Yesterday I ran a road race for the very first time. It was the Corporate Challenge in Boston, see: www.mapmyrun.com/
for a good look at the route.
This is not something that I ever thought I would do. Not in a trillion years. Not in ten trillion. Running hurt. Running was boring. Running was tiring. Running was mindless. And, truth be told, I didn't run the course that much, only about 10 - 15 minutes out of 1 hour, 4 minutes and 4 seconds.
But I still did it.
Now, I am tired today. And my pains are in some expected places (hello, ankles, calves and hips) and unexpected ones (hello, back, huh?). And no pain in an area where I truly feared it would be: my shins. See, way back, a year and a half ago, I'd walk for maybe 5 minutes and I'd get shin splints.
They are suddenly, miraculously, cured.
Heck, at this point my shins are pretty much the only things staying together.
My husband asked me this morning, "So, what doesn't hurt?"
They do not hurt.
Hence I am typing to all of you, to tell you about this. And it's hysterical because I'm almost as excited as I was about the TV thing (true story: a remote coworker of mine called me up yesterday for work purposes but we got to a lull so she asked me, "Been on any talk shows lately?" Er, not recently, you silly gal).
There were 15 people on our office team. And I undoubtedly came in last of all of us, although I was far from last in the overall race.
I had my husband's iPod knockoff with me so I was listening to music. One of the first songs I heard was Bob Seger's "Rock and Roll Never Forgets". Every time I heard, "... and now Sweet Sixteen has turned thirty-one...", I'd sprint. Except I saw 41 five years ago, almost six. Eh, it's the thought that counts.
Farther along, they played a block of David Bowie. This included "Golden Years". And I decided to jog for all of it. I just looked it up; it's about 3 1/2 minutes long. If it was "Space Oddity", I'd be in more calf pain -- that one's over 5 minutes long.
I accepted water from a little girl who was volunteering with her family, then promptly poured it over my hands and face (I had a water bottle of tea with me; I was anything but dehydrated). It's fun to take the water; makes you feel like the real thing, like you're in the Olympics. Farther along, a bunch of prep schoolboys were handing out water. They told every woman who ran by that she was beautiful. That made me smile, even though I could practically be their granny at this point in my life.
The far turn was back around The Public Garden and there were people out walking their dogs (the race started at 7:15 PM, so by this time it was after 8 PM). I gave a fast pat to a lovely Dalmatian and then it was time to focus on finishing.
I came around the turn and there was the end, with two electronic clocks hung on an overpass. Even with my glasses on, it was hard for me to tell how much time had elapsed although I estimated around an hour. When I got closer, I saw it was one hour and three minutes and change. I sprinted, tried to finish before it hit one hour and four minutes but missed that very slightly.
Raised my arms over my head in a V for victory at the one hour, four minutes, four seconds mark. When I had signed up, I had honestly thought the whole thing would take me an hour and a half to two hours.
And what happened to me yesterday is something extraordinary.
Running is not mindless. It is not boring.
It teaches you many, many interesting things, and I was finally receptive to them and I have finally learned them.
I am stronger than I thought I was.
I can be stronger still.
I haven't broken the light-speed barrier yet, but so long as I'm working on that, it's all good.
I have never had a runner's high and it's possible I never will, but that doesn't mean I can't enjoy the experience.
A little pain stinks, but the more you do of this running business, the less pain you'll have.
The pain fades, the memory does not.
My new lucky number is the one I wore: 6827. It is a prime number.
If you keep tea, tunes, a handkerchief and a pedometer with you, you're golden.
Taking a second to pet a cute dog never hurts.
The water station volunteers are exceptional people.
You can take a great tour of the city bouncing along at 3.5 MPH.
You get a free tee shirt (I ended up with two; one for the race and one designed by my company).
No matter how fast you went, or whether you ever do it again, you can forever say you are a runner.
I look kinda cute in shorts.
And I'm already thinking of when I'm gonna do this again.
C'mon and join me.