Today is Debbie’s 40th birthday and she is celebrating it in style. For months, she has been thinking about what to do to honor the milestone. It’s really a year-long celebration and we have looked at a variety of ultra marathon trail running races in an effort to accomplish something “big.” She lost out in the 2015 Western States Endurance Run lottery, so her quest to run the Grand Slam of Ultrarunning is postponed for another year. She previously lost out twice in the Hardrock 100 Endurance Run lottery and didn’t have a qualifying race for the 2015 lottery since the Tahoe Rim Trail Endurance 100 was dropped from the list.
We didn’t get our act together in time to register for HURT 100-Mile Endurance Run, and it is hard to be ultra fit in January anyway. The Miwok 100K Trail Run is on her schedule, but it still isn’t the “big one” that she is seeking to do in 2015. So, while she searches, she pulled together something even more special for the actual birthday (today). It’s a special day for many reasons. The 10th of January has always been a bit overshadowed by the post holiday lull. However, it is also her grandmother’s 90th birthday. Debbie was born on Ruth Plumb’s 50th, which gives them a special bond. She is our last remaining living grandparent.
So, what to do? On the last day of my 30’s, and in honor of my 40th, I went to my “Mecca,” Mt. Katahdin for a solo adventure. It’s indicative that she and I are very different. I wanted to spend my 40th in quiet solitude in the wilderness. She wanted a community event with lots of friends and family sharing the love. She came up with the idea of running 40 laps of the Bolton Heritage Farm (aka Rose Farm), which is our “home course.”
Many of our friends came from the Shenipsit Striders and Silk City Striders, our two main running clubs. Word spread and friends invited friends. Some of the runners ran races in the morning and joined her in the afternoon. In the end, nearly 40 people came. Some folks came and just walked a lap or two. Others ran multiple laps. A special shout out to Nikolas Rogers who did 40 of the 41 laps with Debbie. He only missed the first one.
The farm is adjacent to our neighborhood and we are on the trails year round. The farm is the home of the Bolton Summer XC Series and is an important local landmark. She decided to raise some funds by asking for donations to the Friends of Rose Farm and the Bolton Land Trust, of which she is a director.
The informal invitations went out and her friends came in droves. Nearly 30 people showed up between 8:00 A.M. and 2:30 P.M. when she finished. She did 40 .8 mile laps, plus another for good measure, to total 41 and more than 32 miles. The temperature never topped 19F, but the sunshine was brilliant. There was a deep blue sky that last all day and the three inches of snow that fell yesterday morning added to the beauty. She kept track of her laps by moving 40 Shenpsit Strider course marker flags from one side of a table to the other.
Mid-morning, I ran over with our 8-year-old son and we did three laps with her. I ran home with him and went back solo for another 10 with the group. Then I ran home with Coach Al Lyman, who did more than half of the laps. Special thanks to Terry Williams for helping watch the kids. Al and Terry took off and I returned to the farm for a final time with both our son and 5-year-old daughter. The three of us joined her and the remaining group for another lap before we left her to finish the final five in a strong way.
She is very happy about entering a new age group and a new phase for her running and sport. We will keep looking for a fun 100 (or more) to focus on. Both the Grand Slam and Hardrock are targets for 2016 and beyond, so maybe qualifiers will be the focus. The days of outrunning the speedster women are probably over, but there are so many more miles of trail for her to run.
Thank you to everyone who came out to make this a special day for Debbie and our family.