Friday, July 19, 2013

Hi, My name is Tonya and I'm a dweeb...

It's true.  I'm a dweeb.


A boring, studious, or socially inept person.

But I'm okay with it.  You see, on my long run this morning I ran into one of my personal inspirations, Sarah Lavender-Smith.  She's a runner, a blogger and facebooker.  Generally, I love her adventures and her writing. Specifically, she plays a role in my running history.  I think it was pivotal.  When I discovered the Golden Hills Marathon I was very excited, but a little worried about the hills and elevation change of the course.  Some running friends even cautioned me NOT to enter this race because it would be too hard for me, more than I could handle.  But somehow it called to me and I wanted to do it.  So I set out on my first official training run on the course.  I had decided to train on all segments of the race, why not start at the beginning.  So I did.  But the beginning is basically a four mile hill.  Somewhere around mile three I decided that I had, in fact, gotten in over my head and was delusional if I thought I could continue on for another 22 miles after trudging up this monster.

Deflated, I returned home and decided to find some race reports.  Let's see what others thought of this race.  The very first blog post I read began with these words: "I have never been in such a morose mood during a race as I was around Mile 26 in my first 50-miler".  Written by Sarah Lavender Smith... Nevermind that she was running a 50 mile race and had already run 26 miles, she was talking about the very same hill that had nearly smashed my timid hopes of entering my first marathon.  It meant that I wasn't the only one that struggled on that hill.  This was huge.  It gave me permission to move forward.  So I'd do what I could on the hill (which meant powerhike) and I would bravely attempt my first marathon!

I have since been grateful for that shot of inspiration.  And in the year+ since finding her blog, I have continued to find inspiration in her writing.  I can relate to so much of what she writes about.  I admit to being a bit obsessed with reading running blogs and race reports but what I really appreciate about SLS is that even though she has won races (including the Golden Hills!) she strikes me as an everyday, down to earth person.

I am entered into the GHM again this year with the hopes of bettering my time.  So my focus has been the hill...  I will run it at least once a week (weaved into a variety of different loops and distances).  So today when I had just struggled up that hill and decided to take a pit stop at the only bathroom on the route, you can imagine my surprise to find SLS standing there!  She was clearly taking a break and I decided to take the opportunity not only to introduce myself but also to tell her how she had played a pivotal role in my running history.  This is where the dweeb part comes into play.  I think I probably came across as some creepy stalker fan.  But I decided that I didn't care.  I think it's okay to be a dweeb when your intent is to give compliments to someone.  She had admitted to being in the middle of a horrible run (ha, me too) and I hope that hearing how she had inspired a complete stranger would somehow give her a little boost.

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

New Normal

When slow change happens it morphs into the new normal.

I discovered endurance running three years ago.  At the time I didn't think I could do it.  For real.  Now a 10 mile run is, well let's say, pretty normal.

My new normal is reading race reports and blogs of ultra runners (yes, that's correct, I did not even now that term three years ago).  And volunteering at 50 and 100 mile races to... well... yes, it's true, to check them out.  I always say "I'm here for inspiration".  I've never actually spoken the words "I want to run a 100 mile race" out loud.  I'm not even sure that specific thought has manifested so clearly in my brain.

What I do know now, is that I do not know what my limits are in running.  I didn't think I could do a half marathon.  Or a full marathon.  I am struck by the idea of this new normal because I was just looking back at some of my very first blog entries.  So excited to discover that there were trail races, with several organizations.  It opened up a new world out on the trails, actual adventures.  I was downright giddy.  I forgot about all of that excitement... because it all seems so normal to me now.

I suppose we spend more time looking forward than back.  I now ask myself "How far can I run?" "What are my limits?"

That's pretty exciting. 

Sunday, July 7, 2013

Western States 100 Mile Endurance Run - Volunteer

Last weekend I had the opportunity to volunteer at the Western States 100 Mile Endurance Run.  It was an all around incredible experience.  Both humbling and inspiring.

Through the woman I met working at Lake Sonoma 50 miler, Cathy, I signed up at Duncan Canyon Aid Station.  Most of the crew camps the night before and then wakes with the sun to prep the aid station.  The aid station is hosted by the Quicksilver Running Group out of San Jose.  And the captain is Kristina Irvin, a 10 time finisher of the WSER. She asked me to be the AS photographer.  How perfect was that!?

I could ramble on and on (and on!) about the experience... but for now, I'm going to link to the photos and let them tell the story;

Duncan Canyon Aid Station Photos:

Duncan Canyon Aid Station Videos:

Foresthill Photos:

Finish Line Photos:

Finish Line Video:
Pam Smith, women's winner

Being around this race made me realize the levels of fitness that are between me and a feat so monumental.  After watching runners cross the finish line I realized you can't really pick who will do well or not, based on how they look... but they are all very fit.  It made me wonder, how is this possible, running 100 miles... in tough mountainous terrain.  How is it possible?  A part of me, humbled, was in awe of these people who took on the challenge.  Another part of me was inspired, and wondered if I could ever feel confident to take on the challenge.  There's a whole lot of fitness to develop, but what became clear is that is possible to change.  So much of the task comes down to the mental game, the heart, the will to keep moving despite the challenges... so I leave the experience with an open ended question...