The North Face Endurance Challenge

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My BOMF running partner for the half-marathon, Dave.

Yesterday was the North Face Endurance Challenge and there couldn’t have been a better day for it!  Though I hated life for a few minutes when my alarm went off at 5am, the feeling quickly disappeared as race day adrenaline kicked in with my morning coffee.

I ate an everything bagel with butter and honey to get the day started right. I only had a few sips of coffee and half a glass of water because I did not want to be dealing with port-a-potties over and over again. (Tip: It’s SO worth it to over-hydrate the day/night before a race than try to get enough water the morning of!)

Just before the half-marathon kick off!

Know what one of my favorite places to be is? See above. Bustling crowds of excited runners in the early morning hours of a weekend is like home to me. Everyone is in a good mood, full of energy, excitement, race nerves, adrenaline and carbs :)

The pre-race atmosphere is intoxicating and it’s part of why I keep signing up for these things again and again.

Jen, Tracey, Whitney and me — BOMF ladies ready to run!

Through Back on My Feet, I’ve made a ton of new friends – which  has been wonderful. A little off topic but a pertinent factoid for me: If you want to make friends, do something to help others. It’s social, it’s community-oriented and you have a specific reason to be there. Doing something meaningful means you meet others and connect with them quickly on a deeper level.

I have, at times in my life, struggled with making friends and wish I had known this “make friends easily” little tidbit back in the day!

It was a great temperature out to start — slightly cool but heating up quickly. Luckily, the trails are covered and provide lots of relief.

I was pumped to run my first trail race, especially since reading “Born to Run.” Plus, my Dad recently did a trail 1/2 and said he liked it MUCH more than a regular old road race. I wasn’t sure what to expect after Friday’s rain but let’s just say, I’m a convert!

I had no plans to run for time and when I found I was running with Dave, I was unsure what pace we’d be going. Turns out, it was much slower than what I am used to. That’s not a bad thing, as I enjoyed running with Dave and figuring out the trails for the first time.

Running through muddy terrain, splashing in massive puddles, hiking up hillsides, sliding down gooey banks and hopping over roots, fallen trees and more proved to be a blast. When we got to run down hills, I felt like I was on a ride. Getting through the trail was like an obstacle course and far more interesting than any boring old road race.

By the time we finished, my knees had taken a pounding. They were not used to all the jumping and running downhill, especially. I felt fine, as the run itself was very easy for me. However, my body was exhausted the rest of the day, not doubt from running a course with tons of stuff I’m not used to.

That being said, I’m dying to do another trail run. My friend Autumn (pictured below) ran the 50k on Saturday and I’m tempted to sign up for a 50k in 2013. Are ultras the next big thing? Oh Lord. I’m so thinking about it because I know I could do it.

After running 5 marathons, I’m thinking, okay the next thing. I really need to see how Chicago and Philly go (running both full marathons for those this year). Then…decide if I’m ready to tackle an ultra!!

And, Back on My Feet alumn member Chris, actually ran the 50-MILER! Yeah, insanity. Here he is, looking shockingly alive:

I’m so amazed sometimes at our awesome resident members. So many have come through so much — overcoming drug addictions, quitting drinking, ending destructive relationships, spending years in prison, coming out of homelessness and growing up in the roughest of rough ways.

I’ve seen them become hopeful, strong, responsible people who are incredibly thankful for a second chance. They become fathers to their daughters, brothers to their families and contributing members of society again (or for the first time.)

And, through it all, they run — because there’s just something about it that keeps ‘em coming back. Maybe because were…born to run? It’s livin’ if you ask me. The lovely ladies pictured below are BOMF staff in DC — all with big hearts, enthusiasm and positive energy. Love them!

Autumn, Amy, Gretchen & me

Last but not least: “God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can and the wisdom to know the difference.” 

We say it every day but I try to actually listen and mean it when I say it. Those words are so powerful and if you take them to heart, you might just be able to change your life — wherever you may be right now.

Back on my Feet circle. One of the best parts of my day.

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