Sunday’s race is 5 days away. I’m excited, but dreading what lies ahead. This race is unique to the area, 10 miles with 3 miles of climbing in the first 5. Mile 4 is steep and raises my HR as high as I can stand. Frankly it’s painful. Just as I’m sure I will not be able to tolerate any more abuse, the road levels, drops and starts a series of rollers.
Last year was my first time, having ran the associated 5K three other years. I remember watching with fascination as the 10 mile racers started finishing at the hour mark with a steady stream at 1:20-1:40.
So in 2008 I had to race it. The experience was incredible, once I crested the long hill I was on fire, filled with exhilaration for having made it. Yes, the last 2 miles were tough but I had conquered the mountain, and powered the long downhill, so my leaden legs followed my desire to push to the finish.
This year feels different. Perhaps I’ve lined up for too many long races and have lost the fire that drives me to attack this climb.
Yet, I vividly recall my elation as I left behind the pain of the uphill and began screaming down the mountain through the brown leaf carpet, not caring if I slipped, just wanting to go faster.
That is the picture I will hold close for the next 5 days. The fire I’ll feel in my legs and lungs will consume this picture, leaving embers that stay with me until they are useful once again.