Most of the people in my adult life know me as an avid trail runner. I can tell you that definitely wasn’t always the case. I never ran until college. It was my escape from an abusive relationship #metoo . Then in the Army I actually learned HOW to run and figured out I was good at it (at least in longer distances). It became my sport, my life, my identity.
I’ve always run for myself. I enjoy running and often don’t give a crap about how fast or slow or whatever. Yea sure I’ll work on my form if that means it hurts less. Yea recently I’ve decided playing with speed can be fun too. After college, after the Army, I wanted to start racing. In my mind, I’ve always been an ultra distance trail runner I just didn’t know that’s what it was called. I knew there were tons of road races, but I hate running roads. So I started obstacle racing because it was the closest thing to trail running I knew about in race form. To say I did well might be an understatement, placing second elite female in my first EVER race at the 2013 Spartan Military Sprint in Fort Carson, CO. I missed the podium and awards completely because I didn’t think I had even come close to pacing and went straight onto volunteering for the rest of the day, finally checking my results as we packed down the finish line.
Fast forward 3 years. I was working at then called Sierra Trading Post, primarily in the footwear department. I had maintained trail running crazy distances around my life and medical issues. All of this was solo, just exploring what I could find. My coworker head about this and decided he should introduce me to The Leadville Trail Series. He had raced the 50 mile mountain bike race the year prior and knew there was a run.
I had NEVER raced this distance (or anything on trails actually at this point).
So what did I do? I signed up. I trained – my style – exploring mountains 1x a week, running with my pup every day, before work, after work, carrying a ruck sack and trying to beat myself on a crappy fun loop, and well fastpacking 155 miles 2 weeks before the race. Because in my mind if I could do 155 miles alone, with a pack and my dog, the race could just be fun.
Leadville changed my life. I didn’t finish the race (in fact I have yet to finish any “official” trail race), but I made it half way, seeing the entire out and back course and successfully tearing hip flexors and my Achilles after a fall at mile 6. I was carried out of the medic tent and spent the next few days requiring my poles to walk around town before I made it to the doc who issued good old crutches.
But that’s not the point. Leadville is where it all became reality. I learned about this amazing community of ultra runners. It’s where I met my friends Sean, Jared, and Jen. It’s where I learned about Runner’s Roost Colorado (and they existed in more than 1 location) and got to step inside their team tent – causing me to have a new dream to be on a race team. It’s how I learned about run clubs and this stupid crazy fun sport we know as ultra running.
Shortly after Leadville I went into medical crisis. To top it off I was rear ended horribly about midway through this crisis. In January of 2017 I was sent home to starve to death…..
But you know what was hanging on my door…..my Leadville bib. See I was bib 100 – Lucky 100 – is what every other runner called me during the race. And maybe my race didn’t end well, but I still say it was lucky in a different way. After 3 days of being home, off ALL meds, I found the will to try and live. Three weeks later I had re-taught myself to walk and run and joined the Belmar Running Club out of Lakewood’s Runner’s Roost.
Fast forward another 3 years. I’ve met people like Anton Krupicka, Camille Herron, Courtney Dewaulter, and Claire Glallagher. I’ve volunteered at races more than I’ve raced, including becoming a course sweeper at the amazing Devil on the Divide Race. I’ve crewed and paced The Western States 100-Mile Endurance Run. I’ve left it all out there in Crested Butte in a whopping 5 miles (supposed to be 105k). I’ve done all this while working through my medical issues and becoming a mom to an autistic boy with many special needs (and also learning I’m autistic with ADHD).
I’m now officially a member of the RAD Rabbit race team, repping Rabbit – a pretty cool company out of CA founded by WOMEN. I blog and review gear, I teach women about being on trails, and I’ve been granted some pretty sweet deals by a lot of companies to make this happen.
This year – the oh so fun year of 2020 – was supposed to be my coming back to Leadville year. Unfortunately, like most races in the world, the entire Leadville Series has been cancelled.
