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There were 130 runners for Night Flight 5k and 10k at Camp Mount Luther last night. It is definitely a growing trail run. Joel Heasley and the whole crew at Mid Penn Trailblazers do a thorough job with these trail runs. Not that I have any true basis for comparison, but they really do have it together, or all these people wouldn’t keep coming back.

After only 11 miles training runs all month, I was very nervous about doing this run. A dark rocky muddy path is not a pool. I kept telling myself “you did snowfest, you did snowfest…” but there was still that little voice in me saying “look around at the condition of these people, you don’t belong here.”

Thankfully, I know what to do with that voice. I made an effort to talk to some people before the race and I was glad I did. I met a man who was probably 12-15 years older than me (or more) who started running less than a year ago, at the same weight I am now. He’s about 210 now. Basically the doctor told him to get moving, and he did. His wife is running with him now too.

We finally took our spot in the middle of the field, right about the spot where we play kickball. Here I am in the middle of the camp where at just about any other function, everyone knows who I am, and I am often the one in charge of an activity. But here, very few people know me. Almost no one actually, and I seem to be about the only person who didn’t come to the run with friends or family. It didn’t even occur to me that I would notice that.

So we’re off. We head down the field to the corner and head toward the big tree. Within 30 yards of running, I get an immediate desire to quit right now and slink back to my car and disappear unnoticed. It lasts a solid 20-30 seconds, but once I get to the path, and I’m about to approach the chapel where I wed my lovely bride almost 17 years ago, I talk myself into continuing and we are off.

The run itself was brutal. Not as bad as snowfest, but there were several sections of very slippery, deep, mud. There were two creek crossings, with no bridges. Gore-tex only keeps the water out if you don’t submerge your feet to well over your ankles. I’m cold, wet, dirty, in the dark, by myself at the back.

And it would seem that this exactly where I want to be.

Yeah, it was dirty

It was definitely harder than I was expecting. Had I been doing more running this month, I think it would have gone better, but there it is. We do a proper road race this month (well, rails to trails, so flat anyway) so I will have some sense of what my road time is like right now. I did do a lot of thinking along the way that it was all fine to loosen up on the nutrition end for the last couple weeks of lap swim challenge, but I need to get back to better habits.

I had hoped for 3 goals: finish in under 50 minutes, not be dead last, and not be lapped by all of the 10k runners.

I finished ahead of three runners, I was lapped by only about 6 of the 10k runners, and my finish time was 51:56. So I got very close.

After the run I got to talk with some really great people, and someone nearby recognized my voice, and it turned out to be a college friend who attended our wedding at camp. She runs marathons and this was her first trail race. She was 2nd in age group for the 10k. Congrats Karen!

I drove home, cleaned up, and got to bed. I think my fatigue was showing at church today.But I earned this shirt, and I’m ready to train for the next event.

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