Way back in the day before I used capital letters and titled my posts, I began making an attempt to [learn to] run. It was a time when I was talking to myself in my diary and running away from myself via exercise. My first chilly venture netted me less than two miles, but I knew I wished to pursue jogging as a hobby, if for no other reason than to save dollars at the gas pump and precious minutes lost driving to the gym.
As spring arrived, I enjoyed limited success, and with the advent of summer -- the most deliciously mild summer known to these parts of the Midwest -- I found my groove. I think I topped out at about eight miles which thrilled me to no end. As the fall approached, I realized myself to be a fair-weather runner and had come to despise the monotony of the treadmill. I continued my other exercise addictions, but most certainly lost my stride.
Wasabi surprised me by running a half-marathon last November and planted a seed of desire within me to tackle the same distance. Then in January, Casey suggested I shoot for Hospital Hill in June. A long way off, I put the date in my head and knew when the seasons turned friendlier, I'd dust off my running shoes and see how many miles they could take my legs.
So I hit the streets once again. And it felt great. I quickly upped my mileage and found myself in the nine mile range with little woe. About ten days ago, I did almost 11 and knew I was ready for my first official run.
So after juggling studying and kids and race prep yesterday, I woke early this morning, enjoyed my traditional pre-run breakfast of cappuccino, Greek yogurt and steel cut oats then drove to Crown Center where I meandered about, looking for a place to stretch (my home routine involves the sink -- don't ask). Never quite got that done...found some water and before I knew it, was herded into a corral where 2388 others and myself began our long morning run. I can't even begin to explain how exhilarating it was to see the mass of dedicated runners filling the downtown streets.
The morning was perfect. Mostly cloudy, a light breeze. The challenge was great at times and though I had declared my intentions to finish the run here and on Facebook, I more than once considered stopping and letting the goal pass. But my sweet friend Christine had driven into town from her country home, picked up my kids and the whole crew were waiting for me at the seven mile mark. By mile five, the notion of seeing those smiling faces really kept me moving (I was definitely starting to pay the price for not getting in a good stretch). I spotted them and caught a high-five from each of the kids and felt refreshed. Another mile or so down the road, they popped up again and much to my surprise, a third time somewhere around mile nine. Love goes a long way to fuel the soul when the body wishes to quit.
As I crested the last big hill, Tina Turner belted out Proud Mary, providing yet another powerful surge of energy, and as that song ended, I could hear the loudspeaker from the finish line, took out my headphones and gave the last couple hundred yards my all. Official time 2:08:08 -- smidge better than my usual ten minute mile. But that really didn't matter. I did it. 13.1 miles.
Reflecting on today's accomplishment, I see it as an itty-bitty metaphor for the educational path upon which I've placed myself. It's easy enough to sign up, but when obstacles come along, there's nothing like knowing there are dear friends and family who are cheering me on and wishing me well. Two hours of running is a far cry from three years of schooling, but as long as the wind is occasionally at my back and there's a sweet smile handing me a cool beverage every few miles, I think...no, I'm sure I'll cross that finish line.