Kehr Davis: On running before dinner, the Broken Arrow Skyrace and jetlag in Portugal
Kehr started running as a way to re-energize herself after a long day of work. Since then, she started exploring trails, ultra distances, and international destinations as part of her continued love for running.
This is her story:
OF: How did you get into running?
KD: Running was always my go to get into shape. When my kids were younger, as soon as they were old enough to be able to left alone for 15-30 mins, I would get home from work and head out quickly to get a run in.
OF: That sounds like a lot to balance!
KD: Running is my time to balance, refocus, regain energy, and allow me to be more present with my family. Many people question the time commitment but it's just a matter of priorities. If taking an hour to run gives me the energy to make a great dinner for my kids and have meaningful conversations then my kids understand that. But I cram a lot into a day. There are times when a 20 mile run may not be the best use of my time but then I just get up earlier or stay up later to get everything done.
OF: Do your kids ever run with you?
My kids do not run with me except for the occasional local 5k. The first 5k with my daughter was riddled with tears. But my daughter did do cross country all four years at high school even though she claimed she hated running (she appreciated the supportive nature of the runners) and my son plays soccer and ultimate. I imagine they will pick up trail running later on. My daughter is heading to college next week. She'll be attending the Honors College at UVM. I'll likely be finding some races up that way!
OF: When did you start trail running?
KD: My family has a large property in East Lee, Massachusetts that backs up to October Mountain State Forest. In around 2012, my cousin invited me to go out with him on a trail run one day. Going once with him just once opened my eyes to this word of trail running. From that I was hooked. I told my friends I would never race because…. why pay money to run? But then I entered the Mt. Greylock half marathon in 2012 and was excited by the running community. I ran the GrandTree Series for a few years and won it in 2015. After that I started to branch out and find longer races especially after being introduced to the White Mountains. Trails like the Pemi Loop and Presi Traverse opened my eyes to the fact that you could really cover some long distances in a day. I fell in love with that. In the past couple of years, I’ve made it a priority to do a destination run of some sort.
Where have you been internationally to trail run?
Last year, I had an uncle ask me if there’s a race I’ve had my heard set on. I had always been looking at the Madeira Island Ultra in Portugal because I had never been to Portugal and had always wanted to go. I just threw it out and he was intrigued and excited. He put together a GoFundMe Campaign and my family members all contributed and actually sent me to Portugal to do this run. This is the good part of the story. The actual race wasn’t so good.
What happened in Portugal?
It was amazing and beautiful there. But I made so many mistakes as far as the planing. I was so concerned about the logistics of the trip. My fiancé had never been to another country and I wanted him to be comfortable. I took it for granted that I would be racing a long distance in another country. We get out there a day before the race that started at midnight. As I started, I was so jet lagged that I was basically asleep on my feet eight hours in. I couldn’t function, I couldn’t wake up. I had my hopes that once the sun came up, my body would jump into form and wake up but the sun never really came out - it was freezing rain and cold and windy. I bailed. It was a wonderful opportunity with a horrible ending. My new goal is that I’ll make it over to Italy next time.
What’s your advice to runners racing internationally?
Well, I planned it backwards, I planned to just do the race right off the bat so I could just get the nerves over. I wanted to get the race done and just enjoy Portugal for a week afterwards. If I can do it again, I will go out 3-4 days in advance.
How did you discover the Salomon New York Trail Run Series?
That came about just from being involved in running and races. I did a gnarly race up in the Catskills and met a lot of the team members of Red Newt Racing. After the end of one of those races, i was invited to join the team, which has been awesome.
How did you train for those races?
I have 5 kids, so I fit in runs where I can. My training is a little erratic, so I put in low miles compared to many ultra runners - about 40 miles a week. Those 40 miles are intense though, I don’t have many slow and steady runs.
What were your expectations going into the Broken Arrow Skyrace?
I was thrilled and honored to have that opportunity to go out to Squaw last year. I just wanted to soak that in, I wasn’t terribly nervous about the course.
I had a goal to come in top 10, because I knew it would be competitive. I had previously done a Tamalpa Headlands 50k near San Francisco, which was my first destination run. It was also my first time being with that west coast competition. I didn’t fair that well and I knew I wanted to do better.
How did the race go?
It was great. It’s hard to say if altitude played a roll but my legs were definitely sluggish on the flats. The climbing was fun, and it was fun to have a trail race through snow and to be alongside skiers and snowboarders. The actual event has such a nice energy about it. All of the vendors and participants, everyone is so happy to be there and having a great time. It’s also so beautiful.
What’s next for you?
This weekend, I’m doing the Twisted Branch 100k, which will be the longest race I’ve done. Then I’ll do: