Category Archives: Run Away

Run Away // Leadville Trail 100 Run

October 31, 2016

leadville-trail-100-runHave you ever had an experience happen to you in which you fell so short in explaining the magnitude and effect this experience had on you? How do you document such an event? Even though I was asked a multitude of times to talk about my first 100 mile trail race, I don’t think I ever got the story “right.”  But then again, how can you when the story is about something most people think is impossible? img_3407Let’s take it back a year. I had just ran the Silver Rush 50 Miler and had came in as 6th woman overall… which meant that I had a shot at getting an automatic entry into the Leadville 100 Mile Trail Run. I kept telling myself before the awards ceremony that I wasn’t going to get it, because if I did, well then I’d HAVE to run it. After seeing and actively pacing my husband for a couple of 100’s, I had sworn off the notion of ever running that distance. Trail running itself was already a huge departure from my true love of road racing, let alone the whole 100 mile component, but as fate would have it, I finished 3rd in my age group and qualified for one of the Leadville slots. Less than a day later and to the surprise of many, I officially signed up for the longest race I’ve ever done (and honestly, will probably ever do). leadville-100-race-7Fast forward to the weekend of the race. I had an amazing crew: Jill, Kyle, Zach, Taryn, Chad, Annie and Alden; all who gratefully volunteered to help me in some way – from pacing, crewing, or just being their for support! (Thanks Jill for the photos!) As we gathered in the parking lot of our hotel to eat our pasta dinner that night before, I kept thinking of all the beautiful and kind souls I’ve met through running or from the outdoor world. How these people were folks I never wanted to let go. With ginger cookies for dessert and a beer for a nightcap, I said my good nights and headed off to bed around 8pm. img_0149 With a 4am start, I barely slept the night before. Thoughts of what could happen and how I’d feel kept churning through my mind. Anxiety immediately fell to the wayside once I walked up to the start line and Ken Chlouber, founding race director, started talking. Ken has a way to tug at your heart strings, inspire you, and get you pumped to run the race of your life! Once the air horn went off, I felt that spike of adrenaline and told me myself that even though it felt easy, to not push the pace, that I had a LONG way a head of me! In those first few miles, I slowly started passing runners who had started ahead of me in hopes of gaining some ground before we hit the single track trail section around Turquoise Lake. leadville-100-race-8The first 13 miles flew by in a daze. Cursing myself for having started so far back at the starting line, I really only remember passing by quite a few runners (on your left!) and wondering why the heck was I seeing so many men basically peeing on the trail so soon into the race?!  Heading into May Queen (mile 13.5) I barely stopped for food and to ditch my headlamp before running out towards Fish Hatchery (mile 23.5). For the next 15 miles or so, I felt amazing and was flying through the aid stations. It was around the time I had left Twin Lakes (mile 39.5) and was making my way up the dreaded Hope Pass that the effects of the altitude started to hit and I knew I was coming upon a “low.” For the next four or so miles I crept up the mountain, trying to push away negative thoughts and keep up on my eating routine. Cresting upon the Hope Aid Station (mile 44.5), which was about half a mile from the top of Hope Pass, I was not in a good place. “What can I do to get out of