When did the middle of October sneak up and bite me in the butt? I'm not quite sure, but it sure got here in a hurry. This means it's almost time to meander across the border to Utah to gather with like-minded friends at the spot where the Dewey Bridge once stood. From there we'll be moving as swiftly as our bodies will allow to Sorrel River Ranch, 13.1 miles down the road.
This was a race I looked forward to greatly back in 2007, when I timidly signed up for The Other Half as a member of Team Tiara, the fundraising leg of Girls on the Run. I really didn't think I could cover the distance at the time of registration and was terrified the first time I showed up for a training run with all those strong, fit ladies. As it turned out, they were all pretty great and encouraging, and I started sliding down that slippery slope from just wanting to finish to modest time goals to what were moderately aggressive at the time. Squeaking in to the finish in just under two hours was an exhilirating feeling, and I was truly bummed the next year that the race date was too close to that of my first marathon. Returning in 2009, though, I remembered exactly why I love this race. Beautiful surroundings, a course that keeps coming at you with good hills and rolls, one big climb late in the race, and then the opportunity to run all-out after cresting that hill and heading down toward the finish. Stoked? You bet.
As for goals, motivation, and confidence, I think it's safe to say that I have kicked all negative feelings about Imogene to the curb. It was a bad day, I was disappointed, but it was just one day. I turned around and ran a local 5K two weeks ago that I have run every year since becoming a runner, trimmed one second off my time from the year before and somehow snuck into the first place women's spot. While I will be the first to say that 21:25 really doesn't and shouldn't win a race (and was probably the slowest winning time for women since the race started), it felt goodnonetheless to keep up a consistent pace for most of the race, and not let any other women get ahead of me. My huge positive splits in 5K's have been sort of a pattern so it was a huge confidence booster to keep things pretty even.
What's more is that the race honors a girl who ran for one of the local cross country teams and passed away in a car accident. It's a total celebration of her life-not depressing at all, with her family and friends running and in attendance. People seem to be very "up" for this race, and just ready to give 110% since we're healthy and able to do it. There is a huge high school cross country race that follows the citizen race, and it's down in the area where I do so much of my running, through the lakes and trees along our riverfront trail. If I could pick any one local race I'd like to win, this definitely would make the cut. It was just the kind of bounce-back to get the ball rolling toward my fall goals.
Goals? Oh, yeah. I have a few. I am not putting massive amounts of pressure on myself, but I d have that New York City Marathon guaranteed entry standard whispering in the back of my head. Sure, 1:37 is over three minutes faster than my fastest half to date. Sure, The Other Half is a very rolly course. You'd never describe it as flat and fast. That said, I don't care why I shouldn't be able to do it. I'm up for this race as much as any race, and even though it kind of hurt to push over some of the hills last year, it was a good hurt and I'm feeling focused and ready to do it again. 1:37 is a long shot right now, but it's possible. I'll push with everything I have Sunday morning, and we'll see how it turns out.
As far as other goals, I have taken my first step toward my not-so-secret-anymore desire to one day run the Leadville Trail 100. I registered for the Moab RedHot 50K+, which will take place in February. I briefly had my name on the entry list for that race last year after upgrading from the 33K, but minor injuries and lack of appropriate training made it a no-brainer to shift back down to the short race. This year, though, I'm training for it as my main goal race for the early spring. I'm already spending more time on trails, and have made some changes to the way I used to run that now allow me to be more confident and more efficient. It's a learning process and I still have a long way to go, but I am actually feeling up to the challenge of 34 miles, and not petrified and sick to my stomach. I didn't know where it went, but it feels so good to have found my running mojo again.