Another Round of Cascades

An unbearable chill was pulsing through my bones. Freezing rain and relentless wind attacked me from every direction. My running gear was as wet as the sky and my bare skin trembled harder with each step against the howling storm. I was despairingly far away from dry clothes, and the only source of warmth my pacer could offer me was a damp hug.

I’d never been so cold in my life.

And I spent 25 years in the tundra of Vermont.

I was on a ridgeline at mile 88 of the Cascade Crest 100. I had a lot of ground to cover before the finish line and what my non-existent medical degree would soon diagnose as a nasty bout of hypothermia. The promised vistas were buried in dense storm clouds and my muscles had stopped working about 17 miles ago.

It probably should have been the worst race of my life, but it was among the very best.

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Which might make, like, zero sense.

Or maybe it makes all the sense in the world if you’ve experienced a race like Cascade Crest.

I’ve only run Cascade Crest in its entirety once (spoiler alert: SO FAR) but I suspect it’s just the kind of race that can top the charts rain or shine, through hypothermia or heat stroke, on the best day or the very worst.

And I couldn’t be more excited that I’m officially heading back to Washington to test that theory out with another 100 mile rendezvous through the Cascades this August. (!!!!!!!)

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One of the first things I learned about Cascade Crest is that runners can’t get enough of it.

The question “have you run Cascade Crest before?” is usually answered with something along the lines of “EVERY YEAR”, “twelve times!” or “can’t stop, won’t stop”.

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Until you do stop because you are finally done running through the worst winter storm in the history of August. And also you have hypothermia and might never leave a blanket again.

I began to understand this allegiance during my first jaunt on the course when I traveled to the sleepy town of Easton, Washington to preview 72 miles of the race over a long weekend. After rolling past the town saloon that’s coated with campaign posters for Lucky the Labrador’s mayoral bid (SERIOUSLY), I hit the trail to Goat Peak, the race’s first big climb.

While there was a disappointing lack of mountain goats at the summit, that was the trail’s only shortfall. That first grueling ascent challenged my legs in all of the very best ways and rewarded their work with absolutely stunning views. Rugged Cascades flooded the horizon and Kachess Lake razzled and dazzled me from their feet.

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Every single run I’ve done on or near that course has continued to deliver tough, but spectacular, terrain. Which is the perfect combination for this trail runner. Even when it’s a little grey, or a lot stormy, that 100 mile stretch of trail and forest roads is easy on the eyes and hard on the legs.

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So it’s got that going for it. But a lot of races are pretty, and pretty tough. Cascade Crest offers more than that.

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The race is endlessly interesting in the challenges it throws at you. Which is mildly infuriating when you encounter the 12th strange obstacle after 17.5 hours of running, but also quite fun, in that terrible/wonderful Type 2 kind of way.

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Death by dehydration on the PCT. Pretty terrible. But also VERY PRETTY.

One of the most infuriating is the stupidly technical, overgrown, relentless roller coaster of the “Trail from Hell”.

“SURELY, this can’t be the trail,” I exclaimed at the first cliff I encountered on the aptly named stretch of dirt, rocks, and abrupt drop-offs. But it was the “trail” and it’s tough to describe just how hellacious that section was, but maybe the fact that it took me over three hours to “run” five hours will do the trick.

And then there are the “Needles”, a series of extraordinarily steep climbs that start at mile 80-something, right when your legs are nice and fresh. They contain exactly no switchbacks, forcing your super springy legs to climb straight UP without any relief from the gradual turns that one normally expects to help them zig zag their way to a mountain’s summit.

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Real Needle, #FAKESMILE Photo: Glenn Tachiyama

“The first rule of the needles is that there’s always one more needle.”

That was the second thing I learned about Cascade Crest. Those relentless spikes are seemingly never-ending and whenever you think you’ve crested the last one, the course throws another sharp peak at you and your dead legs. It’s just lovely.

