Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Um...I Don't Do Grassy Hills

It had been 2.5 tough miles.  I was used to running 2.5 miles, but 2.5 miles of mostly hills?  Um, no.  My legs were on fire and my breathing was quick and raspy.  But finally we were on flat surface and I knew the end was near.  I just had to push through the last half mile or so.

I rounded the corner and saw the racers ahead of me going off the road and down into the woods.

What?!?!  No, no, no!  I did not sign up for an off-roading race.  I have touch and go knees.  I have an ankle that's been sprained 4 or 5 times.  One misstep and I'd be out of commission.  I do not run on grass.

But what could I do?  Just stop.  No way.  I'd been training for months.  It had been years since I ran a race.  I couldn't just stop.

So I did it.  I stepped up on the curb and headed down the grassy hill.  The path wasn't too far, but my first thought as my foot hit the damp, leaf-covered ground was "I'm going to fall.  Oh man, please don't let me fall."

And then it happened.  Almost before I finished the thought, a hidden root jumped right up and pulled me down.  I tried to stop it, but at some point I realized my effort was futile.  So I gave in and let my body crash to the ground.  I was stunned.  I couldn't remember the last time I had fallen so hard.  I was face down in the leaves, my hands and legs covered in mud.  A few runners stopped - checked on me, helped me up, found my iPod.  I don't think I even thanked them.

Suddenly, I was fighting back tears as they asked if I was okay.  I just nodded.  I knew if I spoke I wouldn't be able to stop the flow.

I walked to the path and started running again, slowly.  My legs were like jello.  Every step was shaky and cautious...and then another hill.  I couldn't do it.  I stopped.  I walked.

"No, no!"  I heard a voice come up on my left.

I looked over.  A woman about my age, blond and in a pink shirt.

"You can't stop now.  We're almost done.  I've been trying to catch you the whole race, you have to beat me."

I ran again, we crossed the finish line together.

And that's how I ran my first 5K in 5 years.

Me and a purple cat...I mean, Ainsley.  She ran the Kid's Fun Run after my race.

My dirty, ripped pants.

It looks worse than it is...just a scratch really.
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