Well it’s hot out and lemonade is best when made with fresh lemons. Just a little metaphor for what ended up being my and my friends Memorial Weekend trip. This isn’t my typical blog, which tends to be race reports; instead this one is about life and learning to embrace adversity.
The Memorial weekend trip to the Western States training camp went off without a hitch. Tim, Miguel, and myself had planned this weekend to be full of fun, running, and hanging out with incredible people whilst enjoying the Western States trail. Day one of training was just amazing. We ran from Robinson Flat where there was still snow covering the trail to the warm canyons to reach the final destination at Foresthill. We finished the day soaking up the sun and relaxing at our rented home in Michigan Bluff. Happily exhausted.
Then on to day two, which started the collection of lemons. Since, we had two rental cars we planned to drive one to Driver’s Flat and leave it. That way after the training run we didn’t have to take the shuttle bus back to Foresthill. We got to Driver’s Flat and decided to leave a change of clothes along with our money so that we could drive to Auburn straight after the run and get some lunch. We paid our fee to the parking area, which was supposed to be $10. However, since none of us had a $10 bill we gave them $20. We walked back to the pickup and Miguel was thinking about placing the keys behind the gas cap door. I remember telling him not to do that, and said that if anything I’d carry the bundle of keys. I just felt something inside me telling me that would have been a bad idea. So, he took the keys and locked the doors. We got into the other rental car and drove down to Foresthill (the start).
The run went great! We all had a fun time and felt happy as we finished and started walking up to Driver’s Flat. Miguel unlocked the door and I opened the back door ready to reach for my bag. My eyes got wide and I had a pit sink into my stomach…my bag was not there. I then panicked and opened the passenger door thinking I must have kept it up there. And there again was nothing! I looked at both Miguel and Tim and said, “My bag is gone” Tim replied saying, “Mine is gone too.” We looked up at each other and I instantly started tearing up in disbelief. Miguel jumped up front and opened the consol where he had left his wallet, and sure enough it was gone too. We all went into a bit of shock and panic. How did someone do this? Can this be real? Did we bonk that bad in the run…and are now having hallucinations? Unfortunately no…it was reality. The thieves had gotten into the back of the pickup truck and slide open the back window and grabbed all of our things.
We at once hopped into the pickup and drove down to Foresthill to the other car. Miguel and I luckily had left our phones in the car down at Foresthill, but unfortunately Tim had not. All of our money, credit cards, licenses, and bags of clothing and other odds and ins were gone. We made it to Foresthill and got into our other vehicle. I hurried and grabbed my phone calling my grandma right away. I needed her as I have always reached out for her in times of need. She always knows what to say and how to calm me down. She answered the phone and I was in the biggest panic rushing to tell her what had happened and that I needed to get ahold of my bank ASAP. Since it was Sunday and Monday was Memorial Day this was going to be a problem. She told me she would call one of the bank tellers that she knew and would call me back. At that time I started searching on my phone for a number to call or anything that would help. I found a 1-800 number that was to be used for these kinds of emergencies. I called right away and there was a nice gentleman who walked me through each step and got my debit card cancelled. That was a huge sigh of relief. Miguel was having success getting his cancelled and Tim was starting his process using our phones. By the time Tim got to his last card the thieves had already purchased $55 worth at a Shell gas station.
Our next issue was that we only had a little less than $200 between us in cash. In addition, our licenses were gone and we had flights to get back home. While we were figuring out what to do next, Tim had the idea to see if he could track his phone with the find my iPhone app. Sure enough the thieves hadn’t turned his phone off and we tracked it to Sacramento. We hopped in the car and took off to where it was last pinged. As we were driving the tracking had stopped on an off ramp going from 1-80 to a neighborhood. We got out and searched high and low for the phone but came up empty handed. We drove back into town where Tim was lucky enough to have his parents wire him some money. It was now close to 5:00pm and we just realized we hadn’t eaten or drank anything since the run. We were all wearing thin with emotion, however we kept each other upbeat and positive (as best as we could in the situation given). We finally decided to give up and head back to our rental home and call it a day. We all grabbed a foot-long Subway and devoured them before even 5 miles out of Auburn. We got back and sat a long time in silence just reflecting on the day.
Tim had a flight scheduled for 4:00 pm the next day and decided it was best that he didn’t push it by trying to make it from the end of the training run. He decided to run from the house at Michigan Bluff before heading to the Sacramento airport. Miguel and I had flights early on Tuesday morning so we were able to run the last training run. We all decided that we weren’t going to let this ruin our weekend. We had a strong bond between us before the incident, and now it has even made it stronger. We were in this as a team. We went to bed although none of us slept as we kept thinking about the day’s events. And it didn’t help that the dogs were barking crazily all night.
The next morning we were all red-eyed, but in decent spirits. Miguel and I wished Tim off as he was heading out for a run before his long drive to the airport. We hoped that he would be able to get through TSA somehow to fly home. Miguel and I went to training camp and were overwhelmed by the outpouring of care and concern everyone had for us. That is truly what a community is about and why I love the ultrarunning community we have. Bless you all. XOXO Miguel and I made sure to leave the troubles behind and focus on the moment of that day. We were going to enjoy that run and embrace the healing powers that the Western States trail has. It is a magical trail that you cannot but smile when running on. We both finished happy, but soon after the looming stress started coming back. I rushed up to make sure the pickup hadn’t been broken into again. Thankfully it was fine. I then grabbed my phone and checked on Tim. He had made it through security at the airport, even without his license. He had to go through a long process of questioning, bag searching, and being patted down, but he was on his way home back to Omaha! This made me feel relieved thinking Miguel and I would be able to get home too.
Wow, does a 4:00 am alarm suck! Miguel and I got to the airport over an hour early to be sure we gave ourselves plenty of time. We got up to the security checkpoint and had to wait as someone in front of us had a similar issue. When they got through I explained to the TSA woman our incident and that neither of us had our licenses or any forms of proof of identity. She sighed then said we needed to fill out a document and then she would have to call and ask us questions. She said that she had been on hold for over 20 minutes with the last person and hoped it wouldn’t take that long for us. So she called and we waited and waited and waited…sure enough another 20+ minutes passed before she started talking to someone on the other line. She asked if she could get both Miguel and I through during this one phone call. The person on the other line said absolutely not and she would need to call back. Finally, she asked me my questions and I passed. I had to have everything in my bag checked and I had to go through the complete pat down. I worried that Miguel wouldn’t get through in time. I boarded and fortunately he was the last person to get on the plane. We had made and were headed home!
What I learned through this whole experience:
1 1. Never leave anything of value in a vehicle.
2 2. People know how to break into a locked pickup by sliding the backseat window open and sneaking in.
3. Friends mean everything, as I couldn’t have gotten through this without Miguel and Tim.
4 4. The Lord watches out for those who love him.
5 5. It could have been much worse:
a. That morning I decided to take out my house key and extra Garmin from the bag that was stolen.
b. I also decided to put my phone charger in the glove compartment instead of my bag. (They didn’t get that!)
c. Miguel and I took our phones in the other car. (We could have all been without phones)
d. We could have came upon them while in the act and who knows what could have happened.
6 6. The outpouring of care from family and friends was beyond my imagination.
7 7. We were not in this alone…we had our whole community behind us!
8. The thieves may have gotten away with a crime, but I know they will have their day of judgment whether it is in this world or another.
9 9. Material items can be replaced.
10. Not letting something rotten ruin a weekend…PRICELESS!
Thanks for reading and happy trails to you all!!