Our positive running story this time is on Ray Nypaver, a runner, coach and healer who currently lives right next door to us in Estes Park! I first met Ray on a run in Hermit Park locally a couple of years ago. I already knew her twin sister, Sandi, so when we started talking I had to ask, do you have a twin by chance? We have been honored to have Ray work with us on our women’s running camps over the last couple of years, where she really impressed with her deep consideration for everyone, and everything, and her passion for running and Mother Nature. Our puppy Coco has a bit of a crush on Ray’s puppy Pacer, and we know how he feels! We recently asked Ray if we could interview her and share her positive running story – here is the result of our interview:
Can you briefly share your running history?
Well, I’ve really been running as a toddler, playing games and running for the joy of it (as most of us do when young). When I began running for fitness, it was really to train for basketball and then to de-stress in high school. In college, I made the transition from basketball to running and never looked back. With running, I was able to see my hard work pay off, and it was my way to the adventures I dreamed about, or at least only read about in Harry Potter. A magical life was possible for me too! That’s not to say I’ve never forgotten about the joy that is running. Admittedly, I have turned it into and “obsessive passion” rather than a “harmonious passion” (to use my nerdy counseling terms). After my last 100 miler, I took time off racing, hike the Colorado Trail with my faithful pup, and climbed over 30 14ers with her as well. Now, I’m running to explore and get back to the beauty that surrounds me. I’m starting to contemplate doing some racing too, now that I’ve gone back to my roots and am more grounded.
What is it you like most about running?
Ahhh! Just reading this question makes me excited. I love the exploration and adventure involved in trail running, as well as the movement of grounding and flying, ground and flying from every stride. It all brings me back to deepening my connection with Mother Nature.
You share many miles with your adorable puppy Pacer. What is the most important part of your relationship and how long have you two been together?
I became Pacer’s mom nearly 7 years ago, and I can’t count how many adventures, and misadventures (I get lost a lot), we’ve been on together since then. The most important part of our relationship is the unconditional love, and with that, non-judgment. Pacer, aka Supergirl, has loved me for all of my faults and imperfections. With her, I always feel I am enough. This holds true for running too…she doesn’t judge me for what pace I run, even if it is a slog up our neighborhood hill. It’s all okay with her, and her enthusiasm to get out each morning is infectious.
You work as a coach for Sage Running, with your twin sister Sandi, and Sage Canaday. What do you enjoy most about coaching athletes, and why?
I say this with all honesty, my athletes are amazing and a joy to work with! Part of my personal mission statement includes helping others reach their potential and spread their wings, which coaching allows me to do daily. On the flip side of that, I also continually learn and grow from my athletes as we explore how their bodies adapt to different training stimulus, face challenges, and as they ask me questions that force me to further deepen my knowledge base. (Check out Sage Running here.)
You work with Girls on the Run locally (is that still the case?). What do you see as the two most important changes that society can make to empower young girls to be active and engaged runners?
Unfortunately, I don’t currently work for Girls on the Run (GOTR). I volunteered and worked for GOTR of Northeast Ohio when I lived in the midwest and almost didn’t move to Colorado because I loved the organization so much. Currently, I am an ambassador/volunteer for GOTR of the Rockies, and am planning to bring the program to where I live in Estes Park in the Fall! One of the biggest things I believe society can do to empower young girls to be active and engaged runners is to change our messaging. We need to stop using the words “can’t”, “not good enough”, “thin equals fast” etc, stop talking about body size, change what we are sharing in magazines and social media, and simply tell our girls that they can go out and kick butt in whatever way they choose and we’ve got their back. Secondly, I’m really proud to say that I think society is already making a big shift…today more than ever, girls have powerful role models to look up to, inside and outside of running. We’ve also got amazing programs, like GOTR, that give girls the skills and tools they need to feel secure in themselves and empowered to go after their dreams. (Did I mention how much I love GOTR!?)
You recently took part in our kick start your running in 21 days project. What did you enjoy about the project, and what differences has it made to your running and / or life?
The 21 day project was a great way to start off the year! It helped me bring more attention to the intentions I have for running this year, as well as gave me a bit of a confidence boost to accept where I am with running right now. I really enjoyed the sessions on practicing gratitude, following my dreams, and play.
Can you share one thing that is uniquely Ray that no one would know by looking at you?
Oh wow…how do I answer that!? I guess what is coming to mind the most as the present moment is that I really see my role on Earth as a healer, which I know can sound a little cliche. Truly, I love animals, trees, and mountains all very deeply, and I love humans deeply too. The most difficult piece if finding the courage to move through the pain the is blocking the love. Shining a “ray of light” on our connectedness to others ad Mother Earth is one of the most beautiful things I can do with my running and in my life.
If we could share one key message on your behalf to the World, what would it be?
Going off of what I said above (I didn’t read ahead and realize this was the next question!) my message is to follow your intuition/heart, allow your wings to become unbound, and fly into the world (even if it’s dark) with all the light you can muster. When you feel lost and confused, turn to the trees and animals for wisdom. We’re never truly alone on Mother Earth, especially once we accept that we are part of of Her too.
What are your running and life goals for 2019 and beyond?
All I really know is that I want my running and my life to be an adventure, so wherever adventure and sharing my light takes me, I’ll go. But… to narrow that a little bit, Pacer and I have the rest of the dog-friendly 14ers in Colorado to finish this year, I’ve got my eye on the doing the Mummy Range in Rocky Mountain National Park in one go, and supporting Sandi, Sage, and my partner Joshua in their races this year. Joshua just got into Badwater, so that also means I’ll be crewing him trying to get a permit to go up Mt. Whitney. Oh, I guess I should mention that I’ll be graduating with my master’s degree in counseling this year, specializing in transpersonal wilderness therapy, so I’m immensely excited to start up Wanderlust Counseling after all the summer fun.
We wish Ray every success with her running and life goals for the year ahead, especially with Wanderlust Counseling! Watch this space for more news.
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