Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Party like an ultrarunner

Krissy and I after her 30th birthday run

A few years ago, right after I met Krissy when I moved to Seattle, she celebrated her 30th birthday. For her birthday, she decided to get together a bunch of her friends and do 30 miles to celebrate the day. It was a blast- we had a roving aid station and I think Krissy and I cemented our life long friendship when I agreed to run around the parking lot after we came off the mountain until her watch said exactly 30. After the run, we celebrated over delicious food made by her awesome Ma!

Since that run, the birthday run has been my top priority when conceptualizing how I want to spend my birthday. Two years ago (2009), my birthday fell immediately after the WC100k, so I was unable to run 27 on my 27th. Instead, having just moved back to San Francisco, I invited some new friends out for a nice 15 mile loop: Brett, Larissa, Nathan, Will and Caitlin.

I carried a watermelon. 
27th birthday run. Present from Nathan.

I was completely fried on that run from the 100k and insisted that the others go on ahead of me (brett and larissa had to turn back early to get to work, leaving just Nathan, Caitlin and Will) and just wait for me at the top. In a sign of things to come, Nathan, whom I had just met in person for the first time the day before at Tartine, came back for me while running up Marincello. And if I wasn't swooning enough, he presented me with a watermelon after the run as my birthday present. It was cute and thoughtful and also hilarious since I then had to run home carrying a watermelon like a football under my arm. I can easily say, I've loved the Baker since I met him.

Last year, my birthday enjoyment was compromised by my running at WS100. Tapering for a 100 miler is no way to spend your birthday and ultimately it was not the most fun I've ever had on my birthday.

This year, I was bound and determined to spend as much time with friends and family, celebrate for days on end and gosh darn it, I was getting in a 29 mile run for my 29th birthday. It is not even my birthday yet (as I write this) and I can easily say, I've had the best birthday in a long time.

Bestest everest Jonathan and I at SD 100. Photo by Brett.

Two weekends ago, Nathan and I headed down to San Diego for pacing duties and to join a huge gaggle of our friends from all over while they participated in SD100 in various capacities. It was such a blast to be a part of. Nathan was pacing for Topher and I was returning to pace Jonathan once more in San Diego. Several ninjas and seattle friends were racing and my sister and Steven were down to help crew for Jonathan. Simply put, it was an event that struck serious FOMO (fear of missing out) into the hearts of those unable to attend.

I really love my sister. Photo by Brett.

We cheered, we laughed, we paced. I saw friends cross the finish line and friends make tough decisions. Jonathan had to pull out of the race due to a medical issue, so he handed me off to Larissa who I paced for a good few hours in the night. I am so proud of Larissa's finish and all of my friends who rocked it-Krissy, Topher, Rod, Yassine, Walter, Roch and everyone else I am forgetting since it felt like I knew half the field. It was like one big pre-birthday party!

Dinner at Local 360 with Krissy, Steven, Jason, Sarah and JB!

No sooner had I unpacked my bags on Monday, I was repacking them for a trip up to Seattle to visit my family and hang out with Jonathan (who was also up visiting), Krissy and Jason. On Friday night, the whole gang joined me for dinner at Local 360 which totally knocked my socks off. I loved everything I tasted and really enjoyed the thoughtful, hyper-local, organic fare.

Clearly, I REALLY enjoyed the Peanut Butter Bon Bons.

I spent the rest of the weekend hanging out with family, having another fantastic birthday dinner at 50 North and running a bunch. On Sunday my sister and I headed up to Tiger Mountain to attempt the 12 summits run which is about 34-ish miles with a ton of climbing. The June gloom was doing nothing for our motivation, healing my cold or making my sister's hurt leg feel any better, so we changed our route, got lost and ended up with a nice 22 mile run.



Sarah is freezing in June, not awesome.

I went out and ran 9 more miles that evening en route to my mom's house where I enjoyed homemade pot roast, mashed potatoes and salad with my mom, sister, steven, cousin Erika, Ananda and Maya. It was great to be able to get so much good time in with my family. My life is pretty hectic and it can be hard to always feel as in touch as I would really like. I love my family intensely and am happy that I decided to come up for a visit and see them. I returned home on Monday morning, tired and with a cold but bound and determined to have a fantastic birthday week.

I had decided that since I had Wednesday off from work that I would run 29 miles for my 29th birthday. I figured that no one would be available on a Wednesday to run with me, but with Western States this weekend, I knew I would not have another opportunity. Western States is to my adult life, what the end of the school year was to my young life- totally getting in the way of my birthday!



Nonetheless, this morning, I headed out to Mountain Home Inn with Nathan and we did one of my favorite loops around the North side of Tam. It was beautiful and sunny and warm. We ran above the fog that pretty much hugged every elevation below us. It was a swift 12 miles and felt good. Originally, I had planned to grab my pack out of the car and just run all the way home through the Headlands, across the bridge. My calculations had that at a 33-34 mile run which I was fine with, but upon arriving back at the car, the temperature was about 10 degrees cooler than on our picturesque loop and the fog and wind were blowing sideways. I felt like I would be descending into a cold miserable slog instead of continuing the fun we'd been having together. So I decided, "it's my party and I'll do what I want to" and went home with Nathan, ate some food and took a nap. It was a fantastic decision and it made it easy for me to rally in the afternoon and run an additional 17 miles to get in a full 29 miles. Tomorrow, my actual birthday, I will get to run with my ninjas and continue the celebration the best way I know how: running (and then eating good food, of course)!

Today, as I ran those final 17 miles on the road, I felt completely connected to why I run. I was not running 29 miles to log miles or burn calories. It didn't fit into my training schedule or have a specific purpose, instead it was just about the act itself. I ran fast, despite the headwind, and felt free, unencumbered. That is ultimately what I love about a birthday run- it is purely about the act itself. To me, celebrating birthdays are not about gifts or attention or parties, it is about celebrating life and the journey we are lucky enough to be on.

3 comments:

  1. I hope you have a wonderful birthday Devon!

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  2. Happy Birthday Devon! Did you know Nathan has some sort of turtle tattoo'd on his back?! ;-)

    Cheers, Will G.

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