Monday, March 29, 2010

Grateful Spirit

If you are making a list of things to do before you die, I have one to put toward the top: drive the 101 South from Healdsburg to San Francisco at sunrise in the springtime. In case my first trip to California for the spring wasn’t wonderful enough, I now have a picture in my head I won’t soon forget.

Lake Sonoma 50 was to be my first real training run for WS. We don’t have 10K ft. of climbing in Texas, so there is no better way to train than just get after it and suffer on the first visit. I am always braced for this first race to be a hard painful one, but relish in the start of what is to come. By my 2nd trip on, I have my mountain legs and each event gets better and stronger.

John, the RD, promised no excuse weather, lovely trails, and a “hard to get lost” course. At the end of the race I thanked his wife, Lisa, for making sure the wildflowers were abundant and breathtaking.

I arrived on Friday, and went on a brief gift purchasing journey: downtown bakery for donut muffins for Paul, and an organic vineyard. The owner of the bakery, whom I had talked to over the phone, had wrapped up the muffins for freshness…they looked divine (I can’t wait for his feedback). At the vineyard, I was encouraged to taste, taste, taste. I did just enough to make wonderful selections. I had a blast in their gardens and the winemaker was so kind as to wrap up all my purchases for travel.

Saturday morning brought all of John’s promises. After hugs and hellos, it was time to start. Kelly and I ran a bit together and then I got into a nice conversation with Jody. She is from Ashland, but actually had lived in the Austin area years ago and knew me from some old triathlons. It was fun to catch up and get lost on the miles ahead. We stayed together for about the first 4 miles and then I pulled away a bit.

A few good training things happened early. First, I thought I had travelled without my MP3 charger meaning that I had limited use of music. My plan was to save it for the last miles in case I hit a low and was on my own. It was very good for me to run without music for most of the race, and I was really lifted when I turned it on later. With my heavy hill training/cramming leading into the race I knew my legs would be fatigued for the first hour or so. They always seem to bounce out of it, but it is such a game of patience until they do. Saturday was absolutely no exception. From about mile 5-10 my legs felt like crap. It definitely didn’t help that all of a sudden I was running on my own in no man
’s land, but my patience for my legs to settle was so low it was pissing me off. I just forged ahead and tried to get to the mile 12 aid station as quick as I could, so that I could reset and get my giddy-up.

I hit mile 12 aid station, refilled quickly, got my stuff out of my drop bag to last me until mile 38, and went in the direction the aid station guy pointed…or so I thought. Before I knew it I was heading down down down a road??? I remembered reading in the race instructions that there wasn’t any pavement, so this made no sense to me. Soon enough I came up on some guys getting in their car and I asked where the trail was. To which they said, “you were supposed to turn right out of the aid station.” Arghhhh, so up I went back to the aid station. I felt really badly when I saw that I had taken a girl o
n my journey off course with me. She smiled as I charged back up the hill. 10 minutes bonus. I will say that it was a funny sight to see the reaction of the aid station crew when I came back into the aid station.

I don’t know if it was the adrenaline, or I just finally warmed up, but I was all of a sudden moving with some great enthusiasm and purpose. I went by all of the people who had a chance to plug ahead while I was down the road. I got to chat with tons of folks that were super sweet and kept asking, “what are you doing back here?” The small talk explanation was a little annoying to repeat, but it was definitely distracting and before I knew it I had gotten through one aid station and was at mile 20. John was at the aid station, and I cracked a joke about my skill for adding mileage and making use of my time in California.

From here we made our way to mile 25 aid station to turn around and make our way home. It was at this point in the day that I got to reconsider my decision for the wine-tasting. It was worth it, but there was a moment or two in the woods I definitely questioned it. Just a training day…

Finally coming back from the turn around I started to feel really good. I would say about mile 27ish? I don’t know what it was, but I definitely felt things start to click. I got to the mile 30 aid station, grabbed some ice in my bottle and followed Lee down. I would say that one of the many treats of the day was getting to trade spots with Lee all day. I have known Lee and his wife Sara for a number of years now. They have been so kind to me, have fed Paul and I great post-race meals, taken care of me when WS has not been kind to my body, and have just opened their home and kindness to us again and again. It was actually funny to think that I have never actually run “with” Lee. We have been at races together, and Paul and Lee have run together in their neighborhood, but Saturday was a great treat!

