We have all heard of destination weddings. It is way to get to explore a new place with friends, meet some new people, experience something new and call it a vacation. Well, destination races is my version of this. A way to incorporate so much of what I love into one outing. My love of new places. My love of connecting with friends, playing outdoors, and exploring new terrain, be that deserts, woods, or in this case a mountain. I just got back from Black Mountain, North Carolina where I ran the Black Mountain Marathon. And upon returning home I could not help but thinking... why have I not done this before?
Now to be honest, this was hands down the hardest run of my life. Perhaps, it was because I haven't been training in the mountains. No matter what the climb is, in this case 2,800’, nothing in my current home state of Ohio compares. Maybe is was because I needed to train more, surely a possibility, but my recovery was quick and despite some tight calf muscles I have been feeling pretty awesome since a couple of hours after the race. My best guess was the terrain, it was on trail but the majority of the trail was rocky, and wet, so very precise steps were always necessary. There were only a few moments on the descent that I felt like I could really open up and allow gravity and my core to propel me down the mountain. My feet were definitely sore. Maybe the fact that it was so hard is exactly why I enjoyed it so much. I pushed myself, my body, my mind and I proved to myself that I could do it. Again.
I knew going in that my main goal was fast recovery. I was not only heading down to explore a new mountain and test my current endurance, but I was meeting up with an old friend and meeting a new one. They are both running the race, both in training mode for the Grand-2-Grand Ultra and both bad-ass. So given that this was also a reconnection outing, I wanted to be up for anything afterwards on race day, rather than fighting a dehydration headache and barely able to get off the floor. So, on that front I was hugely successful. Later that day, after much food and yogaing around the fantastic cabin we rented, I was feeling good. Skipping down the street good. Yes, that happened.
Now Black Mountain is a great little town. I am a sucker for mountain towns and know in the future I will spend significant chunks of time in many more. There were many places in Black Mountain, which is right outside of Asheville, that offer discounts to all the runners. The Black Mountain Ale House whose owner helped organize the race 16 years ago, and who ran the 40 mile Challenge that day and was working - even offers runners their first drink on the house. Then there were the residents, who would be out on their porch offering the encouraging word and the occasional soundtrack.
Plus, the people at the aid stations deserve an award. I mean, I felt compelled to put on a show as I approached each one with the amount of enthusiasm and support they were belting out. A huge Thank You, to anyone who volunteered. Some of them camping in frigid conditions the night before up on the mountain to make sure we would be taken care of. I mean... seriously awesome people.
When it comes to time away... When it comes to how we each like to travel... My vote is for Destination Adventure. You not only get to check out for a few days, but you also are able to experience something truly unique about that specific locale. Keep it in mind next time you are heading anywhere, look into what events they going on that intrigue you. Yes, for me it most likely lies in some form of endurance test. Something I am glad that afterwards, as I look back I am able to love those moments when I thought... “do I really care if I make it to the finish line” or “why did I think this was a good idea, again?” Because at the end of the day, I did make it, and I know it was a good idea. How you may be wondering?... because I can not wait to do it again.