Last year, my first race back after injury was at the Indian Creek Fifties 15 miler [officially declared to be 14.25 miles, but we all know better]. It was a beautiful, runnable, rolling course with bomb-able downhills and sweeping views along the Colorado Trail. It was the beginning of an incredible year. I’ve had my eye on one more ultra this year, but didn’t officially register in order to allow space for recovery after Mt Hood. I was pretty set on running the 55k since it is three months post-50-miler. But I’m not ready.
That feeling of reaching a summit, when those last few hundred feet of vertical struggle is over, there is a feeling of relief, humility, awe, gratitude, achievement – but it is brief, and after a few minutes, it’s time to turn around and go back the way you came. It’s not that the view gets old or that you don’t want to savor the moment, but the goal has been achieved and no matter where you sit, some pointy rock edge is jamming you in the ass – it gets cold and windy and chances are a storm will roll in before too long. Before the journey down the mountain is even over, you find yourself already craving another and reminiscing about the journey up, almost wishing you were still headed in that direction.
One of the main drivers behind my desire to run ultras is curiosity. Come to think of it, the main driver behind most everything I do is curiosity…
After reading Born to Run about 7 years ago, the book that introduced me to the concept of both trail running and ultra running, I became fascinated with the topic. I was living in Atlanta and ran mostly road, topping out at about 5 miles. I had no idea that I would move to Boulder or run ultras. By the time I decided to move out to Colorado, I was completely captivated by trail running and trail runners – I had visions of bumping into Scott Jurek every time I went for coffee and becoming BFFs. Well, I have run into him several times, but I’m pretty sure he just thinks I’m a creep… Turns out he’s not the only trail runner in this town and I’ve made a good few trail friends here, most of whom can confirm that I’m not a creep…
How does a girl who grew up constantly being told “you’re so smart, you’re so pretty, you’re going to go so far in life” spend so many years feeling worthless, only to level-up to imposter syndrome once she gets older? I figured it out yesterday while slow-jögging up Green-Bear, as there is magic that happens when I move my feet in the dirt. Self-worth, for those of us not innately blessed with it, has to be and more importantly, can beearned. While I appreciate the external validation from the well-intentioned adults, it focused on celebrating qualities that were completely out of my control and did nothing to help me develop a sense of value or grow as a person. What I needed was to be taught a growth mindset.
I never really considered giving advice on running trails because I consider myself to be very much a beginner. I still have so much to learn. I get DMs fairly often asking about gear and how to get into trail running, but recently someone reached out to me on Instagram, my favorite, favorite community building platform, to ask me for tips on getting into running trails to cope with a difficult life experience. I know a lot about that! I started reflecting on my journey and would like to offer some recommendations based on what I would do differently and what I got right – but mostly on what I do now after getting it wrong. It’s not that tactical, but I promise you, it’s just as important. You’ll figure out the tactical stuff as you go along.
Did you know that there are approximately 40 calendars that exist in the world and 11 that are widely used today?!? I didn’t, until I just googled it. I did know, however, that our Gregorian new year is not the one and only new year celebrated around the world. Regardless of how arbitrary January 1 is, it is a great trigger for setting aside time to contemplate what to let go of and what to cultivate in the tiny segments of time that lie behind and ahead of us. It is a time to set goals, but do not confuse goals with the standard new year’s resolutions. Those tend