Chris O'Brien suggested I start writing down my thought prior to races too. The purpose is really to capture thoughts and expectations prior to new experiences, and 0SPF is not a new experience; but perfect practice makes perfect.
I've run parts of the route for 0SPF oodles of times, it is probably the best known to me route of anything I've done. I ran 0SPF last year in much hotter weather and survived. And yet, I'm a ball of stress. There is nothing to be afraid of (no heights, no crazy new distance, no expectations), just prerace jitters. These jitters have gotten worse over the last two years or so, and I need to figure out the source and control it better; as it takes some of the fun out of running and all the pleasantness out of being near me.
More than anything else this year, I'm running this to be with people. Which is crazy, as I'll be alone from start to finish; but before and after I'll be around people I truly enjoy. Having said that, here I am writing rather than being there earlier.
If I have a goal, it is to do better than last year. My endurance is better, my speed is worse, I figure its about sixes on who wins. Push, smile, look forward to chatting and laughing and seeing some of my favorite people at the start and turn around and end (turn around wins for favorite people in the world, sorry everybody else).
I expect beautiful trails, a better feel of how I am doing physically, a chance to feel reasonable paces for next week's ROGAINE, and lots of smiles.
My favorite part as the race began was shortly after the race started, and we all started up the hill. There was plenty of room for people to pass each other, but everyone was lined up and following Amy. I settled into a comfortable spot and a pace that felt good. I was shortly joined by a nice runner (I'm reminded it was Denise) and we chatted for a couple of miles about, well, this beautiful country in which we live. It was delightful and the trail disappeared under my feet. I rolled in to Garnsey road after cheering my way through several aid stations filled with people I admire and am so grateful for.
Then I hit my first bump. Kindness dictates stepping aside for the runners returning back to the start, and I did so. Except, unlike last year, I ended up stepping aside for most of the race participants as I progressed through McCord woods. It was wonderful seeing and complimenting and cheering for so many people that I knew. This was why I was here, and one of my favorite parts of PP50k. My brain figured out that we were now in run/walk mode rather than run mode and struggled to break out of that misconception for the rest of the day.
Busting down Chair hill, I lost my friend; and came into the aid station staffed by the love of my life. A quick turn around and I'm on my way back up, plodding rather than running. Shortly thereafter, another runner that had been hanging back behind me made a move to push by me. Thank goodness he did. I didn't want to lose where I was and so decided to hang on. He could only muster a trudge through McCord Woods and Woodcliff, and so I followed behind catching up just a little on each hill. After crossing Turk Hill, those short rollers pushed the advantage back to my side, and I went neatly on by. There is no way I would have been as happy as I was, or run as well without him to urge me on.
Dropping on to High Point, I see up ahead my friend and partner in stupidity Matt Webster. He should have been way ahead of me, but now I have another target. Slowly getting closer, I finally catch up upon finally completing the Power Line Hill climb (specially shortened for your enjoyment) and with his quads hurting, I barrel past and into the finish line.
Good weather won, and I beat my personal best on this course by a whole twenty minutes. To be enveloped by the love of my family and the careful care of my friends. Grateful to be done.
I messed up several things horribly. I was so caught up in myself this week, that I wasn't eating properly; including this morning. My stomach was empty and loudly growling before I hit Moseley the first time. I'm sure the agony of McCord Woods was as much that bit of stupidity as anything.
Even with the beautiful weather, I struggled to hydrate and will need to take a second look at that. I have a lot of problems to solve before next Saturday.
Most important for me though, is halfway back through McCord Woods, while I was following my Mechanical Hare, I figured out my stress problem. There's been several hints that I've missed, but this last year or so I've been so concentrated on meeting my 50k run goal, that I've let my dedication to others falter and living a very self centered life. So, I'll be dropping some race plans and spending more time with my loving family (those hit hardest). We'll get out there and volunteer more, and find ways to make others live's easier, together.
Tokien uses this delightful word "Eucatastrope" to describe the wonderful moment when you glimpse that place where Joy and Sorrow are at one, reconciled. I have those moments with my faith, my family, my science, and lately my trail running. I know that I cannot repay the blessings that I've received through these things, but I can sure keep trying.