by Jody Green
The G.O.A.Tz wrapped up their first designated run on the hidden trails of Lake Zorinksy last April. We’ve made our way to five different trails in the Greater Omaha area. These include Lake Manawa State Park in Council Bluffs, Glen Cunningham Lake, Tranquility Park, and most recently, Schramm Park State Recreation Area.
The idea for these events came about because of the warm fuzzy, rejuvenating, and happy feelings associated with running trails in a group setting. These events are free, low-key, scheduled during the afternoon lull, last about an hour, and best of all; they bring families together for some outdoor fun.
For last weekend’s Kidz Trail Outing at Schramm, Janet Shulenberger, owner of the salon appropriately named, Running with Scissors by Janet, offered to supply all the refreshments. Thanks to her generosity, the group that consisted of 36 kids and 27 adults, enjoyed watermelon, grapes, pears, oranges, and apples after exploring the trails.
Sponsor Spotlight: Aside from being the hairstylist to many mini and adult G.O.A.T.z, Janet is known for supporting of a Michigan-based organization called Wigs 4 Kids. She will be holding a ponytail drive on November 29th willing and able to donate 10” of untreated hair. If you choose to donate, she will follow-up with an amazing FREE haircut and style. Please LIKE her page for updates and spread the word. (I have been growing hair tirelessly for almost a year.)
Our visit to Schramm brought many new families and faces, included a family from Lincoln, a set of 5-year old triplets, and a 6-week old infant. There were also a variety of pre- and post-run activities thanks to the Liska's and the Johnsen's for bringing the fish food, and Coleen Duda for bringing the bubbles.
The next Kidz Trail Outing is scheduled for Saturday September 27 from 3-4 PM at Chalco Hills Recreation Area. More details and a link for sign-ups will follow.
If you have any comments, trail suggestions, or would like to lead or help with an event, please
Jenni Richards is a friend and source of inspiration on and off the trail. She’s a trail runner, ultra runner, mom, wife, personal trainer, volunteer and helps run three family businesses. Yes, she’s busy and someone you count on for 5 AM group runs during the snow, ice and cold. She’s transformed her life physically, mentally and spiritually and has made an impact on so many in the local area running community.
G.O.A.T.z: How did you first discover running?
Jenni: In my younger days, I ran track and dabbled in running in my 20's but nothing serious or committed. After I gave birth to our 3rd child, Sophia, I found myself very overweight and hopeless. I decided I would start running as a way to get back into shape. I enlisted my husband and son to run with me too. Chris really started to enjoy running (a lot more than I did) and started training for a marathon a few months later. I was more interested in the 5 mile race kind of training.
G.O.A.T.z: What interests you about trail and ultra-running?
Jenni: I first found out about trail running when we were hiking in Colorado and a woman came running down the mountain we had just hiked. I was in awe. I had no idea people did that! Chris read a book about Dean Karnazes (Ultramarathon Man) and we decided that would be something we would enjoy. We did a bit of trail running on our next trip to Colorado. Our real love for trails came when we met the G.O.A.T.z on a night run at Tranquility a few years back. We loved the trails, the group and the fun. I never, ever considered running an ultra until Jody and Richelle convinced me I could do it. (I still have no idea why they thought I could.) So, I signed up for the first G.O.A.T.z 50k. I trained all summer on trails and made lots of new friends. For me, trail running is about enjoying God's creation and my friends at the same time. I always feel like a kid when I'm running trails.
G.O.A.T.z: What advice would you share with someone new to trail running?
Jenni: Listen to and watch the other people you are running with who have experience on the trails. Learn from them about their tips and tricks on how to make the experience enjoyable. Share the love of trails with others. Have fun!
G.O.A.T.z: How do you find time to juggle training and working?
Jenni: I don't work full time, but I am a mom of 3 kids, wife to a busy husband who farms and helps operate an agri-supply business and insurance agency. I work part time as a personal trainer and I teach running classes to people with little to no experience running. I get my runs in during the early morning hours or while my kids are at school. I lift weights somewhere in between.
G.O.A.T.z: What is your most memorable race or run?
