The Need to Run

Originally Posted on AllWomenAllTrails.com

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.

Me getting ready to run at the Crested Butte Ultra 105k back in September

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.

The mountains are calling. 

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.

Even in winter I long to be on the trails.

Last Minute Hiking Mom and Toddler Wish List (2019)

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.

My favorite socks! The Aspire’s are my favorite for running! I use the Zero height for working out and road running and the One or Two height for trails. And I’m just in love with these fun winter Vision’s!

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.

Bailing on Plans A-Z Part 1 of 3 (Originally Posted on AllWomenAllTrails.com)

90 miles. 5-6 nights/6-7 days. Just me, my wee man, and the dog.

78lb pack: 15-20lbs heavier than goal weight. 22 lb child. Me: 136lbs.

Ambitious. Badass. I was ready – more than ready – mentally.

Playing at a water crossing.

Leading up to the trip I had pneumonia. While I recovered fully and was cleared for the trip it stalled training a good few weeks.

Needless to say things did not go to plan. By 1.5 miles I was needing to stop, drop water weight, shift some things around, and change how I was carrying my son.

Exploring at a “camp” while waiting for help to pack out.

By mile 2.something I was replanting in my head my whole trip. I knew for day one I had to get to the river so I had a water source. But from there I could make base camp, hang out a day or two then continue with a shorter route, or even head back home – I just had to have water to make it the night.

Somewhere in there my son wanted to walk so I ditched my poles and his carrier and packed them up. It was actually easier for me to go slower and give him my hands to hold. He walked a good 2 miles of technical terrain with my help. I was so proud.

The gear …. lots of it.

But that’s his max. He can’t do more than that. He started walking like he was drunk. He was so tired. I tried to carry him some more but realized I really couldn’t do that anymore. I was somewhere between 3.5 and 4 miles in. Still 4-5 miles from camp by the river. There was NO WAY. I made the hardest call I’ve ever made – for someone to come help me pack back out because I couldn’t make it back to the car and I didn’t have enough water to stay put.

I cried. I’ve never made that call.

Riley pup with his gear.

I failed, was all I could think. Not the weather turned. Not my son wasn’t handling it. Me, I, I failed. Or so I thought.

It was the right decision. My man ran in and helped me pack out. Believe it or not this was our first real hike as a family! My man and I haven’t hiked together since one of our first dates! And you know what – it was awesome.

Colorado love.

The ground fell out from underneath me at one point and I landed hard on one leg. I remember ahead of the trip people kept asking, well, what if she falls with her kid – well what if? Quite simply I land in whatever way necessary to protect my son. I’ve fallen 4 times with him at this point and he’s never touched the ground. Some call it Mother’s instinct but I call it practice (martial arts is the best way to learn how to fall safely!).

Anyways, I had literally spent all morning concocting alternative plans. Options that would be more doable, but in the end I just couldn’t. That just sucked.

My leg after the fall (and post ‘shower’).

Layouts and More Layouts (Originally Posted on AllWomenAllTrails.com)

Leaving for CA and then turning around 5 days after we get back to CO we leave for the backpacking trip. 

Yikes.

A lot of the clothes and daily items I need to take backpacking I also need to take to CA. So what do I do about being prepared?

I layout – take a picture- and put it away. LOL This seems so wrong.

But here are some of the pictures:

The start of gear layouts. The guest bedroom is currently my hidden layout area safe from dogs and kid.
Prepping first aid kits including for the pup.
Packing meds. All prescriptions will be carried in their labeled prescription bottles. This helps prevent incidents if there’s an emergency with wrong dosing and makes sure that if you have a controlled substance of any sort prescribed that you won’t get in trouble for carrying them unlabeled or with intent to distribute. That would end the trip horribly.
Little man’s clothes. Everything for sun to snow.
SO MUCH FOOD! When packing for yourself plus a toddler there is so much food to pack. More food than gear! Seven days of 2 very hungry people’s food. This isn’t even all of it. Oh and don’t forget I still have to pack dog food.
My son MUST have Goldfish. I was trying to figure out how to pack enough and not squish them, so in a giant blender bottle whose lid has a loop I can use to clip on, I piled up the Goldfish. Might do this for one of his other favorites too.
My clothing layout – with a wee bit too much Salomon running clothes to get me through!!
Lost Creek engulfed in clouds.

