This morning I completed "The Riverside Raincross 5K/Run/Walk at Historic Fairmount park!" Yes, that is the official title of the race. It only took me 36 minutes (The winner was a lanky black man with a time in the twelve's, Yeesh). But I met my goal, I did not stop, except for two seconds to tie my shoe laces flinging this way and that--doesn't count--safety first. As part of my commitment to live a healthier lifestyle, I have also committed to being less frumpy in my daily dress. But not today. Despite my husband's pleading, I wore the long-sleeved, speckled gray, loose-fitting, and tight-fitting (In all the wrong places), FRUMPY race T-shirt glittered with ugly sponsor logos. I earned it and am currently wearing it as I type with the pride and poise of a perfectly-primped prom queen (Consonance much?). Here are the highlights of my morning:
I dragged toddler and husband out of bed at 6:50 into a packed car, drove to the race and received the number 10 at the registration booth to pin on my chest. (On a side note, I got myself a new shirt for the event. An Addidas breathable, long-sleeve, baby blue athletic top--perfect for the current temperature, and the price was right, thanks Costco) The number 10: my favorite number as a kid, my "lucky" number, the number on my jersey in Middle-School travel basketball, and finally, the number of years since I have participated in an official 5K run. Good feelings from the universe.
The seasoned runners where crowded right behind the start line, underneath an arbor of blue and white balloons. They wore their body-glove, sponsored outfits that would make me feel more naked than being naked. And many of them were practicing starts, and sprinting from the line. "Sprinting? This race is 3.2 miles folks!" But I guess you would have to sprint to finish that beast in 12 minutes. The true athletes didn't bother me, I was more in awe of them. I pinned on my number and ran to the middle crowd of runners then "BLEEEEMP," off went the blow-horn, and it began, with a police man on motorcycle leading the way.
I think my cheeks flew forward, like on a rollercoaster, with heavy wind of passing runners. "Slow and steady, Slow and steady," I kept coaching myself. I didn't really feel competitive until I saw a slow runner in Night-club makeup, and a BUMP-IT half-ponytail laced with well-crafted braids, and she was skinny. "No way, sorry, 'bump it' bimbo, not today, not this time, I've worked too hard for this." And I cruised passed her. By about .5 miles, I was with a steady pack of joggers, ebbing and flowing back and forth--then came the creepy speed walkers, have you ever seen a true speed-walker? These guys scampered past me in their eerie hippity-hop gait. It is a very odd sight: it looks like they raise one hip, let the joint dislocate, pop it back in, then do the same thing on the other side. But those weird dudes were FAST! Oh by the way, I did NOT wear my headphones, I felt like I needed to have all my senses with me, take in every second, count on MYSELF to get through it instead of Cold Play and Celin Dion, not so for many of my pack mates. I'm glad I didn't wear them, "I EXPERIENCED more," (in the voice of a avant-garde modern dance instructor).
Just after the "1 MILE" sign, I saw movement to the left, about 40-50 feet, UP . "Oh no," I said out loud. There was a hill, a big one, just a few hundred yards away. "Stupid hill!" I spat. Then I slowed down, just a tad, to mentally prepare for the climb. The pack ran past me, but I trotted on, toward the hill, at the bottom of which my pack-mates stopped to WALK. "NO, don't do this to me, I need you guys!" I ran up that hill. It went on forever. Everything in my blood, brains, legs, and thoughts told me to stop and just walk like the other people, and I almost did. I looked up to summon my angels and continued on. Reaching the top of that hill was one of the most triumphant feelings of my life, but there was still half a race to run.
The trail flattened out and curved around the hill, until it didn't, up I went, again. I felt like the Flabby Engine that Could, but midway up, the clouds and trees parted to poor blinding sunshine on my face, it looked like the bright light people describe in near-death experiences. "Yes take me, take me now," I thought, squinting into the yellow laser beams. It was not my time, darn it. The second mile was fairly easy until the end, just .2 miles from the finish line, where I met another hill. This one was short, but steep. "I think I can, I think I can, can I?" My body was shaky when suddenly I heard the sweetest voices in the whole world from below, my husband and daughter cheering me on, chanting, "Yay mommy, go mommy!" If I had anything left in me I would have burst into tears. Two ladies next to me looked down and one said, "Aww now that is something to look forward to down there, what a sweet little thing!"
I was going to pass my half-hearted pack at the finish line. They were all chatty and nonchalant the whole time--I wanted this so much more than they did. So I let gravity pull me down the hill where I saw my family, lengthening my stride with the momentum, a swift turn to the right--there it was, the finish line flags. I sprinted the last 200 meters, it was like someone gave me a shot of adrenaline. I easily passed my crowd, and heard someone on the sidelines shout, "Wow, she is really haulin' a*%! Yes, I was haulin' that, and the rest of me too. I was so happy to be done, but mostly proud of what I had accomplished. A few months ago I was a couch potato hoping to be thin, and today I was a runner, Number 10, and I cannot wait until I do it all over again.
P.S. thanks for your support, pictures to come