My buddy Lynn (with the peace sign/bunny ears going on) said to me back in October, "Hey Julie! I'm going to run this 10K in Moab in December...do it with me!" I thought to myself, "well self...you've been saying you were going to give running a try...this will give you a reason."
So up I signed. I invested in a good pair of running shoes after 2 runs in old Merrell hiking shoes. Adidas Supernovas worked for my big feet with a tendency for blisters. Fortunately I was already in pretty good shape. I bike, I backpack, I ski...so my legs were strong and my lungs could hold air. It doesn't matter though, because nothing can prepare you for running. It's unlike any experience unlike any other exercise. Before you know it you're gasping for breath and your legs will barely pick themselves off the sidewalk.
That's when you realize, "OH. I have to focus on my breathing." That's what I did anyway. I ran my two miles. I focused on a breathing rhythm, which also helped me to even out my pace. I ran 3 miles. I did the same thing--focused on breathing, focused on pace. I ran a 5K with Lynn for a great program, Girls on the Run. I finished it in 37 minutes and I was pleased with that! It certainly wasn't fast, but I did it! I'd never raced before.
I love the feeling of teamwork and how everyone is relaxed (at least at the back of the pack) and joking. I love starting out and the excitement that goes with it. Yelling, "Less than 3.1 miles to go!" after 5 steps, or "Less than 6.2 miles to go!" I kept training, even sometimes on the DREADmill when it was cold or dark...
Then came the big test. The 6 mile predictor race with the Mesa Striders. 6 miles...I'd only done that once before...on a treadmill. What if everyone passed me? What if I was dead last? What if I got lost on the course out in Orchard Mesa? Those of us predicting more than 60 minute times lined up 10 minutes early and started off down B 1/2 Road. Lynn was ahead of me but I kept my steady pace and just ran. The first 2 miles are always the worst. I think of all the reasons this is ridiculous. All the reasons I should just stop. And then the two miles are over and I'm zoned out and following a small group of people. Then i hear it: thump thump thump! The fast guys come flying past me! 5 1/2 minute mile paces! Foomp foomp foomp...and they're gone. "Good job!" they yell. "Nice going! Keep it up!" They're so encouraging to those of us who are just getting started.
In the end I wasn't last in that race. 6 miles in 72 minutes. I ran for 72 minutes.
Finally the big Saturday arrived. The race we'd been training for was in sight. It was cold and cloudy and I debated between wearing long underwear or leaving them behind...I opted to leave them behind and instead covered up everything else! Gloves, hat, windbreaker...we got to the start and Dan took our pictures all pumped up and ready for the race! Lynn and I lined up well behind the 9:00/mile marker, leaving room for even those 10 minute/mile people ahead of me! The countdown began..."Four, three, two, one, GO!" A wave of people swept down the hill from the Moab Golf Course. Back in my neck of the woods we joked that this slow jog heading out was perfect! Soon though everyone was absorbed in their own thoughts, routines and pacing...down the hill, around the corner, down another hill, 1 mile down!
"Only 5 to go? I got this licked!" Two miles down! YES! "What the F is that? A Hill? An UPHILL?" I'll admit I made it halfway up running and then I walked. Everyone as far as i could see was walking it. I picked up the pace again at the top and made it to mile 3 in 34 minutes...just as Marty Wacker was finishing the race. Fast bastard. No seriously, he's super fast and he deserves to win! He's super nice too!
When I finally made it to the finish line I was SO happy. I ran and I ran and I ran. I made it in 70 minutes and 40 seconds...almost 10 minutes behind Lynn who ran her best time ever too!
Running. Who'd have ever thought it? It hurts, but the feeling of accomplishment it so great...almost as great as conquering an obstacle on a mountain bike.