March 1, 2019
1. My Family
So, as far as I know, I have not yet convinced any of my family (yet) to even attempt an ultramarathon, but without my family, I would not ever have had the courage to start.
For the most part, my family does not come to my runs, but I think this is more practicality than disinterest. What are you to do for hours and hours? Drive around the course to spot me for a minute? Go to the finish and hope that the timing didn’t miss me by a few minutes or get stuck there for hours? It’s almost better to be patient and then listen intently to the excited post-race blow-by-blow.
However, there are a few family stories regarding my ultra adventures that I would like to tell.
In 2003, I did the Santa Barbara 9 Trails 35M. It was the Saturday of Thanksgiving Weekend which I spent with my aunt, uncle, and cousins in Carpinteria. I handed them a map the night before and said, “Here are some places where you could meet me,” knowing they wouldn’t meet me. I struggled a lot in this race, and ended up finishing in 14:06:35. (My pre-race projected finish was 8 hours.) About 30 minutes after I finished, my cousins Daniel and Morgan drove up. They had called because I hadn’t returned in 10 or 11 hours, and tried to time out my finish (“You have [timed it] poorly.”), but I was grateful that they got to celebrate my success with me.
In 2007, I did my “dumb-ass double” of Sunmart 50M and Dallas White Rock Marathon on consecutive days, but some extra coordination by my folks to make it happen. First, I flew into Dallas, someone drove me to the marathon expo, then to pick up a rental car. On Saturday, after running 50M and driving four hours back to Dallas, my folks prepared me an ice bath, so that I could somehow recover in one night, and then drove me to the race in the morning (despite my saying that, hmm, didn’t know if I really wanted to run a marathon after all), and then picked me up amidst terrible traffic post-marathon (the waiting around alluded to above).
In 2015, when I am ran my 100th marathon or ultra at Skyline 50K, my family surprised me by meeting me at Mile 14. Their timing is really close, which means my nephew Reagan hangs with me until my sister can park her car, so I am just standing around (but with one of my top two favorite nephews).
For the past three years, also at Skyline, Marisa has met me at Mile 14 (Skyline Gate) and walked/shuffled with me until I turn off on the French Trail. It’s a decently short drive from her house and something to really look forward to (plus the past couple years, we have hiked some of the trail the day before the race).
In October 2018, Marisa and I took a trip to Southeast Asia with an ultra included. While she could have just made different plans for the day, she endured finding a taxi with me at 5:30am (the day after we arrived) and going up to the start with me and hanging out in the cold, and then hiking around to a vista point and cheering me on. Afterwards, when I did not finish (DNF), I was able to communicate with her and connect, because she went hiking and shopping in the general vicinity.
Most recently, about 3 weeks ago, I was in the Bay Area for my 99th ultra in Marin County. As usual, I stayed with my folks in Oakland. We were briefly discussing the race at the dinner table and Mom said, “Are you a little nervous that it has 6,000 feet of climbing?” I had to laugh, because after 98 ultras, she was checking out the details of my race.
My family has always been my greatest support, whether it is moral or the occasional joining me for a short walk mid-course. Maybe if I can convince them that an ultra is just a long day hike, they will be in. So thanks and love to Mom, Dad, Riva, Marisa, Evan, Reagan, Dan, Rae, Rolfe, Norma, Robert, Susan, Cheri, Daniel, Henry, Roz, Tom, Morgan, Tyler, Roy, Adam, Robin, Jeremy, Desiree, Pat, Tim, Frankie, Wade, Mack, Ruby, Will, and Clare. Hope to see you in my future ultra endeavors.