I wish I could eloquently articulate all I'm thinking and feeling, but I just don't have the brain power right now! I'll do my best not to ramble.
I was very excited about this adventure. I was dressed and ready to race at 8:30 am. The thing is, the race didn't start until 5:30pm! So I wore my running clothes all day, who cares! I was 'in the zone'!
Me, my husband, my oldest son, and my niece participated in this 5k. My folks came down to the house and watched my youngest son. My hope is someday he'll walk one with us, but with his challenges (most of you know, but for those who don't, he is on the autism spectrum), this day would be too much for him. Anyway, we arrived pretty early. It's a pretty big event and the website suggested arriving an hour early to allow time for parking. We were almost two hours early. When we pulled in the parking lot the car said 86 degrees. It was a hot one! Disgustingly humid, too. We puttered around the shops, took in the street performances; it's like a mini-city for crying out loud. It reminded me a little bit of Quincy Market (in Boston), but without the historical sights and atmosphere. I've been to the stadium before, but I've never walked around the shopping areas. We also poked around the Pro Shop so my son could get an idea of which shirt he'd like. The Patriots are allowing an exchange of all Hernandez jerseys on July 6th and7th. My son got one for his birthday last fall. Needless to say, we'll be heading back and take advantage of the offer. As it got closer to race time we found one of the few shady spots and camped out near the starting lane.
Here we are, me, my oldest son, and my niece. Love this picture...it just makes me giggle.
It was definitely crowded! It was a surprise treat to see one of my former students with her family a few feet away in the starting lane. I don't know if I'm imagining it, or if I'm in better control of my movements, if I'm a little quicker (but not according to the time) but the crowd spread out a little better in the beginning than the Flutie 5K. I'm thinking because we had the entire road to spread out, rather than half the road like in the Flutie 5k, is likely what made the difference. My first mile was great according to my Nike running app - 9:29. One of the fastest I've done. I could feel that I was pushing myself and tried to reel it in a little bit, but never really had the opportunity to do so, or even quite catch my breath as the entire route along the perimeter of the parking lots (other than a short section at the beginning) was a slow, steady, continuous incline....two miles of gradual uphill. Ugh. I was losing steam at that point and come the part where we had to run up the ramps...I feared I was done for. I don't have a picture of them, but here's a photo of my husband, son, and niece sitting in the field after the race.
Looking up you can see the height of the stadium. There were 12 ramps that zigzagged back and forth all the way up to the top deck. (My husband counted them before the race.) This was the most frustrating part of the race for me. Yes, it was extremely challenging, but I honestly feel if there weren't any other bodies there I'd have done so much better! It was very congested in this area and people kept stopping on the turns. I'd be gasping for air, but into a rhythm and mindset to keep going and people would stop in front of you, causing you to lose your pace, set you off balance by stopping short, and having to find away around them in the very congested and limited space. I lost count of the ramps as I was going up, and it was getting harder and harder, but I refused to stop and walk. I kept thinking about where I started 74 lbs ago, and all I've learned about myself, and all that I know I can accomplish if I don't quit.
A quick picture of where I started.
So, as I said...these ramps were killer and I refused to walk. Though I was gasping for air and burning up, I tried to push myself on, even said out loud to myself a few times, "I can do it" sort of whispering/sort of panting/sort of blurting. Apparently a woman in a blue and yellow tank top overheard me and yelled back "Yes, you can!!" This is what I love about these events...no matter where you are in your journey, you can't help but want to cheer each other on and have respect for every other person participating in the event. What made it even sweeter, as I made it to the top, this woman was a stone's throw away from me and I shouted to her "I did it!" She slowed her pace for a second and help up her hand for me to give her a high 5. The kindness of this stranger nearly brought me to tears. I lost sight of her as we ran along the top of the stadium, but saw her again heading down the ramps. She was on a zig while I was on a zag. She happened to look up and see me while I happened to look down and she gave me a big thumbs up. More inspiration to keep going!
The down ramps were similarly congested, the turns were where it was the worst. I started trying to run to the far outside to get away from all the congestion and people who were continuing to stop short, but other folks had the same idea and would cut in front of your path. Did I mention I did not like the ramps?
Finally the course brought us outside the stadium, around it for a while longer and then back in. We went back in through a dark tunnel and onto the field and I was fooled for a second, seeing one of the strips that looks like the timed start/finish line just as you cross onto the field. I though that was the finish, as my head was down and slowed, but then realized, NO DUMMY! It's at the 50 yard line! I was so angry at myself and hauled a** at that point. There was an announcer on the field going on and on about this and that, commentating the race, and apparently I caught his eye as he said "That's the way to do it! Finish strong! Give it all you've got!" Folks were jogging in, I was in an outright sprint to cross that line. I probably made a little bit of a spectacle out of myself, but I didn't care. It was what I wanted and needed to do at that time and it felt good. Granted, I wanted to puke afterwards, but it still felt good!
My niece and husband made it in shortly after that. My son finished first, of course, even in his basketball shoes...stinker, but I did manage to pass him a couple times during the race. I told him to watch out. Next one his old Mom may catch up to him! Here we are after the race:
So, there you go. Something else to cross of the bucket list. Something I never dreamed would be on my bucket list a couple years ago. As I continue on this get healthy journey my mind is more open to new and challenging experiences. Like the little girl on the AT&T commercials..."You want more...cuz more is better..." (Love those commercials!)
Anyway, the numbers...though I didn't do as well as the Flutie 5K, still not half bad.
I finished in 34:05 with a 10:58 average pace. I came in 135 out of 520 in my division. My numbers for the Flutie 5K back in Oct. were 33:25, 10:46 pace. If the course is the same for the Flutie 5K this fall, I'm thinking I'll beat that time. This course was DEFINITELY more challenging and the fact that my times aren't that far off, I'm feeling pretty good that I will. My husband and son's times were off several minutes compared to their #s from the Flutie 5K, and mine is less than a minute, which leads me to believe I am still improving.
I don't know if we'll do this one again, or not, but I'm glad we said what the heck and tried it! I'm opening up to new and difference experiences...saying yes to things I'd have never considered. I feel like I'm starting to live and embrace life and it's pretty awesome!
Happy Fourth of July, everyone!!!!