Wrong Turn

Venturing out on a trail that I’ve run before but only with a friend who knows it well is exciting… and a little scary. Portions of the trail that seem short when I’m with someone and chatting can often seem too long (am I on the right path?) when I’m alone. There’s the chance a wrong turn will send me home too soon, take me someplace I don’t recognize, or send me far enough in an unexpected direction that a long run turns into an even-longer run. A sub-1000 foot elevation gain can quickly become a 1300+ foot climb.

Ellie and I have run a loop on the Fort Valley Trail system a few times together. On Tuesday morning I paid close attention when I ran the loop with Ellie and David and mentally marked turns and twists in the trail so I could run it solo Friday morning. Since I wanted to put in about 12 miles I ran a few in the neighborhood before heading out into the woods.

At first, all was well. Two turns were successful and eventually I reached a place where I was 100% confident of my location. A little while later I reached another. It seemed like I was going to “nail” this loop! Then I came upon a sign where there are three choices about how to continue: one I was certain was a wrong turn, one was the trail Ellie, David and I took Tuesday (correct!), but the trail I chose was neither of the above. And so began my ascent and adventure.

I wasn’t in an unknown town on a new-to-me trail. There are ways for me to stay “not-so-lost.” I veered to my right whenever possible to try to reach Shultz Pass (SP) road and I had a general idea about what types of terrain I’d cross in the mean time. I took any variety of “heading down” trails that didn’t turn me away from SP. Though I didn’t know exactly where I was… I wasn’t truly lost. What an amazing view I encountered as well…

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After some time I finally connected with SP. At just over 10 miles into my run I knew I would easily exceed 12 miles for the morning. As I ran downhill I also realized I hadn’t ever ventured quite this far up SP. Since SP is where I do many 10 mile out and back runs it dawned on me that I still had more than 5 miles left to go! When I finally arrived home exhausted, stinky, and dirty this was waiting for me in the kitchen:

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The lesson (in my humble opinion)? Any time you learn to do something on your own there can be self-doubt and apprehension and embarking on something new can be lonely. New journeys sometimes take unpredicted turns: send us back to square one, take us places we’ve never been, and can turn out to be longer and more grueling than we anticipated. If we trust our instincts and use what we know (about ourselves, lives, others) to keep us from getting “too” lost or off-track we can end up experiencing something exhilarating and well worth the effort.

What lessons do you learn when you run? When you try something new?




Running Far

Ultra marathons fascinate me. Over the course of the last year or so I’ve found myself drawn to endurance runs and the athletes that run those races. Maybe it’s because one of my coworkers regularly runs 6-hour and 12-hour races and started encouraging me to join him – I haven’t yet. Perhaps it’s because I live in the same town and am a member of the same running club as ultra legends like this year’s Western State’s Endurance Run winner, Rob Krar. He was at the TRF track workout on Tuesday for crying out loud (not there to run, of course). We all cheered for him. Ultra running almost seems “common” here.

To be fair, however, much of my consumption of ultra information is voluntary and not just out of convenience. It could be that there are plenty one or two Flagstaff residents who don’t know some runners actually race for 100 miles or realize they live near someone who wins those races regularly. I want to know! I read Eat and Run and Born to Run awhile back and started to think maybe, just maybe, I could do something like that.

Last year I took the plunge and signed up for my first 50K and really enjoyed it.


Since finishing the that race in February I haven’t made many solid racing decisions. Aside from signing up for Gaspin in the Aspen (August) and the Soulstice Mountain Trail Run (October) I haven’t scheduled a calendar of races. When the Sacred Mountain Trail Run 10K rolled around in May I ran because it was the first 5K I “ran the whole way” back in 2012.

I ran the 7K in TRF’s Hot Summer Nights trail run series because I wanted to be a part of our new race series on its first night.

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Still, I haven’t been able to answer the question, “What are you training for now?”

