Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Challenges are everywhere.

Red Bug Hill Challenge

Challenges are everywhere some have more than others.

This little guy had just given a speech, he was a wonderful speaker!
Before the race.
This weekend, my husband a few friends and I ran the Red Bug Hill Challenge.  
Bobby had missed this race last year and heard me talk about it all year and how wonderful it was.   He now knows what I was talking about.  It is a local trail 5k who's charity is Spina Bifida of Greater New Orleans (they raised $26,000 this year).  I wrote the following up for a local running group, Claim Your Journey.  It was shortened (I was a little carried away and well a little wordy).  

Tucked away in beautiful St. Francisville, beyond the plantation homes and main bustle of this little town that reminds me of “where my blood runs deep” is a little secret they call Red Bug Hill.  The namesake to this race is on Highway 421, as you drive through the rolling hills past all signs of anything remotely close to being called “ densely populated.” Continue to drive and you’ll find the road sign to 421, turn right.  Back in the woods on private property in early May, the parents of Jordy Rourke, Marie and Mark, and many volunteers have been preparing race bags and various other items for this race.  It takes place on a beautiful piece of land far from dependable cell reception and traffic.  The race is in memory of Jordy Rourke, who had Spina Bifida and unexpectably passed away at the age of 20; he had just completed his second year of college.  “Following Jordy’s lead, the Red Bug Hill Challenge seeks to help children born with Spina Bifida in Louisiana meet their needs and overcome any obstacles they may face.” (

Finally an Age Group 1st!
This was the 3rd year for the cycling event (5, 20, 40, or 60 mile) and the second for the 1mile and 5k trail runs.  All runners and cyclists that are registered can opt in to do the Red Bug Hill Challenge.  It is a grueling ¼ mile up hill, Red Bug Hill on highway 421.  I found this gem of a trail run last year.  Set on private lands and coursing through the loess hills and under the pines, one is able to forget for a period that there is an outside world.  The surface is soft, padded with pine needles and soft sediment, memories of a trail less used.  The trail itself is challenging, but not terribly technical thanks to a great clearing job by volunteers.  It is a great trail for first timers and veterans alike.  Last year, there were 32 runners who finished the 5k.  This year, 81!  Every race has overhead; however, this one is purely donation, ALL proceeds go to the Spina Bifida of Greater New Orleans which supports the entire State of Louisiana.  Every participant receives a raffle ticket, and you get another if you complete the Red Bug Hill Challenge.  They have great prizes from some very generous sponsors (I am in need of a bike, so you know what I was eyeing), and the food is great with  the ambiance of a local Bluegrass Band!  They venture away from your typical Southern Louisiana race fare of Jambalaya and have wonderfully smoked chicken with potato and pasta salad, oh and the cake!  The wonderful cake!  I have been talking about this cake for a year and I am not a sweets person, so you know it must be good.  Add the hospitality and a little bit of fiddle in the background and you have a party that reminds this Missouri transplant to Louisiana a little bit of home.

Now if I could just set my tent up…  Trail runners, what to do with us?

There was a large road race going on in Baton Rouge, benefiting Girls on the Run.  Girls on the Run is an amazing organization, but if I have a choice between trail and road, I'll choose trail any day.  Bobby is a tremendous runner and would be even better if he had the time to train right and I was hoping that this would be an opportunity for him to shine with the local "elites" in Baton Rouge running.  I had hoped right!  He was 7th overall and 1st in his age group!  I didn't do too shabby either, 39 overall and 13th female, 4th in my age group (which apparently we all came in at the same time, my time 34:34, winner of my Age Group 34:05). 

My car after the wreck.
This race was special to me this year.  It was my first race back after my car accident last year.   I was in good shape and able to walk away from the accident.  It was not easy coming back, I had just ran a marathon and went from running all the time to nothing.  I had knocked both knees on the dash and my shoulders caused my elbows to stick out like I was doing the chicken.  I was constantly telling my doctors:  "Get me running again and I'll fix myself, everything will line up again."  Red Bug Hill was a perfect race to start on the road to recovery.  I was slow as molasses in winter, but I finished.  The route was changed this year and it made it more challenging.  I finished 10 minutes ahead of last year's time even with the added difficulty.  Without challenges in life, we become complacent.  We need them to remember who we are, what we want and where we should go.  

I began running June 1, 2009, National Running Day.  I was getting more frequent migraines, gaining weight and my sugars were all over the place.  I was sick of being sick.  Instead of moping around and just saying:  We'll diabetes is genetic so I might as well suck it up.  I decided to change.  Changing was easier than having to worry about my sugar and what else would come from a diabetes diagnosis (heart disease, circulation problems and the rest of the laundry list).  I was 137 the heaviest I have EVER weighed.  3 years later I'm at 124, have consistent sugar readings and my migraines are limited to occasionally (before the wreck I wasn't getting them anymore).   I'm not saying running is for everyone, but something active is, whether it be swimming, biking, hiking, walking.  Just get off your rump and do something about it!  Doctor's can be proven wrong!  I'm not diabetic as I was told I would be before I turned 30.  It's tough at first, but it gets easier and easier and I'm crazy for starting something like this in the South in the summer.  Watching the kids play at the Red Bug Hill Challenge, it reminds you that you were dealt a hand, it might be worse than someone else's, but it could always be worse.  So many healthy people use injuries as an excuse just remember that someone might be worse off.  Check out Claire Lomas for inspiration if you think you've got it rough.  She's my new inspiration to crawl out of bed at 4:30 a.m. to run or cross train!