Jenni: I would have to say Leadville marathon is my most memorable race even though I DNF'd. I travelled down there with a friend, met G.O.A.T.z down there and ran the race with a Goat/Turkey. I got stuck on the top of Mosquito pass with a bum knee/IT band and hobble my way back down the mountain with the help of that friend. But, I learned more than I ever would have otherwise. I learned that I love difficult courses. I love challenging terrain and the beauty of the mountains. Flat courses are not for me. I want the adventure of single track trails and altitude and boulders. I also learned that if I want to run those courses, I need to work hard toward meeting cutoffs in races because I'm not speedy at all but I am determined.
G.O.A.T.z: What would people be surprised to know about you?
Jenni: It's a miracle I can run at all. I broke my pelvis in three places when I was young and have nerve damage on the right side of my body. When I do run, my left leg is longer than my right by about an inch so most of the pounding is on the left side of my body. I just make do with what I have and keep plugging away.
G.O.A.T.z: What’s left on your running bucket list?
Jenni: Too many races to have a bucket list. If I can keep training hard and moving in the right direction, I'd like to run more altitude. It seems like new races are popping up all of the time and I wish I had the time and money to run them all. My plate is full this year with the Voyageur 50 in July, Superior Sawtooth in September and the Ozark 100 in November. If I accomplish all of those, I will reevaluate next year. However, I want to hike the Appalachian Trail and the Colorado Trail in the distant future.
G.O.A.T.z: What are your must have items on a run?
Jenni: My hanky, sunblock, a hat, and my water bottle with Tailwind.
G.O.A.T.z: Describe your perfect run.
Jenni: A perfect run for me is a day in the mountains with no time constraints and to be able to have the legs to run as long as I want.
G.O.A.T.z: What do you enjoy doing when you are not running?
Jenni: When we aren't spending most days at whatever sport my oldest son, Ryan is playing (cross country, basketball, track or baseball). We enjoy camping and being together as a family.
G.O.A.T.z: Tell us what your experience has being a part of the Greater Omaha Area Trail Runners (G.O.A.T.z).
Jenni: The G.O.A.T.z have changed my life in a good way. I have stretched myself to meet goals and boundaries I never thought possible before we started running with this group. I have watched people accomplish things of epic proportions and then believed that I could do those things, myself. I have gained friends that I never would have met if it weren't for the G.O.A.T.z. My kids have learned to run trails and take care of the places we run. I can't imagine my life without my G.O.A.T.z.
G.O.A.T.z: We’ve been lucky to have you run the G.O.A.T.z 50K. How would you describe this race to others?
Jenni: The G.O.A.T.z 50k is a great first Ultra for anyone who is willing to train. It's not easy but it's doable and there is a lot of support throughout the race to carry you through. The hugs and shouts when you come to the finish line are worth every painful step of the last loop.
G.O.A.T.z: What is your favorite trail in the Greater Omaha Area?
Jenni: Platte River State Park - It's about an hour away from where I live in Southwest Iowa. I love the trails and the terrain, the beauty of the park and that I can show up there and run ANYTIME of the day or night. I have trained in the early morning hours there in Snow, Ice, and Heat. It's my happy place.
G.O.A.T.z: What are your thoughts on training partners?
Jenni: I have not really ever had a real training partner. I have had people I've run with here or there but I think if there is someone who will push you and encourage you and be there on each and every run, then that is awesome. I run by myself a majority of the time but I really crave company sometimes. I don't' find many people who run my pace very often, so I take what I can get.
April has been a busy month for G.O.A.T.z and their KIDz. Read on to see what we've been up to.
G.O.A.T.z KIDz Day, April 12, 2014
On the warm and humid afternoon of Saturday April 12th, the G.O.A.T.z hosted the first organized KIDz Trail Outing from Red Dirt Running Company. The idea was for members to focus on taking their kids out for a trail run, rather than going out for a run and leaving the kids at home.
Volunteers led the group of 46 children, 42 adults, and 3 dogs to the trail head behind the North Star building, to the west side of the Lake Zorinsky. The distance options were 1.5, 2.0, or 2.5 miles of single track, showcasing all types of terrain. Confusion quickly ensued as trails looped and crossed repeatedly, and G.O.A.T.z of all sizes moved in every direction. It was a small-scale model of what actually happens in real life, and nobody seemed to panic. The idea was simple, stick with your adult and you’d be safe!
