The trail run was definitely a learning experience for me. You learn a lot about yourself when you’re trudging through the woods for four hours, and it would be a mistake not to reflect on that. I am so very glad I did it, and I am proud to be able to say I did it. I wanted so badly to wear the green shirt they included in our race packet we picked up the night before the race, and I didn’t feel like I could wear it unless I finished the race. I will wear it out now. I wanted to sleep with it Saturday night, like Ralphie did with his Red Ryder BB gun in A Christmas Story. Putting it on was more satisfying than looking at seven loads of freshly washed and folded laundry on a sunny summer Saturday.
Also, it occurred to me that I wasn’t just running for myself Saturday. I was running for all you middle aged folks who want to try something but are afraid you can’t do it…for those of you who weren’t stars of the basketball team in high school but still have dreams of being an athlete. I hope YOU will leap with both feet into something you have been thinking about doing but have been afraid to try because you think you’re too old or that it’s out of your reach. The average age of the people in this race was 42. Every race I’ve been to, including this one, had several people who were obviously just trying to prove something to themselves and no one else. There are a lot of Phil’s, Joe’s and Hula’s out there, but I wish there were more. I encourage you to be one of them.
Among the many things I learned this past weekend:
1. Michael Jordan was right. Winning is 10% skill and 90% mental strength. I really get it now. I thought I understood that before the race, but I didn’t know diddly about having your mind in the right place until my little mental breakdown on Mile Marker Nine.
2. I picked a rough run for my first half marathon, especially with the weather. I should have tried a pavement course in Memphis, Nashville or St. Louis first. Trail running is a bear. I did add a stripe to my badge for doing it on ice and snow, though.
3. I need to train more before I try another half marathon. No doubt about it. I should not have had to walk any of that course. I didn’t even have the energy to crawl into the hot tub Saturday night. My legs are still sore, and I am not as far along in my training as I thought I was.
4. I am even more stubborn than I thought. Really…really..stubborn. Donkey with big ears stubborn…and while sometimes that’s a problem…sometimes it’s a good thing.
5. Overall, runners are nice people. They understand why you’re out there, when others around you don’t. They get it, and they are supportive of the strangers running around them. I can’t believe Phil was honest enough to tell me he cried during his first half marathon. He didn’t know me from Adam but was willing to share that because he understood what I was going through. Several other faster runners shouted out words of encouragement to me as they flew by me. I like my fellow runners. I really, really do.
6. Bloggers are great people, too. You guys left some really kind comments for me and said prayers for me Saturday. Thank you all so much for your support. It was absolutely wonderful, and I really appreciate it.
7. Most importantly, I am loved. I have an absolutely wonderful family. We have endured all kinds of heartaches together, many of which are waaay to personal to blog about, but we always prop each other up. There were more than 300 runners there Saturday, and while a few of them had a spouse or friend waiting on them, NO ONE had the welcoming party I did. I am one lucky gal, and if I never run another race, I feel as if I have won the best prize of all.
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