And no, that's not a reference to the cheesy Britney song. Shortly after I wrote my maintenance post, I caught a nasty cold which sidelined me from most activities for a week and a half. After I'd recovered, work took precedence and I didn't have a lot of time to think about myself let alone the blog. And then the moment work calmed down, the stupid cold came back in full force. The trash bin full of used tissues last Monday can certainly attest to that. April was a pretty aggravating month, to say the least.
Now I'm just left with a runny nose and an occasional throaty cough, which I took with me to the Westborough Spring Festival 5K yesterday. Sibling solidarity seems to be the only way I can make it through a race lately, so Nate signed up to run with me. He's a pretty good running buddy, it's too bad that he lives really far away. I think we'd run more races if he lived closer.
I woke up at 6AM to eat my small breakfast and sip my coffee while playing Diablo 3. There was hardly any traffic so Nate arrived a full half an hour early, just before 7:30. We checked the weather (professing our love of the new Weather Underground) to figure out what I should wear. I ended up in running tights, a hooded long-sleeve t-shirt and my favorite Nike sweatshirt complete with thumb holes and hood. I do love me some hoodies with thumb holes in the sleeves. I'm confident that I'd wear them every day if I had enough of them.
I allowed Nate to drive us there but this was a concession on my part; he's pretty talented at making me carsick. We arrived around 8AM, picked up our bibs, fancy performance tees and headed back to the car to drop them off. It's at that point I finally realized that I'd unintentionally made us over an hour early because I thought the race was at 8:30. Oops!
Normally, I'm a nervous wreck before races but somehow this one just wasn't inspiring the same kind of anxiety. I don't know if it was because I hadn't trained at all or that my only goal was to not walk at all, but it was liberating. I started the race feeling calm, with pleasant thoughts of just getting that day's workout in. We made it to the first mile marker before I could tell Nate was going to have a rough time. Only a quarter mile later, he had to stop and walk. I slow-ran-jogged-whatever next to him but he waved me on, told me to go on ahead without him. I felt bad but we don't operate with a no-man-left-behind policy so I went.
As I crested the last hill of the course, I saw the water station waiting. I took a cup from a waiting hand and attempted to drink the water. I think maybe 10% (maybe more like 5%) of it got in my mouth and the rest of it was just all over my chest. Clearly, drinking from a little paper cup while hauling my ass down the road is not a skill I've mastered. I politely tossed the cup to the waiting volunteer with a trash bag and kept on. I passed the two mile marker and that was when I started having to conjure the little positive voices in my head.
I reminded myself how far I'd come in the two years since I'd last set my PR at this very race. I've overcome two separate but related injuries; I've strengthened and stabilized with a single-minded purpose. So it wasn't surprising that I heard the encouragement of my physical therapist in my head. And then I heard the encouragement and compliments of my Pilates instructor. You can call me crazy but it was the voices of those two that got me to the end of this race without walking. I'm profoundly grateful for the encouragement and guidance they have provided over the last two years.
The clock read 32:29 as I passed the finish line, but I didn't care. I quickly made my way to the end, grabbed a water bottle and walked back to cheer Nate on at the finish. He finished in 34:07 and we headed straight home. I'm not sure when I'm going to start training in earnest again; perhaps soon or maybe in a few months. Running the race made me realize how much I miss the quiet solitude and peace of mind that running gives me, but I certainly don't miss the anxiety of race day.