I didn’t want to make a fuss over this 10k, but that proved difficult. This was my first formal race in over a year, and I couldn’t help feeling nervous and excited. I told Robin Hood that I had caterpillars in my belly — not quite full-fledged butterflies, but there they were, crawling around, rendering me essentially good for nothing on Saturday.
Sunday morning felt strange. The race started at 11:00 am, which was nice because I could sleep in, but I almost would have preferred a more typical start time. I set my alarm for 8 o’clock, ate some PBJ on toast, and then wondered how to kill the next hour or so before I needed to get ready.
Turns out God invented television for a reason!
A little after 9:45, Robin Hood, Ann (our coonhound), and I were on our way to the race site.
NOTE: Many, many thanks to my husband. He voluntarily drove me to the race, schlepped my stuff, cheered, rang a mean cowbell, AND wrangled Ann, who wanted to meet everyone. Not to mention he’s devilishly good-looking. I love you, baby!
We arrived, and immediately I was thankful for the assorted layers I had brought – it was unseasonably warm. Off went the long sleeves, on went short sleeves. I did some warm-up trotting, pinned my number, attached my timing chip, located the starting line, and gave the Porta-Potties due respect.
Before I knew it, it was time to give Ann one last scratch behind the ears and Robin Hood a smooch, and report to the starting line. I found myself a satisfactory position, and commenced the effort of ignoring the people around me. The mental race starts long before the gun goes off, no?
Finally, the horn sounded (no gun that day), and off we went. I settled into what felt like a reasonable pace, only to discover at the first mile marker that it was 10-15 seconds faster than I had planned. I’ll beat you next time, adrenaline!
From the start, my legs told me this wouldn’t be one of those magical races where everything feels lovely the whole time. I’d have to work for this. That’s okay, I responded. This is what I signed up for. This is why I wanted to return to racing, to feel effort, to push myself and see the result.
I felt effort alright, and not just physically. There’s more to the mental race than not getting psyched out; there’s the focus part, too. If you let your mind slip too much, your time goals tend to evaporate. And if your focusing skills are rusty, yanking them forward can feel just as demanding as keeping your arms and legs pumping.
It was hard. I faltered a little in those last couple miles, but kept dragging my mind back on track. I was determined to finish strong, even if “strong” meant one second faster than the previous mile. I passed Robin Hood and Ann (O cowbell and wagging tail!), rounded the last turn, and just RAN. I may have been slobbering a bit.
My efforts were good for 44:06, 3rd woman, and 11th overall. I know I can run faster and smarter, and I intend to, but for now? This runner is proud of every aching muscle in her body.