I can’t believe that every single year I find something new that I love about running. After coming back from nearly a 10 year break from competing, I fell in love with the marathon distance. Shortly after that, I fell in love with track, which by the way, is something I hated in high school and college. I knew that I also wanted to get into ultra marathons (anything longer than a marathon) after reaching some short(er) distance goals first. What I love about ultras is the opportunity to be out in nature, breathing in crisp cool air, rugged and challenging terrain, and of course, not having to worry about getting hit by a car.
A few weeks ago I went to REI and bought a Camelbak and Peanut Butter GU (YUM) because I wanted to start hiking and trail running on the weekend. It might seem silly but that stupid pack really got me excited and moving in that direction to finally get out there. My friend Ashley, who also had an infatuation with the marathon had recently switched to running ultras and was hiking nearly every weekend at Mt. Wilson, so I asked if I could join her the next time she was headed out there. Although I had become somewhat familiar with this trail, seeing her check-in every weekend on Yelp and noticing that it took several hours to complete, made me anxious to challenge myself in a new way. We agreed on the weekend and headed out really early, around 6am, stopping by on our way out. Duh. We were definitely on a mission, and I was glad that Ashley had let me join her.
As we started the hike, it seemed like we were climbing and climbing and climbing before Ashley mentioned that we hadn’t even gotten to the switchbacks. I was already breathless, I was so impressed, I had no idea what I was in for. Thank goodness I had dressed in layers because it was very cold and we were freezing! I swear to this day that my lips had turned purple from the cold. We stopped a few times (only for a few minutes) to refuel and to take in the sight of some deer that had stopped in the middle of the trail in front of us. When we finally made it to the radio towers at the top, we were disappointed that the clouds were blocking the views of Los Angeles all around us. Ashley had been talking about the wonderful views as soon as we started and I felt bad that she was disappointed when she couldn’t show me what she was talking about. Finally, we decided it was time to run the entire way back so we could try to beat her 4-hour record (actually, I think the record was 3:52:00 or something like that). We were hauling ass (excuse the language) down and me being the rookie that I was, AND not wearing trail shoes, fell right on my butt at least three times. As we were close to the base, we knew we were going to smash that record and we hauled it in just to be sure. I was exhausted, I felt high, I was so happy and I can hardly explain it. As soon as we finished these 14 miles, we got a bite to eat, had a beer, and then walked over to REI to buy more stuff for our next trail excursions. When I got back to Dom’s house, I was walking soooo slow. I headed to the shower and walked straight into the door frame, nearly knocking myself out after hitting my head (two weeks later and I still have a sore spot on my forehead). I was too tired to cry, I started laughing, jumped into the shower, and then quickly knocked out for a few hours. For the next few days I could barely move, EVERYTHING hurt. I knew it then that I had to get out there again so that I could master this newfound love.