We are being robbed

There are many things that I absolutely love about living in Utah. Having the opportunity to run in the Wasatch is not lost on me at all. And to top it off, after living here for about a year now (that was fast), I have made some good friends that make Utah a fun place to be.

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Despite loving my home, sometimes it can be hard to live in a state with such blatant disregard for environmental conservation. I feel like I am constantly protesting some legislature and I am always getting emails from the Sierra Club about new problems. It’s depressing.  Even though this has little to do with running, I still think you should know what the Utah (and national) government has in store for this place. Keep in mind, this doesn’t just affect me. Much of the land in Utah is federal and protected by either the National Park Service or the Bureau of Land Management. This land is your land too.

The Fight for Bears Ears and Grand Staircase Escalante National Monuments

National Monuments, much like National Parks, are managed by the Department of the Interior. Often National Parks start out as National Monuments, which generally have more minimal management and staff and less stringent rules about what can be done within the area. While a National Park may not allow grazing or hunting, often times National Monuments do. New National Monuments can be made through the Antiquities Act (started by Theodore Roosevelt) that allows a sitting president to declare federal land a new monument without the approval of congress. Many of our past presidents have done this, including Barack Obama, who declared the controversial Bears Ears National Monument in southeast Utah.

Utah has the Mighty Five National Parks (Zion, Bryce, Capitol Reef, Canyonlands, and Arches) but also seven National Monuments and two National Recreation Areas, all of which are managed by the Department of the Interior. The National Parks alone amount for an estimated $1.7 billion in the state of Utah. We are a state that specializes in outdoor recreation and ecotourism.

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Despite the obvious economic benefit of Utah’s parks, the state and the federal government are fighting to reduce two of our largest National Monuments. On December 4, President Trump rescinded 85% of Bears Ears National Monument and over 50% of Grand Staircase Escalante National Monument in a proclamation that undid years of environmental progress. It is currently being fought in a legal battle between the Federal Government versus Patagonia (the retailer), REI, and the Bears Ears Inter-Tribal Coalition (Hopi, Ute, Ute Mountain Ute, Navajo Nation, and Zuni Tribes). As of last week, leases for drilling became available for land within the previous boundaries of Bears Ears and Grand Staircase.

This fight should be important to us all. The federal government and the state of Utah stole land from every American and have shown no respect or regards for the wants and needs of Native peoples. Even if you have no plans to ever visit these places, this land has been taken time and time again from Natives, despite the many archeological sites within the monuments of ancient pueblans and tribes. When left without management from the Department of the Interior, Bears Ears National Monument is subjected to grave robbing of native sites, and now is open for drilling.

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Frank and I went to Bears Ears a few months back. What we found is hard to put into words. We went on hikes with towering cliffs, upon which were small shelters high up where I imagined no human could get to. Everywhere we went went we found the remnants of ancient cultures. It was a silent place, but it was as if we could still hear the people who once walked this land.

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I’ve also been to Grand Staircase Escalante National Monument, which is covered with slots so tiny, we could barely fit. These places are unique and special and worth preserving. Each of these photos were taking within the bounds of these precious monuments and these scenes are not hard to find, you just need to go for a walk (or a run).

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So, here I ask for help. Contact your local legislators about this and tell them that you do not support Trump’s overreach on our lands. Donate to the Native American Rights Fund. Donate to the Sierra Club. They are making a huge difference in this fight. This is not my fight or Utah’s fight. This is everyone’s fight.

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A skipped run but a good night

Tuesdays are usually a pretty good day for me to get a good run on trails in. I start work at 6:00 am, so I get out of the clinic pretty early. Generally, I like to hit the trail right after work, but this week I was just too exhausted. The toll of waking up at 4:30 am and upping my mileage is catching up with me. I decided to head home to eat and found myself falling asleep on the couch. I was sore and just not really feeling it, so I decided to just skip my run.

I’ve always been a bit of an injury prone runner, so I try to listen to my body and stop before injury starts. When I’m tired or overworked, I don’t get too bent out of shape over skipping a run here or there. Although today made sense for a nice run in the mountains, it simply was not the right thing for my body. If I lack the motivation to get out the door, I try to take that as a sign that maybe I’m a little overtrained or that I need a rest day. Today was definitely one of those days.

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Elly and I had some much needed cuddle time.

