Dear Bill and Sally

Four years ago, I shared a story of an inspiring couple, Bill and Sally Squier, who run ultra marathons. They both finished the Umstead 100 Mile Endurance Run that year, and both have attempted it since.

This past weekend, they were back out at Umstead to try again. Neither made it the full 100 miles. Bill stopped at 37.5 miles, and Sally made it to 50. I haven’t had a chance to talk with them, but I know a hot sun took its toll on Sally.

Did I mention they’re both 74 years old? I’ll pause a moment for you to be impressed.

Sally waved at me on her second trip past me at about mile 19. Note the smile.

Bill smiled, too, as he rounded the corner on his third trip past me. He had already run 31 miles at this point.

I wanted to write them a post-race letter and share it with you, too, because you may find inspiration in their story. Here’s the letter: Continue reading

A new odyssey

My friend Adam says, “All snakes are poisonous when you’re running.” He knows it’s not true, but it sure feels true in the moment you see one slithering across your path.

I was maybe a minute into my first leg of the Reno-Tahoe Odyssey this weekend when a black and pale yellow snake slithered across my path. It was not a small snake. My usual “turn and run the other way” technique for snake avoidance wouldn’t work here. I couldn’t turn around without letting my team down. I couldn’t veer off the path to miss it because knee-high bushes (excellent hiding places for even more snakes) grew along both sides. I had to hurdle it and keep going.

I suppose all interesting odysseys must involve scary beasties and other obstacles.

Before the start, I was anxious about the other obstacles we would face, primarily heat and altitude. Snakes hadn’t really crossed my mind until one crossed my path. On my way to the start, I had even walked by a homeless person trying to shoo a small snake away from where he was sitting. The whole snake thing barely registered then.

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Smiling and clean at the start of our 178-mile journey: Adam (l), Gen, Me, Chris, Mike

Continue reading

Wild irises and other running diversions

I’ve been ramping up my running mileage lately to prepare for races later this year—a half marathon in August and a full in December. The already-blistering summer heat has me questioning the sanity of these plans, as they’ll require solid training through the summer months.

To take my mind off the running, the weather, and the cruel sun that gets up earlier and earlier each day, I’m always on the lookout for distractions along the trail. Yesterday it was a coyote watching the dog and me from a safe distance. Today, deer and jack rabbits were doing the same.

Along the river, I’ve discovered one of the best diversions: wild yellow irises.

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I’m enjoying these blooms on my morning runs.

Continue reading

Of runners and fisherpeople

I did a double-take as I read the first line of the email:

We hope you are holding up well and still getting in your runs during this rainy winter!

I still get emails from race organizers in the southeast, and, at first glance, I expected to read about the weekend’s snow and ice making it hard for runners to get out the door. Winter running can be frustrating where I’m from, especially when ice transforms roads into skating rinks.

But this particular email came from someone here in California, and instead of fretting over icy roads, the concern was all the wonderful rain we’ve gotten. The email’s author organizes hard-core races: races that climb mountains in relentless sun, races where it’s not uncommon to spot tarantulas, races involving trails at a place named for the devil. And he’s worried us being able to train in the rain?

Continue reading

O, Yosemite!

We are now in the mountains and they are in us, kindling enthusiasm, making every nerve quiver, filling every pore and cell of us. (John Muir, My First Summer in the Sierra)

Let the mountains bring peace to the people. – Psalm 72:3

Have you ever been somewhere and not wanted to leave? Somewhere that filled you with boundless energy and measureless peace at the same time? Yosemite is such a place for me.

My husband and I made a trip there last week, our second time ever visiting Yosemite and our first since moving here. Our goal is to visit Yosemite in all four seasons. The weather was kind to us, and we didn’t have to put chains on our tires. We spent time hiking and running and strolling. Sometimes, we stood still, awed by the splendor rising up to surround us.

If you long for nature’s grandeur, come to Yosemite. If you need a reminder of your smallness, come to Yosemite. If you need to be rejuvenated in body and mind, come to Yosemite.

You may not be able to drop everything right this minute and make your way there, and so I’m sharing some favorite photographs with you. Will you carve out a little space at the end of this busy day and sit with these views? I hope they fill you with peace and renewed energy in equal portion.

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This bobcat was the very definition of nonchalance, paying us no mind as it went about its business. (Apologies for not being able to get a front-end picture)

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On the way to Mirror Lake

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Half Dome on an overcast morning

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A thin winter coat of snow

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Mirror Lake

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Half Dome with the skies clearing

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Words fail me: Yosemite falls with rainbow and snow

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Fog through the trees

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Another quiet moment

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Ubiquitous (and well-versed in the music of a snack bag opening)

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Saying goodbye in the valley

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Sun and snow at play

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Impossible not to stop and look back

Have you ever been to Yosemite? What was your favorite part of your visit? If you’ve never been, did any of the photographs inspire you to start planning a trip?