Oh and also, why am I packing winter clothes?! Well you see this? This is a photo of the wilderness area we’ll be in completely engulfed in clouds, while my friend joked about needing to be prepared for a hurricane. Oh yea and mid June here in CO and mountain areas got 10-20” of SNOW!! Therefore, we shall be prepared for everything from sun to snow! This is weather in Colorado, extraordinarily crazy and beautiful.

Facing Fears… Again (Originally Posted on AllWomenAllTrails.com)

Anyone who knows anything about fires, especially in the Rocky Mountains, has heard of the Hayman Fire. 

June 8, 2002 the fire was started due to negligence by none other than a ranger. It burned 138,114 acres and there were 6 fatalities, making it the largest fire in Colorado’s history still to this day. I was 8 years old and remember it vividly. Many of my friends were evacuated. My family built houses extremely near the fire. Even “in town” the smoke dropped ashes.

Burn severity map of the Hayman Fire of 2002.

I’ve visited the area several times of the course of the last 17 years since the fire blazed. The last time I multi-day tripped through Lost Creek Wilderness I was in part of the burn area. It’s the driest area of an entire wilderness that is mostly full of water. Last time I was there was 14 years after the fire and the new trees were only 3-4 feet tall. 

Take that in for a minute. At elevation, AFTER FOURTEEN YEARS, trees are only a few feet tall!

The looming storm. This photo was taken around 9:30 am which is extremely early in the day for storms to roll in in Colorado.

The burn area is still full of many of the trees that burned. Many have fallen in storms, many remain standing dead as lighting rods. The only other thing in the area is large granite formations. They are gorgeous, don’t get me wrong, but also spooky.

You see big cats live there. One of two mountain creatures I’m truly afraid of. The last time I was in the area there was cat scat on the trail, fresh, and a looming storm. It was dead silent. No birds chirping, no squirrels bickering, no hawks screeching…NOTHING…not even a breeze. I found myself in the midst of what became a massive thunderstorm and the only place for shelter is where the cats live…and I knew for sure one was in the area- probably watching me.

The burn area after 14 years (2016)

Thinking about it gives me the creeps. This year I will be spending a lot more time in the burn area. At lower elevations you almost can’t see the remnants of the fire and it’s not really that big a deal. At higher elevation it’s definitely still noticeable and I’ll have my precious wee man with me.

So as creepy as it was, I keep hoping those days will be sunny and full chirping birds and bickering squirrels and go on knowing I will just have to face that fear…again.

The storm rolled in within 20 minutes, bringing lightning, thunder, and over 5 hours of torrential downpour.

Carbon Valley Half Marathon- The After

Words. Sometimes there are none; sometimes there’s too many

I just ran the Carbon Valley Half Marathon for Autism while pushing my wee man. I carried with me names of others with autism for each mile. And your damn right I finished.

Honestly I can’t believe I didn’t cry when I crossed that finish line – probably because I was so pissed to be finishing with 2 flat tires (aka unable to sprint to finish). This race meant SO much to me!!

It was my:

-First official half Marathon

-First stroller race

-First race since son was born

-First race since Leadville DNF (2016)

-Longest run since son born

-Longest stroller run

That’s a lot! A lot to be grateful for. 13.1 miles 2 hours 20 minutes and 13 seconds of grateful. The course is relatively flat: 11 miles of steady climbing and 2 miles to finish. The course is over 50% “smooth” dirt and some pavement.

I went in with a ‘goal’ of averaging about a 10 min mile

Miles run for:

.1 Kyle (my Son’s Father and my Boyfriend)

13 Myself

12 Edan

11 Hunter

10 Annabeth

9 Tedy

8 Silas

7 Atlas

6 Avi

5 Bayla

4 Jack

3 Tyler Jr

2 Jasper

1 Edan (to help me start and finish!)

I am so grateful to have been able to participate in this event. It was so special to me and to share with friends whose hearts it is also very close too. For some awesome shorts of the race and I go check out their YouTube from after the races. https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=1kI-gU30PgU&feature=youtu.be

SCORE! Budget Saving Deals (Originally Posted on AllWomenAllTrails.com)

Disclaimer: No affiliation with any links provided in the post. No commission being earned.

