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2014 PikesPeakSports.us Triple Crown Runners

PikesPeakSports.us and the Triple Crown of Running are proud to introduce the 2014 PikesPeakSports.us Triple Crown Runners racing team. The team includes runners of various abilities who have dedicated themselves to
completing the Triple Crown series: the Garden of the Gods 10 Mile Run, the Summer Roundup Run, and either th

e Pikes Peak Ascent or Marathon. Click for more info about the Triple Crown. Along the way, they'll share their experiences on PikesPeakSports.us. Look for their updates every couple of weeks. Special thanks to Mike Mazzola of Mountain Equipment Recyclers, and Vince Provencio and Jeff Randall of Orange Theory Fitness, who signed on to sponsor the team in 2014.

This is the fourth edition of the popular team, which now has a lifetime roster of 24 members and a cult-like following. For more info about past teams, check out the team pages from 2011, 2012 and 2013.

Mary Baldwin, 23, Program Coordinator, Deerfield Hills Community Center

Blogs: Take 5 in the Garden ** Beaten up by Barr: Another trail running rite of passage ** Back at it ** Why are you soaking wet? ** There's a bra in my glove compartment (and other indicators you may be a runner) ** A blood offering to the trail gods ** Bolder Boulder ** St. Mary's Falls, Stratton, sunshine, blissters ** Happy National Running Day ** One crown down, two to go  **  A tale of two 10Ks ** 14,115' ** The highway to hell is paved with intervals ** More miles on the mountain  ** Race Prep in Pictures ** Two crowns down and one to go ** Just say no ** Classic 10K: How slow can you go? ** Biking Pikes ** Unlike sharks, runners can stand still ... or so we're told ** Jello legs, made-up songs, and the smell of burning rubber ** There is not stopping Saturday from coming **

How long have you been a runner and how did you get started? I first ran track in fourth grade, not because I liked to run, but because hurdles looked like fun. That venture into track showed me that huge feet and a total lack of coordination makes for some embarrassing falls. By fifth grade I decided to run the mile, mostly because other kids complained that it was hard and I was an insufferable show-off. I played tennis through high school, but my lack of coordination and love of endurance over speed always brought me back to running. I started competing and training seriously about six years ago.

Tell us about your best running experience. There’s no one race or run that stands out in my mind as the best. Instead there’s a feeling that accompanies running in general. You know that first few minutes immediately following any long run? That moment of pure joy and relief, when your entire body is exhausted but you can finally process oxygen again? That’s the feeling I live for. I love looking back at the miles I ran and feeling like I earned the exhaustion.

What attracted you to the Triple Crown of Running series? I’m attracted to that bazaar combination of joy, suffering, and blisters that we runners call “fun.” Running the Ascent has been a goal since I first learned about it years ago. I certainly never expected to have the opportunity to tackle the challenge so soon! I moved to the Springs this February and spent my first month running hills at elevation and vacillating between entering the series or wimping out. I guess I was feeling brave on the morning of March 12th taking on the most exciting series I can imagine!

Why do you run? Warning: This is not a comprehensive list! What’s not to love? It’s free (which is important when you’re a young government employee). It’s freeing. Just me, a trail, and maybe a running buddy. It allows me to eat a lot…like enough to feed a small rhino. Brutal hill repeats are a great way to make friends. I love the sense of exploration. I’m a super competitive person and running allows me to let it loose. No matter how big a problem seems when I leave the house, after a run everything seems manageable. To achieve that amazing feeling of accomplishment and exhaustion.

Where is your favorite place to run in the Colorado Springs area, and why? Here are a few of my favorites: Stratton Open Space, because it’s the first trail I ran in the Springs; it was sort of a rite-of-passage through mud and ice. Red Rocks is my go-to running place – there’s always a place to park, it’s easy to find my way around (directions are not my forte, to say the least), and the views are breathtaking. Well, maybe it’s the hills that are breathtaking, I’ll blame the views for now! Garden of the Gods is the place to be at 6 a.m. on Tuesdays and Thursdays. The landscape is obviously iconic, but for me, the Garden is also where I push myself because I run with a group – shout out to the Attack Pack!

