The Absence of Suck

I was most concerned with not being able to stretch before the race began.  I have never been a morning runner, especially a cold morning runner, so I thought that if anything was going to go wrong, I didn't want it to be something that could have been avoided with stretched-out muscles. 

I didn't hear any sort of fanfare marking the official start of the race.  I thought I'd hear a gun shot, or a horn, but nothing.  This could have been because I had my ear buds in.  There were over 1500 runners and for a minute or so after the race began we all just moved forward in a herd.  I thought for a second that the entire race might be like this:  that maybe there were too many people and not enough road and we'd all just shuffle in a big group for three miles. 

Then the crowd began to open up.  People started taking off ahead of the group.  I remember running for a minute or so in line with my sister.  I remember her running with her hands in her pockets and wondering how the hell she was able to do that.  I remember my friend Lisa being a few feet ahead of us and looking back several times.  I remember when both of them began pulling farther and farther apart from me.  And I remember when I couldn't see either of them anymore.  And then there was me.  And I took a deep breath and fixed my ear buds again, and began the long lonely 3.1 mile journey.  As it's always been.  As I've grown accustomed to. 

A lot of people passed me.  People who weren't even jogging passed me.  But, as my sister had informed me the night before, my jog speed was slower than most people's walk speed, so I was expecting this.  A few minutes into the run I began seeing people on their way back.  I tried to get real close to the center line to attempt to make eye contact with the guy who had come in 60th place in the NY Marathon and was predicted to run the Sparta Turkey Trot in record time.  He zipped by me; I smiled at him, but he never saw me.  It would have been inspiring to catch his eye, but he has personal records and qualifying races on his mind.  He didn't have time for me.

The halfway point took forever to get to.  By the time I finally reached it, I had seen Gab, Lisa, and Adj zip by on their way back.  I could tell I was far behind them based on how long it took me to get halfway through, but I didn't care.  I wasn't doing this for time.  I was just doing this to run.  I kept my eyes on the road and rallied through.

The course had hills.  I didn't know this beforehand.  I'm sure it was for the best, since I would have been much more intimidated if I had known that hills were part of this challenge.  Welcome to the Black Parade played on the steepest one. 

At one point I found myself slowing down, each step becoming harder and harder to take.  My jog slowed and slowed and I felt my right leg fall into what I can only describe as a walk-step.  And my knee immediately locked up, and it jolted my body back to attention, and I continued to run.

I was so lonely at some parts.  Or maybe just bored.  Alone.  No one was on the side of the road cheering us on; I had no idea how much farther I had to go.  All I know is that it sucked.  It totally sucked.

And then I saw it.  Mile Marker 3.  And Florence and the Machine began.  And then Flo Rida followed.  And the wooden 3 sign grew larger as I got closer.  And I started running.  And I moved to the middle of the road.  And I didn't feel a thing.  Nothing hurt.  Nothing was hard about what I was doing.  I was sprinting down East Shore Trail all by myself early on Thanksgiving morning and I felt great.  I felt wonderful!  I was so happy.  Happy to be finishing.  Happy to be running.  Happy to see the light at the end of the tunnel.

And then.   Oh my god.  And then.  I saw my family.  I saw my husband and I saw my daughter and they were cheering for me.  FOR ME.  Leah ran to me and I stopped.  In the middle of the road before I hit the finish line, I stopped short.  And I grabbed her hand.  We started to run and she fell.  I picked her up and asked her if she was ok, and she said yes.  So, we held hands again and we ran to the finish line.  And it was perfect!  Gab and Adj and Lisa and Lan were all there.  Everyone was waiting for me.  And I crossed the line holding my daughter's hand.  And I was so happy.

And then the suck came back.  And it hurt.  My feel felt like they weren't mine.  I couldn't stop moving.  I had sprained my ankle when I stopped to get Leah.  I was trying to drink water.  I could barely talk.  Old Dana was back.  The Dana that is not athletic and can't run and doesn't do very well in sports and is fat, slow, and finds new gray hairs every week.

But, for a few minutes, when Mile Marker 3 came into view, I was someone else.  I was that person I used to remember.  It was awesome.   And I loved it.   And it didn't suck entirely.


1 comment:

Anonymous said...

i am proud of you and you never sucked