I'm in the car with Laur, maybe Trish, and Josh and his friend Valerie. We are probably on our way to Night Owl because our friends have a Ska band. Valerie is in the back, and I'm turned around to look at her while she starts talking about how she's been to California and all she wants to do is go back because it's the best place she's ever been. This is the first time I've ever heard of Santa Cruz, the first time I've heard someone talk about having been to California, and I'm trying to imagine everything she's describing while at the same time secretly wishing that someday I'll get to see the Pacific Ocean, too.
|Clockwise from the top left in Indiana: Trish, me, Valerie, and Laur. In Indiana.|
I think about that moment in the car all those years ago and a bunch others like it when I'm experiencing something beautiful and amazing that I could never have ever imagined would be a normal part of my life. Running in the Santa Cruz Mountains is one of those things. Living in California, in general, is one of those things.
|Inside Trail Santa Cruz Mountains Half Marathon. I've done this run once|
before, kind of, well, you just have to read about it...HERE
|The first couple of miles of climbing were all sand. SAND.|
I channeled my inner NWI Ridge Runner and powered up.
At the first river crossing, I stopped to take off my shoes. I lost a lot of time getting across the slippery rocky bottom barefoot and then having to stop on the other side to clean the sand off my feet and put my shoes back on. We were only a few miles in at this point, but I knew I'd made the right choice to have dry feet for the majority of the miles. I felt good. I felt strong.
|This really nice guy on the right was guiding runners across and|
telling them to take their time and where to go to
take the easiest pass. Our races would become
Runners were really supportive of each other at this race. There was a loop, so I got to see some of the lead runners who gave a smile or a good job to me, and I got to cheer on those behind me as well. I met a really nice guy named Alvin running in a stylish button down shirt. Style points go to Alvin.
|It's not a trail race if I don't see Allen.|
He snapped this picture of me.
|And this one, too. I'm pretty sure he could|
convince people he had an alien encounter or
I plowed through the second river crossing and ended up with soggy wet shoes on the other side for a giant climb. Black Shirt Nice Guy and I traded places through the last few miles. We got to about a half mile to the finish, and I was fading...he said, come on, I know you can make it through this last part. We finished together with a high five at the end. I never got his name, but he was, by far, the epitome of the spirit of trail running.
The race was fantastic. Great shirt, great coffee mug, and we found a great cottage to stay in about ten miles north of Santa Cruz.
|Living the dream, basically.|