I can say at this point that I have moved a step beyond simply being an active person and started heading toward being a very, minimalistically speaking, tiny bit of an athlete. I train regularly at home (usually 5+ days a week) and am having to regulate my diet to get the proper nutrition it needs for 4+ mile runs, 4-5 mile mountain bike rides and as much time on a snowboard as my body can physically handle…and then way more.

Adding this new adjective to my collection, I have been noticing the difference between men athletes and female athletes. I play hard with my fiancé all the time, but have developed several female athletic friends who challenge me, at times with out even realizing they are and who challenge me oftentimes more than a male athlete.

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Having a crew to play with outdoors that are female is empowering my game more than I imagined.

I grew up forever trudging through forests with my brother, his friends and my make friends. Mountain biking and hiking was just what we did. Every guy I dated I taught how to mountain bike, which usually ended in disaster ( as I had ridden longer…you get my drift). I forever was training, in essence, with the boys because there just were not girls doing what I was doing.

A few years ago, I started working with a friend who has remained the ever outdoor sports enthusiast and still challenges me in her toughness. Together we have snowboarded, mountain biked, kayaked, hiked, ran, paddleboarded and the list continues.

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On my current trip in Salt Lake City snowboarding, I read a Backcountry magazine devoted to women skiiers. It solidified what my outdoor athletic girls and I were already thinking. Beauty is defined by strength of character and sense of humor – which extreme sports teach you through its reminders of humility through testing every fiber of your being. Also, there is a camaraderie that is solidly formed on a slope or trail that cannot be gained from anywhere else.

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The articles in Backcountry worked to help others see that women are ever a minority in outdoors sports, but that those who truly love and embrace these sports are just as passionate and athletic as their male counterparts. The magazine worked to figure out the whys of the incredible lack of hardcore athletic attire necessary for many terrains and worked to understand how to change these things…not simply by making it softer and pink with swirls (shrink it and pink it was the phrase they used of how a lot of good sports clothiers had ‘solved’ the women athlete). My friends and I have discovered this for quite some time and in some way want to be a voice of awareness.

I have seen also is that the women I meet in the out of doors are by far the most beautiful. These women and girls are fearless-often riding by themselves-as I did many times, they fight the elements easily, they are megahappy and have amazing stories to share, they are super knowledgeable a n out the backcountry and they are f***ing tough. This is true beauty. Not skinny jeans fitted and lipstick clad…as the article mentioned…but windburnt, sweaty, helmet haired gals with gigantic smiles and a sense of more adventures oozing through their pores. (And I do wear lipstick and skinny jeans at times….but always feel exposed in these items…) The authors are saying what my soul has been dying to hear: women who play hard outdoors are the essence of beauty. I love it. For me, I agree.

It is interesting that as I write this article, I am vacillating between feeling a need to apologize for being so vocal about this (never want to offend, you know) and the desire to plead with you that this is not some hard core feminism streak I have just hit. How funny that this again echoes the article in saying that women always feel the need to apologize and be the sweetest version of themselves at all times.

On that note,  I raise my coffee mug (as it is 6 a.m. here) to all the women out there playing, adventuring, and living life hard and fast- filled with joy and oftentimes dirt. May we continue to grow our respective passions for our sports, strengthen our friendships and go out and kick ass.

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