In 2023, I “ran” the inaugural Rut Mountain Runs 21K. I trained with Alpine Running Guides (my coach is Forrest) to prepare for the race. He puts up with a lot from me, but I know that he likes me because I try hard, and I also wear bright colors often, giving him some solid photographic content.
I worked with ARG for the majority of 2023. About 3 months before the Rut, Forrest started crafting my training plan to be much more specific for the rigors of the Rut. I am not an elite trail runner. I have pretty much zero natural talent for the sport. The main thing I have going for me is that I just really like it. I like being able to climb up things that I never thought I’d be able to climb up. And I like that I go out and run by myself when I used to be REALLY nervous to be out on trails alone. So, what I lack in speed and daring, I make up for in happiness and just smiling a lot.
ARG's plan made the Rut very doable for me. First, I decided what my goals were. I decided my main goals were- to not get injured during training or the race, to finish, and to not absolutely hate the downhills (I hate most all rocky downhill. And my definition of rocky is many people’s definition of “buttery.”) With those thoughts in mind, he designed my plan, and I just had to go follow it every day. One of my more memorable trainings from last year was one summer morning before work doing “'M' repeats” on Mt. Sentinel. Run up two switchbacks, walk down one, all the way up. Other morning 'M' goers thought I was either crazy or seriously hardcore, but I started my day with a lot of people remarking that they wished they could do that. It made me think to myself, “Hmm. I’m not going to win this thing, but this is something that not everybody can do!” I also spent 4 summer Saturdays in a row slogging around Mt Sentinel for between 2-4 hours each outing. And I was pleasantly surprised that somehow each weekend got…easier. I knew going into the Rut that I would be fine with the amount of time I needed to spend on my feet.
The race itself was just phenomenal. The Rut weekend is one of those weekends where you come home after and you say to yourself “This weekend, I lived.” You did something HARD, with a whole bunch of people who were experiencing the same pain and exhilaration that you felt. I loved the 21K because it was challenging (the climbs were long, steep, and plentiful), it was beautiful (the scenery is STUNNING…even those of us who stare at our feet too much enjoyed it!) and the volunteers are a blast. My favorite part was the climb up Andesite because that was the part where I could really feel the results of the training I had put in with ARG. There was a lot of carnage on that trek. People were slumped over on the side, some people were sitting down or laying down. I was able to power hike through, and I knew it was because I had stuck to the plan Forrest had laid out for me day after day. The race is extremely tough, don’t get me wrong, and I finished pretty near the end of those who finished. But there was never a question of whether I would be able to finish it. I was prepared. So prepared in fact, that I decided to do it again in 2024. This year I am adding a goal of fast jogging some of those downhills…
See you on the trails,