Yesterday was my last race before turning 40. I said it. I'm going to be 40 TOMORROW! For the last several years, friends I have grown up with have been talking about how old we are. It makes me crazy because up until the last year I haven't felt old AT ALL. In fact, since I started running long distances and working out regularly, I've felt like I'm just getting younger and younger. Then, two years ago, I made some choices that caused life hit me like a ton of bricks. Don't get me wrong...I'm in a WAY better place now. But the last two years have taken a toll on me, mentally and physically. I've started running again. I even ran a half marathon last month. After that race was over, I told my old trail running partner that if I ever sign up for a road race again, she needs to break my knees. : ) Road races hurt way more than running 100 miles!
So my journey continues. I run a little, do some weights and then get bogged down with activities including my children's sports, school starting and my partner in life who was done with his summer vacation as well...he works for a local Junior High. Life is just getting back into the swing. I get lost frequently in the doing, laundry, meal planning, carting around children to and fro and the organizing of it all....and I lose myself. I forgot what it takes to make running a priority. I forgot the effort it takes on a daily basis to organize and manage life details for a family of six. So I don't get the miles I used to....some weeks not running at all and feeling physically like I'm spent to the max. I find that my back hurts a lot these days, mostly a response to my severe lack of core strength at the present time. I ache after doing farm chores, like stacking hay bales and doing other heavy lifting like moving fence and rounding up pigs. I am not used to having soreness like this from daily activities. The thought creeps in and screams at me "I'm getting old". To top it off, I keep finding strands of random white hairs. "I'M GETTING OLD", I hear shouting in my head.
Last week, circumstances fell together that made it possible for me to sign up for the Resort to Rock 32K. It's a local race that was put on by friends and many other friends were running it as well. My old trail running partner was doing the 60K. I really had no business signing up for this as I honestly haven't run much in the last month, actually no running for over two weeks. The mountains have been calling me though. I dream in foggy memories of what the trails look like. I haven't been on a trail run since the end of 2013....almost two years ago. Since I started trail running, I've never been one to do things in a conventional manner. So I last minute signed up. On the way over to the race, I was thinking about what a different dynamic it was going to be to have Jon waiting for me at the end. I love that guy so much and to have someone like that waiting for me at the end feels like far more than I deserve. I tried to not think about this because I'm wasn't running this for Jon, I was doing this for me.
The horn blew to start the race. I started my garmin and waited for everyone to go. I wanted to start out last. We started by climbing and like usual, I'm quick to be sucking wind. I kept a steady pace as it usually takes me a mile or so to get warmed up before I feel like I can actually start doing some good work. We climbed mostly gradual climbs for a couple miles and then there was a great deal of runnable trail. It was GLORIOUS. I felt amazing. It kept getting better and better and better. I hooked up with an old friend Jenny and another friend of hers from Illinois. I was with Jenny and her friend for probably 6-7 miles. I was so grateful as those miles included two of the harder climbs of the day. I began to pull away as we got within a couple miles of the last AS. I was feeling so elated. I felt YOUNG again. I felt STRONG again. I felt LIKE ME!!! I no longer cared about white strands of hair or being sore or any of the other things that have been screaming at me about my age. This. This is what makes me young. Running long distance in the mountains. I came rolling into the last AS and there stood my man and my littlest babe. I began to smile uncontrollably. I was so happy to see them. So very sweet of Jon to come see me there. What a sweet gift.
I knew I had one more climb from that AS and then it would be a comfortable run to the finish. I headed out and began the last ascent. My back was screaming at me along with my lungs. Everything in me was screaming to stop. I slowed some but that didn't seem to help so I just went back to what I was doing to begin with. The sooner I get to the top, the sooner I'm done climbing. This is, after all, what makes me stronger.....when everything in me is screaming to stop and I just carry on anyway. Once the climb was done, I walked for a short bit just getting myself back to a place of relaxation and then began to run. Here I was, about to finish the last race of my 30's. From a long way off I could hear people yelling my name. As I got closer and could see some friends and there was my favorite guy... just being who he is. What a treat and how spoiled I am to be cheered for and surrounded by such a wonderful group of loving people.
What a day. What a race. What a dynamic year. From delivering my fifth baby shortly after my 39th bday to now finishing a 32K trail run two days before my 40th. Today, I'm so happy in my life. I am young and I don't care how old I am. Age is only a number. My own age is based on how I feel on the inside. After yesterday, I remembered who I am. I am that strong girl. The one that runs in the mountains. This is my fountain of youth!