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Is This Thing Still On?

So. It’s been a while. Like over a month. Which has got to be a new PDR for me and not publishing my verbal vomit on the internet.

My absence certainly can’t be credited to a high training volume. Or a high anything volume. Life has actually been pretty balanced of late. A healthy, but not overwhelming, amount of work, sweat, and play.

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Remember ALL OF THE STOKE that had me riding a high for weeks after Cascade Crest? Yeah, that went away. And as it abruptly left my life, it grabbed a lot of my motivation, passion and love for running on its way out.

Which means my overly enthusiastic declaration of a return to training may have been a bit premature. Instead of craving high volume and intense training sessions, I found myself struggling to get out the door nearly every day and resenting a hefty amount of the mileage that I could get muster up some motivation to run.

I might have been physically recovered enough to train again, but I wasn’t mentally there.

At first, I fought it. Kept promising myself that I’d run more “tomorrow.” Resolved to push through my disinterest and try harder.

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But the last thing I needed was to push through it. In the wake of a 100 miler, that has to be a recipe for some disastrous combination of OTS, adrenal fatigue and injury. And was especially silly since I had nothing to actually train for.

So I stopped forcing it, and let my motivation (or lack thereof) be my guide. Instead of fighting it, I listened to it. And the last month+ has been full of running when I wanted to run, for however long I felt like it.

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The McKenzie River Trail. Confused about where the “River” part of the trail belongs. Something you can appreciate for all 26 of its miles. Or just 7.

In incredibly shocking news, as soon as all of my miles were ones that I actually wanted to run, I started to like running again!

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CRAZY, right? So now we’re back together. But we’re taking it slow.

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While I’ve been on a roller coaster ride with running and not talking about it on the internet, a few moderately notable things went down in and around Eugene:

 

It’s lottery season.

My name’s officially in the mix for both Western States and Hardrock again. Since it’s my second consecutive year entering both lotteries, my tickets have doubled and I now have two out of approximately 10,000 total tickets, leaving me with somewhere around a whopping 1-3% chance of getting in.

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I’m feeling really good about my chances.

 

One of my best friends visited for a weekend of nothing but Oregon.

My girl Meredith flew from SF to Eugene and I filled her itinerary with Oregon, Oregon and more Oregon. IMG_20151013_105401

On her first full day in Eugene, we enjoyed: a sunrise summit,

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Followed by a morning run at Hayward Field with an Olympian by our side (which Meredith didn’t realize until the end of the run when someone mentioned the “two time Olympian” thing. “Wait a minute…that dude? He’s been to the Olympics? Twice? And we were running with him at Hayward like nbd? Is that just how you do things in Eugene?”)

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#wheninTrackTown

Then we hiked up the Butte behind my house, had beers at one of the Eugene breweries, and went to a live show. I think the only way we could have had a more Eugene day would have involved a semi-truck full of tie-dye.

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Since we’d done everything there is to do in Eugene on her first day here, we spent the next one frolicking around some of my favorite alpine trails.

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This might be going out on a limb…but I think she liked her taste of Oregon enough to come back again for seconds.

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Our Cascade Crest cabin found another cabin to hang out in.  

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Because we sure as heck weren’t going to wait until next August to hang out.

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This time, our group of former-strangers-turned-best-friends-forever took our show on the road and hit up the Oregon Coast for a weekend of running, eating and drinking. Although, it was pretty light on the running for this girl.

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You may remember I was originally supposed to race a 50k during this cabin party. But that plan was hatched during the unsustainably high stoke, and quickly deteriorated during my break-up with running. I decided that running 31 miles did not sound like fun, so I did not do it.

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Instead, I ran 8 with Sarah before cheering on the one cabinmate who actually ran the race.

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Which was not Gordo, we were entirely too busy unintentionally twinning to run 31 miles.

After the race, we spent the rest of the weekend exploring a delightfully stormy coast, holing up by the fireplace in our coastal cabin, and watching the sunset from our the cabin’s best feature: the TREEHOUSE.

treehouse sunset

Yes, I’m currently investigating rental options in Eugene that are 10 feet above the ground and include a ladder.

Cabin Party

 

I had my first cougar encounter.

YEAH.

I mean, it was bound to happen eventually, right? One can only run on so many trails through cougar country before eventually spotting one of those mangy felines. Or two.

YEAH. 

Anyway, here’s how it went down:

I had my heart set on one last big mountain run before the snow covered all of the funnest trails (spoiler alert: the snow won that race). But because of the length of this run and the rapidly diminishing amount of daylight, I knew I’d probably have to run a few miles in the dark, aka dinnertime for woodland predators.

