I’m a runner. In the not-too-distant past, running was a hellish torture for me. Now I’ll run an organized race as a motivator and an additional challenge to my normal 2-to-3 5ks per week. It’s nice to have a change of scenery once in awhile. It’s also nice to occasionally be surrounded by others who get up way too early on a Saturday to run some pre-determined distance: large and small people, old and young people. Everyone is up early on a weekend or holiday to do something healthy for themselves, and usually supporting a cause.
I like that.
Yesterday morning I woke up and ran the Gopher Weedon Trail Run at Weedon Island Preserve. The proceeds from this race “benefit the Friends of Weedon Island‘s mission to support environmental preservation and education at the Weedon Island Preserve.” I really love walking through the preserve, and I certainly support environmental education and preservation. The combination of those things makes me like running this race.
The course through the trails is really quite lovely. It takes you through mangrove forests, out over lagoons, through scrub land (where you might see a gopher tortoise). One of the big challenges for me is climbing one of the watch towers in the last mile of the race. After running 4+ miles, no one wants to climb three flights of stairs. But I did, and I rang the bell loudly and proudly at the top! (The volunteer that was up there was going to ring it for me. I made him give me the clapper so I could ring it myself.)
The climbing of the watch tower in the last mile of the race was particularly challenging this time, because some of us got to run “bonus miles” that ranged from 1.3-1.7 miles. Someone forgot to tell some of us when to turn around on the course… Oops!! The race was supposed to be an 8k. It ended up being a little over a 10k for me, and perhaps an 11k for my friend. Even with the extra distance, I ran the whole thing, and my time wasn’t terrible for me (6.33 mi in 1:12:29, or 11:29 min/mi).
The race was definitely physically challenging, especially considering the extra miles. Yet I still found myself rocking to my tunes as I ran. There are definitely some songs that really keep you going. For starters, I recommend: Helter Skelter covered by Dana Fuchs, Lose Yourself by Eminem, Candyman by Christina Aguilera, Bang Bang Bang by Eilen Jewell, Kiss by Prince, and Eyes Like Yours by Shakira.
I like the physical challenge of races, but I also like the camaraderie. Last year I ran this race with a friend who has since moved. It was nice to think about her and miss her for a little bit as I ran through the challenging course…
It was also nice to meet up with a couple of friends who are still around and commiserate before and after the race. I even had someone to have breakfast with after the race! (Yummy eggs Benedict. Damn, did we earn that breakfast. We decided Hollandaise sauce is made of heaven, dreams, and puppy kisses.)
Overall, it was a good race yesterday. I wasn’t expecting the extra miles, but they didn’t stop me from reaching my goal (i.e. running the whole thing). The temperature was perfect for the run, and the trails were glorious.
If you are ever in the Tampa Bay area, definitely stop and take a look at Weedon Island. Pack a lunch and walk the trails. There’s no need to hurry, unless you are running a race!