The Silver State gave me just what I needed to get back in my rhythm. My body and mind have been feeling sluggish since the week before Miwok. I’m not exactly sure what I was feeling, but I could tell I was putting to much pressure on myself and not feeling grounded in my philosophy of running. Sometimes I just need a little kick in the mind to align the aliveness I crave through running.
I was still feeling not put together as I traveled to Reno in hopes of an inspiring run, to find peace and contentment as I climbed through the Sierra Nevada Mountains. I just wanted to take my mind off things and run and that’s what I did.
I made it to Reno taking in the scenic 5-hour drive from Ashland and met up with my friend JB Benna to check in and sign up for the 50-mile race the next day. In the age of having to decide what races you want to run six or more months in advance, it was very convenient to decide to run this race at the last minute. I didn’t really know anything about the race besides that it was in Reno and there was going to be some decent vertical. It was exciting to be clueless on what the next day had in store for me besides the fact that it was 50 miles and 9000+ of elevation gain. I knew there were two big climbs, but didn’t know where they were on the course. I wanted to go into this race relaxed and not worry about time. I just wanted to run and get reacquainted with my body.
The race started at Rancho San Rafael Park which was a great spot to jump out of your car, go race and come back to a huge picnic, filled with BBQ aromas and friendly folks soaking in the midday sun. The afternoon sun was much appreciated after a light sprinkle that cooled the morning start and gave us a chilly first climb to Peavine. The first 10 or so miles I spent chatting with Conor who I had previously met at Way Too Cool jumping around in a Gorilla suit. We enjoyed the good-morning climb, pushing it just enough to stay warm as I worked on my breathing, adjusting to the thinner air in Reno. It wasn’t a big deal, but it normally takes me a few miles to get used to the higher altitude.
The climb up a dirt road to Peavine (8,200ft) is when I started to gap the folks behind me. I just kept a nice pace to stay warm and save my legs for the later stages of the race, but when I looked back I realized I was going to have a day to myself. I was excited because I came here to get my mind and body connected and not worry about racing, and so it was just nice to have a supported long run to dial in my nutrition and push it a little harder than I would on a training run. Making it up the first climb went fast and in no time I was flying down a trail that was rockier than anything I’m used to from back home. I really enjoy different terrain and it was fun to bounce down the trail watching every step as to not slip, trip or put a good sharp rock in my forefoot. It gave me something to do as the miles went by. I was very grateful for my sweet Peak II’s that work just phenomenally. They’re light (around 9 oz.), with just enough protection to guard my feet, but they also allow me to feel the rocks and terrain for perfect proprioception. They have a nice toe guard to help my toes as I played “kick the rock “ most of the day and they’re bright orange in case anyone is out hunting on the trails (just joking, but many a folk in the Midwest would love these kicks).
The rocks eventually turned to smooth trails and then some sand to slosh around in. This course’s footing had it all—there was never a dull moment, keeping me on my toes. I swerved my way around, taking in the enchanting views of white birch trees lining the way. I entered the Long Valley aid station (19 miles), where they had a fun tropical theme going on with hula skirts and some delicious strawberries that hit the spot. I dipped one in salt, which was my race version of a margarita. They had all sorts of good food, and I kinda wanted to stay and gobble up some more food, but I figured I should be on my way. This next section was pretty flat and fast, sprinkled with a little roller every now and again to vary the pace.
I scooted on over to dog valley (23 miles), grabbed a few Gu’s and some s-caps to help my body digest as the day heated up. I didn’t use s-caps my last race and I’ll never make that mistake again. I thought I only needed the salt for cramping muscles, but apparently I really need them to help my belly digest all the fun goo I guzzle through out a race.
There’s some good climbing out of the valley and over to Ranch creek. I was quite content with a decent pace, but never pushing anything uncomfortably. I was just letting the day flow and listening to the gentle sounds of birds as I inched on.
At Ranch Creek (27 miles) I picked up another water bottle just in case. I didn’t think I needed it, but it’s good to get used to running with a little extra weight. I had that bottle filled with water and First Endurance EFS liquid shot. I wanted to test again carrying a gel flask and mixing one bottle with EFS Liquid shot. It’s great stuff and a good way to get 400 calories, including amino acids and electrolytes, with not having to deal with the sticky mess of goo packets.
I would have had more flasks filled, but my supply ran out. Why did I run out, you may ask? Well, let’s ask my brother-in-law this question… Once upon a time I received a 30oz bottle of EFS wild berry right before Miwok. I decide to use some for Miwok and put the rest in a glass bottle in our fridge at home to use for my next race. While we were away my brother-in-law watched our dog and cat for us and also ate everything in the fridge. We left him some fish, which he cooked up and then even called to brag about what a sweet dish of fish he had concocted. I thought nothing of this until the day before Silver State. I was getting my race stuff ready… I went in the fridge to find my bottle of EFS, which was… gone?!? After searching everywhere I went down to look in his fridge to find my more than half empty bottle of EFS in a glass bottle that was labeled raspberry vinaigrette dressing. I put 2 and 2 together and realized that delicious fish he had made he had marinated and cooked it and had a salad with EFS Wild Berry Liquid shot….this is one of the funniest things I have ever heard of! He apparently loved it, had tons of energy and electrolytes to keep him feeling good all day. EFS has a plethora of uses and even more than I thought possible. I hear First Endurance is coming out with a new cookbook labeled “EFS- on the run or on the couch this shit works,” “EFS- Healthy Living,” “EFS- Fuel, Marinades and More,” “EFS=Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner,” and “EFS-On the go or in the Kitchen?”… just joking, but can you help me think of more?
Ok—back to racing. This next section was some fun single track that bombed down close to our starting elevation of 4700 ft at the River Bend aid station (33 miles). It just kept going down which went by fast, but every step down I knew I had to climb back up. On the way back up I was waiting to see how close anyone was behind, but I never saw any other racers. This meant I had a pretty good lead. However, this did not give me a huge amount of motivation to really crank the climb, so I kept putting one foot in front of the other for a good handful of miles. This section of the course was the reason I came to Silver State. Yes, it was a great race and beautiful area to be in, but I came to Reno to find the reason I race.
I let Miwok take up too much of my thought. I had everything planned and then got lost when things didn’t unfold as I thought they would. I just got a little to excited about competing and forgot why I was there. Not to race, but to connect with this magnificent earth that connects with me as we feed off each other. While running in the mountains I am nature. I am this organic mess of energy propelling from rock to rock, over n’ under, dipping and swaying to the flow of the wind. I’m not concerned with time I am just myself, being real and creating art. I think of running as an art form. I want to master it and make it my own. Yes, I learn from others, but running is about creating something organic and original. It’s about the journey and wonder that gets me out the door each morning, enjoying every moment and not just the finished product. My goals through running are to inspire people, to get people outside and enjoy life though whatever art is to them through running, hiking, sitting, stretching, breathing and being. Taking that moment for themselves and learning what their truth is. In this sometimes-chaotic existence, I cherish the simple, quiet moments in life. There’s something so magical about silence and I believe you can find silence in anything you do, be it in movement or not. When I run I stop my brain and just listen. Yes, there’s noise; but between each sound is this silence that is so relaxing and meditative, that just swoops me up and takes me to a realization of peacefulness. That’s why I run and race, to take me to the rawest, realest version of myself, to my truth.
Video by Darren Young
Winding my way up some gnarly climbs to Peavine summit (39 miles), I was content with how things were turning out. I came to this race to get my mind right and the Silver State delivered. I knew I had just 10 miles to go to the finish and they were for the most part all downhill. I figured this was a good chance to beat the quads up for Western States, without ending up back home too gimpy. The last miles ticked away as I made my way through the last few aid stations enjoying Coke and Sprite as my forms of calories for the last grunt to the finish.
As always the sweet smell of the finish line was in range and I was excited to have won, enjoying a beautiful day in Reno and ready to jump-start the healing process with cappuccino Ultragen and some real home-cooked grub. I made it to the finish with a time of 7:16 and a great crowd of people to cheer me in. I had such a good time out there and was so grateful for a sunny day, well marked course and plenty of smiling faces at the abundantly filled aid stations.
Thank you Lon Monroe, John Trent and Scott Glogovac for putting on such a great race and for a great cause. The day I registered I found out that all the proceeds go to a strong kid fighting leukemia. I sent many prayers and positive vibrations to him as I ran around his stopping grounds. Many blessings to him and his family who were out on the trails running as well.