And then there are the more garden variety trials and tribulations like the two mile abandoned railroad tunnel through the belly of a mountain after nightfall and the “ropes section”, that requires you to repel your way down a steep mountainside with the help of a sailor’s favorite tool.

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So that’s all just great.

But an even greater thing is the community that’s responsible for so much of the race’s irresistible charm. The loyalty of racers is matched, if not surpassed, by the incredible volunteers who return to its aid stations and sidelines year after year. It’s a 100 mile party, the trailside explodes with energy and generosity from start to finish.

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And apple fritters.

And the race mysteriously fosters incredible friendships. At least in my experience. Apparently there’s an undeniable chemistry between individuals who share an affinity for long walks through haunted train tunnels and clifftop quesadillas.

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I’ve met so many of my favorite trail runners through the web of Cascade Crest. Running it, pacing it, playing on its trails just for fun.

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A lot of very real and very wonderful friendships have been formed beneath those tall trees and atop its tough trails. Maybe it’s coincidence, but maybe it’s Cascade Crest.

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Back on that frigid ridgeline, I’d truly never been so cold.

But I’d also never felt quite that strong as my quads got ready to ascend just one more needle. For the third time.

And I’d never had quite that much fun, at least not while simultaneously being so damn miserable.

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August 27th (and 28th) might be another one of the worst days of my life. But it will also probably be among the very best. And I just can’t wait for every terrible and glorious and gloriously terrible and terribly glorious step. IMG_20150901_075826.jpg

You can read the story of my first jaunt at Cascade Crest here, but be warned: I repeat more jokes than your dad. 

A plug for breaks

There was nothing but jagged peaks in every direction. Endless layers of Cascades stretched across the ashen horizon, with the especially prominent crown of Mount Jefferson towering over the rest.

Another of Oregon’s largest mountains unraveled beneath my feet. We were climbing up Mount Hood’s spine on our skis. Fibrous skins sticking to each plank’s belly gripped the snow and allowed us to ascend the slippery slope.

“Skin from what?” I’d asked the ski shop in horror when I procured the backcountry staple, worried ‘baby seal’ or ‘pygmy goat’ would be the answer.

My legs were now relying on these skins, which I’d been assured were not stripped off the corpse of any marine mammals, to climb thousands of feet toward the jagged summit rising above us. My glutes burned with every step into its chilled cocktail of snow and ice. My body served me a not-so-gentle reminder that I’d fallen woefully out of shape during a very generous off season from mountain running. And my mind was as occupied as my legs with the steep terrain.

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“100 steps and you get a break,” I promised my fatigued limbs, coaxing them to keep trudging against their will.

“One, two, three…28, 29, 30.”

“Actually, 30 STEPS! 30 STEPS AND YOU GET A BREAK.” I frantically erased my earlier pledge, as my calves protested the upward movement with the fire of ten thousand women in pussyhats.

Stopping was magic. The break gave my muscles sweet, glorious relief from their fatigue and it gave me a chance to soak up my surroundings. Those peaks. Jagged. Snowy. Seductive.

I whipped out my phone in a pathetic attempt to capture their stunning features. Always a futile effort in the mind-blowing arena of the Pacific Northwest.

My thumb tapped the camera’s shutter anyway.

For the first time since January 20th, I was using that phone for good, and not scrolling through evil.

The news and the dire state of our nation have been all-consuming since Trump took over. I single-handedly provide twitter with more traffic than a Los Angeles highway at quitting time and diligently patrol media outlets to ensure they’re covering all 24 hours of the news cycle. It feels impossible to keep up with the rapid fire atrocities, but it hasn’t stopped me from trying.

That day on Mount Hood was the first morning that I’d tuned into the sunrise instead of NPR. The first day I traded the conversation on social media for the silent wilderness. The first moment I didn’t feel drained and depressed, but energized and so alive, even as the mountain sucked the life right out of my muscles.

It was magic.

