Wednesday, September 21, 2016

An Emotional 20 Miler

When you do a long run - like a really long run that takes you numerous hours, poop breaks, fuel stops, etc - do you ever feel like you've covered a lifetime in one run?

All runs are different. Some are joyous occasions of effortless forward motion. Some are shit shows of pain, suffering and mental breakdowns. Most are somewhere in the middle.

This weekend was my last long run before taper and the Blue Sky Marathon on October 2. I know you're probably thinking - damn, did she even train for that marathon? I don't remember reading much about her training.

Little secret: that's because there wasn't much training!

Don't judge me.

Yeah, well, I kind of trained. It was an abbreviated training cycle of about 5 weeks. I don't really recommend that for marathon training, but I was coming off of a summer of running non stop in preparation for the TransRockies, so I figured it was all good.

Famous last words. We'll see how that works out for me.

Anyway, my longest run this past weekend was to be 20 miles. I decided that since the race is only about 45 minutes away, I'd go up north and run 20 miles of the course.

There are just a few twists and turns and ways to get lost (foreshadow).

Ken agreed to come along. He must really like me. Or, he's hoping for some kind of favors. Yes, honey I'll turn off the Real Housewives and get you a bourbon and ginger.

The first loop of 8 miles was steep as shit and gorgeous. I think we climbed about 1,700 feet or so.

Dual shots of old-married-couple-being-tired

Back at the car we re-fueled with some Uncrustables, ice water and Saltstick, then headed out for the last 12 miles. We'd never been on these trails before, and really had no clue what to expect. They were much narrower than anticipated with lots of rolling up and downs.

It was about 10am by now and getting hotter by the minute. There was not one mother eff'ing ounce of shade to be had. Not even a large weed you could hide under. There were, however, some enormous piles of poop with berries in them - the kind that make you scratch your head and wonder who left that turd and why right in the middle of the trail?

No, it wasn't me. I don't eat berries.

So, about 30 minutes in I realized Ken was behind me a bit. We were going out 6 miles and back, so I figured I'd catch him when I turned around.

The trail was really lonely with only an occasional mountain biker. This area (called Devil's Backbone if that gives you an idea) is notorious for rattlesnakes. I was feeling a bit vulnerable and couldn't help but wonder...

WhereTF was Ken?

I got to the turn around. About that time my phone buzzed with a text. One of our high school teachers, age 34, and his wife had been killed in a car accident the night before. Their two year old daughter survived. It was a rollover-one car accident and they were not wearing seat belts.

I felt like someone had punched me in the gut. This was a favorite teacher of Sam's. An all round awesome guy/father/husband/teacher/coach. My eyes kept welling with tears, trying to grasp it all. And, WTF was Ken?

I kept running.

I called Sam at ASU to give him the news. I didn't want him to learn through social media. Again tears.

By this time, I started to get really pissed off at Ken.  He abandoned me. Left me out here to rot and be adopted by rattlesnake families. Just cause he got hot and tired doesn't mean he should turn around and leave me. No favors for him.

But wait. Maybe he has a good reason. He's sick. His balls are chafed. He was craving more Uncrustables.

Anger. Tears. Frustration. Sadness. Fear.

I kept running. Thinking of life and death and how quickly things change.

Finally, after 4 hours of running I got back to the car. I was sure Ken was inside the air conditioned Ford Edge eating Uncrustables and drinking my ice water. But... I opened the car door and he was nowhere to be found. He hadn't even been there.

WTF was Ken?

At that moment I started to panic. Yeah, it probably didn't help that I was dealing with the trauma of the unexpected tragedy of last night too. I started asking mountain bikers if they'd seen him. No one had. Just then, a rescue helicopter flew overhead. Really?

I knew if he was on the trail I would have seen him. I had no clue what to do. Is he off the trail hurt or sick? I called friends. No one answered. My mom and dad were out the country, so I couldn't call them. I considered 911, but that felt premature.

