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why I quit running

"After this (Buffalo 100), no more running for at least 6 weeks. I mean it! Just peaks. Ridges. Mountains. I quit running!"

Sunrise from Grandeur Pk. Matt and Craig moved during the panorama
I laced up my La Sportiva Bushidos. The padded tongue, firm. The stabilizing heel cup felt nice cupping my tender ankles. Standing up, my legs felt good.  After months fighting shin splints and a stress reaction, I almost didn't feel any shin pain. Almost.

I checked the time. I was meeting my sister for a birthday lunch soon, but I could squeeze this in: a quick summit of Mt. Wire. I wouldn't have time to come down George's Hollow, but if I came down the face again I could change in the car and hurry to make it lunch on time.

This would be my first time out since the Buffalo 100.
Cherri on Parley's - Emigration Ridge
Just walking from the car to the trail felt tiring, my legs stiff and heavy. Rain was dusting my jacket. I zipped my key into my pocket and fidgeted with the trekking pole straps while I waited for my watch to find satellites.

No more procrastinating.

This was what my body was waiting for, anyways. The oft busy BST trails were empty, likely due to the weather that had turned to hail. It was quiet, if the pattering of hail can be called quiet. Each step my achilles and calf would burn, but they'd burn with excitement. I struggled to find a rhythm I had forgotten- the rhythm of deep, sharp breaths on a steep slope, a rhythm lost to me during my many flat training runs.

J finding the uphill rhythm while running the Zion Traverse, her report for our run here 
Breathing, poles, rocks. Each freeing step shook hail from my shoulders. A summit. I would get a birthday summit.

I approached the section of trail strava has named the "no talking zone." Steep and rocky, this section reminds me of a mountain ridge, an exposed spine of choppy, uneven steps. The are rare and lone trees, and brush lurks beside the spine. Every summit, this is my favorite part. I relished each step, each noisy breath, each cut-out rock tangled into a trail. I pushed harder; I felt alive. I was alive. Pushing life into each step, existing in moments caught between footwork and views. The clouds enveloped me and snow began to dance around. I ran the rolling portions between the brush. I never can decide if I'm grateful for the trail through the tangled scrub oak there. I have a special place in my heart for breaking through brush.
Matt Williams on the summit of Perkins Peak
Then, the final summit push. Just an inch or two of snow. I smiled thinking of the pool-side birthday parties of my youth, the sunshiney days of southern California. Instead here I was, alone atop Mt. Wire, trekking poles and gloves in silent snowfall.
"cougar cub" tracks on Wire (for Scott. ha)
I let my breathing slow and gave myself a couple seconds to drink it in. No more early mornings in corner canyon. No more flat trails. No more pressure--the only pressure now would be to run faster than lightning storms could gather, to have strength to scramble exposed cliff-sides with immaculate performance. The pressure of mountains is to stay alive, and if I could, I would thrive.

Searching the summit views I was grateful that the nearby mountains were masqued by clouds, I couldn't hear their beckoning call. I was allowed the peace of the singular mountain I was on, reassured that from this point forward, I could run summits. No roads. No tempos. No quick 10 milers. Just quiet, peaceful peaks.
Grateful for friends who aren't afraid of a little brush.
I began my slow trot down, not wanting to risk slipping with unsteady legs still tired from the 100 mile race only days before. The snow was moist and the hail had picked up again. The stinging of the pelts on my quads made me smile. I loved the unpredictability of mountains, their weather, their magnitude. I love that they bite back.
Coming down Wire on Georges in April snow, photo by Craig

The aggression and passion of mountains match mine. We bite, claw, redline... but stop to let minutes tick by to observe a sunrise, dip tired legs into a cool stream, and lay on a summit laughing with friends. Extroverted by appearance and introverted by a harsh, misunderstood nature. Despite my love, the mountains will never give me anything. Still I swirled the thoughts of peaks and summer goals around, rolling them over and over in my thoughts. This was satisfying, even if it only was Wire, my "baby mountain." My baby mountain.

The hail turned to heavy rain, and I was grateful to approach the parking lot. I had summited in a PR time for me, although I hadn't planned for it, and the time wasn't impressive. Still, my body was yearning to go up, up, up. No more flats.

No more running.

Just summits.

*note: all pics are from the last month's "recovery" summits. Only 3 runs since Buffalo 100 haven't included a summit, and two of those still included 2000+ vert in very few miles.


  1. Whew, glad to hear you're still out there and not sitting on the couch.

  2. Beautifully written, my friend. Life is constantly teaching me that there is more to it than to run, run, run. I've always gotten the feeling that, with you, running is simply one method of getting you to the other peaks and high points along those lines you visualize--but that's another essay for another day.

  3. You could say that running is your means to an end. Get to the peak and back to your car quicker. It allows you to avoid wearing a heavy pack...which you hate as much as an ingrown toenail. :)


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