An oasis in the night

The trail is lonely at night - but off in the distance a string of lights glows. The lights guide you into one of the many aid stations - an oasis in the night, a reprieve from the solitude of the empty woods. And while this reflects one particular aid station, at the end of a cold and damp stretch of trail the feeling of welcomeness and care at all the aid stations cannot be beat. From the moment you come into view of the volunteers to the moment you head back into the the woods, you - the runner - are all that matters.  There were seven aid stations at the Silverheels 100 and we hit all but one multiple times. A few had different crews each time I went through, one I never stepped under the tent and one had the same gang there all four times I ran/hiked by. Without the amazing volunteers at all of the aid stations, I would not have finished. Any ultra runner who does not acknowledge that it is the volunteers that make the race is not paying attention. And that's what makes the cu

Going Slowly

 Being released from the couch was the best feeling ever. Finally! I was able to get up and move and start doing things again. With the instructions to ease back into normal activity - emphasis on the ease in part! I was allowed to actually get up and go for a decent length walk. I could start riding the trainer again. I could even start cooking! I still had the small gas bubble in my eye, but that was fading rapidly. That was the biggest issue with starting to run - that little gas bubble dancing around. And after a week on the couch, the last thing I wanted to do was plunge right back into some high intensity and duration running. A great way to get injured for sure.  The first week after getting off the couch was just some longer walks and easy runs. Short runs, with permission to stop and walk when things felt tired. I was honestly pretty frustrated with how tired my legs were for having that week of nothing but "recovery." I was stiff, tired and my knees were still achin

The Absence of Movement

 I know more then a few people who think absolutely nothing about sitting around all day, not doing much of anything. I've never been one of them. I have to move - I feel better when I've done something during the day (outside the planned and sometimes needed rest days!) There's been a few times in my life where I haven't been able to do much due to health issues and I was hoping to avoid a repeat for as long as possible. The first was after the retinal detachment in my left eye back in 2011 and the second was following my mountain bike crash in 2019 where I ended up with the severe hemothorax. The first was a week of doing nothing, followed by a  few weeks of easing back into activity. I probably pushed it a little by racing the Xterra West Championships in Las Vegas a month after that surgery. The second was only limited in activity due to the hospitalization and need for portable suction on the chest tube! I would have been up moving quite a bit sooner had it not bee

A Death March of My Own Making

 I know how to read a map. I’m actually pretty good at reading maps. So how I got us on this never ending trail and seriously underestimated the total miles, I haven’t a clue. The ride started out good - I was a little tired from my run in the morning, checking out a new section of trail. It hadn’t been the longest of runs, but enough. We’d only planned on an easy out and back ride, hopefully reaching where we had turned around last year. It started out nice and mellow - the anticipated plunge down into Cushman Creek and climb back up, then coasting downhill. Every single ride on the plateau seems to start downhill and then we have to climb back up! We soft pedaled down the Cushman road, stopping for one gate until the signs took a detour. That was strange - according to the map, the route stayed on the Cushman road, not diverting off. But the signs quite plainly took the seemingly underused double track. Oh well. That’s the point of scouting, right? Learning the terrain on the ground,

One Small Step

 With one step off the road, it was further then I had made it last year. That one step, onto the Gold Dust Trail to start the trek back to Poor Man's Gulch was the culmination of a year's worth of training, preparation and drive for redemption. That one step - that much closer to the finish line that had eluded me last year. I made that step to cheers from the volunteers and it was as if a weight had been lifted from my shoulders. Last year, I never made that step off the road on to the Gold Dust Trail. I dropped at Tarryall III, not willing to take the chance of the long journey to Poor Man's when I wasn't even sure I would make it to Trout Creek. I've second guessed that decision a few times, but never regretted it. There is a difference between the two. I've spent last year knowing that I made the right choice, but still wondering deep down if I could have finished. I had 19 hours for 40 miles... I could (maybe...) have struggled to the finish line. I would

Crag Crest!

 Okay - running a technical 10 mile trail the weekend after a 100 mile race isn’t the smartest idea. But when the running club is having another low key race on some trails you haven’t seen before, it starts to sound like a decent idea. Add in the chance to mountain bike another new to me trail and it’s an even better idea. After all, no one said that I had to run fast. The mountain biking wasn’t the first idea - Nick and I were gonna ride easy at Lunch Loops before heading up to the Mesa. But when we got up Saturday morning, it was hot and sticky and neither of us felt like dealing with the heat. So we loaded up some extra food, cycling clothes and the bikes then headed up the hill. We figured that Mesa Top trail would be easy enough for me to ride given how tired my legs were and it would be a chill out and back. We’d tried riding up there back in 2019, but the bugs were crazy. I was worried about that again, but hey - bug repellent works well and everyone had assured us they weren’t

A Flock of Turkeys

 This year there's actually been events and races with the Striders! It's been really nice to be able to do the group runs and socialize for a while afterwards. I'm such a loner runner that it's good to break out of the rut - even if I still end up running alone for most of the evening! One of the great things about the Striders are the free races in fun places. I would hear people talking about the Garfield Grumble, Turkey Flats or Crag Crest. I either wasn't able to participate due to schedule conflicts last year or the events were canceled due to COVID. While I skipped the Garfield Grumble this year, when people were making camping plans for Turkey Flats, both Nick and I were in. Perfect time for a bit of a getaway. We would head up Friday, camp with the crew, ride bikes Saturday and then race Sunday.  Moody skies and fields of flowers We got up to the Striders compound late afternoon Friday. Just in time to get settled, have supper and enjoy an amazing sunset. T