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.|