Oct 20, 2012

Crossing the finish line (plus a giveaway!)

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, " 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!
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