About my running

On top of Birch Mountain
            I started running later in life, at 40. A few years later discovered the world of trail running and subsequently ultrarunning (runs of more than marathon distance). At 55, I’m as hooked by this sort of physical challenge as ever. These endurance runs challenge me in ways I would never otherwise experience. Some of the challenges prove too great for me, but I keep trying. My DNFs (did not finish) are almost equal in number to my finishes. No matter—even the “failures” can be considered successes because I "stepped up to the plate" and tried. You might call it selective memory, but it’s not atypical for ultrarunners to forget the hardship that [often] accompanies these runs and simply recall how great the effort felt, reaching out to the edges of one’s perceived abilities. I put the word “perceived” in italics because you never truly know your limits until you stretch yourself through great challenges. For me, there's an epic endeavor, an epic effort inside me that I keep returning to in order to reconnect with the most vital element of life: giving. I believe I give more of my life through these great efforts.

The start of Hellgate
            When I first returned to California following eight years on the flatlands of the eastern shore of Maryland, I was determined to scout out the best training grounds for the Barkley Marathons, which I’ve attempted three times. It’s a grueling footrace in Tennessee and I needed some steep, rough terrain to train on. The Yucaipa ridge was one of the places I found on Google Earth that provided locations with at least 1500 feet climb per mile distance, simulating the steepness of the Barkley course at Frozen Head State Park. I learned that portions of the Yucaipa Ridge are within the The Wildlands Conservancy's Bear Paw Preserve and that I should secure permission to pass through the land as I was traversing the ridge. I introduced myself to The Wildlands Conservancy and met Evan Welsh and David Myers, TWC’s Executive Director. Over the course of the next year, as I continued to hike with Evan, David, and others who joined the hikes, it was clear to me that the spirit of this nonprofit was so utterly in sync with my own. I asked—more than once—if there might be some work for me at the Conservancy. The following autumn I filled in some open slots as part time ranger at the Conservancy’s Bluff Lake Preserve as the season wound down and shifted from fall to winter. Now, my full time work with TWC is in Mission Advancement, and I feel immensely fortunate to be contributing my time, energy, and talents in this direction; rather than trying to make money, I’m trying to make a difference.
On top of Wilshire Peak

            One more thing: I am the first to admit that the 24n24 is something I’m sure other athletes could finish in less time than it will take me. Truth is, I’m a mid-packer. (In ultras, often groups of runners form over the course of the race: the frontrunners followed by the mid-packers, then finally the slow and steady.) I think I can safely call myself a strong mid-packer, but I’m not an elite athlete. Perhaps I get extra points for attempting this because I’m not so obviously qualified, but I don’t think that matters.

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