The return trip was flying. It was great! It was finally warm outside and I was finally in my groove. This is what these distances are all about. If you run it out long enough, you are guaranteed to feel really really good! I came through mile 33 aid station, and Stan told me that Kelly was 22 min ahead of me. She was doing awesome! I hit mile 38, dropped my waste belt and refilled my bottle. I was a bit hungry, so I grabbed a quesadilla piece and ran out. At this point I saw Max, an old running buddy of ours from Houston, who had been quite a bit ahead of me. He said that the wheels were falling off. I told him to strap them back on, and I would see him at the finish. Noone said this was easy!

At that aid station the guy with my bag asked me if I wanted my other bottle. I figured I was moving well enough that I would be fine, BUT I should have taken it. I definitely spent the segment rationing my water, and I TOTALLY know better than that. It doesn’t matter how much you love the heat, having more fluid than less is always better!!

The aid station at the water, the last aid station, was the most welcome sight on the planet and I was thrilled that they had ice water!! From there it was just a grinder to the finish.

I was really pleased with my effort, especially with the course (not an easy one at all). I was even more pleased that once I finished I wasn’t sore or tired at all. Now that’s the way to end a training run…a bit painful during, but feel really strong when it’s over.

On my flight to California I read an article about remembering to be grateful, and in doing so everyday will be that much better. It was such a great reminder for me before the race, so that while I was out there and even during my low moments I could focus on what is bigger and more important than just putting one foot in front of the other:
- There are few words for how grateful I am for Paul and my everyday stronger feelings for him. It is such a miracle to be in this place with him, and know that everyday apart makes everyday together that much better. He is with me every step, and every moment…but I don’t actually have to write it here for him to already know it!!
- For my friends, training partners, and support team. What a dream to have such wonderful people in my life. You are with me every mile. You give me patience. You make me better, stronger, hungrier to be the very best I can be. This journey could not start and will not finish without you by my side!!
- For my friends in my “2nd” hometown, I don’t think you will ever understand just what it means to arrive in California knowing in so many ways…I am home. No, I won’t be moving to California but the genuine goodness everyone has given to me is so amazing!! Kelly, Suzanna, Leslie…I look forward to every chance I get to see y’all and visit! Thank you for making me feel so very at home! Devon – it has been amazing to see you all over the country, literally! You are such an amazing spirit, and I am so excited to see your journey unfold over the next few months and then some  I loved that you knew how much I would TOTALLY understand what you had been through with your bonus loop, and know the dividends that will come from what you made out of that. You will not soon forget what you can do when things don’t go perfect, but that you can still turn the day into just what you want and more.

In the end, I am truly grateful and blessed for the views the trails provide from the lush green to the incredible lake to the abundant wildflowers; my continued health despite the mean California poison oak (by the way, yeah it was out there…my legs and left arm are proof); and all the gifts I am continually given!

If this is just the beginning, I can’t wait to see what is down the trail!!
mer

4 comments:

Sophie Speidel said...

Meredith,

I always love reading your posts because you always say so well what I am thinking and don't say enough (or as well!). This post in particular about gratitude. Thank you for your positive spirit and energy! It's contagious!

As for your race---I see you race in CA a ton and I am so jealous---it looks so beautiful, this race in particular. One of these days when $ and time are not an issue I will get out there so keep your CA race reports coming for those of us who need a fix. :-)

Finally, I was thinking about you when I was hammering down a 5-mile downhill at Terrapin 50K last weekend--remembering catching up to you at Masochist before the long downhill to the reservoir and telling you that I wanted to take it easy and not trash my quads, and we had such a great time chatting. Of course, I trashed my quads last weekend (first mountain training or race of the year) but it was fun to think about our time at Masochist again. I will be there this November---come back out and join me!

Congrats on a great run!

SS

Eudemus said...

Congrats on a successful "training run!" I didn't realize you were in States this year! Ready to give another go at the 100-miler, excellent! Best of luck with the training.

doodlegirl said...

It was such a pleasure meeting you last Saturday at the Lake Sonoma race. We sat together after the race... talked a little bit about Austin and organic wines and facebook. :O)

I'm Kelly's sister, Shawn.

olga said...

Aww, long trail downhills...I am so jealous...sounds like an awesome time in CA with friends and sunshine!