Sarah Keyes - L'Amore Montagna Tour: Beginning
Running planted seeds of self determination and persistence long ago that I am only now harvesting...
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Lately, I’ve been asked a lot about what drives me. What gets me out of bed before dawn to blearily run the same roads in the snow and rain. Why I choose to sleep in my truck even when offered a couch or guest bed (please don’t take it personally and thanks for the offers!). How do I have time to work three part time jobs while training as a competitive Mountain Running® athlete and ultra runner? All good questions, sometimes I’m not really sure if I know the answers.
Sometimes the idea of stepping one toe onto the cold wood floor seems like the hardest task I’ve ever been faced with. The thought of crawling out of the truck at 2am to empty my screaming bladder is akin to facing a screaming banshee or something just as dark that might be lurking beyond the tailgate. Sometimes after a 12 hour shift at the hospital my brain can not think past putting a frozen pizza in the oven, actually preheating the oven is another challenge altogether.
For me life is a balance. Finding the bliss in living with minimal amenities is a challenge and a blessing. The smell of the changing seasons, a sweet homemade treat, feeling small out “there”, a hug from an old friend. These are the things that drive me. Running planted seeds of self determination and persistence long ago that I am only now harvesting. I am driven to pursue a deliberate life. Plus, runner’s high is a real thing, you can take my word for it.
I am about to set out on a two month running tour that will bring me to the starting line of one of the most competitive 100-mile races out there: the Western States 100 Mile Endurance Run. Being offered an opportunity to participate for the first time in Western States is not to be taken lightly and I intend to make the most of it.
The L’Amore Montagna Tour
I try not to place too much value in material objects but me and my Tacoma have a real love affair. I purchased the 2016 Tacoma in August and it’s been a honeymoon ever since. Before moving into my truck full time, I knew I would need four wheel drive; living in the northeast most of the year, the rig needed to be able to handle snow. Cruise control was another must; driving six plus hours means I need to be able to do some shifting in the driver's seat, and cruise control allows for some serious truck dancing (it’s safe I swear)! The final, and most important criteria was enough space to fit me and Mocha Pebbles, my 20lb Minnie Aussie/Spaniel mix, in the bed.
Built out with a raised platform, the bed occupies half the width of the truck bed while the opposite wheel well has a built in cabinet for stuffing shoes and tools. I do have the ability to expand my sleeping platform to four feet across, what I like to call hospitality mode. Below the sleeping platform is a custom built slide out cabinet for kitchen supplies.
The cap is complete with rack, cargo box and solar panel. The Goal Zero Boulder 30 solar panel and Yeti 150 generator provide enough juice to charge my laptop, phone, watch and fire up the coffee grinder. The cargo box comes in handy for less frequently accessed items, and houses a La Sportiva AT ski set-up, just in case.
Beginning May 1 I will head west; first stop La Sportiva North American Headquarters in Boulder, Colorado. The intent of this tour is to experience the places I love while doing what I love, and inspire others along the way; for me that means running in the mountains. You’ll be able to follow me to amazing places like Jackson Hole, Park City and Tahoe, on my blog, www.sarahruns.com. Along the way I’ll be meeting up with fellow La Sportiva Teammates to train and share our mutual passion for the life we live. The Western States Endurance Run may be the final stop on the tour but it’s not the only finish line that I’m looking forward to. When the time comes, I’m not even sure I’ll want to cross that line as it means the tour has come to a close. Before my return to the East Coast, I want to watch the sunrise over the Tetons, taste the first cold sip of an I.P.A. after running the Zion Traverse, eat peanut butter and jelly sandwiches on the tailgate, run more and shower less.
Along the way, I’ll be hosting group runs around the west (see the tour stops below) with demo shoes from La Sportiva available for fellow runners to try at each stop. One lucky runner from each group run will go home with a free pair of Mountain Running® shoes. I’ll also have some amazing shades and prizes from Julbo USA. Incredible eyewear that my life would not be complete without.
Started as a 100 mile horse race in 1955, Western States has grown into a bucket list race for thousands of runners. 1974 marked the birth of the sport when Gordy Ainsleigh, without a horse decided he’d make the trek on foot. June 24, 2017 marks the day I will make the venture myself but until then I plan on thoroughly enjoying the journey. In the words of Gordy Ainsleigh, “I figured it was a 50/50 chance that I’d even reach adulthood.” If this is adulthood I’m good with that.
Boulder, CO - Flatiron Running Co., Group Run, May 3rd*
Jackson Hole, WY - May 4th - May 13th
Zion National Park, UT - May 15th
Park City, UT - Park City Running Co., Group Run, May 21st*
Salt Lake City, UT - May 22nd - May 25
Grand Canyon National Park, AZ - May 27th
Flagstaff, AZ - May 28th - May 31st
Mt. Whitney, CA - June 1st - June 4th FKT Attempt
Tahoe, CA - Alpenglow Mountain Sports Group Run, June 14th*
Squaw Valley, CA - Western States 100 Mile Endurance Run, June 24th
*See www.sarahruns.com for more event info
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ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Sarah Keyes is a member of the La Sportiva Mountain Running® Team.
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