Yea, Yea, you’re just here for the video. It’s here, just skip all the words and scan to the bottom if you are impatient. Let me know in the comments if you liked it, or any feedback you have. I’m always interested.

I came to the Lost Coast to do something hard. I knew it wasn’t going to be easy and when people asked if I was going to run alone I said yes. There is really a short list of people that I have done endurance stuff with. Most of it was done when I was coached by Steve since he was into training that way. Since I started with Chuckie the training is not ultra in nature, it’s just relentless.

Chuckie never asks you to do anything too too hard, he just has you do a LOT of not too hard stuff OFTEN. It’s more of a training by raindrops method rather than by flash flood. And it works, if anyone witnessed what happened to me last year, you will know that the Chuckie way is the right way.

Mom and dad in Garberville. The last cell coverage for several days.

I know I can get through an Ironman and several years ago I didn’t know that I could. The ultra training that I did then taught me a lot about my resolve and I admit that I yearn for those types of experiences every once in awhile. This was one of those yearnings. I wanted to get out and do something HARD, gnarley, Grrr.

I wondered if it would break me.

I’m all about safety, I’m a very happy mom, and a very proud wife and I would never want to leave Troy and Annie without the constant entertainment that I seem to provide to them.

Having mom and dad along on this trip was great for that. They were my safety check. I knew my dad would call out the calvary if he even remotely thought I was stuck in a tight spot. Mom would keep Annie happy, and would keep dad from pacing too much while I was out there. My dad is where I get my adventurous spirit, he’s climbed a ton of super remote peaks in the Andes and Nepal, but I’m still his little girl. He’s been at every one of my Ironmans, but after this trip I think even he now realizes I’m made of “tough stuff”.

I took off that morning in pouring rain. I was happy and excited. This run is a point to point run with zero access inbetween. There are no roads, no jeep roads, and the trails on the map are hardly more recognizable than a deer trail. In some sections it’s hunting country and seeing deer hunting blinds is not uncommon. There is a lot of pot grown in this region so poking around too much can likely get you into some dangerous situations.

My route was very clear. Stay on the beach, don’t climb up the super steep cliffs, don’t get dragged out to sea, and just keep running until you see civilization. The map said 24 miles, but I had heard it was more in the 26 range. My parents and I agreed that they would wait an hour before leaving in case I bailed and turned around. They had 4 hours of windy twisty driving to get to where I popped out in Shelter Cove…with a 5 year old.

I thought about turning around the entire first 30 minutes. From about 2 minutes in the wind was in my face really strong, like 40mph strong. I couldn’t beleive how bad it was. In the first 30 minutes I almost was blown over backwards twice. At that point you are thinking…how will I make 26 miles of this? I was thinking “turn, don’t turn, turn, don’t turn” and I looked down and saw 40 minutes had passed. Well…that’s solves that. I’m committed.

The conditions were very intense and about 3 miles in I was already feeling quite hailed. But rather than get frustrated I simply pulled out my headphones, popped them in and got some relief from the sound of the wind.

My heart rate was 170 in the first hour and I made it 3 miles. Painfully slow. The Punta Gorda lighthouse was a welcome site. My parents and I had agreed that if for some reason the SPOT didn’t work, then 8pm (11.5 hours) was when they should call out the search and rescue. I had no way of knowing if the SPOT was working but I was totally doing the math. I figured at that rate it would take 10 hours.

Things got a little better at the lighthouse. I found a little single track deer trail and ran on that for a ways a little bit off the ocean. If there was a plateau next to the ocean I could usually find a little trail on it. If the cliff went straight into the beach, I was stuck running in the sand and rocks. I would say there was about 25% “trail” running and 75% beach.

I encountered my first “stream crossing”. Um, wow. I was immediately thankful I was alone. I’m looking at this raging river that is dumping out of a narrow canyon and into the ocean. No bridge, no rock bridge, no log bridge. If I fell crossing the stream I was going to get dragged directly into the ocean. The ocean here is not a “nice ocean”. It’s 15 foot waves crashing onto rocks, rip tide, cold cold cold kind of ocean.

I hunted around for a big driftwood stick and I used that to help me with my balance across the river. Whew.

There were probably 5 rivers I had to cross throughout the day that were thigh deep. Another 10 I crossed were shin deep. The one thing I was very thankful for was that the tide was low (I planned the trip that way) and therefore the large rivers got a little more of a chance to “fan out” before hitting the ocean. If I had to cross at high tide I may not have made it.

Onwards I ran. Sometimes the rain would stop, sometimes the rain would dump buckets on me. I was soaked from about 1 mile into the run so the stream crossings didn’t really matter in that regard.

