That one time I met Kathrine Switzer

With all the buzz about the Boston Marathon a couple of weeks ago, and Katrine Switzer running it again, I thought it was about time to publish this post.

It’s probably been about three years since this actually happened, I just never had a chance to write a post. I did have hand-written notes of what I wanted to post in a notebook stuck to a newspaper clipping about this inspiring woman my Grandma had sent me. Then I promptly forgot about it. I still this is a great story to tell.

Indeed, I did meet Kathrine Switzer, the first woman to official register and run in the Boston Marathon. This was before I was a Skirt Sports Ambassador and I had attended one of Skirt Sport’s Ladies Night Out.

Here’s what I wrote on my notebook paper a few days after the infamous night (with comments from today)…

The article my Grandma saved for me


I feel pretty privileged to live in Colorado. It’s an outdoor enthusiast’s mecca. It’s perfect for runners and with 300 days of sunshine, a ton of awesome athletic-related companies call Colorado home.

One of those awesome companies is Skirt Sports. A new trend to hit women’s running community is the running skirt (not so new anymore). Skirts Sports is owned and run by Nicole DeBoom. (If you haven’t seen a talk by Nicole, you’re in for a treat. She’s a great speaker, full of energy and a truly inspiring woman with a passion for being healthy, beating your goals, and making other women feel empowered). I have had a lot of exposure to Skirt Sports because they are (were) one of the sponsors for the 3W Ambassador Program (I’m am no longer an ambassador but an employee for 3W Races, a year after this, and Skirt Sports is now a title sponsor of one of our races!). Nicole has come to a lot of our parties/meetings with 3W and her story is awesome. I also have a few friends that work there or are ambassadors (my friends don’t work there anymore and I became an ambassador for Skirt Sports).

Nicole Deboom Talking

About once a month, Skirt Sports hosts a “Ladies Night Out” and has different free clinics, talks, workouts or runs. This week, they featured the amazing Kathrine Switzer.   I hadn’t been to one of these gatherings before, but I made sure to schedule everything around this event as soon as I found out about it. (They still do similar types of events.)

If you don’t know who Katherine Switzer is you need to google her right now (Seriously. I’ll wait. I’m sure most of you probably know who she is).

As you already know (or recently googled) Kathrine Switzer is the first woman to officially, with a bib and everything, run the Boston Marathon. She came to Skirts Sports to tell her story, inspire others and introduce the 261 Fearless Campaign (since this, the 261 Fearless Campaign left Skirt Sports and is with Reebok, I believe. Not a negative thing, just a business move).

First, Nicole Deboom gave a talk and introduced Kathrine’s story. Then it was time for Kathrine to talk. She started with how she started running. Originally, she had told her Dad that she wanted to be a cheerleader as she entered high school. Her father told her that she didn’t want to be a cheerleader because cheerleaders cheer for others. “You want people to cheer you! You can do anything,” Katherine retold her father’s words.

From that moment on, I was entranced. That really struck a chord with me as did most of her speech. After those encouraging words from her father, she started running a mile a day and went out for the field hockey team. It wasn’t until college that she started running longer distances. A friend of hers was training for the Boston Marathon and she decided to do it too. Her male friend swore up and down that women couldn’t do it but Kathrine was motivated and kept up with her friend and the training program.

As Boston got closer, she checked and doubled checked the rules. There was no official rule that women couldn’t enter, so she registered with K.B. Switzer, just like she always signs her name, while aspiring to be a journalist. She stated that she wasn’t trying to hide anything, she just wanted to run.

She lined up on Boston morning with the famous 261 bib pinned to her front. She said the guys around her were super excited she was there, telling her they wished their wives would run with them.

It wasn’t until the first couple of miles those famous pictures were taken. The race director jumped out of the bus and tried to pull her off course. He told her she was disqualified.

Here’s the best part: She just kept running. She knew she needed to finish the race. She needed to finish it for herself and for women’s running as a whole. That night, as she spoke, she said, “I started the race as a girl but finished a Woman.”

My favorite story of the night was about her last long run going into Boston. Her and her friend had just finished 26 miles and she encouraged him to add five more to be sure they had no doubts they were ready. After 31 miles she says to her friend something like, “Man, I feel great, don’t you?!” in which he just fell over and passed out.

She went on to continue to empower women through running.  “Training works,” Kathrine said, and she thinks talent is everywhere; “it’s just that the opportunity isn’t always present. The secret to success is to show up, do the work, have a goal, and if you’re lucky, have a buddy.”

