I'm for that, I say. No, she says, "Looook. 5k July 4, 8 a.m." and registration is on-site 'til 7:30 the morning of the race.
Hmm, methinks. I have to get up anyway on Monday (July 4) morning to run, because it's on the damn Schedule. Why not try my
My last (and only) 5k took place on the occasion of my 40th birthday. That would be eight years ago. I went s-l-o-w, coming in at 38:14 (or a 12:20 pace). (I still have the results tacked onto the kitchen bulletin board, for those of you requiring proof.)
Later that night I fell into a fitful sleep, where I dreamt a) I was late to register b) I forgot to bring checkbook c) I won't be able to finish d) and I have overslept and missed the entire race ... pretty much every variation on the show-up-late-AND-naked-for-your-finals-only-you're-the-teacher dream.
At 6:15 a.m. it's time to go! Grabbed a piece of burnt toast with p.b. on it. Wake up No. One and drive the 15 minutes to the start. Registration goes smoothly, despite maniacal dreams.
NOD registers for the one mile walk because she has bad knees. She is not as cranky as she could be for being dragged out of bed at 7 a.m., for which I am very grateful, because I, naturally, am a nervous wreck. We hang around, I try to look like a runner, we listen to speakers blasting Born to Run (ha! an omen!!), we warm up with insane trainer who expects me to do jumping jacks wearing only one sports bra (me, not him).
Finally, it's time to move to the start. I say farewell to my little 18-year-old girl, my stomach now wrapped around my lungs. To calm myself, I tell her, "D, I'm just gonna take it easy and do whatever I can do." To which D says these few life-changing words: "Well, try to push it just a little, Mom."
I move toward the start line, where I see the signs for the 6-min./milers, the 7-min./milers, etc., all the way down to those slow-pokey 10-min./milers (did I mention my pace is typically 12+?) So I hang in the back, chatting with folks, who tell me comforting things like, "There's a lot of hills."
I don't do hills. I don't train on hills. I live in fear of hills.
Now I am scared. Stomach rewraps around intestines.
We finally cross the start, I remember to turn on watch, and away we go, as Jackie Gleason used to say, up, up, and away, up a great big long, enormous, gigantor, big, huge, long hill. Weather is miraculously perfect—nice breeze, no humidity.
In my head I hear "push it just a little, mom," and decide I am going to PUSH IT. (Am not even sure what "push it" means at that point. Am now, though.)
So I do. I run as fast as I have ever run in my life. No holding back (well, except on the downhills where I'm certain I'm going to trip over thin air)... but technically? There were no downhills, so it didn't matter.
I don't run with headphones, because I'm afraid of becoming dependent on them. So I heard a few other voices in my head, besides #1 daughter's. They went like this, for the entire 3.09999999 miles:
"Walk. Walk. Walk. Walk. Walk. Walk. Walk. Walk. Walk. Walk. Walk. "
Interspersed with: "You can do anything for three miles."
Interspersed with: "What if I actually came in in the top ten?" (Obviously hallucinating at this point.)
Interspersed with: "Just. Stop. Running."
Over and over and over, just like Rain Man!
I so wanted daughter #1 to be proud of me that I pushed and pushed. I actually passed people! Male people!! People of the male persuasion!! In between gasping for for my last breath and bracing for a heart attack, I envisioned myself collecting the trophy, thanking the little people, promising not to forget them.
In the end (god, this is a long story), I flew through the chute at 33:50, according to my watch. And according to the handy Runner's World pace calculator, that equals a 10:53 second pace.
I. Broke. The. 11 min./mile. Barrier.
I couldn't talk for a while, couldn't think, thought I would puke, but didn't. I cannot remember when I last felt so elated. And I know I say this every week after my group training? But really, this time I thought I should get a medal.
Well, I didn't get a medal, but I did get to regale all of you with this tale, along with anyone else who dared ask me what I did on the 4th of July. What didn't I do? I lifted tall buildings with one hand, I caught bullets in my teeth, I saved mankind. That's what I did.
Victory, my friends, is oh so sweet. And the coolest part? The only person I beat was myself.