November 8, 2020 - It was great to return to Hyner one more time, for one more Craig Fleming event. A lot of good memories here. It was a good way to bid adieu to many years of trail racing. I had a great day of running and socializing to put some icing on a lifestyle.
With a 0900 race time and only a short distance to run, it was very civilized to crawl out of my own bed, drive to the race, and toe the line in full sunshine with a bunch of happy people. After mingling with George Hollerbach and his crew before the race, we all set off from the traditional starting place at the Sportsmen's Club - down the hill, a hard left, and across the Susquehanna River over the bridge before getting into queue on single track trails that followed the river to where the climbing starts. I took it easy, but still pressed it a bit to get my breathing up before taking my place in the conga line where I could relax until the climb.
Once we cut left to climb toward Hyner View the fun began. These old legs still haul around a young heart and young lungs, so I patiently bided my time going straight up the mountain until I had room to walk or shuffle past others laboring in front of me. The day heated up quickly and those who had started too fast were bent over against trees trying to catch their breathing up. I pay attention to breathing anytime I climb, and it still amazes me that I rarely labor when climbing. Breathing was easy and my legs were strong as I probably moved past 60 or 70 younger runners in the time it took us to reach the top. From the time I made the turn to climb the first hill, only one guy passed me all day, and that was only because I had a charley horse in my leg in the last mile.
Once on top, my legs were still fresh after mostly hiking uphill, so I shifted gears and stepped it out a bit through the next woodsy flat section, continuing to pick off runners one by one. This I continued to do all day, moving especially well on the rocky descents. For one more time, my body was youngish - flying confidently without a stumble over very technical terrain - not holding back to protect against a fall. I just felt great. No pain. Breathing was good. No injuries. No excuses. Just a guy out there doing what he loves to do.
I took up with a young guy named Alex in the last few miles and enjoyed taking it to the finish with him. The sport has changed over my years of doing this. I will always love to run, but winning and losing have lost meaning. I finished in 3:20:02 in 101st place of over 300 runners. No pain. No strain. Just a charley horse toward the end after running out of fluids on a 60-degree day. Three beers in the aftermath smoothed that out.
It was great to chat with friends - new and old - and for one more time get caught up in the spirit and cameraderie of trail racing. I'll sign up again for a race from time to time, but I have reached a point in my life where I no longer dream of racing. Instead, my dreams are of climbing high places where races do not go. That's where one can find these legs lifting these lungs and heart ever higher in days to come.