So on July 11 – the day this year’s Silver Rush 50 Mile Run was supposed to take place – I will run 50 miles from my door. While as always #irunforme , on this day I will also run for Leadville #IRun4Leadville. Leadville is a beautiful mountain town nestled in the CO Rockies at 10,152 feet elevation. Like many mountain towns it depends on it’s tourist events and sporting events to provide income to the town, all of which are cancelled for the town for the year of 2020. I have a goal of raising $1000 to go to the Leadville Trail 100 Legacy Foundation. This foundation provides education options and opportunities for the people of Leadville and Lake County, CO which have been severely impacted by the cancellation of these events this summer. You can learn more about the foundation at: https://www.leadvilletrail100legacy.org/ and donate HERE.
As we get closer I will share my approximate route map and a link you can use to “live track” my progress. I will be using the #IRun4Leadville. My goals are:
finish in 16 hours – the time needed for my 100 mile race that is still scheduled to happen in September
finish in 14 hours – the standard cutoff time for Silver Rush
finish in time for dinner – because food
Gear you’re guaranteed to see me in:
Topo Athletic shoes
Suncloud Optics sunglasses
If you’re local and want to come cheer me on I’d love to see you out there with cowbells!
Everyone has a why. Whether it’s running, or hiking, trails or not. For many the why that started it isn’t the same as the why they still do it today.
For me my why of why I started running is the same as a story many women are stepping forward and sharing. It’s my #metoo. But that’s not why I am here today. It’s not a story I care to retell anymore. I’ve moved on.
Even today my why can change throughout the year. But RIGHT NOW, RIGHT THIS VERY MOMENT, my why is ME. Trail runner, mountain mom – these are the essence of who I AM. But right now, right now I’m the mom of the kid who needs spinal surgery. I’m the mom who doesn’t know when she last washed her hair. I’m the mom who has become better than the care coordinators at the hospital at coordinating care. I’m the mom who can pretty much give you a tour of the entire Children’s Hospital and knows where most every department is – because I take my son to all of them. BUT THIS ISN’T ME
This is not who I am. I hate this. Right now I’m just that mom. Don’t get me wrong, I LOVE being a mom, just not when I have to do this. Not when I have to lose the essence of who I AM so my family is ok.
Right now, my need to run is more important than ever. If I don’t do it now, I feel I will be lost forever. I don’t mean that I’ll die, but that I will lose the essence of who I am. I need the trails to remind me what the earth beneath my feet feels like. I need the wind through the trees to remind me what fresh air moving feels like. I need the birds singing to remind me that hospital monitors are not the song of my life. I need the cold crisp air of the wintery mountains to remind me to breathe it all in. I need the colors of the sun against wilderness to calm my overstimulated mind that is sick of city noises.
I need to run. I need to feel my body do something other than phone calls and paperwork.
I need to run. I need to be hungry for quality food that sustains an active life.
I need to run. I need to be physically tired so my mind can rest.
I need to run. I need to feel the burn in my legs and lungs to remind me I am still very much so alive and not the zombie I feel like.
I need to run. I need to just BE ME, even if only for an hour.
I need to run. I need to run on trails. Because if I don’t I just might lose myself.
Believe it or not I never ran until college. When I did start running for real the only shoes I liked were true minimalist shoes – as in so minimalist you could role up TWO pairs and put them in a Nalgene. My mom called them rubber socks). Prior to that you’d only catch me barefoot or in riding boots (and then military boots). I couldn’t run a mile to save my life when I first started, but that’s exactly why I started running – to save my life from an abusive relationship.
Anyways, up until a couple years ago all I wore were New Balance Minimalist shoes…..until they quit making them.
Since than finding shoes has been a pain. Eventually I settled on Salomon S/Labs. These are no longer meeting my needs, getting narrower and a wee bit odder every year (this year they added new ‘socks’ to them). My feet were torn apart from them being too narrow on my last run in them. However I really didn’t want to lose the ability to stick to wet slick rock that these shoes provided. So here began my next round of hunting for new trail shoes….again.
I already gave my brief review of the Topo MT-3 (here). I still love the overall fit of Topo so next up came the new Topo Runventure 3.
Best For: Trail Running
Stack Height: 20mm (0 drop)
Heel to Toe Drop: 0MM
Weight: 7.6 oz (W7) (215 grams – only 10 more than the new S/Lab Sense Pro SG)
I really like these. One thing though is I wear a full size smaller in these compared to my other Topo’s. However – this means that they fit more true to size in comparison to other brands. So Now I wear a W9 in New Balance, Newtons, Altra, Salomon S/Lab, and the Topo Runventure 3.
