Sometimes a race is fun, amazing, and full of laughs, good conversation - and you get the ultimate high. And today was truly one day.
The Holiday Marathons has started hosting a series of fun races on or near holidays - on a 6.5 mile loop in Van Cortlandt Park up in the Bronx. A bunch of NBRites including Wayne, Anna, Aaron, Ben, Chris, Bev, Christine, Mishka ran it, plus I got to see a bunch of my other ultrarunning friends like Emmy, Frank, Ray, Jeff. So it was social and a great prep for Umstead 100 Miler.
With the whispered words of Ray K. in my head, "You can do it, you can run an 18 hour 100 miler at Umstead," I've been feeling sick with nervousness. But I pushed myself, ran faster than I thought I could, but felt absolutely great!
We started down the trail, chatting, laughing, sharing stories, talking about upcoming ultras. The hills were steep and I ran the first two loops with a bunch of NBR friends running the half marathon - so they pushed me hard, as did Mat who is doing some pretty hardcore training for Umstead 100 Miler. I felt good, impressing myself with running the first two loops (about a half marathon, slightly more) in just over two hours. Ray K. would be proud.
But it wasn't hard. It felt natural, good. Aaron told jokes, poked us, until we were laughing so hard we could barely climb the hills. Anna, of course, was kicking serious ass with Chris at their "easy" pace. And then I left everyone after a half-marathon - they went to the bar to drink and eat while I ran another two loops.
I ended up bonding with new friends, Chris and Mat, trading ultra stories, talking about traveling, love, understanding running - the usual stories. It was a beautiful day, lovely weather, and I pushed on.
At one point, I raised hell on the muddy downhill (my favourite part of the race, where I always hauled ass down the hill, yay!) and pushed the pace so hard, Chris said, "Cherie, save something for Umstead."
We ran, chatted. I discovered Gu tropical gels are not the secret to my success.
I finished. Chris urged me, "Use your kick," and I ran as hard as I could to the finish. It felt tough, it felt wonderful, it felt like a beautiful day.
I'm feeling psyched about Umstead. Who knows what pace, but hopefully a fast one, and hopefully, a fun one. Because really, why we do this is for the pure love of it all, the joy, the fun.