Humans of HOKA: Lasondra Wilson

Hi! My name is Lasondra Wilson and I am the owner of Yellowcake Desserts, a small bakery in Northern California! I am a former preschool teacher of 13 years and I recently resigned to pursue my business full time. In addition to educating children and baking, I love to read, hike, and garden.

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Baking and cooking have always been a part of my life. When I was younger, I would help myself to things in the kitchen, trying to make food for myself such as toast and eggs. I have fond memories of cooking enchiladas with my grandfather, Mexican wedding cookies with my uncle and cakes with my mom. I made the transition from Southern California to the Bay area 11 years ago and I didn’t know a lot of people.

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In that first year I watched Food Network incessantly. I tried my hand at everything from homemade doughnuts (which were a fail) to homemade biscuits. The more I cooked and baked, the more I fell in love with baking from scratch. At the same time, I became obsessed with local and organic food products, as well as the story of dishes we hold dear; where does upside- down cake come from anyway? I researched company product lists, which led me to some of the best ingredients there are when it comes to food. I also researched recipes and food history, reading cookbooks of acclaimed chefs, bakers, and even chocolatiers. This became the foundation for how I create flavors and my desire to expand the idea of what dessert is. Sweets get a bad rap; and yes, they should be enjoyed in moderation. However, I learned that having the best ingredients, thoughtfully sourced and produced, contribute to the overall well-being of everyone, earth included. Creating unique flavors that honor the earth is an ode to the past and sets the stage for how we connect to each other in the future. Food sustained nations. It is still used to welcome people to communities and helps foster relationships as we break bread around a table.

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I love flavors that play up natural ingredients versus processed items like candy. That’s where flavors like lemon rosemary and earl grey cupcakes come from; they are flavors we can produce naturally. It’s not the only thing we do, but it is the heart of our creativity. My favorite thing about baking is that there are rules, and the rules can be broken. It’s my favorite way to be creative; playing with the boundaries of artistry within food, while remaining true to the essence of each dish and how it nourishes our mind, body and soul. Baking allows me the opportunity to explore, create and experiment. Having my own business allows me to set boundaries around how I create, work, and essentially, how I live. I have found many peaceful moments while baking dozens of cookies. In the same vein, baking dozens of cookies can be very stressful! Having my own business is challenging. I am still growing as a business owner. I am mastering time management, while looking for ways to creatively serve my customers. Baking is a challenge because it is not always perfect. Most times it’s not perfect. I have messed up dozens of brownies, cookies, and cakes. I have dropped cupcakes right at delivery, I have mixed up orders and I’ve forgotten ingredients. In all of that, there is a lesson that allows me to reflect and grow as a business owner.

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Teaching influenced me in two keyways. First, it made me more mindful of myself and those I interact with. Children simply react to a situation. Young children cannot explain in great detail the intricacies of their emotions and how they would like to move forward. Working with young children breeds patience and understanding as you work through the highs and lows with them. Children are a constant reminder that each situation is made up of many layers, and that everyone, even adults, may not be able to adequately express themselves. Patience, kindness and grace are needed as we interact with one another. Second, teaching has taught me the importance of relationship building. Some of the parents of my students are now my customers! I appreciate that we are familiar with one another and that I have had the chance to share special moments in their lives, such as birthdays. I feel so honored to be a part of their lives in this way; to be trusted with moments that are dear to them. It is humbling to know that they made a choice to patronize my business.

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As I transition from a teaching to full time business owner, my current goal is to promote good food. I want to promote desserts that use sustainable, ethically sourced ingredients as a way to uplift our communities through our engagement with food. My secondary goal is to continue to grow as a business owner; utilizing systems and processes to scale my business and become more efficient. It will be an adjustment to not have the set schedule of a teacher, but I know I will continue to grow as a business owner by continually evolving my ideas, processes and goals.

Lasondra is featured wearing the Bondi 7.

