A Milestone Birthday Deserves Setting A Big Challenge

My 50th birthday is just a few weeks away, so I've been training for my first 50k race, along the Oregon Coast this October.

As a bit of a tune up, earlier this month I ran the Park City Half Marathon.

I have been racing for years, but recently have focused more on running for fun and less on beating the runner in front of me ... or setting a personal best. Also, races are expensive these days, and the trail system around me in Park City and the Wasatch Mountains is free.

I was more nervous than usual for the Park City Half. On the plus side, I was feeling more fit than I did a year ago and was curious how that would translate into my performance. But Park City lies about 7,000 feet above sea level; even though I've lived here since May of 2013, the altitude still affects my running performance

It was impossible to predict my outcome. Over the years it seems that I race better when I have lower expectations and remember to set an even pace right from the beginning.

The Half course rises steadily for the first five miles and winds along an access road. About three miles into the race, we are done listening to the traffic along Highway 40 and we make a turn with the majestic mountains of Park City. It is one of my favorite views of all, as we run through the Trailside neighborhood with the hemlock, forest and juniper greens of the mountains in the distance, while at the same time, the course arrows on the streets and sidewalks are all green.

Right at that moment as I was thinking about the symbolic meaning of the color green, I passed a father who was pushing his son, who had a disability. "Great job," I say to them. The dad tells his son, "Give her a fist bump." I reach down with my right hand, replying, "Thanks for the inspiration."

This race was about inspiration. It was about being out there because I was able. As I reached the halfway mark, I heard the squawk of a bird and looked up to see a hawk. To me, it was a symbol, symbolizing vision, observation, and intuition... and offering wisdom from a higher perspective.

The Park City Half was a small race this year. Usually there are runners to keep us motivated to push harder. As we ran through the gravel trails of Willow Creek, heading back to the finish, I was more or less alone. I am internally driven and was enjoying the peace and then the sight of another hawk at mile eleven.

I held my head high and finished strong, winning my age category. More important than the external results was the strength I felt inside. It is time to soar to new heights and believe in the many possibilities of life.

Earlier on Huff/Post50:

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