This is a long one today – just had to share the entire experience -
I always look forward to fall – for the scent of cinnamon, cloves and allspice to fill my kitchen, which moves throughout the house and even gets into the sheets J….ahh, fall is here…the sound of crackling crisp leaves under people’s feet as they walk by, which I can hear as I bake with the window open. This weekend, I prepare my homemade pumpkin bread as I recover from the inevitable cold that has just passed by to say hello and remind me not to take my health for granted.
What would be better than to match the lovely consumption of several pieces of pumpkin bread with the ability to work it off in the Fall Harvest 7.5 mile scenic challenge? I like to try new things as much as possible and I’ve never been to Cornwall on the Hudson...ahhhh – perfect! Gorgeous views…. fall colors – and it’s the same day of the NYC Marathon, so all of the really good runners will be there…. that’s it – I am doing it! Pack up the Jeep sister! ROAD TRIP!
So my next move? I am going to call Sally for this one!
As I snuggled up with my 5 lb throw in the arms of my cushy couch I text…wait for it…. wait for it…I anxiously wait for my fearless run partner to respond…I get a text back – sure, let’s do it! We sign up immediately.
Giddy with excitement we chat about how beautiful this is going to be in the middle of one of the most amazing locations in the Hudson valley. We agreed – we are not going for time or to race nah…. this is just going to be a nice, relaxing jaunt through the country to look at the views and colorful trees. Taking advantage of living in a deciduous part of the country. Ah, yes, yes indeedy!
So we drive through the countryside and enjoy the majestic views on the windy roads of 9W . We are led to the quaint little town of Cornwall on the Hudson and reach the Storm King Firehouse quite early. We watch as everyone starts to prepare for the runners to arrive - A table of coffee, bagels, orange slices, water…. carbs galore, there for everyone to enjoy as they stretched and waited for the noon siren to sound and start the race!
As we wait, I noticed the people starting to gather – didn’t look quite like newbies. There is a look to avid runners. You can just see a difference that I cannot explain. I say to my friend Sally: “Hey…these guys look pretty serious…and looks to be a small group.” She didn’t pay too much attention because a girl interrupted as she got on the loud speaker and directed us to line up.
So we get to the starting line…. a small line spray painted “Start” on the road not even 3 feet long…no big overhang, no big banner – just a little line of paint. So we line up toward the back as we do…thinking we will find our pace along the route and adjust ourselves within the pack as we move forward.
POW! Let the race begin! They’re off! Literally – “They” are off -
Trying to take on the 4 years of learning not to “get out of the gait” too soon…we see the entire pack gain momentum as we fall further back…we increase the speed and they get even further ahead, huh? These guys are no joke!
For 11:00 to 11:30 minute pacers…we had no idea that we would be last. It was like slow motion…. almost was as if there were clouds of dust behind the Cornwallians feet!
As we gained speed – I kept hearing my own voice from earlier in the morning say: “We are not racing today, enjoying the views and taking it e-a-s-y.” Then, to ensure she was being clear that we needed to have some pride…Sally said: “I just want to focus on keeping up with the one guy ahead of us – just to keep him in sight.” We were on mile one – making plans to finish at this point. This was not going to be a “jaunt” through the countryside…. oh no my friends – this is just the beginning.
So, as we near mile 3, I realized that not only was this group fast, but the course was quite hilly. I was sweating like a man. I also heard a mention by a person on the sidelines directing traffic …something about a “climb”…hmm. I wonder what Climb…. then we hit a hill and got through it. Geez – that was tough…not that bad though. We are going to be fine.
Then it happened…the fear of so many runners…I heard an engine…. a humming of sorts…. of a car that wouldn’t pass. My immediate reaction was to wave them to go around…and then it happened…my shoulders froze, my head turned, and my eyes locked with Sally’s…. we said it at the same time: “Oh my God it’s the pace car!” If you don’t know what I mean, it is a sinking feeling ask any runner whether they have experienced it or not, they know. Then, after the initial shock of it all, we started busting out laughing so hard – a real true belly laugh. Then we realized that we couldn’t expend that much energy on laughter at this point we had more than a few more miles to go!
So, let’s just take a minute to reflect – we spent the first part of the race at the back of the pack, being followed by the pace car, strangers in a town we don’t even know, at 10:30 pace – which is a minute faster than our normal time! Wow, talk about eating a piece of some humble pie!
Screw it – this is our race and we are here to finish – it’s not about competing against anyone, never was. I mean we are out here, which is more than some people are doing today…so there we are, all set…. and truly enjoying it. That moment and belly laugh is one of the funniest moments ever and I will remember it forever. Staying in the present – being mindful of the joys of each moment of this journey in life. Priceless.
Not so fast honey…
Then it really happened…we turned a corner on mile 5 and looked at the sign – “MOUNTAIN ROAD” …. I squeaked: “Holy Shit” and then we went up…. up…up…. for an inordinate amount of time and the hill kept getting steeper and steeper. Oh…. this…. must…. be….”THE”….”climb”…it wouldn’t stop either!
At this moment I am blinded by the intensity of this hill, I think back to the day we registered…nope don’t remember this in the brochure!
Let me tell ya – I am up for a challenge just as much as the next gal…ask anyone who knows me, but my God man – this is ridiculous!
It was like with each climb, came a turn up a whole new hill. I am going to try not to overreact here, but I didn’t see much of the “scenic” part and recall only the “challenge”…. ha-ha. I was blinded by a combination of madness and pure focus – I will not give up…. I will not give up…. as I heard the wheezing all around me I realized from the other runners…I wasn’t alone. Yes…. we were near the other runners now. Slowly we climbed and climbed…and climbed – with the promise and cheer of “your almost at the top” by a woman waving her arms and directing the race.
As I started to panic, I remembered something I learned in leadership training in the past - something that always works…when facing a challenge – use your “positive words”…to stomp out that voice of your “inner cynic”.
Now …you can’t begin to imagine what my “inner cynic” was telling me. Hush now bad Lynda Devil girl, be good.
Well, with the help and forces from the angels above I was able to pull some really good ones out today and repeated them back over and over again: My 5 most powerful and positive words, that when repeated will pull me through everything and get me into a positive place…"creativity”, “beauty”, “strength”, “chocolate” and…(yes) …”butter!” Just like a magic potion it worked!
Once I got centered, and was able to bring it home with Sally…. downhill for the last mile.
We finished ….almost last…but ahead of 4 other runners. Nice.
What a day!
(Excuse me now…. while I go make it up to myself over a fabulous piece of pumpkin bread and whipped cream!)
PS - We must have been so caught up in the first sentence when we signed up immediately: “Enjoy the Fall foliage and majestic views of the Hudson River and surrounding mountains in the quaint Village of Cornwall”
Because I do not recall ever reading about that long mountain climb. When I got home I looked up the description and saw this….
“The 7.5 Mile Scenic Challenge is for runners only and contains over a 1-mile climb, but ends with a long and fast downhill finish”