Finishing a 50K feeling good is dangerous. Couple it with the nagging question: ‘what race are you training for?’ and it was bound to happen: I signed up for a 50 mile race… the McDowell Mountain Frenzy in December. I know I want to do it but I can’t clearly articulate why. I have tried to, but I haven’t been successful.

When a person chooses to take up running it can make some of the people in their lives squirm. Why would you want to run? I hate running! Isn’t that bad for your knees?

When that same person signs up to run a 5K/10K/half marathon their people finally come around in full support. They rally their troops and there is much to celebrate. The same seems to be true with a full marathon… though you do get a few shakes of the head and a lot of, “I could never do that!” “You are paying money to run that far?” and “26.2 miles is far to DRIVE!”


Signing up for the 50K and now the 50 miler has yielded a different (and mixed) response. Living in Flagstaff and belonging to this running community has surrounded me with people who whoop it up when they find out and are excited for me. It also means that I have a whole network of people who have done what I’m about to do and can offer advice and encouragement. On the other hand, there are many people in my life who now look at me like they honestly can’t understand any of the words I say following “50 miles” (though they still support me). Others look at me like they genuinely fear for my life and well-being (and aren’t sure about support… though they do still love me).

Training starts in August. I’m working on building a good mileage base right now. We shall see. I’m really excited and scared to death!

For fun reading:

Stephanie Howe’s reflections on her 3rd place finish at the Western States Endurance Run can be found on her blog: Adventures in Running.

My friend Erin Strout wrote an article for Runner’s World about 70-year old Gunhild Swanson’s finish six seconds before the 30-hour cutoff to become the oldest woman to do so in this race. You can also scroll down the Western States Endurance Run’s Facebook Page and watch the video of her finishing. While you’re on that page you’ll see plenty of pictures of Rob, too. We’re so incredibly proud of him!

What is the craziest running thing you’ve ever done?

What physical feat are you most proud of?

What goal(s) are you working toward right now?



Sharing the Good Stuff

I began blogging to chronicle my training for the November 2012 Women’s Half Marathon in Phoenix (race report here). A running blog would be a place for me to keep track of my runs, explore writing about something that I was growing to love very much, and join a community of bloggers that are funny and inspirational (maybe I dreamt that my blog would ‘take off’ the way others’ had). Most importantly – I truly hoped sharing my story would be a way to motivate and encourage someone else who was just starting their running journey. Eventually I worked up to blogging daily. I am thankful for that time in my life.

Nothing stays the same. Life is not static. The last time I blogged was in April.

I get busy. Like many people I know sometimes I let life get in the way of doing meaningful, rewarding things. Two changes occurred, however, that I allowed to seriously choke off my writing. About two years ago I resumed my struggle in the positivity department. For me, “Now I Run” had turned into a place to be upbeat and cheery – not just simply positive – and I found it difficult to maintain that voice. A few months later I significantly changed how I spent the time of day that I usually spent blogging. I’m not going to drag out the details relating to these two changes… but they were intense for me, and my blog has suffered.

I’ve done lots of thinking and have realized that writing, specifically blogging about running and life – is still very important to me. Something special that brings this truth to light in me is working with the Step Into Running participants and volunteers. We all help one another and encourage one another to be our best selves in that community. Tonight at the TRF workout (SIR participants among those running) I realized just how much each person on that track was inspired by and was in the process of inspiring the people around them. It didn’t matter how fast or experienced the runner.

That’s amazing.

The way we can impact one another in this life is a gift that I don’t want to take for granted. We feed off of one another. We thrive best when we are lifted up by people and when we do the same in return. We even feed off of our own positive energy.

Conclusion? It’s high time I start serving up positivity in writing more often. I’m recommitting to putting my good stuff out there. I’m not promising to being upbeat and cheery all the time (though that will likely be the case quite often), but I will look for and point out the good things that are happening in my world. Running and people are having a positive impact on me and I want to share those stories. Maybe, in doing so, I’ll even pay it forward.

Photo Credit - Amy Horn
Photo Credit – Amy Horn