My $15.00 digital watch alarm is beeping. Normally that alarm seems fairly quiet, but at 5:00 am it might as well be turned up to 11. (A Spinal Tap joke for those of you not in that club) It’s dark. It’s raining. Why am waking up so early on a Sunday morning? Oh yes! Race Day. My first race since the Pleasant Hill cross country debacle 12 years ago.
It was still dark when I got the kids out of bed. Bella was sleepy eyed, but precious as always. Remi wasn’t as precious as he hates mornings, much like his mother. He grunted and groaned, and wouldn’t eat breakfast. But soon Grammy Lynette and Papa Phil show up (they are part of our 20 person team who are walking in the race) and Remi was apparently really trying to impress them with his sweet skills so he perked right up. Bella seemingly has an endless supply of energy so she never seems tired. She is ‘on’ all the time.
We finally get loaded up and head out to find a parking spot at the Country Club Plaza. Of course we are running about 15 minutes later than we wanted. That’s just the way it is when you have kids. At least that’s my story and I’m sticking to it. Thankfully we find a spot. One of the perks of having a disabled child is that handicap tag. Hey, don’t judge me.
It is STILL raining. You know one of those nice Spring showers, the absolute perfect weather for sleeping in. Not so perfect for running 4 miles.
There were lots and lots of people. Over 10,500 runners signed up for this race. It was an amazing turnout. By now, it had stopped raining. We were lining up to take the shuttle buses over to the starting line. The line stretched about 1,000 blocks. Well it seemed like 1,000 blocks. For those of us with strollers we got to get in a special bus lane. Unfortunately only Remi and I got on this special bus and we were separated from the group. It sucks being separated from the group. Luckily, my team, The IncrediBella’s eventually all made it to the start of the race intact.
Rach and I were in the Yellow wave, for slow joggers and fitness walkers. I’m not sure what a fitness walker is, but apparently it’s the equivalent to a slow jogger. Remi and Bella were with their nana, papa’s, uncles, aunts, and grandma in the leisurely walking wave.
The race was about to start, it was probably 55 degrees or so and a bit windy. I would call it chilly and I’m not ever really cold. But there was Rach and I, getting ready to start our first race ever, together. It was awesome. I was excited. I was nervous. Can I finish? It’s all about finishing. That’s the goal. But it’s a 4 mile race and I have never ran more than 3 miles. Focus on the finish.
So we start. And it feels like we are on a nice pace. Not too fast, not too slow. We start passing people and very few people are passing us. It feels great to be in this pack. It is quite a thrill. The congestion does get a bit annoying and slows us some, but we are moving along nicely. My legs feel good, my breathing is good. All of a sudden there is the Mile 1 Marker. 1 mile down. I looked at my watch, about ten and half minutes. Hey that’s good, right? We feel good. Rach seems like this is effortless so I tell to go ahead if I am slowing her down, but she stays right by my side. She was amazing. The second mile was by far the hardest. My legs started to get tired. No no no, we aren’t even halfway done. My breathing was labored. I was struggling. I knew I had not prepared for this like I should have, but I was not stopping. People all around us were slowing down and walking. Not us. Not today.
Then the Mile 2 Marker came. There were people on the course cheering us on shouting words of encouragement and that helped… a lot. We were halfway done. I don’t know what it was or what happened, but all of a sudden it got easy. My legs were just moving. One foot in front of the other. I guess this is the “runners high?” We passed more and more people. Rach and I were side by side. Soon, we approached and passed the Mile marker 3. We were almost done. This was uncharted territory for me. I have never ran more than 3 miles, but I think I could have ran 10* with the way I felt. More people were stopping to walk, even some people that had passed us earlier. Not me and Rach. We kept moving, faster and faster and then, there it was, the finish line. I motioned to Rach to kick it up, let’s finish strong. And we did. We sprinted through the finish line. 4 miles down. 4 miles that just 18 months ago
might have literally killed me.
*I seriously doubt it
I weigh 250 pounds now. Maybe the fastest 250 pounder of the day? I felt pretty damn proud of myself for finishing that strong and never walking. Rach pushed me through it. She could have gone faster, she will never admit it, but she can smoke me. She has been doing some serious training for this. But she stuck with me and I love her for it. We started together and finished together. Our official time was 43:52 which breaks out to a 10:58 per mile pace. I was super pumped after the race. I felt great. It was an amazing experience and I will be doing it again. In fact we signed up for 2 races last night, an 8k on Memorial Day and the 5k run at Kaufmann Stadium in September.
This race has sparked my motivation again. I want to get faster and faster. And I will.