Friday, September 19, 2014

Pine to Palm-My journey from Williams to Squaw Lake

As I walked into the Squaw Lake aid station with my friend Cary, there was probably fifty people there cheering me on.  I guess I should say cheering for me because I wasn't going on.  A lot of people knew my name and filled my ears with kind words.  It was surreal, this was the most applause I had got at one time all year.  I didn't really get it.  But as I talked to the people on my way back to the car, I learned many of them saw me at a race earlier in the year or just knew who I was.

This was the first time all year I realized just how well I had been running.  I try to succeed in whatever I do but my main goal for the year was to run well at a hundred miler.  Unfortunately on the 13 of September that didn't happen.  But on many other days of the year, I was lucky enough to have some incredible runs.

Pine to Palm made me take a step back and look at what I had done.  I had won 4 ultras.  I had been able to run nearly every day in the beautiful outdoors.  I had been able to enjoy the forest on my own and with friends,  sliding through mud and gliding over pine needles, and it had been there for me every day.  There was times this summer when I didn't appreciate all that I had.  While Pine to Palm was a disappointment, it made me appreciate all that I had.

As I walked over Stein Butte I knew the day was over.  My legs had felt crappy for the moment I started.  My calf was bothering me enough that I knew I was risking sitting out a few weeks because of an injury.  In all honesty I probably shouldn't have started the race.

I ran Waldo, and I think my calves were a little tight after.  Then my family and I went backpacking in the Sierra Nevada a couple days later.  Hiking tightens the muscles in my lower calves so when I got back to Corvallis and started to run thats what was tight.  After nearly two weeks without running, I tried to rush in some runs before Pine to Palm.  My calves stayed tight for a solid week until I ran McKenzie River 50K where they loosened up around mile 20.  I ran on Monday and the legs didn't feel right, then Tuesday my left leg felt bad.  The outside of my shin hurt, the inside by the ankle too.  I thinks running with tight calves for so long put some extra stress on the legs which caused my problems.

Anyway, I took the next 3 days off (believe if or not, absolutely no running) then hoped the legs would be good to go for Pine to Palm.  As the race drew near I realized that 100% was not going to happen so I hoped that the pain in my calf would be manageable.  After all, it is a hundred miles, something is bound to hurt.

So, as I walked over Stein Butte I knew the race was over.  Now I was going to enjoy the day and think.  I talked to some runners on the way up and fell into step with a guy named Seamus.  He was hurting too and ended up dropping out at the lake as well.  We talked and walked.  Then Seamus took some time at the Stein Butte aid station and I headed down without him.  And on my journey down, I had plenty of time to think.

Walking over Stein Butte my frustrated mind spat out a question, "Why do we even do this?"  Fortunately my mouth didn't send the negative talk out for others to hear.  But that question is what I thought about on my way down from Stein Butte.

I do this because its great when things work out.  It feels great to run a great race.  Is that the only reason? Well, I like being out here, enjoying the scenery, taking in my surroundings.  I like to run fast, I like to run slow.  Really I like being able to run every day, and having a beautiful place to run in.  Maybe it's not perfect.  Maybe it's not as good as today could have been.  But, its a pretty awesome life I have.

So as I rolled into Squaw Lake I realized that I had learned a lot over that last hill.  A lot about running, myself, and life.  And before I reached the aid station I told my would be pacer Cary, that he did me a big favor making me go over that hill.  I didn't get me to the finish. but it helped me grow.

I want to thank my dad and Cary for doing a great job crewing.  I was not too chipper at Seattle Bar but you guys got me back on track.  If I had stopped there, I would probably have just been mad for a couple days and might not have learned too much.  Thanks to Hal for putting on a great race and also thanks to all the volunteer for helping out.  Without you guys, there wouldn't be any runners going to Ashland.  Finally, congratulations to all the runners who did make it to Ashland.  As I learned last year it is a long and difficult journey but very rewarding when you finally head into town.

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