this? What can I say to get Zach to let me quit?” was all I could think about. Thoughts like, “well, I could pretend to faint” or “maybe I tell him my pee is bloody” actually went through my head. I was miserable and questioned why in the world this race was a good idea. I probably sat at that aid station for a good 10-15 minutes, eating and hoping I could make myself not feel like shit anymore. Once the leader of the race came back through Hope Pass, I knew I had to get my ass into gear. leadville-100-race-6It’s funny how something as simple as eating a bit of food and making your way DOWN a mountain can instantly make you forget your crazy thoughts about quitting. Lucky for me, I began to pick up the pace a bit on the other side of the pass, but still felt a little off. Coming into Winfield Aid Station (50 miles & turnaround) I was so happy to see my team and have a chance to sit on a cot for a bit. The top of my foot had started aching around mile 35 after I had took a fall and by this point was starting to actually become pretty painful. With more food in my belly, hugs, and Jill as my pacer, we set off to make our way back up Hope Pass. leadville-100-race-3This time, Hope Pass felt “manageable.” Having my poles helped tremendously with overall morale and eased the stress off of my legs.  Most of all, Jill provided me with stories, food, positive vibes, and just an amazing attitude. She truly is the reason I went from, “I’m going to quit” to “I’m halfway done and I can do this!” Passing by the llamas at the top of Hope Pass and seeing the amazing view towards Leadville, I knew I would finish. leadville-100-race-4Heading into Twin Lakes (60.5 miles) to pick up my next pacer, Taryn, I was all smiles again. Zach had brought me a grilled cheese and I shoveled it down with warm broth. The next 15 miles with Taryn passed by so quickly as we chatted away about every aspect of our lives. I loved how this race became a mini reunion to see these two amazing women in my life. Woman who feel the same way I do about running and who I share a treasured history with.  It was only until we reached the road portion leading towards Fish Hatchery where the pain on the top of my foot started to really become apparent and I knew I’d need to rest for a bit. leadville-100-race-5Picking up Zach at Fish Hatchery (76 miles), I was so ecstatic to see my husband. For the next 5 miles, things were going far easier then I had expected considering some of the steep climbs up Sugarloaf Pass. It was around mile 80 when I started to really complain. “How much further till May Queen?” “Why does this road keep going up?!” “Argggh my foot hurts so f*&king bad!!!!!” leadville-100-race-2 There was a reason Zach was chosen to do the last 25 miles with me. I knew that point in the race would be when I needed someone who can put up with my whining, who has seen the worst parts of me, and someone who has been down this exact same trail before (literally & figuratively). I knew if he was with me during these brutal last miles, I would complete this journey, because he knows how to push me to that next level and would have done anything to make sure I crossed that finish line. leadville-100-raceThe last 15 miles (which took around 3 hours to run) seemed to be endless. The pain in my foot was preventing me from running down any inclines and when I could run, it was only for a few meters before I had to walk again. All I could think about was the finish line, a warm shower, and sleeping forever. As we approached the city, my crew joined me for my last mile into town. Tears of joy and a raspy “I did it, I ran 100 miles!” escaped as I crossed the finish line and walked up to Merilee Maupin for my medal.

