(Re-Blog) – Ragnar Trail Colorado

I am about to leave for my fourth Ragnar Trail in Snowmass, CO. I have done every single trail Ragnar that as been at Snowmass! I LOVE Ragnar Relays, both the road and trail versions, but being in the mountains and camping makes the trail series all that much better for an outdoor-lover like myself. Altogether, Ragnar does a fantastic job with these events.

Every year has brought different experiences and  memories. Every year has had ups and downs. This year, I am with a completely random team, not having known anyone prior. Some of them are new runners and we are looking forward to a fun experience!

This post was originally written for Becoming Ultra when they recruited me to write about Ragnar for them. It never ended up getting published on their site and it really bummed me out. I worked really hard on it. It was also supposed to get posted on the Ragnar blog, but the employee that talked to me dropped the ball as well and she no longer works for Ragnar.

It ended up only on my blog. I am re-blogging this post because, frankly, I really liked it and thought it was some of my best work.

Here’s to trail running, new friends and the great outdoors! Cheers!


 

It all ends when I finally get home, I examine myself, taking note of what I’ve done to my body and mind.

I am very tried, about to fall asleep.

I’m dirty, literally covered, head to toe with dirt.

I smell like a high school locker room.

My muscles are sore.

I have a few blisters spread out on my feet.

There’s chafing in places only my boyfriend sees.

I’m sunburnt in various spots, showing where I can’t reach.

My hair is coated in grease, staying in a pony-tail without a hair-tie.

My eyes are dry, my head hurts, and my ears are plugged.

But I feel accomplished.

What is Ragnar Trail Relay?

Start with a 2 day and 1 night running relay with 7 of your friends on there different loops of beautiful trails. Mix in camping, music, laughter and s’mores and you got yourself a Ragnar Trail Relay.

What was my Ragnar Trail Relay?

It all started at 4am the morning before. In about 28 hours, I ran close to 15 miles between three separate runs. I climbed a total of 2,295 feet up a mountain, only to come back down, three different times. I slept less than 8 hours in total and tried to remember to eat and drink water when I needed to.

If you read the fine print, I tortured myself for almost two days straight and I called it FUN.

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I have made new friends and strengthened current ones. I watched the sun set then come back up again, all while sitting besides a giant bonfire. I ran 3.5 miles catching up with a friend of mine, four miles with just the light of my headlamp and the stars above, and 6.8 miles in the heat of the day, all while being distracted by tall, snow-capped peaks.

That is what my Ragnar Trail Relay was.

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Running is different to everyone. Some enjoy the roads and others like the trails. Some get thrills from the long run and others just run a few miles each time. Some appreciate company on the journey while others prefer to chase the miles alone. Most of us are a mix of all of these. No matter what type of runner you are, you can find your place at a Ragnar Relay.

My experience with Ragnar Relay has been three years in the making. Every time I join a team and start hitting the trails with seven other team members, I have a new experience. That’s what makes this race series unique. It may be the same three trails every year, but each year you can create new memories and experiences.

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The first year, I was chased by a sage grouse that I coined “The Velociraptor.” In year two, I desperately searched for some dry clothes to warm up in between runs. This year, my third year, I chased the sun and got to finally see the views from the red loop. I was also the last runner and was joined by my team to run through the arch at the end of my last leg. Each year has been made more and more memories.

The brilliant thing about Ragnar Trail Relay is they provide you with the essentials: Trails, music, good vibes, nutritious food, games, good products, a great host, and a campground. From that, each individual experience is unique; from person to person, team to team and year to year.

So I ask you….

What will your Ragnar Trail Relay be?

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Quote on the back of the 2017 medals when you put all eight together:

“We believe that being a Ragnarian is about more than being a runner, that misery loves company, that happiness is “only real when it’s shared”, that there is a badass inside all of us, that everyone deserves to be cheered at the finish line, that dirt in your teeth boosts the immune system, that what happens in the village, stays in the village, that adventure can only be found if you are looking for it, and that a little sleep deprivation is a small price to pay to watch the sun rise with our friends. Together we ran Ragnar trail. Together we can accomplish anything. We are Ragnarians.”

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Ragnar Relays

Five Reasons I love the Redemption Capri (gear review!)

If you’ve been following me for awhile, you know that I am a Skirt Sports Ambassador. I wrote about it a while back and still love being a part of the movement. In addition to the message it sends women (#RealWomenMove) about getting out there and accomplishing dreams and goals, the products themselves are very well made and fit all body types – and that is pretty awesome! They are made for women, designed by women and the company is great about taking feedback into consideration (they even have a “sewing room” where you can submit ideas and if others like it, you’ll see it made!).

