Then two volunteers took us through a giant blow-up of the course map. They were smiling as they told us the course was pretty straightforward, and they positively beamed while tracing over the uphill sections – what looked like the first half mile, the third half mile and the sixth half mile. I had the sinking sensation that 3.2 miles was going to feel much longer.
And then we were off. Straight up hill. But I started passing people, and I heard my boot camp instructor’s voice in my head telling me to pick out someone to pass, pass them, and pick out another and so forth until you’re done. That strategy got me to the top of Mt. Tabor where the incredible view took away the little breath I had remaining. I had never been to Mt. Tabor and I was tempted to stop for a minute and just enjoy, but I was on a flat section, so I kept on running.
After a downhill section, we left pavement to run around the reservoir. I run un-groomed, gravelly trails in Tryon Creek Park a lot, so that wasn’t a challenge, and it wasn’t very long. And then we were back to running uphill. This time I heard my husband’s voice urging me to use the Army Shuffle to power through (no stopping, but you don’t make a ton of forward progress either)! And then it was on to the water station, a short downhill a final uphill and then the race was over. And the crowd cheered wildly with every finish, capping a beautiful run with a sense of communal good will.
I didn’t check out the beer garden, because I had to help police car traffic, but as I ran to the park entrance, the 10K runners were hitting the infamous Mt. Tabor staircase. And they were smiling, too! Happiness at beating the volcano may have trumped speed for quite a few runners that day, including yours truly!