When you aren't running or working, what do you like to do? When I’m not running, I’m thinking about running. I can multi-task though, so I may also be doing homework (I’m a senior at CU Denver), listening to NPR, spending time on Facebook to avoid doing said homework, coaching an awesome group for Girls on the Run, or spending time with my dog, Layla Lou

Jose Jimenez, aka Bill "The Beagle", 434 in dog years, Catriona Cellars Winery/Cafe

Blogs: Ai-Yi-Yi ** Gardening ** LRB ** A Keg to stand on ** All Spruced Up ** Vertical Varnacula ** Survivor ** The Power of P&G ** Snake bites ** Roundup tune-up ** Reviewing the Round and PRDs ** Getting serviced ** Barr none ** Tick ... Tock ... ** Stand UP!**Bright ideas, Part 7 ** Giving the Ascent the Fingers ** Taper Worm ** Taperi

How long have you been a runner and how did you get started?

I started running in 1977, in what we used to call "sneakers" or "tennis shoes," although I personally never played tennis in them. How I got started I will never know but I'm sure it was a mistake.

Tell us about your best running experience.
Well, I'd have to say it was my first Ascent because I felt great the entire time (seriously) and I was only 4 minutes off my goal....that and the fact the race is SO well organized and the volunteers just make all the runners feel like they're champions...the volunteers are super, super, super and El Paso Search and Rescue is everywhere, making you feel secure and....and....it's just a great, great run.

What attracted you to the Triple Crown of Running series?
Having done the TC in 2012, I know just how valuable the first two legs are in preparing you for the Ascent. having to train for the first two races got me into a discipline and a routine and I'm convinced it made all the difference in the world in making my first Ascent a very positive experience.

Why do you run?
It keeps me in shape to pursue my passion which is climbing the tall peaks. With only 29 of Colorado's 14'ers under my feet, I still have a lot of "elly" to gain.

Where is your favorite place to run in the Colorado Springs area, and why?
It remains Spruce Mountain, just north of Palmer Lake because it is physically challenging with great views but if I were to pick a place in Colorado Springs I guess I would say Section 16 for good elevation gain and spectacular views and a nice intermediate distance.

When you aren't running or working, what do you like to do?
ski, alpine and cross-country, hike any trail, read, listen to music, especially live music and continue the never-ending research survey of Colorado's many fine breweries.

Gene "Bubba" Chavez, 45, Enrollment Supervisor, CPCD

Blogs: Pre-Training ** Setbacks ** Training Daze ** ** Fun during the journey ** A poem for the Garden 10 Mile ** Garden of the Gods 10 Mile race ** Traincation ** Kiss my Crags ** Summer Roundup ** Bottom to Top? ** Sacrifices ** Final training runs ** Inspirations

How long have you been a runner and how did you get started?

I have been running for 3 years and hope to run for many more. I started running on spring break 2011. I was sitting on the couch eating potato chips one day and one fell. I looked down to pick it up and it was on my belly. What a scary sight that was! I decided to put the chips down and go for a run. Didn't make it 2 blocks and thought I was going to die. I was then determined to be able to run a 5K and I registered for the Take 5 in the Garden.

Tell us about your best running experience. 
The Pikes Peak Ascent is my favorite race. It is by far the most difficult race but reaching the summit is the absolute best feeling in the world. You are on top of the world and the feeling is so awesome. When you run up Pikes Peak you learn alot about your mind and body because they are both put to the limit.

What attracted you to the Triple Crown of Running series? This series is extremely difficult. I wanted to put myself to the test and I asked myself is this a series I could accomplish? Only one way to find out and that is by giving it a try. I remember hearing about a running series many years ago.....I think it was the Pepsi Challenge. My uncle ran in it and I never gave it much though except I thought he was crazy. Now that I run, being part of such a difficult series is such an accomplishment and makes me swell with pride.