One of my favorite products is actually not even a skirt, it’s the Redemption Capri! Here’s 5 Reasons Why:

1. They are very adaptable – and work for multiple types of sports!
I love supporting and showing off Skirt Sports when I’m outside, but one of the activities I enjoy the most is rock climbing. You can’t wear a skirt climbing, even if there are shorts underneath. Frankly, it’s not safe – the skirt can get caught in so many places – and it looks quite ridiculous when you’re belaying. I CAN wear the Redemption Capris on the rock wall! No risk of fabric getting caught in an ATC (belay device).

Running in them (and other activities) is perfect as well! I am always working and coaching in them.

2. They come in multiple fun patterns
I have the Tantrum and the Safari Print. It also comes in plain black, Frolic print, and Enchanted print. See Skirt Sports to see all their patterns.

3. They slightly compress
I LOVE this about these capris! They aren’t actual compression grade capris, and it could be that I bought too small of a size, but they feel slightly compression-like and  that is great for running!

4. Not too hot and not too cold
I wear these for running when it is between about 40 and 70 degrees. They keep you warm on those chilly runs when it’s not quite cold enough for pants. They are also  lightweight enough for the hotter days. Anything over 70, they are a little too thick to wear and I get overheated. Now, if you’re just wearing them out and about, they are just fine in hot weather. 😉

5. The back pocket comes in handy!
There is a small, zippered pocket in the back. It’s perfect for keys and a credit card/ID. They do have a new product out called the Pocketopia Capri that is almost the same as the Redemption but with MORE pockets. I find my Redemption Capri just fine, in terms of pockets. If I need extra storage, I have a handy-dandy run belt from SLS3.

If you want to check out the Redemption Capri, you can find them online HERE or stop by the store in Boulder, CO!

Not quite halfway through the year – Updates!

Hiking at the Apex Trail

I was going to call this post “quarter year updates,” but then I did the math and realized that wouldn’t be quite right. Where did the months go? I haven’t been able to write on a consistent basis, but here’s just a random, popcorn list of what’s been going on:

Work/Career

Golden Mountain Guides
-Many of you know I own a climbing guide business, Golden Mountain Guides, with my boyfriend. We are just starting year two of business!
-The year is starting off better than last year, but not as good as we hoped.
-We’ve hired a couple new guides and we’re doing anything we possibly can to market our business (and researching new ways.)
-YOU can climb with us if you want! Check us out online or when you visit Golden, CO

3W Races
-Still going well! I have been assistant race director a few more times and we’re amping up our marketing plan.
-Our next race is this weekend, the Skirt Sports 13er/10k/5k on June 4th!

Coaching
-Track season is was kept me busy and off of the blog. I was at Green Mountain High School again coaching the long and triple jump.
-It was a great season. Many athletes made it to the state competition and I had two jumpers just inches away from qualifying for state. INCHES! Keep in mind only 18 people go to state in either competition and they were inches from it.
-With my triple jumper, she had a great jump of a distance that would have put her in state but it was disqualified due to win. My long jumper has one more year and I’ll get him to State for sure next season!

The Coach V Rap

Cross Country Season coming up…
-During track, we got word that the head coaches wouldn’t be able to coach next year. That left the head coach positions open (and the scary idea that any new person may not keep me around). However, two of my friends and fellow assistant coaches got the job. Yay!
-With the switch around, I get to stay for jumps coaching during track season and it left another spot open on the cross country coaching staff as well. I have officially accepted it and will be moving from Golden HS to Green Mountain for BOTH the cross country season and track season in 2018!
-I love this idea of being at the same school for both seasons, but it wasn’t an easy decision to make. The kids and other coaches at both schools are amazing.
-Summer running for cross country starts in June and then the season starts in August.

10Hikes.com
-I landed my FIRST freelance writing job with this company!
-I have been writing about the top 10 hikes in the Denver region and having a blast on the beautiful trails.
-I’m super excited about this and will be doing the best job I can. Follow me on Instagram for my latest hikes.

Hiking at Beaver Brook – a new Colorado fave!

Personal Running/Fitness

Running:
-Since the beginning of the year, I have been trying to get my running back up. It’s been hard, so difficult,  mostly due to motivation.
-For the first few months of the year, I was running about 2 to 3 days a week. I bumped it up and up and now I’m up to running about four days a week, on average.
-A lot of this is due to having a few goals in mind (I’ll announce soon!)
-It’s also due to finding this AWESOME app, Zombies Run! It’s a blast and I find myself thinking about when I can “play” next, i.e. run!
-I just ran the Bolder Boulder and will be doing Ragnar Trail Relay in Snowmass in a couple of weeks.

