January 2, 2009
2008 - Moments to Remember
With 2008 solidly behind me, I look back on it -- as a runner -- with a certain twisted amusement. As I sit here today, I can say there were several memorable moments.
Western States DNS - One moment that comes to mind was in the afternoon of June 24th, when the Southwest plane began its descent into Sacramento Airport. I just happened to glance out the window to see an incredible pillow of soot sitting on the horizon. At that moment I realized that the week-old fires that were burning throughout Northern California had made their mark, and the six months I had spent training for the 2008 Western States 100 mile run was lining up to be just a dress rehearsal. The weeks, even months, that followed were low points for me as a runner, not because I felt cheated, or let down from the race being cancelled, I just felt lost and without a purpose. I tried to psyche myself up for another 100 mile race right away, but couldn’t find the motivation. Just like Max, the little boy in the story Where the Wild Things Are, I wandered through the night and day, and in and out of weeks…
It was when I set my sights on the Grand Canyon that I felt charged again about running. Thanks to Kevin, who had been dripping on me about this run for over a year, I found something to look forward to. As the run approached, I fell back into what I’ve come to learn is a critical state of being for me as a runner. I call it nervous anticipation mode. Unless I’m anticipating something that has got me a little nervous, there seems to be an emptiness, or a missing ingredient in my life. As memorable moments go, I too remember a plane beginning its descent, this time into Flagstaff, and looking over to see the beautiful red rocks of Sedona. This running of the Grand Canyon would be my first attempt, and I planned on videoing the run. Lots of ideas circled in my head. I remember being on the plane and telling the lady next to me some of the details I was planning for the next day. At that moment I felt like a kid again. She complimented me on my enthusiasm. The run itself? So many great moments, such great friends.
If the Grand Canyon was my wild rumpus, then Saltwater 5000 was where I needed to return, back to my very own room. I was surrounded by six other runners, two of whom I’ve been running with for 20 years. Rob, who strode next to me on virtually every important training run leading up to Western States, and Jeff, who negotiated the depths of the Grand Canyon with me, also believe in tradition. We all dipped our hands in the ocean and climbed this mountain again for the fifth year in a row. The moment that I may remember for years to come could be when my lips touched the cold metal of the surveyor’s marker at the top of the peak, or when Jeff, Rob and I simply walked together under the cold, dark sky on our trek down to old camp. We talked, and we laughed, as we have so many times before.
Another year behind us, guys.
I’m looking forward to the next.