|January 2, 2014||Posted by Emily under Uncategorized|
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.
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.
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
I hung out on top of the mountain with my deep thoughts, watching the sky get more breathtaking by the second.
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.
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.
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.”
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.
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…
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.
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.