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TransAlpine-Run 2013

Gore-Tex® TransAlpine-Run 2013

Happy New Year to you! I’m a couple of weeks late with my wish, but I truly do hope this is your best year yet. As with the beginning of every new year, it is a time to reflect on the past year and look ahead to the new year. I always look back to recognize and celebrate everything that was accomplished, acknowledge what was learned, and recognize what needs to change moving forward and what new goals to set. Then, with all of that in mind, I can start to look forward in planning my best year ever. In coming posts I’ll break down for you all the areas I consider when planning my year, but a big category for me is planning my athletic endeavors. Taking care of my health and challenging myself physically are a huge part of who I am!

We sat down with our coach, Ian Torrence, recently to plan out our race year. The title of this blog post gives it away a bit, but we’ve got a number of events planned for the year, with the TransAlpine-Run being a focal point. We ran the TransRockies Run last summer, so why not compete in the sister event in the Alps? And, what better way to see the Alps??

What is the Gore-Tex® TransAlpine-Run?

I am so glad you asked! Each year is slightly different, but this year it is an 8-day pairs stage race through Germany, Austria, Switzerland, and Italy. The distance is about 250km and there is about 50,000 ft. of climbing. While the elevation range is lower than we are used to here in Colorado, the terrain and elevation gain will be tremendous and insanely challenging.

As we did last year with the TransRockies Run, we are creating a video log of our journey with our training and sharing it at Please subscribe and share it everywhere – we need all the support we can get this year! In addition to this, we will also be doing our first ever 50-mile race as well as several other 50km and shorter races.

One of the best things to come from getting involved in ultrarunning has by far been the connections we’ve gotten with other people. It is really interesting because ultrarunning is very much a solitary sport – the race fields are typically very small, the distances so long that you might not see another soul for a few hours, and the training usually includes countless hours with just yourself. YET, when we do meet others, the connections run deep and friendships are forever.

TransAlpine-Run Folks ROCK!

Check out what the kind people at TransAlpine-Run posted about us? This made my week to find!


Needless to say, we are SUPER excited to not only participate in, but to take the journey in training for the TransAlpine-Run this year! Looking back at what we accomplished last year showed us that we are ready to up our game and take on bigger challenges. My hope is that we will be able to say the same thing at the end of 2013!

Please follow our TransAlpine-Run journey and subscribe to Also, stay tuned for more posts from me on setting goals!

Training Day 1.

Please visit the TransAlpine-Run website here.

Grand Canyon R2R2R (Rim to Rim to Rim)

Grand Canyon Double Crossing – Rim to Rim to Rim

Oct 3, 2012 – with David Martin and Ian Torrence

How many times in life have you seen people accomplishing amazing feats and you just watched, marveled, but never quite entertained the thought of “maybe I could do that, too?” Things so enormous, you never thought of what it would take to actually pursue it yourself? The first time I read about runners doing a Grand Canyon double crossing in a single day was a turning point for me – when I stopped being in awe and actually entertained the notion of “why not me?”. And not only in regards to doing the Canyon, but any extreme challenge that comes my way. This trip to the Grand Canyon held such significance for me, and to realize it with two of my favorite people made it that much sweeter.

Coming off of the TransRockies Run, David and I wanted to capitalize on the new found fitness level we achieved. Ian ramped up our training for a month and we set a date to do the Grand Canyon. The shortest round-trip route is about 42 miles, 24,000′ elevation change. It is also extremely hot at the bottom of the canyon and you have to be prepared to be completely self-supported. Preparation and safety are key, and those afraid of commitment need not apply.

We started our day at sunrise, around 6:15am, opting to descend in the daylight. The South Kaibab trail is steep and full of donkey steps. It’s a fun run down, especially with the rising sunlight dancing on the canyon walls. Each turns unfolds a new view and a yet older era of history. Your significance on Earth diminishes with each step as you feel smaller and smaller.

Crossing the Colorado River, you begin the long ascent up to the North Rim. We stopped for water at Phantom Ranch before heading into a spectacular box canyon. This was the last bit of shade and cool we’d have for many hours. Unfortunately, David decided to stop at Cottonwood. He wasn’t feeling that he’d make the entire journey so he wisely listened to his body and headed back to Phantom Ranch to wait for us. It broke my heart to carry on without him, but I knew it was the best choice for him and that I was in more than capable hands with Ian. Cottonwood is fairly far up the North Kaibab, giving David about 30 miles by the end – no joke of a day! I think it took a lot of courage and love for him to push me to continue on without him. I know he really wanted to do it and could have easily asked us to turn back with him, but he was more interested in seeing me realize this dream. That’s love!

Ian and I continued on up, stopping at each water stop to reconnect and refill. The climb to the North Rim was gorgeous, challenging, hot, and satisfying. At the top, we sat to celebrate – we were ALL IN at this point! The only way back was the way we came, plus we had to go get David. The trip was still long and incredibly tough, but I was smiling, embracing the idea that I would be completing this today. A burro train was about to start down the trail so we hurried out of there, packs not quite on, snack in hand.

The journey back down to Cottonwood and then Phantom Ranch was long and very hot. We later learned the temps were at least 105*, likely more in the exposed sun. The Grand Canyon is unforgiving to her visitors, but the people in the canyon are not. The caretakers at Phantom Ranch gave us food that was left by previous campers. We were so hungry that instant oatmeal and apples seemed like a slice of Heaven!

