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Bookend Miles

As exciting as it was to be able to finally spend a holiday break in my running shoes, it was even more exciting to end one year and start another with some quality miles. Being able to lace up on the last day of 2013 AND on the first day of 2014 felt like a reward for finally training for the long haul, in a way that’s allowing me to progress and improve over multiple years and training cycles, without being constantly set back by injury.

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My inner cheeseball decided that the perfect way to celebrate the finish line of 2013 would be to go and watch the sun rise from the top of my favorite mountain in Eugene.  The only problem with this plan, was that in order to watch the first rays of sun peek their way over the Cascades, I would have to ascend the mountain in the dark by myself. Something I’ve been afraid to do since…ever.

You may not know this, but I’m a total wimp about pretty much everything. I get scared watching Harry Potter, I didn’t sleep with my lights off until my first roommate in college forced me to grow a pair, I jump when a door creaks open, and I used to borrow my friend’s dog and sleep with a hammer any time my roommate was out of town. And when you combine what a scaredy cat I am with my semi-irrational fear of certain species of wildlife (especially the kind that go hunting around dawn and dusk), running on trails before the sun comes up just doesn’t happen.

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But in the spirit of the year that forced me to face fears, woman up, and do lot of scary shit, I wanted this run. And I didn’t want to wait until 2014. Symbolism and shit.

So I headed up the mountain in the dark, jumping a foot high every time a bird flew out of the brush in the first half mile. But after a few minutes, my heart settled down and I appreciated how blissfully peaceful the climb was.

And by the time I got to the top? #worthit

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I hung out on top of the mountain with my deep thoughts, watching the sky get more breathtaking by the second.

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And to make the last day of the year a little more perfect, it ended with my favorite run of the week: the Tuesday night hunt. An easy six miles in the Hokas, followed by two beers: one from Vermont and one from Oregon. More perfection.

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And for the first run of 2014?

I headed out to a new part of the state and joined some friends for a little trailsploration.

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The area was a total hidden gem. I would bet at least three pairs of Hokas on the fact that we were the only people to run that trail in the last 47 months. Which meant it was not maintained and required a decent amount of bushwhacking through the woods to find our way back to the “trail.”

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The guy who made the route claimed it involved a decent amount of singletrack. But I think halftrack would be a much more accurate classification of the terrain we ran for a  good portion of our miles.

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But whatever it was, it was gorgeous. Evergreens, moss, ferns, rivers, sweeping views of tree-covered ridgelines. So much Oregon.

After we wound through the woods for a while, we hit a logging road that we climbed for a few miles and a couple thousand feet until…

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We hit some loggers. At which point we were forced to turn around and backtrack instead of running our original route. As much as I wanted to keep going and see the lakes at the top of the ridge, I also didn’t want to be crushed by some falling timbers.

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We ended the run with 15.5 miles, 2700 feet of gain and legs that look like they got into a standoff with an angry feline, and lost.

Perfect end to 2013, perfect start of 2014.

(*PSA: running on trails in the dark by yourself obviously comes with some risk. Make sure you’re aware of that risk and adequately prepare yourself to handle any threats that you may encounter. And yes mom, I did this.)

And now that I’ve confessed all of my humiliating and dumb fears to the internet, please feel free to tell me the most embarrassing thing that you are afraid of.

And a very happy 2014 to all of you! I can already tell that it’s gonna be a fan-effing-tasting one.

33 Responses to Bookend Miles

  1. I’m totally the same! I am still scared of the dark in my 20s! I would have been terrified to hike in the dark like that! Congrats to making it and having the perfect start to 2014! :)

    Happy New Year!

    xx
    Lisa @ The Skinny on Health

  2. Seriously worth it. Although I would have been screaming every 2 seconds along with jumping. Total wimp when it comes to the dark and being alone.

  3. Birds, I am terrified of birds.

  4. Ants. They totally creep me out. I read the Poisonwood Bible and there’s a scene where man-eating ants take over a village and everyone has to run to the river to escape them…I had nightmares for weeks (I was in college…).

  5. Those sunrise pictures are stunning! And for the record, I am scared of everything. I think every person I see is going to attack me (especially teenagers). I once turned around and cut a run short at 5pm on a weeknight — on the East River path in MANHATTAN — because it was dark and no one else was around me and I felt scared.

  6. Congrats on stepping out of your comfort zone, from the looks of those pictures…totally worth it!

  7. Lovely pics! Great job trying something new and scary. I am petrified of snakes, which makes me a very poor trail runner here in the south. I’m working on it though. My goal for the year is to run my first ultra, aptly named the snakebite.

    • SNAKES ARE THE WORST. How do we go about getting rid of ALL of them? I want in on it.

