifically for ultra races, I have learned that it is important to research the course you are going to be racing and do your best to mimic that terrain in training.  The further I get into a training cycle for an ultra, the more my workouts become focused on helping me encounter/prepare for what I will see on race day (same applies for practicing nutrition intake as well).  As far as my favorite workouts, I have always loved long runs!  I also love longer progression runs and fartlek runs….basically any “effort” based workout that is less focused on hitting specific splits, and more focused on “feel” and allowing your body and the workout to progress naturally.  Lastly, I enjoy running any sort of hill workout.  I have learned that practicing downhill running is just as important as practicing uphill running when it comes to ultras and trail racing.  Right now in training I have been working on increasing my overall long run distance, as well as practicing my climbing and descending.

Do you run mostly on roads or trails?

Definitely TRAILS!!!



I saw recently that you started being sponsored. What kinds of sponsorships do you have?

Yes, I currently represent four different companies as a brand ambassador in my training and racing:  CEP Compression, Nuun hydration, and Headsweats performance headwear.  The team I run for, Anchored Elite, is also sponsored by Janji.  Janji is an awesome running apparel company that also works to provide clean water for those who need it in countries all around the world!  I am very thankful to have the support of these great companies as I continue to pursue competitive trail running!  I truly love their products and would highly recommend them to anyone!  For any other running gear needs I go to Fleet Feet Atlanta!

Lastly, do you have any advice for runners who want to continue running competitively post-collegiately? Or advice for runners who are seeking to get any sort of sponsorship?

For those that might have a dream to continue running competitively post-collegiately, I encourage you to not give up on that dream.  My main motivating factor was not wanting to look back in 10 or 20 years and wonder what I could have done in the sport if I stuck with it.  One of my favorite quotes has become “Only those who risk going too far, can possibly find out how far they can go.”  It is not always easy considering the majority of post-collegiate runners aren’t supporting themselves by running, but it can be done.  Set new goals for yourself after college so you have a sense of direction and purpose with your training and racing.  Also, always make sure you maintain a healthy balance in life.  I believe too much of one thing can be a bad thing.  Now that I am working full-time and married, I have had to learn where running fits into all that.  Make running something you do, but not who you are.  Adjusting to the “real world” and all of life’s demands can be difficult sometimes, so you have to learn to be flexible.  Don’t beat yourself up if you miss a workout or have to cut a run short because “life” happens.  Ultimately, you have to find ways to continually make it fun.  You have to enjoy the process before you can enjoy the result.  As far as gaining sponsorships, don’t be afraid to reach out to companies yourself.  Most of the time, unless you are at a world class level, companies aren’t going to come find you.  Find products you love and believe in and start there.  Put together a “running resume” and start sending it out to companies that you are interested in.  Don’t be upset if you don’t hear back right away from companies.  Positivity and persistency can get you a long way when it comes to both running and seeking out sponsorships!

*Blog credit goes to Clay Holton. The original blog post can be found here:


Headsweats Ambassador Program Accepting Applications for 2017!

Headsweats Ambassador Program Accepting Applications for 2017!

Headsweats is currently looking for athletes of all ages and abilities who use and are passionate about the Headsweats brand to be a part of their 2017 Ambassador team!


Each year, Headsweats carefully selects 30 athletes to represent the brand as ambassadors and spokespeople during training, racing, and on social media. Our Ambassadors are part of our extended family, and they have a passion for what they do and a love for the Headsweats brand and message. Headsweats Ambassadors receive yearly benefits including:

• Headsweats headwear to train and compete in year-round
• A unique discount code to share with friends, family and those you meet when training and racing
•A profile on Headsweats’ website and exposure on Headsweats’ social media channels
•Knowledge of  new products and news before anyone else


We will be accepting applications for our 2017 Ambassador program through January 31, 2017. Since we receive such a high volume of applications each year, we will not be responding individually to each application. All selected 2017 Ambassadors will be notified mid-February via e-mail. If you think you would be a good fit for the Headsweats Ambassador program, please fill out an application HERE!

We look forward to reading your applications, and thank you for supporting Headsweats!

