Newnan’s Lake 15K – Ashley’s Race

By Ashley Jeanne Espy

The Newnan’s Lake 15K has been one of my favorite races since I first ran it back in about 2001. It always offers up gorgeous views, great weather, and a fun local atmosphere. With nearly perfect racing weather (a start cool enough for fancy arm warmers), vistas made even more spectacular by a low fog, and a warm and sunny awards ceremony, this year was no exception. As usual, Bobby and the crew from Lloyd’s did a great job putting on a race and making sure the high fives were not in short supply.

I’ve run this race almost every year since arriving in Gainesville, save for a few years I was injured. I missed the race last year while I was on a running hiatus to finish up my dissertation, so I was super excited to toe the line again at this year’s event. Given that I haven’t yet returned to top form following my time off last year, I was very happy that I could represent the Florida Track Club Elite Project with a win (and a lot of colors).

One of the best things about running is the sheer joy it offers. Whether from the satisfaction of a PR, the inspiration that comes from pre-dawn runs in the forest, or the camaraderie and friendship of training and racing with a group, there are many reasons to love this sport. The Women’s FTC Elite team has really tried to embrace this joy and not only train hard an race well, but also get back to the basics of just loving running. We hope to share with the community that you can really enjoy running whle still training and competing at a high level. As part of this, when we meet for our team distance workouts on Monday nights (one of our hardest runs of the week), we try to dress in as many colors as possible in what has been termed the Atomic Rainbow Run (McDonagh et al., 2011).

This is also the basis behind why I had so many different colors at the race, to support this mantra of running just because you love to run — surrounding the FTC orange with an atomic rainbow of colors. I would encourage anyone who is feeling a bit burned out or dragged down when training gets long in the winter months to try dressing in as many colors as possible for your run. You will enjoy your run more and thus likely run even harder/faster, plus you get smiles from all those you pass which can’t help but make you smile too. And if you start feeling bad in a race, just look down at all your colors, smile to yourself, and do what Sheena does: “stop feeling bad and start feeling awesome.” You might just find that the more you truly love running, the faster you will be.

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