Sunday I ran the Grapes & Peaches 10K through two local orchards/vineyards. I considered this race to be a cross-country race because the majority of it was on orchard trails. The race started at 9am but I arrived around 7:50 because I wanted to make sure that I had enough time to warm up and figure out what the race was going to be like. Of course I drove right by the vineyard on the way to the race because I am terrible with directions. My mom got there right before I did and shortly after that I found Hollie and Brittany. Brittany and I warmed up for two miles before the race and checked out part of the course.
Lately I haven’t been nervous about racing, workouts, or running in general and I have been running A LOT better. Maybe I have just gotten to the point with running where I believe in my ability, maybe I am just so busy that I don’t have time to be nervous, or maybe I am learning to love racing. I haven’t been nervous all year long. I know I haven’t ran a ton of races this calendar year but its unusual for me to feel calm and relaxed on the starting line or even in the days leading up to the race. I also just don’t care if I win or lose or who is ahead of me anymore. I got so hung up on this in high school, college, and even beyond that and I never performed as well as I could have. I have been focusing on my own running completely and focusing on my own performances instead of stressing over what everyone else is doing and how everyone else is performing. Ever since I have been doing this I have been running more consistent races and I have been happier in the sport.
At the start of the race Hollie, Brittany, and I were together for a little over a mile. I left my watch in the car and I ran this race blind. I had no idea how fast I was running the whole time and I only knew how far I had gone because of the mile markers and because Hollie was right with me for the majority of the race so I could hear her garmin beep each mile. I felt really strong and I was thankful that Hollie was right there with me. It really pushed me and kept me from slowing down. A little after mile 4 I started to feel tired and I completely lost my focus. Then I fell back and I was struggling to regain my composure. Hollie pulled ahead and said she couldn’t wait to get back on the concrete, I agreed. The orchards are beautiful but its just difficult to run a fast 10K when you are running through an orchard. Shortly after that conversation we were back on the road heading toward the first orchard, where we started.
When I was running down the road, out of nowhere, Lyndsey’s dad appeared on a bike. He started biking along side of me and giving me encouragement. I told him I was tired but he told me I looked strong so I started to pick up the pace and push forward. This gave me a burst of energy and I eventually positioned myself as 3rd overall in the entire race, men and women combined. If he had not appeared I think I would have ran a whole minute slower. Sometimes it is difficult to fight through the exhaustion and find strength on your own. Had I not received this extra encouragement I would not have pushed myself and found my strength and focus.
When I turned back into the first orchard I knew I had about 1200 meters to go because I saw a 5 mile sign on the road a while back. Not long after that the 6 mile sign appeared and I knew the race was almost over. This race had the most awesome finish ever! You turn and finish right through the actual grape vines.
After the race we cooled down another two miles and went to receive our awards. The top 3 women received a bottle of wine. What can I say, I have fast friends because all 3 of us took home a bottle of wine!!
Then I sat in the grass listening to the band play with my mom, Brittany, her sister, and her mom and we drank the free wine!
Of all of the races I have run in my entire life this was one of the best races I have ever run and it would have been whether I had won or not, or whether I had run a 40:33 or not. I just enjoyed the whole experience. The course was beautiful, I was confident (aside from the few minutes I lost focus), I wasn’t nervous, the race was fun, I got to see and run with my friends, and my mom came to watch and take pictures. I am more confident with my running than I have been in a really really really really long time!
I loved running this race and I will run it again next year!