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.

Not Admitted Doesn’t Equal No Hospital Time…And other coming home struggles

Last time we were admitted I meant to share about the aftermath….but I never did because well – life.

Time in the hospital always messes up life. The follow ups, the returning to “normal”, the figuring out where you left off, and the determining if “normal” will even exist again. (Ok it will eventually!)

This time around after we came home I had to coordinate 8 follow up appointments all as soon as possible. But it was Thanksgiving the next week. The way this worked out was that we went home, took a week off from being in the hospital and then ended up back 4 out of 5 days following the holidays!

We had to of course follow up with our regular pediatrician like always after being in the hospital (managed this before holiday at least ). We had to follow up with neurosurgery to figure out a plan of next steps. We had to follow up with urology to make sure we weren’t missing some possible problems the troubles in his spine could cause. This also meant we had to get more imaging done. Then there were some already scheduled follow ups that became even more important, including pulmonology and developmental pediatrics. We had to see a new department to help us continue to coordinate care between so many specialties in hospital called the special care team. And of course had to follow up with therapy (1 appointment at the hospital and several at home).

Children’s Hospital is very good at having different forms of entertainment. Here we got o see the 101st Army Band with the Colorado National Guard perform Christmas music! It was his first live music exposure and they were great about sharing their stories and engaging in his fascination for shiny things (the instruments) before their performance.

If you only look at the logistics of what happens after coming home it’s really not that bad. But being in the hospital messes up everyone’s sleep and eating schedule. The dogs were antsy from us being gone and therefore frequently in our faces. Wee man is traumatized and scared to death of sleeping – I believe because of the MRI’s where he had to wake with stranger and no parents. I am exhausted and overwhelmed as I imagine his dad is too. We all wish this was just some bad dream we’d wake up from.

After going through everything my poor wee man needs surgery. It’s big and scary to say your two year old needs surgery on his spinal cord. But I’m doing my best to remember that if all works out the way we hope it will alleviate a ton of pain; which in turn hopefully improve sleep and many other areas of life we struggle. A good majority of this could all be related to these complications with his spinal chord.

Making the best of the holidays.

Dealing with this around holidays is tricky. I literally forget that a holiday is coming. Plus I’m trying to catch up on my own health and appointments I had to reschedule while we were in the hospital. And of course wee man got a lovely cold and ear infection to top things off. We have to do everything we can to keep his lungs healthy, not just for his general health but also so can actually have the surgery he needs.

So the next month will be a crazy bit of chaos … and then hopefully we’ll return to that “normal” – maybe even improved in areas (sleep I hope). And then we’ll be back in the mountains and off adventuring as much as we can (big plans for the next year ;)). But if you think we’ve vanished, we’re just dealing with this chaos- and yea we probably need help with something (see blog My Guide to Helping Families with a Child in the Hospital).

How to Spot an Ultra Runner (Originally Posted on AllWomenAllTrails.com)

Ok, so you’re on a backpacking trip with the plan to cover a 24-26 mile loop over the course of 2 nights/3 days and all the sudden some lady with absolutely no gear comes passing you and you’re at mile 15. What the heck?!

My dear friends let me introduce to you an Ultra Runner!

My man ‘pacing’ our friend up Hope Pass during the Leadville Trail 100 Mile Run.

First off what is an Ultra Runner?

We are the crazy people who run distances farther than 26.2 miles (marathon). We tend to run that distance as our weekly (YES WEEKLY) long run. So when you’re on the trails here are some tips to know you’ve spotted one such rare beast called an Ultra Runner.

1: We are only wearing trail running shoes, shorts and a shirt (maybe) and sometimes a hat or sunglasses.

2: Our gear consists of as little as nothing, whatever fits in those tiny ass running short pockets, maybe a handheld bottle with a small pouch that doesn’t even fit most phones, or a hip belt or pack UP TO 12L. And my friends that’s a big ass pack. Oh and we may or may not have poles with us- but I can guarantee you that our pair weighs much less than one of yours – this also means we’ve been known to be stupid enough to not have enough with us – so we love you when you save our asses by offering your extra food or water!

Sometimes our “gear” is hilarious and only has a small purpose….we carry it anyways…. like said stuffed fish.

