May 24, 2013

The Truth About The Dandelion Run.

Every May there is a Dandelion Run clear up at the tippy top of Vermont in a little town called Derby. It was January of 2012 when I discovered this run.

 I was looking for a run that would be breathtakingly pretty. (who wants to run through city streets?)
 A run that was on a Saturday.
 A 10K.
 A run that was not to expensive.
 And a run that was unique.

 The Dandelion Run easily met all my requirements. The first year I ran it I spent time preparing....not perfect preparing but I did make sure I ran a few days during the week in the 12 weeks leading up to the run. I must confess that by the time the run came I had yet to actually run six miles. I was a little afraid how it would all go down because of this fact. But I did it. Which for Jennifer means I ran the whole way without stopping. I did not run swiftly I did not run prettily but I ran. I even felt like I could have run faster at some points which was heartening. I ran right behind my friend Gail the whole way and did not realize until this years Dandelion Run that that was a pretty helpful thing.

This year I am not sure why but I was not as motivated to prepare for this run as I was last year. I even went back and forth in my mind about actually doing the run. But I realized that I need this run and it needs me. This run proves to me every year that I can overcome. In my mind as I pass each sign that marks which mile I am on I find myself thinking in my mind..."take that mean people." Yeah, crazy I know but I have discovered that pretty much everyone who runs has a reason and my run is always dedicated to mean people who think they know you and understand your intentions and love love love to judge you. It is fascinating to me to think as I am running along that something happened in most of these runners lives that pushed them towards running so that they could figure out how to defeat demons of one kind or another.

The first year I ran the Dandelion run I convinced three friends to come with me and this year I convinced six friends to go with me...Noel, Aimee, Chris, Gail, Jen Brazell, and my daughter Madeline. It was the best group of women ever. I found myself feeling so lucky and so grateful to be surrounded by these strong women who are willing to share about their joys, their struggles, what they have learned, and strengthen me and my daughter as they do. We loaded up my horrid fifteen passenger van on Friday at about 5:30 pm and spent the next 23 hours together....eating a yummy dinner...laughing about mermaids and Barbies...driving and driving together and oh, yeah running a race and so much more.

 As I looked at everyone I had brought I began to realize there was a good chance I would be running alone. I had two friends that are superstar runners and I knew they would be out front with my daughter. I had two friends who decided to sign up to be walkers this year and not runners. And I had one friend who was right in the middle. And where was I? Well I was at the very end. I am pretty sure I was the last one who actually ran the whole way to cross the finish line. There were walkers and run/walkers behind me but I think I was the last one who ran the whole way. But, honestly for me it is not about time and it is not about how pretty I am at the end it is about actually finishing...right? :)

As I started out this year I was not sure how this running a race thing would all go down. I was a little mad at myself for not being prepared better for this run. I started out with a very slow pace EVERYONE and their dog passed me. But I decided it was no big deal and I let them pass without a fight. My first obstacle was the hill in the woods. I successfully got to the top of that and then decided my next goal was to get to three miles. I knew I could get to three miles easily. Three miles is my distance of choice when I am running at home. There was a sweet little old lady about 100 yards in front of me and I just concentrated on staying close to her. I passed her once and she passed me once. I realized it is nice to have someone running along with you. Even if you do not talk to each other it is nice to have someone there. I was running alone this time and it is really no fun. We all need someone next to us to motivate us even if they are listening to their music and you are listening to yours you at least know they are there.

The whole miserable but fun (yes, miserable and fun can go together :) race I kept reminding  myself about what my dear friend Chris said about the hills and how like life they go up and struggle you get to the top and then you go down without much of a struggle and some relief and gratefulness for the break and then...ta-da... there is another hill...and in the case of the Dandelion Run...another hill and another hill and another hill....just like life. Chris tells the analogy so much better than I do but I deeply understood and the thought of it kept me plodding along.

The day was beautiful...puffy clouds, blue sky, perfect temperature, every shade of green known to man in the grass and in the trees....dandelions....shimmering lakes. So much perfection. I borrowed my daughter Tatiana's little music player for the run because I had to give Madeline her music player back now that she is back from her mission and it was fun to see what music Tatiana had on it. I had a glorious mix of Disney and Christina Perri and Taylor Swift....nothing like running to the Circle of Life from Lion King :)

When you end this race there is a beautiful lake right in front of you with a gorgeous lawn and some beach. The Dandelion Run organizers feed you a fabulous lunch....hamburgers and hot dogs on the grill....salads....and a luscious smoothie. My friends who have run all sorts of assorted races assured me that the serving of free food in such bounty and yummy-ness is an unusual and delightful practice. After the race we always cavort in the dandelions and try to figure out where the half marathon actually goes.

So that is the truth about the Dandelion Run lest you have some picture in your mind that I smoothly and merrily run it without nary a glitch singins along to my music and looking like a superstar. let me give you the real picture...pig tails in my cheeks...frizzies in my hair...extra weight around my tummy...and not one drop of being prepared in sight. I am determined to do better next year. I need to run six miles in an hour and not an hour and twenty minutes so I can be happy :) Can you imagine what I could actually do if I was really prepared for this race? :) I would probably win :)

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