Time to Keep Moving Forward with Magda Boulet

Magda Boulet, wears many hats throughout her day. She’s VP of Innovation at GU Energy labs, a professional Ultra Runner for HOKA ONE ONE, Coach in her running community, and most importantly, she’s a mom of a teenager.

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Tell us about yourself, Magda.

I grew up in Poland and immigrated to the US when I was 18, and somehow landed in the most beautiful state in the United States, sunny California. I was sworn in as a US Citizen on September 11, 2001. I discovered running as a high schooler and went on to compete as a track athlete in college at UC Berkeley. Many years later I qualified for the US Olympic team in the Marathon in 2008, and also competed in the World Cross Country championships twice. I started my Ultra career in 2013 and have been running on the trails ever since. I call Oakland, CA my home now.

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How did you get into running?

Growing up I was a swimmer, but when I came to the US one of my friends in high school encouraged me to join the track team. I needed something to do once the swimming season ended so I didn’t hesitate to try something new. I was immediately hooked. I loved not only the freedom to be able to run wherever and whenever I wanted, but also loved to socialize and make new friends. Running is a sport that tends to reward the hardest working among us. One must develop aerobic capacity slowly over time. There are no shortcuts and perseverance is essential to success. I’ve been fortunate to travel the world to race. I’ve ran everything from a road mile to hundred-mile races in the Sahara Desert, and just about every other type of race in between. I’ve represented my country, the United State of America in the World XC championships, and in the Olympics, but most importantly, I’ve made lifelong friends every step of the way.

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Why is moving everyday important to you?

Movement means so much to me. Of course, I love to run and train for big races, but more importantly I know the importance of a daily walk, especially in nature. I know it improves my mood, reduces my stress level and helps me sleep better. Getting some good blood flow to the brain helps me think better and stay on task when I have a long day at work. I just feel good when I’m able to move and there is something in me that just compels me to move all the time. I love discovering my mental and physical limits and breaking down my own barriers.

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How does moving help you in your many roles? (parenting, partnerships, career, etc.)

Movement clears my head and sets the tone for my entire day. At work, I have a standing desk, and anytime I have a meeting with someone, I try to do walking meetings outside instead of sitting in an office. I find that it helps us think and communicate on a much higher level when we’re moving and fosters a new level of creativity. I never regret a walking meeting. At home, I become a better human to be around when I make time to run, especially early in the morning. I find that I have more patience for my family, I lead with kindness and find myself more empathetic. I look for any opportunities to walk, hike, or run with my family. It really gives us a chance to connect with nature and with each other in a way that you just can’t while sitting on the couch.

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How do you encourage others to keep moving?

I am not only the instigator a lot of times, I’m the one who says yes to almost anything that involves movement. I like to create challenges at work or carve out a specific time each week for a physical activity. I encourage my coworkers to walk with me all the time if they want to talk to me. But I also have a lot of ambitious friends who like to set up challenges for us all over the world, from 200 mile relays in the desert, to running all the way around Lake Tahoe without stopping, to climbing the highest volcano in the world, I say yes to way more things than I probably should.

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What is Running for a Better Oakland?

Running for a Better Oakland (RBO) is a local organization that encourages Oakland students to develop healthy lifestyles through running. There are so many great things about this program, from the health benefits of just getting kids into physical activity to giving kids structure and confidence building that can improve other parts of their lives. I’ve had the pleasure of coming out to run with the kids on some of their training runs and I am just so inspired by the strong and supportive community they’ve established. I love this program.

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Anything else you’d like to share? 

What running has taught me: Running has taught me to be brave and break down my own barriers. Running has taught me to persevere. But what does Perseverance Mean? To me it’s not just effort. It’s not just trying your best. It’s refusing to give up, even when there are obstacles in your way. It’s staying focused on your goals and driving toward them when things don’t go as well as planned. To persevere is to continue working when the goal is a very long way in the future. Most goals that are worth chasing after taking many months or many years to achieve. And remember, it has been said that “a river cuts through rock not because of its power, but because of its perseverance.”

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Magada is featured wearing the Bondi 7.

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Humans of HOKA: Hannah Kim

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PC: @sarahchingphotography

Hi, I’m Hannah! I’m a mom of three and currently working on self-development through parkour (@parkour_mama).

I grew up in the pool constantly smelling like chlorine, and it wasn’t until a dejecting senior year in college swim that I discovered the joy of running. At first I joined treadmill runs with my girlfriends just to watch cute boys throw around weights, but I soon became enthralled with my solo afternoon jogs on their own merit. I could go left through the houses, right along the fields, take any twists or turns I felt in the moment. I wasn’t confined in a lane in a box of a pool. I’d pass by trees, happy smiles, and lonely faces – all things I’d miss speeding by on my bike. I loved it.

I left my college town of Davis and became a personal trainer at Equinox in San Francisco (I had a mild stalker there who is now my husband, but that’s another story). Working with a variety of clients and seeing them achieve their goals was like a drug. I worked with Ironman Triathletes, CEOs, a consultant who couldn’t swim a lap in the pool but had signed up for the Alcatraz Tri 2 months out, and a tech guy who had never been in a gym before. I was surrounded by like-minded trainers and got to utilize their specialties to constantly learn and push myself. Once, when I hopped off the treadmill after my lifetime longest run (7 miles), a trainer buddy invited me to his 14 mile run. Though I don’t advise jumping into a 21 miler, I enjoyed the long run and kept up with it.

My now-husband and I started running 7-20 miles every Saturday in the Marin Headlands and all around the city, followed by a trip to the farmers market and lazy afternoons of reading and TV. City running was tall cement buildings, restaurant fronts, the pretty waterfront – and still happy smiles and lonely faces. Those long jogs and lazy afternoons eventually turned into a 3 mile loop around the hilly reservoir in the suburbs. I’d push our twins girls in the double stroller and my husband would push our son in his stroller, and our once-lazy afternoons became chaotic with laughter and fighting between the kids. Today, my 7-year old girls are able to run the loop with me.

After those family reservoir runs, we’d go to Whole Foods and the cashier, Kamran, would always tell me about parkour. I ended up trying it and fell in love with the goal-setting and accomplishment that I hadn’t felt in years. My younger self would have shied away from a new sport, but being a mom, I didn’t care about being surrounded by experienced 20-somethings or being the clueless newbie. Once you’ve been on all fours butt-naked pushing your kids out in front of complete strangers, it’s hard to be self-conscious again.

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PC: @sarahchingphotography

Parkour was an escape from parenting that I got for a couple of hours each month (three kids 2 and under and you’ll want an escape – or wine, too, I promise), but now that my kids are older and I have more time, I’m cranking the gears to see where I can go. Through mental and physical work, calluses and injuries, I’m learning to allow my body to do what it’s capable of – and to fully trust it. When I can let it all go…it’s time to fly!

I still love running – the feeling of escaping it all while simultaneously breathing in more of it all. Because I have so many impact days, I want my long jogs to be less impact as much as possible. I love that the Hoka shoe gives me a feeling of lightness, cushion, and springiness. Something where I can go for miles and listen to a book or chill music and not worry about my joints and legs. So now I run, out of my lane, whichever way I want to go. Now it’s rolling hills and kids on their bikes.

And still, it’s the same. Happy smiles and lonely faces. But you know what? With COVID, there’s a better sense of community and connection when going for a run. A lot more eye contact, a lot more friendliness — and I see a lot more lonely faces turning into happy ones. I’m going to keep on running…and let myself fly.

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PC: @sarahchingphotography

Humans of HOKA: Carissa Yao

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PC: @bryanwalkerting

My name is Carissa. I’m a graduate student at UC Berkeley and a UI/UX Designer. I have been running for just under 10 years. Running is my love language to myself and the communities I’ve been a part of.

