Sunday, December 14, 2014

2014 Race #14: TrailsRoc WTF 15 mile

Thanks to I Am Lesher for the race photos!
When I ran this race last year, it was the farthest I'd ever run on trails. This year, it was barely even half as far as my longest trail run. But I don't think I'm ever going to get to the starting line of a race feeling completely prepared and confident, like no problem, I've got this. There are always questions, doubts. Can I do this? Do I have what it takes? And I think that is the whole point. Every race is a new chance to overcome fear and doubt, to find my limits and push past them, to expand my capacity for endurance and strength and awesomeness.

This course is definitely challenging and there are hills galore. All of which you get to run three times since it's a 5 mile loop course. I'm not fast or anything. I mean, the winner of the 15 mile race lapped me as I was finishing my second loop. But there was never a point where I felt any pain or even much fatigue (thank you pre-race Mountain Dew!) I don't know how Eric does it, but once again we had some perfect WTF conditions: a balmy 33 degrees Fahrenheit and slippery, snow covered trails. I had intended on wearing my microspikes again this year. But they fell off several times during my first loop and I got so annoyed I just ditched them at the aid station. Running without any sort of traction was definitely trickier and more tiring, but it also felt like a relief not to have to deal with them anymore (lately my love-hate relationship with microspikes is trending towards hate-hate). I felt a little unsure, a little unsteady on my feet at first, but then I let go and just went with it. I thought, whatever happens, happens, just keep going. I gave myself permission to fall, to fail. I trusted my feet to find their way over the uncertain terrain. And actually I only fell twice, both times kind of intentionally just sliding down on my butt on the steepest downhill. Though I ran mostly by myself at my own pace, I found plenty of company and comedic relief along the way. The first two times up Hell On Roots, I saw a gorilla at the top and I thought I really hope that is Dan in his gorilla suit because it's way too early for me to be hallucinating. On the trails, and in life, sometimes a gorilla calling your name is just the kind of insanity you need. By my third and final time up Hell On Roots, the gorilla was gone but I was thanking Yukon Cornelius for the rope, without which it would have taken me forever to get to the top. I think I was solely using my arms at that point, since my legs were all like what the hell did we do to deserve this? Annoyingly, my calves started cramping in the exact same place as they did last year, at mile 14, even though I made sure to take salt pills this year. Thankfully they were only tiny minor cramps this year and I knew I was almost done anyway, plus that cheesy Wilson Phillips song popped into my head: "I know that there is pain. But you hold on for one more day. And you break free from the chains." That made me laugh and I knew I was so close to finish line hugs, plus I really had to get to my hair appointment, so I kicked it in to the finish, where I got a high five and a "Go get your hair did" from Eric, a hug from Pete and then a double Pete-Eric hug. I wish I could have been fast enough to see other friends' finishes and that I could have stuck around to hang out more after the race, but I had to get all fancied up for our next adventure of the day, the Sonnenberg Gardens Christmas Gala. And any day I get to run around in the woods getting dirty and sweaty and then get a fancy updo and dance around in an evening gown, all with the best of friends, is a most excellent day in my book.
This was the perfect race to cap off my goal of running, and more importantly, enjoying 14 races in 2014, because it represents everything I love about running and everything I want to be as a runner and person. I feel like I can't say enough thanks to TrailsRoc, Eric, Sheila, Ron, the Stories, all the incredible volunteers (and especially to Chris for his high fives and encouragement and to Ryan (I think that's his name but we've never been formally introduced) for getting my spikes back to me), to all my runner friends (I absolutely adore you all) and to those runners I have yet to befriend (I feel it's only a matter of time). To be surrounded by so much strength, grace, persistence, resilience, happiness and encouragement on a daily basis is overwhelmingly amazing.

Lyric of the moment: "Oh this life is beautiful, if you can find it. I just want for you to know that the world is ours. And if I had you in my arms, what I would do with you..."

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