Tuesday, September 7, 2010

10 miles

As I was showing Joel where to park to meet me at the finish line, he asked, "Where are you running, anyway?" And I zoomed out so he could see the route. I paused as I looked at the glaring red route line that weaved through Denver and saw that, even zoomed out, the line looked long. "Oh," I breathed, suddenly flooded with doubt, "That looks far." "That's because it IS far," Joel replied, patting my shoulder but not boosting my confidence.

Maybe it's not long for some people. But I had never run more than eight miles, and wasn't sure how I'd fare. But I kept repeating to myself: The goal is to finish. And I WILL!

Around the outside of that thought also hovered the goal to do it in under 100 minutes. But right next to that outside goal was the goal to not die. They balance each other out.

I have to say here and now, that I could not have done this without the lovely Sylvia. She, who greets me most mornings with a smile and the drive to push through the next hour or so of sweating, is the reason I crossed that finish line. She has the utmost confidence in us and is game for just about anything (see: Warrior Dash). So when, a couple weeks ago, I tentatively suggested we do the Park-to-Park 10-miler she just nodded and said, "Ok, so we should run 7 today."

As we talked a lot about nothing Sunday night in an effort to dispel some of the anxiety, I was overwhelmingly grateful to have such a teammate. She has done a couple half marathons in the past, but also knew full well that I had not. And there she was, bright and early at 5:30 am Monday, walking out to my waiting car with power gels and bananas.

We got to the starting area and had fun watching the elite runners warm-up, including the coolest thing I've ever seen while running: a blind runner. He had a leash of sorts tied to a woman before him and there they ran, up and down the street. At first I wasn't sure what was going on (is that a help? is she going to PULL him? where do I get one of those?) but as he passed, I saw the back of his shirt said, "Blind Runner." I wanted to salute him or something but, you know...

Before they shouted "Go!" (yes, no gun, no flame-throwers, just GO!), I went to dispose of my powerbar wrapper and came back with a finger full of vaseline. For, well, places that might rub on other places. As I approached Sylvia with the glob on my finger, she clapped and squealed, "You are a TRUE FRIEND!" Somehow I suspect the starting line of a race is the only place you'll get that response to a finger stacked with petroleum jelly.

As we headed out and settled into our pace, I marveled at what we were doing. I don't mean to pat myself on my back, but that's totally what I'm going to do. Three years ago, if someone told me I was going to run a 10-mile race, I would have said they had me confused with someone else. But here I was, huffing along, seeing beautiful parks and homes and buildings, running past closed streets (thank you, Officer!) with a number slapped on my front.

When we hit mile six, a guy next to us muttered, "Only four to go," and I thought, "UGH!" But between miles 3-5 it had been a steady uphill, and I was still recovering. As we passed mile marker eight, Sylvia happily crowed, "Every foot forward is a step farther than before!" Because she knew I was setting a personal record that day. And because she is wise and wonderful.

As we entered Wash Park to cheers and calls of, "Welcome home, runners! Only 1.5 miles to go!" another guy next to us dropped the "F-bomb" and I have to say, my first thought was, "Yes. Yes, exactly." Mile 9 was the hardest, and every step forward was now accompanied by the thought, "What if I walked just a little bit? Could we walk? A little? PLEASE?!" but I kept my mouth shut. Partly because I was afraid that if I opened it, I would puke. Then I heard Sylvia exasperatedly ask, "Where is that finish line?!"

And then, there it was. And as we hit the final 50 yards, there at the side where our wonderful husbands and screaming kids, cheering us home and I thought, "Holy crap, we did it!"

And we did. I didn't die, and we crossed the finish line in 99 minutes. The emotion and fatigue of it all welled up and I would have cried for joy, if I had any liquid left in my body. Instead, I settled for drinking some water, hugging Sylvia, and greeting my family. Then loading up on tons of free food and drinks. Then finding and playing with a praying mantis. Then playing at the playground.

It was a good day.


laura said...

YAAAAAAAAAAAYYYYYYYYYY! Great job on finishing AND beating your goal time. I remember pulling away from the last water station during the half marathon (a mile before the end) and my legs just saying, "Noooooooo!" And yay for Sylvia--I wish I could run with her every day!

Becca said...

I wish I could run with any of you people!! Yay for running weekend! Isn't it awesome what your body can do?!

Lisa said...

I am seriously impressed right now. Wow.

wanda said...

Holy crap, I didn't realize when I talked to you this morning the significance of your comment that your legs were tired! I thought you had just been doing your regular run. Congratulations!

loewymartin said...

Your never cease to amaze me. First the Warrior Dash (I don't even need to say anything other than - awesome) and now a 10 miler?! You rock.

GWACK said...

Yeah for you! I actually ran a little on Friday and it was fun. Kind of. Next thing you know you'll be doing a marathon!

I finally sent Flat Ainsleigh back yesterday. We enjoyed having her. :)

Allison said...

I couldn't tell if it was your kids or Sylvia's who I could hear yelling "That's my mommy!" in the video. And I kind of teared up a bit. Awesome, and congratulations!