"The Downhills" by Lynn Phillips

All I wanted was a mid-summer race so I could stay in shape. Since we were coming "home" to NC and VA in July, we adjusted our travel plans so I could run the GMM. Only after registering did I find an old Runner's World issue (1994?) that listed GMM as one of the ten toughest marathons. Pikes Peak was included in the same list! What was I thinking?? Especially since we live in flatlands -- ant hills are the only relief on our landscape! Miles 2-6 were killers. I thought I would DNF if the rest of the race were as tough. Every inch of my body exuded self-doubt; there was no way that I could finish a race listed as one of the most difficult. I wasn't supposed to hurt that badly that early in the race. But, somewhere between 6 and 10, there was the most wonderful stretch of downhill I have ever experienced. I was able to pick up my legs, lean a bit forward and let gravity do the rest. It felt wonderful! There was so much bounce to my legs again and I was able to remember all the reasons that I run. Bring on that next hill; I was recharged by the invigorating downhills! Maybe next time, I'll seek out races with lots of hills. Those downhills (almost!) make all the climbing worth it!