Monday, May 5, 2014

2014 Race #5: Medved Madness 15 mile trail race

Shivering at the starting line at Mendon Ponds Park, I wondered why I had signed up for a race with the word madness in the title. Then I got to run 15 miles of double track and single track and fields and hills and swampy, stinky mud with some of my most favorite people. And I realized we're all mad here. Madly awesome.

Going in, I told myself it's not what happens at the race that matters, it's what I think about what happens. I can't control a lot of what happens but I can choose how I react to it. (This is part of my chill-the-fuck-out race/life mentality. It's still a work in progress.) I wanted to use this race as a training run, so I was trying not to have any expectations and just run by feel. Except I had a very strong desire not to fall and especially not to fall in horse shit. (Why is there so much poop at Mendon? There is a joke to be made here about not being a horse's ass and cleaning up after your horse's ass.)

And the madness begins! Thanks to Sheila for this pic!
Some people were trying to go around the muddy sections, but this is a trail race: shit is going to get muddy and wet. It's inevitable. Might as well go right through the middle of it. It'll be faster and better for the trails and more fun.

We ran three different 5 mile loops, each marked with different colored flags: orange, pink and, saving the best for last, blue. The course was so well-marked that even I couldn't get lost. (And I never know where I am.) I made some comment about how I wished that there were little flags for life to point me in the right direction. But the more I think about it, life is exactly like that. The flags of life are all the good things - the happy moments and calls to challenge/adventure and the people who are always there with arms wide open to run into - and if I follow those things, I will always be in the right place. I may not know where I'm headed and there may be some unexpected turns, but when good things knock on my door, I'm not going to tell them to come back later. I'm going to invite them in and break out the celebratory cookies.

The first loop I was trying to hold myself back and save something for the last 10 miles. The second loop I was thinking the middle is the hardest part, just get through this and you'll be fine. I think that was around the time I started singing Metric lyrics in my head: "I got nothing but time, so the future is mine." The third loop I was still feeling pretty good. Some trail debris had gotten in my shoe and I was tolerating it for a while, but then it became a real pain in the foot. I had to stop and take off my shoe, shake out the debris and put my shoe back on (thank you to Pete for stopping to help me so I didn't fall over). Then my hands were covered in mud, but I felt so much better that I just took off (The symbolism was not lost on me. It's funny how often running mirrors my life). Even the huge hill in the last half mile didn't really faze me. I was like ok this is getting a little ridiculous, but then I was up it and over it and on to the finish.

I don't even know what my time was for this race. There was no finish line clock and I wasn't wearing a watch. But I ran 15 miles and felt great and got hugs and no bake chocolate peanut butter cookies afterwards, so I'm considering it a success. I had my doubts going in, but this race turned out to be the perfect addition to a weekend of Kentucky Derby Day festivities and good times with good friends. And any weekend where I get to wear a new dress and a big hat on one day and get muddy and sweaty the next is a good weekend.

May the madness continue!

Lyric of the moment: "And when the hardest part is over, we'll be here. And our dreams will break the boundaries of our fear..."

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