See these girls? They're my girls. My group. My Bloomington "people". Some of the group has known each other for a long time. Some were strangers to the group, but knew one of the girls, so they tagged along for dinner and drinks one night. There are a few others not in this exact photo. We have so much fun together when we gather that we decided to schedule a monthly GNO (Girls' Night Out) so we can be together, eat delicious food and drink cocktails. Incidentally, none of us ever leave those outings without side stitches from laughing so hard. They bring me inexplicable joy. And, most of the group happens to be runners.
So, we've all been entering a lot of the same races and meeting up beforehand and afterwards. Today, we ran the toughest course any of us has ever run. There were quite a few hills.
Rewind a bit. Last night (this morning?), my son woke me up at 3am. My mind started to race and I couldn't fall back asleep until 4am. Once I finally fell asleep, I was plagued with awful nightmares. My alarm went off at 6:30am and I woke up to some disturbing e-mail. My allergies were going nuts and my eyes were burning and itching. I was exhausted and sad. I was just in a FUNK. I wasn't even sure I wanted to run the race.
But, my girls arrived. I was still cranky, but it was nice to see them. I felt like there were so many bad omens before this race that I was worried it was not going to be my day.
The race started and I was struggling a bit. Not really physically...just mentally. I kept wishing I was in bed. But, as I kept running, I was keeping an eye on my pace...making sure I was running steady and not going too fast. I was in pretty good shape at Mile 1. Getting to Mile 2 felt a bit rougher, but literally, as I was coming up on the Mile 2 sign, I felt my body go into the zone. Suddenly, I felt lighter and running was easy and I haven't felt that for SO long!!! I couldn't stop smiling!!! Literally, I had the dumbest dopey grin on my face! I wanted to shout, "THIS FEELS AWESOME!"
Then...right then...in the last mile...the mother of all hills. I was running for a good while. I thought, "No prob. I'm in the zone...this'll be a piece of cake!" Well...that thing just didn't get smaller! I did end up walking...for about 20 seconds. But, then I could see the top...so I pushed harder.
Well, the best part was...after the hill, it went downhill and took you straight to the stretch that would go to the finish line. I just kept telling myself, "Don't you dare stop!" In that last .4 miles or so, I probably ran my fastest pace ever and it wasn't a labor or painful at all. I just felt...POWER. I could not WAIT to cross that finish line because, even though I hadn't looked at my time, I could just FEEL it.
Came around the last corner and I could have died, you guys!!! I finished in 39 minutes 35 seconds. I had just been joking with the girls before the race about my ultimate goal being a 40 minute 5k and how I'd be barfing at the Finish if that actually happened! Haha.
WOW. THAT was an amazing morning. I feel so thankful. So powerful. So healthy. Strong. Like the possibilities are endless. That fear I had regarding the half marathon? Gone. Any nervousness for my 10k in a few weeks? None.
This was the absolute best comeback I could have ever imagined. And sharing it with friends made it all the more sweet.
By the way, every single person in our group PR'd today. How's that for motivating one another? BEST DAY EVER.