I had tried Altras early on in my hunt for new trail shoes while trying to stay minimalist. I really don’t like a heel to tow drop greater than 4mm and definitely prefer 0mm. But for me the Altras were too roomy. They weren’t secure in the heel or mid-foot. I also found Altras to be too much cushion and not enough support.
The Runventure’s are a 0mm drop! Woo Hoo! They are a bit more cushion than I’m used to but they have a nice responsive rockplate in the forefoot and are a fairly firm stiff shoe that really gives that support I’m looking for on trails. They fit much narrower in the heel and mid-foot while still allowing plenty of toe space. Running downhill in these was fantastic. I had room to splay my toes but at the same time I had ZERO issues with my foot sliding forward or hitting my toes on the edges of the shoe. There’s ample toe protection too.
The Runventure also boasts an awesome sticky Vibram XS Trek EVO outsole. While it will be a bit before I can really test these in some mountain terrain (thanks COVID), Vibram has a reputation for having amazing sticky outsoles. And fresh out of the box they were sticking to my floor, so I have no doubt they will be fine. The outsole also has a fairly aggressive tread, but not so aggressive that it’s uncomfortable to be on pavement for sort bouts. These will fair well in wet muddy terrain and soft sandy trails and anything in between.
My biggest complaint about the MT-3 was the lack of breathability. These are much more breathable than the MT-3 with a durable coated mesh and drainage ports. They still aren’t as breathable as I’d like but this I will sacrifice for the rest of the shoe.
The laces are standard laces but they aren’t as slick and slippery as the ones on the MT-3 so they stayed laced with no problem. You’ll notice my funky lacing pattern – most shoes (not just Topo’s) that use standard laces put a pressure spot on the top of my instep. By simply changing the lacing pattern and pairing with a heel lock lace, I can alleviate this issue – Yay no numb toes (took me years to figure out this was why).
Also happy to announce the women’s shoe is not pink or purple. It comes in Black/Grey or Green/Grey (men’s come in Black/Blue and Grey/Red).
These are definitely comfortable too. Fresh out of the box I happily got a solid 11+ miles with no issues. My friend got a solid 10 miles fresh out of the box with his as well.
If you’d like to try them for yourself go here. Bonus my friend John is an ambassador and often has options for discounts. Just reach out to him here or here.
Stay tuned – up next will be one of my new packs from UltrAspire (either the Basham or the Astral 3.0)!
So the thing that started this spurt of mini review was that my former favorite running pack – the Nathan VaporMag – ripped at a seam substantially enough that I lost my favorite pair of cold weather arm warmer (which I sadly can’t replace).
Nathan has awesome customer service and promptly replaced my ripped pack with a new a one. Unfortunately the VaporMag has been discontinued, so they sent me the closest thing – the VaporHowe 2.0 4L.
I’m going to upfront about my overall opinion – I hate it. It will be going to my good friend who loves the VaporHowe line. That being said there were some good things about it too.
Really the only thing I didn’t like about the VaporMag was the lack of a place to store my poles. The VaporHowe has two times the capacity and still NO PLACE FOR POLES. Also, with the added capacity you’d hope at least one back pocket would be reachable while wearing. Instead they are all deep pockets that just layer outward on each other, with the outer most pocket being a vertical zip. To get anything out the whole pack must come off.
The VaporMag upper back pocket is just open (and no nothing ever fell out). The VaporHowe uses velcro closures. The closures are nice but velcro and long hair don’t mix. My hair was constantly catching on the velcro and geting pulled out.
The VaporMag is a super breathable mesh. The VaporHowe is the compressive stretchy material. This material is super soft, but also super hot and not breathable at all.
The fit isn’t great either. While the size was correct and the pack sat appropriately on my body, the straps made it too tight. Full I couldn’t even buckle the bottom strap without inhibiting my breathing and one strap equaled lots of bounce. The new straps aren’t stretchy (in theory the fabric of the whole pack is supposed to stretch with your body’s movements).
Ok so what did I like?
