Highlands Sky 2011-Jennifer Cochran

here’s my two cents:

“I finished!”  That’s my sentiment as I sit to write this race report on Thursday.  It’s amazing that a few short days ago I was traipsing the wilderness known as Dolly Sods.  For some it may seem a rather simple, yet profound statement, “I finished.”  For me, it meant three years of watching and waiting to run again.  Between back pain that haunted me for months and 2 c-sections, I didn’t know if I would set foot on the Highland Sky course again.  With many prayers and the Lord looking over me, I began my comeback after my second child, Sarah, was born.  I still struggled with back pain after my first baby, Daniel.  I just didn’t know if I would be able to see what I had previously seen for the four years that I ran Highland Sky.  I could vaguely remember how beautiful everything was but to actually be in the moment made this year even better.

Don’t let me knock being an aid station worker.  I truly enjoyed that experience as well, giving back to the run, that has made my life better and richer than before.   Did I mention that my first year of Highland Sky, I met my amazing husband?  The first year of the run, he was volunteering, as was I.  Fast forward 9 years and I was back to run my 5th Highlands after training with my two young children.  They had many a training run (and naps) in our double stroller complete with their fruit and cracker snacks and juice cups.

So that leads me into the actual race report.   I loved the beauty of the mountain laurels growing.  Seeing the mist as I approached Roaring Plains Trail.  Following the markers out to the road.  Seeing the vast stretching of the road across the sky.  Being lead into the meadows past Aid Station #6 to be greeted by the large rocks that peer down over the Valley.  Somehow this year those rocks didn’t seem so big.  Maybe I was better trained than I thought?  I hit the Butt Slide section with gusto and slammed Freeland Road.  That last little section between the church and the Resort still didn’t seem short though.  I heard the voice of my friends, Adam and Bradley, telling me to keep running.  It was another incredible moment in my life to top the hill at the very end and run into the finish with the voices of my many friends calling out for me as I crossed the finish.

Thanks Dan and all the volunteers for another incredible year.  I will be back.   I hope not as long as last time!