“You can do this. You will do this. You’ve done it before. It will only be 55 minutes. You are stronger than you think you are.”
I wrote that statement on Thursday. I did not think today would happen. But it did.
I ran an 8k. I know that some of y’all might be like “groan, another mention of running”. But–you have to understand, I never ran a mile in my life (a full non stop mile) until 2008. And then I ran a 10k. And then for 4 years I would off and on run, not really pushing myself. Last summer I started running for fun, and then I got engaged and I started running for a wedding, and then I started running because I was pregnant. Except, with pregnancy I wasn’t really running. I was running a mile and complaining and all of that stuff.
So I signed up for the 8k. Because I was determined to do this. And I mostly (always) feel like a quitter. I always feel like I have these great ideas, and I never follow through on them. And I know I’m stubborn, but I want to be stubborn on something that’s worth while, not just an argument or something like “I’m not finding out the sex of my baby”.
So let me set the stage. We leave the house at 6:35 am, it’s misting outside. It’s a cold 50 degrees. I’ve been training for six weeks. I’m nervous. I’m already negotiating with myself when it will be okay to start walking, because how in the world am I going to run 5 miles. That’s ludacris. I lace up my shoes and tell Phil I’m scared. I don’t think I can do this. He tells me I’ve been running every other day for six weeks, there’s no reason I can’t do this. I roll my eyes. He doesn’t know how easy it is for me to quit.
We pick up Arielle. It’s pouring. Not just pouring, but monsooning. The air is so cold that the exposed skin is prickly. You can see your breathe. And you have to JUMP every five feet because of a puddle, except opps you slip once and now your sock is completely soaked. I wanted to call Phil, I wanted to turn around and just call it day, but I knew I couldn’t. Arielle is not so subtly hitting that we can run the 8k ourselves later that day, we don’t need to be there. It would be so much nicer later when it wasn’t wet. I keep ignoring her. I tell her I want to go out on a bang. I paid $40 to run this race. I’m not just turning around because of a little rain, besides I was already out there, the weather report said it was going to stop soon, so it would have to, right? And just as we turn the corner, we saw the runners start. We were the last people to cross the start line…but we started.
And just like that you get into the motion of running. The smooth weaving in between walkers and slower runners, finding your pace, getting into the groove and just going. Waiting to see that first mile mark because it’s such a treat (except WHERE IS IT?). At one point Arielle left me, which was fine. I am running a 12 min mile. I didn’t expect her to run with me. I’m five songs into my playlist, I’m amazed at what a great playlist I put together. Britney, Ke$ha, Temper Trap, all the necessities to a smooth ride, but seriously, where the EFF is that one mile marker? I can’t be running this slow.
Then out on the horizon, I see the yellow sign. I’ve ran 2 miles! (and there are port-a-potties, so I can make a pit stop, thank god). I’ve lost Arielle. But I just ran 2 miles. I’m so close to the half way point. And then I just kept going. A smile spreads across my face and my breathing is steady. On the other hand, my ankles hurt, I’m contracting, there is an annoying girl who is walking and every time I pass her starts running for five seconds only to walk again until I pass her. She becomes my pace runner, even though we aren’t on the same pace, she’s just the person I keep my eyes on. I will beat you. I start bargaining with myself.
“You can walk when you get to three miles.”
I hit three miles. It’s downhill.
“You can walk once you get to the big hill.”
I see the big hill.
“You only need to run .5 miles then you’re at the hill.”
Then I hit the hill. It’s not that hard, and out of nowhere, Ruff Ryders Anthem comes on. You CANNOT walk when DMX is telling you to “put em down, set em up, open up shop”–it’s a law or something (I’m sure of it). It’s just not possible. So, at the top of the hill, I’ve hit 4 miles. 4 MILES. I am almost done. I can’t believe I did this. I only have a little under a mile to go. That stupid walk/run girl is still dragging me down, but I’m not the last person in the race, and I haven’t stopped to walk once. And then I have this thought:
“I want to be someone’s inspiration.”
I want someone to think of me and be inspired. Inspired because I just spent the past 45 minutes telling myself I couldn’t do something and I’ve continued to perservere. I had so many people question me running in this race because “of my condition”. And, I just started running five years ago and holy crap, I’m 6.5 months pregnant and look at me go.
So then another rap song comes on, and I can’t stop running. You can’t just walk to rap music. Plus that whole inspiration thing is happening. And then, then , I’m turning the corner, and it’s a downhill slope and I know the finish line is there. My ankles feel like they are going to snap any second. These Braxton Hicks are pulsating. It’s taking everything to not just stop and walk. There is pain, and ache, and I just want to stop…
And then Pat Benatar “We Belong” is roaring in my years. For those of you who were at our wedding, this is the song that Phil and I were introduced to. I also see the mile 26 sign for the marathoners, and I know just past that it’s only .2 miles to the finish. I can’t be more than .5 miles away. And without even realizing it, I’m crying, not sobbing, but crying and trying not to cry, but then trying to just let myself cry. So I’m crying and running and crying and not crying and ohmygod I did this. I can see the finish line. I can see Phil waiting for me. I can see it all ending and ending on a success.
I crossed the finish line. I got my medal. But the medal I got from the HCA 8k is not even close to the true medal I earned.
My ankles may be near their breaking point, my nipples are more chapped than I can ever imagine because my clothes are soaking wet, at some points I think my butt is hanging out because my pants are so wet and sticky I can’t even feel them. Each step is like sloshing into another puddle. I need to pee. My lips are chapped. But I’ve never been happier. Because I did something I never thought I would do.
I became my own inspiration.