So I've run two more trail races in the past couple of weeks. The first sucked. I'd not felt well all day but chalked it up to PMS (TMI? Well, we might as well get that out of the way right off the bat, no?). The course was changed to a completely different location which I was a bit disappointed about, as the planned course is one of my favorites (even though last year I went off course in a torrential rainstorm and Julie and Cathy had to sit in the car and wait for me to find my way back. I think I came in dead last). Anyway, the revised course was fine, I felt okay at the start of the race, and had a pretty strong start. After a couple of miles, though, I starting feeling really bad, and slowed to a sad little shuffle, which I barely maintained for the rest of the race even though at that point the course was mostly downhill. We went to the after-party but I felt terrible and went home to bed, where I stayed the entire next day. Blergh. Did not make my goal of finishing in the top half, of course, but honestly I was happy to have finished at all.
The most recent race was last Wednesday, which was much better. Monsoon season has arrived here in the mountains, and it was a cool, cloudy evening - my favorite weather for running. Luckily the rain held off until the very end. We did have to full-on run through a stream with water up past our ankles, though. Made for squishy socks but otherwise was kind of fun - I felt like a kid illicitly splashing through puddles. The race director changed this course too - hey, why not? - and made the routes shorter than they've traditionally been (although the so-called 5k ended up being close to 4.5 miles). I felt weak-ish at the beginning but hit a decent stride after a mile or so and settled into a nice rhythm. The girl I crossed the finish line with during my first race passed me, and then a bit later, I passed her. Then she passed me again (bitch. just kidding) and I began to slow as we reached a couple of hills. But then - THEN. The course turned steeply downhill - oh, sweet downhill, how I love you - and I was able to break ahead. I made my way down the very rocky path toward the finish and tried to keep my momentum going. After crossing the stream again (which, I admit, was more squishy and a little less fun the second time around) I began to feel really tired and done, but I wanted to finish strong. And then out of nowhere, this guy appears in my peripheral vision and started ... yelling at me. "GO, GO, GO - YOU CAN DO IT, GIRL! PUSH IT! DIG DEEP!" I was so focused that I didn't even turn to look at his face, but I can't tell you how much I appreciated his words and energy. It really does make a difference, hearing someone root for you. I crossed the finish line with a big grin on my face and turned around to thank him, but he was gone.
I still have no idea who he was, and am not actually sure whether he was a good Samaritan who saw a stranger struggling and did a good deed, or if he had just mistaken me for his neighbor or librarian (he might have called me Jean) . Either way, I was very grateful. It was awesome. And I did make it into the top half again. Three out of four ain't bad.