Went down to Maryland today with some friends of one of the members of our running group to run a trail race. The website said that there were two choices for race distance – a 30K and a 50K. I was planning to run the 30K with secret intentions of doing the 50K if I was still feeling good. Somehow I got the wrong info and there were actually 4 distances – 11K, 20K, 42K, and 50K. Darn. The first two were too short to determine whether I’d want to run one of the 2 longer distances. So I decided on the 20K since I hadn’t eaten hardly anything the day before and would be running on 2 really crappy nights of sleep.

Turned out to be a really awesome run – one of those rare runs where it’s just effortless, you forget you’re running, and feel like you could go forever. The trail was excellent – very tame as far as elevation, much less rocky than the PA trails, and with lots of open meadow running with some great views. And while I wasn’t feeling top notch physically, mentally I desperately needed a long run – a run where I could completely zone out and think. I got it.

We started off to someone yelling “Get ready, get set, go!”. No air horn, no music, nothing. It was a “Fat-ass” race – a no-frills race format where there’s no registration fee, no finish medals, no awards, and no t-shirt. Just get your fat ass off the couch and go run. It was an organized training run, really.

So we headed out and I quickly got into the groove, running alone and setting my own pace. I wasn’t trying to keep up with anyone and wasn’t holding back either. It was wonderful. As soon as my toes thawed out by mile 3, I was deep in thought and oblivious to everything around me except for an occasional view and the pink ribbons that marked our route. About 15 minutes later I reached the turn-off point for the 20K. OK, maybe it was more like 2 hours. But it felt like 15 minutes. I contemplated continuing on for the 42K. I still had plenty to think about but I was still having trouble getting food down from a nervous stomach the day before and so was barely staving off hunger by nibbling on electrolyte gummy fish. I knew it wouldn’t be long before my body rebelled at the lack of fuel and I started bonking. Plus I really didn’t want to have a long recovery time from the run because there are 2 races in January that I’d like to PR on (set a personal record). So I headed back to the start. Got to the parking lot and there were 3 people there making some soup for the finishers. They clapped and I did a happy dance. Quite the opposite of the big Philly marathon, but it fit my mood. I thanked them and continued to the car to get my coat, stretch, change, and nap until the other 3 finished.

With the other 3 finished and changed, we headed home. I was still very much distracted by my thoughts so I was in and out of their conversations rehashing the race. I did pick up a few funny stories though. Despite my more subdued participation in the group, I did have a great day of running. Thanks a bunch Don, Carol, and Lauren. I’m looking forward to more runs at Stoney and especially the Buzzard run.