Why do you run? There are so many reasons I run. I do like to eat so this helps with all the calories I take in. I have met so many great people running. The running community is full of people that are caring and fun. Staying in touch with them and socializing with them keep me coming back for more. I am also a member of "Bubba's Run Team". They are a great group and they really make running fun. GO BRT!!

Where is your favorite place to run in the Colorado Springs area, and why? When I am running you can find me running along Monument Creek, in Garden of the Gods, in North Cheyenne Canyon, in Section 16 (can I say that) and in Bear Creek Park. I try to mix it up because I always see something new. My favorite place to run is in Garden of the Gods on the trails and occasionally on the pavement. The variety of terrain and the breath taking views are awesome. When I see other runners out and about it motivates me to continue going. So please continue running my fellow runners and thank you for motivating me!

When you aren't running or working, what do you like to do? When I am not running I like to watch my Broncos and the Rockies. I have heard running at altitude increases your red blood cells but it increases my Bronco Orange blood cells. Once in a while you can find me doing karaoke and acting like I can dance. When I finish singing and dancing I get many applause......not because I was good but because I am done.

Jill Gaebler, 47, City of Colorado Springs, Council Member

Blogs: Run to Remember ** All in the Family ** It's as easy as riding a bike ** So much to be thankful for **The dreaded taper ** My Talisman ** Winning my own race **Bring It ** Random musings on running and Barcelona ** The Day of the Marmot ** Runnin' places with smilin' faces ** Hay in the barn **

How long have you been a runner and how did you get started? I have been running most of my life, but only got serious after I hit 40 years old. Something about aging that motivates one to keep time from taking its toll on the body.

Tell us about your best running experience. This is a tough question. So many great running experiences. If forced I think it would have to be my first marathon, which was the Colorado Marathon. It was a beautiful course, with beautiful weather, and it was so empowering to know that I could accomplish a 26.2 mile race. My family found me several times along the course, which also very motivating.

What attracted you to the Triple Crown of Running series? I have been running the Garden of the Gods 10 Mile Run for years, and it’s my favorite race. Last year I ran the Ascent for the first time, and ended up running all TCR races. I enjoyed the experience so much and felt such an accomplishment. I also felt such a strong connection to my community, as these races well display the true awesomeness of Pikes Peak and our beautiful city, and so many locals run the races. It was like hanging out with a big family.

Why do you run? Running is the one thing I do just for myself. It’s a quiet space where I can get away from all the noise in my life; a place I can think, and a way for me to peacefully enjoy the beauty that surrounds all of us here in Colorado Springs. Running also helps me to sleep like no other exercise can.

Where is your favorite place to run in the Colorado Springs area, and why? I love running in the Garden of Gods. It’s such a beautiful open space, there are many trail options, and the hills make it challenging.

When you aren't running or working, what do you like to do? I enjoy spending time with my family. My husband is also a runner, and my two teenage kids are a joy to spend time with. I also swim and hike, and I enjoy cooking complicated and inspired meals.

Shelley Hitz, 39, Self-employed at Body and Soul Publishing LLC, (www.shelleyhitz.com)

Blogs: A few lessons from a "Middle of the Pack" runner ** 3 tips to prepare for a New race ** Hill Training 101 **Inspiration to run another day** Sometimes you have to run scared ** When racing, should you run by pace or effort? ** One way to celebrate your running accomplishments ** What kind of runner are you regarding injuries? ** My playground today ** Instant fame with the PPS team ** Pikes Peak Ascent Strategy 101 ** My biggest fear **I made it to Barr Camp, finally! ** Keeping my eyes on the goal ** Unexpected obstacles and setbacks ** More high-altitude training **

How long have you been a runner and how did*  you get started? I decided to switch sports my senior year of high school and run track. Pretty crazy, right? Well, I didn’t win any races that year, but I was definitely one of the most improved runners on our team. Since that time (20-plus years later) I have continued running on/off for exercise to keep in shape. However, I didn’t start training more seriously until the last 1-2 years. I got the running bug watching my husband, CJ’s, success and attending many of his races. CJ started coaching me and since then I have seen great improvements in my racing times. I still tend to be a middle-of-the-pack runner, but I love the running community and challenging myself in new ways.

