The summer I was 20 I was fortunate enough to spend some serious QT with an incredible woman named Sarah-Jane. She was a good friend’s ex girl-friend (I was actually living with her ex and his new gal that summer but that’s not the story for today). Sarah-Jane was several years older than me (mid-late 20′s at the time?), incredibly vivacious, and super active. She took me to my first yoga class (I’d only practiced with videos before that), my first mat Pilates class, and my first run up the New River Gorge.
We were living in Fayetteville, West Virginia, a super sporty, outdoorsy town full of young whitewater raft guides, kayakers, mountain bikers, and rock climbers that sits on the edge of ‘the gorge’, a nearly thousand foot deep ditch with The New River sitting at the bottom.
I’ll never forget the day Sarah-Jane showed up in my lawn and said
“Hey, I’m going to go run the gorge, wanna come?”
My response was something like
“No way in hell”
I wasn’t much of a runner at that point, I don’t think I’d covered more than 3 miles and never run with anyone else. I was super self-conscious of being slow and pant-y.
Sweet, supportive Sarah-Jane told me that I could do it, that she runs slow, that, above all, “it will be fun!”.
She has a way about her and so off we went.
It was fun! And, oh boy, did I feel like a bad-ass for doing it.
Over the last thirteen years I’ve done that same 6.25 mile uphill trail run two more times. Both times were as the runner of a relay team for The New River Gorge Challenge and neither time would have happened without for that encouragement and support from Sarah-Jane back in the day.
Last Saturday myself and two friends competed as The VA Vixens.
This ain’t your average triathlon.
It starts with a 14 mile mountain bike ride.
Emma did so awesome. She just started riding this summer and her longest ride before the race was 6 miles!
Comin in hot!
A moment later she passed the ankle bracelet to Renee, who took off in her kayak for 8 miles of class 5 whitewater. She paddled her arms off for a little over an hour and made us proud.
I was there to meet her downriver and take off running!
I’ve been running approximately half a dozen times this summer, a far cry from training for this 6.25 uphill(stairs) trail run, yet I had a really good time running. I felt strong the whole way, despite the heat and 14,000 vertical gain.
My team ended in 4 hours and 9 minutes and placed 2nd in the female relay teams. I finished 9th in the run out of 58 runners and 2nd out of all the women! I’ve never been a fast or strong runner, more of a tortoise than a hare, so this was a proud moment.
Post race team huddle.
My main hope for The VA Vixens was that we all have fun and no one got hurt. We totally exceeded that by all having a blast and feeling good and proud of ourselves (and each other!) for our respective relay legs.
We’re already talking about next year’s race.