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When we reached our stopping point on the climb, we ripped off our sticky skins. My muscles and lungs rejoiced as we clipped back into our bindings and started gliding down the hill. We reveled in the descent. Stopping every few turns to collapse in the soft snow and gaze longingly at those jagged peaks. They smothered us us with their unwavering allure.

Magic. Magic. Magic.

When we reached the end of the hill, we lingered in the parking lot. Planning more climbs, more descents. We talked about skiing, dogs, the most delicious of snacks, those peaks, not Trump, not the eruption of injustice, not hopeless political strife.

As we pulled back onto the highway and Mount Hood slowly disappeared from the rearview mirror, I reluctantly flicked my phone on to check the news I’d avoided for a few blissful hours. It was a Saturday afternoon, I assumed I couldn’t have missed that much.

Thousands of protestors stacked outside of JFK informed me otherwise. The news of the executive order on immigration and the turmoil infecting airports across America flooded my screen.

I turned to my boyfriend, my wonderful green card-carrying boyfriend, and relayed the news, my words chopped by shock and horror.

That day on a mountainside had been so rejuvenating. A much-needed breath of fresh air, albeit a little lighter on oxygen than my lungs prefer at 8,000 feet above sea level.

But as the bad news kept spreading across every corner of my phone, I questioned whether it was the right move to unplug for a day.

Immense guilt drenched me. For enjoying myself while others suffered such terrible injustice. For traveling to a mountain instead of a march. For ignoring something that demanded attention.

Was I a terrible human being for excusing myself from the turmoil? Just having the ability to do so riddled me with more guilt.

My gut reaction punished me, but a little perspective and a few days have revealed my gut as a bit harsh.

During Trump’s first week in office, I ended every day on my couch, depressed and drained by the nationwide havoc and calculating how to react. I drank more than I should, trying to curb anxiety and quiet the anguish from frantically following the onslaught of terrible, horrible, no good, very bad news. If this is what the Trump administration does to my relatively “privileged” existence, I shudder at the thought of other’s struggles.

There’s no question that this is not the way to live for the next three years and 49 weeks, not for me, not for any human.

It’s not sustainable, it’s not productive, it’s a recipe for serious burnout. And while my experience with fighting against attacks on our democracy/humanity/planet is fairly limited, I have to believe that moderately drunken, deeply exhausted, emotionally shattered people make really shitty activists.

We have to stay informed, that is paramount to our ability to reject the new administration and its policies. Ignorance is not bliss, it’s dangerous.

But we also have to stay as healthy, happy and energized as possible, or the fight is going to fizzle right out of us. Which means that we can’t pay attention and/or head to the barricades every hour of the day. And that’s more than okay, that’s absolutely vital.

I’m still not sure what the right balance is between staying plugged in and unplugging in this strange new world. But I am learning how necessary it is that we do both.

We can stay up to date without refreshing twitter 127,891 times a day. We can sit down to read a book or go climb a freakin’ mountain, knowing that the next time we take a stand, we will stand taller and stronger. We can give ourselves a permission slip to not feel solely responsible to respond to every single atrocity, this is gonna take some tag teaming. If we want to stay fired up, we can’t burn ourselves out.

As runners, we know this drill. We push hard and then rest. Train and recover. We take thirty steps up a steep mountainside and then take a picture. When we do too much and don’t respect our limits, we break ourselves.

There’s an extraordinary amount of important work ahead of us. Many battles that will need our fury, signs, and voices on the frontlines. Countless conversations that will beg us to crank up the volume. As a nation, we’re off to a good start. The outpouring of eager activists and outraged women, children, and men is so powerful. It gives me hope for our country, for the human race, for this earth we share.

Now, we need to sustain this momentum for the long haul. We won’t be useful in four years if we don’t take care of ourselves now. Unplugging is as important as plugging in. And the strength of our actions and words will be enormously more powerful if we let ourselves recharge.

