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standhope 60k

it seems like the last few years I've aged, and I've grown. I lost my identity as a runner. if I didn't run frequently, if I wasn't in the mountains, if I wasn't pushing my own limits, what was I? 

I'd retained the identity as a mother, daughter, sibling, friend, student of literature and wilderness. this was a shift - less time, less comments, less messages with the running community that I didn't know well, a deepening of friendships and relationships with those closest to me.

it felt odd, going into standhope. I didn't have goals, I wasn't sure where I was at with running, I wasn't in shape for racing. I had this idealism, that if I raced hard, I could inspire others, not to run, but to pursue life with passion. but, what about when I can't race hard? when life is racing too hard for me to train?
my bestest of friends <3 on a run prior to race day
earlier this year my Dad was diagnosed with mantle cell lymphoma. visits to the hunstman increased, my mileage decreased. when looking at another's mortality, and their priorities, one can't help but face the stark reality of their mortality. will my kids get cancer, will I? what do I actually want to do with my life, if I look at my days and years as numbered? do I want to spend more time doing hill repeats, or more time painting with Ryan, more time teaching my eldest to cook and geeking out on space with my littlest?

backpacking w/my boys prior to the race

"moral speculation is puny compared to moral action" (when breath becomes air, Kalanithi)

what is my moral action?
why does running cause me to continually evaluate my life, my direction?
...time. because every hour I run is an hour I could've spent with my kids, my Dad, sleeping, painting, reading, learning, serving....

I went into standhope with a heavy heart. long runs often make me face dark, difficult questions in a confrontational, abrasive manner. perhaps during the race I could work out why I run, I could reflect on my life, my mortality. I could mourn wasted time, I could mourn my human flaws and failures. I could find joy taking my piece of loon lake (a place of my canadian family) with me around the lake, feeling my family close, and in watching Ryan race (by "watch" I mean ask about him at aid stations, what human can run fast enough to actually watch him at race? haha.) it would be an arduous therapy session, not a race. I would take in every view, I would close myself off from all other people, I would take pictures, I would rue, I would rejoice, alone.
a glimpse of the beauty of standhope

my game plan of putting on headphones and crying and avoiding people couldn't have been more the opposite of race day. I found myself in a thicket of happy runners excited for the day. I made new friends. in particular, I spent almost all of the day with Sam, a local I hadn't yet met. he was working on pacing out longer days, and didn't want to pass. he (perhaps confused at first on why I insisted on stopping at each view, swimming in each lake) joined in, made snow angels, laughed. what a pleasure! his positive attitude was contagious.

a new friend enjoying his mid-race swim

what I thought would be tears, was laughter.
but isn't that how life goes? never what we expect, harder, yet often still better.
I found myself happy, chatting, laughing. at the last aid with 8 miles left, Sam took off to run it in hard, his legs fresh for likely the first time at the end of a long day.

taking in every view :)

what is my moral action? 
to live, to love, to open my heart to people.
the 9 and a half hours running that day allowed me to see Ryan shine. to learn that there are often views on the path around an obstacle, that better yet - sometimes there's a place to float in the water, to see the flowers, to laugh with a new friend.

running isn't something to live for (for when it is, it is a destructive relationship) but running in the mountains allows me to live.

post-race start on a painting from a race view :)

why does running cause me to continually evaluate my life, my direction?
as a passion and place that consumes my time, why wouldn't it? but more important, is that not reason enough to continue to run? perhaps running doesn't have the answers, but it creates opportunity to reflect and create those questions.
love you
--- epilogue (yes, I'm writing an epilogue to my race report, get over it) ---
I raced in my LaSpo helios (my fave!) and lounged and recover ran in the unikas, a shoe that's creeping in as a favorite shoe for less loose terrain. LaSpo has been offering support - my appreciation for their company has increased, not only for their gear and new line of tech apparel that I've been loving, but because they've been there for me emotionally throughout life's trials. companies that invest in the community - not just in prime marketing, but in people - are the kind of companies I respect most.
I used 5 spring fuel gels (not affiliated with them) and I found them icky in taste and so easy on the tummy I'll likely be using them in my next race! I ate some bacon and watermelon but my calorie consumption was scant.
...and yes, next race. standhope helped reignite the fire. I haven't had the motivation to run much since standhope yet, but in another week or so, it will come back. corner canyon 25 or 50k, and maybe something in Nov (deadhorse?) before starting all the races I DNS'd and deferred in this spring to be done next spring :-)


  1. Local runner you have never met here... just wanted to say that I love your writing. Please keep it up. Fingers firmly crossed for your dad.

  2. Looking forward to finally meeting you at the 2018 Idaho Mountain Festival! Great job!


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