Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Conquering the Bear

As I drove to the North Face Endurance Challenge – Northeast Regionals at Bear Mountain, I was anxious.  I’ve raced here 3 times before and have never had a great day on these trails.  I spent most of the spring on and off injured, and wasn’t sure that my fitness was there.  I hadn’t really raced an ultra in months, and so even the 50k seemed overwhelming to consider. 
But, once I put on my trusty TrailRocs and the race started, I finally relaxed.  I remembered that I do ultras because I am passionate about running and the trails.  I enjoyed the camaraderie of numerous runners out there, catching up with old friends or meeting new one, and seamlessly passing the miles.  I kept my head up and took in the views of the Catskills, smiled as I cruised over single track, and enjoyed racing through the trees.  I remembered that this is why I run, and took in the miles and experiences.  As I slapped Dean high five at 20 miles in, I realized that my legs felt ok – my injury wasn’t bothering me, my fitness was holding up, and I only had 10 miles to go.  My anxiety about the race had been unfounded.

With 3 miles to go, and nothing but downhill to the finish, it was the first time I really let go and opened up the stride.  I was the first female, and was finally going to have a great day at Bear Mountain!  I had a smile plastered on my face, and embraced the fatigue in the legs.  I worked with the racers who were near me, as we all charged towards the finish.  I cross the finish line and literally jumped for joy.  I had conquered the Bear, I had overcome my injury, I had enjoyed 50k of joy, passion, and beauty, and I had loved every minute of it.  This is why I run…

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