Bend is incredible.  Its hands-down the greatest place to live on Earth.  Ok, I haven’t been everywhere yet, but my world map has a hell of a lot of “been there” stickers on it and nothing so far compares to Bend, Oregon.

I’ve been here for 3 days with Jesse at his mom and step-dad’s place.  They live on the Deschutes River, walking distance from Drake Park and downtown, and I’m currently sitting on the river’s edge with my bare feet dangling in a lightly swirling eddy in their backyard.  Since I got here I’ve done three amazing trail runs within 5-10 miles of their house, all along water, all single track.  After each run I think, “why the hell don’t I live here?”

If I’m lucky enough to still be racing track next year, I might have to split my year between Bend and Eugene simply to enjoy my daily life more.  The rain in Eugene really sucks the life out of me, especially when I know it is warm and sunny just over the mountains.

Yesterday I did a road race for Breast Cancer here in town.  It was a 5k, and the perfect opportunity for a tune-up before nationals.  It was a community type event, so it was high on fun and low on competition, but I went out and ran a strong effort and won by about two minutes in 16:20.  Considering there were a couple hills, some grass, and mild altitude, the time is pretty good for me.

When I was planning to run the event, I always imagined coming and running a hard effort, even if it meant doing it alone.  But once I registered and saw the vibe of the event, I had doubts on whether or not it was OK to go out and make it competitive.  It was an event celebrating survivorship and the fight against Breast Cancer.  Women run or walk it with friends, and there are no prizes for first.  I wondered if what I wanted to get out of the race ran counter to the purpose of the race as a whole.  But the more I thought about it, the more it made sense to go out and try my best.  In a race that celebrates life, you better be grateful for what you’ve got and enjoy your gifts.