leadville-trail-100-mile-race1. May Queen Aid Station    2. Fish Hatchery Aid Station    3. Twin Lakes Aid Station    4. Finish!

Finishing in 24 hours and 9 minutes, I earned the “Under 25 Hour” mega belt buckle, along with the honor of being 10th female overall and 2nd in my age group. For as horrible as an idea of running 100 miles might sound and despite my foot injury, it really wasn’t that hard. I know there are probably some runners out there who think I’m either crazy or just plain cocky, but truthfully this type of race can be done by anyone who puts in a little training and has a super strong mental game. Don’t over think it. It can be done!

Weekend Adventures // Leadville Trail 100 Run

September 5, 2015

Leadville100A couple weeks ago I went to a seminar about resilient people; the speaker discussed what makes a person resilient and the levels of that trait within us all. As she pointed out the attributes of those who can bounce back after dealing with difficult situations, my mind instantly went to those in my life who I would put into the resilient “bucket.”  My father starting his own business, friends who made the touch decision to move to new cities or to start a new job, and then there is my husband…These loved ones all struggled in the last year to move closer to an ultimate goal, one with several unforeseen hurdles to cross in order to get there. But they bounced back, they pushed onward, and they stayed hardy.

Zach is by nature a “hardy” person. And I guess you’d have to be in order to train and run a 100 miles. No softy is going to survive the physical, emotional, and psychological damage that occurs over a course of 20+ hours of running through the mountains. Adaptability is his strong suit, one that I admire him greatly for. So when he decided this year to attempt his third 100 miler, I knew he’d do whatever it took to cross that finish line. IMG_0830Getting into the Leadville 100 Trail Run in itself is no easy feat. The months of training, hours and weekends of pure mileage were just the foundation. After not getting into the lottery, Zach flew down to Austin, TX to attempt to “win” his way into Leadville by racing the Austin Rattler 75k. Only a few spots were guaranteed and Zach ended up walking away with a third place finish and his ticket into Leadville!IMG_0841As race day came closer and Zach without a second pacer, he reached out to our buddy Rob. Without any hesitation, Rob flew all the way from Chicago – with little sleep and no acclamation to the mountains – just to pace Zach and assist me in crewing. Pure resilience. Robbie is probably one of the most loyal friends we have and one that understands the reasons why we put ourselves through these taxing races. As we chatted non-stop from Denver to Leadville, I felt like I was in college again; there were no cares, no adult things to worry about, just a lady and her friend picking apart old stories and catching up on each others lives.  IMG_0858That night as we walked through the race strategy and aid stations, the peaceful feeling I had slowly waned. Sleep didn’t happen that night and with a 4 am race start, we all appeared a little hazing that morning. Rushing out the door with our burritos and stale hotel danishes, Zach was oddly calm and quiet. We drove in silence to the start of the race – where we were greeted by over 600 other participates. You couldn’t help but be overwhelmed and in awe as guys and gals of all ages toed up to the starting line. Ken Chlouber’s words kept running through my head as the gun went off and the runners causally passed by, “You’re better than you think you are. You can do more than you think you can.” IMG_0841With coffee in tow, Rob and I headed to fulfill our crew duties and wait for Zach as he passed through several aid stations. Around mile 50, Rob geared up to pace Zach for a grueling climb over Hope’s Pass. With several river crossings, long climbs,and a steep decent, I knew once I picked Zachary up at mile 75, he was going to be wasted. Anxiety can’t help but creep in when I’m waiting for hours at these aid stations. As soon as he ran into mile 75, all anxiety left as I took the reins and we worked our way towards the next drawn out climb. We didn’t talk much those 25 miles. I pushed gels and chews on him, he told me how much he was hurting, and we tediously made it through the miles. I remember selfishly thinking to myself about how much my feet hurt and how I wish we could just run faster to get the race over with, only to kick myself for thinking my pain would be anything near the feelings Zach was enduring at the time. IMG_0911These races tend to push you to your brink. You second guess your capabilities, you tell yourself you want to quit, or you start hating the whole experience. But then you find yourself a few miles from the finish. It’s distant at first, but a soft cheer can be heard. With lights in the distance growing stronger, we hit the downtown roads only to hear a familiar voice. A mile to go, Rob had patiently waited for us in the cold to help pace the last leg. IMG_0862I gulped down the thick rise of emotions as Zach grabbed our hands as we ran through the finish line. With a finish time of 22 hours and 36 minutes, Zach ended up 28th runner overall, and third in his age group. It’s difficult to comprehend such a feat, but know this – it takes guts, grit, and determination to finish a 100 miles. Frankly, it has me scared shitless as I’ll be tackling this race next year, but I know I have an amazing training partner who will drag me across the finish line if need be. He’ll teach me the tricks, tell me to suck it up, and show me what it means to truly be resilient. Leadville100Finish

Run Away // Wasatch Mountains

October 8, 2013

It seems as if I can’t get the mountains out of my mind. 
We’ve been home from Utah for over a week and they have continued to haunt me. Those peaks, the heights, the shear mass of it all. Uncharted territories tend to have that effect on me. Blind we arrived in a new space, with no inkling of the toll this place would have on us. 
I’ve been to Salt Lake City several times before. Staying downtown, you see the mountains all around you, but their impact doesn’t hit until you get much closer. To me, Salt Lake was another city, just with more Mormons. Arriving a week before Zach’s 100 mile race, we drove thru SLC and into the mountains just after dusk. Making our way to Park City, I imagined what was around us; for the faint lines of majestic summits could barely be seen. It wasn’t until the next morning did I realize we were amidst nature in it’s truest form. 
Traveling inevitably brings folks to together. Seeing that we were running/crewing the same race, a friend from college connected with us to share her beautiful life in SLC. Britta and her boyfriend Nick welcomed us with open arms into their home and their world of trail running. Their genuine passion for the outdoors was so contagious, I felt myself getting wrapped up in their beautiful carefree lifestyle. 