The one thing I really liked about the pack was the big pocket for a phone up front. It is underneath one of the water bottles and more than fit my iPhone X in it’s case. This pocket is rater resistance line ONLY on the water bottle side, not the side against the body, so sweat is still a big issue here.
The bottles are 20 oz (600 mL) each which is double that of the VaporMag. They also have a spine to help them not collapse (all of Nathan’s soft bottles do!). These bottles also have the straight straw. The straight straw is much easier to clean than the angles one. However, with how the pack sits I kept getting hit in the face by them. The water bottle on the side without the phone pocket bounced a lot once it wasn’t completely full, something with the difference in structure failed to fully support the water bottle. These bottles actually fit my VaporMag and really old Solomon Adv Skin 12 Set better than they fit in the VaporHowe, so they will still get used. (Hopefully they work with my new packs I’m testing as well – stay tuned.)
Above Left to Right VaporHowe Bottles and VaporMag Bottles. Note the round bottomed VaporMag bottles actually can stand up full on their own which is pretty awesome. The VaporHowe bottles cannot.
It has a nice little pill pocket with an emergency whistle – unfortunately I lost everything I put in the pocket as is has no closure.
The pack is compatible with a 1.5L hydration bladder and comes with a magnet clip.
The pack comes in colors other than pink. In fact they sent me a blue one. And it has reflective materials/printing on front and back.
If you’d like to try it for yourself you can get it here (or probably your local running store).
Stay tuned for more reviews as I find my new running favorites. Next up the Topo Runventure 3 shoes.
Recently I’ve really been struggling with running it seems – not the actual act of but all my gear failing/no longer fitting properly. My pack ripped, most of my running bottoms don’t fit, my trail shoes just ripped my feet apart because they don’t fit right, and so on. So I’ve decided as I start my journey of finding new things I will share my reviews.
So to begin – really I should start with the Nathan VaporHowe2.0 4L but I’ll come back to that one.
For now, the Topo MT-3 trail/road combined surface shoe. (note I wear 1 full size larger in most Topo shoes than other brands)
Best For: Trail Running
Stack Height:25mm (heel) // 22mm (forefoot)
Heel to Toe Drop:3MM
Weight:8 oz (W7)
These have no rock plate and not too aggressive of a tread.
They are SUPER comfy! Definitely going to give them that. Even running fresh out of the box on beat up blistered feet, I was comfy. They are a lot more cushion than I’m used to on trails but not so much so I couldn’t feel the ground.
They use traditional laces. This is good and bad, I found the lace material to slip a little so over the course of my run my shoes got slightly looser. My heels slip around in these despite having used a heel lock lacing pattern – which I think is because the lacing didn’t remain tight.
About halfway through my run I realized my feet were on fire. It looked like the shoes were retaining my sweat but I wasn’t 100% sure. Afterall, my feet had been pretty hot when I put the shoes on in the first place. I decided I would go stand in the river for a moment – this would both cool my feet off and really give me a better sense of their breatheability.
They took a bit to get wet! Ok Yay they seem to be fairly water resitant. But once they were wet – they never really drained, AT ALL. So I wasn’t crazy that I felt like they were retaining my sweat -they were. I do think this actually would be nice in winter conditions where you don’t want snow to get your feet wet or the wind to make them cold – the rest of the year these are going to be pretty toasty shoes.
I also remember when I first put them on that the upper material seemed really loud and crinkly to me. I just thought it was annoying.
Overall, I think these would be great shoes in the winter. They are definitely comfy, but too hot and not breathable enough for the rest of the year.
I re-shared my last minute list from last year- but here’s one now that I have a toddler!
Base Layers!! Both mom and kids need them to stay warm during winter activities. They are also great for sleeping in on chilly summer nights. I love merino wool!
For mom I highly recommend the Kari Traa brand. They are made for women by women. The Rose set is their most popular and I love the pants! Just size up 1 size as these are thicker and don’t stretch like their others. I also have the Tikse bottoms which are thinner and paneled for when you are more active.
Wee man has 1 wool set by Simply Merino Kids and 1 polyester set by Odlo. I bought his current size in both and they fit well enough to wear now but should also last through next season too! If your kids hate tags just gently use a seam ripper to remove them and you are good to go!
