Sunday, March 8, 2015

Identity Crisis at Way Too Cool

I felt like I just finished Pine to Palm 100--low key happy but moreso relieved to be finished.

A mentally difficult day where I'm still ambivalent on the funness of the race itself, but an outstanding day in the post-race community! Immediately upon crossing the finish line with T.R. (an instant memory) I was slapping hands and giving salty hugs with all the San Francisco Running Company bros.

The SFRC bros! Gram by Maggie Tides

Feelings version
I think I was the most curious out of everyone to see where my move to California would take my running. Were my obsessive days of running over? Was ultra running just a college fad, something to occupy my time in the luxurious world of university? My addictive personality, and cyclic history of passionate burnout had me admitting to friends in New Zealand in the winter of 2012, "I think my running is temporary." Around mile ten of Way Too Cool 50k this past weekend I found myself wondering the same thing.

Moderately mad at myself for no good reason, I was asking, "What do I want out of running? Do I want to be competitive? Do I want to be fast? Do I want to win? Can I even do these things out here? Do I care? Does it even matter? Or do I just want to jog, adventure, meet cool people, explore new trails, and not be fat?"

Way Too Cool was an identity crisis masked as a race. After 20 something ultras I was questioning what I was doing. As my first ultra in the hyper-competitive state of California, I felt like I had to perform, to prove that I belong in the scene. Pre-race I made cover-your-ass excuses like I'm not tapered, Way Too Cool isn't a goal race, I feel like I haven't slept in forever, work is crazy, etc etc. I was overwhelming myself.

So when my first mile was 6:35 and I was somewhere around 75th place, my main thought was "ugh." The first eight mile loop consisted of thinking about position and looking at my watch a lot, not smiling. The course was buff, flat, not my specialty and not my liking. The only thing keeping my ass from slacking off was my new friend T.R., a SFRC bro running his first 50k. His exuberant stoke was rubbing off on me, keeping me hauling with him. I am SO thankful to have run with T.R. for most of the day. His fresh perspective on the ultra scene was refreshing like cucumbers on your eyelids after a hard work day. Despite my inner battles, T.R. and I worked really well together exchanging positive talk and encouragements. We ran the first 18 or so together until he took off on a climb. When the field thinned out around mile 15 I becmore more like myself and started to enjoy the run. I never felt great, but I never felt that bad. I'd been pushing pretty much the whole morning, but knew I could turn it up in the last ten miles a tad bit. I started passing folks and felt like I was finally racing and enjoying the sweet, windy, single track. I laughed at what the heck I was wearing. When I caught T.R. with a mile to go, I knew we would finish together, because that's what ultrarunning is. It's community. It's rad people doing rad things. It's a positive lifestyle, an optimistic outlook that thing's are going to get better, that life is worth living, worth striving and stretching for, not just gliding through.

The Crop Top. It's about to blow up. Just watch. Photo: Maggie

Still a bit ambivalent, I'm happy that I ran fast, enjoyed a beautiful California day, met some new friends, got out of my comfort zone, drank many a beer, and ended the day with a smile on my face. The SFRC crushed it. What Brett Rivers and gang are doing building community at SFRC feels so right. We're bringing different types of people together for the same love of running. We're learning from each other, pushing each other, having fun together, and improving together. The stoke is real! So for now, I don't have to decide what I want out of running. I get by with a little help from my friends, as some band used to sing. I'm excited as I know what I need to work on and that I have loads of room for improvement. See you soon at Lake Sonoma :) Vibe to this below.


  1. Cucumbers on the eyelids? Is that what those California Bartlett boys do? jk man, keep killing it

  2. Good stuff man. When did anyone ever have a bad time doing a long run in nice weather and then drinking a lot of beer? Can't go wrong... Also, in 2014 you ran 500ish miles more than I've ever run in a year!

    I went to this trail running movie last night done by Rainshadow Running. Straight trail running porn. So cool. I want to go out to CA or something and do a 50k. Pick one for me this summer or fall and maybe we can make it happen.