I Run For Me (…And Leadville)

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.

Want a running picture? Run with Sean – he’s guaranteed to take one! lol

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.

Belmar Running Club….2017??

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.

OUR MISSION:
SUPPORT THE NEEDS OF THE LEADVILLE & LAKE COUNTY COMMUNITY & BUILD A BETTER, BRIGHTER TOMORROW, WHILE RESPECTING OUR MINING HERITAGE.

CORE VALUES: 
The Leadville Trail 100 Legacy Foundation Core Values will inspire our decisions and guide our funding choices.
Education – we support partnerships that motivate Leadville Lake County youth to further themselves through educational opportunities.
Economic Vitality– we are committed to ensuring a thriving economy for our town, and value ideals that pursue economic success and prosperity.
Community – we support ideas and participate in initiatives with other Leadville Lake County partners, that benefit the greater good of the town.
Recreation – we value the benefits of recreation in promoting and encouraging a quality, healthy life for our Leadville Lake county community.
Our Legacy – we appreciate and value the mining history that got us here.   We understand it is an important part of the culture of the town and what makes Leadville unique.”

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:

  1. finish in 16 hours – the time needed for my 100 mile race that is still scheduled to happen in September
  2. finish in 14 hours – the standard cutoff time for Silver Rush
  3. finish in time for dinner – because food

Gear you’re guaranteed to see me in:

  • Rabbit clothing
  • Topo Athletic shoes
  • Swiftwick Socks
  • Suncloud Optics sunglasses
  • UltrAspire vest

If you’re local and want to come cheer me on I’d love to see you out there with cowbells!

Topo Runventure 3 Review

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.

Remember these?! Yea I loved them! I could get 1000+ miles per pair. I wish they would make them again.

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.

Specs

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).

My funky lacing to relieve pressure on my instep.

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.

My friend John’s new pair after their first 10 miles fresh out of the box.

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)!

The Western States 100 Mile Endurance Run (Originally Posted on AllWomenAllTrails.com)

I’m going to preface this with the fact that I am going to talk a LOT about different runners- especially one man very dear to my heart- but I promise you that this involves women (freaking scary amazing ones I might add) too!

Just WOW. This was epic to be a part of. The Western States 100 Mile Endurance Run (aka – WSER) is an epic ultra distance trail run from Squaw Valley, CA to Auburn, CA that was started officially as a running race in 1977 following the horse race of the Trevis Cup Ride that began in 1955 – 100 Miles in 1 Day. The first woman, Pat Smythe ran in 1978 and finished in 29:34!! (more on history can be found at https://www.wser.org/how-it-all-began/)

This trail race is mostly single track with 18,000 feet of vertical gain and 23,000 feet of vertical decent. The weather varies year to year but often includes lows in the 30 (F) and highs in the 100 (F) with the lovely California humidity to add. Not to mention the forests are home to lovely plants like poison oak, muddy cold creeks, and often large patches of snow (this year included so much snow there were slight reroutes around it!). Oh and poles are NOT ALLOWED and the cut off for finishing is 30 hours!

To truly run 100 Miles in 1 day means in under 24 hours. And “No Sleep ‘till Auburn” applies to not only racers, but also to volunteers, family, crew, pacers (second half of race, racers may have 1 person at a time run with them and trade off at different aid stations) – and my wee man tried to apply this rule to himself too….

Needless to say it’s a long epic day for tons of people. Top runners in the WORLD toe the start line with everyone else. This year the Women’s Elite lineup was bigger than the men, including ladies like Clare Gallagher, Courtney Dauwalter, Camille Harron, Francesca Canepa, Kim Magnus, Camelia Mayfield, and many more. The race had 24% female starters making it the largest female ratio to date! (They have a goal of 50/50 ratio). So YAY ladies for getting out there.

369 racers are allowed to start. 319 finished in the 30 hour cutoff this year.

The man’s silver buckle for finishing in under 24 hours.

I got to be a part of this! It was amazing. If you’re a road runner think Boston Marathon but on trails and multiplied by 4. Everyone is out there! This year my man ran. I got to be a part of what we call crew or the people who meet the racers at different aid stations to help refill water, change so many and shoes, get food, give pep talks, deal with blisters and puke, etc. I also got to pace my man to the finish! This was amazing.


He left it all out there on the trails, finding many breaking points towards the end. He was in epic amazingly high spirits while the sun was up, even being a goof running like an airplane trying to cheer up our wee man at one aid station. Goal: just to finish. Estimated reality time: 27ish hours. Actual finish time: 23:24:09!!!!!!! He finished in 102nd place for 100.2 miles, earning some epic bling of a silver (yes real silver) handcrafted belt buckle and I got the privilege of taking him to the finish line!!

In the process I also got the opportunity to watch the winner run through (Jim Walmsley finishing in 14:08:29 breaking his OWN course record by over 21 min!), I also saw Camille (pulled out just after the halfway point due to injuries acting up), Clare (1st female – will share more), Courtney (was epic to watch her run and was in first until something happened with her hip and had to pull out), and (for my CO folks) Dave Makey!

Dave has been an ultra runner for years. A few years back he was in an incident on the trails that left him trapped under a boulder for several hours, eventually leading to the amputation of 1 leg. While he didn’t make it to the finish line this year, he continues to be an inspiration to keep preserving for many of us out their on the trails.

Now let’s talk about Clare Gallagher AND Heather McGrath; the first and last female finishers.

Clare is another CO gal. She caught the ultra running world by surprise a few years back winning the Leadville 100 Mile Race Across the Sky (with frosting in hand lol). This year she finished WSER in 17:23:25 as 1st female and 17th overall. She used her winning speech as a time to bring awareness to many things including climate changes and how it affects both the local area, our trails across the country, and places she recently endeavored like the Arctic. I’m still waiting to see the full interview from her win and I haven’t heard back yet if she brought any frosting.

Heather McGrath – a name I’d never heard before. The last official female finisher with a time of 29:59:01. While I don’t know much about her I do know this: she is a badass. She finished WSER! 100 miles on foot. She advocates for our land and trails.

If you’ve ever considered ultra racing or even trail running, I promise you ladies will find an amazing tribe of strong encouraging women who will never cease to amaze you. It also opens up many opportunities to raise awareness for causes and run land you’d otherwise be prohibited from crossing. And only in ultra and trail racing do you get to participate with the best in the world!!

PS: More on WSER can be found on my IG and Facebook as well as WSER.org