It seems like such a trite, simplistic world view, right? Well, I had about a million reasons I was trying to use to convince myself otherwise this weekend. And I almost used those reasons to talk myself out of that happiness.
This was a big goal race weekend for me. The Moab Redhot 55K.
The upcoming week also brings several key events as far as the next phase of my life. It just felt like I was not prepared for either. Or, maybe, I just wanted to curl up a bit in the fetal position and not deal with anything hard.
But then, I had some sense knocked into me on the race by a friend. You’re doing Leadville, he said. Don’t downshift to the shorter 33K (a little over 20 miles) race. Treat it as a an enjoyable training exercise and necessary step in that process.
Change of perspective on a situation. What an amazing concept. I stopped thinking of this year’s Redhot as a death march of sorts, given my relative under-training this year.
And with that, I also started thinking about big changes this year with that mindset. I knew, when the weekend was over, I would still have a ton of stuff to do but decided to stop dreading and fearing that work. They were necessary steps in the process, and I would get them done one way or the other.
The race day started out like many others. Lots of trips to the bathroom, greeting friends old and new in the dirt lot near the Gemini Bridges Trailhead in Moab, Utah. A little part of me still wanted to bow out of the longer of two race options available that day. I just kept committing to seeing through the longer one, and reminding myself how I did genuinely view this as one of the most beautiful places on earth. And that I needed to have faith in myself that I would not have a problem getting through 34 miles today if I remained patient.
Sure, I could dwell on the fact that I hadn’t racked up nearly as many long runs as I needed for this. Or beat myself in the head with mom guilt for being here this weekend at all.
No, that wasn’t productive.
So, I embraced being happy in this beautiful place, being around people from all walks of life and levels of running experience, and appreciating how fortunate I am to be able to complete such an event.
When we finally got started, part of me wanted to curl up in the fetal position again. Oh, boy. This was going to be a long day. But then, my friend Jen was alongside me. I relaxed and chatted with her all the way up the first hill on the course, about kids and running and life in general. Soon, we were up, and it was really about as easy as that hill had ever felt in four years at this race.
Yes, I was slow, but that was OK. I seemed to have dialed in on the control and patience I needed to successfully make it through a long, hard day out on the slick rock and dirt. Could I maintain this mindset?
I wasn’t sure. There were still a million things on my mind that I had to get done that day, and back at home.
Don’t worry. Be happy. I blocked that stuff out of my head, looked around at where I was, and kept moving.
In the early miles, I moved along with my friend Jen, and continued chatting and laughing. We don’t necessarily plan to run these things together, but it was great to have a bit of a shoulder to lean on in the early miles. She’s been through her own challenges in running and life, and also wasn’t in a position today to hammer out a personal best on this race course, but her attitude was great and I fed off that.
This has been the case, too, I realized, with things going on in my life. I have friends and family who are what I call the “normal makers,” not telling me what to do or how to think, but still encouraging me to see things in a positive light. See changes and challenges as good things. Opportunities, even.
With that, I grew stronger and more confident with each step.
Eventually, Jen left me and pulled ahead a bit. I was on my own but not really. Here I was in this amazing landscape on a beautiful day. I was running by myself now (OK, power hiking quite a bit, really), but not alone. The energy of being on the trails in beautiful Moab, being around like-minded folks, and flushing all the negative out of my brain were making this into a day I didn’t think possible. I was emboldened by this as I moved on. I wasn’t trudging. I felt buoyant and light on my feet. It was a slow pace, but it didn’t matter.
Finally, I passed the last aid station at around 28 miles and hit that home stretch where I knew it was inevitable. I was finishing today. I’d come very close to not toeing the line, and now found myself SO glad that I’d taken on what had been a hard and at times uncomfortable race, but one in which I would ultimately get through.
And I really did think of this in terms of getting ready to run the Leadville Trail 100, and to eventually make it through other big changes – the good and the bad – with patience, persistence and a smile on my face whenever possible.
I was well over the seven-hour mark when I crossed that finish line on Saturday, but I did make it across that line. And with it, all worries for the day were buried. I caught up with friends and learned how everyone’s races had gone, still in pleasant shock that my day, while a long, back-of-the-pack effort, had been a success.
After a good night’s sleep and a very nice stretch of the legs hiking to Corona Arch the next day, I made my way home. Got to read with the kids, hug them, snuggle with them. Focusing on them, and on being happy with them, that is everything. The other stuff will all come together eventually.
Step by step.
Karah Levely-Rinaldi is a Grand Junction mother of four and an ultra-marathon runner. Read her every other week on Fruita Moms.