I've since spent a good deal of time attempting to find my tough stuff. Or my "brave pants" as I affectionately call them. I have tried.... hard pressed, to be the chaser, rather than the chased.
It's a lot like following a guide runner really.
Sept 27 2014 and I find myself in Mono Cliffs. Scott and I driving towards the race parking. I feel familiar road. I feel turns I have turned before. I feel guard rails that tempt you to remain safe and sound on the right side of the road. I have been here before. My Bruce trail senses tingling. On the right, a stile. Standing alone in the tree line. You likely missed it, looking carefully at the road ahead. That path you are intended to follow. Trails are like that... hidden in the side field of vision that you miss if you are focused ahead. Trails are like that. Hidden, yet offering.
The start line. I haven't seen one of these in many a moon. Not one I intended to line up at anyway. Eager spirits. Happy faces. Dreams ahead. Doubts behind. Runners. The lot of them. And me. present and accounted for. Along the side trails of the Bruce, the dreaded blue blazes we so carefully avoided in August. Not that I cared much. Benefits of being colourblind.
Some spoke to me before the event began. I got the course description from about three different people. Careful what you tell me... I may remember. Up and right and through the fields, up the stairs and around the top, down the valley and straight on into the finish. Finish. They say that word like it means something. Like its a permanent fixture of any race. The finish.
How about the next beginning?
I am honoured to send the sprint distance racers off and running. Thank you Jodi and Norm for that brief moment in time to stand and shout about living your dreams out loud. Hopefully I heard myself. I have a lot of living my dreams out loud ahead. Where did I put those brave pants?
The challenge runners chase after them with such delight. Something about orange flags. Or was that green? Blue?? I should really pay attention.
Scott guiding along the up. There's a lot of up at the start. Not that it was high, or hard, or long. Just up. Rhonda loves to climb. Slow and steady. Crowd thins out. Time chasers in front. I'm happiest on a quiet trail anyway. I hear my instructions... root, rock left... And I hear the girls behind, why is he doing that? I had forgotten my blind runner bib. My biggest disguise on today. You think I'm a runner. Ha!
We jog. we shuffle. We come across a runner on the ground. Patti. She accepts help for her ankle. And I am so relieved to have been removed from the expectation of my own race. Which up until this point I felt wasn't going well. I loved the trail, loved the atmosphere, and hated the self imposed "race" in my heart. Happy to step out. Happy to return to my joys in life. Patti and I walked and ran and sent Scott ahead to let them know we were coming. Not sure she knew I had no clue where we were headed. There was trail under foot. And I loved that. Wait, Orange flags? Did they say orange? Have you been watching? Oh dear.
After a time Scott found us again. After a bit more time and a lot of stairs Patti made the hardest decision we ever have to face. DNF... It haunts us in our training runs. We feel unstoppable until... Every lesson learned comes with a price. I hope the runner in her feet remembers to thank her later for being so wise, when most of us would have ignored the signs. I sent her back with Scott and found myself alone.
Bruce... do you remember me?
To hide the 'missing' in my heart, I turn some music on my phone. No head phones they said. So random notes playing through the forest.
And I let go......
Come hell or high water... today I was running. Orange flags? I didn't care. Sorry Norm. Sorry Jodi. Course or not.. I was running. If you know anything about me, about this girl I try so hard to be... Rarely, do I run. But here, on this single track, down that technical rock, over those scattered intertwined roots, I ran. Full out. Ran. Brave pants buckled tightly.
Scott caught up. I begged to stay in front. That has to be hard. Watching someone you care for take on so much risk. Stepping back and letting them fail on their own. Running never loved me so much. Out of breath. Out of steam. Over the rocks. Over the roots. Around the bend. The sun speckling through the branches. Stealing my trail. Gone... left? right?? Straight? Too fast for slow decisions. Trust the universe to make the right call. Movement. And the race outside of that. Grateful it brought me here. Grateful it shared this piece of earth with me.
Down the hill, down the gravel. That girl at the start said let go here. So I did. And man did it hurt when I fell. Sometimes you run. Sometimes you fall. Every time... you stand up. Never stay down. That's just what they expect you to do.
Race done and over, I got to watch awards. I loved that part. Laughing inside at all the attempts to race. And me.. just out for a run. So many amazing people around me. So many heartfelt efforts. So many inspiring souls. In this place. Along the tree line, you may have missed if you just drove past.
Always take the time to look for the stile off to the side. Always look for the running shoes in the mud. Always chase your coyote. Find one so big it scares your pants off.
Thank you CHASE THE COYOTE... for welcoming us here to enjoy this wonderful day in September along these beautiful trails.