Back to Reality: Stride for Success Race

April 23-29th

It wasn’t until Rotorua that I remembered I had signed up for a road race set up by the university the weekend after spring break. What was I thinking?! I had no time to train and it was a team effort so it wasn’t like I could back out or just accept doing poorly (not that I would do that anyway). So, once my spectacular spring break came to an end, I had a harsh reality to face; not only did I have to jump right back into classes, but I had to push through my exhaustion and start running my heart out. And I am really glad I did!
I’ve know for a while that I am always at my best when I am at my busiest. Preparing for the race was a great way to quickly get me back into my school routine. I needed to get organized, stay organized, and time manage so I could get all my work done and train so I wouldn’t hurt myself come the weekend and race day. It was also great to actually exercise again! Living off of pb&j and pasta in the South Island was fun but not healthy. I planned my meals and ran every day. The way the race worked is that it was a kind of long-distance relay. We had a team of ten and each runner could run as many laps as they wanted in any order they wanted so long as every member completed at least one lap. There was a transponder that we had to shift from runner to runner that counted our laps. They posted the course online so I was able to run it before race day. It is a great distance, about 2k with a solid hill and a lot of fun! I met up with a bunch of my teammates throughout the week to talk about strategy and the course. I was the only one who had actually run it so I was able to describe to them exactly where it was and where the challenging spots would be. I went for a trial run with a few of my teammates from my floor. It was so nice to have people to run with again! I could feel myself slipping back into that role as captain of my high school cross country team. I ate it up.

Race day was fantastic. We had a great time cheering each other on and having a blast. Throughout the week my friends from Loyola would check in on how my training was going and of course offered to cheer me on while I was running in the race. I told them around what time I should be running but our game plan got a little shaken when one of my teammates twisted his ankle and wasn’t able to run anymore. I was running my last lap, heading for the big hill, when I saw the Loyola kids walking away from the course! They had been waiting for me to run but since they hadn’t seen me they figured they missed it and were heading to the finish line to find me. I actually almost physically ran into them as I was crossing the street to enter into the park. I heard Jessie say, “oh hey, isn’t that Emily?” and then a burst of wonderfully motivating cheers followed. It was perfect timing because I really needed the boost to get through that hill! It was absolutely exhausting but that is the best kind of tired. We didn’t come close to winning but we hadn’t expected to anyway. We just wanted to have fun and see how far we could push ourselves. I made some great friends with kids outside of the Loyola group which I think was the best part of the whole experience.
All in all it was a great week. ANZAC day was on Wednesday so there were no classes. I went the the dawn service which was really wonderful (I already wrote a quick blog about that if ya missed it). I went out for pizza one night and to the movies another. I ran a lot, made new friends and talked to old ones, turned in assignments and slept like it was my job. It is weeks like this one that remind me how blessed I am to be here.

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