Tell us about your best running experience. I have had several. However, the one that sticks out to me the most is the Denver Rock ‘n’ Roll Half Marathon this past October 2013. I decided I wanted to run the Ascent, but I needed to qualify. I finished my first half marathon in 2010 with a time of 2:33. Last year the qualifying time was 2:30. Bummer. I missed the qualifying time by only 3 minutes. Therefore, I knew I would need to re-qualify with a new half. Then they increased the qualifying time for 2014 to 2:25 but I knew if I trained hard I could make my goal.
I had many setbacks in my training including sickness (getting a cold), dealing with an overuse injury in my foot, and traveling to sea level for a week and training on a treadmill (which I wasn’t used to) just shortly before my race.
My husband, CJ, coached me and set up my training plan…adapting it along the way as obstacles came up. Although my foot started hurting halfway through the race, I finished in 2:15:30. It was such a good feeling to not only make my goal, but run even faster than I thought possible. Plus, I qualified for the Ascent which also allowed me to apply to run with this amazing team. :)

What attracted you to the Triple Crown of Running series? I have supported and watched my husband run Pikes Peak Ascent the last two years. His goal last year was to finish the Triple Crown 5th overall and he ended up 4th. I also hiked my first four 14ers last summer and loved it. I like a challenge and decided to try to qualify for the Ascent. Once I qualified, I thought I might as well do the entire Triple Crown as this may be the only year I do the Ascent and therefore the only year I could complete the Triple Crown. Ready or not…here I come!!

Why do you run? I recently thought about this and came up with seven reasons I run (and they don’t include winning). Here they are…

Fitness: My number one reason to run in races is to stay fit. Right now, I work a sedentary desk job. I like my work, but I sit way too much. Therefore, getting out and running helps keep my blood pumping through my veins and keeps me healthy. I also want to be able to run injury-free. Sometimes I don't push myself as hard as I could in my training because I don't want to get hurt. But, if I can continue running for years to come, it will be a great gift to both myself and my health.

Fun: If you are a runner, you know the camaraderie that is formed at races. It truly is a fun environment! Plus, we tend to go out to breakfast with some of our friends after the race to extend the fun even further.

Friends: Some of our best friends are runners. And we would have never met them had it not been for races, running groups, etc. This year, we had fun running the Winter Series with H.A.R.T. and now I will be running the Triple Crown Series with Pikes Peak Sports.

Food: Some races do better than others at providing good food, but there is almost always some food available after the race. Yum!

Free Swag: Okay, okay. Technically, the "free swag" we get isn't free. We do pay a race entry fee in order to get a t-shirt, finisher's medal, or some other cool swag.

Fulfilling Goals: I tend to be a goal-oriented person anyway, but signing up for a race gives me a definite goal to work towards. I tend to be more consistent in my training when I have signed up for an upcoming race.

Fashion: I know what you're thinking..."What does fashion have to do with running?" Although I'm not over the top, I do like clothes and I enjoy accessorizing. Therefore, it's been fun to put together my running outfits for the races. For the winter series, I wore a different pair of fun socks for each race. :)
See my full blog post here: http://www.pikespeaksports.us/profiles/blogs/7-reasons-i-run-in-races-and-they-don-t-include-winning

Where is your favorite place to run in the Colorado Springs area, and why? My neighborhood. I live near Garden of the Gods and love being able to run out my door and take in amazing views of the mountains and the Garden.

When you aren't running or working, what do you like to do? I love sunsets, the outdoors (hiking, running, biking), traveling, reading, and spending time with friends and family. I am also involved in my church and my faith in Christ is central to my life and everything I do.

Sean O'Day, 39, District 12 Elementary School Teacher, Assistant Cross-Country Coach at Cheyenne Mountain High School.

