just how exciting that first race can be.
I’ve been running with a friend of mine for the past few months, and we both signed up for a 10K; her very first race, ever. While I’ve dabbled in various 5K’s and what not, I felt as though I was also being initiated into the running circle, as we walked up to the starting line. Like I’d never done it before.
I think I was acting like a complete doof. I’d look at her and have this big smile and I even squealed. I know, I know. I was just so excited for her, and she kept her cool. She’d smile a bit and look at me with this look of tolerance. I get this look a lot from my friends. I can be a lot to deal with at times.
Before I even get into the running portion of this post, I have to mention the injuries we had going in. She’s had some strange toe pain which could very well be a broken toe. A friend of hers had rammed a shopping cart into her feet, and the toe had never been the same since. I still have my bum hip, which has it’s good days and not so good days. This particular morning, it wasn’t too bad but it was still there, as a constant reminder of my not stretching nearly enough.
She and I are similar, in that we keep pressing on, even through injuries. This can be seen as determination, or stupidity, or maybe a little of both, but it is what it is.
So, as we cross the starting line, we break into a run. My motto is, you want to pace yourself. Let the people around you go at the speed of light. Save some energy for the hills, and for your return back to the finish line. Also, she and I had already run this route, for practice, so the dips and peaks were no surprise, although they didn’t feel any less trepidatious.
There’s something about a race. You want to pretend (and I even said this to her at one point) that it’s nothing special. Pretend it’s a normal running day, and it’s just the two of us. There’s no need for pressure. Yet, the energy that is given off is nothing ordinary. We are all there for various reasons, but the #1 reason is the love of running, and it’s what propels us forward onto gravelly roads that become slippery and hazardous, or onto twists and turns, or gently sloping inclines that make you wonder when it will ever end.
There were moments where we both had to stop. At one point, my left shoe decided to become untied, which always seems to happen when I don’t want it to. Her race bib was pinned to her jacket and her shirt, and she had to remove her jacket because it had gotten way too hot, and replace the bib back onto her shirt. We were laughing about it as we hastily pinned and tried to get it done quickly, and then were off.
As we crossed the finish line, an announcer said our names and asked for the crowd to congratulate us in the process. That was the first time I’d ever had that occur. It was a nice touch. We high fived each other, and I could see that look in her eyes as we searched for a place to stretch. It was the look of accomplishment, and obsession. Just like it had for me, and the hundreds of people surrounding us, the running bug had gotten into her and we were already talking about our next race.
Quickly, I said my goodbye’s and got into my car, headed for another trail. My mileage wasn’t done yet. I had done 6.5, but I had planned to do 18 miles in preparation for my marathon in South Dakota, which is in two weeks.
It was cold and my body fought me a bit as I ran around the trail, but I finished at 16 miles. Two miles short of my goal, but I’m not going to freak out about it. Fact is, I was so damn hungry. All I could think about was food those last two miles. The miles leading up to that though, I felt pretty remarkable. I was alone on this trail, with lakes on either side to me. It was so quiet and peaceful. It was just me out in nature, and I felt very reflective and in awe of so much. My ability to do this, to run this far. To push myself even when there are moments I want to stop.
In two weeks, I’ll be running another marathon. It’s not my first marathon, but that excitement and thrill will still be there. I have a feeling it will never go away, and I hope I’m able to continue sharing that experience with others.