All my life, I’ve been an athlete. Beginning with swimming and diving below age five, synchronized swimming, golfing, showing horses, playing competitive badminton, tennis, canoeing, hiking, backpacking, and the list goes on, my parents encouraged me to participate in sports growing up. As a pre-Title XI high school competitive athlete, I played badminton and tennis in high school, but wasn’t allowed to run cross country. My mother considered running “unladylike.” The female high school tennis coach was arguably the worst I ever encountered. She criticized endlessly. My game worsened. By college, I burnt out. I buried my head in books in college to get good grades to get into grad school.
Jump ahead to age twenty-four, Humboldt County, grad school, and rescuing a five year old Golden Retriever, I played badminton and took up a new sport. Samantha, my new best friend, and I began running. After all, I believed in being a responsible dog owner. Running served as my mediation practice through six years of grad school. Thirty-four years later, Sam, Ben, Cinco, Justin, Spencer and Parker, all my Goldens were and are my running buddies except when I outlast their distance capabilities. Running my first marathon in 1987 (highlighted on the NBC show and interviewed by Bob Costas on the San Francisco Marathon) and running the Quad Dipsea in 1991, running long distance raised my energy and improved my outlook on life. I was wicked fit and discovered a camaraderie community ultrarunning.
Years later, I recall the positive role running has played in my life, especially now that I live three minutes from the miles of trails on Mt. Tam. I’ve experienced loyal and helpful female friends. From my high school and former backpacking friend, DeDe, who crewed for me at the Western States 100 miler to my still running companion, Martha, who was a fellow training and ultrarunning pal to re-connecting with old ultra friend, Janice O’Grady, who is race director for Northfork 50K in Colorado, I’m grateful for these sporting women in my life.