Blogs: Crazyland ** Sanity ** Adventure Tourism **  Grand ** Cathedral  ** Hiding **  Death **  Labels ** 37,572' ** Slacker ** Secret Recipe ** Jagged ** 

How long have you been a runner and how did you get started? I have distinct memories from back when I was 11, living in Idaho. On Sunday mornings, I would get up super early and ride my BMX bike a couple of miles to the nearest convenience store. They had an arcade game - Ice Climber, I think. I would buy a candy bar and a Coke and pop a couple quarters in the machine and play for a good while. Then, I'd get back on that BMX and pedal as hard as I could to get home quickly. I remember that being the first time that I felt the endorphins from pushing myself hard. I didn't actually start running until my freshman year of high school, but I always looked forward to field day!

Tell us about your best running experience. My high school cross-country team won the Minnesota state meet when I was a senior. It was our school's first title in cross. We were ranked No. 3 in the state, and we ended up sticking 7 guys in front of every other team's third. That day was just the culmination of over two years of a bunch of us dedicating heart and soul into being the best we could possibly be. The journey, those late night runs on creepy roads, recruiting other guys to join us every day, creating a system of mutual accountability that we all thrived on...that's what I remember the most.

What attracted you to the Triple Crown of Running series? When I first heard about the Pikes Peak Ascent, I could hardly believe people did such a thing. Even as a college runner, I could hardly move atop Pikes Peak. (In hindsight, that may have had more to do with the dozen donuts we ate than the altitude) So naturally, I signed up just to see what it was all about. I fell in love with the race and have now run five Ascents and two Marathons. As a teacher I travel a decent amount throughout Colorado over the summer, and have always been out of town climbing mountains on both the Garden and Roundup weekends. Training for the Triple Crown is going to be a blast.

Why do you run?
It's healthier than narcotics or booze.
It's cheaper than Adderol and Ritilin.
It's more effective zone-out therapy than surfing or TV.
It's more fulfilling than Angry Birds or Candy Crush.
It's cheaper and safer than climbing Himalayan peaks.
It's more portable than swimming or cycling.

Where is your favorite place to run in the Colorado Springs area, and why? What an amazing town for trail running. Seriously - the options in the Pikes Peak Region are staggering. I'm still finding new trails! I would have to say that the massive trail network in the North Cheyenne Canyon may be my favorite. That's mountain biking territory up there!

When you aren't running or working, what do you like to do? Sleeping or eating, most likely.
Truthfully, I don't know where to separate the sport of running from mountaineering and scrambling. I'm working on climbing Colorado's highest 100 peaks - I'm in the 70's right now. My goals this summer are to get and stay healthy, successfully complete the PPA/PPM double, and finish the Centennials My favorite days are ones where I can run the approach to a semi-technical peak and scramble to its summit. I'm not sure where the running ends and the climbing begins, and I still don't know how to classify those days in my Garmin log.

Brianne Pierson, Response to Intervention Coordinator, Roosevelt Edison Charter School

Blogs: Poo at Mile 22 ** We can do hard things ** We can do hard things ** Getting elevated at Elk Park ** Sandbagging with the Striders ** The nomadic runner runs in the rain ** A great day at The Garden...and the Incline ** Recovery days and old age ** Baggin' Peaks ** Bear Tacos, Bear Creek and Blood ** Purple and Gold Revelry ** Above the clouds on Barr Trail ** Getting ready for the wild, wild, west ** How the west was run ** 

