Obstacles of rocks, exposed slimy roots, fallen trees, low hanging branches and mud bogs; slick leaf-strewn paths snaking along the side of a hill; long, strenuous climbs up-hill and joint punishing descents – the Big O had all the makings of a perfect trail run.
It was unlike anything I’ve ever done before. I hadn’t known exactly what to expect beforehand, but I did know one thing – this wasn’t going to be a run-of-the-mill road race.
It was challenging, it was exhausting, it was longer than 19km (or so it felt), but it was fun. For the first hour, I felt exhilarated. The ground under my feet was more forgiving than asphalt. The scenery was beautiful (the trail wound through dense forest and offered glimpses of Lake Okataina) and my body didn’t feel like it had been out of the running circuit for as long as it actually had been (I hadn’t known I was going to enter the race near Rotorua until a month beforehand). For the first time ever in a race, I didn’t wear my “bionic” leg brace. Yet my knee didn’t bother me at all.
(I didn’t wear it because during my training runs, it caused me such a profound pain in my shin that I had to take it off. I knew that if I started the race with it, I would have probably ended up chucking it into the ravine in a fit of frustration within the first hour).
The “Before” shots:
I finished in my target time. I could have even shaved a few seconds off, had it not been for Marjo cheering me on in the home stretch. Her yelling “RUN LIKE YOU’RE 29!!” made me miss a few beats. I can run, but I can’t run and laugh very well.
The “After” shots:
Anyway. This is the most memorable birthday yet!
Even though I wasn’t able to spend it with friends and family back home, I was so happy that I did something outside of the regular birthday booze-up.
(Thanks again for all the cards and surprises! I was so overwhelmed by the effort and thoughtfulness. Especially by the trivia game my friend-since-we-were-tw0-years-old put together and everyone who contributed! It was a fun jaunt down memory lane.)
I’ve had 10+ years of shenanigans for my birthday. I wanted something that felt like an accomplishment. Something I have worked for and have become pretty good at. I’m certain 30-year-old-Carolyn would have kicked 20-year-old-Carolyn’s ass.