Redemption

“Running has taught me that I am capable of more than I ever imagined.”

That was written on the back of a woman’s shirt at the Vortex Half-Marathon this past week. She had full knee braces on each leg, a big sweatband around her head and a slow jog with just a bit of a limp. Needless to say, I felt an immediate kinship with her. She was my kind of people.

Her shirt resonated with me because running has indeed shown me that I can do the unimaginable. I think back to walking my very first 5k several years ago and I certainly never would have imagined that I would be setting out to run my fifth half-marathon this year. More than that, running has taught me that I can dream big and set some scary goals and that somehow, someway, my body will make it happen.

The race this past weekend was a big one for me because I was seeking redemption.

As you may recall, my last attempt at a trail run half-marathon went horribly wrong. I found myself miles down a dusty trail in the middle of nowhere, dizzy and puking in the bushes. A combination of being at high altitude, taking a new medication with dizziness as a side effect and running too fast because I was a little too cocky for my own good led to one of the most miserable experiences of my life.

I wanted a do over…a chance to prove to myself that I could do it.

I started this half-marathon with my friend Michelle and her dog Denali.

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This was Denali’s first half-marathon. She wasn’t at all nervous. I guess if I had four long skinny golden-doodle legs like that, I wouldn’t have been nervous either.

Michelle and Denali soon left me in the dust…or to be more exact, they left me in the mud. I’ve never seen so much mud.

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The mud was so thick and sticky (yet slippery!). My feet wanted to slide out from under me with each precarious step.

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Slipping and sliding down the trail. The heavy mud was caked so thickly on the bottoms of my shoes it felt like I was wearing leaded boots.

My feet would slip and slide with each step, threatening to leave me face down in the mud if I got at all distracted. It took nearly an hour just to traverse the first two miles! 

At around mile three I came upon a split in the road.

Turn left for the half-marathon, turn right for the 10k. A choice between 3 more miles or 10 more miles. I was sorely tempted to cut the race short. The first three miles had taken well over an hour to complete…what if the remaining miles continued to be a mud bog?

But I wanted my chance at redemption – and the only way to achieve that was to slog through 10 more miles of mud if necessary.

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Eventually, the trail dried out and became an enjoyable jog through the forest.

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There were some good sized hills. But I had learned from my previous mistakes and I walked them instead of running up them. 

The trail took runners past the fish hatchery located in the middle of the Milo McIver State Park. I got to know this area well because I missed a turn along the running course and ended up running past the fish hatchery again! That little mistake added not quite a mile to my route. I learned an important lesson about not zoning out and always watching for trail markers during races like this.

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Missed a trail marker and ended up having to backtrack, adding almost a mile to my already long run!

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Once I was back on track the trail meandered around some beautiful meadows.

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At times the trail became a narrow footpath weaving through the ferns and moss.

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The reward for climbing the big hills was beautiful vistas of the Clackamas River.

Between the mud and getting lost it took me a long time to cross the finish line. But I made it!

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Although I finished almost dead last (they were already packing up the celebratory beer and chili stand!), I finished. And best of all I didn’t have to stop to puke in the bushes along the way this time…so there’s that!

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Denali…caked in mud and enjoying a well earned after-race snooze.

 

5 comments on “Redemption

  1. Are you two going to do the Chuckwagon this year? I checked the Mazamas site recently and did not see a date for it yet. It would be such fun to see each other again.
    Seattle Judy

  2. You continue to amaze and inspire me Michele. This is a wonderful story of coming back a second time to something that challenged, scared or was just a pain. Your mid race adjustments demonstrate your tenacity to get ‘er done. You had a positive attitude and an open mind. A good reminder for every day occurances. Nice race Girl!

  3. The mud looked absolutely awful & that’s so tough on the knees over a firm trail. So happy u stuck it out & finished the 1/2 marathon. That’s so Great! Bev

    • Thanks Bev. It was a great park – maybe a place to add to your list of places to visit for a nice day hike (in the summer, when the trails are dried out!).

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