Instead, Frank and I used our new projector to watch Planet Earth II. We don’t have a TV and have always walked movies on the computer. However, we thought it would be nice to get a projector and watch movies and shows on the wall. Turns out it works great! Even Elly found watching movies on the big screen to be quite an improvement.

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Elly is very interested in the animals of the jungles of Brazil.

Frank and I are pretty big nerds about our TV watching. We’re in the middle of The West by Ken Burns right now. It’s a series of documentaries about American colonization and immigration to the west. It’s a pretty slow show, but I’m always excited to hear about Utah and how Salt Lake City came to be. So far Brigham Young and his followers have only been mentioned once, but I expect that there will be a whole episode about the Mormon pioneers. Utah has a rather fascinating (and brutal) history.

After watching Netflix on our new projector, I did some photo editing and read a bit before heading to bed. I’ve been in the middle of a book about the reintroduction of wolves to Yellowstone National Park. It’s a fascinating story of management and biology and I feel like I’ve gotten a much better appreciation for the hard work the Department of the Interior has put into keeping our parks as pristine as possible. If you’re interested here is the link to the book. And yes, I am very obsessed with National Parks and the West.

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I took this shot last weekend just after a storm passed through the mountains.

Despite a skipped workout, I still had a good night. I have 8 miles on trail up for tomorrow and hopefully my legs will be feeling much more up for the job.

Do you ever skip workouts/runs because you are tired or overtrained? What shows and books are you into right now? Have you ever sat through a Ken Burns documentary? 

2018 is the Year of Ultra!!

It has been a while… Almost 6 months actually.

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Since you last heard from me, a lot has happened. I ran the St. George Marathon with a 15 minute negative split and a 10 minute PR and I ran the Antelope Island 50K and came in 7th for women. It was a good year for racing, but not always a good year for running. I was hurt on and off and went through PT for both Piriformis Syndrome and my right ankle. It made me inconsistent and although I ran PRs and raced well, I certainly didn’t live up to my potential.

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I’m hoping that this year will be different. I have a lot of plans and I’m ready for some really really big things. Actually, one super big thing. After years of talking about getting my name in the Western States Lottery, my goal for 2018 is to actually do it. This means I have some serious training to do and a lot of mountains to run up. I am also still absolutely petrified of the distance. With a few other races before the big one, I am hoping that I’ll toe the line of the Never Summer 100K without too much fear.

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These days, I’ve become less of a road runner and more of a mountain runner. I spend my runs trying to get 2000+ feet of vertical gain and I do a lot of power hiking. I still sometimes do tempo runs and track workouts, but my goals have changed a lot. The track doesn’t get you ready for 13,000 feet of gain in a single race… only mountains can do that. Luckily for me, living in Salt Lake City, I have an abundance of mountains.

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I have 5 races on my calendar for 2018 and I’ll blog as I train for them.

Antelope Island 50K – March 24
Salt Lake City Marathon – April 21
Squaw Peak 50-miler – June 2
Never Summer 100K – July 28
St. George Marathon – Oct 6

Join me as I train, race, hike, and get myself ready to run 64.2 miles in one day. It’s going to be a journey for sure!

Also, Elly is doing great, too! She’s not quite as excited for my ultramarathons. It means less cuddle time.

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Do you have any big goals? What running goals scare you the most?

Weekend Adventures in Arches NP

Happy Monday everyone! I hope you had a great weekend. Here’s what Frank and I were up to.

Friday after work, we picked up a friend of ours (yes, we made a friend in Salt Lake City!) and drove down to Moab for a few canyons and a science march. We spent the night camping and woke up at 5:30 for an early start in Arches National Park.

By about 9:30 am, the crowds in Arches are pretty wild, so we made it to the trailhead at 7:00 and hiked into a beautiful canyon called U-Turn.

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U-turn is a pretty nice beginner canyon with a 95-foot repel at the end.

Since Frank works as an ecologist, after the canyon we made sure to go to a science march in Moab. Despite the very small population size, there were over 200 people in attendance. We grabbed a few signs showing our support for Bear Ears National Monument and for land conservation. It was great to see so many people in support of science and conservation.

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After the march (and lunch), we hit up an incredibly beautiful canyon called Medieval Chamber. This canyon had all of the best things Utah has to offer, slots, and arches. The end had us repelling next to a giant arch, with a rather big audience at the bottom.

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The awesome 100-ft repel between the canyon walls and Morning Star Arch
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My audience as I came down the repel… pretty weird.

After the long trek back to the car, we watched the sunset at Dead Horse Point and ate some tacos. Pretty much a perfect end to a perfect day.

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Areli working on some dinner.
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Frank and I at the Dead Horse Point Overlook

The next morning we got up at a more reasonable 7:00 am and quickly packed up to get back into Arches NP for one more canyon.

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Frank had some pretty great morning hair.

Elephant Butte is the highest point in the park, but in order to summit, you need to repel down 100 ft into a canyon that leads to the summit. It’s a fantastic route and definitely had some pretty epic photo ops.

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Coming down the 100-ft repel into the canyon leading to the summit.
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Frank on the last repel down Elephant Butte.

After Elephant Butte, we hopped on the road and made it back to SLC early enough for me to go for an easy 5-mile run.

Next weekend I’ll be back in Moab for some more canyons and some climbing. I feel like I basically live in Moab!

How was your weekend? Have you visited any National Parks lately? What is the closest one to you?

Friday Five: My Favorite National Parks

This week’s Friday Five is Five Favorites. Since I love being outdoors so much, I decided to list out my five favorite National Parks. So far, I have been to 19 of them and I’m gonna go ahead and list the 5 best! Thanks to Mar on the Run, Eat Pray Run, and You Signed up for What?! for hosting the linkup.

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  1. Glacier National Park

This one obviously had to make first on the list. Frank and I got married at Glacier a little over 3 years ago, where we had our closest friends and family with us to celebrate the wonderful day. The park is more than magical. It teems with wildlife and beautiful flowers. Every direction you look is a more fantastic view than the last. There are tons of day and overnight hikes around the park, and there are even trails that are accessible to people with injuries or are handicapped.

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Our wedding was pretty small, but it really was such an amazing experience.
  1. Canyonlands National Park

Recently Frank and I took a trip out to Moab, Utah and we spent a good amount of time in Canyonlands. Although Arches National Park is more popular for that region, Canyonlands offers trails that are longer and with way less people. We hiked probably about 50 miles around the park, and even did an overnight trip. If you are ever in Utah… this place is pretty amazing!

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Frank and I went mountain biking at Canyonlands. It was pretty awesome!
  1. Gates of the Arctic National Park

During the summers of 2013 and 2014, I did some fieldwork at Toolik Field Station in the north slope of Alaska. The field station was right up against Gates of the Arctic, which is incredibly inaccessible to most people. The park is pristine and there are no trails. Basically, you just wander around through the tundra in a particular direction to head up mountain peaks. There are bears, porcupines, elk, moose… basically there’s almost any mega-fauna you could think of out there. This park made the list because you really get to feel like an explorer when you are out there. You get to see things that hardly anyone sees, and it really feels like you’re the first person to ever step foot there.

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Nearly to the summit of the highest peak in the Brooks Range. We didn’t quite make it because visibility near the summit was non-existent. 
  1. Everglades National Park

I grew up in South Florida, pretty close to the Everglades. I remember large afternoon storms brewing over the everglades and dumping steamy rain on to Coral Springs. I’ve been to the Everglades many times, but the craziest was when Frank and I paddled 100 miles through the park along the Wilderness Waterway. It took us 7 days. The Everglades is a fantastic place to see a really unique ecosystem. If you live close, you should check it out!

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There are some beautiful beaches in the Everglades.
  1. Smokey Mountains National Park

While in college, I was part of an outdoor club that frequented the Appalachians. Trips with the outdoor club were where Frank and I realized how we felt about each other and some of my favorite trips were at and around Smokey Mountains. There’s climbing, hiking, and some of the best backpacking in the country. The Appalachian Trail runs straight through the park and includes some of the most scenic areas.

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Right outside of the national park is a large waterfall where a bunch of us repelled down (a few of my friends repelled naked… not advised). 

I could include so many more parks, but these are probably the most sentimental to me. If you are ever around any of these (especially Glacier), you should really check them out! I really think the National Park System was America’s best idea!

 

What is your favorite National Park? Are there any that you’ve always wanted to go to? I’ve never been to Yosemite, but I’ve always wanted to.