On Sunday, July 8, 2012, I ran my first half-marathon since my injury. The race was the Missoula Half Marathon in MT. For a race report, click here: https://ferretrunner.wordpress.com/2012/07/10/missoula-half-marathon-race-report/
The trip to Missoula itself was extremely enjoyable. My friends, Carol and Brenna, and I arrived the Friday evening before the race. On Saturday, we picked up my race packet and looked around the expo. After lunch, we returned to the hotel. I needed my afternoon nap. While I slept, my friends explored Missoula. It is a nice little town, with plenty of activities. There are trail rides, white water rafting, hiking, and other activities for those who are adventurous. Due to my injury and the race, we didn’t participate in any of those activities. Carol and Brenna returned from their power shopping trip in time to wake me up to explore a little before dinner.
That evening, Brenna and I had a bit of an adventure. We went for a walk on the bike trail next to the river. We saw a woman running towards us. At first, we figured she was a runner out for an evening workout. As she came closer, I noted she was barefoot and dressed oddly for a runner. She was wearing jeans and a loose, flowery blouse. Her legs were muddy. This was strange. As she came up to us, I asked if she was ok. I had a sense there was something wrong. She said she was fine and continued on. Less than a quarter-mile later, we came to the footbridge over the river. There was a police officer there, walking back to his vehicle. I stopped him and told him what we had seen. He said, “That could be the woman we’re looking for. How long ago did you see her?” He then got on his radio with the information and jogged to his car. I wonder what trouble she was in. I wasn’t trying to “snitch” on her. I was worried she was in danger.
After dinner, Brenna and I went to the casino in the hotel. It was quiet. Most of the machines were Keno or poker and were not of interest. I found an electronic version of a “one-armed bandit.” We spent a half hour trying to figure out how the game was scored; what made a winning line. I liked the machine. It had pictures of animals and played classical music when you won. We played low bet for over an hour, laughing at the game and our own naiveté about how it was played. One of the animals was a squirrel that looked like a beaver to us. At one point, Brenna exclaimed, “I want more beaver.” It was quite humorous, once she realized what she had said!
The next day was race day. We didn’t do much after the race. I needed to sleep and was exhausted the rest of the day.
We left to return home Monday morning. Montana is a beautiful state. We drove through a mountain range. After about 2 hours, I was getting rather car sick from the curving of the road and the elevation gains and losses. When I asked for a break, Carol didn’t quite understand the situation. She passed three exits. We finally stopped at a rest area. Unfortunately, my stomach was in rebellion and I had a discussion with “ralph” in the rest room. When I started feeling better, I noticed the prairie dogs. There was a colony living in the grassy area at the rest stop. The animals were obviously fed by humans. They had little fear. If you stayed calm, they came right up to you and would take food from your hands. I enjoyed sitting in the grass in the sun, watching the prairie dogs and feeding them as they came up to me. Several stood on their haunches, begging. I felt a calm connection to them. I was totally involved in the experience. I no longer worried about the retreating nausea or taking care of the ferrets when I got home. It was me, the sun, and the prairie dogs. Mindfulness.
The race and trip gave me hope. I completed the half-marathon! I came home with a sense of accomplishment. And increased hope that I will, eventually, be able to run a marathon again. I felt more confidence in myself as I am now. It also showed me how much my symptoms have improved since the accident. I have more hope I will return to full-time work. I came back re-energized and ready to continue with my rehabilitation.
“Racing teaches us to challenge ourselves. It teaches us to push beyond where we thought we could go. It helps us to find out what we are made of. This is what we do. This is what it’s all about.” -PattiSue Plumer, U.S. Olympian