|Erin (995) and I (973) both running our first 10K race.|
Sun poured down on the morning of the Autumn Woods Classic. Mike and I and Alex and Amy piled into the car and drove to pick up
Erin. Then we were on our way to Elm Creek Park Reserve. We had forgotten to get directions, so I scrambled to find a map on my phone so we wouldn’t be late for Mike’s 5K run at 9 am. After nearly taking a wrong turn, we drove into the park. And drove and drove. As the minutes ticked by and we inched behind a line of cars, we worried Mike would miss the start, so he jumped out and ran ahead.
I parked the car and was astonished at how many people were there, probably a couple thousand people with about 1200 of those running the 5K, 10K or kids’ 1K. Somehow I had missed the info telling me how big this race was.
I caught Mike just before his race started and gave him a big hug. Then he disappeared into the crowd of runners. Mike’s parents,
Erin, the kids and I lingered near the finish line watching the runners. We saw Mike and we cheered and clapped and hooted as he finished his race just under 29 minutes. He was tuckered and sweaty and he felt great. No leg, knee, or feet pains which he’d had frequently before he began running again.
Alex and Amy left with Grandma and Grandpa for a visit to their great-grandparents’ house. I was bummed that they wouldn’t be there to see me run my first 6.2 miles, but even with the cool rocking climbing and face painting activities they were getting antsy.
Erin and I had less than an hour before our run. We went to the bathroom, drank some water, jogged around some, and stopped at a recording of a synopsis of the course. We kept hearing “hill” and “another hill” and decided that we really didn’t want to know, so we went in search of the start line.
Runners of every shape and size and age surrounded us. I was nervous. I hadn’t ever run 6.2 miles, so finishing this race was no given.
Then the horn sounded and the mass of people began to move. Erin and I tried not to start out too fast, lest we lose steam for the end. Feet felt good, muscles were relaxed, breathing was smooth, but it was bloody hot. So hot for an October morning, mid-70’s. All of our previous long runs had been in much cooler weather. This was going to be a problem.
Within the first mile, my sister’s family surprised us by cheering for us at the top of a hill. They had made it! My sister took the pictures.
Before mile 2, Erin and I encountered hills. On the way up one hill,
Erin pulled away. I saw her for the next couple miles, but couldn’t catch up. However, I was still running. Slowly, but surely.
Around mile 3, I nearly faded. Only half done. Yikes. I focused on the beautiful foliage, fields of prairie grasses, and large oak trees. I thought about my feet, each with 26 bones and their muscles and ligaments allowing me to place one foot in front of the other, over and over again.
My face was bursting with heat like a red hot coal. I really wanted to walk. Thank goodness for water stations. I grabbed the cup without stopping and drank water, letting it drip down my chin. I poured it on my head, down the back of my shirt and splashed the rest on the front of me. Ah, sweet, cool water. I could run a little farther.
By mile 4, I knew I could run the whole race. That thought surprised me. Ya sure, I can run over 2 more miles, no problem. I’ve come a long ways from gasping the 0.6 miles around my block.
A couple more water stations and several hills later, I was closing in on 6 miles. My left knee felt cottony up the hills, but didn’t stop me. Before I could see them, I heard the cheers from the crowd at the finish line. I tried to pick up my pace near the end, but my body downright refused and I had no desire to push my wonderful legs that had just carried me sturdily over 6 miles.
I saw Mike, my sister’s family and Erin, who had finished 3 minutes ahead of me. I ran across the finish line as my name was announced. Yay! Whew! 10K down!
I ran the whole thing. Feels a little crazy, a little unreal, but altogether pretty awesome.
|Amber in the pink running shirt finishes the race!|