Keep fighting, keep speaking up, keep resisting. But keep climbing mountains too. It won’t make you a bad person, it will help you be a good one.

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Stepping forward

My sign had gone limp, the victim of another misty day in the Pacific Northwest.

A savvier Oregonian speared her laminated poster into the damp sky.

“THIS PUSSY GRABS BACK”, it screamed. It was impenetrable.

A chorus of lively women started chanting behind me.

“This is what democracy looks like! This is what democracy looks like!”

I listened. My voice was shy. Out of practice.

I scanned the crowd. If there were speakers or leaders, they were too quiet and too buried in the mass of bodies to see or hear. My neighbors pointed in every direction. I watched, waited.

Eventually, we started to move. I was smothered by marchers. Blind to the size of our group. Unaware of how many city blocks we stretched as we crawled through downtown Eugene. Oblivious to our magnitude.

A parking garage rose beside us, stacked with four stories of people cheering. Emotions gargled in my throat as their encouragement showered us from above. Drums announced their presence behind me. My hips responded, waving hello.

A gaggle of grandmothers twisted through the crowd with their conga line. This wasn’t their first rodeo. They were unapologetic, fierce, confident.

I want to be them when I grow up.

An empty speckle of pavement emerged on the street in front of me. I started to step forward.

“Step Forward”.

That was the mantra I adopted on November 10th.

My friend Nick gets credit for motivating me to embrace one of these every year. It’s different from a resolution. It’s actually better established well into the year, when you have a sense of what sentiment could steer you in the best direction.

“Unapologetic as fuck” was the first one I chose, over flat IPAs at the neighborhood dive bar. It wasn’t intended to be quite as callous as it sounds. It was less about being a selfish asshole who never expresses remorse for regrettable behavior, and more of an encouragement to recognize my needs and demand them, so I could be a better version of myself. To practice assertive and candid communication. To appreciate that I couldn’t do it all, and to stop trying. To embrace that I’m an introvert and accept that my sources, and depletion, of energy differ from more outgoing peers, and that’s just fine.

“Step Forward” hit me in the aftermath of the presidential election, when it became clear that our expectations for the future had just been upended. I needed determination to help me overcome the overwhelming defeat. Something to help me remember a lesson I’ve revisited countless times through running: that it’s much more productive to focus on matters you can control, than dwell in things you can’t.

When I had to run 100 miles through the 100 degree sauna of the Arizona desert, cursing the heat wasn’t going to lower the temperature a single degree. But stuffing ice into every inch of my spandex and putting my boobs on the rocks could help me stay cool and finish the race.

That race was yet another reminder that we’re so much better off when we invest our emotional energy and mental fortitude into what can be changed, instead of dwelling in despair and playing a never-ending game of “what if…”.

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Step forward addressed the regret I felt for not doing more to help Donald Trump lose the election. For not doing anything, really. Other than casting a vote for Hillary, 45 minutes before the polls closed.

Step forward rejects this complacency and passive behavior. It answers the call to action. It demands that I participate and not just observe. It invites me to show up. And start there, knowing it will cultivate more.

Step forward recognizes the power of collective action. And acknowledges that meaningful progress isn’t usually the result of one big change, but of many small pieces compounded over time.

It’s standing on a start line and not letting the distance to the finish paralyze you.

In my first 100 miler, everyone asked what I thought about for the 28 hours and 10 minutes, expecting deep thoughts galore and a roadmap to world peace.

“I thought about putting one foot in front of the other,” I told them. Because I knew that was the only thing that was going to get me through all 100 of those miles. One giant leap couldn’t carry me from Applegate to Ashland, but hundreds of thousands of steps could.

Step forward respects every step as a critical one. It’s about moving forward, in life, in this world, in running, one small step at a time, without dismissing any one of them as insignificant. It doesn’t let me feel defeated by an overwhelming amount of work or discouraged by the illusion of useless action.

Step forward is about progress. Through constant action and constant conversations, the momentum builds.

