Run, Farmer. Run.
I'm still on my first cup of coffee, having slept in a considerable amount. Yesterday I was done with morning chores while the stars were still in the sky, but this AM I woke up to a gentle rain and gray daylight - thrilled to pull Friday closer and tuck into another round of sleep. I deserved it, dammit. Yesterday I ran a half marathon like a mad woman.
I have been running long distance all summer. Last spring a 3 mile run felt like Everest. Now a three mile run is a warm up. My usual summer outing has been between 7-12 miles! I slowly worked up to it. My body changed alongside it. I am not much thinner, but everything is harder and tighter. I can work outside longer, balance better, pick up heavy things easier. Clothing is a lot looser even if the scale doesn't budge. Flab got toned and skin got tanned. I am 34 and I have never felt younger and better.
Yesterday morning was the test. I arrived at the race site in Vermont at 7AM. Everyone around me looked like a lululemon model. I looked like me, which is not a put down, but can we all picture a direwolf in tights? That's it.
So I was out of place. There were people with running shoes that cost half of what my pickup truck cost (which was, by far, the oldest vehicle in the parking area). Manchester is a swanky town and I parked my '89 Ford F150 with pig feed and wet hay in the bed next to an Audi and a Lexus.
My ankle that was sprained seemed 80% better. The other foot that stepped on a rusty nail last week wasn't infected. And I had managed to do the hardest part of this whole thing weeks ago - which was registering online and telling people I was going to do it. I can put in the work, running alone whenever you want is easy. What's hard is being certain your body is ready for an appointment. You don't expect to get the wind knocked out of you and turn your ankle and step on tetanus spores a week before your first race. On top of all that, everything had to be okay at the farm and the weather had to work out. They were calling for severe rain and thunder storms the day of the race. Great.
I showed up anyway. Hearing that gunshot that started the timer felt the same way it did when I got on Merlin for my first trail ride outside a school barn arena. Too late now, you are in this. Just go.
And go I did.
What I didn't anticipate was my competitive side making me her bitch. I am used to running alone, with no one tailing me and no one keeping score. But this race had hundreds of people of all sorts of abilities and in my little pod of runners I wanted to be ahead of certain people. So instead of governing my time and adjusting my pace I ran harder and longer than I did all summer on a course I didn't know. It was a drug at the time, and now the muscular hangover makes vodka look like kool aid.
I finished the half marathon at a very humble time of 2:55 - but for a 5'2" woman built like a Tolkien Dwarf with the stride of most adults in a sack race - that isn't bad. I beat my casual back-road time for 13 miles by 30 minutes!
I feel like this accomplishment lets me relax a bit. I spent the last few weeks anxious about the race, mostly because it was a goal I set and not sure I could manage to complete. I had run 13.1 miles on my own, but the demanded actions of my body being ready at a date and time was a thousand times more nerve racking that farming has ever been. I thought of all the athletes (real athletes whose livelihood depends on their skills) who can't just twist an ankle or step on a nail willy nilly without putting their career in jeopardy. Or about singers who can't slug a beer or eat cheese before a concert (or an entire run of show) without disappointing ticket buyers. I am toying with command performance as novelty and self-esteem boost. I can't imagine living there. Yikes.
With this race done I am back to focusing on hawks, hunting season, firewood, bills, and life as usual here at the farm. But this was a big accomplishment and the end to a summer season of running like a mad badger. I'll keep running, but I am glad there isn't a race next weekend.
Direwolf in tights. That's me, baby.