It was around 7PM that I began my run through the White River National Forest in Vail, Colorado. Starting off from my relay exchange point, surrounded by endless miles of  Aspen and Pine trees, I inhaled deeply. That first breath was in part because I was absolutely terrified that I wouldn’t be able to breath at this altitude, and partly because I had promised myself that I would really allow myself to enjoy this race. This would, more than likely, be the only time that I would ever find myself running in a place that John Denver wrote so many songs about.

It was along that first of my 3 relay legs, that a fellow runner graciously stopped to take this picture of me. I have run in some truly amazing places over the years; barefoot on the beach in Mexico, part way around the island of Kauai, at the base of the red Sedona mountains, on the boardwalk along South Beach in Miami and, most recently…Hyde Park in London. There have been moments along those routes that I have wanted so badly to remember every detail of my surroundings but I become so entranced in the run that stopping to take a picture is the last thing on my mind. So…thank you, my good Samaritan Colorado Ragnarian:)

What I have come to learn about these runs is how much I would miss if I didn’t do them. There is a whole, enormous, awe-inspiring world out there that not a single one of us has been even close to covering. If I were to have missed that run in Miami, I would never have seen the sun rise over the ocean, (weird for a western girl). If I had traded my Hyde Park run for a ‘continental breakfast’, I would have never known about that amazing garden pool tucked deep within the park. Running has become as much a part of my vacations as everything else on the site-seeing agendas, because vacationing, for me, is about exploring, and…traveling to a place is exciting, but exploring that place can change you.