Thursday, July 13, 2017

Limberlost #6: it was a dark and stormy night.

dan decided to run the 14km race within the week before.
three of us would be running.
the boy would be with me and dan would be on his own - first heat, 
and running to see how fast he could do it.
it was going to be a different mindset than the 56km.

Last year:
 there were huge thunderstorms the friday night before The Limberlost Challenge (TLC).
the rain continued throughout the day of.
the mud was crazy awesome!
such a difficult but amazing race.
i wrote about it here.

This year:
 the weather reports were calling for thunderstorms for Friday.
the boy voiced:
"i really hope the thunderstorms come so the trail will be muddy"
he got his dream on friday night.

it was a dark and stormy night...
power was lost to many in the area.
our power came back on at 3:30am.
i did not have a good sleep.
the thunderstorm didn't last all night but it was muggy and humid.
and as i said i know the time the power came on.

i dreamt about the race..
but as dreams go, 
none made sense.

I was just happy the boy had fallen alseep easily.

morning came way too early.

but excitement peaks when one realizes what the day holds. 
the girl got up and was so excited for the day.
we were bringing her to friends' at 7am on our way to the trails, 
and she was so excited to go.
they would bring her to the race later.

the boy woke a little later, 
but without any problem.
he woke up excited!
since we had readied everything the night before we had nothing but to get dressed, 
eat a little breakfast, 
brush teeth and make a bathroom stop before we headed out the door.

dan came to me and put his arm around me and spoke quietly.
"have patience with him."
i needed to be reminded of those 4 little words.
i assumed i would be, but if he has a hard time at all then patience will be needed big time.

we were off!

the boy in the new shirt i made for him, and his dad in the matching hat.

these photos show the shirt looking dirty because i took them on sunday night...after it has been washed.
those are stains, 
that i didn't try too hard to get out.

daddy's hat: it says 'trail runner' on back.

we drove our little one to our friends' house and away we went.
chilly morning, 
but no rain.

in the past we always arrived a good hour before the 56km race, 
so this was strange to be arriving when the majority were arriving.
after parking we headed over to get our race numbers, and shirts.

how exciting to see the boy's name on the list.

the boy and i got our t-shirts but since dan registered late he would have to wait to see if there were any shirts left.

we chatted with some of the MARs runners before the race.
i love that group of people.
they have been so encouraging over the last couple years.
i know i am not in their class of running, 
but the excitement and encouragement i receive from them, 
even when not being a member,
has pushed me and encouraged me so much.
and they have been amazing for dan and his running.

Race Time.

dan had estimated that the boy and i would take about 2h 15m.
as long as everything went well.

the first heat of the 14km lined up and the boy and i went to cheer his dad on.
and all the MARs runners.

then it was time for us to line up.
i reminded him to take it easy at the beginning.
that he will be happy later if he does now.

and we were off!

running slow.
pacing myself.
he did not want to run slow.
he ran ahead of me and even ran backwards for some of it,
wanting me to catch up to him.
i always go slow on the road part.

then we turned onto the trail.
he started leaping over roots and rocks...
i began running with lighter feet too.
once i enter the trail it becomes fun.
so easy to speed up without meaning to.

the trail was not crowded this year, 
last year was ridiculous.
i think having the three heats helped.

we ran across the first bridge without having to wait - 
i have had to wait the last two years.

usually i don't race with the camelback, 
but this year i had the camelback with gatorade in it,
if needed.
i also had Clif Bloks and a couple Clif Bars.
when training the boy usually gets a Clif Blok at the beginning and then every 2km after.

at the first aid station, 
my favorite aid station,
the one girl was chatting with me and him.
"he's only 9 and he's running this...
and here i am just sitting here."
she was quite impressed.
i told her that we couldn't do this run without her, 
and i thanked her.

by about 5km he had slowed down.
he was walking easier, 
and i asked him if he was tired.
he said yes.
i told him he could make it to the 6km marker and get his next blok.

we stopped at 6km and he ate it...
after that his energy and excitement rose.

he had consistently been running slightly ahead
and then waiting for me.
then running with me...
until he sped up a little and then had to wait for me.

at 7km...
the half way point, 
i wanted to take a quick photo.
just one photo on the trail is all i wanted.
but we couldn't get the 7km marker in it and didn't want to take too long to try.

i found that i spent most of the race keeping up with him, 
instead of me setting the pace.
but maybe those moments where he had to wait for me actually helped him keep up the energy.