3: We are running…..out in the middle of nowhere, up that crazy mountain, through that big river (ok sometimes we might power hike, walk, or even crawl…but we gotta get home. Remember – we don’t have sleeping gear!)

4: We are miles into our day before you’ve even taken down camp – and that extra cup of coffee you brewed- we’d love to chat for a minute and help it not go to waste.

My dear friend of https://lightningpickles.wordpress.com/ running across our CO Rockies …. Damn, that view!! 

5: We eat WHILE we move – but hey, if you invite us to sit with you for lunch and we have time we probably will!! Because SITTING!!

6: Your 26 mile multi-day backpacking loop is our long training run – PLEASE keep sharing your trips! We read these to plan accordingly and they can save our lives- especially when you talk about where water is available!!

Because this is fun to run through too.

7: We are probably covered in mud or trail dust – no we usually aren’t really THAT tan.

8: We have a watch, but not just any watch. It’s a fancy GPS mile recording, heart rate tracking, Strava linking, performance checking, backtracking fancy ass watch (they make really awesome ones that are great for any type of back country trips!)

And sometimes we hike…. 9: When we do backpacking trips we cover more ground than most and start as soon as it’s light, they are just power hiking training trips – simply because we honestly don’t know how to slow down or not get up and going (example: backpacking with my 23 mo old this coming summer we plan to cover 90 miles or 14 miles per day on average). 10: You’re on a multi day trip and see us on two different days but we had dinner at home and slept in bed in between and still covered the same miles you did – while I love my bed I am jealous you get to sleep under the stars – it’s just really hard to run and carry sleeping gear. Don’t be intimidated. Sometimes a chatty walk break about craziness is exactly the boost we need to make it home. So flag us down, wave, say hello, help take that crazy picture (because it’s not real if it isn’t documented right?) and know we love these trails just as much as you.

Me in the Leadville Silver Rush 50 Mile Run….ALL SMILES

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.

The Bell and Bowl: Tips from a physical therapist

I want to take some time to talk about posture, specifically in regards to the pelvis and ribs.

I also want to note how scary it is to share pictures of myself. So yes these are me. No they aren’t photoshopped. No I don’t have a perfect flat stomach. Yes I have scars. But it’s real…and also shows how much posture can change how you look.

While this posture is crucial for running and I’ll mostly be talking about it in regards to that, it’s also important to everyday life.

The way my physical therapist put it is:

Think of the pelvis as a bowl and the rib cage as a bell. When properly aligned the bell and the bowl line up smoothly. When misaligned, more often than not the bell sticks forward and up from the bowl.

Ok great so how do I fix it?

Think about first lining up the bowl. Don’t let your hips tip forward. Use your gluten (your butt) to pull hips back and slightly down.

Then the bell. Draw your belly button back towards your spine and let the bottom of your ribs come down with it.

When running, don’t over puff out your chest. Your back should remain relatively straight. The forward lean of your upper body should be the same angle of lean as your lower legs.

For me I find when I get ready to pick up pace I tend to lift up with my chest. What I’m working on doing instead is to imagine lifting forward while maintaining the bell and the bowl alignment.

Having the image of the bowl and the bell is the best visual cue for this posture I’ve ever had.

Image courtesy mcmillanrunning.com Thanks for the best visual while moving

To work on it becoming my regular posture I start every core exercise I do by making sure I’m lined up. Then when I’m doing my exercises they are being done in the right posture; therefore strengthening the correct way.

It takes practice. Tons of it. And when you’re tired you’ll revert to bad posture. The more you work on it the more it becomes your natural posture. So keep working on it.

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.

Biryani aka Yummy Indian Goodness

Since y’all asked here’s my recipe real fancy style 😂

Recipe:

Sauté veggies (chopped small) of choice – I used zucchini, yellow squash, carrot, onion, and orange bell pepper this time – and nuts (cashews or peanuts 1/4 cup to every 2 cups veggies) and raisins (1/4 cup to every 2 cups veggies) in olive oil with curry (2 tbs oil and at least 2 tbs curry per every 2 cups veggies)

Separately cook white rice to sticky (basmati rice works great but any white will work) 2 cups per every 2 cups veggies

Separately cook meat of choice (optional) here I have 1.5 lbs chicken thighs to about 8 cups veggies

Mix all up and eat

Can drizzle plain yogurt on top if desired