Some of you might be wondering how the Phantom Trail Race on November 12 went. I must say, it was one of the best races I’ve ever run. It was as if I had my own personal race course set up for me in the forest, with an aid station, and volunteers at every turn of the course to cheer me on and show me the way.
I ran the race with my friend Tim Kelly. For some reason, the organizers decided to start the race a few minutes early. Tim and I had been waiting in his car for the race start, because it was very chilly out. So when we got to the start line, we found out we’d missed the starting gun. Oh well! All the other runners were well ahead, and soon Tim had disappeared into the distance as well.
A short way into the course I met a race volunteer who was looking for some lost sheep–runners who had strayed from the path. They were soon found, and we did a short technical section of the trail, involving steep, slippery stairs, together. Then they were off into the distance, and my own personal race began. For the next two hours it literally seemed like I was the only runner in the forest.
Two more hours, you ask? For a 12 KM race? Yes, this is part of why it was the most enjoyable race ever. I treated it like a Sunday run in the woods–a long, slow run. I didn’t try to go fast, but just let my body go at the pace it wanted. For the entire race! It was cold, wet, muddy, and raining, but I was in heaven. There was lots to interest me, as much of the course was new to me; a mystery around every turn. I had a map to guide me, which kept me from getting too anxious about not knowing where I was.
The scariest section of the race was an extremely steep mossy, slimy wooden staircase that led to a narrow wood suspension bridge over a very deep gorge, with rushing waters far below. I slowed to a snail’s pace for that bit, terrified that I might lose my balance, slip, and fall into the gorge. I didn’t, of course, and after a short climb on the other side of the bridge, came to the aid station. The folks there were very kind, and offered me all manner of goodies. I had a tiny Clif bar, and a drink of some sweet pink substance, and felt very energized to continue for the second half of the race.
As you might expect, given my late start and my very slow pace, I was the last runner to complete the race. But this was not a problem for me. I felt tremendous pleasure at running for 2 hours and 15 minutes straight, at my own pace, in my own private race. What a gift! Thanks to all the organizers and volunteers who made this incredible experience possible.