"Its not what you look at, its what you see" Thoreau

"Its not what you look at, its what you see" Thoreau

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Why I Run 100 Mile Trail Races

I am all about the journey. The journey of the 100 mile runs is such a metaphor and teacher for my daily life. Enjoy the process, not the finish line. To me, there never is a finish line. These long journey's are a meditation to bring me into myself, my heart and soul. I love the two spectrums of being alone for hours and miles to being surrounded by my active kids and my busy life of activities. The two keep me in check and balance. They both help me appreciate the other and how fortunate I am to have both. I never take that for granted.

I love that I have to focus on mile 1 when there is 99 to go - to be in the now, to not think nor worry about what the darkness will bring. To take in the surroundings and the peace and the beauty of so much ground that is unknown and never been seen to my eyes. It is a mystery and wonder to what the next mile will bring - that is what keeps me going. This again, helps me focus on my life at home - to be in the now of my day and not worry of all that is to come. Life, it is a mystery no matter how much control we think we have. Surrender to the trail, the day - "God, give me this day" and be suprised. Trails, to me, are the same feeling and suprise. You truly never know what will happen, but you do the best now and the best the next now, and the next... That is all you can be and do, your best. Challenge yourself, and the growth happens in a way you would never imagine if you didn't take it on.

I love nature, the colors, the smells of the trees, the feeling of the earth - right under you. Running on the earth, this big, big ball and the feeling of being so small and insignificant is such a wonder. When out West, everything is so much bigger that you can't help but feel swallowed into the forest around you. The thought of who and how many have been on this earth where I briefly planted my foot - no sidewalks, just ground that is moving, adjusting and adapting to the steps it is enduring from all that have been there - the history of shoes, feet. Not at all like a sidewalk that has been replaced over and over.

I am not a creature of habit and trails help me change things up. Nature alone is such a wonderful process of dying and rebirth. Even though I love running through new ground, the same ground is different every day, every season. It dyes and rebirths year after year. It is cleansing to my soul, exercise to my eyes.

I love at night, when the world is alseep (most of the world that is) running in the woods and hearing the night sounds, the sounds that get my heart racing and my feet to keep moving! Who are those eyes that glow through the bushes and wonder who I may be? We both may be thinking the same thoughts.

My imagination is never so vivid as running in the woods. I dream, I pretend, I make up songs, I talk out loud, act silly. This attitude on the streets may lead me to a "facility" to get evaluated for my mental health - but in the woods, I can be alone and be ME! I dare to be different. I want to be different.

The questions of who am I come up often when I am out in the oxygen enhanced enviroment that create those thoughts. Who am I? I am me, I am here, and here is where I want to be...in these trails, now. 100 mile races are a retreat for my soul and rejuvenate me to return to my other wonderful life of kids, who I am glad are loving the trails too.

And the answer to the question that someday may be asked when I have to leave these lovely trails and lovely earth - Did you have fun? And I know, it will be and is now - YES.

"The woods are lovely, dark and deep, but I have promises to keep, and miles to go before I sleep, and miles to go before I sleep" Robert Frost


  1. This is a beautiful narrative. You are an inspiration to me and I'm grateful for your positive influence on my life! Your kids are lucky to call you mom and I know the woods smile when you are running through them.

  2. This is a lovely ode to ultrarunning -- thanks for sharing it :-) I discovered your blog through Montrail's FB link. I "only" run 50M and have not decided whether to graduate to the longer distance, but your description makes it quite tempting. I can relate to much of what you write even though I run about 40 percent the hours you do in a 100 miler and have 40 percent what you have in terms of kids (2 instead of 5!). Nice work.

  3. I just ran my first 100 and I agree. I loved that my brain had to focus on where I was in the course. I didn't let myself think about the training I could have done better at, runs I skipped, and I never allowed myself to think about the finish. It was such a healthy mindset. If only I could achieve that daily....
    Thank you for sharing.
    Jennifer Clinchard
    Lincoln NE