Forced down a powerbar and a bottle of water.
The unusual part. It is a weekend.
Saturday mornings don’t usually start until after 8 and they almost always involve donuts.
I laced up my sneakers. Downloaded a few tunes and turned on the porch light.
Because the sun still wasn’t up.
And shortly after 6 am I got a text from my friend.
“I am heterosexual”
She meant to say “I am here”
And I have never loved autocorrect more.
And we drove downtown and our exit looked like a weekday at rush hour instead of a Saturday morning at 6:20.
I had seriously underestimated the number of people running the 10K.
We pinned on our bibs.
We peed in smelly portapotties.
And we waited with hoards of runners for the start.
And I run on a regular enough basis.
At the gym. And I hate the treadmill. With a passion. And never make it very far before my knee starts hurting or I want to switch machines or go downstairs and get a smoothie.
With friends and I use so much oxygen telling stories and laughing that I usually have to stop after 20 minutes.
And alone. Where sometimes I can go 4 or 5 miles. And sometimes I head back home after just 2.
But in the mass of people running it seemed almost easy.
I had my headphones in and just kept plowing through the middle of downtown.
If you consider a 10.8 minute mile plowing. Which is slow motion to most people, but I usually run closer to a 12 minute mile so I was cruising.
And all I saw were runners ahead of and behind me.
Serious skinny girls in their spandex and water belts.
People my mom’s age.
A few people puked on the side of the road.
Men who had their legs taped and looked pretty hard core.
And every mile or so volunteers handed out water. And every once in a while you’d see people in their yards cheering you on or families on the sidelines with signs for their mom or dad. Even the police directing traffic were encouraging. And I haven’t run 6.2 miles in over 3 months. But I never thought about stopping. (well, not seriously at least).
Just getting there.
At my slow and steady pace.
And I couldn’t help but notice how different it felt to run in a race than it does to run by myself.
I have run harder races. And further races. And faster races.
So I didn’t especially have anything to prove.
But I wasn’t sure that I could do it without stopping. It had been a while and I hadn’t trained particularly hard. But the mass of people all heading where I was heading seemed to push me.
Everyone was pursuing the same finish line.
Fast or slow. Young or old. Spandex or old sweats. It didn’t seem to matter.
We were all pushing ourselves that morning in the cold to get there.
And I crossed the finish line. Sweaty. Thirsty. And my right knee was killing me. And someone shoved medal in my hands.
Medals aren’t the norm. I thought they were reserved for only halfs and full marathons.
But I held on tight and looked for my friend and some water.
And when I got home I gave my medal to my son.
Who asked, “mom did you win”
“No, kid. But I finished.”
“Then why did they give you medal”
“Well, because it was long and hard and I finished. Not everyone does. Not everyone even tries. So they gave me a medal.”
“But is finishing the same as winning?”
“Sometimes it is kid. Today it was. And it was a lot easier to do with a thousand other people than trying to do it by myself.”
And I want to give some special thanks to Lady Gaga…because let’s be honest I couldn’t have done it without her….and here is the rest of my running playlist