The Jacksons, Week 22: What's Better Than Meeting Goals? Beating Them!
Filed under: Healthy Families Challenge
And, in my mind, because of that, I won, even if I was far from nabbing first place.
I was worried that I wouldn't even be able to finish the Oxford Run for Hope Half Marathon and 5K, the much-ballyhooed race I first began writing about a few weeks ago. I've run 3.1 miles and many more on treadmills before, but I knew it would be different pounding the pavement outdoors in the elements, alongside other runners and with an audience of spectators along the way.
And adding a bit to my anxiety was thinking about the Healthy Families Challenge followers whom I had promised in this space that I would compete. There could be no backing out.
After some minor hand-wringing, I was pleased with my results. Amid a field of about 255 5K runners (more than 300 other competitors registered for the half-marathon, which occurred simultaneously), I finished ninth out of 18 runners in my age group, and in 204th place overall. Not bad for an amateur. And, I beat some 20-year-old runner/walkers, which was most satisfying to me, I have to admit.
Is it wrong for that to be a reason for pumping my fist in the air?
With my parents in town that morning, I let my son sleep in. He deserved it. He had endured a challenging week, spent at school and participating in a slew of various other activities in which we're a part. Admittedly, I think I was relieved that none of my family would be present at the run; I wasn't 100 percent sure how things would turn out.
That morning, I ate my usual breakfast -- finally, I've found a yogurt I like, Kroger's low-calorie Carbmaster carrot cake. (If there are hidden fat calories in those 60 calories, I don't think I want to know. Here's a yogurt that doesn't have that cloying, sour creamy taste I detest.) I popped my daily multivitamin, a fish oil capsule and my Achilles tendon meds for insurance, and downed a bottle of water. I avoided eating or drinking too much, but wanted to ensure that I was hydrated and energized enough to power through the race.
I drove to the starting location, said a little prayer, and headed to a registration table to collect my numbered bib (#79) and the microchip that would officially record the time of my photo finish. I inserted my ear buds, trained my cell phone on Pandora, and programmed the radio to play thumping instrumental music from Kraftwerk, that German electronic music group I remember from the early 1980s. I haven't really listened to them in years, but Kraftwerk was the first group that came to my mind when I considered music with steady, entrancing and uptempo beats. Better for me to get lost in the music than to avoid thinking about how many more miles I have to run. On this chilly but sunny morning, I milled with the other participants at the start of the race, and got into my zone.
I was ready to go.
I think sheer adrenaline –- and my personal trainer's diligent work in recent weeks –- helped me maintain a steady run through the first mile or so. And then those famous North Mississippi hills came into view. When the inclines hit, I slowed, but strengthened my pace, and shifted to a fast walk. However, I kept it balanced and resumed running as soon as I overcame those ascents.
Before I knew it, I saw a cheering crowd ahead and eyed the finish line. This wasn't bad at all. Those of you who don't think you can do this, I bet you can.
I'm planning to run another local 5K in late April. Jenn, my personal trainer, thinks I'll soon be ready to go for the 10K.
I think I could get used to this.
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