Kicked Where It Hurts

I don’t remember if I’ve mentioned it, but I’ve been training for my first trail ultra distance race in May, a 50k. I’ve been training since last November. I’ve dealt with injury, hectic schedules, unhappy family members, and plenty of self-doubt. Last week, on my own, I ran almost a 50k, slogging through ice and mud and snow to do it. I finally had begun to feel, “okay, I can do this.”

However, I don’t know if I happened to mention this either: my family is preparing to move to another country. Because of this move, I was just informed by my husband today that during that particular week – my race week – we might have to travel to our new country, Russia, to find a home, meet with officials, and so on.

This news hit me like a kick in the gut. What? Why? Why that week? Why, during the very time when I am to run the one race I’ve been looking forward to with both fear and excitement – why now?

Please be aware, I am not a racer. I am a runner. I run for the joy of it, for the zen of pushing past discomfort and finding I can simply be moving in the moment, a part of and yet apart from the earth around me. I love the dance through nature that I get to do.

This race, though – this race was to be a test of my metal. With all the hoopla and chaos and collective emotion that fills the atmosphere during a race, would I be able to maintain focus? Would the moment still be mine to experience? Would I still be able to remain selfless, or would I become wrapped up in the performance of others and forget my mantra, “breathe, move, stay steady”?

I wanted to test my belief that the one who wins is the one who endures. I don’t care what I place; I care that I am able to endure. This time, I want to endure along with a community of other people who are doing the same thing. Of course, there will be people who are focused on being the first across the line. But they are Racers. In trail races, I believe, there are two groups, The Racers and The Runners. There are those who run to race, and those who just simply want to run. That is A Runner.

I am A Runner. For once, I was going to run with Other Runners. People who think like I do.

That is why I’ve been excited. Ever since I witnessed my first ultra last September, I’ve been talking with a group of Trail Runners who have taught and shared with me a great deal. I don’t really know them that well, except online. The race and this group are six hours’ drive away from me.

Soon, they will be an ocean and a continent away.

And I am moving to a place that, by many accounts, does not have many Runners. Not like me, anyway, or these people I know.

For just this one week, I have got to find a way to stay.

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