themountainsarecalling

Running

Finishing My First Ultramarathon

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I didn’t write a post directly following my race. So here I am now, sitting in an airport getting ready to meet my boyfriend in Sunriver, Oregon and figured this is a great opportunity for a follow up.

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I can’t believe despite my injury, I finished that race. I felt like it went as perfect as it could have gone. The first 20 miles were pretty relaxing and I kept a pace that would allow me to save my energy and ENJOY the race in its entirety. As you know from the previous post, I chose the Deception Pass 50k through Rainshadow Running. There was only 4500 ft of gain which was nice to keep it runnable  and not toooooo much up and downhill which  benefited me since having that knee problem. I stayed with Becca for the ENTIRE race as well. That was really the best part. Sometimes we’d talk for awhile, made some friends around us, other times we ran in silence trying to keep our groove and mind right.  

My boyfriend drove Becca and I which allowed us to tear up watching “How to run 100 miles” for the millionth time on the car ride down. That is my goal. I would love to run 100 miles someday. When I first got sober I was obsessed with Scott Jurek, Rich Roll and Dean Karnazes. I read books about ultrarunning continuously before I even fathomed the idea of running more than 10 miles. 10 miles was a lot for me in 2013. In my mind, an ultra was IMPOSSIBLE. In 2013 I would run every single day. It was usually only 3-7 miles but I did it. I didn’t know about headlamps or reflective gear and I found myself only running in the dark. See- I was a party animal so when I stopped drinking and doing drugs I found myself restless in the evenings. Evenings were usually my time to party with people I barely knew and now I was left alone. I cut everyone out to stay healthy. With no friends and restless evenings - I found myself running after the sun went down, fired up by adrenaline and loving every moment of it. I would listen to all those books via audiobook so that I didn’t have time to think about anything else on a run and keeping me forever inspired. I think addicts make great atheletes because if we stop the very thing that we loved most (destroying our bodies with drugs/alc.) then we have to channel all that addictive energy somewhere. So that’s what I did. I ran. All I could think about was running. I’m not the fastest and I didn’t care how long I ran, I just know that I always felt better after it was completed.

in 2015 I stopped running because I started mountaineering and everyone in the course kept telling me to stop because running hurts your knees and it would ruin climbing so I just followed directions. I climbed a couple volcanoes that year and realized that I hate carrying 45 pounds on my back and moving slowly. Climbing never got my heart rate up and I found myself constantly hating the process of training. When I would climb with the group I would just tell myself to go one step at a time and think about the runners I’d read about. I would think ‘if they can run for a hundred miles, I can walk up this goddamn mountain’ :) the climbing happened, it was fun to get summits, eventually I started rock climbing and that was fun too. None of this lit me up inside the way running did. I used to think that damn, I could run this mountain and get some of these summits in a day with a lighter pack. It would be the best- no camping, no heavy gear, no freezing to death, and I would enjoy this more. 

I left that group two years later and since then, the thing that fills my life with joy is to go light and fast(faster than walking at least:) 

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Our 50k was a blast, the last 10 miles hurt. My knee started acting up around mile 20 and I just slowed my pace. I started to count my steps when my mind wouldn’t stop rolling, eventually I got back into the groove of things. When we both passed 26.2 we cheered for ourselves in excitement since we’ve never even ran a marathon before. The last two miles of the race felt as long as the first 20 but knew how excited we were to almost be done. Derek met us at an aid station that we passed a few times and along with the finish line which made my whole day.

Finishing the race was the best feeling in the world and man my knee hurt. I accomplished my goal of a 31 mile race while I’m 31 years old. Within one week, Becca and I signed up for the Sun Mountain 50 miler this coming May. It was a personal accomplishment since I first got sober.  I realize now that I am capable of going farther. Capable of anything as long as I keep enjoying the journey.

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Running

When Your Biggest Fear is Running in the Mountains Alone

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Caption stolen from my Instagram on Friday:

 “Tomorrow I’m running in the only area that’s ever scared me. Might join a running group but also might do my own thing and keep it pretty chill. Janelle Mastain was with me.

We were lost on a trail far too long in one direction and looked at our map. No one else was on the trail for a mile or so and we turned around to head back to our destination. It was only a minute of two when I felt him behind me.

I freaked out in surprise and laughed because of it while i said hi to him because he literally came out of nowhere. He never said anything back.

Never looked at me. Just kept walking right behind us.

He was very intentional and not friendly.

All of a sudden her dog that loves everyone saw him and started barking like crazy at him and ran off ahead of us.

That was our sign.

We casually pretended to start running like that was our intention.

Within some time we looked back and he was running too.

We kept running and got to the destination and he was right behind us.

He sat on the ledge and was just staring at us at below his glasses.

Eventually a few mountain bikers made it to the top hooting and hollering(thank god) and the creepy guy started flinching and ran back into the trees.

I’ve always had that in my mind.

It’s changed my solo adventures.

Nothing happened yet my gut knew it was not right.

Anyway wish me luck tomorrow”

 

 

Let’s fast forward to today, it’s Monday and Hello!!! I’m still alive. That was something that happened about five and a half years ago and although nothing worse happened, it’s still in my mind. It still shows up randomly when I’m alone on a trail and I catch myself frantically looking over my shoulder. It’s sad that we humans have to watch out for each other as well as animals. I am 5’3 and an easy kill if anything ever wanted to, and my fearful pheromones probably put a big bullseye over me as well.

