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Epilogue

“The greatest test of courage on earth is to bear defeat without losing heart.”
– Robert Green Ingersoll

So, I wrote a blog last week. It was about a race I ran. But it wasn’t just any ole race, mind you. It was a race in which I finished…DEAD LAST.

Now, I struggled with whether I should hit the little “publish” button when I was finished, but in the end decided to go ahead and bite the bullet.  I blog plenty about the great moments in my life, so I figured it was time to blog about one of the not-so-great.  Time for a little honesty, ya know? A little humility. How would it be received? I didn’t know. But I did know that I was putting myself out there for public embarrassment. And yet, somehow, I didn’t seem to care. I felt like I had something to say, and so I said it.

So, what happened?  How was it received?

huntersheroes

Hunter’s Heroes race – Mile 9

I was blown away (to put it mildly) by the response. It has been viewed almost 8,000 times now and shared and posted over 1,000 times.  A women’s running site featured it.  Many running groups on Facebook shared it and a few even contacted me requesting me to join. I was contacted by runners all over the world who thanked me for being the voice of so many “back-of-the-packers.” I was even contacted by one person who ran the actual race I was blogging about.  He was one of the first finishers and admitted that, even up there in the front of the pack, he felt so many of the things that I felt too.

Wow. I’m in awe. All this time, I’ve been trying to do awesome things so I could blog about them – and it turns out that blogging about a “failure” is what ended up resonating the loudest. Who knew!?  I guess suffering through misery and embarrassment and then rising back up to tell about it maybe isn’t quite what you’d call “failure” after all.  (I think a lot of us need that reminder every now and then in our lives – we don’t give ourselves enough credit for all the times that tends to be the case.)

So I decided it was time for a little epilogue. What happened to that runner who finished last in that race? Did she ever run again?

Yep. She sure did.

MOJE

Just before the start of the MOJE race (Mount Jefferson is behind me.)

In fact – only 6 short days after that race, I ran a race called the MOJE. This is a 6.6 mile race, in which 3.3 of those miles are straight up a mountain.  (The other 3.3 are back down – but I probably didn’t have to clarify that.) MOJE is short for Mount Jefferson – which is a 1,342-foot climb. (Add 100 more feet to that for the training I did because I thought the course went even further – leave it to me to make a hard thing even harder!)

Now, I’m not going to lie. That MOJE race was front and center on my mind as I finished last in the race less than a week prior. I remember thinking there was no way I was actually going to do that race. I was going to show up, get my shirt, and leave. Now, I’ve never actually done that before, but this time was going to be an exception. No mountain climbing for a last place race finisher, sheesh. What was I thinking? I couldn’t hang with the big dogs. Was I insane?

But, like it always does, time healed the sting of that last-place finish and by the time the MOJE rolled around, I knew I could do it. I trained. I trained hard. And now, I had learned what it felt like to be last. I already knew that being last was not the most horrible thing in the world that could happen. I survived – big deal. And I would survive this one.

MOJE3I wasn’t last in the MOJE, but I was close. And you know what, who cares? As the faster runners were making their way down the mountain while I was still hoofing it up, I got more “good job”s and high fives than I could count from them as they passed by. This was the friendliest race I’ve ever been a part of. And I finally…FINALLY…earned one of the coveted MOJE race t-shirts. (And we all know I only do races for the t-shirts. I’ll pretty much do anything for a t-shirt, but that’s a blog for another day…)

You know, I ran my first full marathon back in November and I can honestly tell you that I was just as proud (if not prouder) of myself after I finished this mountain race as I was of that one. Not only because it was tough (and that’s an understatement!) but because it followed a time in my life when I could have easily given up, yet chose to keep going instead. Like my shirt says in my race finish photo, I made the choice to keep moving.

And I’m so glad I did.

And that, my dear friends, is what it’s all about. Truly.

MOJE2

MOJE finish line. Time: 1:21:31

***
“Never confuse a single defeat with a final defeat.”
F. Scott Fitzgerald

The Wait

Well, it’s here.  This is the final countdown to my first half marathon – a 13.1-mile scenic race filled with unbelievably steep hills in the mountains of North Carolina.  It’s only 3 days away.  And how do I feel?  Prepared?  Upbeat?  Optimistic?  Ready to apply all of these weeks of training to what I know will be an ultimate success?

Ha.  I wish.

I am TERRIFIED.

I am wondering what the heck I was thinking signing up for this thing!  People come from all around to run in this popular race.  Real runners.  People who have been running for longer than the measly year that I have been running.  People who are fast.  People who are fit.  (People who didn’t just drink a Strawberry Sunkist for breakfast.)

I’m thinking I should have bought this to wear during the race:

runningshirt

Because that’s how I’m feeling right now.  Can I really do this?  Am I really prepared?

Anyone who has ever trained for a race knows that the last week before the race is what we call “tapering.”  No more long runs.  No more real “training,” per se.  It’s basically just waiting.  Yes, you can do a 2 or 3-mile run here and there.  But those long runs that prove to yourself that you really do have what it takes to put the time and effort into it that’s required?  Yeah, those runs are gone.  It’s time to relax.  Rebuild.  And wait.

Sigh.  Wait.

That, my friends, is something I am NOT good at.

This waiting is driving me crazy.  I feel like I should be out there every day trying to run 13.1 miles to show myself that I can do it.  I feel like I should go to the gym during every spare second of my day.  I feel like I should only be eating tofu or something.  Oh heck, I don’t have a clue what I should be doing.  But sitting here waiting just feels…wrong.  It goes against my nature.  And it’s making me grumpy.

Here’s another shirt I need:

runningshirt2

So, yes.  It’s a rough week.  This can definitely not be chalked up to the finest week of my half marathon training, that’s for sure.  My positive mood and my warrior attitude is taking a temporary hiatus.  But that’s all it is.  Just temporary.

Because I know what will happen Saturday.

Saturday, I will be standing amongst thousands of other runners who have had the same kind of week I’ve had, more or less.  Who have also had the ups and downs of training.  Who have also, at times, doubted their abilities but yet rose above that doubt and walked to that starting line anyway.  Just like I will.  I will stand among fellow runners, fellow humans, fellow fighters.  And I will do what I didn’t think I would be able to do.

“Tears streamed down my face as I crossed the finish line. I was a new person, a runner.”
-Thomas King

This will be me.

I will add a check mark beside the “half marathon” entry on my bucket list.  And I will be proud.  So very proud.

I am prepared.  I am ready.

patience

***

“Patience, persistence and perspiration make an unbeatable combination for success.”
– Napoleon Hill