Sunday, February 2, 2014
My Own Finish Line
If you go to the "official results" of the Blizzard Buster 5k/10k race from yesterday, you'll see my name is missing. Yes, I participated. Yes, I finished. No, I didn't finish fast enough for my participation to be considered "official."
I ran six miles yesterday. This is the furthest I've ever ran in my life, and I did so confidentially, comfortably and proudly. Each time I pounded the pavement, I wondered how much further my legs and feet-and more importantly, my mind-would allow me to go. Six miles is a BREEZE for many seasoned runners. But six miles, yesterday, was a BIG deal to me.
You see, I was never athletic growing up. I literally tried every sport, hoping to find my "hidden talent," and spark a love for health and fitness. I played sports, even took dance, but did none well-and that's ok, because later in life, I decided photography was my "sport." Running was THE LAST thing I ever wanted to pursue, but last June, it was time. Time for me to give the one last sport I loathed, a shot. I love it. Craved it. I completed C25K in 12 weeks instead of eight, but by golly, I worked so hard to be able to run one mile without stopping, then two, then three. These accomplishments seem so small, but I had cheerleaders every step in the way who celebrated these milestones as the big deal they were to me.
I decided to train for the Cap City Half in a May. Go big(ger) or go home. I had nothing to prove to anyone, but decided this would be my personal health goal this year. The training has been tough, and with each new week of training, came anxiety of the increase of miles, and celebrations of being able to run four miles straight, with five miles being the most I've ever run. I've had great running days and bad running days, and am getting better at acknowledging that not every run will leave me feeling great.
During this training, I'm to do several races in preparation. I love love races. I don't run to win. I love the atmosphere, the comraderie, bonding, fellowship and support (seriously, how often do you hear strangers telling each other "great job?"). I love the moment when you round the corner and see the finish line, and you pick up your pace and sprint across it. The cheers, even if by just one person who is a stranger, who I wants you to know "you did it."
I didn't get that yesterday, for the first time since June, after running three 5ks prior. Apparently, there was a 1:15 hour time limit, and I missed it by four minutes (those four minutes were probably spent ice skating on the sheets of ice on a couple of those six mile). I told myself to run to Race Street, walk quickly up the hill or bounce on the balls of my feet, to Sandusky, where I would turn the corner, see the finish line, and make a mad dash for it. I turned the corner, searched for the finish line and couldn't see it. I kept running, fast, out of breath and tired, and no finish line was in sight. I got closer and closer to where it once stood ... Nothing. And not a soul around, save for two folks who, I'd like to think, wanted myself and my friend, who finished behind me, to have someone there at the "finish line." The finish line had been torn down, all participants, volunteers and organizers moved inside to nibble on cookies and socialize.
I'm well aware of time limits for races and know they're necessary, due to time constraints of public servants who need to assist the runners to keep them safe. But I've never heard of time limits so low. And, to be honest, I missed the time limit upon registration. I would've signed up anyway, having faith and being realistic that I could've met that time limit, prior to knowing conditions of the course. So taking the finish line down: hurts a little, but not as much as knowing that there were two of us still busting our asses toward a non-finish line, ending with an anticlimactic, apathetic finish. See, one of the BEST parts of a race? Watching the final runner come through, the determination, pride and exhaustion from doing their best, and cheering them on just as if they were in first place. Because, as a friend put it to me earlier, runners come in every shape, size, age, color and level. My friend and I happen to be middle-aged moms on a mission to lose weight, feel great, be good role models for our families and children, and have fun.We worked hard-HARD. We may not be fast but we work just as hard, pay our dues, leave our families and calm our nerves just like others to participate in a race. I don't care that there wasn't a physical finish line to cross: I'm sad that after all of that, today's race was nothing to me other than a "long run," lacking in that comraderie I've seen so often during other races. I don't want to be a whiney baby about this because it was something I should've made myself aware of from the start, and I know, I know ... All this over six miles. But, I'm human and can't help feeling just a little frustrated.
But in the end, I am over-the-moon that my feet, legs, body, mind and soul carried me six miles-a BEAUTIFUL, invigorating (but icy-lol) six miles, and I finished. The added bonus of my day yesterday was seeing the continued support of family and friends, celebrating yet another milestone with me. It beyond warmed my heart. I don't even know where or how I would be able to thank each person who called, texted, messaged or posted beautiful, supportive and lovely messages, cheering me on. The official results mean nothing to me as a runner, because I did it-ran my first six miles. But the love I felt today, along with feeling great about what I accomplished, means the world.
So, thank you.
And congrats to my dear friend Nicole, who finished as well!