To boost my confidence, I decided to force myself to run alone before sunrise on my local trails, something I don’t do a ton, because I like to avoid primetime for cougars and bears.

As I was running up the hill to the trailhead, I got this feeling like “I’m totally going to see something today.”

Sure enough, not 90 seconds later, I spot two pairs of eyes just ahead of me. And it’s immediately clear that those eyes could not belong to anything but two very large cats.

I would love to tell you that I did all of the things you’re supposed to do. Got big. Made noise. Scared them off. But I didn’t. I froze in fear. In my delusional head, I thought my headlamp might confuse these creatures and their 20/20 night vision.

As I stood there like a can of Fancy Feast, we had a staredown for a few minutes and then they slunk into the woods. Which is when I really panicked. Because when you can’t see a cougar is when you’re really in trouble. I knew not to run away, since that triggers all of their predatory instincts and they’ll chase you like a redhot Tom on a doomed little Jerry. But I was still WAY farther away from my house than I’d like to be with two much speedier, much more ferocious mammals nearby.

Luckily, after another few minutes, I heard a vehicle approaching. Hoping I wouldn’t get hit and/or picked up by a murderer, I darted out into the road and started waving my arms around like a madwoman. As soon as the truck pulled over, I couldn’t decide if I’d be safer facing the cougars or the sketchy looking man behind the wheel. But I was desperate, so I frantically begged him to take me down the hill.

“I don’t really got a lot of room in here,” he grumbled.

“Please, please, please! I just, I just, I just…I JUST SAW TWO CATS!” I desperately cried, thinking he’d immediately take pity and want to be the hero to save this poor girl’s life.

“You saw some cats?” he said, as he looked on with complete ridicule.

“BIG CATS, LIKE COUGARS.”

He sighed, moved his lunch pail aside and said, “Well, they are around here. You sure?”

“I’m sure they sure as heck weren’t deer.”

And then he let me in…and locked the doors.

I immediately thought I was doomed to die that morning, one way or another. Luckily, he let me out and I’m still alive to tell the story. And learned an important lesson that day.

Cougar

 

I might have turned 31.

On the morning of October 28th, I went out for a run to kickoff another trip around the sun. But someone didn’t show up for the party.

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Which, I am fairly confident means I get to stay 30. Which is fine with me. 31 was entirely too much of a commitment to the decade for me. 

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Does this look like a 31 year old? EXACTLY. 

 

I crossed the border up to Western Canada for the first time.

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Going to college in Vermont meant frequent trips up to Montreal over long weekends. (For the culture obviously. Not the lower drinking age.)

But as many times as I’ve visited Eastern Canada, I’d never crossed the border up to its western half. HUGE MISTAKE. That place is every kind of awesome.

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I was there on a “bad weekend” and I still fell in love with the place. I’m currently trying to figure out if it would be easier to find a nice Canadian to marry, or get Celine Dion to adopt me.

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The purpose of the trip (as I repeatedly told the Canadian border patrol while getting stopped and searched), was to visit a couple of friends I’d met through trail running. (“What kind of running?” “Trail running! You know, like on dirt.”(They did not know. Which earned me some bonus time at the border.))

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Or, like they do in Canada on dirt, rocks, roots, and other things that might shatter your bones.

The friends I was heading up to see were two of the girls I met at Cascade Crest Training Camp back in August.

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After enjoying a great weekend of trails, parking lot beers, and general tomfoolery in the Washington Cascades, Katie and Alley casually suggested I should visit Vancouver to check out their local mountains and breweries.

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Never one to turn down an open invitation to visit a new place full of good trails (consider yourselves warned. Exercise caution with hospitality unless you really want a sweaty girl occupying your couch for a few days), I found a weekend that worked for everyone and pointed my car north.

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When you share a spirit animal and your number one hobby involves popping squats, you are destined to be the lifelong variety of friends.

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Sadly, their biggest and most spectacular mountains shut down for winter the week before I got there and Vancouver was under a rain advisory when I arrived (which, in the PNW, means something along the lines of country-wide flooding).

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For the first 24 hours I was there, I was skeptical about these alleged mountains in British Columbia, but eventually they revealed themselves and it was VERY exciting.

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Not to be deterred by a closed backcountry or a little rain, Alley and Katie put together an insane agenda for the amount of time I was there. Turns out, you don’t need access to the highest peaks in the province to have a darn good time.