Backpacking, hiking, running … supposed to be the ‘cheaper’ sports. Just lace up and go. But anyone who’s done even the slightest bit of research knows that it still ain’t cheap.

So with a major trip coming up that requires a major purchase (a pack in my case) how do you save money?

First off, not everything needs to be new. Check out Craigslist and the Facebook marketplace for local used stuff. I recommend staying away from used shoes unless they are a pair someone tried once and just didn’t work for them. If you are an REI member they have Gear Swaps once a year and often have killer deals in their garage sales (now available online too YAY). In CO I also recommend checking out local small gear shops. We have tons scattered around the state. And a newer up and coming bigger store is Feral Mountain Co. (https://feralmountainco.com/)

For new stuff: The biggest money saving thing is to remember that 90% of the time last year’s model is just as good (sometimes better) than this year’s new model. Closeouts can pretty much always be found 25-50% off their original retail price. For example, I’m getting last year’s model of the Deva 80 pack by Gregory. This year’s model retails at $349.99. I’m getting last year’s model for $179.99!! That’s $170 saved just for getting last year’s model.

Previous models are regularly found on discount sites. They often carry clothes and footwear seriously discounted as well. All have reasonable return policies too for when it doesn’t work out. These are my favorite to check out and all run their own sales and coupons too. (No affiliation with any, just sharing)

Sierra.com

Backcountry.com

TheClymb.com

MooseJaw.com

For the newest and latest REI often has great sales, especially around Memorial Day and Fourth of July. Plus their members discount days, 1 year return policy for members, and the opportunity to earn dividends (aka money back), makes them a great choice. Also, most major gear companies run their own spectacular sales. If you can wait for major sale weekends I suggest you do and shop around.

If you’re a blogger with major audience or a professional in the outdoor/fitness industry in some capacity, chances are you probably qualify for some pro discounts too.

Going the distance…with an infant?! (Originally posted on AllWomenAllTrails.com)

I often get double checked on my distance when sharing my adventures with my son.

With my upcoming backpacking trip people keep asking how far I think we’ll go each day. And then their jaw drops to the floor when I answer 12-15 miles.

Most people don’t realize my background. I’m an ultra distance trail runner. That means I run further than 26.2 miles at a time on mountain trails. I’ve been doing this for years.

Me running in the Leadville Silver Rush 50 mile run

My last multi day trip was 155 miles in 3 days. The longest day was 55 miles. That’s all carrying about 30lbs dry weight (not counting water weight). So when you compare that to miles carrying weight and sometimes a kid that’s not too bad.

We’ve also been hiking together since he was a few months old; working on building my strength carrying him and his tolerance to altitude. So far our longest single day hike (leaving after breakfast and being home before dinner) was 12.34 miles and gaining about 2300 feet in elevation.

First overnight with the wee man. This pack doesn’t fit right and made for some rough times.

So when I say for a multi day trip I think we can do 12-15 miles each day, I’m not joking. If you break it down. 12 miles per day at 2 miles per hour (30 min mile) is only 6 hours of hiking. That means more than enough time for lunch and breaks and naps and never rushing out of camp in the morning. We’ll be going in July when sunrise is before 6 am and sunset isn’t until well after 8 pm. This leaves more than enough time to have daylight for all activities without setting up or taking down camp in the dark.

Another consideration is that my last multi day trip was in the same area. We’ve also done lots of day hikes in the area. I’ve hiked every single mile of trail in the wilderness area we are going. So while I don’t have our exact route planned yet, I know the area very well.

I know many people think I’m crazy and that’s ok! It’s crazy fun and I love it.

Memories from my last multi day trip in the area we’re going. This was about 5 pm after a day of torrential rains.

