Lately, my inner voice has been talking and I’m proud to say I’ve been listening. It tells me to push through summer’s intense heat when I’ve got no other options. Other times I hear a faint whisper throughout a long run telling me that things are not going as planned, and just to let it go.
I have run ultras in the mountains. I have run ultras in the deserts. I have run looped-course ultras. I have run an ultra across Death Valley. I have run solo ultras. But there was one glaring omission from my previous running resume: an ultramarathon with the opportunity to eat ice cream sixteen times per mile.
Monday, July 27, five days until race day, the high temperature in Helena, Montana was 63 degrees with 0.45 inches of rain. Saturday, August 1, race day, the high temperature in Helena, Montana was 97 degrees, with only a few tiny puffy clouds interrupting Montana’s big sky.
We were 170 miles into the race and had just made the decision to try for a Top 10 position, something I hadn’t even considered until a friend suggested it one month earlier. She and her husband, who successfully completed this run last year, had taken me on training runs in Tahoe and had a good sense of my capabilities.
Two days in a row I couldn’t find the trailhead I was looking for.
The first day I wasted almost two hours driving around looking for one. When I parked and thought I found the beginning of a trail, I ended up hiking a figure-8 around my car, wasting another twenty minutes down promising yet misleading paths.
I have always loved being a student of the sport—reading, asking questions, trying new things and learning what worked for me. I have been fortunate to have had several coaches who helped fill in gaps in the complex puzzle we call ultrarunning. Your question gets me thinking about the one who did the most to make me the runner and coach I am. Here are 17 lessons I learned from my favorite coach.
This year’s run was very challenging to put on. All time record heavy rains in the San Gabriel Mountains caused mud and rock slides on the Angeles Crest (Hwy 2) and CalTrans closed off our access to the 1st 25 miles of our run until mid August. However, CalTrans worked diligently to try to open the road and managed to re-open Hwy 2 before race weekend.
Here at UltraRunning, we get all sorts of race reports, and they have always been a key part of the magazine. Amongst our team, we read and edit each one at least five times in all—so we really appreciate the good ones. The stories that entertain, inform and educate.
We want to bring the races alive for you, and inspire you to get out there and get after it yourself—to overcome challenges and have life-changing experiences you can only find at ultras. Nothing fits that bill like a great race report and photos.
I’m not an avid reader of poetry, but the words in this Dylan Thomas poem have always resonated with me, and I think they express what I’ve done and what I continue to attempt to do in my ultrarunning. At various times over the years, my best friend has admonished me about my approach to my running and racing, and has pointed out an old adage: “the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.” If that bears fruit, then I guess most, if not all, ultrarunners are insane, or damn close to it.
I’ve been associated with the Finger Lakes 50s Trail Races for about 10 years, either running, volunteering or directing, and I thought the 2014 race was the muddiest year ever. So muddy that I didn’t think it could get any worse. I was wrong. With above average snowfall this past winter and relentless rain in the Finger Lakes region this year, the 27th annual running of the races was the muddiest by far.
On a high mountain ridgeline, early morning rays glance off your face as you stride over undulating single-track with never-ending views. Perfection. This is the setting of the Siskiyou Out Back Trail Runs (SOB). Starting and finishing only 30 minutes from downtown Ashland, OR, atop the Siskiyou Crest, all three races (15k, 50k, and 50-mile) traverse west along the backbone of the range and return to the Mt. Ashland lodge.