So Saturday I ran 13ish miles alone in the same area that that had happened. The first two miles I had mace in my hand. This might sound overboard for a lot of you but I watch way too much Forensic Files along with my previous story to enjoy myself alone in the woods. There was a time when I did enjoy it...before I was tainted with fear. Although I tell you about my fears, I never stop doing what I love but figured I’d share what honestly happens for me out there. If I’m alone, I usually choose popular areas to run. 

Anyway the first two miles started with mace in hand. Then I started seeing a lot of other runners and the mace slowly went back into my vest pocket. Slowly I started to lose the fear and just focus on one step at a time. 

My run was in Bellingham from the interurban trail -> the lost lake trail -> the rock trail -> the raptor ridge trail -> dans traverse trail -> the gravel road which takes me back to the interurban trail back to my car. It was amazing and I only fell twice, I only got bothered by horseflies once, and I brushed through stinging nettles and cursed the world. But I did it. Finishing things that scare me feels good. Trust me this is not some huge blogggable event, this is literally what I go through over and over again to get through these fears. Not a one time - accomplishment. This happens for me week by the week. 

 

Today I was supposed to do Mount Defiance with a girlfriend but she backed out while I was at work today and that’s always hard. I wish I had more girlfriends that would run with me throughout the week but I feel that most are way beyond my skill level or hikers that want to run but don’t run. 

So I’m getting ready to do a local trail loop which should suffice my training for the day and take it easy. This is a short blog for you but just a reminder that we all have fears, we all have stories that make us who we are today, but it is our choice to stop doing what we love because of fear, or to push through it anyway and feel the rewards by never giving up.

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Minimalism

recognizing our ‘fantasy self’

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i struggle with trying to find purpose in life. my mind turns faster than my movement. i am impulsive. when i am having a ‘down’ day, i start to crave things. i want to buy things that i do not need to help fill up the ego of my fantasy self.

can you think of a way you feed your fantasy self? a fantasy self is the side of yourself that you see in your “goals”.

let’s see - someday i will accomplish blah blah and my future enriched self will wear this item, she will use this camera and she will definitely need such and such for the vacation she hasn’t bought yet.

she will buy that vacation - don’t worry, she’s just busy saving now.

she will keep clothes that don’t fit her because someday she will lose the weight and fantasy self can step back into those small flattering jeans - maybe.

 

but maybe when we reach that fantasy self, fantasy self won’t even want to wear those old fucking jeans. maybe fantasy trip to italy is no longer even in her mind and now wants a trip to greece. maybe fantasy self doesn’t need a dslr because her iphone is taking fantastic pictures - and it’s oh so compact.

 

what i’m getting at is this - we hold on to possessions and ways of being to support some fantasy version of who we wish to be. but we forget who we are.

right now.

i mean right at this moment.

 

we’re so busy thinking about the anxieties of who we want to become...maybe we should take a step back and see what’s happening at this moment. what if we focus on living one day at a time. maybe we create boundaries on our idea of fantasy self and start to truly high five our whole self, the one who we get to be every moment of right now.

 

 

that’s where i’m at right now. i recently bought a new camera on an off week which was last week. last week i was envisioning how i would feel with this specific camera. i loved it for how small and efficient it was. i obsessed about it. i watched a million youtube videos on it and when i got it, i was excited. it’s less than a week later and i want to return it because i realize how much i already love my big and heavy dslr.

 

our emotions are so tricky. when we are down,  we sometimes imagine how much better our day would be if fantasy self had a new item to add to our sad day....when in reality sad days pass and no amount of material possessions will cure that feeling for longer than a moment.

 

i’m trying to live without regret. i know that i must return this and i will feel better financially. i know that last week i was just having a down week and that it’s okay to have it. i can’t run from my feelings but i can acknowledge them.

 

things i am working on:

 

  1. return impulsive items that do not serve my reality self.
  2. when i have the chance - get out into nature, it’s free and always makes my day better.
  3. try to go to yoga 4-5 times a week and have the intention of “ground down”.
  4. spend more meaningful one on one time with my love.
  5. don’t watch the news - don’t give my opinion on the news - as i don’t believe everything the media suggests we believe in.
  6. give away all items of clothing that are either too big, too small or don’t match who i am today.
  7. ask friends and family to no longer gift me material objects but experiences instead.
  8. build savings account
  9. keep all of my clothing for my company, Choose Mountains in a storage unit. keeping work separate from home is very important for me right now.
  10. daily gratitude lists
  11. only surround myself with positive people that bring joy to my life
  12. stop worrying about what people think of me
  13. take more photographs
  14. buy replacement pieces for broken things, rather than buy entire new items, especially when things can be fixed!
  15. take workshops or classes for things i’d like to learn.

 

i believe we are all on different journeys and my journey may be quite different than others reading this. i think it’s great to always check in with yourself and make sure you are living and thriving within the reality of who you are today and not daydreaming of who you wish to be in the future. it’s a beautiful thing to water the grass we already stand on, then wish it looked like our neighbors lawn.