Down to Run Full Moon 10 Miler - 2017

What a year.

This race, one year ago, may have been the hardest race I've ever done. It also may still be my favorite race. And my most therapeutic race. One year ago, it marked 4 weeks I'd lived since my sister had stopped living. It was also supposed to be faced with the love and support of my friend Cindy, but her mother passed away just days before the run. It was lonely and brutal and dark and beautiful. I ran harder than I should have. I hadn't trained for the distance or the darkness. But I couldn't do anything other than run my heart out. I did and placed 2nd in my age group.

This race, this year, is again at the top of my list of favorite races-- for different reasons. Here are the reasons why I love the Full Moon Night Trail Run:

1. The race organizers. They created a fantastic experience for runners from start to finish. Three weeks before the race, they held a course preview training run, where we gathered to run the trails of Oleta Park. The organizers ran with us along a large section of the course that we would run on race night. It was great practice and an opportunity for us to understand that following the trails of Oleta wouldn't be easy in darkness.
2. The swag. The 2016 medal was a wooden owl. Super cool. This year's medal is a rather large wooden cutout with a design inspired by the mangroves that are prevalent throughout Oleta Park.

3. The experience. Trails. Night. 10 miler. Alone, each of those are pretty epic.
Trails. If you live in a concrete jungle like I do, there aren't many opportunities to hit the trails. So I really enjoy the chance to race on trails.
Night. I'm totally an early morning runner. To run trails in the dark is a fantastic experience. It's exercise for the mind as much as for the body. You have to be constantly alert and focused. It's challenging and different.
10 miler. Again, this one's rare. 5k's can be found every weekend. Even 10k's are rising in popularity.  Half marathons can be found every other month or so. The 10 miler is a rare distance. It's special. Together, the elements of trails, night and 10 miles, make for a fantastic experience.

4. The finish. I mentioned the awesome medal. But let me tell you about the real prize-- the giant burrito waiting at the finish. I know my friends running with me were tired of hearing me rave about it. And I'm quite sure I inspired more than a few runners to pick up the pace as I reminded them that burritos were waiting (or maybe they also got tired of hearing me talk about it). For those who enjoy a cold beer, a local brewery was serving up two varieties of brew. And of course, there were bananas and water, as well as Clif bars, for the less adventurous.

5. The experience. I know. I just said "The experience," but it's true. I personally had a fantastic time.  I rode down to the race with my friend Ally, who ran for the first time on trails at the training run. Somehow she agreed that it would be a fantastic idea to run a 10 miler (her longest run since returning from a stress fracture!) on trails (her second trail run!) in the dark (no problem!)-- which probably explains why I like her so much. Ally, Cindy and I would begin the race together, and then see what happened.

For the first time ever, I started and finished a race with my BRF (Best Running Friend), Cindy. I don't normally ever run with someone. First of all, I'm really competitive, so if we are running together, we're racing. And there's just too much pressure (also connected with my weird social issues-- am I running too fast? running too slow? am I slapping my feet too much? breathing too hard? etc.). Also, Cindy is much faster than me. I believe before the race she was saying something to Ally and I about her comfortable pace being an easy 8:30-9:00 mile (mine is a 9:30-10).
Once again running proved to be such a tangible picture of life-- Cindy and I ran through the darkness. At times we could see the path well, and it was flat, and we could speed through. Other times there were twists and turns, roots and rocks that seemed to come from out of nowhere. There were stumbles and even a fall. Those obstacles forced us to slow our pace and walk at times, but we kept pushing forward. Making progress. Watching our feet more closely. Learning from our stumbles. And finally we made it to the finish. Elated at the journey. Tired. Happy. Content.


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