Ho-ly shit. It's been one year since I last posted here. Good thing nothing interesting has happened since then. Kidding, of course.
Too much. That's what's happened in the past year. The biggest news? I GOT A DOG. Well, a feral four-legged creature. I fell in love with him at the shelter and he's been a part of my soul ever since. I named him Makalu, after the fifth highest peak in the Himalayas because "Everest" seemed too lofty, too cliche, and too obvious. Like every other aspect of my life, even my solo running time has a "Mak, too" tacked on to it. We do everything together, even on the days I'd rather be alone in the aspens. Though I have to admit, watching him run freely and enjoy the trails as much as I do has been heartwarming and entertaining to say the least. Well, most of the time. He's not always the best with listening to authority (cough, cough, Michelle). Legend has it that around dusk, you can hear an angry trail runner roaming the Wasatch, screaming after her disobedient husky, calling "Maaaaak! MAAAAAK!"
Here's a short video that my friend Joey put together this week that perfectly captures what Mak and I have been up to during our six months together:
Facebook reminded me a few days ago that it's been three years since my very first trail run. Wow, only three years?! It feels like a lifetime ago. Since then, I've logged over 2755 miles in the Wasatch, Uintas, and Canadian Rockies. It's been a good reminder that even though I've spent a lot of hours on the trail, I'm still pretty new to this sport/life. It's been especially helpful right now as I'm coming off a lackluster week of training. But back to that first trail run...
Shortly before this photo was taken, I narrowly avoided stepping on the tail of the largest rattlesnake I've ever seen. Even to this day, the only snake to rival that one was a crusty old 5 foot bastard that, according to local folklore, has lived at the base of Looking Glass Arch in Moab for years. The snake sighting was a rude awakening for a California sorority girl still getting accustomed to the whole "I go outdoors for fun" thing. The near miss sent adrenaline flowing through me but I was in such a good mood, it quickly gave way to pure ecstasy and I continued bouncing up the trail toward the peak.
At the peak, I snapped a photo (or 150) and took in the view. Okay, okay, I nodded. A slight breeze ruffled my ponytail. So this is why people haul themselves up mountains on the weekends, for views like this. Wow. I think I get it now. I mentally high-fived myself for finally getting my ass on the trail after living in Utah for almost a year. Pleased with myself and my selfies, I began trotting back down toward my car.
Two steps after reaching full speed, I was sprawled chin first in the dirt. Temporarily stunned at finding myself with burning palms and a mouthful of earth, I struggled to right myself. The fuck just happened?! The 65L pack on my back, jammed full of snacks, liters of water, and other useless weight shifted over my head in the fall, leaving me rolling around in the powdery dirt while hot tears of shock and frustration threatened to spring from my eyes. I finally rolled over enough to connect my butt to the ground and sat up to assess the damage. Two bloodied palms, two bright red knee caps crusted with blackened dirt. All superficial and stinging but nothing too serious...oh wait, why did my right ankle feel like it was trying to burst through my skin? Shit. I looked down. It was huge and swelling quickly.
Three miles away from my car and a couple thousand feet up, I was facing what was arguably the hardest part of the run and stuck with a painfully purple softball for an ankle. Shit. After allowing myself a few moments of total unadulterated self pity, I wiped the dirt from my face (well, more like I smeared the dirt around my sweaty face with a bloody palm) and considered my options. Thankfully, I had an ice chest full of ice sitting on the passenger's seat. But did I hobble down the mountain slowly but carefully? It would be a looong time before I reached my car but at least I would avoid a potentially worse fall and additional injuries. Or should I bite my lip and hustle as fast as I can down the mountain?
If you know me, you probably already know what I chose. I stood slowly, gingerly testing my treacherous ankle. Well, here goes nothing. I grit my teeth and let my body lean forward as I lurched unsteadily down the trail. After a few minutes, the sharpness of the pain subsided into a dull, manageable ache. It wasn't fun, it wasn't quick, and it definitely wasn't pretty, but I finally made it to my car. I ripped into the ice chest like a scavenging bear and tended to my injuries. I was done!
It took a few minutes after icing my ankle and soaking up my own awesomeness before I realized the worst wasn't over. I had a manual transmission in my car. This meant a 45 minute drive home and a quick prayer that there wouldn't be any traffic. I damn near almost cried at the prospect.
Later, the damage would be assessed by my doctor and declared to be a grade III sprain. It would be almost six weeks before I was able to run again.
This was my initiation into the world of trail running. And given the less than friendly welcome, I never would have thought this sport would become the cornerstone of my existence. I've given up countless nights and weekends to grind it out alone on the trail, far from friends, boyfriends, and good times galore. I've put my career on hold in favor of low-paying seasonal jobs that allow me time to train during the day before clocking in for a full 8 hours at night. There have been gallons of sweat and more than a few instances of literal blood shed. So many tears have been spilled both on the trail and because of the trail. And I've loved every second of it all, even when I hated it.
But all of those hours spent hustling on the mountainsides have introduced me to the two most important lessons of my adult life: humility and persistence. And while I'm far from finished with my studies, I'm thankful for the opportunity to learn them both the hard way.
Here's to three long years of trails and cheers to many thousands of miles more!