So my friend and I, and another of her friends drove to the race, chatting about it because they've done it before. When we arrived, they both said that it seemed like there were a lot more people there than usual. As it turned out this was a record number of runners for this race. They ran out of bibs! I think in part due to the fact that we'd had hard rain on Friday that helped clear our roads of much of the ice and also because it was forecast to be around 35 degrees. Only problem is that the temps tumbled overnight and we got a dusting of snow. So although the snow was pretty much off the roads, there was a fair amount of ice anywhere the sun hadn't hit, even though the race started at 10 AM.
The race STARTS on an incline. Yay? I had to keep telling myself to hold back and just chug away because though I knew the course was generally hilly, I really had no idea what I was in for even though I'd asked my friends a million questions. I just kept chugging along, and my worst nightmare began to happen even as I ran... I had the sweeper/Police car right behind me for 2 miles! GAH! I kept thinking, how is it that I really did end up being last? But then I had to remind myself that I needed to not focus on negative thinking that I just needed to push through. Literally, I thought of Judy fighting her cancer and I know how important it was for my SIL Pam to have a positive outlook while she was fighting hers so I made myself start chanting my running mantra, "Just keep running, just keep running, Don't quit, just keep running!" And I did. Slowly but surely, I started picking people off... those who had started too fast were already walking by the time I was around 5 miles in. That tells you just how bad those hills were. But it was pretty... I ran by cows!
As I came out of the trail part of the run and back onto the main road there was a volunteer yelling as I staggered past, "Pizza, pasta, and non-alcoholic beverages are just 2.1 miles up the road!" Hurray! Except, no one warned me that the last two miles would be a steady climb up hill. So, the race starts on an incline and finishes on an incline? Yikes! Oh, did I mention the wind had picked up and was blowing straight in my face? Ever tried to run up a hill with the wind blowing you backwards?
I briefly considered quitting right at this point. I had developed severe cramping and charley horses in my right calf, plus my achilles tendon was not happy. Stupid hills. But again, I literally used thoughts of Shelley and her mom, along with my running mantra, to power me through. As I got to the 11.5 mile mark, I kept hearing a strange noise. I was still picking off a few runners at this point and there was one ahead me who seemed to be struggling worse than I was. As I got right up behind him I realized the noise I was hearing was him screaming at the top of his lungs. I asked him what was wrong and he was crying and whimpering that his right knee and left ankle were killing him and he just wanted to die. Then he would scream. Then he would whimper that he just wanted to go home. Then he would scream. All of a sudden my various aches and pains didn't seem all that bad. In fact, I was just behind him giggling my head off, thinking, it's true, this race does take down grown men and make them cry!
As it turned out, I would pass him and then he would get
Yes, that's how hard this race was. But you know what? Still not as hard as what Shelley and her family, or many other families, or even what my own inlaws are going through. It was a good reminder to me that positive attitude can carry us a long way and if we fight, we do make it to the finish line.
I still needed to tell Shelley the secret so when I got home I sent her a series of photo texts. (Excuse the bad photos, it's hard to take pics of yourself with an iphone!).
Not my best time - in fact this is more like a full marathon pace for me. But no matter. I'll celebrate the simple fact that I finished a really hard race. There were over 470 starters and only 409 finished - that's how hard this race is.
Wanna see some photos of me crossing the finish line? Go here and there are a few of just me. Oh, and the photos just before mine? That would be the screaming man lol!