Wednesday, May 2, 2012


Adventure vs. racing. That’s the choice I was faced with in February. Last year I ran 12 races of marathon length or longer and it was simply too much. I had run 8 up through July, and then when my planned Wonderland Trail run/tour around Mt. Rainer got cancelled, I scrambled and signed up for 4 fall road marathons within a few days. They did not fill the hole. Sure, I like bling (race medals) a lot, and many hang on my wall, but they are not what fill me up. It’s the course, the adventure, that I fondly remember and smile about long after race day is over. I have become a self-proclaimed adventure-whore. (It’s OK, I coined that term for myself. Kinda like my kitty Tallulah is an attention-whore every morning.)

Not Hagg Lake, but a great memory!
In February, I ran Hagg Lake 50k basically “off the couch.” I was just happy to be able to do that after a crappy winter. I put everyone else on the course out of my mind and just ran and walked as if I were out on an adventure all by my self. I had a great time alone in the wind, rain, and epic Hagg mud. I finished within the cut-off time. Those were my only goals: to get it done and have fun doing it. During Hagg, I did a lot of thinking. Thinking about what fulfilled me, made me happy. Not just happy for the short term, but gave me long-lasting happy memories. And that is adventure. Not adventure like skydiving or bungie jumping. No, I am a mild adventure-whore.

So I made the decision to “race” a lot less this year. Right now only 5 are on the calendar, and 2 are already past. Each race I’m doing this year is an adventure. I always feel kinda weird when someone asks me when my next race is, ’cause I hardly ever race in the sense that most people think of. Maybe once a year. Mostly I race the clock, or myself. Or whoever is around me, especially the last few miles. I am intensely competitive with the people I can be competitive with. If you are in my sight the last miles of a race and show weakness, I’ll bide my time behind you. I’ll wait for the perfect moment to pass you (like when you don’t pick up the pace on that downhill), and then won’t look back. But enough about that.

So this year I am leaving plenty of room for spontaneous adventure. May, June, and August have been set aside for this purpose. I am really excited about two adventures I just booked for this month. First, the day before Mother’s Day, I’ll be running the 40 mile Rogue River National Recreation Trail in the National Wild and Scenic Rogue River Canyon. I’ll be part of a small group of ultrarunners running the trail from east to west in one day, from Grave Creek to Illahe. I’ve seen photos, and it’s absolutely freakin’ gorgeous. I’m gonna take tons of pictures and will likely post many here afterward, along with a bit about my experience.

My second May adventure is taking part in the Western States Endurance Run’s training runs over Memorial Day weekend. Over the course of three days, I will get to run 70 miles of the Western States 100 course— 30, 20, and 20 miles respectively. Not only have I never driven that far by myself (Auburn, California is 465 miles away), I have never run that far in three consecutive days (four days yes, three days no). Yes, this will be an adventure. Western States is already very special to me, as I had the opportunity to be a pacer for 38 miles at the race last year, running with Melanie from Scotland in her first 100 mile race. What a tough job and an honor that was. One day I will run this race myself. It’s just a matter of time. I’ve watched the film “Unbreakable: the Western States 100” several times. I’m looking forward to seeing the canyons for myself, and all the places that I ran through in the dark with Melanie last June. A few days after I signed up for these training runs, I found out the band Tenacious D will be playing in Bend that weekend. I’ll just have to miss their show. Oh well, I’ll get over it.

More adventures are on the way. Training for these adventures is an adventure in itself, as well as an excellent exercise in patience, persistence, and humility. Heck, all of life is an adventure. Don’t spend your days wishing and doing things that don’t fill up your soul. You know what makes you happy, peaceful, excited, and perhaps a little scared. Do that, and drink life up, one precious day at a time.