The reason for creating such an event arose from the responses to two questions:
With the help of many caring parents, we brought something special to life; something we hope will continue in a positive direction for years to come.
Children will learn and follow their parents, so we set the foundation by teaching them the basics. Among the most important things about the sport is learning to appreciate nature and build confidence in oneself. Here is a short list of things we would like to contribute to the G.O.A.T.z of the future as they grow and develop:
Future KIDz Trail Outings:
KIDz Day Slideshow
Schramm Park Trail Day, April 19, 2014
Saturday, April 19th, G.O.A.T.z and their KIDz fulfilled a commitment to Schramm Park State Recreational Area, host of the Dizzy GOAT 3 / 6 / 12 Hour Trail Runs by spreading 23 tons of crushed limestone over 2 miles of park trail. In addition to spreading rock, workers replaced or added new water logs to aid in erosion control, and parents and kiddos conducted a litter sweep of the trail. Die-hard KIDz were treated to an Easter Egg Hunt following a long, rewarding day of work.
The Omaha World-Herald was kind enough to cover our efforts. Read more about the day here
Upcoming G.O.A.T.z Trail Day: Saturday, May 31, 9:00 a.m. at Lake Cunningham. KIDz Trail Outing to follow
Schramm Trail Day Slideshow
Kaci Lickteig’s running accomplishments are impressive, qualifying for the Olympic Trials in 2011, placing 1st in the Black Hills 100 in 2013, shattering the previous women’s course record by over 7 hours; yes HOURS, placing 2nd at 2014 USA 100 Mile Championships at Rocky Raccoon, qualifying for The Western States 100, to name a few.
Did we mention 2013 was her first year trail and ultra running?
Just as admirable is her humility, sense of community, and the positive role model she is to the Omaha running community. It’s hard to ignore her dedication and hard work, running over 100 miles a week while maintaining a job as a full time physical therapist. Kaci is the person who smiles and says hello during a race she’s about to win then sticks around to see her friends and back of the packers finish. The Greater Omaha Area Trail-Runners (G.O.A.T.z) are proud of Kaci and fortunate to have her as a part of this group and the local running community.
How did you first discover running?
I first discovered running when I was a junior in high-school. My mom had quit smoking and started jogging to keep weight off and maintain health. She invited me to come join her at the gym. I would go with her and she would hop on the treadmill, so I got on to one beside her. It killed me to run 5 minutes. I thought I was going to die! She would keep going and I wanted to be able to keep up with her, so I kept increasing my time minute by minute until finally it was 10 minutes and so on. I had always been an active kid, playing outdoors, but never anything structured. I soon began to like running and the sense of accomplishment I felt after doing it. Soon thereafter, I was talked into running cross country with my best friend. I have continued to run ever since.
What interests you about trail and ultra running?
I find trail and ultra running so fresh and rewarding. The friendliness and helpfulness of the people who run trails/ultras really draw me close to this sport. I love the fact that so many people of different abilities run these events and inspire others along the way. For me being out in nature for long periods of time is spiritual to me. I love the feeling of going beyond what your mind believes you can do. I love physical challenges so trail/ultra running fits my personality perfectly.
What advice would you share with someone new to trail running?
I would advise you to forget the watch and run on effort and enjoy the new scenery. I had a hard time at first going from being a road runner to a trail runner. I would run and look down at my mile split and see it was 60-90 seconds slower and working harder than I should feel for the pace. I soon learned to let go and work at going by effort. Once I did that I felt free and loved the trails. And don’t be surprised if you feel more soreness at first. Trail running really works all your muscles, whereas roads are working the larger muscle groups. Your body will get stronger and adapt, just be patient and give yourself time to adjust.
How do you find time to juggle training and working full-time?
How I juggle work and running is that I utilize all my time and keep in a routine. I plan to get off of work and get running as soon as I get home. I am a person who loves routine, so by keeping this as just part of my day makes it easy for me. I also have Miguel (Ordorica), my training partner, to hold me accountable. We enjoy our ‘social hour(s)’ after work. It is great therapy!
What is your most memorable race or run?
