Trails by Nature


Some thirty years ago, when I started running, I was running trails.  These were trails in the woods that were across the street from my home in my native state, New Jersey.  Being in the woods was an escape for me.  It was a chance to think.  It was a chance to get away from an abusive environment that I was captive in.  A sad consequence of this environment, my brother committed suicide.  September 16, 2016 will mark 30 years since I found him. Having no form of therapy, I turned to running.  My therapy was my running. Another sad consequence, I have eliminated from my life those who created this environment regardless of their biological link to me. The heart creates thin scabs that fall off once in a while, but the running continues.  And…I am stronger because of it.

The one thing that I take away from the environment I was raised in was that this biological donor was a cross country coach.  I remember going to meets and watching his athletes.  I remember listening to him coach them and thinking that I can do what he is telling them to do.  So I did.  In my healing, I found that the happiest I was happened to be when my feet were on the trails.  I did not have special shoes.  We could not afford them.  They wouldn’t be bought for me even if we did have the money. There were no hydration vests or fuel belts, they were not around yet.  I just ran.  My ankles would be caked in crud and filth from the earth that I ran over.  My legs showed the scratches from the wild blueberry bushes and fallen branches.  My heart grew lighter, my chest opened up, my shoulders got broad and I found myself, again.

Flash forward to Sunday, July 10, 2016 when I found myself loving every single inch of a trail run that I signed up for with Baytrail Runners.   The past few years, my focus has been on road running as I have been trying to qualify for Boston.  I have only tried three times to qualify (December 2013 (hit mile 20 in sub 3 hours but lost it at mile 22 – hip flexors), December 2014 (broke down early-bad pacing mistake) and November 2015 (sick with the flu)), but I can see how addictive it is to beat that last time or run the same race a year later, differently, thinking that the BQ is right there.  The truth is, it is downright hard to qualify.  My training runs are there and everything points to qualifying, but darn if that brick wall doesn’t show up at mile 22 and fall on top of me.

So here I am, eyeing my first 50k.  Okay, more information here….here I am eyeing my first 50k trail run!  [insert cheshire cat grin here]. This all started out so innocently.  I run trails at least twice a week and have been for years.  I am on hills a lot (2x a week). This is not something that I am just introducing myself to all over again.  I need the time away, the one-on-one time with the dirt and stones, where my office is.

My goals have NOT changed.  I am going to give that old BQ notion a shot again here soon, but for the next month, I am eating, breathing and sleeping trails.  We have to challenge ourselves to grow.  We have to face tough obstacles to test our mettle.  Believe me, what I endured in this lifetime is more than many can even imagine. Running 31ish miles is just another obstacle for me to take on.

I set a goal for myself to run a 50k by 50 years old.  I am running to support a friend who is celebrating her 40th birthday with a 50k.  I can’t think of another way to celebrate that milestone than to be there with her and to check off a bucket list item too.  A friend stated to me that it [running a 50k] is a slippery slope to the 50 mile, 100k and 100 mile.  Will I be writing a similar blog entry a year from now?  Who knows.  I know I can’t wait to find out.

If You Can’t be a Unicorn, be a Mermaid

It has been a while since I have written a blog entry.  A lot of this has to do with the fact that I am just so busy!  So much has happened since my entry in November.   After I healed my wounded spirit from my debacle at Revel Canyon and losing that elusive Unicorn somewhere on the course (well, it was actually at mile 16), I immersed myself in other things running related.  I even managed to land myself a job working with a very respected and wonderful race director for a women’s race series entitled, Mermaid Series.

Shortly before coming on board at Mermaid, I passed my RRCA (Road Runner’s Club of America) coaching certification.  That’s right folks…I am a certified coach now.  Not only can I share my almost 30 years experience as a runner with people, but I can do it with a certificate to back up what I have learned through years of running and through my course study.  Mermaid was icing on the triple layer cake!  mmmm, icing….

My focus is on group coaching.  I create training plans for the participants who sign up for Mermaid Series runs.  Many who run the Mermaid Series are new to running or are trying to gauge their abilities to move on to bigger races. My plans are tailored to the new runner.  I feel confident and comfortable talking to a newer runner and building their confidence levels.  Keeping these people in a positive frame of mind helps not only their training go smoothly, but it also is a big boost to see these athletes cross the finish line.  Perhaps that is my selfish pleasure, but, I love seeing them cross the finish!   Though I had a itty bitty part in that journey, I feel a sense of pride in watching them achieve their goal.  To say that I am “honored” to be a part of their journey is an understatement.   I share their passion and their enthusiasm.  I have finally found my groove and I am in this for the long haul.

With Mermaid, I have learned a lot about race production and am now focusing on getting my certification to be a Race Director.  For me to be a help to my RD, I need to know the industry and what is required.  Besides, Assistant Race Director really, really sounds good to me! Recently, I have been approached by an organization to design a race for them and to have this honor has just completely made me so excited.  I honestly can not find the right words to express how incredibly happy I am and what an honor it is to be considered an authority.  My passion about this crazy little sport of running is turning into a very lucrative thing for me.  Knowing that people believe in me and hold me in high regard is really very humbling and I am just without words.

In addition to my position at Mermaid, I have also been a taste agent for SkratchLabs.  This is my second year as a taste agent and I have managed to bring Skratch to our races as our means of hydrating our participants.  Knowing that I can keep our participants healthy while on the course from the inside out, gives me peace of mind.

Skratchlabs is not the only ambassadorship that I hold.  For the second year in a row, I am wearing the Ambassador hat for The San Francisco Marathon.  Representing my local marathon and being one of the faces of this very prestigious and beautiful race is truly a wonderful experience.  I have the pleasure of working with some really amazing and talented people.  The San Francisco Marathon is in just a few short weeks, three to be exact.  TSFM will be my 15th full marathon and comes close on the heels of celebrating the 10 year anniversary of my first full, Nike Women’s Marathon in 2006.

There is plenty going on in my world and every time I run, I think about what I should be writing, but it just never happens.  I find that it is easier to write on my Facebook page, I RUN California, about the daily motivation, inspiration, and perspiration in my world.

I am still chasing that Unicorn.  I just have the tail of a Mermaid to help propel me along.