Good Saturday

Last weekend was a good weekend. I had a very enjoyable Saturday which I spent with the ol’ ball and chain. I dragged him out to volunteer at a race with me and although I’m sure he was silently cursing me out at 5:45 am, he ended up having a lot of fun.

The race took place up in Skyline (in Palo Alto, CA) and although we didn’t get to see much of the beautiful course, we did enjoy some great weather. Tony and I were helping out with parking while people arrived. It involved lots of flag pointing. At this point, Tony was probably wondering what the heck he got himself into and whether or not he could sneak the keys out of my pocket and drive away without me noticing.

Once everyone was parked, the race started. Tony and I had a little more flag-pointing to do to direct runners in the right direction to the trails. Fairly simple, but necessary. You’d be surprised how many people add or subtract to a course by going the wrong way.

Finally, when all the runners were off, we started setting up our aid station. The course had some out and backs, so we were set up near the finish line for the people who had to go back out again. It was the 13 mile point of the course–so the half-marathoners ran past us to the finish line, but the full-marathoners and 50K runners came to our aid station (instead of to the finish) and went back out again. We also saw the 50K runners one more time before (at their 26 mile point) before they headed out on a 5 mile loop before finishing.

Confused yet? Basically, we got to see people at all stages of their race and it was very fun and entertaining. We were also joined by a boy named Carl. Carl was 11 years old going on 45. His dad was running the marathon and Carl was waiting around for supplies to give his dad at the halfway point. We ended up adopting Carl for 6 hours and put him to work at our aid station. He was great at running ahead and grabbing water bottles from the runners to refill. He also discovered the race fuel of boiled potatoes dipped in salt, and made sure to offer this to every runner we saw. In between runners, when there was a little bit of a lull, we talked to Carl and tried to understand how this kid was only 11 years old. He seemed wise beyond his years and a little jaded from life already. It was only when the M&M’s got hot, and squished between his fingers when he picked them up, that he got excited and I began to believe he was really 11 and not Benjamin Button.

Overall, it was SO fun to volunteer and joke with the runners who felt up to talking with us. We would’ve stayed for the whole race had we not been hot and starving. (Aid station food is yummy until you watch all the dirty, sweaty runners put their hands in the food bowls.) We took our green hats and orange shirts, said good-bye to Wendell (of CTR), and promised to be back for future races.

Wendell seemed a little confused when we left without Carl. We told him we had met him here and he wasn’t ours. Although when I was driving away, I did check the back seat to make sure Carl wasn’t a stowaway. He seemed like a great and interesting kid, and was just as fascinated with us as we were with him. I’m sure his day with Megan and Tony was the best one of all his 45 years.

I love wearing orange parking vests :)

Running Isn’t Everything

Running isn’t everything. This is something that I’ve been starting to realize and think about more and more in the last few weeks. Lately, running has pretty much ruled my life. In the fall of last year, I started working at ZombieRunner, a fabulous store that caters to all runners, but mostly trail and ultrarunners. Not long after starting the job, I signed up for my first and second 50 mile races. Kind of extreme, right? I’d never ran more than a marathon and already I was browsing websites to see what would be the perfect first 100 mile race. That’s right, 100 miles. I knew I’d be able to tackle 50 no problem and I was already dreaming of taking the next step to 100 miles before I’d ever ran my first ultra.

In January, I ran my first ultramarathon- Crystal Springs 50K in Woodside, CA. It was beautiful and fun and easy. (It was easy because I ran at an easy pace. I always do. If I were to ever push myself for speed, I might not have as much fun running. So “easy” doesn’t make me a super-athlete, it just means I’m a slacker.) After that, I was hooked.

Since then, I’ve been running 50K’s as training for my 50 milers. Since January I’ve run 4 50K’s and one 50 miler. My next 50 miler will be in July at the Tahoe Rim Trail 50M, and I have 2 50K’s in mind to do before then, as well as a training run at Western States training camp next weekend.

So basically, this is my life in a nutshell:

Work in a running store. Talk running, ultrarunning, trail running. Browse race/blog/shoe websites when it’s slow.

Run. Train on treadmills and trails. Speedwork, long runs, strength training for proper form.

Race or volunteer *almost* every weekend. Race as practice. Volunteer to give back (and to earn a free race entry. It’s a vicious cycle).

And I’m just starting to realize that maybe it’s a bit too much. 

Some runners have friends who are runners. I have friends who like to run, but aren’t as overly-obsessed with running as I am. I’ll read blogs about other ultrarunners who say then went on a nighttime trail run with a bunch of buddies, or had a friend pace them the last 30 miles of a race. I don’t have those kinds of friends. My friend Dan recently asked me to play softball for his team for a game. (I sucked, btw, but that’s neither here nor there.) I, however, don’t think I could ask Dan to pace me the last 30 miles at Rio Del Lago (or whatever 100 I might end up running).

Which is not a bad thing. I think if I surrounded myself with other ultrarunners, I might get a little carried away. True, my running might improve if I had more people to push me and train with me. However, I know there are other things in life that are more important to me that running:



I only began thinking about this whole running-is-taking-over-my-life thing recently because of some things I’ve been missing out on due to running. Stay out late on Saturday? No, I woke up at 6, ran 30 miles, and have to work at the store the next morning. A’s game next weekend? No, I’m volunteering *or* running 30 miles. Again.

I am extremely grateful to be able to do what I’m doing. I am healthy. I have the time. I have the means. Running can be an extremely selfish sport. Tony has had to put up with watching me run more than ever while he’s dealing with multiple knee surgeries. He’s also had to wake up at the butt-crack of dawn to watch my races. Sometimes we miss out on fun things going on with his friends because we’ll be out of town for a race. Poor guy.

All this being said, I’m not getting burnt out. I am enjoying every running-related moment I have. I know come fall, I’ll be back in school, taking graduate classes and teaching middle schoolers how to read, and running will fall on the wayside. I’ll look to the weekends like every other person and enjoy the time to relax and spend with friends and family. Running and ultrarunning will still be in my life, but maybe once a month rather than every.single.week.

Life is all about balance, and hopefully one day I’ll find one.


Giving Back to the Running Community

I’m so excited to have my first ever race volunteering experience. Tomorrow I will be helping out at aid station #1 at the Western Pacific Marathon put on by the company Brazen Racing. I’ve never had a chance to run at one of their events yet, but I’m looking forward to checking them out in the future. They specialize in trail races ranging from 5k to half-marathons, with a few marathon and ultra events thrown in during the year.

I think it’s so so so important to volunteer at races if you have the time. Especially if you’re a runner and racer yourself. Those cups of water you grab at a marathon? There’s a hand holding them. That PB&J you grabbed during that 50K? Someone toiled over a hot stove to make that for you. Or not. But they sure as heck made sure the ratio of PB to J was equal and you should be thankful for that.

Volunteers are also great at giving moral support, especially in smaller races where spectators are rare. In my first 50K, I remember feeling lightheaded and dizzy at around mile 20 or so. At the next aid station I came to, someone immediately noticed I was a little out of it and offered various solutions (salt tabs, eat eat eat, hydrate, take it slow) that helped me finish the race strong. To that person and to the many others who’ve given me water, Gu, potato chips, bandaids, and oranges, I’m forever grateful.

I just hope I’m this chipper at 6 a.m. tomorrow morning!