Grand Teton National Park: Hiking Near Jenny Lake and Cascade Canyon

Grand Teton National Park- Jenny Lake and Cascade Canyon

Don’t forget to check out part 1 and part 2 of our westward road trip!

Adrenaline kept me upright for the first few hours the morning after listening to the bear (or whatever it was) battering away at a fellow camper’s food locker. I’ll still never know if it actually was a grizzly bear, but I couldn’t help but think about Paul’s warning that they had a grizzly that visited the campground.

As we inhaled our half-cooked hash browns and overcooked scrambled eggs at breakfast—they were warm and the air was a brisk 35 or 40 degrees—-we pondered our plan for the day. It was only a matter of time before my high-strung bear anxiety dissipated and I entered extreme sleep deprivation auto-pilot. If there’s one thing that I need, for my own sanity and the sanity of those around me, it’s at least six hours of sleep every night. I would be operating far under threshold today, and we were expecting a grueling day of hiking, exploring, and further altitude adjustment.

The thought lingering in the back of my mind was that I would need to do it all over again for at least two more nights. We were debating staying at our campsite two more nights for the eclipse, making it a total of 5 nights in Grand Teton instead of our planned three nights. There was a solid chance this could shape up to be one of the most miserable trips of my life if I had to stick out five nights sleeping in a tent with a grizzly visiting the campsite every night.

Grand Teton - Hiking to Inspiration Point near Jenny Lake

We packed up and headed towards the park. Our plan was to hike String Lake around to Jenny Lake and up towards Cascade Canyon. When we parked the car, applied our sunscreen, loaded our packs with food and water bottles, and were just about to hit the trail at 8:45 am, we noticed a vital element missing. The bear spray. Sam remembered seeing it in the tent since we kept it there last night as a precaution, and it must’ve still been there. After the events last night and all the warnings we’d heard, there was no way we were hiking without a can of bear spray.

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Ragnar Cape Cod: A Long Recap of a Really, Really, Really Long Race

Ragnar Cape Cod - We Survived!

We did it! We shoved ourselves into a minivan with strangers (whom soon became friends), ran three times in less than 20 hours, and traversed the length of Cape Cod as RAGNARians. It was a whirlwind of an adventure, and one I hope to do again someday.

It’s hard to describe RAGNAR with words and photos. The entire aura of RAGNAR is unlike anything I’ve ever felt, whether at a race or at any other event. Our team—one of the 500 teams taking place in this epic logistics whirlwind—was split between two vans with six runners in each van, but we competed as a whole unit. While I strived to do my best as an individual runner, I was equally invested in cheering each of my van-mates at the start and finish of their runs. It’s a team event, but so much of my time was focused on preparing myself for my solo runs because I never knew exactly when I’d be running again. It’s more mental than physical, and that was a challenge for me.

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Boston Bound and Ragnar Ready

Boston Bound and Ragnar Ready - Mo Stych Travel Blog

The time has come! This Friday, we depart in our van with four other people and begin our RAGNAR adventure. We’ve spent the last four or five months training (with a half marathon squeezed in there, too) and at last, we are heading to Boston.

Am I nervous? Absolutely. In fact, I am incredibly nervous. I’ve never really run at night before and my second run is likely to start around 11 pm EST. The good news is I’ve run in the dark plenty of times–as a die-hard morning person, those 5 a.m. marathon training runs were some of my favorites–but my body happily starts shutting down around 9 p.m. Instead, I’ve got to convince my body to run five miles after running eight miles a mere 12-ish hours before that. I guess it does take a bit of crazy to want to compete in this sport.

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Maui: The Hardest Run of My Life – XTERRA Kapalua 10k Trail Run

the-hardest

Sam and I purchased our tickets to Maui back in May. We were invited to join Sam’s folks, Fred and Ruth, for their 41st wedding anniversary celebration in paradise. Even though Sam and I have never talked about going to Hawaii, we didn’t take a lot of convincing. Hanging out in 80 degree temps for ten days, surrounded by the ocean and a billion tropical plants? SOLD.

