Tag Archives: mountains

Want to Be Inspired? Crew or Pace a 100-Miler

A few weeks ago, my Internet friend Logan sent out an e-mail in search of pacers and a crew for her upcoming 100-mile race. The race was Labor Day weekend, and I had no other plans. Logan and I had been trying to run together all summer and it had never worked out, plus I’m always looking for an excuse to get into the mountains, so I wrote her back and said I was in for crewing and pacing duties. I wasn’t really sure what to expect, but I’m so glad I volunteered — this was one inspiring experience!

(This post is light on pictures… most of my time at the Hideaway 100 was in the dark, and the pictures I did take were of Logan. I feel like she should get to post them first.)

Logan started running at 5:00 Saturday morning, but I had an appointment that afternoon and didn’t get to Winter Park until about 4:00 p.m. I met the rest of the crew, and we headed up to wait for Logan at an aid station at around the halfway point. Before she came in, this guy did:
I totally stole this picture from Bob’s (one of the other pacers) Facebook page. Anyway, this guy was cruising in sandals, and he was FAST! He stopped at the aid station, ate a bit and chatted easily with the volunteers, and then took off again at lightning speed.

Not long after Mr. Speedy Sandals came through, Logan made it to the aid station. She was looking super strong and was in good spirits.

Logan looking strong at halfway-ish.
Logan looking strong at halfway-ish.

She dropped off her first pacer, Katie, and picked up her second, Kevin. While they ran, I took Katie back down to her car. On the way down, while it was still daylight, we saw a moose (and a crazy woman walking up to it to take its picture). On my way back, in the dark, I caught something out of the corner of my eye. I turned my head, and a massive moose was running right alongside the car! I decided then that Logan and I were going to make a LOT of noise while we ran. No midnight animal encounters for us, thanks!

I made it to the next aid station not long before Logan came in. She traded Kevin for Bob, and soon they were off again. While they ran, I snagged an hour-long light nap in the back of Logan’s Subaru. My fear of oversleeping and missing their return meant I just kind of drifted in and out, and soon Bob texted us to let us know when they were close. I sneaked off to find a bush, layered up, and got myself ready to run.

When Logan came in, she explained that she had a pretty wicked blister but didn’t want to pop it, so we’d try just hiking. I didn’t admit it at the time, but I was SO glad we hiked. We climbed up to about 12,000 feet, and my 3500′-dwelling legs and lungs were burning. Plus, it was FREEZING! I didn’t complain, though — the number-one rule of pacing is that you suffer in silence and try to keep your runner’s spirits up, because no matter how rough you’re feeling, she’s got over 50 miles on you! I told myself not to be a weenie, and tried to channel some of Logan’s general badassness.

Nonetheless, I was pretty happy to drop back below treeline, where we hit the aid station again and headed off on our next, mostly downhill section. (Embarrassing: shortly after we left the aid station the second time, I puked. Yep, me. The one running 12 miles, not the one running 100. Stupid altitude.)

Now that we were back where I could breathe, I tried to keep up a steady stream of chatter. I’m not usually a very talkative person, but I figured that the best way to help Logan stay out of the pain cave — or at least out of her own head — was to jabber, so jabber I did. Logan was actually still in good spirits (admirable — I would’ve been a bear after 70+ miles!), so we actually had some conversation; it wasn’t just me yammering on. (But mostly it was). We hiked a lot and stopped at an aid station to pop Logan’s blister, which had shifted and become unbearable. Once it was popped, she was able to run a little more, and  after what seemed, remarkably, like a short while, we were back at the final aid station, where Logan picked up Deidre, her last pacer, and headed toward the finish.

Bob and I ate some aid station food (best. bean burrito. ever.), then headed down to wait for Logan to cross the line. The early morning cold had us shivering, so we alternated sitting in Logan’s car with the heat blasting and jumping out to see if she was coming. We watched another runner, who had leapfrogged with Logan for most of the race, finish and collapse in a heap, a mixture of exhaustion and elation. We chatted with a volunteer, one of the many amazing volunteers out there that day and night. And then, finally, we saw Deidre coming up the sidewalk, so we knew Logan was close.

Within seconds, she came into sight, still running. She managed to JUMP as she crossed the finish line (I have no idea how she had the energy for that, but check out the awesome picture on her blog), and then she was done and allowed to finally sit down.

I stole this picture from Facebook, too. Can you tell it was chilly?
I stole this picture from Facebook, too. Can you tell it was chilly?

Crewing and pacing Logan was an incredibly inspiring experience for me. Watching her push through the hard, dark places and overcome them to finish the race left me admiring her, of course, but it also made me wonder just how much I too could do. Seeing the wicked-fast winners come through the aid stations left me in awe of the human body’s capabilities. And chatting with the volunteers, most of whom hadn’t slept, who bent over backwards to help the runners with no thought of reciprocation, and many of whom were gearing up for the 50k racers who started Sunday morning, restored some of my faith in the goodness of human nature.

Will I ever run 100 miles? No, probably not. But pacing and crewing was extraordinary, and if I get another chance to pack that much inspiration into one short weekend, you can bet I’ll sign right up.

A Few Days in My Happy Place: The Mountains

This is a picture-heavy, word-light post. Because mountains.

I was very fortunate to spend most of last week in the mountains, continuing my work on Operation Become a Trail  Runner and just enjoying my favorite place in general. From Monday afternoon to Thursday morning, J and I attended an education conference in Breckenridge. The conference was great, but the best part was spending an hour or so every morning running on the trails right behind our hotel.

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There was still quite a bit of snow up high, so this creek was flowing fast.