Pretty much on the verge of tears the whole speech, I left feeling motivated, spirit rejuvenated and ready to tackle the world (I need to get that feeling back now). Her speech wasn’t just about running. It wasn’t about feminism or equal rights; I’m sure men would get equally inspired as well. It was about following goals, dreams, and passions. To me, it was about life and going out there to achieve whatever I set my mind to. Recently I have been feeling down about a lot of things: career related, relationships, friendships, and running itself.  I have a new view on all of that now. (I don’t know where I was at this point in time with running, but this was before my current full-time job and I remember just having broken up with a boy around this time as well. I was also having a lot of fallings out with friends as well for some reason).

For one, I know I HAVE to run Boston some day (I still want this so bad). Which means I HAVE to qualify – I don’t want to do the charity route. (While this is admirable and honorable to raise money for a charity, I really want to push myself to get faster and stronger and reach that qualifying time) and now I am super motivated.

Also, when it comes to all those other things, I’m ready to go out and do what I love, I’m ready to do what it takes to do that and I’m 100% devoted to being true to myself. (This did actually change in me. I started being way more assertive of what I wanted in all aspects of life and I fought hard to stick up for them.) A lot of that is personal and may sound convoluted, but the important part is it means something to me (true dat).


I bought her book that night (and got it signed) and I still have yet to read it. Maybe it’s time to take it off the shelf….

Get the book for yourself:

#60HikesDenverChallenge – Button Rock Preserve: Sleepy Lion Trail

(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 #32 – Button Rock Preserve: Sleepy Lion Trail
Completed: 3/26/17 | Mode: Hike with Mom!
Location: HW 66 and CR 80 (Lyons)
Distance: 5.5 miles per the book (we got about 4.5)
Difficulty: Moderate, one long hill (about 500ft elevation change) with some flat spots to rest then all down hill from there.
Surface: Mixed – from hard packed dirt, rocky (class 3 for a tiny chunk), service road, asphalt, single track and double track, loose rocks…
Exposure: Lots of shade, some open meadows
Facilities: Bathroom at the trail head, no water

The river and man-made waterfall next to the service road

My Experience:
Well, it rained on us the whole time, but we finished it! I would love to come back and see this place in the sunshine. After hiking up a maintained dirt service road along a peacefull river, you make a left off the road onto Sleepy Lion Trail, a beautiful wooded climb interspersed with open meadows. After reaching the summit, you hike down an old, partly paved, service road that used to service a nature preserve (not even sure if the nature site is still in use, but the locked gate suggested otherwise). You get beautiful glimpses of the Ralph Price Reservoir on the way down. Sleepy Lion Trail spits you out right at the base of the reservoir where you can see the water RUSHING out. You can add an additional hike up to the reservoir, but we decided not to and hiked back down the dirt service road to our car. For only driving about 30 minutes from home, it sure felt like the high country and the smells of the pines trees were relaxing!

Ralph Prince Reservoir

Pros:
-Beautiful!
-Not crowded (at least on a rainy weekend day)
-Challenging enough to get the heart pumping
-Seems to be a trail to do all year long
-Close to Lyons, CO (lots of things to do, eat and see)

The beginning of Sleepy Lion Trail. Looking like tourists in our ponchos – but hey, we we’re dry!

Cons:
-Not a fan of the service road to get to the beautiful trail

Overall:
I would love to come back and do this trail again and add in the hike up to the reservoir (hopefully on a sunny day). It would be a great place to run with a good warm up, hill work on the trail, and a cool down back to the car. I would definitely bring people from our of town up here as well.


Check out the book I get all the trails from:

Stay on the freaking trail!……please.

I just about lost it the other day, guys. Just about flipped my lid, gone ballistic, hit the ceiling. Lost it.

There I was, deep in the throws of a runner’s high, jogging along, minding my own business. As I stepped to the side to let a biker pass, I looked up ahead. In the distance, I saw a handful of people off the trail, down the side of a steep, grassy hill. Giving them the benefit of the doubt, I thought, “Maybe someone slipped and the others were helping them out.”

I kept on running and they got back on the trail. I was getting closer and closer to this group of people and as I rounded the last turned toward the parking lot, I look to my right and find them off the trail again.  They were cutting that last little bit of trail back to their car.

Seriously!?

First of all, they literally only cut off less than a tenth of a mile. Second, THERE’S A FENCE! A WOODEN FENCE purposely put up so that people WOULDN’T cut the trail right there. Both ends of their “I don’t give a fuck”  trail, their shortcut,  is fenced off. AND, their car was at the other end of the parking lot, where the REAL trail spits you out.

I rarely have outbursts but aloud said, “Stay on the trail, people. If we keep doing stuff like that we’ll not have nice things anymore.”

