A Race in the Mountains

Not just any ‘ol race, but California’s highest road run. A wonderful thing about the sport of running is that you can compete or participate in races around the state, nation, and world and will be instantly connected with those around you.   I have found it to be a wonderful way to explore the areas you live in or travel in, as well as immerse yourself in each city’s culture.  While I was studying abroad in Barcelona, I made sure to participate in three different races.  Just by putting myself out there, I gained a bit more respect by the locals.

About a month ago when we were planning our trip to Mammoth, we spotted a link for a 5k/10k race on Sunday.  Meghan, who is training to run for Claremont McKenna’s cross country team this fall, was required to participate in a 10k race or time trial, so it would work out perfectly.

I was so glad that I had the chance to acclimate with a Friday long run (7miles) and only 3 miles on Saturday, because running in the altitude is an entirely different experience.  It seems to wear you out so much faster and it didn’t help that I felt like I was chasing down Meghan, who was striding ahead of me.   I’ve come to realize, with the help of my mom, that we all have different talents and we are special in our own ways.  This sounds like a very mom thing to say, but it’s a lot harder to grasp than it sounds.  I am still slightly jealous of my sister’s ability to run and the fact that she has the opportunity to start fresh in college and will have a built-in support system, her team, as well.  However, my experience in college so far has taught me to be strong, try things I wouldn’t have considered, and to be very outgoing.  I can still run, and I do, but I might not have gotten into triathlons, traveled abroad to Barcelona, and may have injured myself if I had run on a team.  So, instead of being jealous, I’ve turned my energy to supporting her in her running and college endeavors.

Back to our race.  The event was put on by the High Sierra Striders, a non-profit running group in Mammoth, and which Deena Kastor is a part of.  If you don’t happen to know who Deena Kastor is, or some of her amazing accomplishments, I’ll provide a quick rundown. She is one tough-American long-distance runner with American records in the marathon, half marathon, and other road races.  Deena won the bronze medal in the women’s marathon at the 2004 Olympics in Athens and is also an eight-time national champion in cross country.  Right now she resides with her husband, daughter, Piper Bloom, and adorable dog in Mammoth Lakes.

The race was hosted by the Charthouse and Footloose Sports.  Given that the Charthouse is probably one of the fanciest restaurants in town, we had access to the nicest restrooms ever at a race venue. The 10k started around 8, excuse me, at 8 and the opening bell (why they didn’t have a start gun beats me…most other races do) was rung by Deena Kastor herself!  I know that runners are usually small, but she was TINY!

Meghan, my dad (who at the last minute, decided to run the 10k), the massive crowd, and I were off along Main Road’s store front and along Snowcreek’s golf course and condos.  Because the mountains are a great place to train, Laguna Beach and Arcadia had brought up their high school team to train and participate in the weekend’s race.  While the course was mostly flat, there were certainly times I felt I couldn’t make it all the way through.  It was almost as if the entire force of gravity was pushing down on my body with extreme force.  I knew that if I did walk, I would regret it and would be internally be upset if my dad passed me up.  I don’t think he would have let me forget it!

All four of us finished our races (my mom ran the 5k!) without puking (always a feat), full of adrenaline, but drained at the same time!  Turns out my mom, sister, and I were top finishers in our age groups and received coffee mugs for it!  In my opinion, it was a much better, if not more useful gift.

Sue (Madre) 5k -3rd in age group! YAY MOMMY! w/ 35:13
Meghan 10k – 48th overall w/ 47:15
Kaitlin 10k – 56th overall w/ 49:54
Tom (Padre) 10k – 6th in age group w/ 55:35

Not too bad for the highest road race in the sierras – over 7,800 ft of elevation!  There was a pancake breakfast provided for us after the race, but my mom and I treated ourselves to our favorite – Looney Bean coffee instead.  As I mentioned in an earlier post, Looney Bean has the BEST coffee and beverages in Mammoth Lakes.  The two of us usually indulge in a vanilla latte (hot for mom, sometimes iced for myself) and today we sampled a different spin on the latte – a FROZEN vanilla latte. This wasn’t at all like any Starbucks blended Frappuccino concoction.

I almost went without the whipped cream, but at the last minute, decided to test it out.  Such a brilliant decision!  Their house-made topping is nothing like anything I’ve ever tasted from a coffee shop and not nearly as laden with sugar as Starbuck’s whipped cream is.  We heard it usually comes with chocolate covered coffee beans on top (really, how much better could this post-race treat get?) but they seemed to be missing on our drinks.  I guess we’ll have to make a trip back and test it out 🙂

“We make choices. I hate to say ‘sacrifices.’ When I speak to younger groups, to colleges and other younger athletes, I say ‘we don’t make sacrifices. If we truly love this sport and we have these goals and dreams in the sport, the classroom, or in life, they’re not sacrifices. They’re choices that we make to fulfill these goals and dreams.’ Sacrifices makes it sound like ‘oh, poor me, I have to do this in order to get to this,’ and I don’t really like that word. It was just really the choice to take care of myself and live a proper lifestyle. In doing that, I feel like a healthier person, I feel focused in everything, not just in my running. In following this one dream, I feel like I became an even more well-rounded person.”
—Deena Kastor


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