Race

My running the last couple of days has been extremely rewarding. Every morning while driving the kids to school I start to get a little excited and nervous about the day’s training. It has given me a lot to look forward to. I can barely stretch because I can’t wait to get started.

This isn’t to say its easy.

Far from it.

Usually I start my runs from the YMCA where I drop my kids to be watched. How cool is that? They let you run outside while your kids are being babysat in the child watch area. It is totally the only way this whole running thing works. Husband runs at 5am- and even if he didn’t, I wouldn’t be getting up that early to exercise. I wouldn’t get up that early for an Hermes trunk sale. (well, maybe)

Since I’ve started running longer distances it has been fun to come home and realize what an endorphin-induced haze I had been in for those 90 minutes.  Sometimes the high lasts for hours.

A few weeks ago Husband posted about a race that he and I had run. I wanted to post my side of the story:

This was an evening race- 8:58pm start time to be precise. We go to bed at 8:30-9, so this was going to be a late night for us. It was also hot. 85 plus 60% humidity at 9:00pm. Hot. Steamy.

I was really anxious to get to the race- I get really anxious at races. Just part of being me. So I had the babysitter come at 7:15. So we get there early? At least we don’t miss anything, and we get extra time to be together. Husband still mocked me.

Yes, we got there an hour and 15 minutes early. There was a line at the registration table, and then we had time to take our junk back to the car and use the restrooms at the gas station rather than wait in the interminable line for the porta-potty’s.

After we parked our car, Husband mentioned that Shane happens to be a creature of habit, and this may be the same parking lot that he would park in if he were to show up. (Shane a.k.a. “ex”. Husband’s ex.) Well great.

Sure enough, as we approached our car to put our junk away, there was Shane and his boyfriend, “stretching” about 20 feet away. (let me just interject that both these guys have wives.) I took the coward’s way out and walked the long way to the opposite side of our car so we could pretend not to have seen him. I kept asking Husband, “do you want to go talk to him?” He kept saying no. He was most likely afraid of what I would say. Rightfully so. I have a very thin filter. I also think he didn’t want to have a scene in front of boyfriend, and I also think he was hurting. Shane and he spent a lot of time together running, and had been together at the time of this race a year ago.

Lots of thoughts and emotions.

So we used the bathrooms and proceeded to find ways to avoid the dudes over the next 45 minutes. Let me reiterate: we live in a small town. This race, while large by our town’s standards, was quite small. About 400 participants. It wasn’t exactly easy to avoid those guys. It got sort of comical.

We chatted with the people we knew, stretched out a bit, found a wall to sit on.  We just hung out, all the while keenly aware of where we were in relation to “them.” I found myself repeatedly looking at Shane, then looking back at Husband- asking him if he was okay. He misses Shane. A lot. Shane misses him. A lot. I’ve positioned myself as the wall between the two- I cut off communication between them- texting Shane a request to leave Husband alone- for my sake. But I still see and talk with him on occasion.  (I’m working on the codependency.)

The time came and we all worked our way up to the start line. I lost track of them at this point and finally was able to focus on the adventure at hand. I was going to run an 8k, and I was going to run it fast. (for me, anyway) Husband kept telling me that he would run with me- and I finally convinced him that I was going to be just fine to run without him. His energy took hold, and he decided to run his pace, which is much faster than mine.

We jumped in at the front and the gun went off. It was a fast start. I don’t run at night, so it was a real trip to be cruising through downtown in the dark with a crowd. I set my sights on a couple of women who looked like they were going to keep me challenged and started keeping pace with them. Husband was so far gone, I couldn’t even see his bald head bobbing in the distance.

Since it was humid, there was a sort of mist around all of the street lights. “Sodium light” I think that type is called- sort of a pinkish-orangeish glow. Surreal.

We went around the corner, down a small incline, around another corner, and hit the first of the hills. Husband’s big thing is to storm up the hills. Big strides. Use those quads for what God made them. Feels pretty good until you hit the top.

There were a bunch of spectators out. Very uncommon for a race in our town, so it was a nice surprise. At the top of the first hill, I passed a girl and heard her say, “hey, I work out with her!”  Hey! Somebody knows me!  I waved at her and took that little bit of energy for the next hill. A long one. Then another corner and then I saw Them. About 30 yards ahead of me. I didn’t really think that I could catch up, but to be that close would absolutely drive Shane into the ground. Yeah, he’s seven years older than me, but he still thinks he’s the hottest ticket in town, and I was just the one to convince him otherwise. That’s just the kind of Christian girl I am.

So the rest of the race- the hot, steamy, mostly uphill race- I followed them. I got closer, then I got further, but the entire time I kept my eye on the back of that (slightly balding 🙂 head. I kept telling myself that I was being incredibly lame and juvenile. I should run the race for me- I should enjoy the experience and the sights. I should see the people lined up and down the historic street with the luminaries glowing on both sides and down the center. I should commune with my fellow runners. I should pay attention to my hydration needs so I’ll be able to function tomorrow. I should, but I didn’t.

I did take a few moments to get inside my head to make it up the last hill on mile 4 before I started the final mile sprint. I did take a moment to hear the guy next to me say at mile 3: “22:11!” (Are you kidding me?? That’s fast! My last 3.2 race I finished in 28 minutes! Maybe I should slow down so I don’t kill myself. Then I see those figures ahead and just keep on going.)

There was a guy at the top of the mile 4 hill who said to everyone he passed, “you’re almost done! Finish Strong!” I love that. He was sharing his light. I took some. I tried to share some of it with the walkers I passed, but they just looked pissed. Oh well- when you share light- even if it isn’t received, you receive more in return.

But back to my story.

The finish line was at the end of a long historic street, a turn into the park, and then about 100 feet down. I put Green Day on my pod and sprinted the last half mile. When I reached the last turn, I searched the thin crowd for Husband. I saw him looking very surprised. He started yelling, “look at your time!!” I looked and it said 38:something. Holy Crap! I’d never run five miles in less than 43. A 40 finish would be a miracle! I saw the clock and shouted “Holy @$#%!”, screamed and floated over the finish line. Elated. Exhilirated. Freaking out.

Sweaty.

Guess who I all-but fell over?

He was doubled over, trying to catch his breath. I smacked him in the rear end and yelled- “I ALMOST kicked your a**!”

Classy, I know.

I ran around to find Husband and exchanged the sweetest, sweatiest hug in history.

The vision of seeing his face as I came to the finish line is part of what gets me from mile 8 to mile 10. Hearing his voice and holding his hand is the shot of strength I need when I want to take that last hill easy. The feeling of the curve of his bicep and the shape of his hip when he pulls me close propel me to give it all I have and finish hard.

Yes, Shane and the thought of pissing him off got me through one race, but its Husband and who I am with him and to him that get me through 23 miles a week of bloody toenails and sideaches.

We hung around for awards when we saw that I had placed in my age division.  More avoidance, more skirting around each other, but now it didn’t matter.  We did it.  WE did it, and WE continue to do it.

And yes, “they” stuck around to see me get my medal.

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