In it to Finish It

This morning was my first 5K in five years (running).  Last night, I didn’t sleep well, I was crampy and when I did sleep I had a dream that not only did I come in dead last, but I got lost on the race route because it wasn’t marked.  When I woke up this morning, true to the weather prediction, the beautiful 77 temperatures of yesterday had turned into 42 degrees, overcast, windy and raining.  My son and I picked up our race packets and took them back to the car – in hindsight, we should have been warming up at some point, walking, stretching, doing anything, but instead, we waited inside the warm building with everyone else.  At 9:15, the announcement came for all runners to go to the starting line.  

This is an extremely small race, no more than about 200 runners every year.  So at the starting line, you can literally see every other runner.  Of course, the boys who attend school there (my son included) were all at the front of the line; I hung back. 

The bell rang and we were off.  Running towards the lake, the wind had picked up and the rain had stopped (thank goodness).  My first mile wasn’t bad and as I was coming up on the timer, I was struck by a side cramp.  A really bad side cramp – one that wrapped around my back to my front.  I stopped running and started walking and thought I might throw up.  There was only one water station on the route and that was at the halfway point, too late anyways, I should have hydrated last night.

As people were passing me (running), I started to think I might really come in at last place.  I did what I was always do and started to make myself feel bad (why haven’t I run at all in two weeks?  I should have been running every day up to race day, I knew I couldn’t do this), and then I remembered this was about me, my race, about finishing something.  Good numbers are great, but I’m never going to end up in the top 3 even in my age group.  I already know this.  At my most fit, running everyday, my best time ever on a 5K was 33 minutes.  That was slow for my age group at the time.  Averaging 13-14 minute miles now, I’m not going to win anything.  I stopped feeling bad for myself and concentrated on doing what I needed to do.

There were two women ahead of me that I thought I could pass eventually.  As we were coming up on our second mile, I started running again.  Ironically, my feet and legs felt great, my breathing was good, but the damn cramp would not let up.  I passed three women ahead of me and got my time at 2 miles which was 2 minutes faster than I was doing on the treadmill – not bad, given the cramp.  I figured if I could make the same time with my third mile, I’d feel okay.

Into the third mile, it’s all slightly back up hill.  The two women have now passed me again (dammit!) and I’m back to walking.  At 2.5 miles, my son is waiting on the side for me.  “How much further?” I yell.  “You are there, mom, it’s right there,” he says.  Okay, I can do this – I start running again, with pain, and make it to the entrance of the finishing area (a parking lot).  As I come through the parking lot, people are actually leaving already.  I don’t ever catch up with the woman in front of me and finish with a slower third mile than I had hoped. 

When I tell my son how awful I feel and that my side/back is cramping, he says “did you hydrate last night?”  Hmmm, well, I had a glass of water, yes.  “Seriously, mom, I had four water bottles last night and that coffee you had this morning, did nothing for you.”  A side cramp is usually an indication of dehydration, I know this.  I should have hydrated last night and I probably would have had an easier time than I did.

For me, this has never been about winning.  It’s about doing something for me and working towards an end goal.  One of the things I love about attending events like this is the camaraderie.  Waiting at the start line in the cold for 15 minutes,  the woman next to me begins talking.  She is thin, like my sister, and an avid runner (she told me she finished a 10 mile run two weeks ago; this is her first year at this event).  She’s very nice; I explain that I’m very slow and she says to me “hey, at least you are here, a lot of people wouldn’t even be doing this – look how small this crowd is!”  We wish each other luck and I see her go past me early on. 

They have an awards ceremony afterwards, and the woman I chatted with at the starting line comes in second for her age group (30-35) – I applaud her and say “congrats” with a huge smile as she goes past my table.  She stops on her way back and says “how did you do?” “Eh, it was hard, not a great time,” I reply.  She says “you finished, that’s all that really matters!  I hope to see you next year!”  My son looks at me and asks who she is – I tell him I don’t know, someone I met at the starting line.  In that moment though, it’s about everyone running their own race and doing what they need to do, and being happy for those that did come in the top three.

I feel good this afternoon, believe it or not.  I’m not very sore (certainly not like that awful yoga class last week – this was actually easier!) and I’m content with where things ended up.  Another race in a month – I’m hoping it’s a bit warmer than today.  Regardless, I will be there and I will finish in my own time. 

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  1. Congrats on finishing! It’s great that you’re focused on living a healthy lifestyle.

  2. Great job finishing! Keep up the hard work; you never know how fast all that training can make you. One milestone at a time – good luck on your next race in a month, keep focusing on the healthy benefits 🙂

  3. Thank you both for the kind words. Thankfully, there is no lack of race events in Cleveland over the summer, so that’s where I’ll be once a month working on my own time!

  4. Hey there, I’ve nominated you for a Versatile blogger award! check my blog for further instructions! 😉


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