Positive running story – Shelley Doggett

Our positive running story this time is on our great friend and local Estes Park runner Shelley Doggett. (Shelley is pictured above, on the right of the picture, sat on my knee with a doggie.) Shelley and I have shared many runs over the last 14 years, and is one of those running companions that always has a smile on her face. She is not only an amazing runner, she has also been a pillar of the community, supporting a ton of projects and also starting and developing her own business. Shelley is a heart warming friend that always seems to make the miles fly by even quicker! We recently asked if we could interview Shelley for our positive running story series, and here is the result of our interview:

Shelley finishing the EP half marathon

Can you share your brief running history to date?
I started running when I was 24 and originally said I probably wouldn’t run over 2 miles. So I have run 10 marathons including Boston once and New York twice, countless 10Ks, 5Ks but my distance of choice now is the half marathon and I have done many of those in addition to 25Ks and some challenging trail runs with odd distances. Recently just running the Sedona Half Marathon in Arizona – it was road but so beautiful and was on my list for many years just waiting for the right timing – retirement was the timing. By the way there is nothing wrong with running no more than 2 miles. I just discovered I needed and wanted more. I do a lot of road running but love trail running the most. Living near Rocky Mountain National Park offers me a lot of choices on trails in the spring, summer and fall. We also have a place in South Denver and the trail system in Denver is amazing but there’s nothing like running in the mountains and the woods….

What are the top three things you enjoy most about running, and why?
1. Running clears my head, makes me feel strong, brings me joy and gets me outside and makes me feel young even when I was young. Breathing fresh air, running through the woods, in the snow or under the stars is spiritual for me. Running has proven to myself that I am stronger, can endure more and accomplish more than I ever thought I could and that brings me joy.
2. Running has taken me to so many beautiful and wonderful places both physically and emotionally. When I used to travel for work I would find some place to run as my “souvenir”. I have also traveled many places to do races but probably the best places running has taken me has been to trails that I might never have done unless I had run there. Many times the lighting and scenery is breathtaking and many are places where most people won’t or cannot get to. I say emotionally because running has made me appreciate and be grateful for my body, my mind, my abilities and my life. You can’t run to the top of Flattop or Chasm Lake without feeling grateful.
3. The people running has connected me with is the icing on the cake. I am so fortunate to have wonderful, supportive, positive, smart, strong running friends. I have learned so much from my people. We share life, our joys, our sorrows, our careers – both good times and bad, we help each other and teach each other and all while running along in the dark, or on bone chilling windy days or on bluebird sunny days and all the days in between.
We offer no pressure for each other just support. We are all busy people and would find it hard to get together but for our runs. Recently running in Sedona my niece Emily came to watch. We had a group of 9 of us runners. She asked me how I knew all of them – a couple of them were her parents (my sister and brother in law). It was nice to reflect and share how we all came together – running was the answer for the majority of them. All of them amazing people I admire and adore.

Shelley on a run with the asylum group in RMNP

You are one of the co-founders of the “asylum” running group in Estes Park. How did the group earn it’s unusual name, how long has it been running, and what things do you enjoy most about running with your fellow members?
Amy Plummer is an amazing athlete and specifically runner. I really wanted to run with her so I say I made her be my friend so she would run with me. Amy Plummer and I started running together before the Asylum Group was named and it was because we were training for marathons (different ones) to qualify for Boston. That was in 1998 I believe. We wanted to run Boston in 2000 which we did. We just kept running and training together. People began asking us if they could run with us. (kind of like what happened with Forest Gump) and we would say sure. I think the Asylum name came about 4-5 years later when Gary Hall suggested that we were all crazy (he was there too) to run in the weather we were running in – snow packed roads, so windy you could hardly move forward and all bundled up and he came up with Asylum. Asylum seemed appropriate because the meaning is to offer shelter and protection and we thought that was what running offered to all of us even if the weather didn’t offer us that. We never formalized the club because running was our escape from organization, commitment, work, all of our obligations so we kept it informal. Amy has been the keeper of the lists and has been so good about the communications for the group which has ebbed and flowed over the years. So what I enjoy most is half hearing all the conversations and voices if you aren’t in on the discussion, learning about how interesting my fellow runners are, helping when someone needs some positive feedback, watching people grow in the sport – get stronger, faster. I love the group’s energy. Even if I don’t see them regularly I like that we can pick up where we left off. I enjoy all of the eclectic personalities. We sometimes have new people and I love that too. We always hug hello and hug goodbye and I enjoy that too.

