I started running just after I started blogging. I'm not sure I do either very well, but I can say that I am starting to find my place in them both. I had my first big race last November. My dream race, the Army Ten Miler. It was amazing and I enjoyed every single step of it. Before I die I will do the NYC Marathon, but I've not set a date for that just yet (as I just might die when I finish it, so I'm not in that big of a rush:)!). For now I am signed up for the Second Annual Soldier's Marathon at Fort Benning. I'll keep you posted on if I actually make it there or not. Balancing everything when you're flying solo is sort of tricky, but I'm getting there. I started back cross training in April and I am hooked. (And when I say back, I'm talking it's been around 11 years since I was in a gym.) I am a very little person, so it was intimidating to be in the middle of a bunch a meat heads daily at the Y. But after five months, I'm sort of recognized and accepted as a regular and it's getting easier. And I must say I'm almost as addicted to it as I am to running. But running, running is my first love.
There's a little 5K in our community this time of year to raise money for the local schools. It is becoming quite a big deal. There are vendors,music, face painting and even karaoke. The participants range from complete families walking, high school cross country runners, all the way to serious runners. It is quite the event for just a 5K. Last year I decided last minute to run it. I hadn't raced in several months and I wanted to have a little more experience before the ten miler. The route of the race is the route I run once I'm about two miles into my normal run. I feel sort of like it is my route. I started running it during the little one's nap time, during the summer when it was in the upper 80's, and I ran it when it was in the 20's. For the longest time I hated it. Felt like I would never get the hang of it and never ever enjoy it. But now ... now I love it. Beautiful rolling hills ... just perfect. I've run off many worries of the day on these hills and planned the most perfect getaways with Richard (that I one day hope to actually have) on these hills. The hills no longer present a challenge, but encourage me to run hard and run strong. I realized last year at the turn around point that there were no other females in front of me. I was like, "Wow, I might be the first!" In the end I was. I couldn't wait to get home to tell my girls. (Of course Richard wasn't here, but in Egypt.) They were super excited to hop in the van and come with me to pick up my trophy.
This year when they saw the signs, they instantly proclaimed, "Oh Momma! You should run it again, AND WIN!" Oh, no!!!! I am most certainly not a competitor. Don't like it at all. Not why I run. But they were relentless and so this past Saturday morning, I decided that I was going to go for it. When I arrived, there were so many more people than there were last year, and people were doing warm up laps around the Publix parking lot, etc!! My heart started beating almost out of my chest. I went to the registration table, signed up and quickly got back in the van. I closed my eyes and tried to settle myself down. I hadn't really been running the past couple of weeks. In an extreme moment of mine one day at the gym, I injured my feet and for several days I could hardly bare to stand. And, because I had started back with weights, my time spent running was far less than it was last year altogether. But I knew I was stronger this year and I knew I was more confident in myself and I knew that I ran more for me this year than running to prove something. So I just prayed that I would do my best and praise God no matter what.
I was in maybe the second row this year. The race starts on a pretty decent size downhill. Not my favorite way to start:). When the horn blew, the young bucks up front started running like it was the hundred yard dash! I thought "What are they thinking? They are crazy and are totally going to run out of steam very soon." But of course, I was right there with them! I have issues with the feeling of being left behind or like I have to "catch up." (Okay, maybe I am a little competitive:)!) I really had to focus on getting my heart rate back down very early on in the race because of this. I prayed a lot and just kept thinking about all of the wives who were manning the fort while their husbands were deployed. I thought about the girls and how much they wanted me to win this silly thing. I thought about Richard and all the crazy things he has done running with me ... for instance when we would run up the big hills he would say "Push that ball! Push that ball! Push it!! Push it!!" and on my long run days he'd drive up next to me in the van with the windows down and blare easy listening music while looking straight ahead with the most expressionless face one could possibly have:). He is so crazy I can't stand it sometimes!
Not only were there more runners this year, the runners were so much better! I was never alone this year as I ran the course. And when I turned the turnaround point, I could have sworn I saw a pink shirt out of the corner of my eye. So I picked up my pace and I ran with all my might. The last bit of the race is uphill and I thought I was going to die. My feet were killing me! But I knew I was not going to give up and lose after working so hard. So I kept going and low and behold, I was able to keep my title:). So silly, I know, but hey, it was big deal to five people waiting for me at 57 and one soldier in Logar Provence.
In the end, I was only 23 seconds before the next female. I won't be here next year, but I will think of this race. I am going to miss my route and the beautiful hills that I once dreaded but now enjoy and claim. God is so gracious. And I am so thankful.
To Him be the Glory.