Back in the crowd, I kept stepping, questioning whether I was doing enough with each tentative footfall. Aware that other voices were louder, other hips waved harder, other signs outlasted mine.

I stepped all the way back to my house, where a stream of stories from around the globe greeted me. Broadcasting the millions of women, men, and children who showed up. Stood up. Spoke up. It was so obvious that every one of them mattered. That our collective action on January 21st was immensely powerful. That the world listened because every one of those individuals woke up and said “today, I’m going to march”.

It can be hard to appreciate the value of a single action by itself. The worth of one vote, the significance of one phone call, the power of a dollar, the benefit of an hour of our time, one body in a sea of millions. Especially as we observe peers who are doing more, giving more, saying more.

But every step we take to move forward is one that matters. Every time we show up or speak up, makes a difference.

This feels like another start line, the finish nowhere in sight. The distance, seemingly insurmountable. Saturday was a step forward. Now we keep going. Trusting that our voices will grow louder, our actions, more meaningful. And our steps, always count.

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From Couch to Backcountry

I was standing in a long line of gore-tex and goggles, waiting to purchase a lift ticket for a day of skiing. Or for whatever tiny portion of the day remained after the endless line robbed me of several skiable hours.

I was the outlier in the crowd of seasoned skiers. Instead of bright gore-tex, I sported old rain gear. My goggles were hand-me-downs, the frayed strap knotted into place and branded with a beer that’s likened to feline urine. The room buzzed with words that had never left my lips. At least not in the same context. The only thing I “shred” is cheese and “free refills” is reserved for bottomless beverages.

I googled “how to ski” to kill time. But also because I wasn’t totally sure I remembered how to get myself down a hill on planks. It’d been a while since the last time I tried and I wasn’t especially interested in becoming the laughing stock of the lift as I learned just how breakneck speed can be or unintentionally somersaulted my way onto the Team USA gymnastics squad.

“Three years or so,” is what I’d told the guy at the local ski shop as he stuffed my feet into a stiff pair of Salomon Mountain Explorer boots.

I was lying through my teeth. Afraid he wouldn’t let me explore the mountains if he knew it was more like seven or eight years since my last rendezvous on skis.

But I probably didn’t need to recruit the help of google. Or deceive my ski guy.

I was on skis as soon as I could walk, maybe even before. I spent countless weekends twisting my fun-sized skis into a slice of pizza until I could maneuver them into a french fry formation like a real pro.

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I kept skiing for years, graduating from bunny slopes to double black diamonds and runs rendered into obstacle courses by trees and cliffs and choppy fields of moguls. And even graduating, literally, from college on a pair of skis. My alma mater owned its own ski hill and my class traded a traditional processional for an unconventional descent down the lift line in our caps and gowns. I was the last in the stream of black tassels that meandered its way down to the sea of parents. Not because I was the slowest or least competent skier in the class, but because I didn’t want the fun to end.

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I never made the conscience decision to quit skiing. It just slowly happened. I moved away from Vermont and its 19 resorts to pursue a political job in Washington DC, where the closest “mountain” is more of a molehill and snow is as unlikely as compromise in Congress.

Other athletic endeavors also stole my interest away from snow sports, namely running. So I migrated to cities that allowed me to log miles all 365 days of the year without any snow or ice in the way. My newfound love for trail runs trumped my long history with ski runs and I let the winter pastime melt out of my mind.

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The fact that I overdosed on winter during my 25 years in the tundra of Vermont certainly accelerated the split. Days on the mountain are way less fun when there’s a high chance of hypothermia or frostbite and no chance of the temperature cresting zero. Skis scraped across the icy slopes of Vermont like nails on a chalkboard. By the time I moved to Oregon, I was ready to take refuge in the warmer Willamette Valley, where boogers never freeze, and completely avoid the frigid weather and frozen precipitation that cursed the state’s higher elevations.

