Monday, April 2, 2012

Vertical Climbs, Running Downfalls

Vertical Climbs, Running Downfalls


Have you ever run downhill and let out a shout because it’s as big of a thrill as any roller-coaster you have ever been on?

Or, on a downhill turn, have you ever spread your arms out wide like a child pretending to be an air plane because you feel like flying? 

I did it on a trail run on one of those rare and wonderful 70 degree days in beautiful Mohican.  If you haven’t done this, I suggest you go try it.  You just have to let yourself go.

It is “simply” about living your life as an adventure.  It is about living and “running free” as our dear runner Micah True helped so many to do. 

Unfortunately for most of us, it hasn’t been quite that simple since we were kids.  We aren’t taught that happiness is the main goal in life.  Despite being told we have the right to “pursue happiness” we are contradictorily told to live the American Dream, which, whether it was meant this way or not, has come to mean to have a nice house and car (material focus), have a family, and work hard to afford all those things.  Now, none of those things are necessarily bad, but it fits under one un-rigid category..and we have million of outliers.  Second, does all that hard work towards a job really pay off?...and I’m talking about much more than just the bills.

It is possible to go back to a life of adventure.  But, there will be some uphill battles if this is not your norm.   Some days, I can climb those hills like I have wings on my feet, and sometimes I feel like my legs are filled with led.  However, those times where I live my life with my wings (or arms) spread out are enough to help me keep moving forward to happiness.



I wasn’t going to write this blog…at least not so soon.  Then, Steve mentioned it over dinner last night.  I was still having a bit of a hard time dealing with the Fools 50k race (despite knowing that in the grand scheme of things, it’s not a big deal), and trying to learn from it.  He asked: “Well, don’t you think others can learn from it too?”  “Shoot”, I thought, “He’s right”.  So here I am, typing away.  But before I get to Sunday, I’m going to start with Friday evening…A.K.A., starting with the good before the not-so-good.

The plan for Friday evening was to head out to Vertical Runner of Brecksville, with whomever of the little Hawthornes who wanted to go, and do some last minutes cleaning and putting things in order.  So, around 5:45, Steve, Joey, Stephen, and I all hopped in Rocky to head to the store. 

As it turns out, they boys don’t really like to clean or hang things up.  They were much happier when we sent them on a Starbucks run and Josh let them play his Wii.  As the hours passed, dinner turned into peanut butter pretzels, almond mix, pita chips and hummus, green tea, and sparkling water.  At least I got my protein in.

To make a long story short, the boys and I hopped in Rocky at 12:30 a.m., leaving the 3 co-owners to keep working for a few more hours.

After a few hours of sleep (and even fewer for Steve) we were up again at 7 a.m.  I wanted to run 3 miles at the Ledges before heading to the GRAND OPENING FOR VERTICAL RUNNER OF BRECKSVILLE (!!!!!) with the family, and he had to get back to the store to finish preparing for the big day.

Despite everyone still being in their pajamas after I ran and showered, the kids, Steve’s mom and aunt, all managed to arrive at VR before 10…and people were already inside!  The store looked AMAZING! I’m not going to describe it all here, you just need to go in and check it out for yourself.  I will say that Josh and his dad spent hours and hours ripping the building apart and remodeling, with Steve and Vince keeping a close eye to make sure everything was just right.  And, the store is huge!

For some reason, my family loves Steve, so even my Mom, Stepdad, and Dad (my older sister came after work) showed up to watch the mayor, Steve, Vince, and Josh cut the Montrail Construction ribbon for the official opening of VERTICAL RUNNER OF BRECKSVILL.  When we left around 12:30, the store was packed, and it continued the rest of the day.

I can’t explain how proud I am of Steve and the store.  It’s been a lot of work, but I have no doubt the store will do great.  It isn’t just a running specialty store, it’s a place where adventure begins (VR’s slogan is: Adventure Starts Here).  Steve has helped start the adventures for so many people, including my own.


I’m going to skip the rest of Saturday.  It was just a lazy afternoon and evening, with some pasta and the smurfs.

I woke up at 5:11 on Sunday to eat my normal breakfast of oatmeal, chia seeds, a banana, and coffee while reading “The Happiness Project”.  I even had a few minutes to check my email, because I was anxious to see if I had received an email back from Deb Yalanda, the CEO of the CVNP, who had emailed Friday about starting a youth empowerment program (She put me in contact with the Director of the CVEEC).

