Five Days of Decision

Last Thursday, an email from Rocky Raccoon's RD unexpectedly arrived in my inbox, informing me that I'm moved from the wait list (of over 100 names before mine) to the runner list. I have been given five days to make a decision whether I want the spot and that has been on my mind since. Today is the day.

A lot has happened in the last couple days. My weekend started Friday after work when I drove 3+ hour to Daniel Boone Camp, about 30 miles southwest of Asheville, to take part in the Art Loeb Trail Adventure Run by WNC Trail Runner. There were about 20 of us in the cabin (Yes, I didn't have to camp!) and it was such a fun gathering of runners. Next morning, they set out promptly at 6 a.m. to the other end of Art Loeb Trail at Davidson River Campground while I stayed behind for a little longer to start from this end of the trail for a much shorter version. The trail head is not even a quarter mile from our lodge and it goes up immediately. I ran, hiked, skipped, and climbed along, so thankful to be in God's playground once again. After the first initial climb, the trail levels out a bit and runs along the side of the mountain. My thoughts naturally winded back to Rocky Raccoon, the decision to be made at hand. Should I do it? 50 miles is a lot of distance for someone who's only been doing 2 to 2.5-hour long runs. Is it worthwhile to risk re-injuring? The lure to do something outside of reach is great.
Deep Gap
That's my first sight after making it up to Deep Gap. I think I'd love running up mountains either way, but the reward of a breathtaking view definitely sweeten the deal. I ran along the ridge line some more, stopping and enjoying the view here and there. Running without any pressure and expectation helps me to appreciate the surroundings and running itself so much more. This was when I thought, "No, I'm not running Rocky Raccoon so I could do more of this."

I finished my run shortly after 11, made it back to the lodge, changed and got ready to go. Later, I heard from Stan that the fastest runner, Mad A, finished the whole 30+ mile run at 2 p.m.-ish - absolutely incredible. I was bummed that I couldn't stay longer to enjoy more of their company and trail stories, but I had something else waiting for me back in Charlotte.

Three hours later, I found myself at Piper Glen Starbucks, meeting up with Peter from Vac and Dash for our SLR Unsanctioned Run #4 - Ugly Christmas Sweater Run's packet pick-up. Peter was already there, with shirts and bags already spread out on the tables, ready for runners. About 14 people came, more than I expected. Besides having a packet pick-up for the first time, this was also the first time I had to put up signs for turns for a new loop off the greenway. Doing the loop both ways (out-and-back) puts us at 13.1 miles and adds a little hill to change things up a bit. Going forward, I'd like to stick to this half marathon course.

Beautiful runners in ugly sweaters

Occupy Starbucks
Came Sunday morning, I found myself back at the same Starbucks at 6:30 a.m. Peter, Brandy, and Connie were there already - once again - all set up and ready to go. It was cold, around 28 degrees. The weather didn't warm up much at all, but to my surprise, about 70 runners still showed up. My legs felt good after yesterday so I decided to start with the runners and ran to the turn-around aid station to see Kate and Jessica. 6.5 miles at around 7:50 pace. My breathing was fine, but my calf wasn't as good. Will I be ready in six weeks? I didn't linger in that thought too long because "Occupy Starbucks" commenced after the race. Everyone seemed to enjoy the over-abundance of baked goods, coffee, and fellowship. I love the SLR crew and the running community. Isn't this a large part of why we run?
Monday morning was back to the elliptical for me. I have learned to appreciate it more over the past two months. Staring at the words, "stop if you feel pain, nausea..." my mind was once again somewhere else. I thought about the ethics of spending money on races and the travel expenses that accompany them. I thought about the call to take poverty personally and to share the suffering of others. I thought about donating that race money instead. If nothing else, it's a morning of conviction and a prayerful elliptical time, if you will.

Now we are up to date. Here I am, with my feet up after 10-ish solo miles on gravel trail & single tracks covered in a thin layer of snow. I am grateful not only being able to run again, but am slowly ramping up miles each week. Part of me still wants to run and experience a big race like Rocky Raccoon and may be I'll be ready in six weeks, but the past several days have shown me this is not the time. I want to take recovery slowly, to savor little victories of adding mileage each week, to run some quality races before tackling the big miles, and to actually train to race. 

Happy Birthday, Jesus. Thank you for always running with me.

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