The Twin Peaks 50-miler, held in my backyard, was my first official ultra, way back in February 2007 --- not that long ago, but in aid station years, it's a lifetime ago. I mean, like, my hairstyle was completely different.
Seriously, as I prepare to run the 50-miler this Saturday (Dec. 13), I feel compelled to mention a couple of things, perhaps in the misguided assumption that anyone will actually give a hoot. Maybe I'm getting old and musty, but whatever --- that's what blogs are for, right?
Some long-overdue callouts:
Jessica Deline --- Jessica founded the Orange County Trail Runners, the precursor to the SoCal Trail Headz. There was a falling out that I won't detail here that led to the formation of the SoCal TrailHeadz, but suffice it to say that a lot of shit flew.
People can be negative and mean-spirited and I was one of them. I think it's important to constantly evaluate oneself to see where such impulses come from. Self-enlightenment is a lifelong process, but the important thing is to get started down that path.
I have made being a better person a priority. I aspire to serve others rather than lord over my own petty domain. Life is too damn short for bitterness and bullshit. Thoughts dictate actions, and actions define who we are.
Jessica, thank you for continuing to be a tireless promoter of trail running and all that you do to encourage a love of the outdoors.
Still, your race is ridiculously difficult. Are you flipping insane? : )
Bill Parks --- I never met Bill. He ran Twin Peaks last year (the inaugural year) and came in second, right after Michelle Barton in the 50k. A week later, Bill, 41, had a sore throat and went to the doctor.
I'll have my good running friend Marisa Willment tell the rest of the story:
Jessica, the iMichelle and Bill Parks, at Twin Peaks 2007
"I think it was three months later when he died of cancer. He was an amazing Ironman and trail runner. He was a great teacher for the Capistrano Unified School District. He left behind his loving wife and two young kids.
"I most certainly will be thinking of him this weekend. I only had the pleasure of meeting him on the day of the race last year, but a really close friend of ours trained with him religiously.
"Even while he was going through chemotherapy and radiation, he brought his stationary bike to the ward in the hopes that he could still do the Ironman in April. Sadly, that was not to be.
"So, when we are all out there enjoying being alive and healthy, just remember how blessed you are even when you are feeling your worst. You, at least, know you will finish and be out on those trails again, so be grateful for the moment. It's a pleasure and an honor that many are denied."
Kirk Fortini --- He's going to kill me, because he hates self-promotion. But I am not Kirk, so I can promote the fact that on Saturday, Kirk will be running 50 miles to raise money for a co-worker whose little girl (1 1/2 years old) has a baseball-sized tumor on her liver.
Kirk, you are the selfless embodiment of the best community of people I have been honored to be a part of: trail-runners.
Plus, you having smoking-hot pecs, although this pix doesn't do them justice.
Oh, and Kirk, quit ordering pizza during runs -- Dean Karnazes already got famous doing that.