The Headsweats Team


A Race Experience Abroad – The Amsterdam Marathon

A Race Experience Abroad – The Amsterdam Marathon

Running is such an amazing sport because it constantly introduces you to new people and places. Headsweats Ambassador Kim Cowart experienced this first-hand when she had the opportunity to race in the Amsterdam Marathon earlier this month. Read more about Kim’s experience in Amsterdam and what she learned from racing in another country!

My three passions in life are running, writing and traveling.  My dream is to combine all three writing about my running adventures in far away places.  My most recent adventure was at the Amsterdam Marathon.

What set this race apart from so many other big races is there were three races in one day: the full marathon, a half-marathon and an 8K.  The day before the race, we took part on the Good Morning City run which was an easy jog through Amsterdam.  Four miles later we had a better idea of the layout of the city and had already seen many of the highlights.

Because the streets in Amsterdam are quite narrow, the start times were staggered.  Full marathoners began at 9:30.  The course was a loop course, starting and finishing in Olympic Stadium.  Spectators dotted the stand above, giving them full views of all the action on the track.

The energy was electric with music pumping at the start, and big screens around the stadium so we could see the elites take off.  Five minutes after they began, I crossed the same start line.

Amsterdam is the most beautiful European city I’ve ever seen.  The weather was a perfect 50 degrees with plenty of shade from the gorgeous trees lining every street.  The half marathon course follows most of the full course.  The advantage of the full marathoners is we got to run around the Amstel River which offered the most scenic, bucolic views.  Horses running across the fields, sheep grazing in the pasture.  Yes, we even ran by a few iconic windmills.  I had to pinch myself to make sure it was all real.

A view from the race course.

While this is only my second European marathon experience, I have traveled to numerous other big marathons like New York and Boston.  Here are a few points that set Amsterdam apart from the rest of the pack.

First, the race is cheap.  At around $80, this race is by far the cheapest big city race I’ve ever run.  By comparison I paid over $250 to run New York and $180 to run Boston.  Half marathoners only paid $45 to run through the streets of Amsterdam.  The support didn’t suffer; in fact, it was even better than some of the bigger races with plenty of water, energy drink, food and bathrooms along the course.

Second, there was music at every kilometer along the race.  I didn’t know what a difference this would make in my mood until around the 10K mark I realized I was starting to look forward to the bands and DJ’s that dotted the course.  A marathon is 42 kilometers.  So, yes, there were 42 music stations to keep us pumped and it worked.

Third, we started and finished in Olympic Stadium.  Not only was it just plain cool to run around the stadium, but it made it easy for spectators to cheer on their runners.

Fourth, there were a variety of distances to choose from.  Most big city races limit themselves to the full marathon, and for good reason.  Logistically it’s difficult to close down the streets on a Saturday or Sunday.  Accommodating tens of thousands of runners can be a challenge as well.  But Amsterdam made it happen.  By staggering the start times, more than 35,000 people ran either the full marathon, half marathon or 8K.

Finally, the views were spectacular.  It was like running through a postcard.  Every turn offered stunning views of canals and tree-lined streets.  While many streets are cobblestone, we avoided most of that.  My legs were grateful.

With my finisher’s medal!

It wasn’t all roses.  I was disappointed at the finish line offerings.  The only food at the finish was bananas.  There was water, but only in little cups.  There was also plenty of Isostar, their energy drink of choice, but my stomach did not agree, so we declined.  There were food trucks, but I wasn’t willing to spend money on them.  They did distribute free toothpaste, so there’s that.  I would recommend packing some extra food in your drop bag.  I didn’t and I lived to regret it.

Also, more than 16,000 runners ran the full marathon.  European streets are narrow.  This makes for a tricky start.  I had no intention of racing, so I was fine with going with the flow.  There is an attempt to organize runners by pace at the beginning, but they aren’t strict about it so there were quite a few people who started at the front and slowed the crowd.  It wasn’t until mile 10 I felt I could find a comfortable stride.

