The weekend was good. Very emotional on many fronts but that emotion only made me want to use my gift and passion for running to inspire those around me.
It was awesome seeing good friend & mentor Jeff Galloway, he continues to mentor so many in the sport.
Race morning started with the alarm, followed by coffee and running hot water through the coffee pot to make my oatmeal. That did not work quite as well as I had hoped and the oatmeal had the taste of weak coffee. (Not recommended). Then applesauce and some Gatorade. Boy am I fun with food on race morning. oatmeal, applesauce, and Gatorade. Oh, and COFFEE. I peered out the window to see the masses starting to fill the race start area. So lucky, the hotel I stayed at was at the start/finish line of the race. Can’t get better than that. I went down stairs and out to test the temp. (still about an hour from race start). As the hotel door opened to the outside a cold blast of wind hit my face. I looked up to the sky, smiled, and knew that Jeff would be with me racing today. It was almost as if I could hear him say, “I’m here”.
Back up to the room to get dressed to race and last bathroom stop (in my nice hotel room bathroom, no porta potties ;-)). Then down to the start. Gave Jeff Galloway a hug and off to warm up.. I had this rare feeling of emotionally exhausted and emotionally charged all at the same time. Haven’t felt that way before yesterday AM. The elite Kenyans were standing right in front of me, shoulder distance from me, and all I can say… they are some finely tooled specimens (0% body fat, every muscle defined and striated). Bang… off we all went.
Got to the first mile mark after crossing a bridge in 6:26. YIKES. I better slow down. I guess it was emotion running wild. Settled into a smarter pace and got into my zone. The course was pretty but I was thinking about other things. You could say I have a pretty full mind right now. 😉 About mile 9 I realized I was just ahead of the 1:30 pace group for the half marathon. My goal was 1:33 best case scenario.. So I was encouraged despite starting to feel tired. By mile 10 I started tightening up. Hamstrings started to get tender, knee was getting sore and tired, and shortly after my glute muscle started to spasm. Uh oh. A lot went through my head, the wind was at my face, was thinking about walking, and was emotionally spent. But then I heard this voice in my head, “the wind is your friend, Rock On!” By that time I was approaching 12 miles. 1.1 mile to go. I dug deep looked up to the sky, said “I miss and love you Grandpa and Jeff, give Grandma peace” and ran to the finish. I finished in 1:31 even (6:56/mi). 2 minutes ahead of my goal. As I crossed the finish I looked up again, smiled, a tear feel upon my face and I realized that I am running for no one but God. My loved ones are those that give me strength, God being the top of the list.
I was handed a metal, grabbed some fuel, and received another hug and congrats from Jeff Galloway. Up in the hotel room, I had a sense of peace. I had done my best and was powered by some special people. Showered, packed up and headed to the car. 7 hours later I would be pulling into my apartment.
The drive was tough, maybe more so than the race. Moments of discomfort and feelings of emptiness (there is not much on I-80 or I-88 through the midwest). I am so grateful to be able to run, to enjoy my life, help others, and inspire those that think “it can’t be done”. Something as simple as running (putting one step in front of the other) can symbolize moving forward in everything you do, through wind gusts and gentle breezes. We are never alone though.
On a side note…. I have ALWAYS hated the wind. Numerous days while I was new to cycling and Jeff was teaching me the ropes, I would complain and curse the wind. Jeff would laugh and say “the wind is your friend”. I would then roll my eyes and say under my breath, “No Jeff, the wind is YOUR friend, NOT mine”. But I would continue, fighting the wind in my face. At 11 miles I for the first time embraced the wind when it hit me. I felt a comfort and a filling of an empty spot when the wind tried to blow be backward. I now look to the comfort for comfort. Thanks Jeffy.