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Mill Stone 50k

Humourous sign by Trish
Photo Credit: Andrew Swistak
The most memorable runs are always the ones you had to suffer the most and fight the hardest. Up till I moved a couple months ago, I had saved most of my race bibs from the last two to three years of running. Moving 20-30 pieces of paper wasn't hard; however, I realized many of them weren't worth saving. While packing and going through the race-related pile, I ended up only saving a self-made trail map with the Looking Glass Look Around route, the West Virginia Trilogy bib, and a bib with my trail name on it from Rabid Squirrel (which technically was not a race). Those races/runs have a special place in my heart for the lessons I learned from them, the people I met/ran with, and the struggles I had to overcome. Adding to the list of memorable races is the Mill Stone 50k.

Photo credit: Andrew Swistak
When I signed up for the race while still recovering from my calf & shin injuries, I wasn't even sure I'd be able to run it. However, I wanted to support my Rock Hill Striders friends for putting on this inaugural ultra race. Yesterday, I was happy that I was able to run it, but it wasn't easy. The course consists of running a 10.5-mile loop three times. I went out at a steady pace, which I still think was the right pace...if I had add in walk breaks earlier. The undulating course encouraged continuous running, which was what I did for the first two loops. The problem was my body wasn't ready for it after being out of the ultra scene for a couple months. At the end of the second loop, I felt the toll of the constant up-and-downs had taken on me. My splits for the third loop was at least a minute slower than the first two, understandably due to the extra walking I had to do.

Some wise people once told me that we run the first one-third of the marathon with our legs, the second third with our mind, and the last third with your heart. My last loop of the race was definitely ran with my heart. Out of nowhere, "keep fighting" came to mind. "Fight" is not in my day-to-day vocabulary. But somehow, at that moment, I was reminded to give this race a fighting chance. Then I remember this scripture:
The LORD your God who goes before you will himself fight for you, just as he did for you in Egypt before your eyes, and in the wilderness, where you have seen how the LORD your God carried you, as a man carries his son, all the way that you went until you came to this place. (Deuteronomy 1:30-31 ESV)
Sometimes, be still is to keep fighting the battle which God has put before you and to know that the outcome is in God's hands.

While the aid stations were spaced out perfectly, that 3.5 miles from the last aid station to the finish line felt like miles and miles away. And by now, each little up is a workout (or a hike). Slowly but surely, the aid station at the start/finish after climbing up the gravel road came into sight - a very, very welcomed sight. Once crossed the finish line, a medal in the shape of a mill stone was placed around my neck and I was greeted with many smiling faces, including Lito's!

Thank you, Rock Hill Striders and all the volunteers (Craig, Terri, Don, Trish, Hope, Scott...and many others). It's very special to see so many familiar faces, either running with me, volunteering, or simply being there.
Look, I ran across a creek; I am a trail runner!
Photo Credit: Don Rice

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