50K of Tree Hugging

Tree Hugger

Who cares about race pace when there are trees to hug?

Ok folks, I’ve done it.  I’ve crossed over to the trail ultrarunning world with the 2017 Mendocino Coast 50K race under my belt.  I don’t want to admit to myself how much I just enjoyed my first 50K, as this will likely lead to ongoing muddy shoes and risk of being eaten by wild animals.  However, my instinct tells me that this must happen again in my running future.

I’m happy to report that I finished my first 50K, just squeaking under the cut off time of 8:30 by a mere 10 minutes.  Funny, in road racing, the cut off time has always been some distant non-concern of mine, to be considered only by those who walk the entire race or get injured.  Practically a joke.

Now picture me, exhausted after 31 miles, sprinting along a riverside cliff, dead Garmin battery, having no frame of reference for remaining clock time and distance to the finish.  In that moment, I was running as fast as I could, thinking ‘What if I miss the cut off by 30 seconds after all these hours?!?!’  Yes, I have been schooled by trail running.  Ego has been checked.

I now know that I do not know how to run downhill trails, or in mud, or how to use a rope to scramble up embankments.  I know that if the tree is big enough, I will stop to hug it, and the resulting poison ivy rash will be worth it.  I know that it doesn’t matter how muddy I get, because eventually I will cross another stream and get soaked, both of which are immeasurably fun.  I know that if I run on beaches, over breathtaking oceanfront cliffs, through redwood forests, and past waterfalls, my soaring soul will more than make up for my hurting body.  Lastly, I know that ultra races have a uniquely cool community vibe, and I might just be ok with wearing a trucker cap or drinking a microbrew on occasion, even though neither involve kale.

That was my 50K in a nutshell.  Freakin’ awesome.


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