Date: March 5, 2016
Location: Lawrence River Levee Trail
I could not seem to stay asleep Friday night. I woke up a few times on Saturday morning and knew by looking out my dark window that it was nowhere near time to wake up. But I was nervous. And it wasn’t the happy-excited I used to have before races.
Last year, I ran the St. Patrick’s Day race on fumes. I hadn’t eaten or slept in a week so I had no idea how I would do. I knew that end of February, I was in fantastic shape. Then, March 1, my world imploded and I was not coping well.
Last year, I ran the St. Patrick’s race balls-out, guns a-blazing. I listened to an aggressive playlist and mostly just thought about running over the top of people I didn’t like. My lungs burned and kept my arms pumping so that my legs would match.
Last year, I took second place in my age group, with a 27:03. I knew with good sleep, and running a paved road, my time could be so much faster. I never had the opportunity to see how much faster because I got sick before I could run another 5K.
Saturday, I drug myself out of bed. I got dressed and focused on how my outfit didn’t fit as well as it did last year. I had gone up a size in shorts and my skirt and top were fitting tighter. I ate a banana and made myself a cup of tea. I should have had a second cup, but I didn’t have time.
We stopped at Panera so that I could get my customary bagel and cream cheese. I managed to eat half of it, but my stomach felt terrible so I gave the rest to little Tatum.
We parked at the lot across from Johnny’s Tavern and made our way over to the race. I used the restroom and noticed I was still hungry so I ate half an orange. I still felt hungry. I was dreading the run. I knew it would be soul-crushing when I would get passed. I wanted to go home and sleep.
The 10K started before the 5K. When they called the 5K, I headed over to the line and tried to find a good spot. I wanted to be ahead of the walkers, so I lined up somewhat toward the front. When the race started, I found myself still having to weave around walkers and slow jog-walkers. This was unfortunate since the trail was so narrow, I had to run off into the grass to get around. I probably burned up some energy with all that jockeying around at the starting line.
I set in at 9:00 pace and it felt OK. It felt reasonably hard, and I knew that running levee trail would be slower than a road race, obviously. The problem came at about a mile in. a nasty twinge that I had noticed the day before. A twinge in my right shin that made my leg buckle under me. I had this happen at work on Friday and ignored it. I stayed on my feet and decided to just slow down a little. Maybe that would help. But it didn’t. It twinged and hurt and I really started thinking about the odds of being able to push past that much pain for 2 more miles.
I slowed down and dropped off onto the grass. I tried stretching my calf out on the edge of the trail but it didn’t seem to bring any relief. I tried to walk it out, but it brought on horrible shin splints that made my clench my teeth. I would start to run again and tough it out as long as I could until the twinge would make my leg buckle again.
We reached the turn-around point and I continued to run. I thought I could just tough my way thru it. Once I hit 2 miles, I knew I was fooling myself. I t wasn’t going to happen. I looked at my watch and knew that there really wasn’t a point to torturing myself, so I started taking walk breaks. Just doing anything I could to finish the race and not cry.
I spotted my children right before the finish line and managed to wave as I jogged by. My son Emery had made some pretty epic signs for me and seeing their little faces and hearing them cheer genuinely made me smile.
After the race, I helped the boys make plates of pancakes, sausage and fruit. Once I made it back to my car, we wrapped my right leg with Arctic Ease wrap and I headed home to rest.
Running a race 4 minutes slower than the previous year was a painful reminder that I am still not well. But… I did get up and race. I am still fighting, and that is something I can hold my head up about. It was a stake in the sand. I did it. Onward from here.
Saturday afternoon, I took Emery to the democratic caucus to support Bernie Sanders. It was an amazing time but wow, sitting for hours on the hard bleachers did nothing for my back. Bernie won our district 78% to 22%. Yay! J