      And YAY first ultra!!!

    • I second snakes. I see them all the time here in TX (and they are usually the poisonous variety) and I usually respond by squealing like a little girl and running in the opposite direction. I’ve done this in front of people.

  8. Oh my gosh, I hear you because I am irrationally afraid of… deer. For one thing, they stare, which is sooo creepy. Otherwise, I’m afraid I’ll startle them and they will trample me. Weird, I know.

    • Deer are kind of terrifying. I think it’s because they’re always tweaking out and jumping into traffic. If they’ll risk their life to jump in front of a car, they could just as easily do it to us! One time I was running in the dark with a friend without a headlamp, telling him about how some woman just got mugged on a running trail in DC and BAM, out of the bushes jumps a deer, like 1 inch in front of us. Def thought I was going to die. NOT a weird fear.

      • I feel so validated :) I was running on a paved path through a park recently and there were like 40 of them flanking either side. I CREPT through and sang out loud to scare them off on my way back the other way.

  9. I’m still scared of the dark and I’m nearly 23!
    I know you are on a running high right now but any chance you could do a post on how you got through your injuries last year? Cross training etc? I’m out with my knee at the moment and am in the ‘I’m never going to get to run again’ phase right now!

    Oh and Happy New Year!

  10. Wow- those pictures are awesome, and it sounds like it was a perfect way to say goodbye to such an important year for you!

  11. The Willamette Valley has some of the most amazing trails – your pictures are beautiful and make me want to run!

  12. I am terrified of running in the dark. Once on Thanksgiving, got up to go for a run around 5am and I planned to run on the main roads around my small suburban town, but I kept freaking out about not seeing many cars. It was a little too quiet for my liking. I can’t say I’ve run that early in the morning ever since, but I have no problem running around my college campus at night.

  13. I’m terrified of scary movies. “Scary” to include movies like “Tremors”, which is supposed to be a comedy. And trails at night alone freak me out. With my teammates, not scary at all. And my favorite thing about winter is the whole no snakes thing. So I’d say you have plenty of company in your completely rational fears.

    And both runs look great, but that second one looks like everything I love most about trail running.

    Happy new year!

  14. Your pictures are sweet in! You are not alone, my head immediately goes “worst-case scenario” just about every time I’m alone and/or its dark out. Way to woman-up!

  15. What beautiful sunrise pictures. Worth it indeed!

  16. Wow, those pictures are incredible. I may end up in Oregon for a postdoc or career at a university one day. Fingers crossed. Love the halftrack reference. I think the views are my ultimate inspiration regardless of any fear or negative emotion I’m experiencing during the day.

  17. I’m kind of afraid of cows. For real.

  18. I’m afraid of being in houses alone at night. That even applies to being the only person on that level of the house. It makes no sense but it doesn’t matter.

    And bears, because they are truly terrifying. One time I went camping in New Hampshire and the ranger lectured us about bears when we got there. I didn’t sleep all night and broke camp at the crack of dawn to get out of there. I’d rather be out on a trail where I can see than waiting for a bear to maul me through my tent!

  19. Happy New Year! That hike in the dark is totally worth it!

  20. When I run in the woods in the dark, I have to have a podcast playing on my ipod. Something about someone talking in my ear, even more than music, makes it seem less scary out there.

    My fear would be meeting a mountain lion out there-not usually seen in my part of Texas but of course, I think the woods are full of them when I’m running out there in the dark. ;)

  21. I am irrationally scared of spiders. Like, I check my shoes for them if I haven’t worn them within the last day.

    Running in the woods in the dark has always been intimidating to me. So basically, you rock.

  22. Those sunrise pictures are BEAUTIFUL. Glad you made the o’darkthirty scary start. I’m not a huge fan of being alone in the dark in the woods either – but for a view like that I might grow a pair.

  23. The woods at night – def. freaky. You get the badass of the year so far award, but I can see why – that sunrise was amazing! Congrats on an injury free holiday!

  24. I’m a scaredy-cat too, good for you for conquering that! Gorgeous photos. Happy 2014:)

  25. I’m not sure I would want to be running up or down a mountainside in the dark but by the look of your photo’s it was certainly worth it.

  26. […] NYE Sunrise Pisgah summit and hunt (9 miles total for the […]

  27. One of my new year’s resolutions is to be braver, actually. Since I became a mum, I’ve become SO risk averse and so conservative – all I’m bothered about is keeping myself and my boy alive! But I need to start getting out of my comfort zone a little. One of the things I’m going to do is run trails by myself – by day! I haven’t even managed to do that yet! So I’m in awe of your Mountain Lion exploits…and glad I’m not your mum :)

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