I know myself as being capable to lie. I have to admit I do not want to admit about lying about other things. But lying about not running a specific race anymore or ever again— that, I admit, I have done over and over. Or the other way— saying that I am running a race again but will most like not. That, too, I have done.
Case in point. Okay, make that cases in point.
I have lied about the NYC 60k. The moment I finished it, I said I wasn’t going to run it ever again. Adamantly. However, after much contemplation about where I went wrong that led me to a very, very, very late finish, I realized I needed to eat my words. This came no later than the day after I finished a dismal finish. Yes, I will run it again. But run it minus the stopping to chit-chat with Instagram friends, stopping to go to the pond-side bathroom, stopping for nothing. And run it minus non-essential activities. Period.
I have also lied about Vermont. I said I was running it again next year. I swore with all my heart I was. But just the same and but without much of an introspection, I just thought I wouldn’t want to run it again. For now. Never mind the beautiful view at the finish. Or the promise of Stonehill Farm mango habanero preserves. Nope, not running it.
Then, there is the Adirondacks Marathon, which I said I will come back to again next year. Well, as of this writing— not happening. It was a whim brought about the beauty of the lake. So that, I will have to think about. For now, I lied.
Today, however, is a testament of how I have the capacity to hold true to my statement.
Today I ran and finished the Staten Island Trail and Ultra Festival. And right of the bat, I promised myself— and the race director— I will run it again.
Because today I learned to love the rolling terrain. (Note: credit goes to Jeff Dengate, who gave a great map of where the best hill runs are in the Jersey City area). I never thought I would see that day when I would actually say so– that I appreciated the ups and downs rather than the flats.
Close to ten years living in the US, I have to admit, it was the first time I ever set foot in Staten Island. Once, I may have passed that island, about 9 years ago, when I just moved here. For years, Staten Island was just a name. I didn’t realize how close this was to the city where I live. I’ve seen the Verrazano from afar, but didn’t realize that the island that it connects to some other island in NYC (or is it Jersey?), is so close to me, I could smell its air. I drove to the race alone. Something that I have not done. As I would discover, it was an easy-peasy drive, after all.
And little did I know the borough offers 38 (I overheard) miles of trails. Lovely, beautiful trails that make me forget about the harrowing experience I had when I ran my first 50k trail in New Jersey. This was the bomb! A trail that makes you love trail. A land so dense with vegetation yet runnable enough despite its single paths on ups- and downhills.
Now, let me be clear: I am not a trail person. I am a Filipino, who practically grew up in the Philippines, where trails are not safe, where trails can welcome you to heaven. Or hell.
Thus, when I was introduced to the Wildcat Ridge Romp in August, I did not actually feel like I missed not seeing trail in my life. Yes, it was that horrifying an experience. One that I have said I will not wish for anyone to go through.
But today, I fell in love.
Race director, Matt LeBow, explained that this year’s course was actually, different from the previous years with a significant elevation in the 1 small and 2 big loops that cover the 31-mile course. He explained, however, the elevation is lower than the previous years, yet because it is broken down into 2 big loops rather than the 4 small loops they had last year, the uphills this year were actually steeper. So what’s not to love? Smirk.
But actually, there are. There were.
I love that it is runnable, despite the single path. Despite what I opine as a seeming lack of aid stations within the course– or perhaps, resources in the aid stations (note: I only saw gatorade at the last 2 aid stations during the second loop. Same thing with the fruits.)
I loved the technicality of the trail with its exposed roots, uneven paths, fallen trees that prompt you to bend some, hop some, stumble and trip some. The creeks, the ponds, the puddles from the rain that soaked the leaves touched by autumn.
And I loved that it made my Hoka One One dirty!
And yes, I love that because of the absence of runner-congestion, I actually learned to finally blow my nose without the luxury of tissues and just let out several secretions that are proofs of the fact I came to this race sick with colds and cough and fever. (If you know me, you know I hate spitting during races).
And most of all, I loved that despite spending most of the time in the trail in my lonesome, where and when I should have been worried, I was, in fact, able to have fun. Fun while learning how to manage not to get lost in the quasi-wilderness. Fun while my butt ached.
So while I missed my goal by some minutes, I must say this was a beautiful learning experience.
So ask me again if I will come back to here?
Well, this time, there will be no lies. The answer is a no-brainer.