Let’s talk about me for a second. I gave up racing after cross country in high school because I didn’t like the person I had become. I’ve always been a super competitive person coming from team sports like soccer and basketball. I feel in love with running when I was a Freshman in high school after giving up team sports. I joined the cross country team and realized the excitement of competing against yourself and the elements and not against the people around you. Running was physically hard and the personal challenge intrigued me. I took a class specifically in running and training from BYU and started to realize how limitless the body was with proper training. I moved to Colorado after finishing high school and decided to take an academic life style and give up running. Two days into living in CO I discovered rock climbing thanks to my cousin Anthony who was living there at the time. This community of people covering ground in the vertical world was exciting. I was hooked. But then I discovered the CO 14ers. I spent three years in Colorado running, climbing, and summiting tall peaks but doing it because I enjoyed it not because I needed to train. I accepted a job in SF shortly there after and moved to the city. I hated everything about it and used running as an outlet for my stress. I ran every day of the week and quickly discovered the crazy community of ultra runners in the Bay area. I became strong and raced my first 10k with in weeks of moving. The stress that overcame me and all the pressure to train was overwhelming and though I was the third female finisher I never wanted to do it again. Racing to me wasn’t worth it. I wanted to run because I loved to run not because I needed to place in some position in a race.
So I looked into a running club. Running with other people is way better then running alone. I discovered the San Francisco Running Company which was just down the road from where I was living. Excited to meet like mind people I introduced myself and showed interest in there Saturday group runs. The lady said to me “We do a minimum of 20 miles on Saturdays. You probably couldn’t keep up.” That stuck with me. I never did show up to a group run instead fell back in with the community I felt welcomed in, the climbing community. Yosemite is the only place I’ve ever felt fully at home, and I consider the people there family. Everyone is pushing the human limits, and everyone is excited to see other people succeed. Those were my people.
Fast forward to a year later. I’m gearing up to make an attempt on Nolan’s 14 a burly mountain run through the mountains that I first fell in love with. I’m not racing against other people. I’m racing against the power of my mind. Against the will power in my being and against the muscles in my thighs. This is were I fell in love with running again. Traversing large amounts of terrain in rugged environments with nothing but your body. I ran big runs in Tahoe, Yosemite, The Grand Canyon, and Zion but I had a big question mark in my mind. If you change the way you approach racing can racing be fun? Can it be just like training for a mountain objective like Nolan’s 14? I also didn’t have any runner friends. I often found myself out alone or dragging a climber through the mountains. My other question was were there people like me in the ultra running world?
I moved away from San Francisco for good and settled in to Tahoe. This is when I decided to give racing and running clubs another chance. I picked the Susitna 100 in Alaska because it seemed the closest race to not being a race. The extreme cold and rugged environment make the race more of a race against yourself then against other people. I also chose to become a member of the Donner Party Mountain Runners. I admittedly was nervous at first. To me running clubs carry a clique vibe. Everyone knows each other and everyone runs together and the new person is usually greeted with judgment of speed and fitness. But this was different. I was immediately welcomed with kind words and encouragement. They invited me on group runs and even to run one on one. These weren’t the San Francisco ultra runners that won’t welcome you in unless you place a certain time in a certain race. These were the mountain runners. The people I had been searching for in the running world.
Needless to say I decided to tackle my hatred for racing again this time in a snowshoe 10K hosted by the DPMR. The race was fast and fun and I got third but honestly it didn’t matter. I never stressed or felt any pressure and that was all that mattered. Next stop Alaska.
You can catch the running clubs newsletter here with a few of my blog posts in it DPMR Newsletter! Not to mention if your in the Tahoe sign up and drop me a line! Let's run together!