Aspen – Moab – Fruita – San Francisco – Big Sur – SoCal – Las Vegas – Flagstaff – Telluride – Aspen
Fifteen days and 3,175.7 miles after it started, Vision Quest 2012 came to a close on Friday when the Jeep and I pulled back in into Aspen on a typically glorious spring day. Though I’m still a bit road weary, I could not be happier with the entire experience. Zero car troubles, zero speeding tickets, millions of good memories, and many new friends. It was a really special two weeks that I’ll remember fondly for many years.
Obviously, I had a major breakthrough at the Leona Divide 50 last Saturday. My race report was published over at iRunFar last week, so please give it a read if you’re at all interested. In thinking about the race over the past week, a couple things come to mind that I think are worth mentioning here. For starters, Leona was definitely the first ultra I’ve raced where I have legitimately run every single step of the course. Secondly, when I passed Jason Wolfe around mile 32, it was the first time that I’ve made a deliberate move in a race. I took a risk with eighteen miles still to run, and luckily it worked out. I’ve written before about my lack of a “killer instinct” in racing and I’ve been consciously trying to develop confidence in my ability to win. As such, I think Leona was a quantum leap in my personal growth as a runner. So much of what we do is mental and I think both these points will allow me to think differently about how I’ll approach future races. Particularly, a little race I’ll be running back out in California in late June.
Ashley Nordell also punched her ticket to Western with a very impressive second place finish at Leona. With team ringers Nick Clark and Timothy Olson also returning, Team Pearl will be very well represented out in Squaw Valley. Hopefully we can do some damage.
The day after Leona I had the distinct pleasure of joining Dominic, Katie, Jorge, and Mari for a tour of the Angeles Crest 100 course. Honestly, I was pleasantly surprised with the scale of the mountains and the aesthetic of the line. It really does look amazing. I’m very excited to experience this classic route through the San Gabriels, and was lucky to have such a friendly and experienced group of tour guides. Thanks again guys.
From SoCal the road took me to Vegas where things got a little weird for a couple days. I’ll spare you the details, but rest assured, it was a great time. My Northeast trajectory next brought me to Flagstaff, AZ where I was taken in by Pearl Izumi teammate and ultra legend Ian Torrence for another night of raging and a day of great running. Flagstaff is teeming with freak athletes yet has a distinctly mellow vibe and really cool downtown. My kind of place for sure. I also tagged Telluride on my way home for good measure.
Experiencing the American West from my lonely driver’s seat, and in my running shoes, was one of the greatest pleasures of my life. I learned that Delta, UT is just as bland as Delta, CO. I learned that Nevada gas station parking lots can actually be quite cozy for sleeping. I learned that Northeast Arizona, near Four Corners, is a pretty depressed and sad area of the country. I learned once again how thoroughly therapeutic it is to spend time and sweat with the wonderful people that comprise our quirky little running community.
But the most important thing I’ve taken away from the experience of Vision Quest 2012 was just how much I love my home. There is a point when you’re driving East on Highway 82 towards Aspen – when you’re still probably ten miles from town – when you come around a corner and are greeted with a beautiful view of Ajax in all her majesty. When I got to this point in my journey last friday, I literally got the chills. Two weeks is by no means a long time to be gone but I was overjoyed to be home. I passed through and visited so many incredible places while I was on the road but nowhere that connects with my heart like the amazing place that I live. Life is good.