Sometimes you have to get lost in the quiet of the woods to find your song. Sometimes you have to get lost in the dark to find your sparkle! You don’t lose your song overnight, so you can’t expect it to return in one day. Since moving to New Hampshire four months ago (has it already been FOUR months?!) my song has been floating back to me, one solitary note at a time. My dull spark has been fueled, and slowly, stubbornly, the flame is growing!
Sometimes you rub those twigs together fiercely, all boy scout like, and it still isn’t enough to create one damn spark. But sometimes there are moments when God pours the lighter fluid on and your heart burns as bright as a bonfire in the middle of the night.
Bonfires for mile markers at the Twilight Challenge Trail Race
And for me, last night was full of bonfire moments! But it started before the sun even set. It started with my trainer Marty mentioning this twilight trail race, which he was confident I could run. Actually back up, it started when the runner chick who sits on the other side of my cubicle wall asked me about my 26.2 bumper sticker on my third day of work. And the 140.6 sticker.
You know it’s gonna be a good race when you have to drive three miles down a dirt road that dead ends at a farm to get to the start!
I admitted that I was guilty as charged. Boston marathon finisher. Ironman. Yes, but that was another life. I arrived in Nashua believing that my days as a runner were behind me. I left them in Albany, condemned to be buried with my old life. My running shoes were still packed away in a rubber maid, on the top shelf, in the back of my closet.
I couldn’t run. Every professional in Albany was certain of this. I’d seen the Xrays. I knew about the labral tear in my hip. I was sure that was the enemy behind my hip pain. And I was utterly convinced that running two marathons in one month accelerated my demise.
I didn’t want to race again. It was convenient to blame Ironman and racing on all my heart ache. It would be foolish to expose myself to all that pain and disappointment again, right?
And I definitely wouldn’t unpack those tutus! It was proof that before Ironman and power meters and training plans and race wheels sucked the life out of me, running brought life to my soul. Proof that it was a fun way to stay healthy. Proof that it was a powerful means of changing the world, raising a dollar or two or $2000 for a cause or charity. Proof that at one time I knew who I was. I was a runner chick who ran in tutus, and cared more about the journey and encouraging my fellow runners then I did about my pace or PRs.
I couldn’t run. I didn’t want to race. And I wouldn’t unpack the tutu! Until my coworker Lee invited me to a She Runs This Town NH run. I reluctantly agreed to go. It ended at sunset with ice cream at Hayward’s. Maybe I could run, but just a few miles. Maybe I would join them at the Gate City Strider’s Mine Falls trail run the following Monday.
It started at sunset. I felt so free, leaping over roots and laughing with the other runners that I forgot I couldn’t run. I met Ambrose and Brian and Anthony and Dan. I agreed (with the slightest shade of enthusiasm) to run the Halfway to St. Patrick’s Day 10k. I saw another runner racing in a sparkly green tutu. I forgot I didn’t want to race, and tried to catch this kindred spirit, and placed 3rd in the 30-39 age group in the process. I ran an 8 miler the following weekend. And a 10 miler the weekend after that. I found a new physician through the Gate City Striders. After a round of “walk down the hall, stand on one leg, don’t let me push your knee in” tests, Dr. Bannerman determined that my issues were all related to muscle imbalances, tightness, and glutes that would not fire. I hired a strength coach and signed up for the Loco Half Marathon.
Maybe I would unpack that tutu … Maybe the sun was setting on all my excuses. On the horizon, a bonfire was being lit…