Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Running To The Finish

Well, after 10 weeks of running 3 days a week….through below freezing temperatures, the dark, drizzle, one humid bad hair day, lots of laughs, and beautiful sunsets….we completed our 5K! I say we because I really look at my ability to run this 5K as an extension of the team of great ladies in my running group. Shout out to Steph, Cori, Meena, Lee, and Lyn! Also a special shout out to my cousin Jill who was in town that weekend and ran with us as well as Cori’s daughters Megan and Shannon!

So, how did it go, you ask? Well, the night before Jill and I had gone to the Red Sox and hydrated with beer. Then Jill capped off the night with a sausage dog.  ‘Nuff said for setting the stage.
The morning dawned and I woke up completely nervous. I’m not sure why…it’s not like I was gunning for the number one spot in this race.  I had two goals – one was just to finish and the other was to beat my time from last year which was 34 minutes.

In our training, we had never run in anything over 60 degrees…but mostly in temperatures between 40-50 degrees. When race time arrived it was about 73 degrees and climbing.  I’m pretty sure by the time we finished, it was 180 degrees.
Just before the race started, I began obsessing that I might have to go to the bathroom, even though I didn’t. Mentally, I couldn’t shake the feeling for the first 2 miles. It felt like I was running a UTI. It wasn’t fun.

Our trainer, Stephanie, asked us right before we took off what we wanted to accomplish. I told her I really wanted to shoot for 30 minutes. She looked me straight in the eyes and said “So, you’re giving me permission to get up in your face and push you?” I was on a pee pants, heat induced high when I said “Absolutely!”
And we were off! It’s always so exciting in the beginning….everyone is enthusiastic, full of hope… you look over at your running friends with a big smile and give them a nod that says “We can totally do this!”. Then a 5-year old passes you going twice your speed and your enthusiasm begins to wane.

The first mile seemed like a piece of cake because I was riding that high. I climbed up the first hill with no problem and made my way through the next ½ mile. Then I began to think about the next hill…It’s a long, slow upward slope. Normally, we are running on the sidewalk and there are just a few of us. This time I was on the street, weaving in and out of runners, walkers, people with baby was ugly. Some people just stopped running right in front of me and it took all I had not to plow right into their backs. It was hard enough getting up the hill but adding the bobbing and weaving just wore me out. And did I mention it was hot?!
At the top of the hill I was struggling but knew my family would be there. I didn’t want them to wave with frozen smiles silently thinking to themselves “Things look bad for her…” So, I threw on my happy face, gave them a wave, and picked up my pace. That’s when Stephanie came up and said, “Okay, you wanted to do 30 minutes right?! This is where we have to pick up the pace right now. You ready? Come on!” At that moment a pregnant lady passed me. I mean one who was about to give birth. Seriously??I looked her straight in the eyes and with my sweaty, unhappy face I said “Nope, I’m out”.  It was obvious I meant business because she just moved on to run with Cori. For the last mile I just continued to say to myself, “I am never doing this again”.

I came across Cori who was walking and immediately breathed a sigh of relief. I now had permission to walk – yahoo!! I walked with her a minute and this guy with a male tramp stamp on his back yelled “C’mon…you don’t have much further to go! “ I hated him but knew he was right. I gave Cori the nudge, gave her the “Let’s go” look, and off we went again.
I was so hot at this point and was rounding the corner that I always think is right before the finish line but then I realize there is another whole section I forget about….it always makes my heart sink. But I knew if I just made it through there, I would be home free. That’s when I saw Cori stop cold and Stephanie turned around to go back to her.

I turned the corner, saw the finish line up ahead, and turned my wheels on. I always turn it on at this point…because I know I can make it just a little bit further. And it doesn’t hurt when there are tons of people cheering you on. It also makes me feel like a marathoner coming in for the first place finish when I run that fast. Finally, I crossed the finish line!! I wanted to sit down so bad and just lay on the grass but I knew if I sat down, I would never get back up so I grabbed some water and waited for Cori and Jill with my shaky legs.
Turns out Jill had to hurl in the bushes with about ¼ mile left, no doubt due to the beer, sausage dog, and peanut butter sandwich she ate in the am. I was just thankful it wasn’t me! Turns out Cori felt something pop and came up lame so the two of them walked a little. Then Cori said there was no way she was walking across the finish line and pushed herself to finish.

In the end, I did finish and I even beat my time from last year….32 minutes! And Cori finished and beat her time too, even with a little walking and her injury. Imagine what we could have done under the ultimate conditions (about 55 degrees, light breeze blowing, someone handing us water anytime we needed it, and no people to trip over).  All my running buddies finished and I am so proud of all of us!! In hindsight, I don’t think we realized that we actually ran about 6 5K’s in the last 3 weeks because at least 2 times a week we were running and finishing the route.
Last year, after we finished, Cori and I were ready to do another 5K that week. This time, with her limping and me overheated, we both said “We are not doing this again!”  Fast forward to about 8 hours later when we were celebrating with a glass of wine on Cori’s porch and we said “Well, maybe one more….”

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