I finally ran at the Bridle Trails Winter Running Festival last Saturday. I've been wanting to do this and chickened out last year because it was so snowy and icy - I wasn't driving ANYWHERE! The options are a 5.2 miles loop, 2 loops at 10.4, a variety of relays for 50K, or a solo 50K, most of which would be in the dark since the race started at 3 pm. I opted for the 10.4 miler and agreed to meet my friend Ali there. When I got there, I saw all sorts of friendly and familiar faces, and met some more. It is really starting to feel like I am a part of that community of folks who enjoy working out in a natural setting and don't mind getting dirty!
Shortly before 3 pm, the five milers gathered at the start line and got instructions from Scott McCoubrey about the course. He claimed to have "marked the hell out of it" and there was lots of mud for your enjoyment. At 3 he gave the signal and they were off. Next up was my group; after a similar lecture, at 3:05 we were off. I was not warmed up at all, and Ali was quite a bit speedier; I saw the back of her for about a mile and then no more til the end. The first big hill I came to, I walked a little bit. It was a lot warmer and though I had stripped down some, I was still too warm. I think I was also having a hot flash - don't know if that's possible while exerting one's self, but it sure felt like it! As promised, there was lots of mud on the trail and it was fun figuring out how to dance around and/or through it. I've run this course several times and always seemed to know where I was, though I still get thrown off by the water tank about half mile before crossing the power line section again. Once you make the second crossing of the power line, you're almost home.
Coming into the aid station, I refilled my water bottle and took off. I wrapped my jacket around my waist but had a hard time getting it tight enough. Finally got it right and felt better with less on. I also had finally started to feel like I was hitting my stride and a gel I had taken earlier had started to kick in. Ali had convinced me not to take a flash light, and she was right. I didn't really need it, though the light was failing in the last two miles. The last mile goes up into the woods more and was even more muddy, but it still was not too bad. I finally crossed the finish at 1:46, about five minutes behind Ali.
We hung out and chatted with folks and watched some of the 50K folks come through, including both of the Jureks, and several marathon maniacs. I hosed off some of the mud (Scott M. pointed out there was a hose if it was too muddy for you) and headed for home. It was getting cold and I opted to leave my wet shoes on for the ride home. Probably not the smartest idea, as I could feel some blisters trying to form. Also, I left my water bottle and buff on my roof. When I got home, they were wedged up against my roof rack - how cool is that?? I had a nice soup (Gypsy Soup from the Moosewood Cookbook) cooking in the crock pot and picked up a loaf of bread on the way home. I also had some goat cheese rounds breaded and ready to bake for a baked goat cheese spinach salad. A hot shower, a good beer and all that food made me a tired but happy camper!
I thought about my race time and a little perspective. It wasn't as speedy as I might have wished it to be, but then I remember what all I have been through health-wise the latter part of 2007, and I'm so glad I can get out there and enjoy running again! I may get speedier over time, or I may not. When I think of the alternative, or when I think of people I know who are sidelined, either temporary or permanently, I count my blessings and remember to enjoy the journey. This life is a gift and it is a privilege to be able to enjoy it!