It’s amazing what a smile can do.

Door County Fall 50.

This is a race that I have had mix feelings about.  Excited, terrified, unsure, confident, and confused.  Knowing the struggle that I endured last year, I was not looking forward to that kind of suffering again.  Running in general for me, as of late has lost its luster, that magic quality that pulls you in to a place of tranquility.  It has been a challenge to even get out the door, to even think about going for a run.  Always being a solo runner, if I didn’t have a running partner I simply didn’t go.

There are many reasons that I will tell you why I haven’t been running/training.  Work, school, kids, spouse, new dog, etc. The list goes on.  One reason is to blame though deep down and I know it. Boston.  I had not recovered from that.  Physically I suppose I did, although my training was nil.  Mentally and emotionally not even a chance.  My will had been broken, that mental toughness that got me through tough training runs had disappeared.  How was I going to run 50 miles with out toughness?!  Last year that is all that got me through those last 10 miles.

Doubting myself and my ability I had to make a decision.  Run or don’t.  If i was ever going to get my love back for running this should be the ultimate test.  With hundreds of miles less in training and my stubborn attitude gone, this sounded impossible.  Even to my partner, he had no confidence in the feat that i was about to encounter.  He will be the first to admit that he would have bet money on me that i would not finish.  But he agreed to go with me against his better judgment.

I made the decision.  Instead of try to beat my previous years time(the plan when i signed up before Boston), I was going to run my race, I was going to finish, I wasn’t going to care where i was in rank, I was going to have the “come to Jesus” meeting with myself and find my love for running again.  This race will be a new start, the pain from Boston will always be there, but it doesn’t need to be at the surface and determine who I will become.  Time to let it go.

Roger and Roubaix make the trip with me the day before, we got my packet ate dinner and prepared for the day to come.  In true Nora race fashion we are there early, and I am pushing the nervousness back down my throat.  The dog is overstimulated and we are all cold.  Race morning brings us low 40’s with 30 mph winds along the coast. I am supposed to have fun?

The gun goes off and we start, I am in the middle of the pack instead of on the start line.  I start slow, I would like to negative split for once.  my nice “slow” pace turns out to be the same pace I started out at last year, oops.

1-10 miles were fine, steady pace ran through the first race stop and got to see my boys. I started the race with a smile on my face and a whatever attitude. I was going to finish that way.

A little chit chat with fellow runners along the way makes the miles go by way faster.  After the pit stop at 11 I was charged up. i was determined to run smart, walk the hills, take time at the rest stops, kiss the boys, and don’t rush. I was slowing a bit the wind ended up being mostly a tail wind(whew), but sometimes made for a nasty cross wind.

The colors were amazing and that’s the part I needed, the solitude to appreciate the smells of nature.  Be in awe of the change in something so alive all around me.   Those next few miles were just that, running through a state park along the water was indeed serene.  For the first time i am running a race with a smile on my face.

i am greeted at each stop from my support crew, roger keeps asking if I want to know how I am doing, my answer is always no. I just want to finish, that is my goal, finish before 6 pm.
i get to mile 30 and more than half way there, looks like i could finish in 9 hours, but i walk when i need to and don’t feel bad about it.  Mile 40 and still feeling good, still with a smile.

I reach the 41 mile rest stop.  This is where it really fell apart last year, the goal then was just make it one more mile.  i knew this year if i could come into the stop feeling good, I could finish strong. I came in without a problem.

Only 9 to go. I ran, I walked.  I wanted to conserve a bit so I could push the last two miles in faster. Last year they were so hard, I was crying in pain.  This year my body was fine, my mind was clear.  I was happy. I get to 48 and it’s go time.  I wasn’t going fast per se, but faster than the 10:20 i was doing.  Man did it feel good to have something left to give.  I look at my watch and i know i can get in before 9 hours.

I finish with a smile and in 8:55, only 55 minutes slower than last year but this one was better.  I still managed a 6th age group placing and 14th overall female.  My man is speechless, never in his wildest dreams could i have accomplished this.  Boy did i prove him wrong.

It remains to be seen if my will has resurfaced and if the love is back, right now i believe it is.  I am sore from head to toe, but i embrace all of it knowing that i did something that will change me forever and bring me back.  it’s that good kind of hurt.

Anytime I had a doubt or I focused on the humongous blister between my toes.  I forced that smile and it all went away.  who knew running 50 miles could be FUN!

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