The Weather Gods brushed my cheek with a kiss today and blessed me with a beautiful, sunny day for my first race in 20 years. Nervous with anticipation and fear as the crowd waited for the gun to sound, I found myself starting to get excited rather than scared. And when the gun did sound, I was smiling uncontrollably as I made my way (slowly, as I was in the latter half of 2000 people!) to the starting line. And suddenly, after about a minute of walking, I started to run! It was exhilarating! It wasn't that I was going fast, rather it was that I felt truly alive and in the moment--trying to find my pace and get a feel for the ground beneath me reminded me of why I love to run. Of course, it wasn't too long after that exhilaration that I started panting and wondering just how far 5km really was. I started counting my paces and trying to focus on the beauty of the trail, loons on water. Alas, this didn't last too long, either. The occasional stitch in my gut and side also distracted me.
Once I found my stride (after about 1 km), I ran steadily for a couple of kilometres, counting my steps in rhythm and feeling quite good about not having yet collapsed. Then my mind started getting the better of me, and I started thinking the end must be in sight. After all, I'd been running steadily for what felt like ages, so my reward had to be that the finish line was near! With each new hill I had to climb, the reality of having still further to go suddenly struck me, and against my better knowledge, I had to walk for a bit. I knew I shouldn't. I climbed the CN Tower a couple of years ago and learned that stopping to rest made it harder to continue. Even with this knowledge, I gave in and walked for a bit at about the 3.5km mark. It wasn't over, though, so after a few minutes, I began running again, but with 2 more brief walking stints before the finish line. The trickery of it was that believing the end was near left me feeling a bit desperate.
Finally, the last hill to climb and it would be over! Keeping it together (barely!) for a few more hundred metres suddenly seemed like the hardest thing to do ever! But, somehow I did it, and with a friend having come to cheer me on and my husband waiting for me at the finish line, I felt absolutely...exhausted! AND AMAZING!!! Truly! I wasn't sure of my time or whether my lips would ever regain the moisture they'd lost because of my sweating and panting, but I was done.
The best part was that when I got home and checked my time online, I learned that I had beat the time I'd set for myself! I wanted to complete it in 40 minutes, and I finished in 37:46.9 minutes. THAT knowledge was a great reward.
So, does this mean I'll be running more races in the future? Yes! Definitely! But I'll have to readjust my attitude about incorporating hills into my routine (damn! don't love those hills...), but I'll definitely be running again.