What it takes: Miwok 100k

Jonathan and I coming into Tennessee Valley aid station, 3.8 miles to the finish!

This weekend was the Miwok 100k, a race I myself have never had the pleasure of running, but this year I came down to Sausalito to crew and pace for all of my Seattle crew that was going to be running. I paced for Jonathan and coordinated a crew for him, so once I started pacing he still had someone supporting him. My friend Jerry, who has been my faithful and wonderful friend and fabulous crew (for all of my Headlands 50k races) was up for the challenge and he and I crewed for Jonathan until I started running at mile 42. Jerry continued on to meet us at 2 more aid stations as well as at the finish line. Despite it being seriously crap weather, it was a great day out there. Every one of the runners from the front runners to the back of the packers didn't seem to let the blowing wind, pouring rain and slippy mud dampen their spirits in the least. Before the race I was able to catch up with many of my old Bay area running friend and when I was waiting at Pantoll Aid Station, I got several opportunities to run up the hill from the aid station back to the trail with some other friends including Jady Palko, Scott Dunlap and others. Jonathan and my good friend Monica Ochs (whom I had spent most of Friday with before meeting up with the rest of the Seattle area crew for dinner- Jess, Allison (who was running her first 100k), Linda, Jonathan & Jess's wonderful parents who treated us all to dinner) were running pretty close together so I got to see lots of Monica's smiling face and cheer her on! I will say there is something to be said for those who come smiling into the aid stations no matter the weather or the run they are having-it just reflections so much the joy that they put into their running and that they have the right attitude out there. Ultimately Jonathan ran an awesome race despite his feet causing him a great deal of pain. He PR'd by 2+ hours and it was such a joy for me to share that with him! Monica, Allison, Linda and Jess (as well as everyone out there) had great runs. I am so proud of everyone, it is no easy feat to tackle a run like Miwok.

Whenever people hear that I am an ultrarunner or they learn of the distances I run, they usually get a baffled look on their face and say, "I can't even imagine". What does it take? What is my attitude that carries me through mile after mile, still smiling and blissful even after 50, 60, 70, 80, 100 miles? I just love what I do. I love to run. Yes, I would hope that each of us who do this could say that, but for me I have developed an ability to remember that clearly even through suffering, even as the miles drag on. I have learned that, like life, if you just keep moving, everything changes. There is no permanence in this life and there is definitely no permanence in running or in a single race. You never know when after 30 or more bad miles that suddenly you will start feeling great, you never know when everything will change. I just keep going. I just keep hoping. I just stay present. I don't have to bully or berate myself. I don't talk down to myself or feel ashamed if the wheels start to wobble and come off. I simply smile and remember, I am blessed to have the ability to even be out there. I hold on to the journey and keep myself open to the lessons it holds. Sure running well or fast is nice, but I can only access that physical ability if my mind is right. When I relinquish my control or desire to control, I can fully be present in my run and thrive.

Running long distance to me has such a similar curve, similar ebb and flow as life does. Good times come and good time go, bad things happen and we deal with it and survive. As I have learned from my own life, you have already faced, survived and thrived after worse things and no matter the dark places you go through, you can come out the otherside. Running for me is the same, I know that no matter what I will not give up on myself (now that doesn't mean I won't take a DNF or that I stupidly push my body past things that are long-term harmful). My running is informed by the life I have lead, the things I have survived and my life is also informed by the lessons, moments and experiences I have while running. Neither running, nor life is so serious that we cannot face it with a smile on our face and infinite joy and hope in our heart. We are so blessed to be able to participate in these things, not just running, but life that I find it hard not to celebrate that blessing in each step, each breathe. So what does it take to complete and ultra? Nothing more (well except the physical training part, ha!) than it takes to live your life....putting your best foot forward and simply continuing to move forward.

"Although the world is full of suffering,
it is also full of the overcoming of it"
-Helen Keller

Hugging, crying, running and best of all finishing! Jonathan and I coming into the finish.