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 On December 4, President Trump rescinded 85% of Bears Ears National Monument and over 50% of Grand Staircase Escalante National Monument in a proclamation that undid years of environmental progress.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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When Mountains Call

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I was sitting on the side of Grand Teton, with a heavy pack, hurt knee, and a generally tired body when a thin, wiry blonde woman ran by me at record speed. She had a tiny pack with only water and food and she made getting up that mountain look effortless. I had been a competitive runner in another life, but was then just another hiker, defeated by a mountain I would not climb. The girl bounced away and all I could think about was how I wanted that to be me… that one day, I would run the trails, up the mountains, with that same ease.

This was my first introduction to trail running, and distance running in general. I had always been a sprinter and had confined myself to the 400 & 800 m distances. After high school, I had stopped running and it would be years before I would return. In reality, I only made it back because climbing mountains is hard and you need to be in wildly good shape to do it.

I returned home from my failure on Grand Teton and read all that I could about trail running. I read Born to Run, and Eat and Run and was convinced. Eventually… one day… no matter how long it would take me… I vowed to run trails and ultras. For years, I followed the ultra running scene, never partaking, but just as an idle spectator. As I watched, I would run further and further. The evolution from sprinter to marathoner happens slowly and I took my time. I would sign up for trail runs here or there and usually do really well. My heart was in it and it was where I really felt free. As I ran my first trail half marathon, for the first time I felt like that girl, bouncing down the trails, light on her feet without a care in the world.

I ran my first marathon and walked away feeling great. I loved everything about it… the lifetime’s worth of emotions in less than four hours, the real ownership of the race, the fact that it was not easy and I had to work hard to get there. Road marathons are fun, exciting, exhausting, and so many other things… but really, they are not enough. There is something truly special about running through the woods, over hills, while pushing your body as far as you possibly can and maybe even a little further. Trail runs are so solitary, yet you feel so completely connected to nature. That is exactly where I should be.

Four years ago, sitting on the side of Grand Teton, I knew that I could run high and far… but I also knew that it would take time. I have been patient, slowly upping my mileage and base and pushing myself to my edge, never passing it. But I will be an idle watcher no more. I have finally decided to put that fire beneath my feet.

If the world could go exactly as I want it to, this post would be the beginning of an eventual quest towards the Western States 100, the granddaddy of ultramarathons. I can’t tell you that it will go that way, since they have a lottery process that is tough and I may never get picked. Also, it is 100 miles and I don’t know that I could train up to that. I will tell you that this post will be the beginning of a quest towards a 50K and maybe even a 50-miler. After Chicago, I will transition towards running on trail and on hills. I’ve finally grown tired of watching from the sidelines.

So, there it is. I have put it out into the universe. A goal. A dream. It’s a scary one to speak, but really, would it be worth doing if I weren’t scared?

Probably not.

Colfax Marathon Week 15: Peak Week

Yesterday I posted our crazy weekend of climbing, hiking, backpacking, and tornados (yay, Kansas). In addition to our awesome trip, I was in the peak of my marathon training. Peak week could not have gone better. I really feel like I had bounced off the confidence gained from my race and that sent me into last week with a good head and a lot of excitement. I can honestly say that I have tried my very hardest and have done everything that I can to be ready heading into my first marathon.

Elly is also trying her very hardest training for the sleep-a-thon.

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This cat sleeps like 20 hours per day.

This was my week

Monday: 8 miles – easy pace + Yoga

Tuesday: 8 miles w/ 3 x 2 mile repeats + Yoga

Wednesday: 3 miles – recovery pace + Yoga

Thursday: 20 miles LSD + Yoga

Friday: REST DAY! Lots of climbing though

Saturday: 6 miles – recovery pace + Climbing

Sunday: 10 miles at Goal MP + Hiking

Total Miles: 55.1 YEAH!

This was my highest mileage ever! I wasn’t sure during the beginning of the week if I would actually hit 55 miles, but I took it day by day and kept warm up, recovery, and cool down miles REALLY REALLY SLOW! It worked and I made it to the other side with no pain and no injuries. I also made my yoga practice a serious priority and stepped it up a notch. For a few weeks, I’ve been keeping yoga very chill and easy. I decided to go to a few more advanced level classes. Honestly, it kind of helped. I didn’t do any inversions or crazy arm balances, but moving a lot and breaking a sweat definitely helped keep my muscles limber.

I definitely struggled with the 3 x 2 mile repeats. I took them a little too fast and suffered because of it. But all three were EXACTLY 16:30, so not bad. I was proud of the consistency but not so proud of the amount of suffering that I did during the workout. I was still a little sore from the race, so I’ll blame it on that.

The 20-miler definitely weighed heavy on my mind all week, but once I finally did it, honestly, it was not so bad. It was a little slower than my first 20-miler, but mentally, I was a lot more ready. I took the last 5 miles at race pace, but had a moment where I crashed a little and had to stop to drink water. It was pretty warm out, and I may have been a little dehydrated.

My goal MP tempo run was done in Springfield, Mo on the way home from Arkansas. I went along the Greenline trail that runs north-south straight through town. The wind was blowing and it was 85 degrees out, but I still managed to hold on to race pace (with a water break in the middle). There were definitely some difficulties running this, but I was pretty happy to be done. Honestly, the last mile almost brought me to tears, knowing that I made it to the taper, healthy and strong.

So… I did it. I made it to the taper and I did it without injury. This has not been easy, but regardless of how Colfax goes, I am proud of this training cycle. I am so happy and thankful that my body held up. So, during miles 20-26.2, when I want to quit, I am going to remind myself of the hard work I put into this cycle and I am going to be thankful for what my body is capable of right now.

The countdown is on… 19 days until Colfax.

Gone with the old and in with 2016!

Hey everyone! I hope you all had a fun and safe holiday with your family. I have been gone for quite a while and I missed the running community a lot.

I am back in Kansas again (finally!) after traveling pretty much all over our hemisphere. After Utah I left for Virginia for a week and then I went home to visit family in South Florida. Frank and I then flew from Fort Lauderdale to Cabo San Luca in Mexico and traveled up the length of the Baja peninsula to San Diego before heading home. I have been pretty exhausted from travel, but now I’m back and ready to train (although I should have been training prior to now, but really, that’s water under the bridge).
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Frank and I enjoying Mexico
 

Elly was pretty thrilled to see me after I got back. Honestly I was a little worried she would forget about me.
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Elly burrito-ed herself into my blanket. I guess she was cold. She still remembers and loves me.
I have some crazy stories about our travels, but now I’m just glad to be home and getting back into a rhythm.
I want to take a moment to reflect a little on 2015. I had a crazy year, with a big move, big travels, new friends and jobs, and a whole lot of running. I ran my first half marathon, and then PRed twice on the half (including at Estes Park, CO). I trained for the Chicago Marathon, and even though I turned my ankle and couldn’t run it, I still trained hard and learned a lot about what I am capable of.
So 2016 is here and I have a few goals. I guess it’s easiest if I list them out…
1. Get back to real training again. I haven’t really gotten back to the level of training I was at before I turned my ankle, so first and foremost, that is my goal. I know it’s possible because I already did it. I want to get back to running 35+ miles per week.
2. PR the half marathon either at A1A in February (that’s so freaking soon), or at Rocky Mountain in July (this is where my current PR is).
3. Run the Colfax Marathon in May… and not get injured this time, so no mountain biking for a while. I have no time goals. I just want to finish injury free.
4. Run the Chicago Marathon in October. I need to redeem myself from last year.
5. This may seem like a crazy one… but PR in the Marathon at Chicago (since I’ll have a time from Colfax).
and finally (and most importantly)… go injury free this year. No ankle turns, no knee issues…just some good ole’ injury free running.
I think in 2015, although I did manage a lot, I got too caught up in race times. This year I want to run by feel, and if I run a little slower sometimes, honestly, I don’t care. I don’t want running to stress me out, which it occasionally did last year.
So, there you have it… and I can’t wait to see how it all goes! I’m super glad to be back!
How was your holiday? Any cool new travels? What is your big 2016 goal?

Reflections for Intensions

The end of the year is a perfect time to reflect on our accomplishments and growth over the past 12 months. As runners, we always try to compete with ourselves for that better time and longer distance and sometimes, it just doesn’t happen. Resolutions come in many forms, and may (or may not) be reachable in just a single year. Sometimes our goals can take an entire lifetime to achieve and those, quite honestly, are the best ones. It’s important that as we approach the end of the year, that our reflections lead to positive thoughts and actions towards ourselves and others.

One year ago, I was still recovering from my ankle injury (a full tear to my ATFL), which meant no running for me. I had always considered myself a runner, but I hadn’t even laced up the running shoes in over 6 months. My injury had sidelined my passion and I knew my fitness was suffering for it. My husband and I would go hiking and I would be struggling to keep up (to my defense, he goes really really fast!). I decided that I needed to get back to the trails and begin running again. I hadn’t raced in well over a year, but I felt confident that I could work my way back. My intention for 2014 was to run again, and in the process work up to a half marathon. Did I do it? …Well, kind of. I ran again. I raced again. But I didn’t run that half. In October, when I had intended to run a half, I felt an old injury resurface, and in great wisdom (and a whole lot of frustration), I decided to back off and push the half distance until 2015. So, here I am. I am training for that half and it feels right this time. No pains, no hickups. Maybe 2014 wasn’t the year of the half marathon for me, but it sure seems like 2015 will be.

Here are my 5 goals and intentions for the upcoming year:

1. Run a half marathon (actually, run like 3 or 4…but let’s start with 1)

2. Train in the mornings more often..for real this time

3. Confidently do forearm stands away from the wall (in class, while instructing people through it…haha!)

4. Practice gratitude and appreciation for what is here…always. No matter what life throws.

5. Clean my room once a month (this is a vast improvement over never…which is how often I clean it now)

This is me practicing forearm stand, confidently, in my running shoes, when I thought no one was watching.
This is me practicing forearm stand, confidently, in my running shoes, when I thought no one was watching. This is a rare occurrence for me. 

So as you approach the new year, what is it that you intend? Will you approach these goals with positivity even if they fall short? Take the new year as an opportunity. Be positive.

I’ll leave you with an affirmation as you reflect. 

Lead me from the unreal to the Real
Lead me from the darkness to the Light
Lead me from the temporary to the Eternal 

– Brihadaranyaka Upanishad 

Happy Holidays, everyone! Namaste. 🙂