The 2010 Run With Your Heart 15K trail challenge was the very first trail race of my life so running and finishing first woman overall this year was special to me. I had run a couple 5 mile charity road races with friends but hadn’t considered running to race since quitting high school cross-country about 20 years ago. Over the preceding winter I’d made friends with many of the women in Grunt Girl Racing and had begun going trail running with them on weekends. With their encouragement I signed and ran in the foot of snow that had fallen the night before, finishing exhausted but happy and in love with trail running.
I spent the rest of 2010 running more trail races and building my endurance for the Buckeye Trail 50K which these same friends had convinced me to sign up for in an optimistic moment. It turned out to be a great idea. I liked it enough to sign up for two more 50Ks in the fall and conquered the Bobcat Trail Marathon in November. All in all it was a great year for me and one with barely any time to think back on how it all got started.
And then came this year’s Run With Your Heart. It didn’t snow quite as much and I ran 22 minutes faster and feeling a lot stronger. The thing is there were all these moments during the race when I found myself remembering the year before. It’s funny how the memory works. When I run down a particular piece of trail sometimes I can remember all kinds of odd details about the last time I ran there.
In 2010 I spent the last 3 miles running behind Dan Belinger, who I’d never met before. He asked if I want to pass which I definitely did not want to do. Focusing on the motion of his feet was pulling me along and keeping me going. A few minutes later he introduced himself and introduced me to something I didn’t know about trail runners. They just race about happily making friends with whoever happens to be close by. It’s fantastic. I’ve made friends in just about every trail race I’ve run long enough to allow for a nice chatting pace but that one, clear memory of that first trail race stays with me, that camaraderie, that strange and special combination of fatigue, pain and happiness.