Four years ago, a runner friend of mine convinced me to join her in a marathon relay downtown. Fancying myself a runner with untapped potential, I happily agreed and then spent the next four months cursing myself for agreeing to do something so reprehensible. I finished the race, running the last leg, which was uphill. Six point three solid miles of incline.
One week later I found out I was pregnant and never ran again.
Until, somehow, I was convinced to do the race again this year. I think my friend used some kind of voodoo mind trick on me to convince me to do it. Wait…actually I believe it was MY idea to run the race this year. Clearly I was possessed or on crack or something because why would I willingly choose to do that?
I must say, the training this time around wasn’t nearly as bad. Probably mostly because I did a pretty pathetic job of it. But I didn’t hate it. I finally figured out my rhythm in running and actually found myself, dare I say, enjoying myself.
The week before the race, I ran my longest run in four years. I did four miles, on the road, by myself. Major mental victory given the fact that I much prefer running on the treadmill mostly because it helps you out. On the road you actually have to do all the work and you have to run up the hills and can’t set a negative incline to recuperate.
I felt like super woman when I finished. Take that FloJo! Until…
The next morning I could barely walk. Seems my left hamstring was in rebellion and for the next week it begged me to back out. But I wouldn’t have it. Being the stellar athlete that I am, I refused to back down. Ahem.
Race day came and the alarm went off at 4:40 in the am! Again, I cursed the gods of road races and stumbled out of bed. I was running the first leg of the marathon so tardiness was not allowed. As we lined up at the starting point, I began to feel the buzz of excitement in the air. Running isn’t so bad when you are doing it with 17,000 others who are all excited. We took off and I quickly fell into a nice pace thanks to a friend who showed up and happened to be standing next to me. He was running the half marathon just for fun.
Just for fun.
Let that simmer for a minute.
It was nice to have a partner and off we went. A funny thing happens, though, when you’re running with someone who likes to run 13 miles for fun…you get left behind. But I’m getting ahead of myself.
At about the half mile mark we went under a bridge, which was apparently labeled the pee spot as roughly ten men were lined up, peeing against the fence. “Good to be a guy,” I remarked to my friend, who simply grinned.
At about the two mile mark, we began to head up hill – steeply up hill. I wanted to keep up with Scott, I really did. But alas, I needed oxygen. “Go,” I gasped. “Save yourself.” He hesitated, wanting to help me out and encourage me, but it was clear that my lungs were dangerously close to combustion, so on he went, the back of his head bobbing and weaving all perky like.
And I walked up the hill. No shame. I walked.
This turned out to be a terrible idea because once I stopped, my protesting hamstring tied itself in four knots from my butt to the back of my knee. It was like an indignant toddler, arms crossed, foot stomping, “No I won’t GO!” But with four miles to go, I needed to keep running so I stretched the bratty hamstring out and off we went, this time with a slight hobble.
I round the three mile marker and thought I was going to hurl – have I mentioned it was close to 90 degrees that day? – when I looked over and saw a woman stop, pull down her pants, and pee on the side of the road.
200 yards later we passed a Port-a-Potty, but whatever, right?
At five miles, both amstrings were screaming at me. They were in full out tantrum mode but on I foraged, stopping only once more to walk up what seemed to be a mountain, but was actually probably a very slight inline.
I rounded the corner of my six mile run right at the 70 minute mark. Much slower than I anticipated, but I blame that on my stubborn hamstrings. As I handed off the belt to my friend Amy, who was way too excited, I might add, I exited the course, high fiving perfect strangers all the way.
“Great job!” they cheered. “Awesome – way to go!” I felt so loved and encouraged and I decided I wanted to run another race…maybe the half marathon?
Someone remind me – what’s the definition of insanity?
Right. That what I thought.