It wasn't until I crested the ridge and exchanged high fives with Michael that it struck me what a selfish, grade A a-hole I was in that moment. Here I was, spending a couple hours exhausted and cold and sore, but doing something I genuinely love to do on almost any given day. And for the last hour and a half I was blind to it, practically begging for an ounce of sympathy while trying to maintain traction up that snowy singletrack. It wasn't until Michael and I high-fived that I was bitten with his always-present, infectious energy. Only then I remembered how lucky I was to even have the chance to be out there sauntering through the woods.
Michael's wife had unexpectedly passed away only a few weeks prior. Here was a guy who'd just lost his life partner and best friend, but still made it out there to cheer runners along as he is wont to do, with a level of gusto unmatched by any other trail fiend I've met. A wave of emotion came over me and I nearly broke down in tears with this stark reminder of what things are minute trivialities vs. what things really matter.
As the lactic acid dissipated from my lower extremities and my breathing returned to normal, I remembered how RD Eric Eagan told us at the start to remember Lisa Valone and think about how lucky we are to enjoy a morning on the trails, and to take that to heart when we are feeling like garbage mid-race.
I'd been caught up in trying to have a respectable run, not realizing I was in no shape to run a fast 15-mile time and defend my 2017 win. Starting with that high-five, the last seven mile were slow and steady. But they were meaningful. And I finished with so much more than I started with.