|Peter and I|
At check-in, Peter recognized me from the Idiot Run and came up to greet me. This was only the second time meeting Peter in person, but from our brief conversations and correspondence, and having followed Vac & Dash's news and events in the past year, it was like meeting an old friend. Peter is truly an inspiration and a linchpin of the local running community.
At 10:15pm, Peter gathered all of us for briefing. He made it clear that we were all guinea pigs at this inaugural event. His major concern was traffic. Fortunately at this time of night, the roads were mostly clearly, especially on Morrow Mountain Road where the majority of the race was. The course is almost identical to the Fellowship of the Idiot Run, a 19.7 mile run to the summit of Morrow Mountain. Knowing that, I mentally prepared myself to run a lot of rolling hills and gradual uphills for the majority of the first half, then some steep hills to the top of the Morrow Mountain, and coming back down to meet the rolling and graduate hills again. Since this was my last long run before Blue Ridge Marathon next week, I took it pretty easy. Recently, I've learned that regulating and controlling my heart rate is the most important thing in running uphill. It allows me to run longer, smoother, and frankly, less painful. This was the perfect time and place to put it into practice.
Aside from the first two to three minutes, we were all spread out on the course. I was glad to have two people in sight for all of the first half, ensuring that I was on the course and was not completely alone in the dark. Going uphills, I like putting my head down and just work at it one step at a time. As the road became flat and downhill again, I'd look up and see where I was at. Several times, I was surprised to find out I had closed the gap. However, that didn't last long because they'd leave me in the dust going downhill again. Tempting as it was, I didn't try chasing them down and just kept running at a comfortable pace. Three water stops and 50 minutes later, I've reached the top and the turn-around-point. This time, I had caught up with one of the runners in front of me for real!
After the turning point, it's all about coming home. If the first half of the race was physically challenging, the second half was mentally challenging. It was as if my body thought that the run was over, which made even 6.5 mile seem long. Moreover, the second half wasn't without its challenges. "Faithfulness is a long obedience in the same direction," I kept reminding myself.
By the time I finished the race, The Hunger Games was over. But the whole volunteer crew and Peter were there to welcome us in. As I ran through the cones, a volunteer handed me a medal with the fun event graphic which I love. Another job well done, Vac & Dash!
The last runner came in at around two and a half hour -- a lady with multiple sclerosis. How inspiring is that? It's difficult to explain why I love running. But stories like this and races as such have a lot to do with it. They keep running fun, meaningful, and life changing.
|Second place finish and my trophy.|
Not only that, but we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope... (Romans 5:3-5 ESV)