Last Saturday I drove up from LA to San Louis Opisbo, rented myself a little airbnb, and got up at 7am the next morning to race Spooner’s Cove – a gorgeous mountainy region on the Pacific Coast in Montana De Oro State Park. The race I entered was 25km, a little under 16 miles, and I envisioned it being a beach trail run type of thing.
As we started the race, I quickly learned that you actually had to run the damn mountains!!! We had to run up to the first summit, and back down (8 miles), and then up to the second summit and back down (another 8 miles). I had never run up a mountain before, but being with a group of super strong people inspired me to just try it.
The first mountain was fun and empowering – I made friends with a girl named Aracelli and another guy named Herman on the way up, and we chatted and listened to music and somehow made it to the summit. Running down was the most fun I have ever had running – I felt like I was flying, and my legs felt insanely strong – it’s sort of like skiiing where you get into a right-left-right kind of rhythm, focusing intently on the terrain so you don’t fall or lose your balance. I had “Tightrope” by Jhanelle Monae in my ear and then “Backseat Freestyle” by Kendrick Lamar and it really felt like an exhilarating race.
At base camp between the two mountains I had some water and power jellies, and then got ready to go up the second mountain. Somehow, however, like a real fool, I followed the wrong trail, and managed to run 4 miles out of the way. 2 miles in when I finally realized that there was truly no one around and no flag markings, I panicked a little bit and realized the only way to correct my mistake safely would be to retrace my steps back to base camp. So I did and it was annoying and I finally arrived at base camp an hour later. My trail was super rocky and also on the sand, so it took much longer than a 4-mile run should take!
I had a choice – to either throw in the towel and say, hey I got 10 miles in, that’s not bad, or to make a left and continue to follow the pink markings to ascend the second mountain.
I decided to ascend the mountain because time was still on my hands, and my new goal could just be about completion. Everyone was already coming down while I was just starting it!
I remember getting to a super high elevation point and seeing nothing but 4 things: sun, moon, green mountain and blue ocean. It felt insanely spiritual, and I felt at peace. No one in the whole world knew where I was! I was just frolicking on a mountain, solo, with my feet and thighs burning, and with no water, and it was painful and so awesome. I felt crazy. I felt really really free.
Once I made it to the top, it was literally only downhill from there, so I started running. I ran because it hurt and because I wanted to finish and because I wanted to feel that change in my own athletic ability. I ran and ran until I crossed the finish line, having just run 20 miles in the wild.