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Saturday, I ran the 7-mile Goldsborough Creek Run.  Beautiful weather on Saturday – cool, sunny and breezy.  Less than 70 folks showed up to race the 7-mile.  I haven’t run this race in 3 years.  I’m familiar with the route – curving country roads, big hill near the middle, followed by tree-covered back roads sloping down toward the highway on-ramp, then the sprint to town and the finish at the post office.

You see, this race beings and ends 8 blocks from my house.  It’s the best thing ever. I walk to the start.  We all ride shuttles to the start, about 2 miles away. I walk home afterwards.  You have to keep moving, because the race ends on the Forest Festival parade route.  Take too long to run, and you’re dodging Paul Bunyan floats and marching bands.

I had no illusions of stamina or how fast I could run it.  I’m mostly recovered, but I’m not speedy.

We gathered at the start line, two-milers down by the Adventist Church and seven-milers at the top of Shelton Valley Road.  We ran past each other as the gun went off, cheering and clapping for each other.  Before we were a mile into it, I was alone.  Fast pack of runners, that.  I paced with a very tall runner, obviously elite, for about a mile. His two shorter running buddies checked time and kept him apprised. Then I started to feel sick and I backed off.

I walked a lot.  I didn’t let myself get discouraged, but I gotta say walking the course definitely makes it seem longer. I had a difficult time finding my pace.  I did want to quit, but pushed the thought aside.  I found my groove around mile 3, when a Doberman charged down his driveway at me and another gal.  We both yelled at him to “go!”  He left us alone, but barked at everyone who came after us. Seriously, neighbors.  Chain your pooches!

What I realized during this run is the old runner me from 2010-2012, who ran hardcore, is dead.  Finito.  Kaput.  I searched for her in vain. A moment of silence, please, for she is no more. May she rest in peace.

And…moving on now.

That crazy gal could never relax and tried to earn her self-esteem through reaching racing goals.  The new me sorta misses her.  She was thinner.  She rarely walked.  But she criticized herself constantly.  She spent many post-long runs a nauseated mess. She never felt good enough, fast enough, strong enough.  So I guess, good riddance. The new me knows when and what to eat before running.  The new me loves running for itself alone. The new me is learning to enjoy what is, rather than what was.

As I trudged along, I remembered the line from one of my favorite movies,”Last Holiday”, with Queen Latifah:  “It’s not how you start, it’s how you finish.” Finishing well is not just about time, but attitude. Focusing on finishing well kept me going.

However, turns out the new Susan placed third in her age group.  Woot! My 2014 finish was only 56 seconds slower than the 2011 time. Not too shabby, all things considered.  You can come back after an injury.  If I can do it, anyone can. Getting older can be a good thing, if we learn something along the way.

 

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