What started just as a hobby, running around the neighborhoods and school tracks of Shanghai, I didn’t get into racing until Freshman year in college, which is relatively late compared to many varsity runners who started cross country and track in high school or even middle school. I’ll always be very grateful for the DIII liberal arts college in southeast Pennsylvania I went to, and my coaches Jason and Matt at the time. They were so open to having new runners joining the team, regardless of background or years of training, as long as you had the dedication to train and race on top of school work, and the willingness to challenge yourself. My time on the team was without a doubt challenging: pushing myself in workouts, learning about shin splints, or even buying spikes for the first time. Nonetheless, the seed for running was planted in me.

After landing a job in the Bay Area post-college, running became an important part of my social life. Although I didn’t know anybody in the area, I found it relatively easy and comfortable to connect with other people over mutual interests like running, and before long, I started racing again through local clubs. There was a certain level of purpose and meaning I was able to find through chasing a PR, a half marathon goal time or simply completing a good workout. It provided me with something so pure and attainable that I wasn’t able to find in my first job after college.

However, the true meaning of running didn’t register with me until I got a serious injury. In May 2018, I had to put aside my running shoes because of a devastating stress fracture on my right tibia. All of a sudden it felt like I was sidelined in my own playing field: I wasn’t able to see the friends I’d made in the running communities every week, I got fired from my first job out of college, and I started to feel that I no longer belonged.

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PC: @bryanwalkerting

It was during my recovery period that I realized there were a lot of misconceptions about how my communities and sense of belonging was “earned” through fast times and frequent showing up. Without fast times and glamorous racing photos, I realized that fundamentally, running is a relationship with myself, and I was too attached to the preconceived notion about what a “good runner” means and who is “someone that belongs.” Instead, running is a way we show up to ourselves in its most authentic form: no judgement, no better or worse, just being there.

When I recovered from my injury 4 months later and went on the first few baby runs, I told myself to be patient and kind, because I live in this body that allows me to explore and challenge. It didn’t have to go out and “earn” anything for me to love myself unconditionally. Society has put a lot of pressure on finding a sense of belonging in other people, and while supportive communities make one feel like home, belonging was never about fitting in: it was always about coming home to yourself. Your true journey is in knowing yourself so deeply that you feel comfortable in your own skin. You love and accept who you are. You make decisions which feel right in your gut and body versus right according to someone else.

This pandemic has again shed a new light on running. I was mentally down during the first few weeks of quarantine, questioning everything that was going on in my life and the world. The lack of control and uncertainty challenged my mind, which constantly searched for comfort in patterns and plans. At the time, I was pretty inconsistent with running because of stress and unpredictable schedules in grad school. Chronic depression and anxiety make it difficult to just put on shoes to go for a quick run. There seemed to be excuses all the time: the weather was bad, I needed to finish this report first, I might as well not run if I only have time to do 3 miles, I’m not in good enough shape to feel good running… The self-critic in me always finds a way to talk me into not running and going back to dwelling in my anxiety.

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PC: @bryanwalkerting

Fortunately, I was able to fall back into running with all the extra time I had during quarantine. The daily routine of lacing up shoes and “checking in” with my neighborhood in Berkeley once again brought me peace. Other than the endorphin rush and mood boost, running has allowed me to find appreciation for my body and who I am as a person. I’ve gained a whole new appreciation for where I live and awareness of the privileges I live with. I realized that without properly taking care of myself, I was not able to fully show up to my friends, families, or greater communities. It made me so happy to know when friends on the East Coast texted me that they recently started running again or when one of my colleagues asked me about which trail running shoes to choose from.

With the running landscape being extremely uncertain at the moment, I hope to continue my training and eventually get out there to race in cross country and my first marathon (I had to DNF the Chicago Marathon last year) when it’s safe to do so. Meanwhile, I hope my voice can inspire more people to go for a run to enjoy the outdoors safely and to take care of themselves with no judgement in distance or pace in mind. Running is never meant to be an exclusive sport for “fast people” with a certain body type only. There’s no barrier to enter and it’s one of the best things you can do for yourself and your communities.

All you need to do is start. What you seek is seeking you.

