Goodbye Old Friend

Train Porter: Please keep your hands inside the train at all time 
Mark: You ran THERE (pointing)
Porter: Hands inside the train, please
Me: shoulder shrug. Yup

Mark: Tiggs that’s VERTICAL
Me: I told you it was tough
Mark: Look there, that is barely a trail
Porter: For your own safety, please keep hands inside the train. 

Mark: Tiggs, that’s insane.
Me: Yup, and I don't think the Porter likes you.

This was our conversation during our train ride when we went to visit Oil Creek. Up until this point, all Mark had seen of OC was the finish line into the Middle School. He had no idea.

I had no idea. This course has been a part of my running repertoire from the start. It’s one of my go-to training locales and it kicks my butt every time I’m on it.

I’ve been cut, scraped, blistered, terrorized by bears, lost numerous toenails, and am currently sprained. I’ve been breathless. I’ve death marched and flew like I was weighless. I’ve hiked it and been enthralled by the “scenic overlooks” and raced it and only seen what the orb of my headlamp has allowed. It has been in my nightmares.

I’ve tried out various gear, diets and shoes. I’ve faced wind, rain, snow, hail, mud and bugs. I’ve DNF’ed and crossed the line for the 50k , 50 miler, 100k (a few times), and 100 miler. I’m the only woman to have done that.

I’ve laughed. I’ve laughed until I’ve cried. I’ve cried, tears of frustration, joy and pain. I’ve sworn. I’ve gritted my teeth and pushed hard, and I’ve smiled.

I’ve had my most lucid moments of clarity and have hallucinated. I’ve learned that if you see a tree stump you think is a bear, you should blink. If it still looks like a bear when you open your eyes, it’s a bear.

I’ve been on many other trails with larger climbs or with worse weather, but nothing that has it all in one place like Oil Creek. Cemetery Hill will always be THAT hill that I know exists solely to make me question why it is I do what I do.

But, it is time for me to step away from OIl Creek. Yes, I will still use it to train, and I certainly intend to hike it, and I can’t rule out volunteering, but I think I have done what I need to do as far as racing the course. I’ve learned to be successful there, you HAVE to train there. I have too many other trails I want to visit.

So, Oil Creek, until we meet again: I wish you well and thank you for the lessons learned. 


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