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They assemble their itineraries for out-of-town-visitors like this sweaty girl and we toured an impressively large number of BC’s greatest hits for the amount of time I was in town.

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We spent some quality time in the city, drove up the road to splash around Squamish,

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took a ferry over to the Sunshine Coast, and climbed the mountains right outside of Vancouver.

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We ran (but not too much), we hiked, we beered, we ate, we lounged, and we started planning our next 114 trips together.

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It was equal parts rejuvenating and invigorating. Full of much-needed and much-appreciated girl time on the trail (something I don’t get a lot of around the Eug) with both Katie/Alley and their awesome crew of dirt-loving ladies.

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I intend to go back very, very soon.

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And maybe just forget to come back home.

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I registered for my first race of 2016.

Moab

It will be a just-for-fun kind of run, but it will also be real freakin’ beautiful.

 

And, more importantly, started planning some of next year’s adventures.

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Is it 2016 yet? I’m ready to party.

 

I went on my longest run since Cascade Crest.
A few times. First with a little 15 mile jaunt around Eugene, then 18 on the day that I stayed 30, and then 20 this past weekend with some of the Eug crew.

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And it feels really good to feel good running again.

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And I think that was officially a month’s worth of words crammed into one post. So I’m signing off now. But hopefully for less than 43 days this time.

26 Responses to Is This Thing Still On?

  1. I’d been sort of considering the Eugene Marathon for next year, and reading this post…now I REALLY want to!

  2. I think it’s appropriate that entries into 100-miler lotteries stack yearly just like they do for the Hunger Games lottery.

  3. Welcome back!

  4. Which distance are you doing for MOAB?
    And where are your carbs pics? :P

  5. Your pictures are amazing. BC is moving up the list.

    Also- Yay Zion! Make sure to hit Bryce Canyon while you are nearby.

  6. Love your blog for so many reasons- its my favorite way to avoid doing work at work. Glad I long post to indulge in today. Happy belated non-birthday!

  7. So glad to see you’re back and it’s great hearing about your off-season adventures! BC is an amazing place – Vancouver is definitely one of my favorite vacation destinations and visiting Squamish this summer was just awesome – stupidly beautiful there. My husband has Canadian citizenship so we’ve considered moving North at some point in the future.

    • Would it be weird if I asked your husband to marry me?

      (kidding. but save some space on your couch for me to crash and visit when you move there!)

  8. So glad you’re back! Also, re: your beer flight photo above – I *really* hope that a Tough Kegger is something like a Tough Mudder event, except that instead of electrocuting yourself and climbing over/under/through various silly obstacles (no thanks), you tackle various beer-drinking/brewing related challenges, in which case, please tell me exactly when I should book my flight.

  9. My blog goes pretty silent when I’m having that much fun too, I definitely can relate to that. It’s hard to decide how to catch up: skip it and go to current events or recap things from ages ago.

    I spy a Trinity Alps map in that pile!! That’s my (relative) backyard. Headed there this weekend, in fact. Let me know if you have any questions.

    • That’s a good backyard! I’ve never run there but when I do, I’ll surely hit you up for some local intel. Have fun!

  10. Yeah, you’re back!! It’s great you did come back here. I was wondering if you were too busy on the trails to consider writing in here anymore. It would be too sad. I love reading your adventures :-)

  11. Every time I stalked your Instagram, it was clear that you were busy living life instead of updating the blog. Seems like a fair trade-off. Even so, great to hear what you’ve been up to. Your updates are always fun to read!

  12. I’m 36 and I still do that with my chips. Unless maybe I’m still 30 as well? That would explain a lot…

    Glad to see what you’re up to. Your pictures make me hate sitting at my desk right now – love the adventures!

  13. Welcome back! I missed you! (Sorry, that makes me seem like a creepy stalker). In the saddest way,’it’s reassuring that even racing phenols like you struggle with motivation- I’m glad I’m not the only one! Welcome back!

  14. Yay! You’re back!!!!

  15. I always love reading your posts and every time I want to pack up and move to Oregon! Happy Birthday :)

  16. Seriously missed your blog! Loved catching up with everything you are doing!!

  17. You’re back! Your pictures are AWESOME! Thanks for all the trail porn and feeding my wanderlust! Must.Go.Visit.Oregon.Again.

  18. […] Back in October, when our Cascade Crest cabin traveled to the coast to not race a 50k, Sarah led the charge in one of her favorite games: GDARFAR. […]