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Tuesday, 08 August 2017 / Published in Marathon

Curious what it’s like to race on the trails of Norway? Runner Amy Woolridge Sunde did just that at the Tromso SkyRace. Read Amy’s race report below.

Tromso Sky Race 28k Report

by Amy Woolridge Sunde

Why this race? A lot of people have asked me that since I signed up for this race in February. After attending so many of Erik’s (Amy’s husband) ultras and seeing every walk of life running (or hiking), I was inspired to find my own trail race that could challenge my physical and mental limits. Distance trail running was new to me, so I decided on a 28k (17.4 miles… turned out to be 20.4, but who’s counting?) race in Norway. Planning a fun trip around the run was the perfect motivation!

The first couple of miles were through town and over the bridge. Then we began the climb to Floya mountain. Nice single track that snaked its way above tree line leading so some spectacular views. In the first six miles I climbed about 2,500 feet.
This was followed by an amazing downhill on a dirt trail. I couldn’t stop thinking, “this is the most beautiful place I have ever seen… “
Then the rain set in. And then hail. For over an hour. The next climb every step was a challenge trying to make it up the now muddy trail. It evened out for a bit before the next big climb to Tromsdalstind. While not a particularly technical climb, the steepness and rockiness definitely slowed me down. That, and turning around to take in all the insanely gorgeous views. 🙂
After making it across the ridgeline to the checkpoint it was time to descend. I would find out later this descent was 1,700 feet in about two miles! It was incredibly rocky on an exposed ridge, so I took my time as one wrong step would literally result in going head first into a boulder field below.
At the bottom, I reached a valley where it was a couple of miles of downhill on soft terrain. While this should have been a highlight, the river crossings and sticky, deep mud made it treacherous! After watching a couple of the 58k guys blow past me in the river and mud, I decided to take a page out of their play book and embrace the water and mud. It was unavoidable, so you may as well take it at full speed!
Miles 15-17 almost broke me. I knew there would be a slight climb (a slight 750 feet haha) back to the aid station, but this one was full of mud, mosquitos, and false summits. I knew Erik was waiting for me and I just wanted to get there.
Upon arriving I gave Erik a hug and wolfed down some cheddar chips. Nothing has ever tasted better!  I had been eating things that were on the mostly sweet side so this was a nice change.
Erik ran the last 3.5 miles down with me, and while the downhill should have been nice, my quads were aching so it was painful. Crossing the finish line with a cheering crowd was incredible and I immediately burst into tears! All of my hours, weeks, and months of training were over and it was emotional to complete the epic journey.
Tuesday, 28 June 2016 / Published in Uncategorized

Mary Marathon

I was never an athlete – my only activity was watching my boys play sports.  At age 56, looking for ways to cope with some emotional upheavals, I discovered I loved to run.  It changed me, brought me out of a depression I didn’t even know I was in, and gave me the courage and confidence to take control of my life and really start living in a way I had never thought possible.

With the help of three wonderful, inspiring women, I went from barely jogging a lap around the track to running the 2017 Boston Marathon.  The first is Kim Laakso, a friend and co-worker who convinced me to join the Arvada Running Club, an informal group of fun and supportive women.   Thanks to Kim and the ARC, at 58, I decided to run the Marine Corp Marathon in October, 2014, and I finished in 4:39:32.  I loved the experience, but wasn’t sure I was up for another one.  Then I went to an event featuring Kathrine Switzer – the first woman to run the Boston Marathon.  When she suggested I join her 50th anniversary celebration at the 2017 Boston Marathon, it seemed like a pipe dream, but I couldn’t quite get it out of my head.  In April, 2015, I met Jenni Nettik of Mercuria Running at the Highland Tap and Burger Run Club, and when I told her about my dream, she convinced me I could do it, and she showed me how!  On October 18, 2015, the 13th anniversary of my father’s passing, with him, Jenni and a host of others providing moral support, I ran the Detroit Marathon in 4:17:20, good enough for a 60-year-old to earn a spot in Boston in 2017. While I was at it, Jenni encourage me to sign up for the New York City Marathon this November. I’m so excited to be training with Jenni again. She is a genius at breaking down the massive amounts of information out there about how to become a better runner, and arriving at fundamentals that she helps you master, all the while making it so much fun that you wish you could have a daily session! Kim and Kathrine helped lead me to dream, and now Jenni is helping me to live it.

