It's been a while since I've gone into a race with precisely no expectations other than that of a completion. I suppose most wouldn't consider such an event a race, but since I paid an entry fee and got a shirt, it's got to be a race, right?
It's been nearly three months since my little stroll up the road with the Alabama Relief Run, and as such I figured it's about time for me to get off my lazy duff and make some sort of re-entry into the running community, even if such a return would prove to be slightly anticlimactic. The Mountain Mist 50k appeared to be a tame enough candidate. With this in mind, I set about a rigorous ultra-training regimen of 20-30 miles/week, and I made sure that I prepared for the rugged Monte Sano trails extensively with my 2 runs of about 4 miles on said trails. (ow... my tongue just hurt my cheek...)
With such a monstrous fitness base, and the oh-so-pleasantly damp weather of the weeks leading into the Mist, I was only assured of one thing: it was going to be sloppy (in many respects...)
Race day came; the miles came; the mud came; the rocks came.
I must admit that an amendment should be made to my previous statement regarding the anticlimactic nature of the run. The truly remarkable feature of the run was how unremarkable it truly was.
In spite of what was, for some, a thoroughly salient day, I was paradoxically thrilled at the mundane sense of routine that I felt. Make no mistake, I don't mean to say that Mt. Mist was boring; quite to the contrary, it never fails to hold my rapt attention. Moreover, I intend no negative connotation with the word "mundane." Riddle's blazing time, Rob's second reverse-double, several friends' PR's, perfect weather, the true fun of slopping through the mud - the list of positive attributes of the day goes on and on.
I still liked the feeling of it being just another day at the office.
Maybe it's the sense of perspective I gained from covering a few miles in October. Maybe it's the sense of perspective I've gained from running, watching, doubling, and playing in Mt. Mist a few times before. Maybe it's the sense of perspective I've gained from the past year and a half of various personal trials and tribulations.
Maybe it's all of it. Maybe it's none of it.
Somewhere along the way, the fresh-out-of-high-school-cocky-thought-I-was-fast-wannabe-ultrarunner changed into something else. I can enjoy the sport for more than I could before. I'm by no means renouncing my naturally over-competitive nature; I simply think that I've gotten to a point that it doesn't drive everything I do running-wise. (maybe...)
I can enjoy the running for what is. I can still train and run fast to enjoy the competitive side of things, and I can still train to run ludicrously long events, but I can also just train to run happy. I'm hoping to light the competitive side again soon, and I'm hoping even more that I can merge this competitive motivation with the "just run happy" motivation in ways I've never done before. It should be exciting to see what ideas we come up with...
Congrats to all Mountain Mist racers. This Mountain Mist stroller is still sitting back and enjoying the ride.