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Chasing the light

Updated: Mar 29, 2020

We have four sources of output. Heart, Soul, Mind, Strength.

For those of you who may not know my story, let me shed some light on it. I was born and raised in the small town of Alpena MI. Just below the Mackinac Bridge where hunting, fishing, farming, and canning are all a way of life. I'm grateful to have been raised in this atmosphere. One where undesirable, hard work is the only thing that will earn you a meal, earn you a dollar, or a roof over you head. No exceptions. You learned the ways of the land. And certainly didn't take anything you didn't earn. YOU HAD TO FIGHT TO GET OUT. Not to say that it was a bad place to live or raise a family, but if you wanted to see the world and your dreams consisted of adventures, new places, and new challenges, you had to fight for it.

Kicking the soccer ball around in the front yard with my brother Nick, I exclaimed, " I will be a professional athlete!".. He quickly shot back, "At what?!" ..There is no professional soccer for women." Confidently without missing a beat, " I said there will be!"

After some great seasons of high school sports (soccer, cross country running, track and wrestling), I chose a soccer scholarship to Northern Michigan University. In my grand scheme of things, I figured I could play soccer and run public road races on the side. That way I wouldn't have to choose between the two great sports, schools and scholarships.

Meanwhile, in my childhood years, I can see now, how my medical problems were beginning to rear their ugly heads from uncontrollable periods, constant stomach aches, falling asleep immediately after a hard effort (no for real, like 15 minute power naps had a whole different meaning then) to pissing myself during a hard race. Then though, it didn't matter, I'd tell myself whatever I needed too to succeed.

The first month of college flew by. Shame on me, I realized, I hadn't even called my parents once. I was on a mission with 3 training sessions a day and ambitions to be an architectural engineer that took up some time. Then I got the call, you know the heartbreaking one that your dog that you've had since you were 5 finally died. Even when you see these things coming, it still doesn't hurt any less. Things seemed to change after that. My mom realized affection was a real thing, that it should have been more abundant (or just present period) in our lives. It never was. As a matter of fact, I can recall only hugging or getting hugged by my mom twice in my life up until this point. Once was after a back hand (probably deserved so don't go calling the cops) I received from being an obnoxious child, and the other at my state cross country meet in high school. Sad but true, but you know, it wasn't too late to recognize mistakes, and make a change.

After two quick years at NMU, playing soccer, running some road races on the side, and changing my major to Exercise Science I decided there was more out there and I was going to go for it.

Matthew 17:20, Jesus said, “Because you have so little faith. Truly I tell you, if you have faith like a grain of mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, 'Move from here to there,' and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you.”

Something I always carried with me (no really, a teacher gave me one in a glass heart when I was 10) and that I kept grasped in my hand and in my heart.

Signing with University of Nevada Las Vegas would be the start of another adventure. I was to run cross country, indoor and outdoor track for them. Moving from one extreme climate to the next was all part of the plan :) The plan to season myself the best I could in all conditions and terrains to be the best athlete I could be once college was over. I studied Kinesiological Sciences with a concentration in fitness management.

During my high school years and now some of college I had been dating my high school sweetheart and was to be married soon after I turned 21. That time was quickly approaching, but before I would proceed, my heart just about stopped. I went down on the UNLV track one day not able to control my heart rate, blood flow, breathing.. I was going unconscious. Everyone thought it was just a "true heartache." The kind you get when you break up with your high school sweetheart after almost 7 years and just a few months before your big wedding.

That was my second surgery (first compartment syndrome in high school there would be several more- double hip, thyroid...), wolf parkinsons syndrome white, heart ablation. This one has been the scariest of all. It was the riskiest, with a 50% chance of a pace maker, 5% chance of death. You can not run at an elite level with a pace maker. I made it out on the positive side.

After my UNLV graduation, I quickly realized once again, there was more for me out there. The mountains were calling :) ...and I must go. My brother loaned me $1,000 and I was on my way to Colorado. Pursuing my career in the fitness industry and starting my marathon running career again (again, because I did my first marathon as a bet with my brother ... I kicked his butt of course :) .. flying pig marathon 3:41!), I worked 3 jobs to make it happen. I BARELY made it.

The next few years I established myself. I found consistency in work and in management positions, but unfortunately, it was on the East side of Colorado about 1.5 hours from the mountains. When my roommate told me she had plans to move to downtown Denver, I had to change directions and headed north. The next few years were a blur. I moved 9 times, had several different jobs, but at this time, I was able to keep one consistent one. Professional athlete (as a marathon runner).

Those years would be the most regretted so far. Being in your late 20's trying to make ends meet, not paying attention to the crappy relationships you were in, all added up. I ended up having to live out of my truck twice, still working 3 different jobs, and ended yet another marriage proposal.

Revolution would soon occur. The Rugged Revolution. By this time I had been on the world teams for different distances in the trail running scene, earned a few National Champion Titles, found myself a good man, and started Dream Live Run (which soon would earn a name change to Rugged Running). My hopes were to create a supportive running community. Supportive meaning, not only do we run some together (or hike or bike), but we do life together and running is just the commonality for us. I mean after all, isn't there SO much more to life than running?

Don't get me wrong, you know I'm pretty dang focused, but there is a time and a place. There's also this wonderful thing called children, and they will rock your world too! So although life throws us so many challenges, whether they be physical or mental (disease, addiction, cancer, lack of will power...), KEEP FIGHTING. You never know who's world you could change, inspire, help, serve, or BELONG too.

It takes heart to DO something, the human spirit (aka your soul) is more powerful than you think, and your mind or visions are nothing without the execution of your strength.


So here's to the fighters!!! And for anyone who may need a little support, Rugged Running was made for you! Stay tuned for other inspiring stories like Travis's in the weeks to come...

"When I first moved to Colorado, I struggled to stay in one place. I didn't know anyone, and it was expensive to live here. I tried hard to make things work in Silverthorne and told myself I would never give up on my dream of moving out here to run professionally and be apart of a supportive running community. As the years went by, I knew to stay out here, id have to make sacrifices, and work at places I didn't necessarily want just to make money to live here and train. I was set on living in Colorado and no going back, this will forever be my home. I continued to work at different running stores that each one paid a little more and striving to keep moving up to a place I knew i'd feel stable, long story short the running industry is a hard place to make a living. My sole purpose for staying in it this long has been to educate runners that come in the store through my coaching knowledge, help them find the right running gear, and ultimately help build a running community and meet new people everywhere I go. I have reached the top paying running store in the industry, and it has been gratifying working for them, but my real passion for coaching comes out with every customer I talk to and am now striving to make coaching and helping others my ultimate career. So long story short, I have improved by moving up quickly in the running industry and meeting new people in the front range and growing the community and being apart of multiple running groups to help with my future success in coaching."


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