Employee Spotlight: Mallory Holder

Employee Spotlight: Mallory Holder

“I can do hard things,” is a mantra that Instructional Designer Mallory Holder has adopted recently, and boy, has she taken that to heart. Last summer, she, her husband, and some friends hiked from the South Rim of the Grand Canyon to the North Rim in one day (12 hours, to be exact). 

“Most hikers take a multi-day backpacking trip or even just a day hike somewhere and then back again,” Mallory explains. “It’s actually not recommended to do a rim-to-rim hike in one day, but we said, ‘Hey, we’re wild and adventurous…let’s do it!’” So, they hiked the Bright Angel Trail to the North Kaibab Trail, which covers about 24 miles and around 7,000 feet of elevation gain. 

Mallory admits she was intimidated and a bit scared of the challenge, but it was really something she wanted to do for herself as part of her health and fitness journey. To prepare, “we took a ton of longer hikes on the weekends—frequenting Kennesaw Mountain and north Georgia—as well as strength training during the week.” However, the mental game was the most challenging part, she says. 

“For this hike, it’s crucial to have a strong mental game,” she explains. “I was worried, because sometimes, I get too ‘inside my head’ and allow negative self-talk in. I knew for this challenge, that could not happen. It definitely manifested in the climb up at the end—it was brutal! But one step at a time, one foot in front of the other, I made it.” 

Her favorite part was being able to share the experience with her husband—her “favorite person,” as she says, who helped her through a lot of the mental roadblocks. She had another mantra that helped with those mental roadblocks, too: “There’s a mindset I’ve been trying to adopt in all areas of my life, and that’s ‘I don’t HAVE to…I GET to.’ I get to go on crazy adventures; I get to run, bike, hike, bake, play with my dog, meditate, etc., I get to come to work and do the job I love with people I enjoy; I get to wake up each morning and strive to be grateful and kind and good.” 

She continues, “Hiking the Grand Canyon rim-to-rim was the most challenging thing I’ve ever done in my life to date—physically, mentally, emotionally—and maybe the most challenging thing I’ll ever do. But it’s really the pride and satisfaction of knowing I did do it. It was such a whirlwind trip that even on the plane home, I was like, ‘Did that really just happen?!’” 

For her next adventure, Mallory has her sights set on mountain biking. And thanks to her Grand Canyon trip, Mallory really, truly learned that she can indeed “do hard things.”