HEY, WHO HIJACKED MY COMPUTER!!?????
Yeah, right. I'm not going to do any of that.
This year alone I have hiked on several islands, snorkeled, kayaked, went on a zip line course for the first time, and raced my 5th marathon. You really think I'm going to slow down?
My new motto is - "If you can, do, because there will soon be a day when you can't and wished you had."
Thanks be to God, I still can, so I will keep doing as long as He gives me the ability.
Last week, for example. I wanted to do something to celebrate my 50th birthday. (It's not until July, but hey, why not start early?) I found a trail race. I've always enjoyed running trails so I found an off-road marathon, signed up, then promptly got a season pass to Wekiva Springs State Park. There are more than 20 miles of trails there and with a season pass you can also get an after-hours pass with a code to let you in at any time of the day. I'm a dawn runner. Perfect.
Twice a week I drove to the park for training. Met lots of nice, and not so nice animals.
I prayed a lot during those runs. "Please God, don't let me trip and break something." "God, keep the bears away." "Thank you God for the beauty of the deer, the squirrels, and the weather." "Dear Lord, keep this cute little raccoon away and don't let him bite anyone." "Thank you, Jesus, for strong ankles. That root came out of nowhere."
I invented a handy little device. It's called 'rubber bands on CamelPak for iPhone'. It put my phone front and center so that 1) I don't need to use headphones, 2) I can easily make emergency calls, and most importantly 3) I can play my music loud enough to let oncoming mammals, i.e. bears, know that I'm coming while allowing me to hear my surroundings.
Never saw a bear. Thank you Jesus. (saw one on the road once but that's a different story)
Race day came and I felt prepared. I slept well, ate well, packed plenty of #Runergy, intestines did what they needed to when I needed them to. My only hesitation was the fact that the race was very small. Four race lengths - 4 miles, 10 miles, marathon, and 50k with a total of less than 250 people. There were less than 30 in my race. Well, two hesitations. Would I get lost? Would the trails be marked well enough?
At the start line, the race director gave us a brief, told us which colored tape to follow. (Mine was pink). He also told us that part of the trail had just recently been burned and there may be some smoke. That didn't bother me too much because the 50k runners started ahead of us and they were on the same course at that point. If there was a problem, they would alert the rest of us. At least I hoped they would.
Go! was called and I was off. There was no electronic timing or chip timing. All by hand, so I started near the front. The first three people shot off, the next two close behind, and I fell in behind a tall young man. Seventh in line. The course was mostly single track. We stayed in this order for the first 6 or so miles.
Then it happened. Hills. First hill, not so bad. A little difficult to grip, being sand and pine needles. I stayed behind the guy. Second hill, I slowed down. By the fifth, I was walking. I lost count of the hills. To say the least, I did not expect so many, if any. At least not tall hills. In central Florida. I trained on hills, on wet grass up hills, but not for 26 miles. Uphill. I had to jump over a fallen tree, twice. Came to an 8-foot drop, a gulley, and had to stop and figure out where to go. Down, back up, continue on and up another hill.
Around mile 13 (I think) I came to the burned out section. There were hot spots with smoke and ash and burned out trail. I pulled my shirt over my mouth and nose to breathe. Someone drew with a stick arrows to point the way. Thank you!! A tree branch with the trail tape had fallen over and I had to jump over that. A large tree, that was still smoldering, had fallen across the trail. I sideswiped that and barely missed getting burned. If the air temperature had been 5 degrees warmer I think the forest might have erupted in flame. A woman passed me who wasn't wearing knee socks (I was). The back of her legs were black with ash and dirt and mud.
Once the guy in front of me was out of sight, I pretty much ran alone. That didn't bother me because I was too busy making sure I was on the right path, dodging roots, and praying. Oh yes, I prayed. "Thank you God for giving me this ability." "God, I run today for those who can't." I named a person for each step. I take this step for Loretta. This one for Corelai. This one is for Angie. Mrs. Matthews. TJ. Grandma. James. Ken. Darryl. The list went on and on. I pretty much convinced myself/decided right there and then that as long as I was capable of running, I was going to continue to do so. I am going to be the oldest person in the race one day. I am. Just ask my husband.
At 4 hours and 38 minutes and 31 seconds the battery in my GPS gave out with less than 3 miles to go. I texted my husband and let him know where I was. Using Siri voice activation, I thought I said, "On the last loop." The text went through as, "Just our luck to." Ha Ha. That's okay. The point was to let him know I was still alive.
I made it to the finish line in 5 hours and 13 minutes. Not fast at all for a marathon. But - and here's the BUT - IT WAS THE HARDEST RACE I HAVE EVER DONE AND I FINISHED!!! Not only did I finish, I was still breathing, not crawling, not bloody (except for one blister), not broken, and pretty happy. I even had enough energy to jump up and slap the FINISH LINE banner.
After drinking a full bottle of cold water I said to my husband, "You know, that was fun. I think I want to do a race ON my birthday." It is is 4 months.
|Running the trails|
|Raccoon on my trail|
|Follow the pink ribbons!|
|Nice feet! Only one blister.|
|Ready to run!|
|My reward, a shirt and a medal. 5 for 50.|
|Results. 10th overall.|
P.S. I have signed up for my "birthday race". It is in Utah on 7/24/2015.