Saturday, December 31, 2011

Run, Hike, Live, Love: 2011 in Review

I did a lot of running, hiking, living, and loving in 2011. It’s been an incredibly full year full of goals met and beautiful serendipity.

I ran 10 ultras this year. I was in the top 10 women in 8 of them.  Top 5 in 5 of them. I ran my first 12 hour event and was the women’s winner with 64 miles. I ran my first 100 miler and placed 4th woman. I learned so much about racing. About my body, both in training and in competition. I confronted fears of running alone at night and of running the 100 mile distance. I’ve been injured, recovered, and injured again. I have completed 2,000 miles of running this year despite a nagging injury the last 2 months. I’ve more than exceeded the running goals I had at this time last year and it is with great excitement I head into racing year 2012.

My backpacking trips were limited this year due to my training and racing schedule, but the ones I managed to do were glorious reprieves from the miles of running and the monotony of civilized life. I heard wolves for the first time. I reveled in the primal fear that rushed through my body and the thrill of knowing that I was in the presence of a majestic and endangered beast. I finally wandered the trails of Banff and Jasper National Parks, Alberta and glimpsed the vast rugged wild that reminded me of my days in Glacier…and my moments in Alaska. I blasted through miles of the Paysatan Wilderness to reach a remote destination that had called to me from the corner of my map for years. I frolicked in the setting sun—free, wild and in madly in love with mountains, sunshine, and the journey.

I set out this year to confront my fears. To discover the straw men and differentiate them from the legitimate concerns. I started the year by leaping into an icy lake. I faced the loss of a precious relationship, family members, fears of mountain lions, and of challenges of distance and time. I have chronicled some of these tests here, and others are simply things that must remain internal. With this blog post I reach my writing goal of 1 blog per week (52  total). I made my first “real” quilt. I got a promotion at work and have a bin full of composting worms. I've been taking every chance for adventure and life that has come my way.  I have reunited with my desire to live. To be madly in love with life and embrace it wholesale. Fears are always going to be there, but they don’t have to stop you unless you allow them.

Though the year began with the dissolution of 4 years of marriage and the end of a 7 year relationship I am not hopeless or resentful of love. Love is an emotion, but it is also work and commitment. I've learned to love myself more this year than any other. I've learned to love my faults and my weaknesses, my triumphs and abilities, my contradictions and my life. I've learned that it is possible to fall in love again even after your heart seems irretrievably broken. Love is a beautiful, powerful thing. It can propel. It can destroy. It can uplift. It can bog down. It can trap you…or it can set you free.

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Deception Pass 50k

Deception Pass 50k was a last minute decision for me. I've been injured. I think with PFS in my left knee, but I need to go to an ortho and find out for sure that nothing is seriously wrong. I've barely run any distance runs in the last 6 weeks and today my body reminded me of that. My hips, knees, glutes and hams were all quite painful and my legs were dead and tired feeling.
Luckily, the course was beautiful and lots of friends were out there running today to keep my mind off it. The morning began with a lunar eclipse that I watched while scraping frost off my car. The more painful moments of the race I spent daydreaming about running Western States 100 since the lottery was going on at that time. I felt out of practice with long runs and I sweated too much in the beginning and ended up very dehydrated.
I crossed the finish line and immediately friends told me "You're in!"
In what?

So now I'm marking the original 100 mi race (with the attendant prestige) on my race calendar for 2012 and thinking about my knees, my hip, and leg pain, my proclivity for dehydration in races and my weakness in climbing.

I clearly have a long way to go in the next 7 months.