Running TARCkey Trot 6 hour trail race was all about finding my footing. It wasn’t easy. This 5K loop originated from the lovely Wright Locke Farm in Winchester, MA and wound us through Whipple Hill in Lexington, MA. It was runnable, but included a number of decent hills and countless rocky/rooty sections. The weather was perfect: chilly 7:00 am start, and onward to a warmer, 60 degree finish. Finally, throw in chickens, goats, and the supportive and chill vibe of the ultra/trail running community, and you’ve got yourself a good day!
My goal heading into the last-minute trail race was wishy-washy at best. Somewhere during the 1.5 hour drive to the start, I decided on the following:
1. End the day with the feeling in my legs that I’ve worked. Hard.
2. Complete a minimum of 4 laps.
Mission accomplished! I completed 5 laps and ended the day with hard worked legs. Goals met did not come without challenge and obstacles. I haven’t practiced my longer distance fueling in some time, and it showed. I knew early on that I wasn’t fueling enough, yet couldn’t seem to find the right recipe. My jelly sandwiches just weren’t cutting it. The aid station had its usual buffet of everything imaginable, but still, nothing looked good. I didn’t feel sick; but because I wasn’t eating or drinking enough, I felt off most of the day. That lead to some sloppy feet, when…..BAM, I fell. And with that fall came a double calf muscle cramp…OUCHHHHHH!!!!! I didn’t lay there for dramatic pause, but because I needed to let it pass so I could get up. A fellow runner stopped to make sure I was OK, helped me dig my bottle out of the trail, and wished me well. I went on to finish that lap and went back out for my fifth lap.
At the end of my race, I was happy that I met my goals, but definitely hungry – for both food and for the command/confidence of the trails I used to have. Reflecting on this race, I feel like this past year has seen a lot of my “finding my footing” as well.
This year started out with a number of big changes: accepting a new job in NC, selling our home in MA (where I had lived for 39 years – gulp), moving to NC, starting new job, and then deciding the area wasn’t for us. Next stop? NH! I started yet another new job, and we bought a home. Typing all of that in one paragraph was easy. Living it was not. Much like my race yesterday.
During this transition time in our lives, we encountered different hills too high to run. Missing our family and friends was a big hill. The culture was another hill. The new job just didn't fit. I couldn’t find my footing. All the hope and promise of this new place felt like my fall on the trail. But each time I “fell”, I got back up to try again. At the end of the NC “race”, I came to a realization that my goal wasn’t NC; it was the experience of having tried. And the reward? I will never wonder, “What if…”
I’ve learned important lessons throughout my different “races”.
- Falls will happen; get up and continue on!
- If you get lost, find another route!
- Accept help; whether in the form of encouragement or of digging out your bottle from the trail!
- It isn't always about the time/distance/destination, it's about the experience!
- And most importantly, be open to the experience...no matter what the end result!
Having completed my fifth lap at yesterday’s race was a bonus. I headed home grateful for the experience and for the ability to run. This year has been an experience I never thought I’d have. Whether setting off to run a new trail or to live in a new state (or two!), it took a confidence and a bit of courage I didn’t know I had. The fact that I tried (and keep trying!) represents my ultimate fifth lap, where I finally found my footing.