Bolder Boulder

Other Fitness:
-I started lifting again! I am training for something great and I starting lifting weights, doing plyometrics and other strength training. It’s fun, I’ve missed being a gym rat, but I’m pretty much starting over again and that is hard and disheartening.
-I do CrossFit every once in awhile (my boss at 3W Races also owns Trailhead CrossFit, so I work out there sometimes) and did the Murph workout for the first time. I have been reading (listening to book on tape actually) Lone Survivor in honor of Memorial Day and the Murph workout is in honor of Lt. Michael Murphy. It was a brutal work out and I’ve been sore for days now. Learn more about the Murph WOD here.

#60HikesDenverChallenge:
-Still going strong, although I’ve only done 14/60 hikes, I’m still trying to knock them off this year. I still have a few that I’ve finished but haven’t written about yet.

Other/Random Happenings

-I’m sure you all heard about the massive hail storm in Colorado, right? Well, I got stuck in it while driving on the highway and accumulated more than $8,000 in damage on my nice new Jeep. I miss my Jeep and can’t wait for it to be fixed and back!

Poor Ginny (yes, that’s my car’s name).

-I’ve been trying to hang out with friends as much as possible but it’s very far and few between with everything going on.

-I turned 30 somewhere back in there. I didn’t do anything too exciting, just hung out with family and a few friends. I did get a Zombie cake though and tried a zombie themed escape room! We didn’t escape but it was pretty awesome.

-I did get to have a little fun a few weekends ago for my boyfriend’s Sister’s bachelorette party! #Being30WhenEveryoneElseis25orYounger

In the limo


Now that I’m all caught up; what have you all been up to?

#60HikesDenverChallenge – Green Mountain and Hayden Trail Loop

(For 2017, I have a goal of getting through all 60 trails in the book “60 Hikes Within 60 Miles: Denver”  You’ll see these posts all year-long. You can find a lot of info on each of the trails in the book, but I’ll highlight some things each time in addition to including my experience and opinion on the trail. The number below is associated with how they are labeled in the book if you have it.)

Trail #22 – Green Mountain and Hayden Trail Loop
Completed: 4/3/17 | Mode: Running!
Location: Alameda and Union, Lakewood
Distance: 3.3 miles
Difficulty: Hard, steep climb
Surface: Hard packed dirt with a few bigger rocks in parts
Exposure: No Shade
Facilities: Port-o-potty at Alameda Trailhead, no water

View into Golden!

My Experience:
I have run on Green Mountain more times than I can count. This is the place where I had my first trail run experience many, many years ago and a place I still love to this day. This is also the place that I just about lost it when I saw some people cutting the trail. Green Mountain does get used regularly and it hurts me to see the signs of overuse or people disrespecting the “rules” of nature. In fact, I just drove by the last week and the signs  were marked RED indicating “OVERLY MUDDY CONDITIONS, use not recommended,” and yet the parking lot was still packed. Come to find later in the week, when the trails were finally dry, there was bike tire ruts baked into the trail – NOT FUN for the ankles!

I look grumpy…but I was just squinting.

Anyway, I’ve run all over this mountain, just about every trail that there is. There are all types of trails here: long easy runs, steep hill climbs, a mixture, etc. Plus, it’s close to where I work and live (I coach track right across the street), making it super convenient to get a trail run in without traveling far. About a week before I completed the exact trail from the book, I inadvertently did the trail in reverse as I just ran around aimlessly. I went back to repeat the trail from the book, just because.

Quite the challenge, going the direction the book recommends takes you up, UP and UP for a whole mile without relenting. Not going to like, it was pretty tough. I ran most of it with a little bit of walking, took in the views at the top and ran the downhill (my favorite part) back to my car.

Awesome views of Denver!

Pros:
-All types of running can be found
-Good views in the distance
-Plenty of miles of trails! The full loop is over 6 miles, but can add trails in between.
-Wildflowers for a brief season in the spring

Cons:
-Not particularly beautiful on the trails
-Some parts have really loose, smaller sized rocks, making footing super tricky
-Crowded
-Overused
-TONS of bikers!
-There can be rattlesnakes

Access Road Trail on top

Overall:
While I do really love running here and I do so multiple times a week,  I wouldn’t recommend it for out-of-towners. The trails and park itself aren’t that spectacular to look at. There are some great views of Denver and the nearby foothills, but the whole mountain is brown/yellow in color most of the year.  If you’re looking for a great trail system to get some miles on without going too far out of the city, this is the right place!

Sometimes it’s green…


Join me in my #60HikesDenverChallenge: