Sacramento, California is not what I think of when I imagine a city, but it has its share of urban problems in a sprawling, strip mall, tree-lined, pancake flat setting. When the feel of cement underfoot becomes too great, I itch to get out in the woods. It was easy in Seattle, because I knew the area and in the city were fantastic parks such as Discovery Park, Seward Park, Interlaken Park and more. Dirt and trees were accessible and near by. Nearly three years ago, I moved to Sacramento and I have yet to discover what the area has to offer.
This summer I joined the Fleet Feet Sacramento trail running training group. Two times a week we trudge and shuffle through the foothills; we kick up dirt, stumble, walk, suck down water and electrolytes, and weave our way through single track, root and rock-laden trails.
If you have met an ultra runner, no, if you have actually talked to an ultra runner about their love of running, it is easy to recognize that there is something unique and special about the runner and the feat. If you follow ultra running, you must know about the Western States Endurance Run http://ws100.com/home.html. Maybe you have run it, and if you have, all I gotta’ say is wow.
In the past, I scoffed at the idea of running a distance greater than a 10k. I began running when I was a kid because my Mom thought cross country running with the Catholic Church team was a good idea. And so I went. At age 10, I learned that distance running requires patience, pacing and the ability to change how I thought about running. My older sister shares my love of running, and she has been kicking my butt on the road and on the trails ever since I remember. In the 80′s I bought Jeff Galloway’s book, Marathon; it was one of the few books on running available at the time and that book traveled with me through Alaska and Europe.
I moved up in distance to a half marathon in 1998 and since I didn’t know much about training and more importantly, recovery, by the end of the race I was happy and frankly, kind of burnt out. But that didn’t stop me.
I have found that life has few certainties, but as long as I am able I plan to be a runner. I do not care much about speed or placing at the top of my age group.
Running reminds me of how fragile our bodies are and most runs, I thank my lucky stars that I am able to run.
When I moved to Sacramento, I decided to train for triathlons and lose the extra 15 or so pounds I had been lugging around. I began to train, to lose weight, to monitor my diet and track my progress. I love to train. I love the periodization, the science, the focus and intensity, goal setting, achievement.
When I trained for my first marathon in 2007, I did it with the help of Jeff Galloway’s books and guidance. I put in many miles and long runs on my own. I ran a mile and walked a minute and was excited that I had no idea what my ultimate time would be. That not knowing part is enjoyable to me; no matter how much I train, eat right, drink, come race day it’s all a crap shoot. No matter how much preparation, it all comes down to that one moment.
I decided to join Fleet Feet’s marathon training group and run the 2008 CIM (California International Marathon). I met some incredible people and the second marathon was much, much easier. Never thought I’d say that about a marathon! I felt strong and healthy and came away with a friend or two.
The coaches at Fleet Feet are pretty awesome. I just signed up for my second CIM training and will have the pleasure of training with Coach Bob and Coach Terry. The training program starts this weekend!
Speaking of coaches, the current trail running coaches, Moe and Tim, are out of this world. I forgot to mention that Coach Tim is actually Tim Twietmeyer, who completed the Western States Endurance run in under 24 hours, 25 times! He won it five times and if you want to know more about him check this out: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tim_Twietmeyer. He’s laid back, kind and a great coach. I had no idea who we were running with until someone clued me in a couple weeks ago.
I’m lucky enough to have fantastic coaches and to live in a beautiful part of the country with abundant sunshine. Sunday I ran from Placer High in Auburn, into the Stage Coach area. 1500′ of descending brought me down to a river ripe with swimming holes, and back to a single track, switchback climb out of the canyon. I made it to the last part of the Western States Trail, the final two miles before the ultra runners complete 100 miles. I walked because honestly, I was about to puke in the 90+ degree heat.
On my way into the valley, I saw an antlered, young deer. He stood so still, I thought it couldn’t possibly be real. I stopped in my tracks, took a couple of steps back, and we gazed at each other. When his head moved, I caught my breath because he was gorgeous. I am such a city person! After the run, I cooled off with some strides and beverages. Noise from the bushes behind me were faint, and when I turned I saw the doe pictured above. It is not easy to see her in the photo above, but she stood about 15 feet away and ate her supper.
I am still pleasantly sore from my run. The soreness reminds me just how fantastic it is to be alive and healthy.
What a beautiful way to start the morning.