And for proper wool care I highly recommend this wool wash by The Laundress!
SOCKS!! These will always be on my lists!
I still say Swiftwick for mom! This year they have their Vision FIVE socks in merino wool with some awesome winter designs! I’m totally rockin a pair and would love another! (wink wink) I get mine from my local running store RunnersRoostLakewood.com but they are available lots of places online too.
For wee man he needed warmer socks than just our standard what can we find at Target this year. @wasatchwildchild on IG recommended these by HowJoJo off Amazon. They are a wool blend, cheap enough to justify for a toddler, and keep wee man’s feet nice and toasty but not too sweaty. Only downside is they are a bit slippery with no grippers but he usually is wearing them with shoes.
Sunglasses! Well for mom at least (wee man never leaves his on)! Goodrs….
Not going to lie I used to HATE these….but they’ve grown on me. I have a pair from when the company very first started-they have been used as a teether, a baby toy, and have lots of scratches. The one thing I’ve always loved is the texture of the frames. I also keep my originals in my car as backups. I love that with them on I can still see my son in his car seat via the rear view mirror via the car seat mirror. Many other sunglasses block too much light for this. I also just got myself two more pairs! With their ever expanding collection of crazy colors and patterns I found one pair for night driving to cut the glare and one pair for indoor wear when I have a migraine. And then I found this cool pair that will be gifted to my Goodr lovin friend (I’m sure she knows who she is if she reads this but I couldn’t resist sharing because they match my socks above!). Of course I get these from my local running store – but they can also be found on their website Goodr.com.
Mittens – both my hands and wee man’s hands never seem to be warm….that is until I found these!!
Swany Toasters for mom. These have light gloves inside hefty mittens. You can unzip the mitten and get your whole hand out to use your fingers for fine things (zippers for one) and to use your phone. The touchscreen friendly finger tips REALLY DO WORK on these.
Polarin O.Pyret makes 100% merino wool mittens for babies and kids. They are double layered too. Wee man’s hands never get cold in these and they are super soft. Definitely use wool wash mentioned above. They will shrink on first wash but are true to size. If he wants to play in the snow or it’s going to be rainy – just put snow or rain mittens on top!
You can also always gift an REI Co-Op membership. It’s $20 ONE TIME and it’s good for life. This gives special access to sales, 365 day returns, and even dividends on full priced items!
Those are my top picks this year! Always will be more to come and many of these will always carry over year to year, so check out last year’s list too.
Socks! I love Swiftwick. They keep they feet dry better than any others I’ve ever tried. They have wool and non wool. My favorite are the Aspire in the 2 (https://amzn.to/2EjZKZg) height to keep debris out but not be too tall. The Hikers are my favorite wool ones.
Baby booties! I found these on Amazon for around $10 buy big so they last. Help keep little one’s feet warm (https://amzn.to/2rp6b4P)
Warm Hat! Carhart (https://amzn.to/2EiHUG5) makes great ones for the wee ones that stretch and are thick and warm. By far our favorite. For well I kinda like everything. Biggest thing is I want my ears covered so I tend to lean towards men’s or ones that I can unfold the fold up. I often just wear an ear band. I love shopping local and my favorites are all from Runner’s Roost Lakewood (https://runnersroostlakewood.com/).
Once upon a time I said I was going to write a book on overcoming excuses (particularly around living a healthy lifestyle). Well that never really happened. I did however write this mini chapter on the age old excuse of not having time, so I figured I’d share it with you.
Nobody is too busy; it’s just a matter of priorities. -Unknown
The age old excuse everyone uses at some point is “I don’t have time.”
The truth is everyone has time. We all have the same amount of time every day. We all get 24 hours or 1440 min or 86400 seconds each and every day. Weird to break it down isn’t it?!
Let’s say you sleep the recommended 8 hours every night. That still leaves 16 hours or 960 minutes or 57600 seconds of your day.
So when you say you don’t have time, you’re telling me that out of 57600 seconds you can’t find 1800 to set aside to workout out?? To take care of your body? You only get one, remember.