My home now, California, is hurting. More than 500 wildfires are ravaging the state and taking people’s homes away. Here are some resources where you can help:

American Red Cross: Donations will go to the Red Cross’ disaster relief efforts.

California Fire Foundation: This foundation provides emotional and financial assistance to families of fallen firefighters, firefighters and the communities they protect.

CDP California Wildfires Recovery Fund: Help the Center for Disaster Philanthropy support those affected by the wildfires.

Community Foundation Santa Cruz County: This foundation is seeking help to support those affected by the lightning complex fires.

GoFundMe has started its own wildfire relief fund.

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PC: @bryanwalkerting

“Stringing Hundreds” with Patrick Reagan

Patrick Reagan has been steadily climbing the ultrarunning ranks since he jumped into the sport in 2015, and there’s no end in sight. Perhaps more impressive than his finishes at top ultra races, though, are the sheer number of races Patrick enters. We asked Patrick to walk us through his 2019 racing calendar, which saw four 100K or 100-mile races, and how he balances training, choosing his races, and more.

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Finding ultrarunning changed my life in the most positive fashion possible. In 2013, I was working full time as a head cross country coach at a university in Savannah, GA. My motivation to train was coming back, like a fire burning hot again off embers that never quite cooled from my collegiate running days. I started to experiment with running 5K-10K races again, having some success which lit the fire for me to run my first half marathon in 2014 and my first marathon in 2015. In the summer of 2015, ultrarunning found me.

In 2015-16, I began exploring my limitations by training on trails for distances of up to 35 miles. I began exploring my local region in Savannah – primarily on roads and trails in Chattanooga and Asheville. After experimenting with the 50K distance in 2015, I became curious about the 100K, racing both the USATF 100K Road Championships, the Ultravasan 90K, and the IAU 100K World Championships in 2016. The IAU 100K WC was my first race in a Team USA singlet and I was fortunate to finish on the podium in 3rd place. This was a big turning point in my career. Four weeks later, I signed my first professional running contract with HOKA ONE ONE.

In February of 2019, I decided to leave my full-time job as a collegiate cross country and track/field coach to concentrate on my running career. The year in sum was chalked full of transition and adaptation. When reflecting on the year, I think of it as a season of “Stringing Hundreds.”

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. . .

Typical training weeks for me are between 85-110 miles which include two days of strides and two long runs per week. Each week I typically engage in three days of core strength training, two days of weight vest strength training, and five to seven days of Phil Wharton’s activated isolated stretching program. Key workouts include 6-12 mile tempo runs, 1K/1 mile interval training at half marathon pace, and 2-3 mile intervals at marathon to 50K pace. Strength training (both core and weight vest) has become much more important for me as I’ve transitioned to 100 mile races. The quadriceps strength required to run Western States in particular has been the main catalyst for my coaches (Magda Boulet and Roxanne Vogel) to provide more strength training work. To enhance core and leg muscle strength, I walk my dogs for 2-3 miles a day while wearing a 20 lb weight vest.

When designing a yearly racing schedule, I pick 3-4 “A” races that are emotionally important while picking other events in the build to these where I can test my fitness and enjoy a new event on somewhat tired legs. Both Project Carbon X 100K and my first Western States 100 were slated to be my “A” races for the first half of 2019. In the sunset of the year, I planned an ambitious double of Javelina Jundred and the USATF 100 mile National Trail Championships (Brazos Bend 100). The gap between Javelina and Brazos was only a six week spread.

My year began with a win at the Daufuskie Island 40 mile Ultramarathon hosted by Rough Runners in January on one of our beautiful coastal islands in my region. Running in the southeast is quite different from the mountainous trails out west, yet showcase beauty in an entirely different way. The dirt roads around the island and beachfront running is a great winter escape for any runner from outside of our region. I set a new course record at the event racing to a 4:21.36 finish on the 39.3 mile course.

