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High Country Running: My 15-year training for the Soulstice Mountain Trail Run
HIGH COUNTRY RUNNING

High Country Running: My 15-year training for the Soulstice Mountain Trail Run

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Diana and Neil Weintraub

Diana Weintraub (left) with her other half, Neil Weintraub “the NATRA guy.”

Running and I have not always been friends.

Many of you know my husband, Neil Weintraub the NATRA guy, the one who helps with races in town, helps organize the Flagstaff Summer Series and is the director of the Big Brothers Big Sisters of Flagstaff Half Marathon and 5K and the Soulstice Mountain Trail Run.

You could say I began thinking about running when Neil I first started dating, in 2005. I always figured that would be his “thing,” and that was cool. Periodically I would decide that maybe I wanted to be a runner and would try to run a mile or two. I even worked my way up to 3 miles. But I cannot say I enjoyed it all that much.

It hurt, I did not have any true goal and I could not wait to be done.

Then came 2020. We all had to make some big adjustments, and for my own health, both mental and physical, getting outside in the fresh air helped tremendously.

Soon I was talking with my twin sister, Vicki, back East, who has been a runner for many years now and wanted to build up her own mileage again. I suggested, with some trepidation, that we train virtually together for a 10K (this was a huge deal to me).

I’d never imagined those words would ever come out of my mouth. Run a 10K? How many miles is that, anyway? Can I do it? Will I get bored while running? Will I keel over from cramps? What if I get dehydrated? Do I need new sneakers? Yes, I need new sneakers. How do I track my distance? What music should I listen to? Wait, should I listen to music? You get the idea.

And away we went. Vicki created a schedule for us using the Hal Higdon 10K training program, and then there was no turning back. I could not stop, because I suddenly had someone to be accountable to. Not to mention a bit of my competitive side started to come out. You always want to be the fastest sibling, right?

We signed up for the virtual Flagstaff Summer Series, and the first 5K came and went. Time to build up the mileage! Some runs went well, and some did not. But the fun thing was that we would text each other after each run to share how it went, the good and bad, and cheer each other on and commiserate. Then the buildup was over, and lo and behold the 10K happened!

Then we went crazy and thought, “Why stop there?” We set a new goal to train for the long course with the Soulstice Mountain Trail Run. WHAT WAS I THINKING! That’s 12 miles!

And so, after 27 weeks, on Oct. 4, 2020, I completed my first-ever long course Soulstice run.

Fifteen years in the making, and it was worth every single step.

P.S. Vicki was faster. I’d better keep running.

Diana Weintraub has lived in Flagstaff since 2003. She plans to participate in more virtual races with her sister this year, such as the Pittsburgh half marathon and (hopefully) the Summer Series again.

Julie Hammonds (runner@juliehammonds.com) welcomes your running stories and column ideas. Don’t make her beg.

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