if cannot was can

If can was cannot
and cannot was can

all would be possible
and dangerous
and

like the days run

we ran

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rabbit.jack

jack rabbit

jackrabbits jumpin through my mind, skippin over all the traps all the dips all the trips, go rabbit go, don’t you let this crazy world get you down, tuck those ears back off the breaking of the news, follow the good path you’ve been given for to choose.

run 4 life

ultra (run 4 life) – conclusion

Goat Hill was a vertical climb for about a half mile or so, around miles 25-6, up to the second to last aid station where I had some more broth and rested for a while before my run to the finish. There was no running up Goat Hill, no way. I kept asking people where the goat was, who was supposed to carry us up the hill? but nobody knew of any such thing. There were a couple of volunteers halfway to the top of the hill with loudspeakers encouraging us on and doing a little comedy routine to keep us lifted. I was thrilled because I knew I was gonna make it to the end (and my boyfriend’s arms), and there was no rain.

I took a strip of K Tape and got someone’s help to anchor it on my neck, too, cuz my neck begins to ache late in a race; I think it’s because I have such a big head! The tape worked wonders and there would be nothing stopping me for the last stretch to home, not even the great riverbed which we had to climb for a couple miles to the finish line. I powered my way across to the cheers of all the kind people who stuck around, wow, I couldn’t believe I was hiking and running for close to 8 hours! I found Tosh and we got the signature frog cupcakes and I showed off my silver medallion and had some BBQ, and we talked to the lively volunteers and runners who I crossed paths with earlier. The wind was whipping up and it was about to rain, so we got in the car and headed home.

post race with Tosh

What a day! The night before, Tosh and I drove up to Auburn so I could pick up my race pack at the Auburn Running Company. While we were there we met some runners, and I was able to go over the map of the race and got some pointers from a nice lady who ran it many times, herself. Then they drew my name from the lottery and announced I had won entry into next year’s race, 2018. I was somehow not surprised. Just felt like I was destined to do this one again. Auburn, nestled in the foothills of the Sierras and home to this friendly and down-2-earth ultra community, reminds me of where I come from: the White Mountains, Lakes Region, New Hampshire. It’s nice to know I can drive up here anytime from Sacramento, and feel like I am home. It’s nice to know I get to do this again, and be with my new friends, next year.

ultra

ultra (run 4 life) part 3

Mile 20. After walking and talking with Davin (a race volunteer) for a while, and having taken whey protein and plenty of electrolyte water, I began to get my legs and my head back. The trail was leveling out after the long ascent. Only then did I realize how hard I had hit the wall. As you approach your physical limitations, you risk losing mental focus and becoming cognitively impaired. Had I been out here alone I could have been in serious trouble, out of water, tired and dehydrated. You cannot see changes in your condition as quickly as your friends can. If you get disoriented and the trail is not well marked, you never know, you could end up lost in the woods for days. Both internal and external conditions can change faster than one might imagine. Apparently my speech had become kinda lethargic and was now picking up, but I wouldn’t have known without Davin telling me. I am pretty certain that had he not noticed something was wrong and pressed me a mile back, I wouldn’t have asked for help. My mind was doing me a disservice! telling me to stay strong and persevere to the next aid station.

I thanked Davin profusely and he went on to help another runner who needed him. I got inspired by all the runners passing by with words of encouragement. Then I was able to help an older man who needed a strip of K-Tape for the pinched nerve in his neck. I brought some in my wristband. I would see him and Davin again, eating BBQ in the village at the end of the race, and we would be all smiles and gratitude.

The trail leveled out, thank god, and we came up on the mile 21 aid station, only ten miles to go! The sun came out (despite forecast for afternoon rain) and I grabbed some tasty broth and an energy bar and sat myself down in the grass for several minutes to catch some rays and thank my lucky stars (with a prayer) that I had survived the wall!

finish line 2017 wtc50k

The next 5 miles was like one long even cut in the side of this mountain, overlooking lush foothills and the canyon. They call this area ‘Auburn Lakes Trails’ and what with the sun peeking out of the cloud cover this afternoon, the river far below us, it was magical! All our climbing paid off. The pain I felt earlier was replaced by an inner calm, and a woman named Lydia stopped to give me her own special cocktail, two Advils and a Tylenol. She said ‘they tell you to stay away from the NSAID’s while running, but i say fuck it’ and we both shouted ‘fuck it!’ together in one burst of comradery before she flew on past me up the single track. I was gonna take my time getting home.