We all have time, it’s merely a matter of priority. You will always make time for what you feel is a priority. Let’s say you have a deadline coming up and you haven’t even started to work on the project. I’m guessing you suddenly have all the time you need to get it done just before the deadline? Am I wrong? No? I didn’t think so.
Among all the excuses I hear for why people don’t take care of their bodies, not having time is the most pathetic. Some of the most amazing athletes I know work just as many if not more hours at their day job than the average person. They also volunteer, eat, sleep, oh and that’s right – they take AMAZING care of their bodies.
Let’s take Clare Gallagher for example. Claire is an amazing young woman. She’s a world renowned ultra distance runner. Women’s Winner of the Leadville 100 Mile race in 2016. She’s also a tutor, an avid environmental activist, traveler, and just down right good ol’ Colorado Mountain girl. My point is she MAKES TIME. She tutors for a living and runs as a passion and to care for her body. It’s important to her so she makes it happen.
Remember that if you don’t take care of yourself you won’t be able to show up for the others that matter in your life.
So let’s break the day down further. I promise you still have time even with a job and community activities.
We’ve already determined sleep leaves us with 57600 seconds in our day. Let’s assume you work 8 hours a day. That will leave you with 28800 seconds. Commute time for many is about 2 hours a day: ok down to 21600 seconds. Time to get ready in the morning and time for dinner at night totals 3 hours: leaves 10800 seconds.
Did you read that?!
You still have 10800 seconds every work day left!
This isn’t even looking at weekends. All you really need to take care of your body is 1800-3600 seconds per day to workout! This would mean you still have 7200-9000 seconds every day to do whatever else it is you like to do. That’s a lot of time.
Alright you get it. You do have time. But how do you prioritize? How do you “make” the time (you that you already have)? How do you get over it?
First things first. You have to want to have time. No matter how much you may need it, I guarantee if you don’t want it it’s not going to happen. Let’s look back at that project. You may not really like what you’re doing for that project. It’s probably why you procrastinated in the first place. But if you don’t finish it on time you will lose your job. Therefore; you inherently want to finish so you don’t lose your job.
If you honestly don’t like working out and taking care of your body then look at the other reasons why you’re doing it. You want to live healthier because?? Because you want to see your children and grandchildren get married? You want to go on a cruise and be comfortable in that new bikini? You want go places you can’t go by car? Etc…Write these out. Put them on your wall. Remember that yogurt commercial where she hung her “Itsy bisty teeny weeny yellow polka dot bikini” on the wall until she fit in it? DO THAT!
Second, look at what you are doing. What are you doing during that time you could be using? Are you moping about how you don’t like the way you look and feel? I promise doing something about it will help more than moron about. Are you watching TV? Playing video games? Dinking around on Facebook? All that time could be used to take care of yourself!!! Heck there’s a lot of things you can do while still catching up on your favorite shows. Hop that dusty old elliptical for example. Or pre cut some veggies so they are easy to add to your next meal. Honestly there are lots of things that can be done while watching TV. Still watch live TV with commercials?? Every commercial break is now a mini workout. Tadaa! Multitasking at its finest. But seriously, do you NEED to be doing these things? Heck do you REALLY want to be spending hours on Facebook? Set your phone down, turn on some up music, and move your body!
Third: SCHEDULE IT! Yup, that’s right, put it on your calendar. Make your phone go off an hour ahead of time. It’s a mandatory meeting between you and your body. If you are a procrastinator there’s a couple options. Schedule it for first thing in the morning. Then it’s done, it’s out of the way of everything else and you don’t have to think about it the rest of the day. This is also a great way to get blood flowing and help you wake up on the morning. Another option is in the evening. Then it’s your last thing, your making it happen because the deadline is up, you are out of time so you have to fit it in. Downside is for many this can keep you up if it’s too close to bed. I recommend it be a couple hours before you plan to sleep. One thing I did in college to get through my long days was scheduled time right smack dab in the middle of the day. This helped break the day up and gave me a new burst of energy to go into my afternoon labs with.
It’s all a matter of making yourself and your health a priority. Priorities always get time preference. And remember: you only get one body and you can’t care for others if you don’t care for yourself first. It’s true when they say you can’t pour from an empty pitcher. So make yourself a priority and I promise you, you do have time to fill yourself up.