Sometimes the wind would even die down a little. It seemed to depend where I was in proximity to end of each of the little coves. Often I would get around a point only to be faced with nearly impassible wind. A few times I would be running and realize that I was only making it a few inches per step.

So what’s going on in my head during this? Well. For awhile it was worry. I was worried that my slower pace would put me in a dangerous tidal position. So I was constantly doing the math in my head.  By about 10 miles in the worry started to release. I realized I was keeping about 4 miles per hour which would get it done.

I never really got concerned personally. Like I never felt personally in danger, I just knew the most important thing I could do for myself was to keep moving forward. I did not stop once the entire day except to tie my shoe laces and to pee. I was on a mission. It wasn’t really until I got through the third section of tide restricted area that I felt the weight lift off my shoulders.

There were actually some “structures” out there in the middle of nowhere. I don’t know how the owners get to them, as there is zero access other than foot…maybe horse, helicopter, airplane. I ran across one really crazy house thing that is in my video. You’ll get a kick out of that section so I won’t ruin it.

The last 6-7 miles were probably the worst wind and rain wise. I caught up to a few lonely backpackers in the section and stopped and talked to each on of them. They were soaked to the bone (so was I, but I was running so I was warm) and each of them looked totally miserable. I asked if they needed anything, and made some small talk (in the raging wind) and then ran along. Sometimes I wasn’t going much faster than they were walking.

I also ran into 4 surfers out there. One surprised me while I was taking some video. If you listen closely in the video he even says “Surprise”. It wasn’t in a creepy way or anything, he was clearly out there with the same love and appreciation as I was. He thought I was crazy for running all that way, I thought he was crazy for hiking 9 miles with his surfboard to surf some waves that were surely going to kill him. He said he was on a mission to get footage for

As I pulled into Shelter Cove I was stoked, and relieved. It was a harrowing day, but also not that bad. It’s almost like I could have gotten through anything that day because I was prepared not just physically, but emotionally to go though an ordeal.

The “store” in Shelter Cove had Justin’s Nut Butter! Middle of nowhere!

As I talked about in my previous post I learned quite a bit. As I continue to process the adventure I learn even more. With Ironman, you have so much support out there. There is no real “danger”. Maybe most of us would perform better if there was a real threat. It reminded me that you need to prepare for the threat as if it’s there. Self sufficiency…not in gear…but in MIND. Especially in Kona. Yes, you can always sit down on the ground and wait for medical, but if you expect to rise to the occasion, you need to prepare to do it on your own. You need to be strong in the mind.

I was also reminded that you always have a choice in life. Always. Conditions can be miserable, but you have the choice to be miserable with them. The more you actively make the choice to be positive, the easier it is. It was crazy out there, and I was wet, and slow, and it was hard. None of you would have faulted me if this was a post about what a miserable horrible time I had out there. But this post is not about that, it’s about how  happy and appreciative I was.

I think I was able to be that way because I make that choice on a daily basis. When faced with adversity in life, even the little stuff like parking tickets, I try to utilize it as a trigger to respond in the complete opposite way as is expected. Smile and shrug at the parking ticket. Laugh and open your mouth to the rain. Sing in the wind. Anything to reverse the natural response to a situation, and before you know it, you will naturally respond with less stress and more appreciation to what life hands you.

The co-op in Garberville had Justin’s Nut Butter Peanut Butter Cups. So remote. We can’t even keep these in stock in Boulder. Mom and I bought 8 packages and I didn’t get a single one.

That’s what I was reminded of out there. I want to get out and test myself, test my resolve, but it’s all the little choices every day that really builds your foundation of resolve. Respond well daily, and when the big tests come, you’ll fly through them.

If anything the adverse elements added to my experience out there. When you get down to it, and you’re out in it, it’s really not that bad. It may be hard physically, but that’s a good thing. One step at a time applies to Ironman, to the Lost Coast, or to just getting through a hectic day. Always endeavor to just begin. Once you have begun, the hard part is out of the way. Enduring is easier than beginning.

My darling daughter, happy as a clam the entire trip. This girl has the adventure gene and I couldn’t be happier.

I put together a video of my day. There is no music in this one. As the blog gains more popularity I really shouldn’t be putting music that I don’t own the rights to in my movies. So you will have to be content to deal with the wind, as I dealt with it during my run. I hope you like the video.

Marathon, Mental Training, Running, Travel


  1. Hey, you switched websites! Just realized today, Hey, my gosonja RSS hasn’t been updated in a while…

    Anyway, awesome video! Definition of epic. It was weird to hear your voice- totally different than I would’ve expected. The first thing I thought was, She’s so young! You’ve done so much that I’ve thought you were a lot older than you actually are.

