Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Finishing Up & Looking Ahead

The 2009 racing season has officially ended for me. With all of the hunters taking over the woods this time of year, we have been pretty much banished to the roads, which is both mentally and physically challenging for me. This weekend Joe and I decided to combine some running fun with family visiting and ventured down to State College, PA, which gave us a chance to visit with Joe’s daughter, Morgan, and her family and challenge ourselves with the Nittany Valley Half Marathon on Sunday. The last (and only time) that I ran this race was in 2002 and all I remember is how awful I felt from the very beginning until the bitter end. I am certain that I could have fallen down the hills faster than I was running them. So this time I really just wanted to redeem myself and, of course, have fun.

As usual, Joe and I got into the spirit of this time of year and festively dressed in some really cool long green shorts with jingle bells on them (a fantastic find at K-Mart), red shirts and red hats. We both think that it is very important to not only run fast but to look good doing it. The fast doesn’t always come, but we always look good!

The first two miles of the race were run as a two-loop circuit on the Penn State campus. Snow that had fallen on Saturday made this part of the course a bit treacherous and really made us hold back to keep from falling (read . . . time lost!). But at least it kept us from going out too fast and blowing up. Then it was onto the roads and uphills and downhills. I have to say, for a road race, I was having fun and feeling like I was running well. But I do have to say that road racing (and road racers) are intense! Both Joe and I ran without watches, a rare sight as we noticed the other racers. Many of the runners were wearing ear phones which limited any conversation, although even when I tried to share a few words with the non-ear-phone-wearing runner, I was pretty much ignored. I’m not saying that the others weren’t friendly; we did meet and get to talk with some really great people, but it just wasn’t the atmosphere of the trails. But that’s OK; I guess feeling some of that intensity is good – it spurs you to put a little something extra into your speed. It was good for me.

But, hold on, what was that? At around mile 11 I passed some guys sitting behind a table with a sign in front reading “Beer Stop”. Whoa, wait a minute; I certainly had better go back to that one! And I turned around and ran back to the table and stopped running and enjoyed a very nice lager with what were certainly the angels of the race! OK, I have to say that the roadrunners got this one right. And with that burst of energy I flew to the finish line! 1:47:42; not bad for a heavy-weight ultrarunner! Joe wasn’t far behind, coming into the finish in 2:00:05 . . . better than his last half marathon in August and good for first in his age group!

It was a great weekend of visiting and running. And now it’s time to rest and catch-up on the rugby happenings. And time to think about the upcoming Spring running schedule. And you know what the really good news is? I won the lottery! OK, not THE lottery, but really just as good. The Massanutten Mountain 100 lottery. Only now I have a tough decision to make . . . Massanutten on May 15 or MorFun Wapack Trail 50Miler on May 10. I’ll let you know which one wins. Got to make that decision fast.

We have snow here on the hill today and it’s got me thinking about snowshoeing and xc skiing. Excellent!

“I feel eager and ready for another excursion a month or two long in the same wonderful wilderness. Now, however, I must turn toward the lowlands, praying and hoping Heaven will shove me back again.” - John Muir

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