run 4 life

run 4 ultra (run 4 life) deux

The single track led us down to our first river crossing and my feet were suddenly cool and wet, but my socks and shoes vented the water perfectly, turns out I would have no trouble with the half dozen river crossings throughout the course. I looked forward to the cool waters. Next we rose up and traveled along a hillside which afforded beautiful views of the forest and the river now far below. There would be a lot of mud in the first 8 mile loop, before coming around to the starting gate and our little ultra village and family. I ran with a nice lady for a while who told me all about her horses on a ranch in Livermore where she lives. There was a man behind me who took a heavy tumble, and we stopped to see if he was okay and he gave a spirited yell, ‘it’s not a race unless i fall!’

K before 50k

I was in great spirits by the time I saw Tosh (mile 8) who ran a quarter mile alongside me to the first aid station, where I stopped for a tasty chocolate peanut butter bar, and said goodbye to my brother who wished me well. He even put my nieces on the phone for me to say hello before we parted ways; he had to go back home to the Bay Area. I was so happy he showed up for me today.

I got back on the trail feeling good. We made our way down and around and down a few miles to the fire road, crossed and headed down the long quarry road in the canyon which ran alongside the roaring green river for another 5 miles or more. I did well on the downhills, running 9 minute miles. I thought I was in good shape with my belt full of roctane and water bottle full of gatorade, and my potassium salt S-caps. But I realized on Quarry Road that my legs were starting to feel heavy, and I began to worry about my failure to train on hills all winter long. I could be in big trouble! The only elevation I trained on was a 5 mile run up and down the Blue Ridge Trail, overlooking Lake Berryessa in Winters. The problem was I got poison oak on that trail and so I never went back to the hills.

K finishes 50k

No amount of energy I consumed was gonna help me up the side of that canyon, which switched back and forth from about mile 15 to mile 20… it became a truly brutal and endless hike for me. My head got light, legs heavy, and my asthma kicked up, and my hopes of having a strong and level journey like I had running the CIM just 3 months earlier, were dashed. I had to slow and step off the trail to let dozens of runners hike up past me, and several were kind enough to ask me was I okay and offer help. I finally agreed I needed help around mile 19, when one of the ‘Safety Sweeps’ named Davin saw I was in trouble. He began refilling my empty bottle with electrolyte water, while telling me about his quest to run the coveted Western States 100 mile race before he’s 50 years old. He has 3 years experience running ultras, and he’s 47 now. Parts of this particular race, the Way Too Cool, overlap with the Western States Trail. Listening to Davin’s story helped me take my mind off of the wall…

ultra

run 4 ultra (run 4 life)

March 4th, 2017 in Auburn, California (#wtc50k) was the longest (7hours:46min) and farthest (50 kilometres) I ever ran in my life. Not a particularly impressive pace, just an extreme athletic effort to keep myself in tune with the world and its demands.

This was a trail run through the American River Canyon, with river crossings and over 4,000 feet ascension, and my first major ‘norcal ultra’ event. I was very excited for a whole lotta fun and adventure, and the only problems I faced leading up to the event were poison oak and heavy rains in January and February in Sacramento where I live and train, which caused the American River to grow and grow, and some of my runs had to be cut short due to trails and water fountains I relied on being deluged and underwater!

K before the 50k

What an exciting winter -2017- watching the drought in our region come to a muddy and verdant conclusion! The same could be said of my run.

I arrived with my boyfriend by my side in the little town of Cool, and we parked the VW and met up with my brother by the starting line (along with 999 other runners) where the little ultra village was setting up. I realized I had forgotten my inhaler and found the medical tent where a very kind lady (one of the volunteers) decided to rescue me with her own inhaler, which she ran off to get from her car. She would be the first of many volunteers who stood out for me this day, and without whose support I never would have finished the race. I am grateful to them all!

famous wtc frog cupcakes

We took a couple pics and I did a little dance on a snapchat my brother recorded for my nieces to enjoy, and before long I was off with the second wave, running down the access road past our little cheering norcal family assembled there on this little hill, heading for the muddy canyon trails. I was wearing my New Balance Leadvilles and my Run the Parkway shirt from last November’s 20-mile run in Sacramento, which was my first ever race. I hit a wall pretty hard in that race, then made it through the CIM (one month later) without a bonk (my first road marathon). I had to wonder, was I headed for disaster today, or another strong and even finish?