Thursday, November 22, 2007

"You're a runner now"

Webster Turkey Trot, ~4.4 miles, 11/22/07Sunday night: I check the weather for Thursday, there’s a chance of rain and the high temperature is predicted to be 51. The chance of rain isn’t ideal, but at least the temperature is going to be decent.

Monday: Thursday will now be in the low 40’s. Slightly more chance of rain. Great.

Tuesday: Temp will be in the high 30’s. It’s going to rain. Am I cursed?

Wednesday: It is currently pouring outside and tomorrow it’s going to be raining and snowing. Temperature between 9 and 12 is predicted to be in the low 30’s. Oh, and there’s also a winter weather advisory from 4am to 4pm. Do I even have the right gear for that kind of weather? I’d better go get a wind/rainproof jacket.

Thursday, 7:00 - It’s raining out but the temp is in the upper 30’s. That’s not too bad. I think I can get away with my technical shirts and my new coat – I won’t wear the fleece I had also thought I’d need.

8:00 – Breakfast. Greens & beans.

8:30 – Get dressed: short sleeved tech T, long sleeved tech shirt (with sleeves that turn into mittens), good running pants and another pair of pants over them. Grab new jacket and fleece headband on the way out the door. It is raining really bad. Cammie wants to come with me but has to stay home 

8:50 - Driving there I wonder if I haven’t bitten off more than I can chew. Am I really ready for this race? Can I do it? I decide that I can. Last week I ran 4.25 miles and felt decent, just a few days ago I did 3.1 miles on the treadmill in just about 35 minutes. I’m prepared for this. But I still feel a little nervous.

9:15 – Arrive at the race. By the time I get my timing chip and head into the lodge to grab some safety pins I’m shivering. Fantastic. I spend most of the rest of the time before the race standing under the side of the lodge just trying to stay out of the wind and the rain. I wisely decide to go to the bathroom and when I come out there’s about 10 minutes before the race starts, I need to make my way to the starting line. My pants are pretty wet already…

9:58 – There are about 1500 people running today between this race and the 2.5 miler that I thought more than once I should have signed up for instead. But nervous as I was, I start up my ipod and get pumped. I am ready for this and I just want to start running already!

10:00 – Finally! We’re off. With all the people, it takes a while to get sorted out so there aren’t so many people around. The race starts off down a hill and then right back up and around a corner. I know I just need to keep going and I’ll be ok.

We run along the lake for a bit, it’s still raining and windy but doesn’t seem so bad now that I’m moving and generating heat. The main pack of faster runners finally gets far enough ahead of me that I can run without too many other people around me but I can tell that this race I am going to have at least some people near me, which is good to keep me motivated. I choose another runner who is a little bit ahead of me and tell myself that I’m not going to let her get away. We round the second corner and I take a quick look behind me. There’s a respectable number of people that I can see behind me and that feels good.

Before I know it I pass the 2 mile marker. It’s felt like a very short amount of time and I feel strong. As we head down the road I pass the runner ahead of me that I’ve been keeping in my sight, wooo!

And it’s mile 3… “Almost there! Well, just barely” I think and I feel so good that I try to kick up the pace. I don’t know if I really did but that’s ok. We head back toward the park and somewhere along the like my running buddy passes me again. It’s ok… but I’m not going to let her get away.

We enter the park and I know it can’t be too much further. We follow a park road around and go up another hill “keep going keep going keep going” I think to myself when I make it to the top. We round a bend and I can see the beginning of the “off road” portion I had heard about. It’s rained here for the past two days so I’m prepared for mud. We try to get down the short hill as fast as we can without slipping too much on the mud, cross a little bridge and then it’s still muddy and puddle-y and slippery but at least its still flat.

I do my best to stay out of the really muddy areas as we run across the field. I get so preoccupied that I forget how close we must to be to the finish line, until I look up and there it is! At this point I don’t care about avoiding puddles or mud. I take a straight line toward the finish (which surprisingly wasn’t too slippery) and splash through puddles and get totally dirty soaking wet feet and cross the finish line feeling completely awesome.

There’s no big clock at the finish line so I’m not sure what my time is but I’ll be able to guesstimate my time. It takes a few minutes to get back to the car. I take care to walk through as many puddles as I can in the parking lot to get the mud off my shoes. When I get to the car I put the keys in and it’s 11:01. It’s been easily 4 or 5 minutes since I finished… I’d be happy with 56 minutes!

And that’s the time I’m going with. I checked the race organizers’ website this afternoon to see my real time and due to all of the rain and mud, my finish didn’t get recorded. It’s ok though because I’m much more interested in feeling strong throughout the race and just running my best.

After the race I went over to my boss’ house for some tea, she had run the race as well but is a much faster and more experienced runner than I am so we didn’t run together. As I was on my way out to go home we were talking about how this race is a tradition and I mentioned how I know I can run in pretty much any weather now that I made it through this stuff and she says, “Oh yes, you’re definitely a real runner now.”

This Thanksgiving Day, I am thankful for all of the usual stuff (a great family, awesome friends, Cammie, etc) but I am especially thankful for my new(ish) body and athletic abilities; it just feels so great to be able to do these things that not so long ago I never thought I would do.