Another year, another Tar Heel 10 Miler. This year’s race, my third, was the same and different.
The best part of the race is running through the UNC football stadium, but it’s under construction, so we ran around the arena. The start and finish lines were chaotic, but I managed to survive without being trampled. (When you’re five feet tall, beginning and ending a road race with anything other than an organized system is daunting.)
The rest of the course was typical. We ran through the famous Gimghoul neighborhood and I didn’t see Gene Pease. I never see him even though I know he’s there, so that was the same. Then we had to tackle Laurel Hill, which is always a setup for drama. There’s a guy who plays the Ricola horn, and for some reason, it’s the most exciting part of the race. Unfortunately for me, he was taking a break when I came chugging up the hill. I almost burst into tears. But I almost always weep on that hill, so that was the same.
There were great things about the race. This year, I also ran alongside extended members of my Fleet Feet family. I ran with some new members of that tribe, along with my mentor who has been training me for years. We’ve never raced together, though, and that was a joy.
And after the race, before I could bemoan the fact that I was about 90 seconds slower than last year, my dear friend said, “You barely trained. You woke up. You ran ten miles. That’s amazing.”
I said, “Yeah, that’s true. And now I’m eating pretzels like a boss. I’m an athlete! Whoa!”
I love runners. Such optimists. That’s always true. And my new “normal” really is last year’s stressed-out version of myself. I can roll out of bed and run ten miles like it’s NBD. I’m no Meb Keflezighi, but I’m no slouch. That’s different.
So as long as we get to run through Kenan Memorial Stadium, next year, I’ll be back. It’s a fun race, and it always sets the stage for a great summer season of training for my fall marathon.