Life's little adventures, accompanied by a running watch

Monday, January 29, 2018

A Hug at Hellcat

“Go get Purple….” 

This past weekend, Scott and I jetted off to Jacksonville, FL for a long weekend.  We explored the city and the beaches and found ourselves a trail race to run.  The race, Hellcat 10K/30K/50K, was held on Saturday morning and was comprised of a 10K loop around historic Lee Field in Green Cove Springs.  This is the home of the US Navy’s F6F Hellcat fighter from WWII.  The website described the course as “no roots or rocks” and “runners will go thru scenic cypress swamps with an abundance of wild life to include gators, deer, bear”.

Gators?  Gulp.

There was no elevation to speak of, which also meant the swampy areas were almost level with the trail we ran on.  I kept a watchful eye on anything resembling the aforementioned gators.

6.2 miles of flat, root-less, rock-less trails….easy, right?  Well, normally I would’ve said yes.  What’s not been so normal is that I haven’t been doing all that much running lately.  I figure the desire to jump back in, really run, and register/train for races will return.  It always does.  So for this race, I was purely there to enjoy a destination run and hang out with running peeps in a different state.

Per standard race protocol, I started out on the faster side.  With Scott running alongside, it was natural to try to match his pace.  I kept the pace for a couple miles and started to feel my lack of running around the half way mark – both lungs and legs.  I stayed at a touch slower pace for the next couple miles, praying for it to be over.  Not necessarily the run itself, but the terrible feeling of knowing I can do so much better.  So, I felt all the feelings as I continued kicking my own ass for the final two miles. 

It was at about mile 5 that Scott uttered those words, “Go get Purple”.  Breathless, tired, and sprinkled with discouragement at how I felt, I gasped, “I don’t know if I have it today”.  But of course Scott never heard that since my words were probably drowned out by my lungs screaming in protest.  So I continued running, with a new found focus on “Purple”.  Slowly, I crept up on “Purple” until I was passing her.  Finally entering the finish chute, I stopped my watch, came to a halt, and willed myself to not throw up.

Now, I’m not usually this dramatic when describing a race.  But this was how it truly went down.  Feeling out of shape, wondering if I would finish, and discouraged at even having those thoughts was a huge weight on me.  As I collected my finisher medal, I came to my senses and remembered how grateful I am to be able to run.  

I suddenly spotted “Purple” who finished shortly after I did and approached her, “Hey there, just want to thank you for being my rabbit out there.  You really helped me”.  That’s when “Purple” turned to me and said, “Oh my God, thank you so much for saying that.  Can I hug you?  Seriously, you have no idea what that means to me!”.  So along with my hard fought medal, I was also awarded a sweaty hug from a grateful stranger at Hellcat.

Seems I wasn’t the only one struggling out there. 

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