2019 NTTR Athlete Ambassadors
Never would I have thought I would ever be racing competitively. Growing up I was hardly interested in running. I played softball as a pitcher into college, so the majority of my athleticism was confined within a circle mid-field.
Occasionally I would bat, have a short sprint around the bases, and wait until my coaches would substitute someone in for me out of fear that I would get injured. It wasn’t until the summer of 2018 where I discovered my passion for running, and now I find myself wishing I had done this my whole life. Running has not only changed me physically but has opened up new doors to my mental capabilities. Specifically, I have found trail running to be completely fascinating. There is something to be said about the individuals within this sport. There is such a sense of comradery and I truly believe it brings out the best in people. Something unique about trail racing and ultramarathons, in comparison to other sports, is not that you just need endurance, but rather that you must endure. Within my short time as a trail runner, I have learned that the further the distance I run, the more I learn about myself and that there is so much room for growth and improvement.
Becoming an Athlete Ambassador by NTTR and competing against these incredible athletes is such a blessing. By the end of the 2019 season, I will run my first 100-miler and squeeze as many road and trail races in between as I can. My goal is to represent North Texas Trail Runners to the best of my ability and continue to spread the message of the incredible trail running community.
“At the end of the day, hard work may not be enough. You still may fail. But you keep going out there and go after it.” – David Goggins
I was introduced to trail running a few years ago, when a friend told me we could actually run on the local mountain bike trail if we wanted to. Who knew? We met at the Northwest Community DORBA Trail in Frisco and followed the “Hike” path (which really just means we were going the opposite way the mountain bikes were going). I quickly figured out that trail running is waaaayyyy different than road running. I found that I used different muscles, the terrain naturally slowed me down some, and I had an odd sensation of getting lost in my head while still paying attention to my surroundings. I hit the trail as often as I could, and the fact that it was 3.6 miles from my house (who’s counting?) helped a ton.
Soon, I ventured out past my local trail to other trails in the area. I met people who were coordinating group runs all over North Texas. I found that every trail was unique and challenging in its own way. Some were flat and fast, and some were rocky and hilly, but all of them provided breathtaking views and an opportunity to disconnect from concrete and glass for a bit.
My favorite part of trail running isn’t the trails or the running – it’s the trail runners. The trail and ultra running community is special because of the people who comprise it. Maybe it’s the endorphins or the surroundings, but trail runners are unmistakably kind and supportive, no matter where you are on your fitness journey. I’ve been fortunate to make connections with so many trail runners through Team Ninja, led by @ultraninjarunnr, the Frisco Running Club and events hosted by NTTR and its members. Trail Runners are a unique, inclusive and supportive bunch.
Rachel grew up in England with little background in sport. She first discovered an enjoyment of being active when she started cycling to commute to school and band practices, and taught herself to swim at fifteen years old. It wasn’t until later, in her twenties, after moving to the U.S., that Rachel started running 5k and 10k races. From there, she soon found herself wanting to push for the Marathon distance.
Although she finished her first marathon with a Boston qualifying time, it was despite various injuries. Rachel knew she had to get creative around run-specific training in order to keep doing the sport she loved long-term, and continue to see improvements. This led her to start triathlon training and strength training. Several years later, Rachel’s atypical minimal-running approach to training has allowed her to finish and place in triathlons from sprint to full-distance, in addition to running more marathons than she ever thought possible.
The ultrarunning “thing” kind of happened by accident for Rachel. Looking for a different challenge and new cross-training stimulus, she signed up for her first 50k; the notoriously hot and hilly Bulldog 50k, and was immediately hooked. It wasn’t long before she wanted to push for her first 50-mile race as a post-baby “carrot”. Loving that, she went on to finish her first mountain 100-miler (Santa Barbara 100), then another (Leadville Trail 100) and then another (Kodiak 100). Three tough, climbing-intensive 100’s within about three months, and two course records to boot, all by an athlete who admits to being terrified of heights!
Realizing that the body is a finite resource, Rachel’s goals are to focus on becoming a balanced, holistic athlete. She has dreams of competing at the elite level, but also being able to enjoy racing as her kids grow up and well into her senior years.