"Respond to every call that excites your Spirit." Rumi
I missed competing, I missed running, I missed lacing up my shoes, the sound of my breath, the taste of salty sweat and the way my ponytail floated behind me. My body was disabled, my heart was broken, my mind was a tangled mess for a year after my last chemo treatment.
Ringing the bell was not the end of my cancer journey, in many ways it was the beginning, the start of RECOVERY. Recovering from not just a damaged body but also an injured spirit.
Desperate for a race I signed up for Yankee Springs only to have it postponed another year, this year.
2021, God showered me with favor and continued to "WOW" me with my passion. So, when Yankee Springs came up this last weekend I was not as desperate to run, God had already abundantly blessed me.
However, I was still excited to try something I had never tried before!
Yankee Springs 50K
Where: Middleville, Mi
When: Saturday January 8th, 8am,
Who: Austin and Alec came out to support me with their girlfriends, Andy stayed home sick, sadly.
The morning of the race I had all my stuff laid out. We were all stuffed in one hotel room. I got up early and quietly snuck out to get coffee and get ready in the bathroom, careful to not wake anyone.
I can't say I was really nervous. I had no expectations.
I had no idea what the trails would be like.
I had no idea what the temperatures would be like other than butt cold!
I had no idea how long it would take me. I looked at the average time for the runners and it was between 7-8 hours.
I ate my oatmeal in the bathroom, drank my coffee and layered up. Before I walked out of the bathroom to head to the starting line I prayed.
"Dear Lord, God, thank you, thank you for the opportunity to run, thank you for health, thank you Lord. Please Father keep me safe, keep me upright and uninjured....".
If I walk up to that starting line without prayer I am not prepared, I am not equipped. Like my watch, like my running shoes, like my winter hat, prayer is what moves mountains, prayer is what splits seas, prayer is what heals, what restores and what guides me back to the starting line of not just life but my passion, running.
14' degrees as I headed out into the dark morning. As I arrived at the park the sun had opened up the woods with splendor. Thick snow rested heavily across everything. The snow glistened magically as the light danced across woods. If my feet never made it to the starting line, I was complete in Gods glorious design.
Before I had even parked the car I got lost! Thankfully I was not the only one, Alex a running acquaintance of mine was "turned around" as well, I followed behind him to the correct parking lot.
We headed to get our bibs and that was when my next blunder happened. I lost my gloves!
With just a few minutes before the race I headed to the port-a johns trying to keep a good attitude about my mess up. Standing in line I asked someone if they happened to see a pair of pink gloves, when the guy in front of me says "You need a pair of gloves? I have an extra pair...."
I headed into the woods with a warm pair of gloves from Adam, my trail Angel. "We entertain angels unaware". When everything was frozen, when the winter chill cuts through you with a romantic evil that feels like a slow fade, when the sheer beauty of a winter morning feels trickery, you wonder. But no, in full assurance I knew I was favored, with the generosity of a stranger.
The First LOOP:
I could hardly run it was so BEAUTIFUL. About 10 of us were all clustered together as we rounded the corner that opened up facing a icy shimmering lake. The sunrise was the backdrop of what could have been a Michigan postcard. In the silence of the runners, I bellowed " Check out the sunrise, isn't it beautiful, isn't this why we run?"
I tucked in behind some of the runners with no plan but to get acquainted with the trail and the conditions ahead of me.
"On your left" a runner was passing.
My wheels began to stir. I was only about 7 miles in. Then another runner passed.
It was time.
I followed those runners, gently picking up my pace.
My body felt great, I was cozy under my 3 layers but my tubing on my hydration pack had frozen. The only way I was going to get water would be the aid stations every 2-4 miles.
The trail was groomed making the conditions near perfect. The packed snow actually made the roots and rocks smooth allowing the trail to be kinder even with the extra foot of snow.
I snacked on my trail mix, filling up on pretzels and clementine's at the aid stations.
As I approached the final stretch of the first loop, I texted my boys what I would need and when I would be coming in.
The second LOOP:
|Moving quick, changing from my coat to a vest and quickly getting my gear back on and back out there!|
My legs were TRASHED coming out of the last 3 miles of the first 25K. Ungroomed with thick fluffy snow that felt like running in mashed potatoes I was exhausted. My hamstrings were tight and angry and my calves were burning with frustration and confusion.
I just wanted to see my family.
I was getting so frustrated I could hardly run, as I closed this loop out, the elevation alone had me questioning my ideas of "FUN".
I tried to smile as I came into the finished loop, but I didn't see my family and my smile was hijacked by sadness. I quickly called them. "WHERE are YOU" I panicked. My feet were blistering from my wet socks, I had heated up and wanted to change my coat for my vest and I really just needed some encouragement after the last 3 miles had broken my spirit.
I saw my boys and their girlfriends in the middle of the road beckoning me. I was trying to stay calm as the clock was ticking with wasted time. Austin calmed me down and started grabbing everything I needed. The girls smiled, cheered me on and off I went.
I didn't have time to change my socks. I was ready to drop a gear and get back out there. I had probably lost about 5 minutes looking for them. I didn't think I could make the time up but I would give it all I had.
Alone in the woods I whispered to the Lord my gratitude.
I found myself passing runners with surprise. Then I saw a runner coming up from behind me. He startled me and as I recognized him, I smiled "ADAM, my trail angel!"
I showed him my warm hands and he smiled and passed me. I was determined to keep him in my eyesight. That was at mile 17. I committed to keeping him in my sight till at least mile 20.
I kept him in my eyesight through multiple aid stations, through hills that I would normally fall back on and through the turns of the woods until mile 25! I could barely see him as I came into this aid station at the top of a hill. Trying to catch up I ran that entire hill, with all the energy I could muster I yelled "GATORADE". The volunteers had it in their hands by the time I reached the top, I guzzled it down, heard them ask me if I needed anything else as I was leaving and I yelled back, "THANK YOU!!"
I heard them yell, "She isn't F%&^# around." I smiled mischievously.
|This is what I ate during my run. I try to stay away from anything too sugary. I like to keep it as clean as I can. 2 packs of pretzels, 2 large clementines, I large Kars trail mix and Gatorade.|
I knew that last 3 miles wasn't groomed so I had to drop a gear to try and make up for the "hike through mashed potatoes"!
With a mile to go I texted the boys so they would know my ETA.
I felt great, probably too good as I saw the finish line. I picked up my pace, smiled, pointed at my family and raced it in.
The warm smiles, the cheers, the view of my family filled every vacancy of my heart. Thankfulness was the overwhelming feeling at the finish.
I did it and I didn't turn into an ice sculpture!
The timing company was incredible, they were able to spit out your time and placement right there for you, preventing your body from going into shock!
What was a pleasant shock was my 3 place overall female and 1st place in my age group! Glory to God!
Our hotel had a jacuzzi, this was a miracle worker on my sore muscles. I was not only able to sleep through the night I was able to run another 11 miles at Holdridge on Monday!
THANK you FOR ALL THE PRAYERS, LOVE AND ENCOURAGMENT!
Big shout out to all those that raced last weekend!
Congrats to Alex M. for overall 50K at Yankee Springs!
Congrats to Deanna Cheryl for her 25K finish at Yankee Springs.
Big congrats to all that ran from CRU at IDARUN in Fenton.
I LOVE the NO FEAR-NO FREEZE- Fun January Running! Let's remember to keep experiencing new things. Let's get out there and do it with curiosity, a little fear and a lot of faith!
"Fire and hail and mist, stormy wind fulfilling his word!" Psalms 148:8