But then I fell for an irresistible force: the mountains of the Pacific Northwest. My summers were ecstasy. Packed with running along breathtaking ridgelines, scaling peaks overlooking endless layers of jagged summits, and pitching tents on the shores of alpine lakes nestled into thick groves of evergreens.

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Every weekend was an unforgettable outing in the great outdoors. The scenery straight out of National Geographic. The stories piling up faster than beer milers chug cans of that piss beer.

I was the happiest.

At least until October or November, when cold weather buried all of the alpine trails in several feet of snow and I mourned the loss of my high altitude playground from my uninspiring couch. I let myself wallow in this grief for the last few years, but I’ve finally realized that the mountains don’t actually shutdown when the first flake of snow falls, you just need to equip yourself with different toys.

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Which brings us back to the line snaking through the lobby of Mt Bachelor, one of Oregon’s largest ski resorts. I was on a mission. Not just for a day pass. But to reinvent my relationship with winter. And, most importantly, to reclaim the skills I needed to get myself into those luscious mountains all 365 days of the year.  More specifically, into the backcountry. Where you get more untouched wilderness and fewer people. Where you get to use your own strength to pick your way up a quiet slope, instead of relying on the motor of a cold and crowded lift to get you there. Where stunning terrain swallows you whole and the first scribbles across a fresh field of snow are all yours.

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But before I could get to that magical promise land, I had to remember how to ski. Without the help of google.

That first attempt was a bit of a shitshow.  I might not have been the laughing stock of the lift, but only because I avoided the terrain directly under the caterpillar of chairs crawling up the mountain.

“MAKE IT STOP.” I yelled as I stopped for my 17th break in one run. My quads burned like a wildfire and I couldn’t string more than three turns together without my tortured muscles begging for mercy.

I questioned everything I’d ever believed about my level of fitness, and the benefits of gravity, as I struggled to get my groove back.

And yet, as is so often the case with running, I emerged from a long day in that cold and snowy pain cave and proclaimed “THAT WAS SO MUCH FUN”. My adrenaline quickly erased the memory of Mt Bachelor as a torture chamber and left me pleading for more.

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“WHEN CAN WE GO AGAIN?” I yelled, foxtrotting my skis around the snowy parking lot and gazing longingly at Mt Bachelor’s enticing summit.

The very next day, was the answer. And every other chance I got after that maiden voyage on the foot sticks. I found myself unexpectedly enamored with alpine skiing. Addicted to the physical challenge of it and sold on the location, location, location. The mountains proved themselves as playful and alluring in the winter as they are during the warmer months.

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With the help of long holiday weekends and many glorious blizzards, I grabbed 20 blissful days in, on, and face-planting through the snow by mid-January. I got my skis on every type of terrain I could find: deep powder, heavy powder, no powder. An unfamiliar substance to the girl who grew up on the east coast, where skiing is served on the rocks.

I plunged over the steepest hills, forced myself into the woods to maneuver through the maze of trees, and plummeted into piles of snow with pride, because “if you’re not falling, you’re not pushing your limits and getting stronger” (preaches my ski bunny of a boyfriend.)

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NAILED IT.

I spent weekdays doing jump squats and lunges, and climbing up the steepest pitches in Eugene with Brutus. I was “training” with the same intensity I apply to mountain running, (although I hesitate to use that word with either sport since it makes it sound way less desirable than it actually is), my eyes fixed on the prize of that backcountry goodness.

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So when the text “Bend! This weekend! Backcountry!” jumped onto my phone last week, I nervously, but excitedly, typed back “HELL YES”, finally feeling confident enough – and beyond eager – to get my feet on some backcountry terrain.

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That Sunday, when I clipped into my skis and followed my friend’s tracks into the Deschutes National Forest, I was still sporting my rain gear, along with plenty of hand-me-downs. And the lexicon of skiing remains a foreign language, I’ve never bellowed “SEND IT” and can’t say “pow!” or “gnar” without someone pummeling me with a snowball. My pants were accidentally thrown on backwards and I was pretty sure I’d need to revert to my pizza days to get myself back down through the densest trees.

