Country Roads, Take Me Home

A year ago this weekend, I made my first true attempt at an Olympic Trials qualifier at the Cleveland Marathon. I had fueling and stomach problems that led to a 2:53 finish, definitely slower than what I felt I was capable of at the time. So, as race day approached this year (I wasn’t running), I found myself dealing with a bit of a heavy heart remembering the disappointment I faced after last year’s race. Luckily, I had an amazing weekend planned, visiting family and friends in Ohio which helped keep my mind off it most of the time. Still, I occasionally thought of the race, especially while running.

Thank goodness for the country roads! I love running in the country and through small, familiar communities. My husband and I both grew up in tiny towns in Ohio. Every time I run in these areas I feel inspired. On Saturday I ran through my husband’s hometown and saw the following sign at the football field as I was running around the track:

HEART High Expectations Are Reached Together

My high expectations are reached with support from my family and friends.

It brought an instant smile to my face. Then I ran past the tiny gas station and some middle school cheerleaders were having a car wash fundraiser, enthusiastically shouting “come on, get your car washed! You know you wanna get your car washed! Car wash right over here!”  Another smile spread across my face. Then the cheerleaders say “Hey girl, we’ll wash your body for $1!” This made me instantly laugh. Witty, outgoing, middle school girls, trying to make a buck for their pay-to-play requirement. I had to finish my run, but when I was done I went back and bought a car and body wash.

Sunday I ran a long-ish run, 10.5 miles on the country roads, starting at my in-laws farm lane. I didn’t see a single person or car the entire run! It was just me, some pavement, and a few dirt roads. By this time there was a huge smile plastered across my face. How often can you run over 10 miles and not see a single person or car? Being back in the country reminds me of everything I love about both running and life. After these two runs and some amazing nights spent with good friends my Cleveland marathon heartbreak was gone. I’m so happy I have another week in Ohio, currently a few days with my parents, where I can get some good runs on my old favorite home-town courses!

Have a great Monday!

How do you deal with disappointing races? Where are your favorite places to run?