"Keep away from people who try to belittle your ambitions. Small people always do that, but the really great make you feel that you, too, can become great." **Mark Twain**
Running has been one of the best avenues I’ve ever taken. It has made me stronger, it has made me healthier, and it has given me goals to work towards and meet, but the best part is the people. Both on-line and in person, the people I have met have been the happiest most supportive group ever. It doesn’t matter if someone can run a 15 minute 5K, they are totally supportive and cheer on the person struggling to cross the line after 45 minutes. Everyone cheers for your new personal record and commiserates with you when a run goes badly. No one is forgotten. From the youngest kid running their first 5K, up to the octogenarian who lost count decades ago, they all get cheered and high fived.
I’m getting more accustomed to running 5Ks so I don’t get nervous, although I still get pumped. I recognize people, wave and hug, encourage the people I pass and give ‘at-a-boys to those that pass me. Once in a while you see a hyper-competitive person grumbling over their time, but they are few and far between. I know, regardless of how I’m feeling, or what is going on in my life, that going to a race, either to run it or work it, will be a happy time that will lift my spirits and buoy my soul.
Friday afternoon, I wasn’t feeling well. I have been letting my circumstances get to me and was battling a major pity party and an RA flare. I had a stuffed up head, no energy, just generally feeling cruddy, but I wasn’t sure if I really had a bug or was just stressed. I figured, if I was really sick, I could just DNF on the run, but if it was stress, the run would be the best thing for me.
Once I was there and warming up, I felt great. A full page article pulled from my blog was in the new news letter so lots of people were asking me about my bare feet and commenting on my article. Okay, so now I had to run well or look like a goof. Additionally, my husband, who would rather avoid crowds and not stand around waiting for me for half an hour, had come out to see me run one last time before heading to Afghanistan and I wanted to show off for him. Our daughter stripped off her shoes and ran the kids’ one mile fun run barefoot. She said several people asked her, “You’re are a Nail, aren’t you?” I was so tickled. I’ve been hoping to interest her in running without pushing her and she really had a great time.
It was finally gun time. I sailed through the first mile, but totally botched the water stop at the mile mark. There was a darling little girl, about 5 years old, holding out a cup of water. She was kind of hard to reach, but I went out of my way so she would feel good about helping. Unfortunately, just after I got hold of the cup, my hand slammed into the hand of the next guy holding a cup and sent both cups flying. It was warmer out there than I had expected and I REALLY wanted that water, so before my brain kicked in a loud expletive slipped out, SH**! I turned around and started back to grab again for water, but of course, I had sent the last two cups flying and they were turned around picking up refills. Apparently when I thought, “Oh, to he** with it,” I thought it out loud because a few people that had watched the whole thing chuckled at me. Okay, 1 mile in and I’ve already traumatized a 5 year old, sheesh. By the water stop at mile 2, I was parched and really wishing I had carried my own bottle. Not wanting a repeat of the last stop, or to inhale my last chance for hydration, I decided to make a Jeff Galloway stop and walked for one minute. Water in I was ready to do the last mile. I was feeling pretty good about my pace, but didn’t look at my Garmin. My best is my best, and knowing my pace wasn’t going to make me go faster. I was really pouring it on during the last mile and started to get a little light headed, not good, time to throttle back a little. Apparently I had my Garmin set for a max heart rate because at this point it was beeping at me constantly and I’m sure the people around me wanted to rip it off my wrist and shove it down my throat.
As I approached the finish line, I could see the clock 25:XX , dang, no sub 25 today. Oh well, let’s see what I CAN do. The official time was 25:45, second place for my age group. I can’t help but wonder if I hadn’t messed up at the water stop or walked for a minute could I have finished sub 25? Maybe, maybe not, maybe next time. That is what it is all about, getting out there again and again, doing a little better each time, reaching a little higher, and being surrounded by friends who are truly great.