But as soon as I took that first step toward the snowy summit and started getting swallowed up by that winter wonderland, none of that mattered at all. I was exactly where I belonged.

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Doing the Write Thing in 2017

The first story I wrote in 2016 was a tale of rejection. It walked its reader (singular) through humiliating breakups and infidelity, heartbreaking phone calls from potential employers that preferred other candidates, and a letter from my preferred university that politely declined the opportunity to educate me. That letter quickly became the victim of spit, scissors, and an unforgiving fire.

More specifically, this was an essay about my inability to handle rejection with maturity and grace. It starred many acts of destruction, unhealthy coping mechanisms, and embarrassing displays of dejection.

My motivation for resurrecting these painful memories was not to torture myself, but to address last January’s topic for The Write Stuff, my writing club of two. That topic was “resolutions”.

Because I’m an overachiever, the piece actually touched on three of my resolutions for 2016 (or “goals” as I much prefer to say):

  • To write about things other than beer and running.
  • To practice what I call “brave storytelling”. (While this particular essay might not’ve been the most courageous story, it certainly outlined some stuff I’m not especially proud of. So it counts.)
  • And finally, to change my relationship with rejection. To reject the fear of it, embrace the possibility of it, and to cope with it in much healthier ways should the need arise.

I set a few goals for 2016 that remain next to unchecked boxes. Running a mountainous 100 miler under 24 hours is one shining example, considering I ran a pretty flat 100 and when the clock ticked 24:00, I was still dodging cacti in the middle of the desert. (PS-can that count as my race report?)

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But I actually did okay with tackling the aforementioned trio of goals.

For starters, I wrote about way more than beer and running. I even quit my job at a brewery to pursue a career opportunity that promised subject matter beyond barley, hops, malt and yeast. I penned articles on the linguistics of Neil Armstrong’s moon landing, and the listening habits of U.S. troops in Iraq and Afghanistan, and archaeology in ancient Mongolia, and armed takeovers of federal land, to name a few. Variety is the spice of my job and I love it.

I also attended a writing retreat that helped me gain comfort and confidence with more vulnerable writing and allowed me to scribble across a notebook of blank pages for an entire weekend.

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And I started a writing group, replenished my supply of fresh journals, and read my way through a number of books on writing and creativity. And on the matter of rejection, I embraced the hell out of the possibility of rejection. But those are stories for another day.

In some very important ways, 2016 was a pivotal year on the writing front, as I recognized just how important the craft is to me and set some very real goals to help myself grow as a writer. But the volume of writing did not reflect how much I realized I value the act. I did not carve out nearly enough time to get down with my creative self and to play around with words outside of the confines of my office. And I didn’t share very much writing. Or produce many personal pieces, period. As I reflected on 2016, one of the major things that stood out as a bit of a disappointment was the amount of writing over its 365 days (or was it 366?).

So this year, I’d like to do a little more and do a little better. So I set some goals, of course:

  • To expand what I write about AND share it with an audience that includes more beings than my journal or the one person in my writing group (or Brutus, that nosy little Schnauzer loves to read over my shoulder).
  • To practice brave storytelling AND publish it. To be bold, get uncomfortable, and put my words to good use.
  • To post weekly entries on this blog (starting now) and to figure out how to change its name without breaking it since I a) hate it and b) will be spinning sentences about way more than sweat.
  • To read every damn day (even if it’s just a few pages) to keep appreciating and absorbing the masterful way other writers weave words into stories. And journal with the same frequency (even if for just a few minutes) to keep practicing and honing the craft in an environment blissfully free of expectations and judgement.
  • To submit pieces and/or pitches (plural!) for publication and in the spirit of embracing rejection, to celebrate the inevitable rejection letters as signs that I’m successfully pursuing a goal and passion.

More soon.