I made a promise…

I told you I’d write again when I was feeling stoked about the upcoming Salomon Trail Series, Race 1, in Studley Park.

Studley Park Boathouse in Yarra Bend Park, Mel...

Studley Park Boathouse in Yarra Bend Park, Melbourne, Australia (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Am I stoked?  I’m getting there!

Here’s what’s been happening (note, I just got the kids into bed moments ago, it’s Friday night, the first night of school holidays, and my husband will be shortly opening the door on his return from the gym, so this may be short!):

First, the washing machine is fixed!  It was like a dream-come-true: the service people turned up on time, discovered what was wrong (the carbon brushes were worn out from overuse – sound familiar?), and then tucked my nice little machine up in their truck.  They claimed it would be back on Thursday, and just as we, collectively, pulled on our last pair of clean clothes, it returned, was plugged back in, and to my great delight, spun when I said, “spin”.  Well, I’m not Harry Potter, so I did have to use the knobs and stuff, but it worked.  I have since summited Mount Laundry, rebuilt Mount Iron, and I actually have clean gear for the race on Sunday (which is what I was really worried about).

Second, the Microsoft updates (all 6000 of them) eventually loaded properly, my Norton Anti-Virus smiled at me, and all was well in computer-land.

And finally – most importantly – I rested.  Well, as much as I ever rest.  I shortened my 15k run to 10, skipped the run I usually do after teaching BodyPump on Thursday morning, and took today completely off.  It is an odd and lovely feeling to have a bit of energy.  My husband commented that I was cleaning tonight, and I wasn’t even grumpy (I usually only clean when I’m grumpy!).  I was smiling, singing even.  So rest is good, and I have committed to support my body more intelligently in the coming months by incorporating some yoga, some cross-training, and a bit of extra sleep.

Back to the Salomon Trail Series, you say…am I excited?

I can’t really get my head around it, to be perfectly honest.  After running so very far in the last few races, with 28, 21, and 50k goals, to run 15k seems oddly anti-climactic.  I know I’ll love the woods and the trails, as I always do, the challenge of keeping my balance, running fast on technical trails.  I’m just not sure I know how to do short anymore.

When I first did this trail series, it was as a step towards freedom.  Before we moved back to Melbourne, I had spent years running the trails in Hong Kong, where I could walk out of my door, and be in the woods in five minutes.  Here, I pined for those trails, felt a bit of my soul shrivelling up without the majesty of the woods.  But I was scared; could women run alone here?  If so, where to go?  I studied maps, but did nothing but run up and down the Bayside Coastal Track.

When the Salomon Trail Series was announced, I signed up immediately.  But during those six years in Hong Kong, I didn’t drive, so the big challenge for me was not the running, but the driving alone to the start of the races.  Navigating in the dark, my knuckles white, scared to death because I’d really lost all my driving skills, and I didn’t know the roads, or the landmarks, and it was all so different from where I’d grown up driving.  Back on Long Island, things said East or West, North or South; here, signs used the names of nearby towns to direct me, and I didn’t know where those towns were.

It makes me nearly cry to remember the emotions I felt in those days, the fear, the elation when I’d successfully arrive at race headquarters, and finally feel at home with myself again.  The solitude of those times, when my children were six and four, was a balm to my soul.  I knew no one and no one knew me, and I’d often spend the hours of the race without speaking to a single other person.  But there was my car stereo, and the music that followed me around the world on my travels (yes, Bon Jovi), that made every place feel of home somehow.

Tonight, I feel more a sense of quiet contentment.  I am in my forever-home and the jonquils I planted three years ago are coming up and beginning to bloom.  I know this garden and I know the streets and I know the way to the races, and I will even recognise many of the trails.  On the Dandenong Trail Runners Facebook Group, someone asked who was going to this race.  I quickly replied, and so did at least thirteen other runners, and we are going to meet up.

I am no longer alone; I am at home.

The Salomon Trail Series was a springboard back into my self.  As if, three years ago, I stepped up, jumped down onto the trail in the Studley Park Race, and landed back in my trail shoes, running fast, and feeling alive, surrounded by love, and the majesty of the woods.

Perhaps it is not about the distance at all; perhaps it is about the homecoming.

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