Remember when I got all excited about the Rim-to-Rim 10k in October? Since I registered in August, every time I hit the treadmill or ran outside I visualized being in the race and, most importantly, crossing the finish line. I was excited about reaching the goal I set for myself in January. Back then I couldn't run for three minutes straight, but now I can run for an hour without stopping. I'm really slow (mostly 11-minute miles; my high-school self is stunned), but I have built some endurance this year. Well, due to last-minute circumstances beyond my control, I wasn't able to run the race as planned on October 6. I was devastated. I had worked so hard to reach my goal and didn't reach it.
After mourning my loss for a while, I decided to run a 10k anyway, race day fanfare or not. This week I plotted a 6.2-mile course on a map around my neighborhood. I marked clear starting and finish lines, and even set a start time: 7:00 a.m. on Saturday, October 20. I started visualizing my solo race: concrete sidewalks, hills, stop lights, and all. Even though the last three weeks have not been stellar in my personal health and fitness realm, I hoped I could still complete my run and meet my goal.
And so, this morning, I woke up early. I ate oatmeal and read my scriptures in the quiet kitchen. I loved that I opened to Mosiah 4 and read, "...it is not requisite that a man should run faster than he has strength. And again, it is expedient that he should be diligent, that thereby he might win the prize." How appropriate! Then I brushed my teeth and slipped quietly out the door. I jogged to my starting point (the SW corner of Research and Rangewood, in case you locals are interested), stretched for a few minutes, and with a deep breath and a click of my stopwatch, headed south on my first leg of the journey.
I ran unplugged--no phone, no music, no camera--and it was awesome. I loved being alone with my thoughts and my breath and my stride. The first three miles were great. I made good time and felt strong. But during a long hill on Lexington I hit the proverbial wall. It kind of felt like the last couple of years. I just couldn't do it anymore. So I walked briefly to catch my breath and pressed on.
Reaching the corner of Briargate Parkway and Union (heading east) felt like a great milestone. With only about 1.5 miles to go, I knew I could go the distance. Just as I was ready to cross the street, Garry drove by in the van and cheered me on. That was a pleasant surprise! I had planned for this to be a solo journey, but the support was wonderful. Garry followed me past the YMCA, shouting encouragement and taking a couple of pictures.
I was grateful for the downhill slope on Rangewood. It helped me gather my courage for the last half mile. At that point I was really fighting my sore muscles and tired feet and over-worked lungs. I turned east on Research for my final stretch. I had forgotten about the dip in the road...and the hill at the very end of my run. I tried to pick up speed during the dip so I could power up the hill to the finish line.
That's when I saw I wasn't alone. Waiting at the corner of Research and Austin Bluffs were Garry, Lexi, Kate, and a group of my friends! They were yelling and cheering and taking pictures. Two kids held a crepe paper finish line. I was overcome with emotion and cried as I approached them. Breaking through the crepe paper, surrounded by people I love, felt amazing. Not only did I reach my goal--in 1:07:18, which thrilled me--but I wasn't alone. It was a very symbolic moment for me.
We all stood on the corner for a while as I tried to recover. I laughed and cried and hugged everyone who came. We took pictures (I'll post more when I get them from everyone), and I basked in the warm glow of friendship. I couldn't get over the feeling of celebrating my success with my family and friends. Victory was so much sweeter than I ever imagined.
Kym, me, Amie, Elizabeth, and April
To celebrate my personal victory, I'm sponsoring a little giveaway. Leave a comment here or on my Facebook link to this post for a chance to win some fun fitness-themed goodies. I'll draw a winner on Monday, October 22.
Hooray for running!