Today I thought I would take a photo of something that reminds me of where I grew up: Taft, CA. My dad worked in the oilfields there while I was going through school. Very tough, hard work. I should visit soon.
Update: I failed to mention that I took this photo right near my house in Orange County.
Gorgeous views for all as we headed up to Los Pinos Peak from Lazy W Ranch. Approximately 11.75 miles from the Ranch to Blue Jay Campground finish line. Starting at Lazy W, around 12 miles into the race to about the Main Divide is where it gets brutal — 8 miles uphill with limited aid station access.
Wow, time sure does fly when you are having tons of fun — I can’t believe we are almost halfway through the year already! Here is what I have been up to lately:
I spent most of the month preparing all the details for the Leona Divide 50 which, at the end of the day, did not turn out so well for me. I dnf’d at the mile 29 aid station due to urinary tract issues. Leona was the race I was really looking forward to and it didn’t have the ending I expected. In a weird way, I don’t and didn’t really feel hurt or sad or anything like that because at the time of making the decision to drop, I was sure I was making the right one. Trying not to put wasted effort in to an outcome that I cannot change has allowed me to restructure my goals and to move on.
Mid month I was able to crew/pace D for his 50-miler at American River. This was a big deal for D as he had been putting in tons of time and effort into his running program while at the same time flying tons at work (exhausting). This race would be his first “real” 50 and give him an opportunity to really put himself out there. I was so happy that he wanted me to be his pacer but at the same time I was beyond nervous to run the last 23 or so miles with him. I knew I was fit enough to run with him but I worried that I could have a bad running day and I didn’t want that to interfere with his big day. Luckily everything went well and we managed to get to that finish line in just under 7:50:00. In retrospect, I didn’t really “pace” him, I was just there for him in case he needed me and on that day, there wasn’t any other place I’d rather have been. It was a good day.
I knew May was going to be a pretty quiet month because the only thing I had going on was the Gold Rush 100k where I’d be pacing/crewing D again. Again, this would be another important race for him as he prepares for SD100 coming up in June. Both American River and Gold Rush were just stepping stones in getting him to the start of that 100 next month. On this day at Gold Rush, I would be running that last 20 or so with him and I had spent the morning at the early aid stations to check on him and make sure all was good. It was a very hot day reaching into the the 90’s and I knew it would be a challenge for all. He looked really great all day but when he made it to me after running 40 miles, he had decided his race was over. He was concerned with new knee pain that he had felt since the start of the race. I felt bad that he apologized when he saw me because I wouldn’t be able to run with him after a long day out there. I could have cared less about that — he was my concern that day and as long as he was OK, I was OK. As of now, his knee is fine and shouldn’t be a concern next month.
After Leona, I realized that I didn’t really have any immediate races on my schedule, and since I was already in race shape, Ashley and I began to scour race calendars everywhere. Unfortunately there weren’t any races that would fit into my schedule with my current commitments so I thought I would look for a marathon. I did this for a few reasons — one was because of the horrible tragedy that happened at Boston, and the other was because I felt like I needed more structure and I needed to get back into a real rigid training schedule. Every since I started running ultras, I had become kind of lazy and I could actually get away with it. I didn’t like that. My hopes are that I will have 16 weeks of marathon training, race, and then slide back into the ultra scene with that same marathon training mentality. With ultras I don’t worry about missing one day, two days or even three days of running because I figure I can just make it up on the weekends with a longer run. With marathon training, you can bet that I will NOT miss a track/speed/tempo workout because I know that it WILL affect me (mentally if not physically). The marathon I chose to run is Santa Rosa Marathon on August 25th and I am beyond excited. Already two weeks into the training program and I feel like I never stopped training for them, it feels so natural to be back at it. It’s a great feeling. Note: I will be running a few 50k races between now and then (Marin Ultra Challenge and MAYBE Mt. Disappointment) but they will not be my focus.
Sometimes I find it hard to come up with an answer when some inconsiderate person questions my (or our) sanity because we thoroughly enjoy running. I couldn’t even explain to you why I am a runner. I just am. And most great things that have ever come into life are because of it. As a child, it saved me. Literally. As an adult it keeps that spark inside me that reminds me that hard work and persistence will one day get me to that finish line. And also, because I met you (only runners are reading this).
In a way it ticks me off that people even question us. Like, is it really any of their concern? Do they really have the right to question me? I already know they wouldn’t understand it even if I tried to explain. Honestly I think it would be the same for us to ask them, “Why do you love your wife (or husband)?” Everyone of us has a reason and that reason is our reason and good enough.
And so I go back to my childhood, a lonely and horrible place that I hold in the deepest part of my mind and I used to think that it was that time of my life that actually “made me who I am today.” Bullshit. I wholeheartedly believe that it was actually running that got through it and helped mold me into the woman I am today. It was the one thing I could actually do as an individual to get away, be in control, and feel free and strong. I laugh now when I look back at photos of me after a race and I am completely dead – hunched over without anything left in me. I could barely breathe. I hardly feel that way after a race as an adult and I wish I still felt that way. For some reason, as an adult, we seem to hold back too much, over-think and over-analyze everything. Man, if I could still run with a kid’s mind and heart, I’d be a much faster and competitive runner. 🙂
Anyway, the point is that my running started for one reason and it has evolved over time. It is still evolving. I used running to get me through that time of my life and later to get scholarship money for college. I used it to stay fit. I used it to stay sane. Then I used it to hit other personal milestones that I created for myself. Now I use it as a reminder that this world is amazing and fragile and that I am so lucky to be a part of it.
Funny, I guess I really do know why I am a runner and maybe you do too. Whatever your reason, you don’t owe an answer to anyone.
It’s been a couple of weeks since Javelina Jundred and I could still sit here with you and talk about it for hours if you’d let me. The whole experience was special and my heart is still fluttering with excitement and appreciation knowing that I will be able to get back out there and try again.
Sometimes I do question whether or not I could have continued on those last 9 miles but then I realize that a lot of time has passed since then and some of those dreadful moments are less vivid now including my feet which have pretty much healed up (except the loss of a toenail or two). I have to remind myself that I did everything I thought I could do out there that day and then I move on. Over it.
I was able to spend the first week after the race working on personal projects and goals instead of running and I completely backed off after a 10 mile run/hike on part of the Chimera course with Ashley (my hip flexors weren’t having any of it). I figured a few more days of rest would do nothing but help me recover more appropriately. Finally during the second week I was able to get in a decent workout up to Mt. Wilson and felt confident enough for the coming weekend where I was able to get in three consecutive days of running and hiking, one of which would be a 12-mile trek up to Kaiser Peak and back in the snow! (more…)