Scatter my ashes here...

Scatter my ashes here...
scatter my ashes in the desert...

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Stories from the Treasure Trove!

Yesterday as I was bouncing off the walls from not being able to run enough miles, I turned my attention to a stack of boxes in the garage that I've been eyeing for a few months. Whenever I taper, I use the extra time and energy to go through old piles of junk that accumulate over time and get rid of things I don't use.

As I dug through the pile, I found old writing materials, old notes from graduate school, a copy of my dissertation, diplomas from college and high school, old backpacking pictures from the 70s, and wedding mementos. I sorted through most of it and tossed the things I didn't want. But I did find one box of stuff I had completely forgotten. I had all my old running logs, since 1984, and a bag from the 1980s and early 90s with old race bibs, ribbons, medals, newspaper clippings, and a few plaques and belt buckles.

Long ago Dennis and I tossed all of our old race trophies and a lot of old race hardware that we didn't have room to keep. I did hang on to a lot of the smaller stuff that could be compressed into a few plastic bags. We moved in 2006 and that's the last time I glanced at anything in the boxes, and at the time, I didn't feel like sorting through things.

I started pulling things out and as I did, I started to remember the stories behind the race numbers and finishers medals, age group ribbons, and so on. So many stories! I have many more race numbers and ribbons tucked away in the pages of 30 years of running logs, and more medals in boxes in my closet, a few recent trophies scattered throughout the house, and belt buckles that I find in odd places as I rummage through drawers and closets. I've never taken the time to pull them out and actually organize them.

I took what was in the box and laid most it out on the kitchen table. I left a pile of rumpled ribbons and numbers in the box, I spread out the items that were least wrinkled and looked over them, and let the stories flood over me.

So many happy and fun memories! There were only a few that were reminders of disappointments, and times when I ran poorly, missed an opportunity, or learned some valuable lesson that hopefully has stuck with me to this day, even if I can't remember the origin of the lesson. I remembered my running buddies over the years and our adventures together.

I'm excited to dig through this stuff again because it gives me all kinds of ideas for writing material. But even more important, it reminds me of how significant running is in my life, and how much it's contributed to my entire existence today. It's more than just an activity I do, it's a huge piece of who I am.

A few of the stories that came to mind:

Running my first 50 miler at the Cross Timbers Trail Run in Texas, with my buddies Dennis Werth and Craig Remner. At the start, there was this woman with a face full of makeup and a rather large butt. The guys told me I could beat her. She ended up winning the race and I was second. I learned that having a big butt doesn't mean you can't win. Probably a lesson every woman needs to learn.

I remember running my first sub-40 10K, in Aspen. I'd been training for months, so hard, and my best time was 40:10. I wanted it so bad. As I crossed the finish line at my goal race, I was shocked and ecstatic to see my time of 38:58. I killed it!

When I ran the Creede Mountain Run in its inaugural year, I was 22 years old and it was my first long trail race. I trained hard all summer in the mountains of Crested Butte and then I blew it by going out too fast, and gasping for air as I tried to run it like a road race all the way to 12,000 feet elevation at the top. All the way down the descent back to town, I was being passed by people I could easily outrun in any road race. Big lesson learned.

Running in the elite race at the Bolder Boulder in 1988, I had my hair cut super short. I crossed the finish line at Folsom Stadium, with a gazillion people in the stands cheering us as we straggled in, in the 80 plus degree heat, I was somewhere way back in the pack of 40 or so women. After I stopped gasping and got some water, all these people were asking for my autograph. I couldn't figure out why they were swarming me. Then one of them asked how my training for the Olympics in Seoul was going. Then I realized they had me confused with Rosa Mota from Portugal, who won the race that day, and had beaten me by something like 10 minutes...

One year in the Leadville Trail 100, I was suffering from sleep deprivation once the sun went down, and I begged my pacer to let me take a nap. We had just gone up the hill out of Twin Lakes, headed for Halfmoon, and I stopped to lie down beside a tree, just a few feet off the trail. Soon after that, another runner and his pacer screamed. It startled me awake. My pacer and the other two people were laughing hysterically. They screamed because they thought there was a bear off the trail. It was me, snoring.

The first race I ever won was the Lake San Cristobal 10K in Lake City Colorado in 1986. The second race I ever won was later that summer at a 5K in Gunnison, Colorado. The day of that 5K is the day I met Dennis for the first time, at a pancake breakfast after the race.

So many more stories, memories, and places I've been. Some races I haven't thought about in years or have completely forgotten, but would like to go back and do again. One of these days I need to go through everything and organize all of it. I'd probably need a museum if I saved everything over an entire lifetime.

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