Miles to Go Before I Sleep

**Clearly this post was intended for many, many weeks ago. I can blame being pregnant, right?**

Today was officially the last day of my summer break. I find myself replaying the highlights as I lay here, marveling the miles I trekked.

17.8 Miles: The Ragnar

DSC_0432My teaching partner convinced me to spend an inordinate amount of money to join a team of women who would collectively run 198 miles, from Blaine, by the Canadian border, to Langley on Whidbey Island. And who am I to turn down an entry fee the price of Carrie Bradshaw’s shoes and the chance to burn fossil fuels all in the pursuit of a good time? Each of the 12 women ran 3 sections of the total mileage, relay style.

In my final leg, after little-to-no sleep on the floor of van with six other women, I took off with what seemed like wings. The leg was laden with hills. Huge hills. Some of the steepest I’ve run in my life. I remember seeing the first big hill unfurl before me as I crested the smaller one before it. I remember panicking. I remember yelling to my van as it passed me, “What the FUCK?!” I had to make a decision before I got to the base of the hill, and it was this: I was going to run it, the whole damn thing, and I was going to offer it up. I conjured a mental image of my sister: a week home from Germany, living with her in-laws, wrangling  three children under the age of 6 and an infant with Cystic Fibrosis. And she did—does—it all without complaint. I put my head down and picked my feet up. We cruised up that hill, Jess and I; we passed three people and when my van drove by I was afraid they would mistake my tears as ones of torture rather than the ones of solidarity and sisterhood they actually were. We flew. The other two hills were the same, just Jess and I, breathing and chugging together, single step by single step up hills we never knew we had the power to climb.

I shaved 1 whole minute off my mile time in each of those 5.8 miles. It was transcendent, and I have never been more proud of my body, my mind or my sister.

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33 miles—Pilot Ridge to PCT Loop

I have this knack for doing half-hearted research, for glossing over the details. And this, dear friends, is how N, my brother, my 14 year-old-niece and I ended up on this particular backpacking trip. And sure, when you finally get around to reading the fine print that explains that day 1 will be 12 miles with full weight up 3,000 ft. in 3 miles and then up and down a ridge line while carrying all your water for the entire day in the middle of a heat wave and that the bugs might be of the swarming variety and that every day will involve at least one huge pass and oh yeah, the views are totally worth it…well, the bags are already packed and the dog is already excited so you hike out.

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This was easily one of the hardest backpacking trips I’ve ever done, just because we had to carry so much water while climbing. But ohmigawd, do we live in an amazing place. It seemed as though each view was more glorious than the last, and I am reminded of why I love living here.

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For the record: my niece did not complain once. She is the raddest backpacker I have ever met—she is 14 and could out hike any PCT through-hiker. Give that girl an iPod, some Panic at the Disco!, hiking boots, and she is off.

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11 miles—Cutthroat Classic

And because I really like to torture myself, I signed up again for the Cutthroat Classic. I would love to show you the three pictures of me actually running the race, but I am so hunched over and out of breath that I could easily be mistaken for Quasimoto, and I don’t want to ruin your ibex-esque image of me running.

I dragged my teaching partner (as payback for the Ragnar) and my best friend, Heather along with me. It’s a daunting challenge for a super crappy (eight-weeks pregnant) runner like myself, but the week before I found out that my Rolfer used to work on Scott Jurek—that’s right—so I was pretty sure that some of Scott’s mojo had rubbed off on my IT band as it was worked on prior to the race.

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Alas, no such osmosis occurred. The five mile, 3,000 ft. climb up was the perfect antidote to the end-of-summer blues: there is no way you can think about anything other than how much air your lungs are not receiving while your feet scramble over lose rocks. And, it is everything I love about summer: the outdoors, the blue, blue, blue skies and popcorn clouds, the freedom of six miles downhill that comes after the long work of the ascent, the unbridled joy that comes with accomplishment and a beer to wash it down, and the time to enjoy a view at the top.

As I type, the wind is blowing outside my window. The maples down the alley are aflame in amber. I saw a gaggle of geese flying overhead last week, and dew has reclaimed its morning meditation on the lawn. The miles of summer have been checked off, and I can feel that it is time to settle back in.

But just to harness one last bit of summer, I made this pie. I feel it is my duty to begin packing on the pounds so that I have good reason to move all those miles again next summer.

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