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In the build to Western States 100, I decided to take two trips to California to specifically prepare for the course. Living in the coastal southeast is limiting from a vertical ascent/descent perspective; thus, I decided to race the Way Too Cool 50K in March followed by an extended weekend of training on the Western States Course. The plan also included the Western States 100 training camp in late May. I’d recommend the Western States training camp to any runner preparing for the Western States 100. It’s open to competitors in the current Western States and anyone that would like to experience the last 30 miles of the historic race over the course of three days.

Midway through the build to Western States was my first “A” race of the year: the HOKA ONE ONE Project Carbon X 100K. Eight athletes competed in Sacramento, CA to test the limits on both the 50 mile and 100K world records. Sage Canaday and Kris Brown paced me through the 50K mark in 3:09, directly on pace to achieve my goal on 6:20 for the 100K distance. Through 40 miles, Kris brought me through in under American Record pace, but I hemorrhaged some time on my way to the 50 mile mark, crossing in 5:08.21. Finishing second overall, I finished in 6:33.50 for the 100K. My time held up as the fastest 100K by an American in 2019 and the 6th fastest all-time by a North American.

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My first Western States was 8 weeks to the day away from the finish of the race; thus, I had to prioritize recovery and rest. Following ultras, I take one day off for every 10 miles raced to focus on my other hobbies which include playing music, reading, and playing Magic: The Gathering. Recovery went smoothly and I was able to get back to training right on schedule.

The Western States experience is very unique. I was fortunate to be selected with an at-large bid by the Ultra Trail World Tour to compete in 2019; thus, I wanted to prove I belonged in the race by running patiently and finishing strong. The high country was quite snowy, but the weather started heating up as we entered the three canyons within the course that lead to Forest Hill, CA (the 100K mark). At Devil’s Thumb, I found myself in 22nd place and crept into the top 15 by the time we hit Foresthill. At the River (80 miles), I moved into 12th place and by the Highway 49 crossing (Mile 93), I saw Kyle Pietari who was the 10th place male at the time. From Pointed Rocks (Mile 94) to the finish, I ran the fastest split ever recorded to finish in 8th place and earned my spot in the 2020 edition of Western States.

Between Western States and Javelina Jundred (my next A Race), I had a significant amount of time to rest and prepare for the next training block. I took two weeks off from running in July and kept the training leading into August casual. In August, I ran both the Transrockies 6 Day Race with Camelia Mayfield to win our classification and finished 16th at OCC 56K in Chamonix, France.

In 2017 and 2018, I won the Javelina Jundred and wanted to repeat for a third victory in 2019 with intent to break the course record I set in 2017. I ran the first loop slower than the first two years, maintaining a more controlled effort that would allow me to even split the race. Loops two and three put me in a solid position to take a run for the course record. I finished first in 13:11.48, just ten minutes off the course record. Following the event, I had 6 weeks to the day until the start of the USATF 100 Mile National Trail Championships. This would be the most challenging double of my career. I stuck to my initial plan of taking off ten days following Javelina Jundred and resumed light training on day 11.

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The training block between Javelina Jundred and Brazos Bend was primarily focused on strength work, mobility, and lower mileage. I didn’t exceed 70 miles per week in my training and my longest run between the two events was 18 miles. On race day, I lined up feeling fresh and confident in my experience in the 100 mile discipline. The event went out fast, passing through the 50 mile mark in 5:57 in 2nd place. At the 100K mark, I took the lead and began to distance myself around the 75 mile mark. At this point, the fastest 100 mile race was the 2017 Javelina Jundred in 13:01. By the 90 mile mark, I’d distanced myself from the field and was chasing the clock. I won my first USATF National Championship with a mark of 12:11.43 and a new course record.

The body of work in 2019 earned me a 4th Place finish in Ultrarunning Magazine’s Ultra Runner of the Year voting. The year was all about pivoting, challenging my own limitations, and being confident in the training heading into competitions. This won’t be a year I forget anytime soon.

Patrick Reagan is a professional ultrarunner at HOKA ONE ONE and GU Energy Labs. He is the owner of Patrick Reagan Running Coaching Services in Savannah, GA and co-host of Tortoise and the Hare Podcast.

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