This year's winter was the hardest I'd been through in the years I've lived in Missoula. It snowed every single day in February and there was an avalanche in town that took the life of a Missoula resident. It was a difficult time.
By the time March rolled around, I had been hermiting indoors for weeks. I nixed Run for the Luck of It that month because I knew I wouldn't run well and that it would just depress me. Instead, I ran the YMCA Riverbank Run in mid-May. I wasn't sick (like I was last year), so that was a plus. I ran it faster than my fastest 5K last year, which meant things were moving in the right direction.
|YMCA Riverbank Run 2014|
One week later, I ran 11 Miles to Paradise and faced that whole getting lost in the woods issue I have. I started (after four nervous pees and VERY reluctantly taking off my jacket) in the second wave of runners. We ran the first mile on a fire road before making a sharp left onto the trail. This is what I've been waiting for, I thought to myself.
|Quinn's Hot Springs, home of 11 Miles to Paradise|
The announcer told us before we started, "Stay on the trail. If you step left, you'll fall down the mountain and into the river. If you go right, you'll be scrambling up the mountain." Solid advice.
I ran that race for the enjoyment of it. I had embarrassing thoughts about bounding around the forest like a deer and being one with nature. I'd never run a race so happy. I hiked up steep inclines and hopped over rocks, listened to the river below me and the sound of my own breathing. It was a kind of solitude I'd never felt in a road race.
And then I heard it...
"We doin', big pimpin', we spendin' G's
Check 'em out now, big pimpin', on B L A D's"
Another racer's motivational music. Solitude is overrated anyway.
The last turn in the race was under water because of flooding, so I scrambled over and around some rocks to get to the finish line.
I knew, right then and there, that I'd be running this race again. Jay-Z or no Jay-Z.
|11 Miles to Paradise 2014|
Next up is the race that made me want to run trail races, the Pengelly Single Dip.