Tomorrow will mark a week with this cold. It started last Thursday afternoon as I sat in that conference up at UMaine, got worse on Friday, so much worse that I actually tried the wearing wet socks bed thing Friday night. Saturday I met up with my girlfriends for a hike and dinner around the campfire in Acadia, but passed on the sleeping out in a tent with them Saturday night. Sunday I ran a trail race (more on that later) and felt pretty good. Back at work on Monday, things went down hill, and by the end of the day Tuesday, it was down right ugly. I was shedding virus like crazy, mostly out my mucus membranes. Today, it’s getting better, in spite of my short night of sleep and the candy I ate yesterday. It really is running its course.
And running its course, our course, is what we do. There was a period a month ago when work was really hard, time management was not going well and I was totally overwhelmed and stressed out. That ran its course, and I ended up in a place where I was no longer stressed out, but instead was just ticked off and unhappy. Thankfully that ran its course as well, and I find myself over the hump, better adjusted and fired up again. I hope this course is a long one.
A big part of getting through those difficult times, and making it to this much better head space, was literally running my course. Sunday for example, I woke up feeling like my cold was still with me. I was tired, my husband wanted me to stay home and take it easy and for us to eat yummy Sunday Morning Pumpkin Waffles. That sounded really good, better than pulling on running shorts and driving to the race in Orland that I had registered for so many months ago. I made the decision to skip it, and you know how you know immediately if you have chosen wrong? I had chosen wrong. While still under the blankets I said, “no, I really want to go to the race”. So after pumpkin waffles, I did. (n.b. three pumpkin waffles may not be the best choice for pre-race food. Just saying.).
The race was the Great Pond Mountain Land Trust Wildlands Trail Run, part of the Downeast Double Trouble Trail series. The 6.3 mile race looped through trails and woods roads in the 4700 acre GPMLT Wildlands parcel that stretches from Rt. 1 north nearly to Dedham. It is exactly the kind of race you want to run when you are feeling burned out on the standard racing scene. Everyone was friendly, even the Very Serious Runners were not that serious. The October sky was blue and sun filled, after a week of rain. The foliage had the golden toasted cheese brown color that marks the true maturation of the fall. Your party favor for showing up was a hunter orange buff, emblazoned with Wildlands and local race sponsor logos. Seriously, a blaze orange buff.
Everybody was happy, no one was fidgeting nervously with their compression socks/iphones/watches/hydration belts etc. My girlfriends showed up late and the organizers even restarted the clock so they could have an accurate race time. That’s a home town race for you. I even forgot that I had a cold.
The course was magnificent and took me to trails I had never been on before. The uphills were proud (and that is when I remembered that I had a cold again, when I had to slow down, swallow my pride and even walk a little bit). Even more righteous than the uphills were the down hills. Those were not for the faint of heart. The first was a steep leaf covered single track descent off the back side of Oak Hill. I made good time coming down that and felt my confidence grow. Some how though, there was even further down to go, and the steep logging road descent off Flagg Hill was a stretch that sorted the wheat from the chaff. Running and concentrating but all the while reflecting on what was going on every moment, I realized that by running all year I had actually acquired some skill, through the months on the trails my body gained somatic wisdom and it carried me on fleet feet all the way down down down that last hill. In the home stretch I could see some one coming up behind me, and I dug deep, not wanting to concede another foot, an unexpected burst of good hearted competitiveness.
The people who organize these races, they love to give out prizes. This past winter I ran in the snow shoe race and every body who was there got a trophy (trophy being a generous term for a large piece of bark with plastic leaves glued to it). This race was no different, there were many trophies handed out (this time a smooth rock with a dragon fly ornament glued to it), and door prizes as well. If you waited around long enough, you go some kind of treasure to go home with.
Post race food was a buffet of hand made Halloween themed cookies and muffins, all set in a clearing that over looked Great Pond Mountain. I was so happy I went, so happy I ran, after a week cooped up by rain and illness, my body was so happy to get out of its cage and fly through the woods on little fox feet.
It always amazes us, how being outside makes us feel better, but it really does. It is good for health, both mental and physical. Though I had meant to do work on the weekend, those days ended up being given over entirely to the blue sky and granite hills. And I was better for it. As I left the race site on Sunday, I wished that I could do that every weekend. Get together with friends and friendly people and run through beautiful woods. And my wish will come true, at least this upcoming weekend. Race number two in the Double Trouble Series takes place in Sullivan on Sunday November 2, and benefits the Frenchman Bay Conservancy. I’ll be there, even if it snows.