Time shifts dramatically on the mountains. Before we knew it, days had passed. Days of nothing but hiking, eating, and sleeping. Before long it was time to welcome the rest of our team to Salt Lake City. Luckily for us, we have some pretty stellar friends who immediately agreed to fly out and support Zach for his first 100. After picking up Rob and Addison, Team ZARK made it’s way up north to Logan, Utah to await the start of the race.

Zach’s nervousness was apparent that morning as we quietly ate breakfast and packed up our gear. I desperately tried to hide my building anxiety as I thought about all the scenarios the next 24 hours could bring. Wishing him good luck, we watched on the sidelines as a couple hundred runners turned on their headlamps and walked to the start of the race. It was the beginning of a long day. 
With a couple hours to spare between aid stations, Rob, Addison, our friend Kelsey, and I decided it was best to spend our time carb loading at Angie’s Diner. Between devouring a massive cinnamon roll, endless coffee refills, and comments on how obscene the amount of food we received, conversations flowed and I begin to relax. 
In those first hours before mile 36 not a lot happened, but introspectively it really defined the trip for me. Here I was supporting my best friend in a phenomenal feat. Not only was I lucky enough to be here to run with him, but I had the honor of doing it with the help of some amazing friends. I’ve known Rob since college. We haven’t always seen eye to eye, but if you were to ask me who is one of the most loyal people I know, without a doubt Robbie’s name would be first. He is a good part of why I’m with Zach and for that, he will forever be one of my best guy friends. Zach grew up with Ad and even though we’ve known each other just a few years, I can see why he has always been a strong support for Zach. His contagious laugh and intense personality are just two reasons why we get along so well. Then there is Kelsey. Kels and I really don’t know each other. At all. But that didn’t matter because I knew this girl was gold after one conversation. Her rawness and utter candor is invigorating to take in. Paired with her passion for running and just having a good f*cking time, Kelsey is a helluva gal.
After way too much coffee and waiting around, Zachary finally came into the first aid station where Rob could pace him. With a somewhat shaky transition, the boys took off and we drove to the next aid station, and then to the next. With the runner only taking a few minutes to fuel up at each aid station, a crew’s time is mostly waiting. It started to feel like a messed up game: drive to the next remote aid station using an old school map since there is no cell phone service, calculate what time Zach would run through the aid station, wait, turn on the car to stay warm, pee in the woods, eat the rest of my massive cinnamon roll, wait some more. 
When it finally came time for me to run with Zach, I couldn’t have been happier. The nerves that had been eating away at my stomach for hours melted away instantly. From 51 to mile 75 I ran and walked with Zach through unscathed beauty. It wasn’t easy as I had to witness some pretty low points for Zach. None of which I could do anything to help. With veggie broth and a hot grilled cheese around 9pm, he finally started to perk back up. 
The waiting game continued as Rob took over from mile 75 to 92. As Ad and I stared at the endless sky of stars at the last aid station, Ad’s motto couldn’t have put it better. “God is good.” Fighting the urge to sleep, Zach and Rob came through the last aid station around 3am. It was my duty to bring Zach home to the finish before the 24 hour mark… and we were pushing it. The last 25 miles had taken a toll on Zach. As we climbed the steepest ascent in the race, he wrapped his arm tightly around my neck, begging for support. These last miles were very quiet as I didn’t know what to say to someone who was so tired and sore. As we made our way down to Bear Lake, a surge of energy overtook Zach as he hauled ass through the rock filled decent. I kept cursing each rock and boulder, wondering why they were there. As the rocks got smaller and the road less steep, I knew we were almost home. Seeing a lanky figure in the distance, Rob approached us, wielding a smile to tell us we had less than a mile to go. Finishing in 23 hours and 17 minutes, Zach completed his first 100 mile race. I have never been so proud of my husband. 
The rest of the day was spent sleeping and stuffing our faces, but it was hard to imagine the adventure was near it’s end. As we soaked in the last of the mountains, it didn’t take long for Zach to admit he wanted to run another 100. I’m with you babe. 
To our first of many 100’s and more profound awakenings. 