First overnight with wee man. So peaceful once I got him down to sleep. We share a double sleeping bag.

Pre-Planning and the Darn Budgeting (Originally posted on allwomenalltrails.com)

REI…

Anyone with even the slightest sense of adventure could easily spend thousands of dollars here. Plus they work as a Co-Op and advocate and work towards saving our precious environment. What’s not to like?!

Our family probably only visits two other stores more frequently- the grocery store and local running store (Runner’s Roost Lakewood).

They have just about everything adventures require.

The iconic flagship REI in Denver, CO

So to the point. Why was I looking at summer adventure gear when we were expecting a good 9-12” of snow the next day?

Simple- I have a super epic trip planned with my wee man! This summer is crazy, with ultra distance trail races, remodeling the kitchen, family time, and birthdays. But the big trip is just going to be me and my mini me (and probably the dog).

Kitchen remodels aren’t exactly a safe environment for a 23 month old who gets into everything. And construction and toddler sleep schedules don’t mesh. So I figured it would be better to go backpacking!!

We hiked all summer last year. This year he’s walking and running! It will be so much fun. But also requires quite some planning.

It’s not like a 23 month old can carry his own stuff….so I will carry it ALL…plus him a good majority of the time.

I’ll also need extra gear I wouldn’t typically carry by myself (I’m a minimalist when it comes to gear). So to REI we went to start figuring out what I need that I don’t have and planning a budget (eek money).

On our way up to Shelf Lake. Little man’s highest elevation hike so far at just over 12,000ft

Things I need:

A new pack. Mine isn’t big enough to carry everything and my larger one doesn’t fit right anyways. What am I thinking: Gregory Deva 80L (which is actually 76L)

A ‘kitchen sink’ aka a collapsible wash bucket. Why?! Diapers!! I decided it would be much simpler to use cloth instead of trying to pack ALL the disposables a trip would require. No one wants to pack those out anyways. With cloth we wash and sun dry (July = nice and toasty) and use again. This means less space taken up by diapers and no carrying a ton of dirty ones.

Pack towel!! There’s a ton of water where we’re going. I assume there will be water splashing times that leaves me a soaked child.

Left: Break time! Right: No one wants to carry dirty diapers. 

Maybe need:

Charging system for phone. Normally I don’t carry my phone but multi-day trip with the wee man means bring it just in case. Plus -WATERPROOF CAMERA!! (There is actually cell service on and off through the area we’re going)

Gear straps. Might need to strap things on to outside of pack. Definitely want some sort of ‘clothesline’ for diaper drying on the go.

Soft bottles. My dogs chewed up my favorite ones. I prefer these as the weigh almost nothing and can be stuffed anywhere in the pack.

A little pack for the little man. This will be decided last minute depending on how much he’s hiking on his own during day trips. This will be a 100% just for fun item because kids always love to do it themselves.

When you take into consideration the upcoming member sales and Memorial Day sales you can estimate this to cost around $300-$500. This doesn’t include any food costs.

So pre-planning is done!! Next up – logistics of the where.

This is why we pre-plan and plan. Sometimes it just sucks and you need to be ready.

Slow Down

It’s ok to slow down.

It’s ok to slow down, especially when you’re feeling off. Hormone shifts can do that. So can lack of sleep. Or maybe you just didn’t eat enough.

You don’t necessarily feel bad- just not great.

It’s ok to slow down. We’re runners and that tends to be hard. But it’s ok to slow down.

So today I made peace with the treadmill. I want to start logging more miles but I’m still feeling off. So slow and easy – very easy.

Slowing it down can be helpful. It helps you make sure you’re breathing. Gives you time to feel every inch of your body. Check in with yourself about how it’s really feeling. Allows you to focus on form. All of these things lead to being a stronger less injury prone runner.

So again I repeat : it’s ok to slow down

Don’t compare your slow. My slow may be different than your slow. That’s ok. Focus on your own slow. Also know that today’s slow may be different than tomorrow’s. Again that’s ok.

Want some ‘sciency’ reasons to run slow. Check out The Happy Runner by David and Megan Roche.