Wow, that is a loaded question! There are so many that are memorable. I guess I would have to say the Black Hills 100. It was my first 100 mile race. I think about how much I learned about myself during that run. It was just one of those amazing experiences that I will never forget.
What would people be surprised to know about you?
One thing that people might be surprised to know about me is that I grew up having a pet goat! She was a British Alpine named Oreo. We got her from one of our friends to “goat-sit”. Well, we ended up falling in love with her and the lady we were watching her for decided to give her to me as a present.
Oreo was more like a dog than a goat. She owned the farm and let everyone know it. She had an attitude and knew how to use it well. When something made her mad she would let you know by bunting you in the butt and knocking you over. She was a goofy and had a sweet-tooth. She liked to eat ginger-snap cookies from your mouth, tootsie rolls, and popcorn. We’d often find her sitting on top of my mom’s Ford pickup eating the antenna and whatever else she could find. She ended up living a full life and passed away on the farm. She really had it good! And maybe that is why I love Oreo cookies so much now! J
We’ve seen references to the Pixie Ninja. What is this all about?
Haha! Yes, Pixie Ninja. I was first nicknamed Ninja by Peg (Pearson) and Jayci (Zakaras), as they said I looked stealth-like running when I had my compression gear on. Then later Miguel and others started saying because of my size I looked like a little Pixie, especially out in the trails. So, soon my nickname became “Pixie Ninja”! J
What’s left on your running bucket list?
Oh, there are so many races left on my bucket list. A few that I really would like to run are Hardrock 100M, Lake Tahoe 100M, American River 50M, and JFK 50M. Those are just the big ones…I have many others too.
What are your must have items on a run?
I am pretty simple when it comes to running. As long as I have my Garmin, enough clothing layers, and Pearl Izumi shoes I am set! I typically don’t take water/nutrition with me unless it is a very long run 3+ hours.
Describe your perfect run.
A perfect run would be going out on a single-track trail for hours in sunshine, 60-70 degrees, with my pups and training partner Miguel. Not having a care in the world.
What do you enjoy doing when you are not running?
I love spending time with my 3 dogs – Jaida, Mia, and Molly. I also, enjoy going out and hanging with family and friends. I love watching my favorite TV shows including Seinfeld, Amazing Race, and Modern Family.
Tell us what your experience has being a part of the Greater Omaha Area Trail Runners (G.O.A.T.z).
The G.O.A.T.z have been a wonderful group to be a part of. It is such a diverse group of runners and everyone is so passionate about trail running. I remember when Scott and Tim had the initial idea of creating G.O.A.T.z, and now it has grown into a huge group connecting runners locally and afar. It really has brought the trail runners of Omaha closer, and even introduced many non-trail runners to something new. Omaha is very lucky to have this awesome group!
We’ve been lucky to have you run the G.O.A.T.z 50K. How would you describe this race to others?
The G.O.A.T.z 50K is one of my favorite races, and the fact that it is local is even better! I cannot tell you how well organized and detail oriented this event is, and for being so new (2014 will mark the 3rd year). It has such a welcoming and fun-filled atmosphere. You can just feel the passion and enthusiasm the race directors have for this race. It has something for everyone…from 5 miles to 31 miles. It is definitely the epitome of trail running. I highly recommend it for any skill level. I can guarantee you will have the time of your life!
What is your favorite trail in the Greater Omaha Area?
My favorite trail is definitely Lake Cunningham! I love being on the single-track trails. They are very runnable and offer just the perfect amount of elevation change. The beautiful trees, lake, and quietness are what I love. And the best thing is that I can take my pups there and let them run too. It is definitely a gem of Omaha.
What are your thoughts on training partners?
Training partners are wonderful to have. They help you stay accountable, they keep you motivated, and it is always fun to have someone to run with. You definitely have to make sure you find the right person for you. Not everyone can spend so much time together, and train at the same paces. So, often you may have several training partners depending on the type of training you are doing for that particular day.
I am blessed to have Miguel as my training partner. We have been running together for a little over a year now. It has definitely improved my performance and enjoyment from running. We’ve become so in tune with each other, which has been great for when we need to scale back or pick it up. And since we are so good at knowing each other, it has been great because he knew exactly what I needed when he paced me for the last 40 miles of Rocky Raccoon. So, I highly recommend finding a training partner or partners.