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I really hoped to see a deer or elk here, but nope… just a pretty park. Not complaining.

One morning, I decided to run up the ski-lift maintenance road. I  turned around about half a mile past this:

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And was rewarded with this view, to which my iPhone camera just couldn’t do justice:

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The final morning was cloudy and misty, but the mountains were stunners nonetheless.

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And I took a “runfie” because sometimes I remember I’m a blogger.

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I always look confused in selfies. Probably because I feel like a fool taking them.

We left Breckenridge at noon on Thursday and headed straight to Estes Park, where we met Jordan’s family for the weekend. We drove over Trail Ridge Road, which neither of us had ever done. It was stunningly beautiful; if you ever have the chance, drive it! Again, our iPhones couldn’t capture the breathtaking beauty of the mountains, but here’s a series of pictures from Trail Ridge to give you an idea.

photo 1 (20) photo 2 (18) photo 3 (12) photo 4 (7) photo 5 (5)

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We stopped at the Alpine Visitors Center, where I read this on a sign about the area’s history: “The Ute People believed the trails were living beings who held the community together.” I kinda love that.

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Friday morning, I woke up and drove a few minutes from where we were staying to Lily Lake, which is technically in Rocky Mountain National Park, but on the non-paying side of the entrance stations. I took a side trail and ran for a while, catching these foggy mountains from just above the lake

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Somehow, I got on the wrong trail and ended up on private property. Please don’t tell.

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(This time I look confused because I was…)

I fairly quickly made it back to where I meant to be (thanks to studying the map for a looong time the night before), and headed back in time to clean up and spend the day playing tourist in town with my in-laws.

Saturday, the whole family was heading into RMNP, so I decided just to hike instead of run. The whole clan walked around Bear Lake; then J and I took a side trail for a few extra miles before meeting back up with the group for lunch. I love getting off the super-popular trails and off to where it’s just me, Jordan, and the wildlife.

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We watched this guy for several minutes. He ignored us. That’s a good thing.

And here’s another fast-flowing stream. It was gorgeous. (And yes, I’m rocking my Skirt Sports).

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By the time we finished our sandwiches, afternoon thunderstorms were starting to brew, so we headed back into town.

Sunday morning, we were up at 4 and gone by 4:30, headed out of the mountains and down to Louisville for the Skirt Sports 13er, which I’ll recap soon!

The week was awesome and left me wanting more mountains. Luckily, I don’t have to wait too long, as we’re going camping in a couple of weeks for our anniversary!

What’s your favorite hiking/trail running spot?

Ever been to Breckenridge or Estes?

Fall Classic Marathon Training, Week 13

It’s September now. Did anyone else’s summer just fly away? This also means that my marathon is two weeks from yesterday. To say I’m feeling less than confident is an understatement, but all I can do now is trust the training. I like to think of this past week as the first week of taper, although my mileage was equal to what I ran two weeks ago. Calling it “taper” in my head seems like a nice little mental trick to make myself think I’m relaxing.

I’m rambling. Let’s just look at how the week went.

AM: 7 miles of fartleks

PM: Full-body strength. I did two circuits instead of my usual three, because tapering made a handy excuse.

AM: 9 miles easy. Both Monday and Tuesday were treadmill-only days, because this was happening:
photo 1Getting struck by lightning is my least favorite way to start the day, so I opted for the treadmill.

PM: 30 minutes of yoga.

Tuesday night, I looked at the forecast. It said 74% chance of morning thunderstorms, and only 30% at 5-7 P.M. I opted for the evening run. Although it wasn’t storming after all in the morning, I was happy for the extra sleep. So I ran after work: 10 miles with 8 at goal pace. Finally, goal pace felt good. I felt like I could keep going (my schedule allowed for up to 12 GP miles), but I opted not to, since these sinister fellows were building up:
photo 2 (3)Calling it quits when I did  was a great choice: I had just gotten home when it started hailing. Whew!

40 minutes of strength training. I knew I was moving my long run to Sunday and didn’t want to run seven days in a row, so I didn’t run Thursday.

8.1 easy miles — 5 on the tready and 3.1 outside once it was a little light. No PM workout because I was eating pizza with friends. Worth it.

8.2 easy miles and some abs. Then, we cruised up to Fort Collins, where we met my in-laws. My mother-in-law and I got pedicures and facials (my birthday present. I like dragging my birthday out for a month), and then we all headed up to Estes Park for a little Labor Day weekend escape.

15 miles in Estes Park. I had hoped to get in one more all-downhill run before the marathon, but the roads up there have no shoulder and lots of traffic. I like living, so I opted for the bike path and rolling hills instead.
photo 3 (1)There’s a rainbow up there. It was beautiful and my iPhone doesn’t do it justice.


It was a fast-finish long run, and although my “fast” pace bounced around due to the hills and a random 10-minute rainstorm that blew through, I still felt good about it and finished strong. That was a nice feeling after so many tough FFLRs. Plus, I had views like this, so how bad could it be?
photo 4Obviously, this was a great weekend. It rained off and on all day, so no mountain exploring could happen, but I love Estes and it was fun. We also drove the race course (it’s the only road from Ft. Collins to Estes). I’m curious to see just how they block it off for the race. I’m also even more pleased that the race benefits flood victims. I hadn’t been up there since before last fall’s flood, and I was amazed by just how much devastation there was.

Totals: 57.3 miles, under two hours of strength/yoga

This week, taper starts in earnest. I’m actually kind of looking forward to it, which is uncharacteristic. I hope that means taper madness won’t get me like it usually does!

Have a great week, friends!

What did you do for Labor Day weekend?