FINAL TRAINING JOURNAL ENTRY ON 8/15/10 - 6 Thoughts In 6.2 Miles:
"Mile 1: Everyone trusts the runner in front. The course had to be changed at the last minute, so the first half mile of today's course was not the same route that was mapped. In fact, there was no map at all - a bike rider led the mass of hundreds of runners, the leaders having no choice but to trustingly follow a route they were not prepared for, and the rest of the group following those in front of them with the same trust.
It's interesting to think that the only thing that was holding us together as a group was each runner's confidence that the person in front of him or her knew the way.
Mile 2: Gentle progress feels so good. Mile two went by almost unnoticed; as I entered the woods, humbling redwoods that stood like pillars modeled a kind of quiet strength I admired so much. My legs and ankles were warm from the first mile, and, while I enjoyed this brisk pace, my mind couldn't help but fast forward to the hill I knew was ahead.
Mile 3: A time of pain, grit, and endurance. When I say "grit," I mean both the mettle of an indomitable spirit, and also the act of clenching my teeth as I jogged slowly, oh so slowly, up the steep neverending hill. It hurt, and each bend revealed another string of runners making their way higher still.
About three-quarters of the way in, I noticed my jogging was as fast as the walking the people next to me were doing. I did stop to walk, grateful for the temporary relief I gave myself. Soon after, a runner passed me and gasped, "only .3 miles to the top and it's all downhill from there!" Exhausted as I was, I started a slow, reluctant jog. I finished the hill jogging.
Mile 4: The hardest part of the race is over, but the journey is far from over. This mile was not only a physical recovery, but a mental recovery too. I remembered where I was, why I was running, and I slowly forgot the pain in my body and became aware again of my surroundings.
Mile 5: When life hands you steep hills, run down the other side! All I remember about this mile was: Wheeeeeee! I passed people left and right, and it hardly felt like I was running at all. (The shin splints I'm experiencing now would beg to differ...)
Mile 6: I go strong, even when I don't always know where I'm going. Last mile is always the hardest. I always anticipate the finish line to be closer than it ever actually ends up being. As I neared the end, the bends and turns prevented me from seeing the finish line. All I could do was listen for the cheer of the finish, which grew louder, then softer, then louder again, as the path bobbed and weaved in a dance around the end point of the race.
I distinctly remember seeing someone running ahead of me pick up the pace, and it inspired me to do the same, even though I still had no idea how far away from the finish I was. When I finally found it, I sprinted. And finished. 1 hour 1 minute.
Today's race was not easy, even with the training that I did. Every time my foot connected with the trail, and I tried to focus on both where I was going and the lush, morning-green forest that surrounded me, my thoughts would race back to the community I was running for. No matter the aches and pains my muscles were going through, especially drudging up that hill, I had the support of all of you. And to be completely honest, though I haven't met any of you in person, that kept me going.
Which really speaks to the power of this site.
These past couple of weeks have truly been a source of daily strength for me, and I now see first-hand what this site means to the many of you who come here to find support for so many different things - it's almost insane how diverse this Internet community is - yet in a way we all come here for the same reasons: to find friends, to find information, and to find what can almost be described as a kinship with each other. What a great place!"
View the photos in the Journal...
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