I think Steve and I left the house around 6:45…it’s great to live 10 minutes away from the start line.

Yes, I was a bit nervous about the race (and the cold start), but excited too.  I’ve run the Fools trails more times than I can count.  I didn’t have much of a plan, just to go out and run.  Honestly though, in the back of my head, and I know this was wrong, I kept thinking of Sandi setting the course record the previous year, and what people expected of me.

I’m going to make a long 50k short:

I went out too fast.  My breathing never regularized, one of the things I’m usually very good at.  I never felt 100% or felt particularly strong.  I couldn’t get into the zone physically or mentally. 

I took a quick bathroom break at the 25k (these few minutes always kill me in the end!), and knew I was going to slow down.  My body just wasn’t working with me.  This proved to be even truer as my hip flexor continued to tighten up more and more on the XC trails, forcing me to stop and stretch as the tightness causes my leg to kick out.  With the thought that my chiropractor owes me a refund, I knew my only chance was to keep moving on.  I was going to finish regardless (I knew my hip wouldn’t lead to any more injury) if it was pretty or not…and it wasn’t.

Serena zoomed passed me in the middle of Boston Run.  This could be my competitive side talking, but I’m not exactly a fan of hers.  She gave me some very nice and very fake comments as she passed, and Steve passed along some more of her comments as he talked to her when she finished.

I was still quite exhausted for the last 7 miles and my hip flexor painfully ached, but I kept smiling, and tried my best to stay positive.   The general rule of thumb is:  The more it hurts, the bigger I smile. 

Upon entering Salt Run, Joan Cottrill sent her son, Jared, to accompany me for a bit.  Having someone to talk to helped tremendously, but wasn’t enough to keep Rachel Raykov, a Hudson High School Senior, from passing me with 2 miles left to go.  Now, I really like Rachel.  I had briefly met her a few times before, and could tell she was another old soul, with a great head on her shoulders.  She is also an extremely tough runner.  It blows my mind she is only in high school.  As she passed me, I could tell her comments were sincere.  Even though she was flying past me, she said the Sandi and I were her heroes, that she loved our lifestyles with all our traveling.  I told her she could do it, she just had to believe it.  If you really want something, I have no doubt that a person, especially Rachel, can go out and get it.  (It is just hard to believe when no one else around you lives that way).

Still, it was tough to have her pass me.

I crossed the finish line in 5:07.  A PR, but not one I felt exactly good about, because I knew I could do better.  It was hard knowing so many people expected me to do better, though I knew that really didn’t matter.

 There are a number of factors or things that I may have been able to do better.  But, I don’t have excuse.   Next race will be a new experiment.  This race was a new learning experience.  It can be tough when that lesson comes from someone younger than you, but you’ll be better off you accept it.  

Steve and I walked up the “Sound of Music” hill.  I needed a second to regroup away from people and someone to talk to about my irrational insecurities. 

At this point my hip flexor tightened up to the point that it was hard to stand straight. 

Anyway, by the time we walked back down, I could smile once again and talk to friends. 

I’m still having bit of trouble reflecting on the race, but I am moving forward.  I have so much more to be excited about.  I’m going to test out my road bike in a bit, and have a Girls on the Run lesson to teach this afternoon.  By the time I get back, Steve will be home from work.

 My adventures await.


I am putting together a list of things/tools to help children be more resilient and empowered in challenging situations.  I’d love feedback on “Things You Wish You Knew as a Child”.  Now I know some people are going to saying that there is nothing, they needed to go threw everything to help them become who they are today.  I get that, that is not what I’m asking.  The list isn’t about not having those challenges.  Those are going to come regardless.  The list is simply about things children (and adults too) could use to help overcome those challenges in a positive manner.  Example:  Life is what YOU make of it.  You can’t blame someone else if your life isn’t that way you want it to be.  Each person is responsible for his/her own life.  If you have any insight please message or email me, thanks!!!!

Happy Adventures,



  1. Great job out there, Rachel, and it's important you ended the day smiling in the sun. You also know we all have our days and you've had many great ones! If it means anything, you looked great and strong when I saw you once over near the Oak Grove Trail. Happy Trails and RUN HAPPY!!!! ~Nick