Run Away // Cannonsburg Ski Area

July 29, 2013

Let’s talk about expectations. 
There isn’t a day that goes by where you don’t hear or feel this word. It is often hidden in conversations, threatening you to abide by it. From the moment we are born, expectations are forced upon us and in some ways, make us who we are. Frankly, I’m getting a little sick of them. This past weekend I was blessed with a visit from some amazing friends. We talked endlessly about our lives, desperately catching up. It seemed like we always ended up pursuing the topic of “what is next” for all our lives. Do we do what is “expected” of us; get married, buy a house, pop out children, keep the same job we had for years, live in the same city forever, retire, then do nothing… or do we go against the grain? 
I like to think that I live by my own expectations, no one else’s, but let’s be honest… that’s not true. We all bend, but the hard part is figuring out how far? I guess I can say this is one of the purities found in the world of running. Or at least in my personal world of running there are no expectations from others. It’s my goals, my races, my miles. No one expects my husband and I to run another ultra, but we are. In fact, I’ve found it’s the opposite. People think we are crazy and question us constantly on why we would do such an “awful” and painful thing. If I lived up to their expectations, I would probably be sitting on my ass every night watching tv. 
For me, I love spending my time running: roaming trails, meeting and running with new friends, and getting time to think. This is my reality. This is my expectation.
Next time someone expects something of you, ask yourself first if this is truly what you want. 
Your life shouldn’t be played out like everyone else’s. 
Life is worth living. So live it well. 

Run Away // Gazelle Girl Half Marathon

April 24, 2013

It never fails. Despite the hundreds of races I’ve ran in, the nerves and anxiety of race day alway make their way in. Toes start to tingle and I feel like my heart might beat right out of my chest. It’s an explosion of butterflies in my stomach. The Gazelle Girl Half Marathon was no exception – putting my running career and my real life career in the same boat – pretty much a recipe for amped up nerves. Working the expo the day before, the calm before the storm hit. We had pulled off a successful expo, we just needed the race day to go just as well. Mother Nature decided to make things interesting race day morning. I didn’t care – I just wanted to run. After the race start, the anxiety left me completely. After mile 5 I felt comfortable; at ease. After mile 7 the energy of over 3,000 women running towards one goal hit me. With an out and back course, I started to run past all the ladies who had yet to hit the half way point. Cheers, waves, and yells of good luck poured from the women I ran past. It lifted my soul, put a huge smile on my face, and it made me run faster. Never have I encountered the magnitude of pure spirit in a race before. Finishing the race in 1:35 and 15th overall, I didn’t beat my personal record, but I was still extremely proud of myself. 
I’d say this photo pretty much sums up my race. Hell yeah! 
Photo credit – Sweaty Photo
See you next year Gazelle Girls! 

Run Away // The Riverbank

April 3, 2013

I don’t often like to rehash grueling races. Most of my favorite runs are done at places where I’d never dream of racing – those normal routes around one’s home or your secret little getaway trails. Since I needed to get one last long run in before the Gazelle Girl Half Marathon, Zach and I decided to run part of the Riverbank 25K course backwards. During the run I kept asking Zach if this was really part of the course; everything just looked different. I started to notice things around me that never stood out in the past. The river even seemed altered. 
Our approach to life can take a hard lesson from this running route. Facing the everyday doesn’t always have to be experienced the same way. If the end goal is met, does it matter the way we pursued it? If so, what will we see if we trend down a different path? Strolling down the crowned road back to the trail head, I thought about how I want every route I run to look this fresh. How I’d want each day to be unchartered; filled with unknown possibilities. 
Running is truly where I find myself. It’s where thoughts like these happen. It’s where I throw off that old baggage and start to run down an alternate path in hopes of finding something new. It’s time to shake up your routine! Who is with me?!