My last complaint would be transportation.  We did a dry run on the busses to the stadium, only to wake up race morning to find the busses were shut down.  Not even the concierge at our hotel knew that would happen, so we scrambled to find a taxi that could get us somewhat close to the stadium.  Getting back to the hotel after was tricky, too.  We walked quite a ways until we could find a tram to the hotel.  I ran with some money just in case, and I was glad I did.

Overall I loved the Amsterdam Marathon.  I would do it again in a heartbeat.  I love the diversity.  I loved the energy.  I loved the beauty.  This flat course is well-worth your money.

Gorge Waterfalls 100k…Still learning…

Gorge Waterfalls 100k…Still learning…

Sometimes, no matter how much you prepare, your race doesn’t go as expected.  HS Ambassador Joe Dean found out the hard way when unexpected illness stuck in the middle of his 100k race.  In this blog post, Joe discusses his first time dealing with mid-race nausea, overcoming the disappointment of a DNF, and how he found the silver lining in a race that didn’t turn out quite the way he planned.

I remember it clearly…it was October 22nd of last year, the day before my birthday.  Still hunting for a Western States qualifying race for the upcoming year to keep my lottery streak going when someone from the Wasatch Mountain Wranglers posted about the Gorge 100K.  I wasn’t sure I wanted to run a 100 miler in 2016 after still feeling the effects of the Bear in the previous month, so a 100K sounded ideal.  I glanced at the race; an out and back course in the heart of the Columbia River Gorge in Cascade Locks, Oregon. Having never been to Oregon, and joining on the heels of 14 other members of the Wranglers, I decided to sign up (which was a good thing because it sold out in a day).

As race day crept up, instead of flying up, my buddy Ryan and I decided to pull the pop-up camper out of storage for the first trip of 2016 and make an adventure out of it.  We stayed at Ainsworth State Park, which was about 5 miles away from the Start/Finish area for the race.  If you have never been to the area before, let me say that there is not a lot of real estate between the mountains and the Columbia River, which means that the campground and the train tracks were right next to each other.  I think I may suffer from PTSD for some time to come at the sound of a train whistle, but hey, we did say we wanted an adventure!  Train whistles aside, the views were absolutely worth it.  We arrived Thursday night and did the tourist thing on Friday.

I must’ve been tired from the loaded day on Friday because I managed a solid 6+ hours of sleep despite the best efforts of the passing trains.  I felt ready to go in the morning.  My only concern was an out-of-whack right knee that was bothering me for the 8 weeks leading up to the race and was about 80% healthy (which thankfully did’t give me any problems).  We started in the dark at 6am from Benson State Park with the first big climb of the course up to the top of Multnomah Falls (the second highest waterfall in the U.S.).

The course was absolutely magnificent, while brutal at the same time.  The 50K out to the turnaround point took us past 13 different waterfalls.  Being from the Wasatch, I am not used to this much green!  The first 10+ miles were quite a bit rockier than I expected as we passed by, up and down,  a number of waterfalls.  This made the course a bit trickier to navigate, especially with the rocks being slippery from the wet, mossy terrain.  After the first 10 miles, you come out onto the only significant portion of pavement on the course, a 2.3 mile stretch leading to Yeon Aid Station.  While I don’t normally enjoy pavement in ultras, it really wasn’t all that bad and afforded me some time to ease into a relaxed, but speedy cadence.  Despite the unexpected difficulty of the terrain early on, I was feeling good and on track.  Shortly after leaving Yeon, you arrive at Elowah Falls, which was my favorite waterfall on the course.

After Yeon and Elowah Falls, the terrain smoothed out a bit.  It seemed that once you got past the larger waterfalls, it wasn’t as rocky, but a bit more “rolling”.  Rolling, or course, is a relative term as I would have described it as more “up and down” than “rolling”.  Still, it was a pretty uneventful ride to the turnaround at Wyeth campground.  Little did I know that I was about to get a rude awakening…

I pulled into Wyeth in 6:50, which was somewhat respectable compared to everyone else on the course and only about 20 minutes off of what I was shooting for.  After a change of shirt and shoes, I got out of the aid station at exactly 7:00 and began my journey back to the finish line.  Unfortunately, that would be the last time I ate anything as my stomach decided to revolt about 2 miles into the return trip.  In 5 years of ultra running, I have never had nausea problems.  I suppose there is a first time for everything, but I honestly had no idea what to do.  Eating and drinking was a fruitless effort.  What was worse is that each of the next two aid stations were 9 miles apart, which translated to a long, miserable grind.  I got to mile 40 and relied on the volunteers to help revive me.  After sitting for 20 minutes and eating some food, I started to feel better so I decided to continue on. Unfortunately, shortly after getting on the move again, it flared right back up.  It seemed that movement alone was more than enough to make my stomach unhappy.  As I reached mile 46, I started to get dizzy after 14 miles of no calories and was having a problem walking straight.  I had no choice but to slow it down to a walk.  That 4 miles to the next aid station at mile 50 was the worst I have ever felt in any race…EVER!  The only redeeming factor was this picture that I took as the sun was setting:

When I got to Yeon again at the 50 mile mark, I knew I was done.  Without a pacer and without being able to solve the nausea problems between the last two aid stations, I didn’t feel it was safe to continue through the most technical part of the course in the dark.  Still, I sat for a bit to make sure.  My stomach was literally in painful knots and I ultimately decided to call it a day and save it for another battle.

It is still early in the season and there is no reason to jeopardize that.  While I always hate disappointing people and DNFing is never easy, I feel great about my 50 miles on that day and still believe I made the right decision.  As I said, nausea is new for me (would love to hear in the comments how you all combat it).  I clearly still have a lot to learn and I need to figure out how to react to it better in the future.  I will not likely search out another Western States qualifier this year.  In fact, I once again find myself thinking that I really want to focus on the 50 Mile distance (it is still my favorite by far).  Only time will tell for sure, but I still have a lot coming up this year, so stay tuned!


Headsweats’ 2016 Ambassador Team is Off to The Races!

Headsweats’ 2016 Ambassador Team is Off to The Races!

After reviewing hundreds of applicants for the coveted Headsweats’ ambassador program, the leader in performance headwear is excited to announce the selection of 30 outstanding athletes for their 2016 team. Chosen for their leadership and amazing accomplishments in their chosen disciplines, this year’s roster includes 18 new and 13 returning athletes from across the United States who compete in running and multisport events.

“The Headsweats’ ambassador team is an exceptional group of representatives for both our brand and within their own athletic communities,” says Headsweats President, Mike McQueeney.  “We’re thrilled to support and outfit this extraordinary team of athletes throughout their training and racing.”

This year’s Headsweats Ambassadors include, but are not limited to, Otto Lam, an ultrarunner chasing his Grand Slam ultrarunning title; Danielle Cemprola, a marathoner and popular blogger for Women’s Running; Nadia Ruiz, the youngest Latina to run 100 marathons in the world; and Christine Nichols Cross, an elite triathlete training for Ironman Kona. This diverse group of athletes will represent Headsweats while training and racing, and through their social media presence. In addition, Headsweats’ ambassadors will be instrumental in testing and supplying feedback for future products and designs for the brand.

The complete roster of 2016 Headsweats Ambassadors includes:  Smitha Arons, runner; Stuart Barrington, multisport endurance athlete; Jen Boudreau, runner; Penny Comins, triathlete; Kim Cowart, runner; Joe Dean, ultrarunner; Danielle Cemprola, runner; Andrea Hipps, triathlete; Hideki Kinoshita, runner; Otto Lam, runner; Bryan Lamb, multisport endurance athlete; Nadia Ruiz, triathlete; Cory Hall, runner; Joe Rainone, runner; Jesse Ebersole, triathlete; Matthew Johnson, runner; Susan Schenberg, ultrarunner; Angela Campos, runner; Alyssa Erickson, runner; Jess Perry, runner; Deb Tebbs, runner; Marcia Kadens, runner; Nunzia Lopez, runner; Linda Nguyen, runner; Angela Gillis, runner; Christine Nichols Cross, triathlete; Taryn Lynn Olmstead, ultrarunner; Scott Wesemann, runner; Ryan Delany, runner; Jason Myers, triathlete; Lyndy Davis, runner; and Taralyn Summers, runner.

For more information on Headsweats Ambassador program visit


Headsweats Ambassador Spotlight: Penny Comins

Headsweats Ambassador Spotlight: Penny Comins

Last week, Headsweats Ambassador Penny Comins embarked on a new racing adventure – the Tarawera Ultra Marathon, New Zealand’s most prestigious ultramarathon.  Running 85 km through stunning New Zealand and Maori tribe land, Penny raced to a 2nd place overall finish!  Here’s her recap of the event:

‘How is this pace? You just let me know’. Jo McVeagh, my pacer, asks. I look down at my Garmin; it’s ready 4.32 per kilometer pace. ‘Yep, we are going good.’ With 20 kilometers to go of the 85 I need to complete to get from Kawaru to Rotorua in the Tarawera Ultra Marathon I am feeling pretty strong. In fact stronger than I had ever thought I would. I am running in to a distance I have never seen on foot before. I keep telling myself it is just a few laps around Richmond Park left to go. I can do this distance.

1,150 started in the dark at the base of the famous Redwoods Forest, home to the World Cup Mountain Bike Tour. Each athlete is on their own endeavour to do something amazing over one of three distances; 60, 85 or 100 kilometers. The Tarawera Ultra Marathon is the second race in the Ultra Trail World Tour and as a result has attracted a credible international field.  My running shoes toe the line with the worlds best; Nuria Picas, Ruby Muir, Ruth Croft, Dylan Bowman (who went on to smash the 100km record in 7h44min) and Jorge Maravilla and Pau Bartolo Roco, the guy I saw win the CCC race just last year.



My journey is all about 1. Finishing the 85km to get two more points needed for CCC and 2. Keeping it at seven out of 10 effort all day. Straight off the gun I felt like pulling faces similar to the Maori send off we had. Think Haka tongues before an All Black rugby game. My legs were clogged and I had a tight groin, despite all the build up of massage, chiro and wee runs.

Instead of dwelling on these niggles I just kept thinking ‘is this seven out of 10 effort?’ and powered on. Starting at the front meant a lot of people passed me as we headed out of the Redwoods and around the Blue Lake. I didn’t let this whipping deter me, as I knew it was better than being stuck in congestion if I was further back.


The moon was still up as we left the Blue Lake and crossed a hilly section to Lake Okareka. The support popping out of the bush was immense. This contrast to quiet, soulful time in the bush and loud support from the locals was a fantastic motivator. The scenery was stunning and as I popped out of the bush sections I could feel the heat of the sun rising. Perfect, just how I like it – hot!

It wasn’t until I scoffed a Nutella sandwich at Okataina Bay that I realised I was actually hungry. I downed another and some ice cold ginger beer. Such a simple pleasure brought immense joy and much needed speed. Spotify shuffling songs in my ears, I went up a gear and FLEW. My feet hardly touched the ground. I had Killian feet and felt on FIRE. Go the Nutella.


A split second later I was holding on to the side of the path by finger tips. Only water below, perched on a wedged punga log was not the flying I was wanting to feel. After a feeble ‘heeelllpp’ to passing feet I was being dragged out. Relieved to back on the track and only slightly bleeding I carried on with the same velocity.

At Humphries Bay I knew I was past the technical stuff and soon I would pop out at Tarawera Falls, both stunning in vista and exciting in the people I would see. I would pick up my pacer Jo and have the end in sight. I only slightly noted that the results on the board showed all the other distances first to third, yet Woman 85km was blank. I asked and got a nonchalant response from the volunteers.


Seeing Jo and my coach James Kuegler was another story. Not wanting to ruin my plan James just said ‘I was running a good race and to keep the pressure on’. I looked knowingly at Jo as I changed shoes and said through steely determination ‘We are passing everyone we see!’

We ran the last 25 kilometers through undulating private forestry roads like we stole something. A true testament to my age old belief – the body does what the mind thinks. Even after the finish line smooch with hotty race organiser Tim Day I was in denial that I had finished the task and placed second. An amazing experience that is still sinking in.

Imagine what CCC will be like! I get tingles just thinking about it.