Two weeks ago I ran the San Diego Half Marathon as a five-year legacy runner. My buddy Kay and I ran the inaugural race right before her cancer detour, and this has been our yearly race since that first experience. Last year, this race had the distinction of being my first DNF ( Did Not Finish) race and almost the end of my 100-mile race dreams when my knee gave out at mile 8 and made it impossible for me to even walk across the finish line. It was a humbling experience, but also a huge growth opportunity for me. I learned the importance of cheering others on even when I couldn't take another step. I learned that I was stronger than I ever thought possible. And I learned that with the proper training and determination I can do anything I set my mind to. Plus, because of this experience, I gained an ally and mentor in Coach Ed Ettinghausen and together we convinced a few new running buddies to push the limits of their running endurance as well.
Ironically, I almost didn't even start this year's San Diego Half due to right hip pain in the days leading up to the race that made it difficult for me to even walk on the night before the event. It hurt so badly that I actually had to beg one of my friends to rub it out just to give me a chance to at least start the race with my running buddies. I went to sleep praying that I wouldn't need to bow out once again.
And if all that excitement wasn't enough, I did a race this last Sunday that I had avoided until now. It wasn't that this 15K was too long for me, but I'd heard the hills were pretty brutal from past participants. Now my morning running buddies and I eat hills for breakfast where we live, but I have committed to run an ultra version of Ragnar this year. Instead of 12 people running the 190 miles from Huntington Beach to San Diego, we only have 6 runners. April 1-2 I need to complete my legs that will have me running 30-40 miles. If I injure myself, that could mean the rest of my team has to add my miles to theirs. I was so torn about this hilly race that I didn't even register until two days before the event.
My legs felt strong on Sunday for the Hot Chocolate 15K, but hilly didn't even begin to describe this race. The first seven miles were pretty much uphill, and it wasn't even until mile 8 that Syndie and I hit some significant downhills. I won't share any of the unpleasant words that came out of our mouths when we'd turn another corner only to discover more hills--this is a family friendly blog after all. Syndie and I agreed that this nine miles was almost more difficult than the 13.1 miles we'd completed the weekend before. I'm still not sure I made the right decision, but I did get to run with Syndie and another friend Cheryl and we had a blast! I also ran into Alfa who saved my 100-mile race by volunteering to be the race director with Ed when the EC-100 got cancelled. She was pacing the 10:30 group and I had the privilege of running a couple miles with her. I also ran into a few running friends that I hadn't see in a while, and that's always a great experience. Besides, in addition to my new chocolate bar bling, I got a cup of chocolate fondue goodies that I could come home and share with my youngest son Eoin. Next to my two beautiful new blingy medals that I have to add to my collection, sharing time with my youngest child eating the chocolatey fruits of my hilly labor was pretty special indeed.