Do you remember my post from last week, when I joked about how my first running injury wasn’t caused “by some cool fall from an aggressive sprint in the last mile?” I have a feeling that God got a good chuckle out of that… and an idea.
That, my friends, is my SECOND running injury. There’s a very cool story behind it, but to tell it, I have to start from the beginning….
I came into the Bowling Green Medical Center 10k with only two goals. 1. Finish it in an hour and 40 minutes, because that’s how much time they give you to complete it. 2. Run the entire way. Most of the time when I run, I’ll run most of the way, but walk a few times in-between. And there’s nothing wrong with that – many of the people with better times than I had ran/walked the 10k. But as a personal goal, I wanted to run the whole thing. Those were my only goals.
But they say that race day changes things, and it definitely changed my goals, because I ended up adopting two more before the race was over.
We (Manuela and another friend of mine, Amy), started the race at the very back and it didn’t take long before just about everyone was out in front of us. And when I say “out in front” I mean that everyone was SO far out in front that it wasn’t long before we could only see about ten people ahead of us – one of whom was speed-walking. At that point, I was feeling pretty bummed, and decided that I NEVER wanted to do this again. Although I’d known that I’d be one of the last ones over the finish line, actually watching myself get passed by everyone was demoralizing and depressing.
It wasn’t long, though, before one of us (I can’t remember if it was Amy or myself) made the comment that at the very least, we should be able to pass the guy who was walking. So, little by little, the three of us girls who were running just about as fast as we could, started gaining on the older gentleman who was walking the race. We did eventually pass him, and were feeling pretty good about ourselves (which in retrospect, is REALLY funny!) but it didn’t take long before he passed us again. At that point I turned to Amy and gasped “I don’t care if he beats us or not, we passed him once and that’s good enough for me!” I was struggling! But as we followed along behind him, the thought occurred to me that if something didn’t change, I was going to bust my tail running a race only to cross the finish line behind someone who had walked the whole thing. I thought of all the times I’d said to myself, or someone else, in discouragement: “people can walk faster than I can run” and all the times I’d shied away from considering myself “a runner” because I’m so slow. And something inside of me just COULD. NOT. allow this man who was walking the race come across the finish line ahead of me.
The three of us sped up and passed him again, and for the rest of the race, I worked on staying ahead of him. At one point, Manuela and Amy started experiencing some severe pain in their knees and feet, so I broke off and went ahead. I couldn’t even tell them why I left them except to gasp “I can’t let him get in front of me!!!” I couldn’t even stop to get water along the way – every time I turned my head he was right over my shoulder! I’d use the downhills to gain some distance on him, but he had the uphills on me every time. It was like I was being chased by the hounds of hell and I think in a way, I was. I was being chased and taunted by all the times I’d quit something, all the times I’d ever given up on something, all the times I’d told myself I’d do it and never did. By the last few miles, I felt like I was falling apart and honestly didn’t think I’d make it, but I just kept forcing myself to put one foot in front of the other. When they announced that we were on the last 1.2 miles, the thought occurred to me that if the walker started running at the end, it was all over for me. In an effort to put even more distance between myself and him, I turned on my very favorite inspirational song (the one I had saved to run across the finish line with) and started running even faster.
At one point, while listening to the song and pushing myself to my absolute limit (and passing people – even men! – along the way,) I almost lost it because I started to cry… not just tearing up, but giant heaping keep-me-from-breathing sobs and I had to pull myself together and stop thinking about the significance of what I was doing and just DO it.
I caught sight of a woman ahead of me who was clipping along at a pretty good pace and thought to myself “she looks fit! I bet if I can keep the pace with her, I’ll put enough distance between me and that walker!” I worked to catch up with her, and then settled into a steady pace along beside her. Had I been able to talk, I would have told her not to worry about me – I had no intention of trying to beat her, I was just using her to keep the guy behind me from catching up to me! Turns out, it’s a good thing I couldn’t talk because it would have been a lie.
Enter goal number 4.
At the very last stretch, when I could finally see the finish line ahead, my friend Michelle (who had run a 5k earlier in the day) joined my race to run the last stretch with me. I think my first words to her were something like “Oh God!” and she started yelling in my ear, and telling me I could do it. It was like she poured liquid energy into me! It was the most beautiful moment in the race, and I couldn’t wait to cross the finish line with her!
But then the woman beside me sped up. And without even thinking, I sped up, too. And then she went faster, and I went faster. And something absolutely primal kicked in and I knew there was NO POSSIBLE WAY I was going to let her beat me in the last stretch. I don’t even know why I did it – I don’t know if I needed to prove something to myself, or if I just wanted a good race at the end, but I kicked it into high gear and the two of us were sprinting to the finish line (“sprinting” is a relative term here… suffice it to say that after 6 miles I was going as fast as I possibly could.) We were neck and neck the entire time… I couldn’t gain on her and she couldn’t gain on me and I knew that if she just stretched out her leg a little further than mine over the finish line, she’d have me. We got to the finish line and I got all “Chariots of Fire” on her and THREW myself across the line. And fell. Hard. On my knees. In front of everyone.
The final result:
Name, Age, Time, Average Pace:
Rina 31 1:14:16 11:59
Amy 25 1:14:21 12:00
Virginia 44 1:14:23 12:00
I didn’t even realize that a second girl had challenged us at the very end, and there were three of us sprinting, neck and neck, to the finish.
It was awesome!!!
And a little bit foolish.
But mostly just awesome. :)
I would love to meet Amy Hardin and Virginia Browning and the gentleman who walked the race and thank them for what they did for me. If it hadn’t been for them, I wouldn’t have pushed myself the way I did. I wouldn’t have worked so hard to achieve something I never would have dreamed possible. In just a little over a month, I trained for and completed a 10k, maintaining just under a 12 minute mile for 6.2 miles. For me, that’s incredible!!!
I think, just maybe, I can call myself a runner now. :)
Thanks for sharing the journey with me.
PS. Amy and Manuela finished only a few minutes behind me. Amy just started training for this a few weeks ago and accomplished her goal of a 12 minute mile… I’m pretty sure they came in before the man walking, too. :)