Now late afternoon, we headed back towards the Colorado River to begin the ascent back up the South Kaibab. This is a long, steep climb. No fancy words can make it anything else. The fun donkey steps of the descent became interminable switchbacks on the way back up. Our timing was impeccable, though. We watched the sunset as we climbed, creating the most spectacular colors on the Grand Canyon walls, spanning for miles. This was the breath of beauty I needed right then. After sunset, we put on the headlamps and pushed slowly onwards. With a headlamp on, your world is limited to just a few feet around you. At this point in the journey, that was about all I could handle so it was absolutely perfect. Listening to the sounds of nighttime canyon life, and occasionally turning off the lights to see the stars – it all helped keep me pushing forward. That, and David’s gentle encouragement.

We finally saw Ian’s light hitting those last few switchbacks and then turning off and knew we had finally made it. Three more turns to the top and we were there. I wanted to cry but had nothing left. I had dust tears of absolute joy, gratitude, exhaustion, and pride. I had completed an ultrarunner’s rite of passage, permitted by the Grand Canyon herself, done by my own two feet, led by Ian, and supported by the love of my life. I am so lucky!

My message to everyone reading this is to turn the switch on when you see amazing things. Go from “wouldn’t that be cool” to “I am going to do this”. Set a goal so big that you must recruit help to achieve it, and you have to grow into the person who can do it. If you are a parent, this is even more important. Set the example that dreams don’t stop at adulthood. By doing this yourself, you teach your children to set goals and work towards them their entire lives.

Thank you, Ian, for taking us on this journey. As we’ve talked about so many times before, it is about so much more than the running. You’ve given me one of the best gifts of my life.

“Sometimes the adventure lies beyond the race and the training can take you farther than imagined…” – Coach Ian

David, thank you for dreaming so big with me and loving me in such a unique way. I am very proud of you. What is next on our bucket list? Grand Canyon R2R2R = Check!

Our route from South Rim to North Rim and back to the South Rim

Gore-Tex TransRockies Run 2012

Gore-Tex TransRockies Run 2012

TransRockies Run – 120 miles, over 20,000 ft of elevation gain, through the Colorado Rockies, running with your partner at all times.

How do I put into words what this experience was? It has taken me over three weeks to absorb it and come to terms with my lack of eloquence. It was so incredible, I didn’t want to leave it, and perhaps writing about it would mark the true ending of one of the greatest experiences of my life.

I’ll start from the beginning, a year ago.

I was doing my fitness “thing” and David was getting revenge on the Malibu Triathlon. (He had trained for it two years prior, but a tumor in his chest and resultant surgery removing it and his right ninth rib took him out for over a year.) We talked a lot about finding something fun to train for and do together. I started doing research – adventure races? (I don’t love biking much anymore), marathons? (Please don’t make me run on the roads!), what? I had always loved trail running, despite setting it aside for 8 years, but it was completely new to David. We went for a few short runs and he really loved it! A little more research on my part and I found the TransRockies Run. I knew it would be PERFECT!! I showed it to David and he immediately thought I was nuts, that there was no way we could do it (his longest distance was a singular road marathon, me – 8 years off), and immediately handed me his credit card to sign us up! We were going to DO THIS!

We seek to live our lives to the absolute fullest, always pushing ourselves to set high goals in every aspect of our lives. We believe in leading the way with our kids, setting our very best examples. When kids see parents setting high goals, working towards them, and going out there and DOING something, they will follow suit! It’s amazing how that works!

A couple with big goals? Yes. Big goals with a stupid plan? No way. We hired coach Ian Torrence right away and got to work. We decided to chronicle our journey with each workout on YouTube, sharing it with the world. We were almost starting from scratch! But, this was an important piece of accountability.

We saw the most incredible places! We ran all over SoCal, up the CA coast, Arizona, Utah – Zion and Arches, remote areas of southern Mexico, the Bahamas, and extensively in Colorado.

We even moved to Colorado.

Our training was excellent and we were ready! And thus began one of the most incredible experiences of my life – right up there with childbirth and LASIK. I expected a grueling week, and something uniquely profound, but I was met with something of a greater magnitude than I could have imagined. We knew most of the courses from our preview runs, but being on the mountains for six straight days changes a person. You have a lot of time with your partner, but even more time with yourself. You can run and run, but you will always be with yourself, deep in your thoughts, finding clarity, learning what you’re made of (or not), gaining new perspectives on almost everything. Adding to the experience, if you’re lucky, is to do all of this with your life partner. To come to the end with an immediate embrace, tears, and kisses tells a lot about a couple!

We seemed to get better each day – physically pooped but our confidence started to soar. David’s doubt as to whether or not we could even do this turned into “how many minutes are we in/out of the next place?” We came home mentally/emotionally exhausted but feeling physically fantastic, ready to keep on running. I do know that I am forever changed and continue to just “be” with it.

I always talk about setting your goals high and going for them. Maybe I had never set my goals high enough before, but what I really believe is that at least once in life we all should set a goal so insanely high it seems far beyond ourselves, and then create a support team and plan to become the person you need to be to achieve that goal. You will find out who you really are and it will change your life!

As always, our adventures are best told in video. We didn’t get as much footage as usual during the 6 days – we were busy racing or resting – but the story is there.

Photo credits in video include – Hunter Imagery, Klaus Fengler, Kelvin Trautman

As far as what is next? In the immediate future, we have a Grand Canyon Rim to Rim to Rim run planned, but plans for after that are “in development”.

My sincerest gratitude to Ian Torrence, Melanie Haskell, Maksim Seredov, my boys, my entire team, the incredible runners I met at TransRockies, the Gore-Tex/TransRockies staff, and most of all, my love David Martin.


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