Life of a Runner: An Apology & a Promise

Hello readers! I know it has been a couple of weeks, but I will really try from here on out to get one blog entry out per week. This week will have two since I missed a couple. Also, this will be a pretty short read for the week.

As far as running goes, it has not been great. The last two weeks have been rough for a couple of reasons. I did have a bad cold a few weeks ago, but since then my life has been crazy! Lots of things have gone wrong and only a few have gone right. Running was not one of those. I’ve been doing somewhere around 7 miles a week for the last three weeks. I am definitely working to change that this week. Motivation has been low, stress has been high, and that has made for several nights spent laying on my living room floor crying. So, yeah, not a lot of running.

The only real significant run of the last two weeks was the Sunderbruch Beer & Bacon trail run, which took place this past Saturday. Sunderbruch has historically been one of my favorite races, but this year was something different entirely. I’m not going to lie, normally I do pretty well at this race. This year, it was pouring. That’s actually pretty normal for the race, as it has only not been raining once out of the five times we’ve done it. However, this year we went a different route, and it proved to be one of the grittiest, toughest races ever. I should say my parents and I were supposed to do the 10k, but due to the weather and how we were feeling, we switched to the 5k.

We started off by going down into a creek and running across to the opposite side, and then climbing a steep hill up to the trail. Well, by the time I got to the hill it was pure mud. I started off my race by slipping up the damn thing and basically trying to claw my way up to the top out of sheer desperation. Now, by this point, I had already made several mistakes. The first is that I wore road shoes and not trail shoes, which means almost no traction. The second is I was trying not to push around people, which left me stuck behind a bunch of people who were walking very slowly for a while. The third is that the first method I tried to get my way through the mud was to power through as hard as possible. Really what you want to do is slow it down a little bit so you don’t waste energy and use your hands. I was not good at using my hands at first, which led me to slip down the hill and land my left hand in a bunch of thorns (Oh yeah, they still hurt).

After the hill, things did not get much better. I think I ended up slipping and falling very dramatically a grand total of 5 times during this 3 mile race. Luckily, I had someone to catch me on a couple: my dad! My dad ended up right behind me for the majority of the race, and right in front of us was this nice lady. At times, I did want to pass her, but I figured she could be a good guinea pig to test the footing in front of us and then I’d follow her lead. After the whole muddy hill incident, I decided I was just in this to survive and I did not care at all how I did, just that I finished in one piece. That being said, I did slow down out of caution, and also because after trying to battle it up the hill I was a bit exhausted.

My falling was great. Once my legs completely slipped out from under me. Once my knee hit the ground so hard the whole thing is bruised now. I think I even fell into a tree. The whole time, I could only think of two things: Bailey had absolutely no traction on her shoes and I was sincerely worried for her safety, and also that at some point I would have to go back down that horrendous muddy hill back into the creek. At one point, I also saw my mom way ahead of me, and I thought to myself, “Of course she’s doing really well; she’s kind of made for this stuff.” My mom is an epic badass at tough races. Exhibit A: Schuetzen NEIN! There are plenty more that could join the list, but that one’s for sure at the top.

The hill came back. By that point, it was so torn up there was no way to get down it without slipping. One race volunteer actually said, “Yep, you’re going to fall. Just accept it and go.” Instead of admitting defeat, I crouched down in a really low squat so I was in something like a ski jump pose and leaned forward. I slid right down that hill but I stayed on my feet! Since that method worked so well, I did it again to slide down into the creek. I was actually really glad to get into the creek because my shoes were completely caked in mud and that helped wash it off. The woman my dad and I had been behind ended up losing her shoe in the mud and had to go back for it. He and I made it out of the creek and were finally on solid ground for the first time in several miles. I stumbled into the finish line with a time of something like 50 minutes. It may have been 45, because the 10k started five minutes before the 5k, but I’m going with a really sad 50 minutes. It was closer to 3.5 than a 5k, but regardless, I don’t think I have ever been that slow. Trail races are usually humbling, but this was so bad that it was hilarious. I was so muddy at the end. When I got to the finish line, with Dad right behind me, Mum was there to cheer us on. We all got medals, too! And Mum ended up being third female overall, so she got the infamous bacon bouquet. We all know she’s amazing. Bailey came into the finish looking a bit muddier than the rest of us, but alive. Sunday was her graduation ceremony from Cornell College, so we liked to joke that the race was her graduation present.

Even though that race was really tough, and I walked away with more than a few cuts and bruises, it was a really unique experience. Like my friends teased me about later, it takes a special person to go through that race and then say it was fun. But with something like that, you just have to laugh about it. Yeah it sucked, but as a man once said, “I think most people could do with a little more pain in their lives” (That was from the documentary about the Barkley Marathons).

On that note, I promise to be more diligent about my writing and my running. I’m already off to a good start this week, so hopefully it continues. The school year is just about over for me, so I can really get into my training. There’s only five weeks until Schuetzen!!!! I have so much to do and there is no way I will be prepared for it, but there’s nothing I can really do except do my best to prepare and then laugh about it. I hope you’ll stick with me this summer, as I have a lot of crazy races coming up.

Thanks for reading.

— Morgan

Teacher, Runner, Reader, and Writer. Destined for great things, I think.