Friday, February 5, 2010


Jillian - "Daris, who are you?"
Daris - after a long, tearful, quiet moment, "I'm the fat, funny guy that always goes home alone."
Jillian - "How about you try being 'Daris the athlete' who lost 50 pounds in 6 weeks."

You could almost hear the click in his head, and you could see the new light in his eyes.

Muir Beach Trail Run, December 13, 2008 - Our Click Moment

Up at 5, we head out with the kids to pick up our friends Chris and Jen, who have volunteered to watch the kids and play on the beach while we run. Why they wanted to do this at 6 in the morning in December I still don't' know, but we were very grateful.

This was our first time doing a race together. Looking back, we knew very little about trail running, other than the obvious, its on a trail, not a road. One thing we know now is that while there are a variety of distances offered, trail running is primarily an Ultra sport. Trail runners are about endurance and distance, not speed. Most run Ultra distances, meaning more than 26.2 miles. We were going out on a limb and running the 11k, 7 miles, which was farther than we had ever ran before.

It didn't' take us long to figure out we were with a 'different' running breed. We were used to seeing the long, lean, gaunt faced runners of the road race. The runners we saw as we pulled into the parking lot were not that! They were very sturdy looking, much more muscular, and much more rugged. These were not the pretty, polished, matching outfit runners of road racing. Some were sitting in the back of their cars wrapping their feet in tape. We wondered why, and if we should have done the same. Some were rubbing what looked like clear
deodorant between their toes. Again, we weren't sure what to make of it. There were notably more men than women. There were more trail running shoes than street shoes. There were backpacks covering the ground near the start area. We had no backpacks and were not sure why we may have needed one, or why so many other people did need one.

The insecurities were running rampant as we waited for the start. They always are, this is pretty normal. Did we train enough? Will we finish last? Do they all know we've never done this before? Can they tell by looking we are new to this whole scene? Do they know we've never ran this far before? Once we are on single track, will we be able to keep up? (this was a big worry because once you are forced to run single file because the trail is so narrow, you don't want to hold up the person behind you. You also don't want to fall and have them fall over you!) Will we get lost? Are we sure we understand the ribbon system used to mark the trails??

5, 4, 3, 2, 1, air horn.

It's hard to explain what happens at the start of a race. All the anxiety goes away, your heart is pounding, but you quickly switch from worrying about all the external stuff that is beyond your control at this point, to the things you can control. Mostly in this race it was just keep pushing, don't fall, breath. There were very few flat sections. It was a loop course with an aid station at the far end of the loop. The beginning was uphill, then rolling single track, then around a corner and into a wall of stairs, more rolling fire road, aid station, then a massively long uphill of over a mile, ending with an equally massive downhill.

Still focused on speed, I did not eat anything at the aid station. I wanted to drink and keep moving, not lose time stopping to eat. It came back to bite me on the hill. We quickly realized why walking the uphills is the norm in trail running. But even walking was hard. I literally had Brian holding my hand pulling me up. Death seemed a great option compared to having my hubby pull me up a hill in front of these true athletes all around us. I was sure we'd finish last. I had a lot of doubts on that hill. Why did we even attempt this? We aren't' in shape to do this sort of thing, why did we think we could? We are totally out of our league! We are here pretending to be runners, but we are totally out of shape still.

About then, I hear the most amazing voice yelling, "Your almost to the top, keep going. It's all down hill to the finish." I look up and she's right there, with a huge smile, telling us we did it, now its all down hill. Being green, we were elated to hear the words 'downhill', not knowing the down hill was even more painful than the uphill. It was also amazingly fun!! We flew down that hill. The trail was very dry and the ground was loose. If you hesitated or attempted to slow down, you started to slide. We had no choice but to go full speed, no fear, all out crazy fast. It was so fun!! While we are flying, a 68 year old man flew up next to me and asks me how far we are from the finish. I say just down around that corner, he smiles, hits turbo, and is gone!

We did finish, with huge smiles! We headed for the post race food, eat a little of everything. We were especially fond of the hot chili they had cooking in a pot. We waited for the next batch of finisher times to be posted and hesitantly walk over to take a look. To our surprise, we finished in the top half! We took 5th and 8th in our age divisions, in 1hr. 21 minutes. We did it, and we did pretty ok!

It took about a week for the race pictures to be emailed out. When i got that email, and saw the pic.....that was my click. The fact that we finished was a bit of an affirmation of how far we had come. Running a race together of any kind was unreal. We, the most out of shape people we knew, the heaviest people we knew, the funniest people we knew.....we just finished a race, together! But that's not who we were anymore.

My thinking didn't switch over until seeing the pictures. Realizing we didn't' look out of place, we fit right in with all the other runners! We looked just as fit, healthy, and determined as everyone around us. The only thing that was making me feel out of place that day was my own view of myself, which wasn't' reality anymore! CLICK!!

We've since learned a lot about trial running and have grown to love it....but that's for another post!


  1. Excellent writing and pictures. Color me impressed.

    I have to say, I pretty much burned all my pictures from 2002 before I lost weight. I have mad respect for you guys for showing the amazing transformation you've went through - takes guts.

  2. Wow! I never imagined that a post about "a race" would make me so misty. I guess it is because it wasn't about a race at all. I am really looking forward to my "click". I sure could use one right about now. Thanks for sharing yours :-)