This race kicks off the annual Chocolate Festival http://lewisburgchocolatefestival.com/ in Lewisburg, WV. My husband somehow stumbled upon this little gem of a festival a little over a year ago. He told me about it and I checked it out online: Cute, active, progressive little mountain town? Check! Local road race? Check! More chocolate than you’d ever care to eat? Check! This was right down our alley. We attended last year and immediately planned to return this year.
The Chocolate Chase 10k benefits the Hospice of West Virginia. It is a point-to-point race that starts at the local (teeny-tiny) airport and winds its way through rural countryside to the finish in front of the courthouse in downtown Lewisburg. There is no shuttle, so it takes a little forethought if you don’t know anybody in town to shuttle you to the start. I brought my bicycle, as I had the year before, and dropped my husband off at the airport, where he would sit for roughly 2 hours while I drove back downtown, parked and rode my bicycle back to the airport.
The bike ride was a lot colder this year than it had been the year before. Actually, it was painfully cold and I remember nothing of the ride except for the awful pain in my hands that radiated up into my chest. And passing a runner, and being very jealous because he looked a lot warmer than I was. Oh, and I remember snot bubbling out of my nose as I tried to greet said runner.
I had been struggling with the thought of this race ever since we’d registered for it more than a month before. I had just started running again after about a 4 month running hiatus due to an injured IT band, and I desperately wanted to race it. I desperately wanted to run fast, period. Right before I registered, I’d asked my physical therapist if I’d be able to race it. He basically said that although I probably could race, whether I actually should race depended on whether or not I wanted to continue to be able to run after the race. The furthest I’d run in months was the 5 miler I’d done the previous weekend. So I knew that I needed to take it easy and not push the pace if I didn’t want to end up re-injuring myself.
So I lined up in the back. My Garmin was being finicky, so I was fiddling with it. I was the very last person over the start line. I enjoyed the atmosphere at the back of the pack. People were chatting, laughing, talking about how they hoped they would be able to make it all the way. I looked up and saw the back of my husband as he turned the first corner. It was the last I would see of him until the finish. I looked around at the beautiful countryside and forced myself to enjoy it. I reminded myself how lucky I was to be able to run at all.
Even at my steady, controlled pace, I was passing everybody who had started out too fast. At about mile 4 I caught up to a man who I’d been following for the previous 2 miles. He seemed to be going at a pace that felt about right, so instead of passing him, I stayed with him. We talked. His name was Gregory. He had run another race on this same course in the fall. He told me he’d been too lazy to run lately, and that he was definitely feeling it.
He pulled ahead of me when we saw the finish line, as I had no intentions of sprinting to the finish. He turned around and we congratulated each other. I found my husband. He had run really well. My time was six minutes slower than I’d run last year.
I tried very hard to not let it bother me. But it really bothered me. A chocolate festival is not the place you want to find yourself when you are absorbed in self-pity. It had taken me decades to come to the realization that overeating never makes anything better. For whatever reason, I refused to recognize this truth and proceeded to eat myself into a chocolate-covered stupor. On the drive home I remembered that not only does overeating not make anything better, it makes things much worse. Now I was cranky and feeling sorry for myself AND I had a stomach ache.
This morning was beautiful. I drank my coffee on the front porch. After work I went for a run at Sugar Hollow. It was unseasonably hot, and on the way back to my car I stopped at Snake Hole and waded into the water, which was crystal clear. I looked up at the incredibly blue sky and the spring-green leaves on the trees. I smelled the salty sweat on my forehead and felt the cold mountain water wash it away and I remembered how unbelievably lucky I am to be able to run.