there was mud on the trail,
just as he hoped.
he spent as much time running through the mud puddles as he could.
while others worked their way around them he ran right through.
i decided to follow his lead.
except at one.
the largest and deepest puddle from last year now had a boardwalk over it.
i ran on the boardwalk...
he ran through the puddle,
laughing the whole time.

he passed people at every puddle.

we got to the 10km marker and he had his next Blok.
this was the farthest distance he had ever run.
and he still had a crazy amount of energy.

i checked the time and realized that we hadn't even reached the 2 hour mark yet.
when i told him he was so happy.
he wanted to try to be faster than 2hr 15m as he knew dad estimated.
so we decided to try.

he began to speed up.
i began to too, but it was so hard.

just past the 10km we were surprised by a cheering squad of Dan, the girl and a bunch of friends.
he ran past them first.
i heard them cheering.
then i came running past and blew a kiss to my girl.

it was such a wonderful surprise to see them.

at the 12km marker we stopped for the last Blok.
once i gave it to him i gave him permission to run ahead of me.
to run to the finish and beat the expected time.
he was so excited to be allowed.

i know...
he was supposed to run with me.
the last 2km i was not worried about him.
he was strong, had tons of energy and i was starting to hurt.
i'd see him at the finish line.

i was full of mixed emotions as he took off and i lost sight of him.
i was so proud of him.
he had worked so hard for this.
his attitude had been amazing.
but i was a little sad that i wouldn't be crossing the finish line with him.
i had thought about that feeling of running through the finish with him - i'd probably cry...
i was pretty sure i would.
but now it wasn't going to happen.

i had tried keeping up.
i couldn't do it.
he picked up speed with ease.

i ran the last 2km thinking about all the people who had cheered him on throughout the trail.
the young moms who hoped that one day their kids would want to run with them.
the girl at the first aid station.
the girl who gave him a high-five as she passed him.
the people laughing with him as he passed them at a mud puddle.
the 'way-to-go' and the 'are you running the 14km?  great job' comments.
about his smile and infectious energy and attitude.
no one seemed annoyed that they were passed by a nine-year-old.  
people were impressed and encouraged him.

we had prayed, just that morning, that we would be an encouragement to those around us that day.

now he was out of my sight.
and he'd finish before me, 
not with me.
i was sad, 
but so proud of him.
i thanked God for this opportunity for him.
i knew his dad would be waiting for him at the finish.

the last three years the boy has run across the finish line with his dad.
this year his dad would be there to run the last bit with him.
that was enough to let him go on ahead.
his dad didn't cross the line with him, he left that part for the boy!

i ran with another girl for the last, and longest, km.
we encouraged eachother and crossed the line seconds apart.

Dan had completed his race: 1:13:07.  8th overall.
i finished my race: 2:16:35. better than last year, and i'm happy with that.

the boy...
did he beat the estimate?
estimated time: 2:15:00
the boy finished his race:
he had done it!

he beat the estimate and beat me by 6 minutes...
something he will not let me forget
and completed The Limberlost Challenge.

it has been an incredible journey.
but incredible.

if you were to ask him what he thought of the race he would say:
"it was awesome!"
but he also says that
he doesn't plan on running it again until he's 12.

when dan went to get a shirt after the race he decided on a ladies small and gave it to the girl.
she was thrilled to have her very own TLC shirt.
the girl wants to run it next year.
we told her not until she has run at least one Band on the Run 5km.

i love everything about The Limberlost Challenge.
the volunteers,
the other runners,
the trails,
the aid stations,
the food,
the mud,
the lakes,
seriously, everything.

i love having the opportunity to hike the trails with my family all year long.
but racing them with the boy...
whole new level of love.

i am so thankful:
to God.
first off He created that beautiful place.
he placed people with a passion for outdoors and caring for His creation right there,
and they take care of the trails beautifully.
he gave people a passion for creating this event in the first place.
to run these trails, 
surrounded by the beauty.

for the passion of running my husband has.
it has inspired me
a former hater of running.
it has inspired my children.

we wouldn't have been on this journey in the first place if Dan didn't love running so much.

i am thankful
to the powers-that-be.
for saying yes to my plea that my boy have an opportunity to run this race and fulfill his dream.

for the friends and family that prayed for us as the training happened and then the race.

for those who were able to be at the race that day to cheer him on.

for AmyLynn who encouraged me to keep a blog about the journey to post after the race.

for Rhonda and Theresa who captured the finish line crossings.

for Jason who captured the video of the boy running out on the trail.

i can't believe this is all done.

onto the next journey...
whatever that may be.

See the results of TLC 14km race here
Check out how the Muskoka Algonquin Runners (MARs) did at Limberlost Here

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