How long have you been a runner and how did you get started? I've been running since 2008. I swam in high school and played golf (poorly) in college. I had always been pretty active throughout high school and most of college but gained the "freshman 15...plus". I lived a pretty unhealthy lifestyle for many years-drinking excessively, smoking, eating junk food and not exercising regularly. I moved to Colorado Springs and started running Jack Quinn's Run Club because there was beer afterwards...AND I needed to lose weight and my doctor wanted to put me on medication to lower my cholesterol so I figured running would be one way to shed some pounds. I started to run 10 minute miles on the gym treadmill with my heart rate at at about 190. Running wasn't easy at the beginning (and it still isn't) but being stubborn, I stuck with it. I was eventually talked into running the Rescue Run 5K by my friend Jessica and decided I enjoyed racing. I'm competitive by nature and races gave me something to train for. Fast-forward to today. I quit smoking, haven't picked up a drink in almost 5 years, and dropped about 50 pounds over the last six years. I owe much of the transformation in my life to running and the runners who pushed me to keep going. The camaraderie of the running community in Colorado Springs is amazing and I have so many running friends to thank for helping me stay motivated and inspiring me to push myself farther than I could have ever imagined. I never considered myself a "runner". I despised running as a kid and was that "fat kid" on field day in second grade, knocking over each hurdle as I huffed and puffed around the track, finishing dead last. I am so grateful for all of the blessings running has brought to my life. I'm so glad that I chose to ignore that little voice in my head telling me to quit as I slogged through those first painful miles, simply putting one foot in front of the other. Today, I can sincerely say - I am a runner.

Tell us about your best running experience. I have too many great running experiences to list so here is a recent one! Last summer I got a little choked up at the finish of the Imogene Pass Run as I usually do at the Pikes Peak Ascent finish. I am astounded that the body that once struggled to finish a mile without walking can now accomplish such amazing things. The descent into Telluride was steep and my legs were cramping pretty badly. I ended up falling and had a hard time getting up and a fellow runner helped me up. I looked up to view one of the most beautiful views I've seen in my life. As I finished the long descent into town and neared the finish-line I was overcome by gratitude for what I had accomplished and the other runners who finished right along with me. The beauty of the run from Ouray to Telluride is breathtaking! It's a tough race, but should definitely be on every trail runner's bucket list.

What attracted you to the Triple Crown of Running series? It is hard. The first time I ran it, I wanted to challenge myself and see if I could do it. I've run it several times and have enjoyed every single series. Regardless of whether I PR'd or met my goal times, it is always an honor to run with (I mean, behind) such talented athletes. The venues are spectacular and it's pretty cool to brag about racing up a mountain.

Why do you run? I run to stay sane, to feel peace, to be a part of, or to be alone. I run to feel close to God. I run because it feels good, and because it hurts. I run because I like to win, and I hate losing. I run because it's humbling. I run to eat frozen yogurt, or pizza. or sushi. I run because I'm afraid. I run to be confident, and because walking is too slow. I run to be present. I run to catch the girl in front of me. I run to "chick" Alan. I run because I like T-shirts with advertisements. I run because it's easier than dealing with my problems, and because I like medals and trophies. I run to be healthy. I run because I can.

Where is your favorite place to run in the Colorado Springs area, and why? Bear Creek Park is my favorite place to run. I lived by Bear Creek Park last year and did the majority of my training runs there. The Summer Roundup Trail Run course is my favorite of the series. I've donated blood to the trail (requiring stitches) while running down High Drive a few years ago (See pic on Pikes Peak Sports). The trails are usually not busy and the Roundup course has a nice little climb going out and a fun downhill jaunt on the way back. I always see some sort of wildlife and it seems like it's always been my "go-to" trail to clear my head, experience some beauty, and get a mix of hills and leg turnover. I live by Palmer Park now (literally my backyard), and have grown quite fond of the rocks over here. Regardless of my numerous addresses since I've lived in Colorado Springs, I've made it a non-negotiable that I live within close proximity to a trail. Then again, in this town you're always in close proximity to trails.

When you aren't running or working, what do you like to do? When I'm not running or working you can find me at Cambio.yoga studio doing chaturangas. I have incorporated regular yoga practice over the last couple of years to help loosen up tight muscles from running and have fallen in love with it! Yoga compliments my running and keeps me balanced. Being a teacher, I enjoy the summers off so I also take advantage of hiking 14'ers, camping, mountain biking, and partaking in the occasional triathlon. In the winters I still run and ski on occasion. Oh, and if you couldn't tell by my response to question No. 7, I like to eat. Some people I know have reported that I am a pretty good cook.

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