Shelley leads a traditional NYE run around Lake Estes every year

Back in 2016 a group run ended up being a rescue run for an injured NP employee. Can you share what happened that day, and did your experience have any impact on your view of safety on the trails?
A group of us were running to Lawn Lake early that morning (July 4th). It was a beautiful day but always a little chilly at the Lake. We saw 2 people on horseback coming down from Lawn Lake Cabin just as we were getting to the Lake around 9:00 AM. We knew one who was a retired park ranger. We said a brief hello and ran on up to the lake. We spent a few minutes and headed back down to find one of them had been thrown from his horse and was injured pretty bad. He was conscious but in a lot of pain. A couple of us secured the horses, a couple stayed with him and tried to make him comfortable, a couple gathered belongings that had flown everywhere and a couple were radioing for help (the rangers had radios). They were sending a helicopter but it took hours. The horses were pretty freaked out and we didn’t want the helicopter to spook them again so I and some students working at the YMCA decided to walk the horses out. By the time the helicopter landed it was 2:00 PM and some of our runners had to help carry him to the copter. A few of us were down mid-afternoon and the last of us didn’t get down until after 5 PM. So when running trails you should have a jacket, take water and have something to eat with you – just in case. Luckily this is a happy ending. We all made it out fine and the injured person recovered. We had incredible skills with us that day. We all seemed to know where we could help the most and it was like a choreographed dance. It was an incredible day. We celebrated with the injured person a couple months later but he was in critical condition for several days. 🙂

Shelley and running friends at the Sedona half marathon in 2020

Do you recall what started your running career, and has anyone else in your family been supportive of your exploits?
I started running because I was looking to change my lifestyle. I had been a smoker at a young age and never felt like I was a smoker really but I didn’t really feel like a runner either… I didn’t want to gain weight so thought running would help and it does. Little did I know that keeping your weight down is certainly helpful but only a fraction of what running and/or a healthy lifestyle offers. My husband has always been supportive. He was a competitive bicycle racer when we met so he understands the need and benefit. When the kids were little and I would get home from a stressful day I would say I am not going to run – he would look at me, smile and say I think all of us will feel a lot better if you get a little run in. He was always right there. We did that for each other. That teaches your kids that taking care of yourself is important. Not sure I was that wise at the time but in hindsight that is exactly what it tells them and they have learned for themselves. I see how they prioritize exercise and fitness in their lives now (they are 31 and 28).

Mother Nature has had a huge impact on your life – what is it that you love best about getting outdoors, and what can our species do to make sure we look after the amazing natural paradise that we inherited?
I need to get outside and in the woods specifically to smell the smells, hear the birds, feel the wind, breath the fresh air, see the beauty. I use and am aware of all my senses outside. If we all stay on the trails and learn about what causes damage to our beautiful places we begin to be more respectful. Awareness for each of us is the first step to begin to reduce our footprint. Respecting nature and actions showing that. Sharing that with others on a grass roots level causes a ripple affect. Setting the best example we can. Of course we need to make sure our leaders also know how we feel.

Shelley with a handful of grandchildren

You recently retired from work after a life dedicated to starting and developing a local business. What have you enjoyed about having more time on your hands so far, and what are your thoughts on starting any other projects?
It has only been about a month. Some advice I was given is to “take a breath” and that is what I am doing along with helping my dad sell his house and getting it all cleaned out (he is in assisted living and is 91). I want to give myself some time to figure out what comes next for me. I am a Reiki Master (by title) but haven’t practiced a lot so I am planning to do that more. I can run in daylight more and at different times of day which is nice. I am not rushing all the time and I can generally get everything on my list done in a day (only 2 or 3 things). I am planning to give myself some space and be deliberate on what I will fill that space with. I have 3 grandchildren near Grand Junction, 2 boys and a daughter in law and a dad 91 in Loveland and want to spend more time with them I want to travel with my husband Brad (33 years married) and we have 2 dogs – Daisy and Freddie. Hope to do more yoga, swimming, strength training, reading… I may blog – not sure yet what I would blog about but we’ll see. I will volunteer but not sure where and how yet. I loved working so I want to respect all that time and energy I put into it and in a way mourn that time of life while celebrating all that comes next.

What wisdoms would you share with a younger version of yourself about being a woman runner?
I would say stretch, stretch, stretch. Run your natural way and don’t get caught up in what is being written about the proper running technique – it has changed many times over the years. Listen to your body and when it is talking to you pay attention.

Can you share one thing that is unique about Shelley that no-one would know by looking at you?
I am pretty tough – people can get angry and yell at me but that doesn’t make me cry – I go into problem solving mode but if something is sentimental, touching or sad I will cry very easily.

What are your goals for 2020, both in running, and in life?
My life has been really full for many, many years so for 2020 I want some space in it to see what new things I might fill in. I want to make sure others don’t fill my space for me. I am drawn to helping women who seek help with their careers, fitness, family, lifestyle, choices – not sure how that will evolve. Running goals: Ran Sedona Half and that was on my list for a very long time – just timing I guess. My mom (died end of 2008) loved Sedona and I had never been. I felt her energy there and that was good. I am planning to do a trip with running friends to the Dolomites in Italy to run in September. No other firm plans yet on runs but want to do some camping – we bought a van and want to take some trips. I just want to have fun. I got back from a trip once and my Dad asked me “how was it?” I said I had so much fun! He said “you always have fun”. Kind of true and best compliment ever!

Shelley, thank you so much for taking the time to share your story with us, and we look forward to many more years of sharing challenging and fun trail runs with you! We wish you success with your new found freedoms, and to spending more time with your growing family!

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