So I participated in the 5K portion of the Little Rock Marathon recently. It went as well as I had predicted, given that I don’t devote that much time or energy to actual training.
The morning came entirely too early, and my body didn’t adjust all too well to being up and at ‘em at 5:30 a.m. Cranky limbs, not-so-nimble feet, and a throbbing head (coffee, please?) greeted a groggy me.
Thankfully, I pulled myself together with the help of a venti Misto. I couldn’t eat because of a quivery stomach, but I’ve never been much of a breakfast person. With the jolt of caffeine coursing through my system, I became semi-conscious enough to remember to stretch.
So at 7:15, when the air horn sounded, I was off like a blur, passing grandmas and 8-year-olds alike. I fancied myself a finely-tuned racer…for all of 45 seconds. That’s when the cold air hit me, and I went from a steady jog to a not-so-steady walk.
This continued throughout the course. I’d surge, then slow, sometimes even to a crawl. My shins ached, my breathing was shallow. What was I thinking?
But I kept going. Even when my fanny pack essentially fell to pieces, I plugged along. When my camera went skidding 20 feet in front of me, I kept pace with the others in my group, stooping ever-so gracefully to pick it up. “It’s fine. It’s a sturdy little thing,” I reassured the volunteers I had just passed. If only I could say the same for myself.
I was determined to finish under 45 minutes. I usually walk-jog with my dog, so I never get a true sense of my real time, what with her stopping to smell nearly every pine cone or try to christen every other tree.
It became easier as I approached the last mile. Knowing that I had reached the halfway point gave me the only push I needed to keep trudging along.
And so as I came up to the final chute that ushers runners onto the ‘blue’ carpet, I took a deep breath and elongated my stride. 44:30 and I was closing in on the finish line.
44:55 and I stepped over the threshold. I was flushed, panting, but beaming.
Next year, the half marathon. With new (better) shoes and more training under my belt.