It’s hard to believe that summer is over and we’re smack in the middle of fall. It a great time of the year to run a race or two after training through the hot summer days. I had some pretty high ambitions for this fall running season. I signed up to run a 50k and two half marathons. Unfortunately a series of injuries has kept me rather sidelined for a few months. I battled with pain in my feet and ankles after running my segment for MS Run the US. I went to the Dr and had the typical x-ray and suggestion to cut back on my running and rest. Like a good student, I did just that. I took several weeks off completely from running and then only added in a few miles at a time following for several more weeks. Determined to keep some level of fitness in tact, I switched my training focus over to the bike and sometimes the stair climber. I replaced my long Sunday morning runs with long bike rides to neighboring towns. I struggled to get the same level of workout on the bike as I did from running. I forced myself outside of my comfort zone and tried to incorporate more hills in my rides and used intervals for the flats. Flash forward to a few weeks before the 50k I signed up for and I was finally getting back to running. I was slowly building up some mileage but found that my speed and mental endurance really suffered. A 15 mile run used to be something I knocked out mid week without struggle. Now I was fighting to string a few miles together. I was having serious doubts about being able to run the 50k I had signed up for. I attempted to run the same 50k race last year. I had a great training season last summer and went into the race feeling really good. Unfortunately last years attempt left me walking away from the race with a DNF. I completed only 2 of the 3 loops around the lake. I was having serious doubts about my ability to complete the race this year with less than par training and really just recovering from injuries.
The GOATz 50k race is put on by a local group – Greater Omaha Area Trail Runners. This group was instrumental in helping me with my fundraising and training for MS Run the US. Check out their website and see all of the great things they are doing for our running and local community! This was the 4th year for this event. It’s held at Lake Cunningham on the north side of Omaha. Lake Cunningham is home to some wonderful trails and beautiful lake views. The 50k consists of three loops around the lake.
Race morning I woke up feeling uneasy and achy. It was cold ad foggy outside. I was questioning my ability to run 31 miles on the trails. I woke with a headache. I was having serious doubts about the day ahead of me. My husband agreed to take me to the race and and see me off. He planned to return later with my son to cheer me on. As we were sitting in the truck prior to the start, I was complaining of how cold it was. I just couldn’t see to get warm and was nervous about being out there running in it for so long. Not having run outside much recently, my body hasn’t had a chance to adapt to the cooler temps. A few minutes before race start I found my way to to the the starting area and settled in toward the back of the crowd. I knew I would be slower and didn’t want to hold the faster runners back on the narrow paths. The start gun went off and I gave an uneasy wave goodbye to my husband.
The first loop around the lake proved to be just as challenging as I had anticipated. My body was hurting, I was cold, my toes were numb, my mind couldn’t get focused and I was ready to call it quits. I saw my husband at the fueling area as I came in from the first loop. I told him what I was feeling and waited for him to take me home. STOP! NO! That did not happen. NO, he would not take me home. We had a conversation after last years DNF that I didn’t ever want him to support my decision to quit a race again. So, he didn’t. He told me to grab some food and water and go back out there. He reminded me that I was okay and that this time he would see me at the halfway point of the loop. Okay, fair enough. I can run 5 more miles I thought; and I did just that. I took my time and settled in with a a few guys that were about my pace and struck up some conversation. I began to remember why I signed up for this, and why I LOVE RUNNING so much! It wasn’t long and and I was half way around my second loop. My husband and son were there to give me some cheer and support. I was feeling more energized and eager to get some more miles in.
As I came in from the second loop, my body was feeling at home again. My endurance systems were kicked in and my mental state was strong. I took a few minutes to get some help from the awesome volunteers to wrap a blister on my toe and grab some food. I was ready to knock out loop three. I had been playing cat and mouse with a few other runners the second loop, but the third loop I was less worried about bonking and being able to finish. I could tell that my body was ready to give me 10 more miles so I picked my pace up a little bit. I started to pass some of the other runners. I was smiling ear to ear and pleased with my body’s response considering my training. My husband and son showed up a few more times to cheer me on and check on me. My son even ran a little over a mile with me to keep me company. His fresh legs helped me to keep up the pace.
It wasn’t long before I saw the flags on the trail indicating I had about a mile left to the finish line. I started picturing the volunteer placing the medal around my neck. The medal that I failed to earn the year prior. As I ran into the finish area I had a little kick left in me and decided to pick it up. There was a mom and her two daughters waiting along the finish line for their husband/dad. The girls were cheering and clapping for me. I gave them high fives as I passed them. This was one of the best race finishes I’ve ever had. I wasn’t fast – in fact many racers finished in the time it took me to run two loops. But I didn’t care. I found myself again on the trails and I remembered how much I enjoy this sport and our running community.
Thank you GOATz for another great race!