The formal (and boring stuff):
I started out in the industry over 15 years ago as a recreational therapist, helping people with disabilities gain functionality through exercise. From there I started teaching fitness and nutrition classes, personal training, professional speaking and developing programs for weight loss, athletes, and the general public.
I received my degree in exercise science and sports performance with a minor in Nutrition in 2005. I am also certified through the American College of Sports medicine as an exercise specialist and through AFFA as a level 2 pilates instructor.
It was in college where I really feel in love with endurance running and discovered that I have the “adventure gene”. This is no joke. About 20% of the world’s population has a mutation in a gene that is linked to curiosity, restlessness and also ADHD.
I went to the University of Colorado in Boulder and remember heading out for a “short run” on the famous trails beneath the Flatirons and getting “lost” for hours because I just had to see what was around that next corner or where that next fork in the trail led. This soon became a weekly occurrence as I devoured every trail I could find in the front range area.
My thirst for adventure didn’t stop there. I joined a study abroad program that toured Australia and New Zealand over the course of 3 months. Part of the curriculum was actually daily adventure which ranged white water rafting or kayaking, rock climbing, spelunking through glow worm caves, hiking “mount doom” (from the Lord of the Rings). I had to run wherever I went and of course I got “lost” more times than not.
After I met my husband Scott on a chairlift while snowboarding, we were married a year later and the next 3 years was a whirlwind as we:
– Spent our honeymoon backpacking Southeast Asia for 10 weeks
– Bought a beat-up 10 passenger van and drove from Colorado to Alaska with friends and family
– Backpacked South America for 8 weeks with my 60 year old mother
– Founded 5 unique fitness based businesses and had a million more ideas
– Came up with a concept for a barefoot running series, got sponsored by a big name apparel company and spent an entire summer traveling with a 8 week old baby putting on the events in 10 different cities.
– Ran my first marathon (the Leadville trail marathon which at over 10,000 feet is one of the toughest in the world)
– Started an event production company and put on 15 events 10 different states in less than 6 months while I was pregnant with my 2nd (yeah, you’d think we would have learned our lesson the first time)
I now have two boys, Wyatt (5) and West (2.5 months) and love every moment of being a mom.
However, that is not to say there are not many struggles and quite a learning curve when it comes to trying to lead the same active and adventurous lifestyle with a family.
With Wyatt I was active throughout the pregnancy. I have blog posts you can read about camping in -17 degree weather at 7 months pregnant and running barefoot through 8 months of pregnancy. And even though I gained about 50 lbs during this pregnancy I felt great!
After the delivery I was back running and racing doing the MS 150 (150 mile ride Longmont to Fort Collins) only 8 weeks after and the Imogene Pass (17 mile trail race where you gain 6,000 feet in the 10 miles uphill) only 5 months after.
Looking back it was pretty crazy and I wouldn’t recommend any new mom to jump into being that active after having their first little one. For me it was never about losing the weight or needing to “work out” (it actually took me a full 9 months to lose all the weight), I just can’t sit still!
Case in point: my nickname in college was the “energizer bunny” and I still find it hard to even sit through a movie (one of the traits of that adventure gene I mentioned earlier).
West was a different story. I had joint pain and problems from the beginning. I was not able to run after 3 months and by 6 months I was barely able to walk to the park just 1/4 mile away with Wyatt. I had an emergency c-section where they also found and removed a softball size tumor (benign thank God!) from my right ovary but needless to say the recovery was slow.
I did intensive physical therapy for 3 months and my doctors discouraged me from walking more than what it takes to get around the grocery store for several months due to severe pelvic floor dysfunction and adhesions. In addition to this I was also suffering from postpartum depression. I was in denial about this for awhile and I guess doubted that it was a “real” condition but I hope that by sharing my story (in more blog posts to come) I can create more awareness about this very real affliction that effects 10-15% of all women post delivery.
Looking back, even though I would say this was one of the hardest times of my life, I would also say that it was also the most rewarding. I gained more perspective and empathy and realized that you may not always have the ability or time to do the things you love which opens other doors to focus on areas in your life you may have been neglecting.
Fast forward to 2015. After a year and a half I began to run again and made the goal of completing my first obstacle course race. I signed up for several events but was still feeling pretty poorly. After a couple episodes in the ER and tons of tests I was diagnosed with celiac and hasimotos diseases, autoimmune diseases that destroy the lining of the small intestines and thyroid respectively.
Despite this diagnosis, I did well in my first couple of races and even qualified and competed in the Warrior Dash World championships (read the story about that journey here) at the end of the year.
2015 was also the year that I decided I wanted to share my passion, knowledge and experience training with kids in tow and also introducing women to the sports of trail running and obstacle course racing. In my darkest moments the memories of the adventures I experienced on the trail and the feeling of accomplishment after training for an event and crossing the finish line brought me back into the light and gave me the encouragement to push through.
I feel that no matter where you come from or where you are at in life, adventure is accessible to everyone. You just have to take a leap of faith and get out there!
Lauren the athlete
I never thought my name and the word “athlete” would ever belong in the same sentence. Here are some of my race accomplishments over my athletic career (the last year- haha!):
Breckenridge Spartan Sprint- 2015: 2nd place female overall (open wave)
Warrior Dash Copper Mountain- 2015: 3rd place female overall (elite wave)
Hop Skip and Jump 5K- 2015: 4th place female (while pushing my boys in a double jogging stroller!)
Warrior Dash world Championships- 2015: 32nd place female
Abominable winter adventure run (winter obstacle race)- 2016: 1st place overall
Zion trail half marathon- 2016: 4th place female, 12th place overall
Fort Carson Spartan Super- 14th place elite women’s wave
Fear the Deer trail 1/2 marathon: 6th place female