Saturday, 09 January 2016 / Published in Uncategorized

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How to Fall in Love with Running
Be Happy, Run!

by Coach Jenni Nettik

Did you make a new year’s resolution to get fit? Are you taking Mark Zuckerberg’s challenge to run 365 miles this year? Do you have a spring race on your calendar? It’s January so you’re probably still pretty motivated, but how are you going to keep that enthusiasm the entire year? Try falling in love with running.

Tips to Help You Love Running:

1. Stay in the Moment
When coaching new runners, I’m often asked how to achieve the runner’s high. For me, time vanishes when I get a runner’s high. How can you make that happen? Stay in the moment. Clear your mind, I know, easier said than done. Try clearing your mind by picking one element of running or the environment to meditate on.

Focus on:

  • Standing tall
  • Landing lightly
  • Observe the shadows
  • Listen to the sounds around you

When an outside thought sneaks in, acknowledge it, and then redirect your thoughts back to your focus.

2. Escape . . .
Time and time again, runners tell me they use running as way to escape and process life, the opposite of staying in the moment. Different runs, serve different purposes. As an artist, I sometimes use my runs to generate new ideas, or solve difficult pieces. While training for my first marathon, I created over 60 paintings to document the process.

Things to do while running:

  • Listen to an audiobook or podcast
  • Jam out to your run playlist
  • Process a thought or project that’s weighing on your mind
  • Socialize with friends

Running can be therapy, “me” time or even happy hour.

3. Set a Goal
Take a step back and look at the bigger picture. Goals are essential to staying motivated. They guide your training and keep you lacing up and challenging yourself even when that voice in your head says otherwise. A goal can be something as simple as run three to four times a week. It can be more specific like run the Napa Valley Half Marathon. Or a goal can get really detailed like qualify for Boston. It’s best to have multiple layers of goals to prevent yourself from getting discouraged. Remember, things don’t always go according to plan.

A good set of goals for this winter could be:

  • Improve fitness
  • Train three to four days a week
  • Complete the Colfax Marathon
  • Qualify for Boston
  • Run a 3:15 marathon

Give yourself lots of opportunities to pat yourself on the back.

4. Play!
This fall I went trail running with my two year old nephew, he ran down the the path screaming at the top of his lungs, he loved running. Why? He was playing! How can you bring that same joy to your own runs?

Play:

  • Leave your watch at home
  • Don’t plan a route, wander
  • Run in a new place and explore
  • Be an artist, use your watch or a running app to draw a picture or write a message
  • Hit the trails, run through thigh deep snow, jump over (fall into) a stream, slide down an icy hill.

Most importantly, have fun.

5. Take Care of Yourself
If you want to enjoy running, you’ve got take care of yourself. For me, that means a bulk box of hand warmers for winter runs. What’s holding you back? How can you fix it?

Ways to take care of yourself:

  • Do you get cold? Purchase running tights, wool socks or ski mittens
  • Are you afraid of falling on ice? Get a pair of trail shoes or Yaktrax
  • Is your mileage making you stiff? Stretch, get a massage, or take a yoga class
  • Does running make you knees, feet or back hurt? Hire a coach and improve your form
  • Are you nervous about running alone? Join a running group
  • Are struggling with an injury? Visit a Physical Therapist

Sometimes running requires more than a pair of shoes.

6. Find Your Community
People often say, “I run, but I’m not a runner.” The beauty of running is that people of all different ages, sizes, shapes and speeds run. Seek out a community of runners that will support and cheer you on.

Running Communities:

Call yourself a runner!

What makes you love running?

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