I'm a fair-weather runner. I've run in mildly cold (30some°) temperatures, I've run when it's overcast, but I've never run in precipitation of any sort. Last week I learned of a 5K being held today. I'd initially wanted to run a different 5K last weekend but that didn't work out. I'd planned on doing this one all week and scaled back accordingly [i.e. modified my classes a LOT to take it easy on my knees]. The weather forecast hadn't looked good, though. A wicked thunderstorm moved in Friday night. Yesterday afternoon turned nasty and looked like it was gonna rain for a long time before it did. Once it started, it kept up until I went to bed. The hourly forecast for today looked tentatively promising: although there was a chance of rain or storms in the A.M., it was supposed to be partly sunny and 70°--about 90% humidity--at 8:00. I went to bed unsure about whether I'd be running or not but hopeful and prepared in case.
I woke up, changed from my jammie top into my workout tank top, and, before finishing dressing, pulled up the blinds to be greeted with a miserable grey, foggy sky and sound of drizzle hitting the ground. Sh!t. So much for "chance" of showers or thunderstorms. "Do I go right back to bed? Say 'Forget it'? I don't want to run in the rain. I don't want to be in the rain at all. It's chilly and I don't want to get wet. I reeeally don't want to up my chance of getting blisters. I already have to wear moleskin and anti-chafe cream with these shoes as it is. Plus, I'm afraid I might slip on the wet asphalt. I don't need to risk injuring myself any further. ... But I REALLY want to run this 5K. I didn't get to run the one last weekend. This one isn't *as close* to home--but it's pretty close. Closer than any other ones I'm likely to find, anyway. The next local one is the gym's, and that's not till August. Sh!t. What do I do?" (The word 'sh!t' factored in many times.)
I got up to get a second opinion from my mom. I'm not sure if I wanted her to back me up and tell me it was asinine to run in the rain or to remind me that I've been waiting all year to run a 5K race. At that point, I think I would've settled for either answer. She hadn't realized it was raining; when I told her, she asked if I was still planning on going. "What do you think?" I asked. "Well," she responded, "I'M not being chased by a knife, so I wouldn't run!" I decided to get dressed and think about it. That way, I wouldn't be too late if I decided to go; and if I decided to stay home, I wouldn't eat breakfast and get prepared to start my day as the crack of dawn for no reason, and could just as easily go back to bed.
I ended up wasting about 15 minutes vacillating. The sky didn't clear up at all ("Woohoo, sunshine! This is GREAT running weather. I'll definitely go."), nor did it worsen or threaten to thunderstorm ("I'm definitely NOT running in a downpour." or "They cancelled due to lightning.") If I didn't actively decide one way or the other, I wasn't going to get there in time to register, and then my decision would be made for me. I thought to myself, "You're already dressed. If you try going back to sleep, you probably won' be able to. If you don't go, you'll regret it--especially if it stops raining. If you don't go, you'll have to go to the gym instead--do you want to do that? [No.] You haven't run since Easter, either. This is variety, and you never get to run outside around here. Besides, your New Year's resolution was to run at least 2 5Ks this year. You're doing the gym's. If you do this one today, you'll definitely hit your goal." Ok, thanks, self. Give me about half a dozen reasons that overshadow my pansy "Wahh, but I don't wanna get wet" argument. That's real fair. Don't twist my arm here at all.
I looked at my mom and said "@#$% it." She started to ask "You're not--?", when I clarified: "I'm going."
I hauled @$$, finishing getting ready to go. Although I ended up leaving 15 minutes later then planned, we got there with plenty of time to spare. Which was great, cuz I had to pee and had some anxiety about the route--or rather, not knowing where in the ---- the route was. (I hadn't seen any markings on the road when we showed up.) We walked around the parking lot for my warmup, initially following some joggers. After we lost sight of them, we almost got lost. Neither of us knew where we were and this was in some rural, weirdly set-up community. Luckily, we made it back in time for me to hit the johns again and line up with everyone else before the start. I told my mom I'd definitely see her in less than 35 minutes (my time from last summer) and lined up near the back. Then it was time to take off!
I do high-intensity cardio 5-6 days a week, so I didn�t think not running since Easter would be any cause for concern. But when we set off, I quickly noticed that I was one of the last 10 or so. Which wasn�t horrible, except that�s where I was this time last year when I�d first started�and I KNEW I was WAYYY more in shape this year. What gives?! Well, I decided to forget about it. Maybe I was going slower than at Easter because of my knees, maybe the break had impacted my running ability after all. I was just gonna see what my knees and lungs could handle and do my best. I found and settled into a nice pace.
And I enjoyed it. I enjoyed running in the country without worrying about any traffic. I enjoyed running without having my knees scream at me. I enjoyed the �rolling hills� that would�ve had me gasping for breath on the verge of death a year ago. I didn�t love the drizzle but I did love that that�s the worst the weather got. I thanked the universe, my body, luck, or whatever forces happened to be conspiring to physically allow me to run. I ran because I COULD. Because my knee pain let up enough to let me. Because even though I was one of the last people, I still felt like a runner. I FELT like someone who�s lost over 100 pounds. I felt light, and joyful to be moving. I felt FREE.
A crazy thing happened. I hit the 1-mile mark and looked my heart rate monitor to check my time. It said a little over 9 minutes. 9 minutes?! That�s faster than my 9.8 min/mile Easter run�which *had* been a PR. If I kept that pace, I�d definitely hit my dream goal of a sub-30 min finish.
I started off giving myself permission to run if I needed to. But even though my knees started hurting a bit, my pace encouraged me to see if I could run the whole time. I hit the 2nd mile around 18 � minutes and wanted to taste the achievement of hitting that time goal. When my knees started hurting more and my heart rate rose into the anaerobic zone, I stopped giving myself permission to walk. I said �This is hard and it hurts, but you lost 113 pounds. You didn�t do it by giving up because it got hard or because it hurt. You�ve ran up way steeper hills than this. You can do this.� Slowly, I started passing people. I found my stride in that little voice in my head urging me on.
When I got near the end, I kicked up my pace to a sprint. I couldn�t see the Finish sign yet but I knew it had to be close�I hoped it was really close, because that last incline wasn�t too fun. There were people cheering me on, telling me how great I was doing. I grinned all the way to the finish line.
My mom gave me a big hug. She apologized for missing taking a picture of me but she hadn�t expected me so soon: 28:38! She also informed me that I might even get an award cuz I was one of the first girls to come in. Color me shocked. We stuck around for the awards. Even though I kind of thought my mom must be mistaken, I had gotten a surge of hope that I would somehow hear my name. [I hoped that last year, too, though, and there was no way I was gonna hear it then. So I resolved to be hopeful, but disappointed.] Lo and behold� �Females in the 19-29 category, First Place: -� REALLY????????? Me?!?! [Now, I will footnote this that there were only 50 participants, not like 10,000 or anything. But for me, to get #1 in any group bigger than 1 was the equivalent of 10,000.]
I�m so glad I didn�t stay home this morning.