I was laid off the day before WR50. I have mentioned how running is a time of solace, prayer, and reflection for me, so you can probably imagine how much reflecting went on during the race. Actually, it was less than you think. I had never put myself to that much of a mental and physical test, and almost all of my mind was devoted used to keeping me physically moving. However, I did have some time to pray for my future. I honestly had no idea what I was going to do, other than prepare for my dearest friends in Seattle’s quickly approaching moves to different areas of the country.
During the WR50 practice runs, I had befriended Paul, another deep soul looking to find his personal limits and push past them at WR50. We found out that we lived only a few blocks away from each other, and began to go on runs. Training with someone is always better. Just having someone else will motivate me on those days I do not necessarily feel like running for 3+ hours on asphalt. Paul worked nights and I was unemployed, so we would wake up early and go for runs around Seattle; to Discovery Park around and back, and to West Seattle. When I got home, I would rest, in the form of submitting resumes. On weekends we drove to the Cascades and would run for hours on end, fully enjoying the trails as opposed to the usual concrete paths. I got to show Paul the Mt. Si run, which we ended up doing doubles most of the time we went there. There was one time that the sun set way earlier than we anticipated and I had to run part of the way back up the mountain with flashlights to find him. Our other favorite run was Rattlesnake. It was a 20+ mile out and back run with an ‘M’ shaped elevation profile.
Paul is a running stud. Not only does he have insane endurance, he is really fast. He had qualified for Western States at WR50. He was so encouraging that I too could qualify; all I needed was a 50 mile finish in less than 11 hours. And that became our mission. Paul had researched all the qualifying races and found one close enough for us to drive to: Le Grizz Ultramarathon. Paul also planned out for us to go run Cle Elum Ridge 50k to check our training progress. It was 2 weeks prior to Le Grizz, so even if I was running too slow, there would not be much I could do to improve, however this would give me that ‘I can do this’ mindset going in to Le Grizz. We began to talk about Ultramarathon Man, and fantasize of both getting in to Western States for 2011. If you have not yet read Ultramarathon Man, please put it high on your list of books to read. It is an amazing story of a Dean Karnazes finding out that running is indeed his gift. I feel that there are so many of us that have similar stories, and not all related to running, where we finally find our purpose and begin to live pursuing what gives us the most joy. The bulk of the book is Dean’s Western States experience. Just thinking about what I read makes me want to put this computer down and go for a run right now. It is that inspiring.
Paul and I also talked a lot about running diet. We both highly admire Scott Jurek who is one of the top ultrarunners in the world and vegan. My biggest struggle was always what to eat before a run. I never wanted to be too full or have to go to the bathroom too early. I normally did not eat before a run, no matter if it was a 6 mile training run or a marathon. I began to notice as my training intensity increased, my energy levels during the run were depleting…fast. Paul got me hooked on what has now become my staple pre-run food. Pancakes. Yup, pancakes. But not just a normal pancake either. In the words of the Fresh Prince, peep this: Bob’s Red Mill 10 grain pancakes with blueberries. Then eat the pancake with some almond butter and a drizzle of honey. If you are ever about to go on a long run, I highly recommend.
Those months of unemployment were not easy and I am so thankful that I had my faith, running and Paul to keep me sane. I did get a glimpse of what my life could look like if I was able to make a living with running, and I must say…I loved it. It is highly improbable, but I loved it.