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Monday, October 24, 2011

40 miles of thoughts...

Since I made it official here, I guess I need to recap it here too.  I completed the Triple Lakes 40 mile trail race on October 15. SUCCESS!!!!

My only goal was to finish the race- in an upright position- and on my own 2 feet. I am very happy to report that I did just that. Well, not JUST that, but I did that.  I feel like I did so much more..
In that 40 miles, I had many conversations with myself, thanked my guardian angles for keeping me from face planting SEVERAL times, wrote a new blog, pondered the meaning of life, unsuccessfully attempted mathematical equations, encountered scary sounding beasts (which ended up being cows), evaded some 'close talkers', avoided an emotional breakdown near mile 30-something and had an emotional break down at mile 40. It was a busy day.

It couldn't have been a more perfect day. Everything just came together in the most harmonious way..the weather, the trail, the event itself... just perfect.
I couldn't help but find the parallels between a trail race and life.  The trail was very technical with a great percentage of it covered in leaves.  Constant attention was required to avoid slipping or tripping on rocks or sticks.  Every so often the trail would come to a 'flat' stretch and I found my self looking up from the ground just long enough to take in my surroundings. When I tried to look back down at the trail, it was gone. Vanished.  I felt as if I were standing in the middle of the forrest alone. After a few seconds of concentration I could start to see where the trail was.  I kept my eyes peeled and continued moving forward.  'Wow,' I thought 'life is a lot like this trail race.  You have to stay focused on the path you are following.  If you look away or become distracted, you may lose your way.'
Focus grasshopper, focus.
Another similarity...sometimes you may be caught with snot on your face, you have to wipe it off and just keep going.  Really, things don't always go the way we envisioned them every time. You may end up with egg (or snot) on your face, but you have to get back up, wipe it off and keep going.

All the happy thoughts in the world and I still almost had an emotional breakdown at mile 30-something.  If you are a runner, you definitely understand that at some point in any race you may become over whelmed with emotion..the longer the race the greater the likelihood.  If you aren't a runner, you'll just have to trust me on this.  All I could think about was finishing and when I did I knew I would see my friends.  They would be there smiling and excited to see me.  I started to cry.  And let me tell you it is NOT easy to run and can't breathe! I could see Katie and Danielle and Jenny and their smiling faces in my mind.  I knew they would be there and I was so happy to have such amazing friends to share this moment with.  Friends who loved me and supported me. I had to put that thought on hold in order to get my breathing back to normal.  'Later, ' I told myself 'you can go back to that thought later.  For now just keep running.'

Just keep running is what I did for a few more miles.  I had no idea how much further it was.  I could hear people cheering off in the distance but couldn't tell how close I was, nor did I know if they were people from the race or some other event going on in the area.  I tried not to get too excited, but after spending so many hours alone in the woods, the sound of other's voices was pretty exciting. A few miles later I came around a curve and down a hill and ran past some people. I thought I heard them telling me which direction to run, but I didn't completely understand. 'Turn right, cross the street' and something about cones.  When I crossed the street I could see some orange cones ahead and figured that was what they were talking about. 'Head to the cones' I told myself.
As I am heading toward the cones I hear "That's Michelle!"  I knew that familiar voice, I knew it was an exclamation for me.. 'through the cones I kept telling myself', but I could feel my thoughts drifting to seeing Katie, Danielle and Jenny and I started to get a huge lump in my throat. 'Oh no', I thought ' don't cry now, they will think you are having a heart attack!' I could feel myself having trouble breathing and kept trying to push back the tears. 'Finish the race and then cry' is what I kept telling myself...and I did.
I crossed the finish line with tears in my eyes and a smile on my face.  Danielle and Jenny were cheering and clapping and there was Katie, arms raised in victory. I went right to her, gave her a big hug and burst into tears.  I couldn't help it, I was so happy that I had accomplished my goal, but even happier to have amazing friends to share it with. A round of hugs with everyone and Danielle was right there with my recovery shake.  I think I still had tears in my eyes. I couldn't help it. I was thinking 'this must be what Heaven is like. Greeted by people you love with open arms and snacks.'
 Yep, life IS like a trail race