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Race day is a time to find joy and play

By Henry Howard

As I write this, I’m roughly 24 hours away from my third 100-miler, the Hennepin Hundred. I wrote earlier about my “why” for returning to this flat and fast race along a canal path in western Illinois.

Race day often brings out a slew of emotions in the athlete. For me and this race, it’s a sense of gratitude that I plan to funnel into joy. I feel so fortunate that I am able to run, that I am supported by an amazing group of family and friends, and that I have this opportunity to challenge myself.

My gratitude ranges far and wide. Among those who I am grateful for is my coach, David Roche, who has guided me through highs and lows but always with relentless positivity. In my daily training log updates, I started listing who or what I was grateful for every day for the past 10 weeks or so.

Among those who I have listed include my wife, my kids, other family members, co-workers, friends, random people I’ve encountered who have shown kindness and more. It’s been a good exercise in finding joy amid the stresses of everyday life.

I am really grateful, too, for all of those who have donated to my fundraiser for Bigger Than The Trail, a nonprofit group that raises awareness of and funds for mental health counseling. I’ve supported BTTT for several years and have been impressed about the group’s impact.

And here’s a big shout-out to my donors who helped me surpass the goal I set 12 weeks before Hennepin. As of this writing, we’ve raised $1,377 for BTTT, topping the $1,200 goal. There is still time to contribute here.

When it comes to a journey of this duration, I will have plenty of time to think about those who I listed in my daily gratitude. And that plays into my goals for the race, which are simply to have fun, smile deep and enjoy the moments. After all, there will be a day when I am no longer able to run one mile, much less 100.

As Coach Roche said during our pre-race call this past week, “It’s time to play, have fun, focus on the moment.”


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