This morning the mighty Lady Marmots ran the second race in the infamously soggy and bizarre Fall Series. This 5-mile race was held at Bear Creek Park and took us over the hills and through the woods (and creek) a few times before finishing with a slippery rope climb and mad dash to the finish line (and dry socks).
It was a fun race and a beautiful morning. But, the moment I pulled into the parking lot at Bear Creek Park I began to think back to the last race I ran there - the Summer Roundup. It was miserable, it was the race that finally convinced me that something might, just might, be wrong with the leg that I essentially dragged through that race. Well as it turns out, Summer Roundup was the last time I ran on hills until last week, Three months off and a stress fracture have a way of diminishing your fitness and really messing with your head. And I let it, for the first mile or so before realizing that everyone has injuries and totally crappy races but that's no reason to dread the very trail on which they took place. And yes, the fact that hills make my legs whine and beg for mercy was disconcerting; but it's getting easier and faster every week.
Once I put Summer Roundup in the mental closet of "races-I'd-rather-forget," alphabetized somewhere after the cringe-worthy Classic 10K, and really focused on the task at hand the race started to feel fun. The single-track and more technical stuff is always where I gain ground, so I concentrated, looked where I was putting my feet, and felt almost like the runner I was last summer. No, it's better to look forward: I didn't feel like the runner I was last summer, because last summer I was a road runner in the Midwest who had never even seen a "real hill." Instead, I think I got glimpse of the runner I can be in 2015 if I continue to run smart, work hard, recover well, listen to my body, and let the past be just that, the past.