The just looked at me and kept on walking through the tall grass. I wanted to say so much more, but unfortunately, I don’t think it would have made a difference and I probably wouldn’t have done it appropriately. I can’t even express how much this bothers me.

Seriously, if people keep doing this, over and over, we wouldn’t have any trails or beautiful grass fields to hike and run through. It would be all one giant dirt hill and that wouldn’t be any fun. It would be boring and ugly, not to mention all the plants and animals that would be lost. This particular trail is Green Mountain in Lakewood. It is a great place to train on while being really close to work. It’s across the street from where I coach track. Talk about convenient. But just because it’s near the city, doesn’t mean it shouldn’t be treated just like all the rest of the trails.

“Stay on trail.” There are signs, they are clearly visible, and there are FREAKING FENCES!

Staying on the trails isn’t just a silly “rule.” On a well-used trail like this one, it’s the only thing from keeping the whole thing from eroding out. Don’t even get me started on social trails or walking parallel to a trail when it’s muddy. (Singletracks becoming double, and getting wider and wider every year.)

This is an example of erosion at Green Mountain after people walk to the side during the mud. Before you know it, the grass in between will get worn out and it’s not twice as wide. Then the process repeats.

Walk through the mud people. Better yet, if it’s really, REALLY muddy, just stay away!

And I totally understand that some cultures just don’t have the same values for nature and our planet as others, but then again why are you even out on the trails in the first place!? Language is not a barrier when THERE’S A FREAKIN’ FENCE!

I don’t know why this makes me so mad. Maybe it’s because I can see the signs of overuse, not picking up trash, and trail cutting in the areas nearby to where I live. They have even closed down a popular Evergreen park because people wouldn’t pick up their dogs’ poop. (Oh, I could go on for hours on poop bags. You KNOW you are not going to pick it up on the way back; don’t leave it there. At that rate, just let your dog poop out in the open. That’s better for the environment than a plastic bag!)

This is not from the trail I was on. Maybe it needs to be, because clearly a fence is not enough.

With more and more people moving to Colorado and visiting every year, it’s important to educate people. Just saying “don’t do this, don’t do that” isn’t enough anymore. Deep in my heart, I’d like to think people want to do the right thing but don’t because they can’t see the effects of their actions, or out-right don’t know, they don’t follow the “rules.”

Hmm… maybe I should have stayed on the conservation biology track. Or maybe I can help out on my own through my blog, social media, and word of mouth.

Excuse me, I’ve got some brainstorming, planning, and work to do.

#SorryfortheRant

#LeaveNoTrace

Sign at a different park.

#60HikesDenverChallenge – Alderfer Three Sisters Open Space: Ponderosa Sister’s 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 #14 – Alderfer Three Sisters Open Space: Ponderosa Sister’s Loop
Completed: 3/20/17 (First attempt 3/5/17) | Mode: Hike with the doggie and the boyfriend!
Location: Buffalo Park Rd & Le Masters Rd, Evergreen
Distance: 3 miles
Difficulty: Easy, one hill but it’s not that steep.
Surface: Hard packed dirt with a few bigger rocks in parts
Exposure: Lots of shade, some open meadows

Ben and Tristan

My Experience:
Okay. It took me two times to complete this trail. The first time, I headed up with just my doggie. I thought I followed the driving directions correctly but I ended up parking in the wrong lot, thinking it was the lot marked on the map. This whole conundrum turned me around completely and I ended up doing a different part of the park. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but for my goal, I want to do them all how they book describes them. When I finally realized I did the wrong trail (see the orange on the map at the top), my dog was pretty tired and we left to go home (he’s getting old).
Take 2: A few weeks later, my boyfriend, dog and I headed up to the same area and did the correct trail (purple on the map above)! Both trails were very beautiful and had that high-country feel. The first trail was pretty close to the road for awhile but then turned off for some pure nature hiking. The pine trees smelled great and the views were beautiful. The “three sisters” are three small mountains and the trail winds between them. Not too challenging and would make a great run!

The Three Sisters

Pros:
-Beautiful views
-Forest/High Country Feel
-Not that rocky,  good surface to run on
-Plenty of shade cover
-Restrooms and picnic tables available

Cons:
-Windy – both times I went!
-Can be crowded
-No water available

Overall:
I’ll definitely come back here to get some good trail runs in. The loop was only three miles but you can add more loops and additional trails. I would also recommend this to people looking for a city break without having to go too far. The trees and rocks give this area that high colorado country feeling.

The View from Brother’s Lookout


Check out the book: