A Look Back at 2018

Happy New Year Everyone!

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We all looked so cute for New Years Eve!

It’s the first day of 2019 and I’ve been logging the miles! It was a cold day out in the mountains, but I got my first peak of the year! As I leap into 2019, I wanted to look back at what I liked most about 2018. Here’s a quick look at my year.

Best Race: Squaw Peak 50

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Squaw peak is probably my favorite race I’ve ever run. It’s beautiful, wildly challenging, and you still get a full night of sleep (unlike Javelina Jundred). I also really enjoyed the 50 mile distance. The race itself was particularly well put on and the course was perfect. Although it does give over 10,000 feet of gain, it has a very high finishing rate and I attribute that to the awesome aide stations and volunteers.  And although I did lose a few toenails in the weeks following, the race gave me the confidence needed to finish my 100-miler in October.

Best Run: Kings Peak in August

At 13,527 feet, Kings Peak sits as Utah’s crown. It’s a fantastic 28 mile trail through woods, alpine tundra, and skree fields. I met up with the Wasatch Mountain Wranglers to run it on a crisp and cool day in early August. I went alone and wasn’t entirely sure that I should go, but once I got out on the trail, I met people at my pace and stuck with them. It was a wonderful day. The route took me about 8 hours, which is a moderate pace and never felt too difficult (except at the end while I was struggling over loose rock). I did have many fantastic runs throughout the year, but this one certainly stood above the rest.

Favorite Trail: Pfeifferhorn Peak via Red Pine Lake

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Red Pine Lake Trail as the fog rolled in

I had seen Pfeifferhorn from afar many times, but this summer was the first time I climbed it. It was a foggy day, unusual for Utah, but the conditions made the trail so much better. At the top, the fog cleared and we were able to see the Wasatch and the Salt Lake Valley. It was a beautiful route and a beautiful day. This is a trail that I’ll definitely do again this summer.

Most Used Gear: Salomon Pack

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Me in my trusty Salomon pack

I went through multiple pairs of shoes, many different socks, and even switched out my spikes and trekking poles. The one piece of gear that remained constant was my Salomon Skin pack. It never chaffed, never bounced too much or hurt my shoulders. Basically it did everything it needed to do.

Most Used Running Fuel: Run Gum

As anyone who knows me will know, I am a caffeine addict. I love coffee and tea. Unfortunately on a run, it’s not always so easy to get an extra boost when you need it most. While I was training for Javelina, I was looking for ways to take caffeine during the night, but not hurt my stomach. The Wasatch Running Company suggested Run Gum and I loved it! It comes in three different flavors, all of which are great. The little bit of sugar helps too and gives me something to look forward to when the miles get long. At Javelina, I never really felt sleepy and I largely attribute that to Run Gum.

Favorite Cross Training: Climbing

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Unless you consider hiking as cross training (my physical therapist does not), I have never really been very good about doing other things besides running. I manage an okay yoga practice, but when the miles get high, my yoga practice tends to suffer. This year I really tried to remain consistent at some sort of cross training and found that climbing really works. It keeps me strong and mildly flexible and helps a lot with the mentality it takes to finish long ultras. I’m still a considerably better runner than I am a climber, but I’ve had a ton of fun going out and sending some routes.

Total Mileage: 2,040 miles

Total Vertical Gain: 285,098 feet

What are some of your favorites from 2018?

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?

Long time, no see!

It’s been a while… hasn’t it! I hope everyone has been doing well during my absence. I’ve been reading blogs here and there, but I really haven’t had the urge to write, until now. I don’t know if I am back back, but I am relatively back. A lot has changed since the last time I wrote, so I’ll let you know what’s up.

Last you heard from me, I was fresh off a new half marathon PR and was about to run Chicago. I was prepping a 10K and was gearing up for a marathon PR attempt.

Well, I PRed that 10K! I got an age group win and even my picture in the newspaper!

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I, unfortunately, didn’t run Chicago, though. I know that may come as a surprise. I was certainly ready for the race, and was not injured, but I was just not feeling it. I didn’t have a real passion for the race and I knew that the overall cost of going out there was going to be huge. I just didn’t see the point in heading out to a race that I wasn’t terribly passionate about.

So, what am I doing? A lot of trail running. 

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Hanging out with turkeys on the trail
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Running in the Adirondacks in NY
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Stopping at waterfalls in Colorado

As most of you know, I am hoping to get into the ultra running scene with the intention of one day running the Western States 100. Crazy plans, I know. And up until recently, it’s just been this thing that I talk about (to everyone) and never actually make any moves towards doing it. I became frustrated with that model and started looking up Western States qualifying races. It turns out that you need to run a 50K to sign up for most 100K’s. So, that’s what I am doing. On Oct 23, I will be running the GOATZ 50K in Omaha. Frank will be there to help “crew” me, although I doubt I’ll need much crewing for a 50K. My only goal is to finish the race, which qualifies me for many of the WS qualifying 100K’s. I haven’t picked out a race yet, but I do have a few in mind. Finally, I feel like I can actually say that I have made a step towards running my dream race. I want to make Western States a reality, and I actually feel like I am actually doing it (or at least trying).

As crazy as that sounds, I have more planned. I have been putting a lot of work and training into running a road marathon. I also know that there is a PR in me somewhere, so I am going to go for it. I’ll be headed to Tulsa on Nov. 20 for the Route 66 Marathon. Because I will want to PR and run hard at that race, I will keep GOATZ easy (and try really really hard not to get competitive). To qualify for most 100K’s, you only need to finish a 50K. Needless to say, there will be a lot of walking in Omaha in order to not trash my legs. I already have a few 20-milers under my belt, and I have one more before I start the taper for Route 66. I feel pretty ready to hit the roads to race.

That’s what’s new for me! What’s new with you? Any big races coming up (or just over)?

The #Lifepoints Adventure Grant

This is copied from a post on Frank and I’s adventure blog. Check it out and follow us to keep up with our adventures. The #lifepoints adventure started this weekend, so we’ll have a post up soon to tell you all about it. Another thanks to Picky Bars for helping us out and making our adventures real!

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No one thinks of wilderness when they think of Kansas. It is the wheat state, strewn with cattle and large industrial farms. If you do a Google search for preserved land in Kansas, you will find virtually none. Kansas seems like a desolate place for outdoors enthusiasts and certainly not a place to find wilderness. But if you dig a little deeper and are willing to search a little harder, you will find the rivers. The Kaw River, the Arkansas River, and the Missouri River are the only open access waterways in the state, and they are also some of the best wilderness in the state. These rivers are some of the few remaining places where you can get a sense of what the original settlers and the Native Americans saw when coming to the prairie. Still, when I tell people I live in Kansas, they assume I can only get a dose of wild after a 7-hour drive to the Rocky Mountains. Our goal: To convince people that this is simply not true, that there is wild hidden in their backyards, snaking its way between cattle ranches and fields of wheat.

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A few months ago, I came across a grant to fund an adventure, the Picky Bars #Lifepoints Adventure Grant. Frank and I thought hard about how to apply. Do we write up something to fund a backpacking trip through the Rockies or the Ozarks? Surely, that would be picturesque and maybe even win us that grant. But we decided otherwise. Our goal has always been to get people EVERYWHERE outside. That includes Kansas. So, we applied with an idea to get as many people as we could on the Kaw River. Needless to say, we figured we’d never hear from Picky Bars again.

Well… we did hear from them. Apparently Picky Bars agreed, getting people outside and into the wilderness, in even the least likely of places, is important.

 Here we are, planning another adventure! Each weekend in August, we will be paddling sections of the Kaw River from its origin in Junction City to where it meets the Missouri River in Kansas City. We are having both experienced paddlers and novices join us throughout the trip and we’ve designated sections that are especially good for getting kids out and on the river. And did I mention that we get a free kayak?

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Thanks, Picky Bars, for helping us make this vision a reality! We’ll be posting updates about our adventure here on our blog.

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Follow our adventure!

Twitter: @thisyogiruns

Blog: wildplaygrounds.wordpress.com

Or join our adventure!

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