Two weeks ago, I ran SOB 15k for the first time. It wasn’t the race I signed up for, but I like to think it was the race I deserved.
What follows isn’t a typical race report. Frankly, I’m tired of writing those.
This is about something less tangible and more visceral. Joy overcoming disappointment. Going head-to-head with your own ego and coming out with a smile and a pink flower sash.
It’s about learning how to own your goals instead of letting them own you.
First of all, let me say I had an absolutely amazing time and am so grateful for the hard work of all the race directors, volunteers, and wonderful people who showed up on July 13.
How would I describe a race that features aid stations manned by pirates, colorful Hawaiian leis, and toy snakes and lizards scattered all over the trail?
So, let me talk about why I ran the 15k.
I registered for SOB 100k pretty much as soon as it opened. I couldn’t not. I felt compelled by some great force. A force that craved that feeling I’d have crossing the finish line. An obsession, really.
When I sat down at the end of 2018 to map out my goals for this year, qualifying for the Western States lottery was in my initial brain dump. However, when it came time to narrow it down to a handful of attainable goals for 2019, that one was cut. In the area of health and fitness, I chose a much less-remarkable goal of “heal my hip.”
I’ve had piriformis syndrome for several years. It’s never painful enough to make me stop running, but it definitely alters my gait and leads to secondary injuries, (i.e.: the foot pain I’ve had all year).
The more I run, the worse it gets.
It’s kind of like driving a car that needs an alignment. It’s probably okay for shorter trips, but a cross-country adventure is asking for trouble.
At the time I signed up for SOB 100k, I was vaguely aware that this decision was not at all in line with my plan to improve my hip health. In fact, it was bound to make matters worse.
Every year, when I ramp up for training season, I always tell myself, “this year, you’re going to do more cross training. more yoga. more focus on strength and flexibility.”
And then, every year, when I start turning up the miles, I stop doing all of that, including stretching.
Who can relate?
Over the past few months, I’ve been tackling fundamental fitness and joint health with the same commitment and vigor I’d normally apply to an ultra training plan. This includes a lot of stretching and strengthening exercises, chiropractic care, and reflexology.
Sometimes, when you release muscle tension, all this emotional crap comes out with it.
In addition to the body work, I’ve been learning to listen to my higher self through an energetic healing modality that’s literally called Body Talk. I started releasing stress that I’d grown so used to, I thought it was part of who I am.
This type of stress is, in my opinion, a double-edged sword. It’s what compels me to push myself as hard as I do. To finish a grueling race or long run. This stress drives me to achieve my goals, both running and otherwise.
This type of stress is addictive.
I know a lot of runners, workaholics, and adrenaline junkies must know what I mean.
I recognized this stress in the ladies who camped next to me at Mt. Ashland Ski Park the night before SOB. One of them was running the 100k and the other, the 50M. I picked up a distinct buzz about them as they spent the evening packing their drop bags, calculating calorie needs, and trying to figure out how to charge a headlamp.
:::Keeping a charged headlamp is not my forte. You can read about it here:::
I listened to them chat excitedly as I sat back and enjoyed the sunset. On the one hand, I felt relieved I didn’t have to worry about any of those things. On the other, I felt jealous.
I wanted that rush. I wanted to know that I was about to crawl out of the back of my car in the dark, tie my shoes, and do something really, really fucking amazing.
But then again, I didn’t.
I’ve recently realized this stress also keeps me from laying off the gas when my tank is almost empty. It prevents me from listening to my own body and taking care of myself.
This stress is best friends with my ego, who has been known to tell me some awful lies: I’m not good enough. If I’m not fighting hard, then I’m wasting my time. If I don’t achieve I am worth nothing.
In the time I’ve spent not running, I’ve been sitting with these thoughts and beliefs. Examining them. Where they come from. What purpose they serve.
I realized I was allowing my sense of self worth to hinge on my ability to constantly out-do myself. Or others. I realized these thoughts are harmful and that it’s time to let them go.
So that’s where I was when I finally made the call to drop down to the shortest distance in the Siskiyou Outback trail race series.
Race day morning, I lazily sauntered back and forth between sipping coffee in my car and cheering on my friends who were starting the longer distances. It felt kind of nice to know that I didn’t have to do anything until 8:30am.
Hell, I even gave myself time to warm up!!!
Sure, there was a bittersweet aspect to it, but it was also the most FUN I’ve ever had in a race.
There wasn’t a single second of pain or struggle. Just 100% awesome.
Highlights included rubber snakes and lizards scattered on the trail, an easy, breezy, soft-footed downhill on the way back, and running through the finish with trail sista Melissa, who also ran Paiute Meadows 50k back in May. Honestly, it felt like a reward. A special treat for honoring my body.
I believe that I can run far without feeling like I have to prove something to myself.
But for right now, I’m listening to my body. And what my body has been telling me is this:
Drink water and move gently.
If your body’s been telling you the same, I hope this post helps you give yourself permission to do that.
I’m already seeing tremendous improvement in my overall health and wellbeing. I plan to continue racing shorter distances throughout the rest of 2019. Next up is Headwaters 30k at the end of September and I am STOKED!
Freelance writer. Trail runner. Relentless savage.