Preparing well and then being able to perform well is a very rewarding experience. As I've mentioned 23 times before, I ran a much-anticipated trail run race yesterday. Racing is a rare event for me, so when I do, I try to get my money's worth.
I've been training for this race for about two months with some running buddies, Renee and Kristy. We'd hit the trails early Saturday morning, usually no later than 6:30. Some mornings were gorgeous with the warm, orange light of sunrise streaming through the green leaves creating a vibrant emerald glow as we coasted along the trails. Many other mornings it was overcast or foggy. We were soaked by the end of those foggy morning runs. Inevitably, someone would declare while running, "This is what running is all about!" or, "This is what I was meant to do." There's a connectedness, a flow that occurs while running on the trails. One needs to be more mindful about their running and being surrounded by beauty helps me listen to my body and relax.
Saturday morning dawned - well, not really. It slowly got lighter. The sky was covered with clouds - and I was ready to roll. I met a nice woman named Rhonda at the starting line, but sadly didn't see her after that. While running, I repeated the mantra, "Just flow," and they were just the right words. I didn't push too hard on the uphill; just went the pace that felt good. I let my body fly down the hills. I thought that there would be Gatorade at the water stops, but I was wrong. I needed a little energy boost but didn't bring any beans myself. Thankfully Renee was prepared (that woman is queen of preparedness!) and gave me a bite of her bar. I probably would have been fine physically without the bar, but it was just what I needed mentally.
The first 8-9 miles are on trail, with the last three or so on road. After I climbed the last big hill, I kicked myself into a higher gear and pushed to the end. It was exhilarating and challenging, but not painful. Because I had "just flowed" on the trails, my body had energy left to run faster on the road. I don't know what my pace was, but it felt good. Having a strong finish makes a race a success in my book. The only bad part was having some side and shoulder aches for maybe a mile. I don't usually get those while running, but thankfully they weren't debilitating. As I was getting near the end and I felt fatigue wanting to creep in, I kept a positive mental attitude and told myself I could do it, that I could keep up the pace, that the end wasn't far.
My time was 1:55. I placed second in my age group, 12th overall for women, and 47th overall out of the 133 racers. Not too shabby! Thank you, hubby, for enabling me to exercise every morning, and especially for my Saturday trail runs when I was away from home longer than usual. Thanks to Renee for the energy boost, the ride to the race, and the fabulous companionship on our trail runs. And thanks to Heavenly Father for our amazing bodies and the beauty of the earth.