    Glad I found ya again!

  2. Amazing video – thanks for sharing. Your positivity is inspiring. I’m doubly impressed that even in all the adverse conditions you took the time/effort to film some additional artistic running sequences! Looking forward to hearing about Lost Coast day 2 whenever that happens. Congrats.

  3. Okay, Son! A few things…loved the post about your parents…it’s easy to see how you got to be the way you are with parents like that! I loved hearing about your Lost Coast adventure. You always inspire me, and make me feel, just a little bit, that even I could do something like that! And lastly, love the new look of the blog. Thanks for including me in your blogroll!! 🙂 Have a wonderful week.

  4. I haven’t checked your blog for a while and I’m glad I did today. Very inspirational post! I agree mental toughness is as important (or more important) than physical toughness but you brought it to a whole new level on this run. Loved the video.

  5. Marvelous, Sonja. Ab. so. lute. ly. Marvelous!!! It takes a LOT to inspire me. Consider me inspired!!! 🙂

  6. Very very cool stuff! I will be watching your Moab 100 video again this week because we are heading there this weekend! Congrats on your accomplishment/adventure!

  7. The video was awesome. Honest, I read the post first.

    I love what you said about having a choice whether or not to be miserable (was that here or the previous post? I just read them both. I am behind. As always!) But anyway, it is so true that the more positively you deal with any situation – whether it be miserable or whatever, the easier that hard thing becomes. It is all about attitude. You freaking rock.

  8. These are my favorite lines:

    “Keep it movin’, keep it movin’!”

    “The ocean is like, GRRRR!”

    “The last few miles, it’s been super awesome: gale-force winds, super deep sand…” (Most of us would be complaining about those things!) But like you said in your write-up– those things added to your experience. That is what makes you awesome and inspiring!!!

  9. INCREDIBLE!!! Seriously. Amazing!!! Loved your video. You inspire me. I LOVE it!!! Thanks for sharing with us all!!! We’re better because we know you!

  10. Wow. Words did not do the run justice – it took seeing the video for me to appreciate just how difficult that was. Most people would have bailed when they woke up in the morning. Love how tough you are and how you have such a great attitude about adversity. (jen is taking notes)

  11. I love the waves, I love the running with gale force winds, and I love the random surfer dude. Did you get his number? 🙂

  12. You are so awesome!

    How much mileage did you add on setting up the camera, running back and then running at it 🙂

  13. You are amazing….your attitude is amazing and I will hear your words as I log an 18 mile run tomorrow! It is all fun and such a gift to be able to be out and able to run!

    Keep up the amazing work!

  14. Awe-some, really awesome. you mentioned kick ass weather but the video just was, well right in your face : ). Thanks for that very inspirational !
    Keep it up, really enjoying it : )

  15. You. Are. A. Rock Star. You’re truly a huge inspiration to me, Sonja. I love what you do and I love more your attitude towards it all/life/etc. I honestly almost want to print this blog entry (if that’s ok!) and keep it to reread before Boston this year. I’m nervous and excited but more than anything I’m so looking forward to my first Boston experience. What I loved so much about your video is how – even though you’re in the middle of no where with no one around and you’re talking to your camera – you’re SMILING. It can show how much you love gettin’ out there and doin’ it, and that is what inspires me. Go Sonja Go!

  16. I haven’t watched the video yet, but just in case I don’t get a chance to leave a comment later… so impressive!! I totally agree with your statement “Respond well daily, and when the big tests come, you’ll fly through them”. Love that line.

    Great post! inspirational as always! Keep on rockin’!

  17. OK, so my first comment was before I watched the video (see I’m not here just for the video 😉

    First – killer video!

    Second, I’d be curious to hear what kind of gear you used (change of shoes, boots, jacket, GoPro video, etc)

    ps- that wave almost ate you at 8:25!

  18. Sonja, I love the “Choice” paragraph. I went through the SAME exact thought process during a very wet IMLP in ’08. You can choose to be miserable with the weather (and a lot of others), or choose to be positive. I chose the latter, and it was one of my favorite days. Well said!

    I really enjoyed this blog post too. Good stuff.

  19. Mel, My dad shot that last shot. You might notice I have a different pair os shoes on. It was done after I finished. I also do put the camera down and run towards it on occasion.

  20. Thanks that was awesome! Quick question – how did you get the shots of you from a distance – some looked like maybe you set the camera up ahead then ran to it but some are from further away e.g. at 8:15?

Comments close 20 days after the post is written, thanks!