Yesterday wasn’t just another race. It was my first race since I got injured from a 40-miler last fall. It was my first official 50K. And it was the first race where I really felt like other people were rooting for me to succeed.
I’ve always looked at running as a solo sport—and it is, for the most part. You spend hours on hours out on the roads and/or trails by yourself, training before the sun comes up, during your lunch break or after a long day of work. During many races, you find yourself searching alone in the middle of the abandoned woods for an untapped reservoir from which you might be able to muster up another ounce of energy. But there is also a camaraderie among runners which, until recently, I was unfortunately missing out on.
Below are some pictures from the North Face DC 50K. I have nothing but good things to say about the race—extremely well organized, wonderful pre- and post-race accommodations, friendly and spirited volunteers, easy-to-follow trail/course markings and aid stations with more than enough supplies. Getting back to camaraderie, though, my favorite part of the race was seeing the friendly faces of volunteers from the DC Capital Striders, a running group I joined this year; this was around mile 19, with 13 to go—a source of energy more perfect than the Lay’s potato chips a fellow Strider encouraged me to eat.
Start/finish area at Algonquian Park, Va., around 6:15 AM
Chillin with some fellow DCCS runners before the race (Photo cred: Runners Illustrated)
It’s great to have detailed info at aid stations when your brain is incapable of doing math
One of the nicer sections of the trail (Photo cred: The North Face Endurance Challenge Series)
Me crossing the finish line (Photo cred: My boyfriend who surprised me at the finish line)
Got to chat with Dean Karnazes for a minute, pretty cool!
Beer time 🙂
If you haven’t yet tapped into your local community’s running resources, I encourage you to do so. Sign up for some races at a local specialty running store, join a running group, sign up as a volunteer at an upcoming race—you won’t regret it. Besides having joined DCCS, this year I joined Virginia Happy Trails Running Club—an ultra-awesome ultra-loving community, Back on My Feet DC—an organization that runs with people who are homeless and helps them get jobs and housing and literally back on their feet, and November Project—a free fun fitness movement that celebrates a healthy lifestyle, a positive attitude and sweaty hugs.
And in the short time I’ve been a part of DCCS, I’ve met people from whom I can get training advice and support during races and with whom I can train out on the trails. Besides the benefits of having others support you, it’s equally—if not more—rewarding to be able to cheer on other runners, whether you’re passing out Gatorade at an station, yelling a runner’s name as he or she runs down the single track or are waiting at the finish line ready to get a beer. Yesterday, I had all three, and after my 6-month race hiatus, I couldn’t have asked for a better return. It feels good to be back.