Who are we really trying to kid here? Reason number 7 that I love to run was something I discovered this weekend at the Lee Foster Memorial 5 Mile Run in Saint Marys (being the 7th race of my life – and my quest to 30, I thought it was fitting). Let me start this recap by saying in the days leading up to this race, my motivation to go run it tanked dramatically. I don’t know why, but I was extremely nervous for this one.

I knew it was just a flat out and back, I knew I could run 5 miles (seriously, I just ran 10 the Monday before, and it wasn’t a flat out and back!), but for some reason, I thought I was going to choke. Like straight up get to mile 2, fall on my face, and die alone on the street everyone would make fun of me. I even enlisted my mother in law to ride along so that I couldn’t back out last minute. I don’t know how I could come off of just completing a Tough Mudder and get intimidated by a little local race, but it happened.

I’m so glad I got over it, because this race was really a blast. I ran without my GPS and put on one of my favorite Clutch albums for tunes, and just dropped the hammer. I soon found my pace with a girl close to my age and a man who was in his 70’s, but they both were keeping about 10 seconds faster per mile than I could. ten-hot-body-benefits-of-running-optThere wasn’t a lot of runners, but the ones who were there were really cool. There was a very wide spread, from the über fit to the newbies, to people like me, mid packers who are starting to find our way around the world of racing. There was no smoke and mirrors, no DJs, no fancy after parties, nobody launching colored cornstarch at us. Did I mention the entry fee was only $12.00? There was 1 water stop at the turn around, but I was kind of on a mission and just powered through. My “runner’s high” kicked in at about mile 3, and those last 2 miles were probably the most fun and fastest I’ve ever ran. The finish line crept up really fast, and although our times were being noted via clipboard, nobody was shouting them out, which made waiting for the results just crawl. A half an hour and a pint of Gatorade later, they were posted.

I was pumped to place second in my age group. I was excited I PRed my 5 mile at 44.40. I was thrilled to receive my first trophy. I am in love with these long sleeve t-shirts participants got. But mostly what brought me the most joy from this race, and coming in at reason #7 why I love to run, is the fact that even if you don’t always love it, even if you go weeks at a time without a strong run that you’re proud of, even if you always feel like you’re slow and alone, eventually running sneaks up on you and gives back tenfold what you put in. I watched a girl place in a race for her first time today, and she was so ecstatic.

I saw a high school boy get his name added to a list of top runners in the community for the dedication he put in this summer. Nobody left that day unhappy with their performance. Everyone in that tiny group, no matter what shape or size or speed was a runner, and I left with my usual post race reinvigoration that will fuel my training for the next few weeks. There are definitely times I lose sight of my goals, and moments where I want to quit.

There are days at a time where I curse my alarm clock, lace up my sneakers, and just go through the motions, but all it takes is one exceptionally fun and fast (for me!) run, and I’m right back in love again. Special thanks to all the volunteers and organizers of the Lee Foster Memorial 5 Mile Run, and to the Elk County Striders for hosting so many great local races in a season. See you next year!