Guest Blogger: Team TROT Ambassador Jennifer Lee
There are 1000 excuses NOT to run this race……It’s only a week away. I’m not trained enough. Trail running is too hard. I’ll trip on a rock. Houston is far away. No one will come with me.
Last year at this time, I had all those thoughts. I had only done a 15K trail race a few months earlier, but I had an ultra in April and figured this race would be good race day practice for gear preferences, drop bags, hydration, nutrition, etc. So I bit the bullet and signed up for the Shoot Out – so this race has a 5k, 10K and half-marathon option, but for those of us endurance junkies, you can sign up for all the above and combine them for a 22.4 miler aka the Shoot Out.
I was super excited to get on a new trail and get race day ready. Then it rained – all damn week leading up to the race. My friend who I was crashing with in Houston told me conditions didn’t seem bad and that the TROT folk (aka Rob) were just being cautious in the email that said it was muddy and to bring a change of clothes. When I pulled into Stephen Austin park morning of I saw giant puddles EVERYWHERE.
As we crossed the start line into muddy terrain and sliding into one another, we had instant comradery. Something that happens often between runners, but way more on the trails. Maybe it’s being caked in mud struggling to stay on your feet, but falling into the persons butt in front of you. Then having them land on top of you when they try to help you up.
I fell in line with TROT ambassador Stephen Moore for the start and he regaled me with fun racing stories and urged me to try to qualify for Leadville (haha at my second ever trail race). He told me all about TROT and why he loves it and runs with them. Inspired me to pick up my pace – I was cruising, till I approached what looked like a river crossing. There was a leprechaun on a Finding Nemo float (aka John Stasulli) in the middle to direct us back to shore.
I trudged/ran/swam my way over and climbed up a tree to get out. Then I kept running. With each loop of the race water rose higher and higher. I thought about quitting, wondering why I was running through hell and high water (almost literally) when no one was making me. But honestly, I was having so much fun sliding around with everyone, talking laughing, chugging Oreos, gummy bears and pickles and other “fuel” at the aid stations. Also, there is my competitive side that wanted to prove I could do it and enjoys the challenge. I saw Stephen and the rest of my new friends at loops and we cheered each other on – how could I quit? And why would I?
When I climbed out of the water and across the finish line, the feeling was AMAZING. Got hugs from my new best friends including Rob, the director. Glanced down at my watch, which I hadn’t looked at all day because I didn’t give a damn about pace and just about staying afloat. I realized with all the jumping around mud I clocked in a good 26.5 miles. I was shocked to learn I finished in the top 25 because I hadn’t even considered this a “race.”
Getting on the trails with this group is more like a social event. One that inspired me to become a TROT ambassador thereafter. It gave me confidence for my ultra and for life. You learn to take changing tides in stride and keep going to the finish. You get comfortable with uncomfortable – heat rash, water, blisters, whatever. And best of all, you have a cheering section around every bend and very muddy sweaty hugs at the finish that only a fellow trail runner can appreciate.
So for all those excuses….
It’s only a week away. SO WHAT STILL TIME.
I’m not trained enough. RUN THE 5K OR JUST TRY IT. WALK IF YOU NEED. JUST GO.
Trail running is too hard. YES. BUT ALSO VERY FUN AND ADDICTIVE.
I’ll trip on a rock. MAYBE. OR MAYBE SLIDE ON MUD, BUT SOMEONE WILL PICK YOU UP.
Houston is far away. MAYBE. BUT WORTH IT.
No one will come with me. ALL YOUR NEW BEST FRIENDS ARE ALREADY SIGNED UP AND WILL BE THERE ON RACE DAY.