(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.

13393981_10153805087146634_4685869089064360574_n

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.

13344586_10102825966861743_59427379462971357_n

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.

IMG_20160604_170902

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?

race_2218_photo_37378190


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.”

13332802_10209696774762238_1765704971429372912_n

Ragnar Relays

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:

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: