It’s another week closer to the Western States 100 and another week closer to Badwater again. The clock is ticking. Many people running the race will often take the last two weeks off to taper prior to the race. However, I will continue to push forward, albeit at a slower pace than normal. Last weekend, I got in a 32.3 mile training run on a section of the Western States course from Robinson Flat to Forest Hill. It traversed a pristine area of forest north east of Auburn and Sacramento. Although there were patches of snow when I first set out at 6900 ft. elevation, it quickly warmed up in the canyons and valleys as the run went on. The highlight of the run had to be my chance encounter with a black bear. At the time, I had turned my Ipod on and proceeded to drift off into my own world with nary a soul in sight. While running down a section of flat fire roads, I looked up to see the fuzzy, plump creature scrapping at a stump on the side of the road. I quickly put the brakes on with about 20 yards to spare and proceeded to slowly walk back up the road while maintaining visual contact with the bear. Compared to other black bears, it was rather small. My biggest fear was that it was possibly a cub with its mother nearby. Most black bears will run away at the sound of humans, but in cases where a mother believes it is protecting its cub, the results can be vicious. However, once the bear turned at hearing my footsteps, it scurried off down the hillside. I waited a few minutes to be sure it was gone before continuing on my way. I immediately turned off the Ipod for the time being, weary of future encounters with the black bears and cougars that inhabit these forests. As I proceeded onward, I would intermittently yell or make strange noises to alert them of my coming presence. I felt like a bit of an idiot making these stupid noises, but better to look like an idiot than to end up the victim of an animal attack.
It was great to be outdoors and breathing in that fresh air. The only place to get air like that in the city is at your local oxygen bar. The neat part of the run was that there was really only one way in and one way out. That feeling of truly being alone was refreshing, giving me the time and space to relax, think, pray and enjoy. I’ve been tired and weary lately, so it’s hard to explain how such a long run can be invigorating. Sometimes, taking yourself away from the things that you like work or social obligations or cell phones ringing is just what the doctor ordered. Now that I am leading a group to Uganda for two weeks in September to work with schools, churches and other organizations there, the demands on my time and the responsibilities that come with that are even greater. Moments like these remind me that it is important to always remember that it is God who brings order and purpose to what I do, so that the demands and responsibilities of my life do not consume me.
This week, I have some shorter 10-12 mile runs with a 22 miler on Friday night and a 16 miler on Sunday afternoon. Also, just wanted to let you know that if you want to follow the WS100 on the web, they have live webcast updates starting 5 am on Saturday, June 23 at www.ws100.com. I hope you’re all doing well and will definitely lift up a prayer for all of you this week. Stay strong and keep movin’. God bless.