In an effort to get in beach-bod shape, we signed up for the Milwaukee Marathon. The marathon would take place about three weeks before our Maui vacation, which allowed the perfect opportunity to work our asses off before chilling oceanside and reading books for hours on end.

The problem with marathon training is that it makes me do crazy things. A month or two before the marathon, on a whim, I decided to research races in Maui. Running is my favorite way to explore about a new place, so why not take advantage of our predetermined vacation to race in the most remote island chain in the world?

Oddly, there was only one race that caught my attention: the XTERRA Kapalua 2.5k / 5k / 10k trail run. Oh, I thought, we can totally do a 10k. We’re training for 26.2 miles, so 6.2 miles won’t be a big deal. I’ve run very few trail races, but I was curious enough to read the course description:

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Why I Run: Part 2

Why I Run: Part 2 - Mo Stych // mostych.comSince I’m not a natural runner, it should come as a surprise that I wasn’t fast when I first started running. And I lacked endurance. And I didn’t really know what to do to improve either of those things.

It didn’t stop me from running, though. I slogged through laps around the track outside Couzens Hall a few times a week, running a mile (or maybe two if I felt ambitious). As winter set in, I found myself enjoying my running routine and going a little bit farther each time. Instead of one or two miles, I ran two or three, or sometimes five miles.

My mom, seeing my interest in running, proposed that we both take on a race together. I agreed it would be a (potentially) good idea. We don’t do a lot of things together, just my mom and I, so maybe this could be something we shared. Feeling empowered by our consistent mileage and perhaps a little too ambitious, we signed up to run a half marathon on Memorial Day weekend in 2009. It was two or three times further than any distance I’d ever run. I was terrified to race, but also invigorated by the challenge.

Thankfully, the track path stayed plowed during the winter months, so I kept running. On days when it was too cold or snowy, I moved to the indoor track at the gym and ran there. I felt physically better than I had at any other point in my life. Nothing made me feel as joyful and bubbly and ready to take on the world as running did.

Running did so many other things for me, too. I took chances during my sophomore year of college that I wasn’t brave enough to do my freshman year. Longing for a news room, I joined the Michigan Daily and was elected Co-Managing Design Editor after only a semester on staff. I also ran for a position on the executive board of the Arts Chorale choir. I was voted in as Secretary (and held onto my position through senior year). I also finally decided on a major, which was stressful until I realized I loved learning about art more than anything else. I tried dating some guys during my sophomore year, but all I really got out of that experience was some awkward date stories. Despite being successful in some ways and unsuccessful in other ways, it didn’t matter. The important thing was taking risks and trying new things, and my running dedication fueled these actions.

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Why I Run: Part I

Why I Run: Part 1 - Mo Stych // mostych.com

I’m not a natural runner.

When I was younger, I was the kid on the soccer field examining a bee on a flower instead of chasing the soccer ball. I searched for four-leaf clovers while waiting for fly balls in the outfield of a softball game. I spent a lot of time climbing, getting dirty, and exploring the world around me, but I definitely wasn’t doing any of these things quickly. Running never struck me as necessary.

I ran track in 5th and 6th grade because my friends did it. We had to run a mile before every practice, but I usually walked part of it. Shot-put was fun, but I didn’t like sprinting short distances. Or sprinting long distances. Or jumping over handles while sprinting short or long distances. I was worse than mediocre, placed on a relay team with my friends because I was never going to win anything on my own (they didn’t tell me this is why I was on a relay team, but I knew the truth). It was alright, but I didn’t miss it when I entered junior high.

In junior high, I could play the sports I wanted to play: tennis, volleyball, softball. And yet, I was still running a lot. Warm-ups, cool-downs, speed training…always trying to get faster, always an emphasis on the go, go, go! I trained for weeks to make the 9th grade volleyball team, which required me to run for 30 minutes without stopping every day of tryouts (4 days in a row). It sucked in the way that everything sucks at the age of 15. When I (barely) made the team, I was relieved that we never ran that much in practice.

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