Running against my yesterday
This is the biggest turn out so far for the Summit Trail Running Series, which to me only means more people will cross the finish line before I do.
Any race in Summit County is a rather daunting prospect as so many of the people who participate in these races are in incredible physical condition. I have to constantly remind myself that this is not a race: This is an event to evaluate how I am doing coming compared to yesterday. I cannot allow myself to fall into the trap of trying to actually race against anyone else here. It would only end poorly for me.
It is a warm evening as the long-course runners get started. As the pack turns the first corner and are out of sight, I wonder how many of them will pass me before I finish. Usually, the long and short courses overlap for the last mile or two. The long-course runners routinely pass me at a pace far faster than I will ever run. And, by then, they have already run much farther than I have on the short course.
They look effortless as they run past me, gliding smoothly down the trail over rocks and roots that reach up and grab my toes every third step. I have spent the last miles at many previous races hopping to the side of the narrow trails to let them pass, as they clearly consider this is a competitive race rather than a motivational tool. I have to remind myself as each one passes me that I am not racing them — I am racing my yesterday.
As the short-course runners line up for our start, I try to stay near the back. There is no need for me to be up front. I will only be an inconvenience for almost everyone else. I wait for a few seconds after the start signal to let the crowds thin. I suspect that the few of us left at the back are all thinking similar thoughts: We are each running a private race against an idea.
The first mile climbs fairly significantly, and I try to convince myself that this is alright, that I can make up the time later.
I know that I am lying. My legs will be exhausted by the end of the second mile, and the prospect of catching myself on every downhill step makes my knees ache. I once looked at the posted elevation gains for each race, but I stopped that long ago to try minimizing the dread I feel before the bi-monthly events.
Then, the second mile continues to climb, and I stop telling myself that I can make up time later. My goal is to just finish. I try to relax and enjoy being outside on the wonderful trails, but thoughts about how much more uphill, how much further and how much longer keep interfering.
Eventually, I finish. Not as many long-course runners pass me as I expected. Perhaps, I am getting slightly faster, or, far more likely, the long -course is more challenging than the previous ones.
When I head home, I try to convince myself that today was not too bad, and, in truth, it wasn’t. The wildflowers and tree-lined trails are just a few of the many reasons that I live here, and any chance to be outside is one worth taking.
Maybe tomorrow I will race today and even enjoy the process.
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