A couple of weeks ago, I signed myself and my 17-year-old son up to run a 4-mile race in a neighboring town and I’d been regretting that decision ever since.
I’ve been running fairly steady for the past few months and have proved that I can run four miles nonstop. However, I usually run around 8 or 9 p.m. in the evening. Unfortunately, most races are held in the morning. I am definitely NOT a morning person–just ask any of my family members or close friends. Trying to hold a conversation with me before 9 or 10 a.m. is a challenge. I need half a pot of coffee before coherent sentences can proceed out of my mouth. And get me to move faster than a turtle in the a.m. hours? Yeah…good luck with that.
Ever since I committed to this race, I’d been trying to run in the morning and it. was. not. pretty. Nor was it fun. I did it, but I hated it.
The race was scheduled for Saturday which just happened to follow the first full week of work after summer break. Every morning I dragged myself out of bed when my nemesis AKA the alarm sounded. And each time I stumbled into the bathroom to try to wake my brain with a long shower, I’d be thinking, “Oh my word, on Saturday I’m going to be RUNNING at this time!”
The Friday night before the race, Mr. Caffeinated Ginger thought he’d be funny and kept playing the theme from Chariots of Fire. He came very close to being a dead man. My son, who works as a lifeguard, was out with friends so I texted him to remind him of the race the next morning.
On race day I woke up before the 6:15 a.m. alarm to take a quick shower to shake the cobwebs out of my head, eat a piece of peanut butter toast, and knock down a cup of coffee so that my brain and legs would be working in tandem for the race.
Mr. CF and Dear Daughter #2 accompanied my race partner son and I to the race to act as our pit crew and cheering section. We got there fairly early and had more than enough time to get our race bibs pinned, take bathroom breaks, and warm-up.
Pre-Race–Notice how my eyes are little slits? Nope, not awake yet.
It was then time for us to line up at the starting line. I put my ear buds in and started my playlist. Then it was ready, set, go!
The first mile is always, ALWAYS hard for me. I have to plea bargain with my legs and play head games with, well, my head, to keep moving. But after that I get into a rhythm. It didn’t take long for the race participants to spread out and I fell in with a group of runners that I ended up running at the same pace with for most of the race.
The race course was all on city streets, mainly through neighborhoods. It was well-marked with arrows spray painted on the road to show the route as well as many race volunteers strategically placed through out the course so there was no chance of any runners taking a wrong turn. There were also volunteers at every mile with a stopwatch calling out the time so runners knew how they were faring.
I deal with plantar fasciitis in my feet and I also have ankle issues. I’m old, okay? So when I run on my own, I either run on the high school track or plan my course so that I mainly run on dirt roads because both of those surfaces are a little bit more forgiving on my feet and joints. This course was all pavement and after about a mile and a half, my ankles were letting me know in an extremely rude manner that THEY HURT. I just kept repeating the mantra Mind Over Matter and tried to ignore their pleas for help as best I could.
August in Kansas is H-O-T and race day was no exception. The forecasted high was to be 95 degrees in the afternoon. At race time it was about 76 degrees. Some lovely residents of the town had strategically placed water sprinklers on the curb in front of the homes and water sprayed into the street for runners to run through, of which I totally took advantage.
This course also had some hills. To people who live outside Kansas, you wouldn’t even classify them as hills. But living on the plains of Kansas, especially in my small town, these were hills. I am used to running on very flat ground, so any incline at all is a major challenge. But like The Little Engine That Could, I conquered those hills with the “I Think I Can” frame of mind.
I was doing pretty well until about the 2.5 mile mark. My ankle complaints had accelerated and my brain had finally realized that yes, we were running before noon. I had hit the proverbial wall and no amount of head games was going to keep me going. I took about a 50-yard break and walked to get back into the game. There were some other runners that also were taking short walk breaks, so I didn’t feel like too much of a slacker. One of my race goals was just to finish the race in an upright position and if I needed to walk a little to accomplish that, I was okay with it.
At about mile 3.5, I approached from behind a little girl, with the emphasis on little. As I came up beside her I told her what a great job she was doing and asked her how old she was. “Eight,” she answered. Talk about humbling. An 8-year-old had been running faster than me for most of this race. Ugh. That gave me the push, however, that I needed to finish the race. There was no way an 8-year-old was going to show me up. My kids would never have let me forget it.
I turned the corner for the last 200 yards and the finish line was in my sight. I knew my family was there somewhere and were going to be taking pictures, so I turned on the afterburner and sprinted to the finish line.
My goal for the race was to (1) Cross the finish line upright. (Check!) (2) Not come in dead last. (Check!) (3) Finish in 40 minutes. (Almost!) My finish time was 40:28, which still wasn’t too shabby for my non-morning running legs. My first three miles were a little over 9 minutes each, but that last mile tested me immensely.
However…(drum roll please)…I still managed to place third in my age division (the old geezers) and I got a medal! Woot, woot!
By the way, I will be wearing that piece of metal around my neck to work on Monday.
In celebration, Mr. CF took us all out for breakfast where I ate most of this:
After going home and showering, the daughter and I went to the festival where I treated myself to one of my favorite fair foods–the Pronto Pup!
Then when we stopped at the grocery store on the way home, the store was giving customers free pieces of cake. (Why? I don’t know. I don’t question free cake–I just eat it.)
I would tell you that later that evening we went to eat Mexican food for supper, but that would really make me sound like a pig, so mum’s the word.
Let’s just say I could use another four-mile run.
We’ve already signed up for another race at the end of the month. This race is a 5K and I expect great things from it because it’s a shorter distance and….it’s in the evening! Bring it!