Won't you help me sing, this song of freedom
This race was made possible by first and foremost the best wife on the planet; but also Matt Webster, HBO, Eric Eagan, Ben Murphy, Sherry Kessler, Josh Rossi, Ron Heerkens Jr., Laura Howard, Dan Lopata, Mike Valone, Chris O'Brien, Jason Vidmar, and countless others of this community.
History you can skip
Whew, that is a list. But first, a flashback that none of you care about other than myself. A year ago, running up a hill on compromised legs, I tore my left calf. My darling wife had signed up for Cast a Shadow with Matt Webster, and their third didn't show up. As I stood at the start/finish line crewing them and cheering on people I loved, the desire to run anyway overcame me, and I stepped in as "third" on a two man relay team. I hobbled and limped my way through a solitary lap and gave them time to rest, and set for myself a benchmark.
Those that follow my life more than decency should allow know that I had a pretty big year last year. I knocked out two 50ks and clocked over 1024 miles. Those that follow my life more than propriety should allow know that I did that on top of deteriorating legs and balooning weight. While I exceeded my expectations on distances, my abilities were deteriorating until I had to just give up on running if I wanted to keep being able to walk to the next meeting at work.
Finally, the race
So, PT with Sherry (the best ever), Strength with Rossi (I love/hate you), stupidity encouragement from oh so many, and I'm back to Cast a Shadow as a paid entrant for the first time.
I have an abiding love for Black Creek Park due to #TrailsRoc's Mess the Dress, and a deep respect for the abilities of Goose Adventure Racing to make you feel loved while they push you to push yourself makes Cast a Shadow an amazing party of suffering and laughter.
I toed the line with HBO (thank you so much) and Matt Webster (you're the best) behind me and we began a six hours in the snow.
I should lay out my expectations. After a Chris suggestion, I've been writing them down pre-race. I've not been able to run more than a mile or so since last July, and so I set my sights on stubborn. My hope was to run half of a lap, then fast walk everything until the race end. I had delusions that we might be in an empty category and win despite my slowness, but that was just lusting after an awesome blanket rather than an expectation.
I've been trying to practice stride counting as part of my orienteering skills, and I discovered something important for now. Between stride counting, not tripping, and momentary thoughts on life, the universe, and everything, I didn't have time for thinking about being tired. Before I realized it, I was back at the start to hand off to HBO, and I had run the whole way. New 7 month record.
The loops ticked off quickly. Too quickly, as the runs were hard, and the rests felt short. Everything melded toether. I swear Shea and I chased each other on several laps, I was passed and passed Valone, I saw Olga for thirty seconds she ran by so fast.
Some of my favorite moments were running with Jamie Peca and marvelling at the beauty of the half moon, sitting silently with Dan as I fought self doubt and rose for another lap, laughing and befriending the Ohio team from around Akron, shivering with HBO and Matt as we waited for handoffs. Sean Storie showing up, saying the perfect words, then disappearing back to work.
I was inspired by the strength, self resolve, and power of Jamie Hobbs, Laura Rekkerth, Scott Magee, Michael Valone, and Dan Lopata.
In the end, I was buoyed up by so many people and ran five laps as part of my team's epic efforts. No air quotes. I went further than expected to, and more important to me, I went faster than I expected to. While I surprised myself with resolve a year ago in Almond, I surprised myself with power yesterday.
The future is alive
I have so very much to do before I attempt to conquer several miles along a river often given a female nickname; I have hope. I need to get stronger, but I have plans for that. I need to get lighter, but I have plans for that. I need to get better, but I have community for that. Truly the Trails do Rock.