Finally, I asked another biker if they had seen him. Yes, he was just a ways back. I started walking until I reached him. Turns out, he had taken a different turn than me by mistake.

I knew it! I knew he wouldn't abandon me (<if he only knew what I had been thinking. Well now he does).

He said: "That run was about 12 miles too long." Yep, I've felt that way before.

After we reunited, I broke the sad, sad news to him.

In the days following that run, I've thought endlessly about life and its many mysteries, unfoldings, gifts and heartaches. I keep coming back to a few simple thoughts.

  • I want to feel all moments and be present with all people. No regrets
  • I will continue to live a life that will make people miss me when I am gone
  • My role is to comfort, support, love and cherish others. And make them smile/laugh.
  • When life is too much to bear, I can run. This is comforting to me.

Tomorrow I will go to a funeral to support my friends, our school and our community. I will go to show respect and to find comfort with and connection in people. I will never forget exactly where I was - on a trail by myself surrounded by beauty - when I heard the news of this horrible accident. I will remember Jared, the smiling physics teacher. And I'll probably always wonder why.

RIP Jared and Genevieve. And blessings to their little girl.

Image result for jared sommervold



  1. Beth, nice post. I too feel brokenhearted for their daughter. RIP J and G. :(

    (Accidents happen in a blink of an eye, please folks WEAR those seat belts.)

  2. I am so sorry for your community's loss. Two weeks ago we lost a beautiful couple in a car accident. They had 2 daughters. It is a time of sadness, remembrance and re-evaluation for many of us. You are in my heart.

  3. Two things: Blue Sky is the WORST if you don't finish before like 9am. My husband worked with G this summer on science stuff, and it hit here hard. Keeping them, and you and Sam, in our thoughts. *hugs*

  4. I’m so sorry that is heartbreaking news.

  5. That's so sad. Sounds like you got all kinds of reminders about how precious life really is...funny how things happen like that. Life is indeed short and precious. Sometimes we need those reminders.

    If I could hug you, I would. So here's virtual hug... <3

  6. I am so sorry for this tragic loss. Your 'simple thoughts' have put into words how I've been feeling since the unexpected loss of my 57 year old brother 4 months ago. We need to say 'I love you' more and enjoy every single moment. This morning, my husband and I woke early to see the International Space Station make a showing at 6:02 a.m. Moments like that are what life is about.

    1. Very sorry about the loss of your brother. You hit the nail on the head. We just have to enjoy and soak in every moment.

  7. I laughed as I read this, but I felt terrible about that. You have a way of taking a snapshot of a moment and making it represent life in general. It's terrible and funny and awkward and tearful and at the end of everything, hopefully it was worth it.

  8. I am so sorry for this loss. I also had a dear friend ( and a colleague of my husband) pass away just last night. She was battling cancer. They gave her 3 months and she held on for 3 days. Needless to say I had an emotional 7 mile tempo run in the rain last night. Thank you for this post and helping to put things in perspective.
    And I'm glad you found Ken. That course looks crazy twisted!
    Best of luck to you at your upcoming marathon! You for this!

  9. I'm so sorry, Beth. Wishing you guys strength. That was an amazing, beautiful, timely post. Thanks for putting it out there.

  10. I'm so sorry, Beth. Wishing you guys strength. That was an amazing, beautiful, timely post. Thanks for putting it out there.

  11. I heard about this tragic accident the other day and while I didn't know them, my heart felt heavy as I simply can't imagine the hole that is left without them. So sorry for your loss. This is a sweet tribute to their memory and a good reminder for us all.

    On another note, good luck with your marathon! While I love running in Colorado those trails with no shade are the worst.

  12. So incredibly sorry for you and for their little girl. I am so glad you posted this. A great reminder of how short of time we can have with others and ourselves.

  13. I'm so sorry Beth. And I'm glad your Hubby is ok too.

  14. So sorry for the horrible loss of your son's teacher, I am really sad for that little girl.

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