Sunday, April 27, 2008

I can see the finish line

Today, I ran the Cherry Creek Sneak 5k with my mom. Portapotties were nowhere to be found, and the bathroom line at Safeway wrapped around the produce aisle. Twelve minutes to start time, and I would certainly pee my pants before the finish line if I didn't go. So I went in the men's room. It didn't smell as nice as women's washrooms, but it did the job. We were off!

My mom and I got separated within 100 yards from the starting line. I decided not to worry too much about it and pressed on. I loved running by the creek, and after about a half mile, I finally passed most of the people who ran at a slower pace than me. I got in sync with a mob of people that ran at a pace I was comfortable with.

I passed the mile mark, and I thought I could certainly keep going. A volunteer at the mile marker announced that we were at 11 minutes 18 seconds, and I felt so proud because I knew it had taken me about a minute to reach the start line. That meant I was doing 10-minute miles! After a mile and a half or so, I thought about taking a walk break. I heard a woman near me tell her daughter, "We're at the half way point." I decided, hell, I could keep going!

Then came the two mile point. We were at 22 minutes! Insane. I was pretty much keeping pace. I blew past the 2-mile marker, and I knew that that was officially the furthest I'd ever run without taking a walk break. With that accomplished, I thought about walking. Then I thought, "Wouldn't it be amazing if I could run the whole thing?"

All around me, people started to walk. After almost 2 and a half miles, my knees started to hurt so, so bad. That's when I knew I *could* use a walk break, but I thought I could keep pressing it. I figured, the faster I go, the sooner it'll be over. I wanted to run the whole thing.

At one sharp bend, I was psyching myself up to running the last section. I knew I'd feel so good if I could run the whole 5k, and I kept telling myself, "Andrew will be so proud." Then some volunteer announced we had half a mile to go. I think he thought that was a good thing, but I could have punched him. I thought about walking, but decided to ignore the half mile in front of me and keep pace.

I turned another bend, and way down the street, I could see the Finish Line. I could do this! I started to cry, actually, because I was so happy I could do it. I think I even said it out loud, "You can do this." I pushed and pushed. My pace definitely slowed because people started to pass me. I kept at it. Kept running. When there was about 50 yards left, I started to pick up my heavy feet and tried to sprint. I crossed the finish when the time read almost exactly 35 minutes. 35 minutes!

Andrew and my dad were standing off to the left. My smile couldn't have been bigger. I knew my timing chip would put me in more like 34 minutes. I ran a 34-minute 5k! I ran 11-minute miles the entire time.

I hugged Andrew and my dad, I pet Bailey, and I was still teary. I don't think they quite understood the accomplishment. I'd decided on the way to the Sneak that there'd be no way I could hit the 40-minute mark, because that would involve keeping up with 13 minute miles. Here I was with a 34 minute finish time!

When I finally found my mom (who finished in 41 minutes; not bad for our first 5k of the season!) a half hour later, she understood what my time meant to me. I got a big hug from her. It felt so good to make her so proud.

At that point, my dad and Andrew were watching people trot in at 50 minutes and even an hour and more. I think they started to realize that my 34 minute 5k was very, very good for a beginner. I got a great hug from Andrew, and, later, a knee rub.

I think I'll be walking funny the next couple of days. But it's worth it. It's so worth it.

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