I slowly, carefully laced up my shoes. It was 5:30 a.m. and I was procrastinating. I knew we had to leave in the next few minutes to make it on time. We had to go out in the wind, the rain, the cold all because this wild hair invaded my thoughts nearly a year ago. A year ago. Wow, what a difference that makes. I never would have even considered being up this early, for this reason 365 days ago. I would have scoffed and called this person I am now, crazy. Just flat-out crazy.
Runners, that’s who. Runner’s of all types. Slow, fast, large, thin, old and young were at the same starting line I was on Sunday January 13, 2013 in Houston, Texas. Despite the weather, all these people had made a commitment and were sticking to it. It was amazing to see as I walked into the expo building to gather my thoughts & push away that little voice in my head that told me this was stupid. It was raining for crying out loud.
I knew it would be cold and had hoped it wouldn’t rain too hard. As I began making my way to the corral around 6:50 a.m. I thought I might have been granted my wish but then the starting shot went off at 7 a.m. and it was as if the clouds opened up in agony. Rain poured. I was soaked. Hair, shoes, socks, underwear. There was not a dry spot left on my body when I finally managed to reach the starting line at 7:15 a.m.
For the first 2 - 3 miles, I could barely see because of the rain. I hated that I didn’t wear a visor, a hat, something to keep the rain from falling down my face. People turned around and went back. They couldn’t do it and I can’t say I blame them. It was exhausting
pushing sloshing forward. I ended up running a good portion of those miles with my eyes closed. I had never been more thankful for waterproof mascara.
Although it felt like it never went away completely, the rain seemed to subside after the first 5k of the race. I started finding my groove, I was jamming to my music, I was feeling strong. I was still cold and considered picking up other people’s clothes they had discarded and cursed myself for not wearing a thicker shirt. I could feel that voice trying to rise up and then I felt a hand on my shoulder. It was a man pushing his way through holding onto a blind man who was running this race.
Here I was – fully capable of going on and still doubting myself even though I knew I could succeed, hell I’d ran 13.1 miles before– and there he was. Literally running blind in the rain, faster than me. He was trusting his legs to push him forwards when all his other senses were probably telling him, No. Stop. Whoever he was, it inspired me to stop whining and just get on with it. The pain will come and it will go, but that feeling of accomplishment – that’s something you can’t take away.
So, I did. I jammed to my music, I watched other runners, I thought of how I was going to write this blog. And every time I tried to doubt myself, I thought of him. I thought of every other person out on that course who was doing it. Maybe they were 18 year veterans of this course, or this was their first [I’m referencing real people here who hung out with me at the starting line!] but they were out there for the same reason. That feeling of accomplishment. We were all reaching for it.
And then it was mile 7, the sun was starting to come out and I was actually beginning to dry off. I couldn’t believe how well I felt considering my longest run since Vegas had been 5 miles. I kept running. I thought I would pee myself around mile 10 but I didn’t want to stop. I couldn’t. I had come this far. I was so close.
So, I didn’t. I didn’t stop. I ran the entire 13.1 miles. They were slow miles, but they were ran. Every single one of them. And they were ran faster than in Vegas where the conditions were beyond perfect. And mile 12 didn’t even kill me this time.
My official race time for Houston was 3:00:27 and for Vegas was 3:04:27.
Four minutes faster exactly. For those of you who don’t run, I’m sure that doesn’t seem like much but I promise it is. Go out and run one mile. Then run two. Then run 3. And for each mile go 15 – 30 seconds faster than you did with the very first mile until you reach 13. Trust me, it’s not as easy as it sounds. Sure, I’m still slow but I’m getting faster and that’s one of my resolutions for this year. I don’t mean to toot my own horn, but with this one, I think I have too. You guys, I fucking rock.
Also, a HUGE shout-out of love to my Aunt Shannon, Uncle Cliff, Maddie & Abi who let us crash with them (no hotel charges!). Thank you for letting us stay, eat your food and force you to drop me off at 6am in the middle of ridiculous Houston traffic and then coming to cheer me on in stupid cold temperatures. You guys are amazing.