Today I broke my seven-month hiatus with racing by running the Cinco de Miler 2016.
And finished FIVE MILES!! Along Lake Shore Drive, Chicago.
It was my friend Lisa’s idea, and this morning she picked me up and we made it happen!! She invited me around January, but I was ambivalent about committing for quite awhile. First, I wasn’t sure I was up to two extra miles beyond my standard 5k. Second, the race shirts were hideous and I didn’t want to pay for one!
But she was so excited about it and we motivated each other. She was waffling herself not too long ago, and I encouraged her. We both decided to wear something of our own rather than those ugly shirts. This is our second race together!
We took a ton of silly selfies– one of the best parts of a race! I’m so glad we did this.
In the parking garage, I noticed the women parked next to us had a Joliet sticker on their vehicle. I introduced myself and we got a long great! She was with a few of her friends and it seemed a few of their daughters. Her name was Kim.
All the festivity– flowers in women’s hair, men running with Mexican wrestling masks, children wearing fake black mustaches that curl, some women with traditional cotton tops embroidered with flowers. Salsa blasting on the speakers as we lined up in our corrals!
Yesterday I mostly walked four miles, to warm up after months of nothing. I was shocked how easy it was. How natural I felt returning to this exercise.
In past races, I always felt insecure; I needed someone by me. If my friends ran ahead, I felt abandoned. Especially if they disappeared into the crowd. As long as I could see them, I felt a little
I was so much in my own head that all I could think about were all the people passing me by– I was always glancing behind to reassure myself that I wasn’t last. That *I* was ahead of others.
Or I was so fixated on the miles ahead— counting down, worried about my time. There was a part of me who never fully relaxed.
I was hard on myself if I had to slow down and walk. Always comparing.
Today, I broke free of all that.
I didn’t try to keep up with Lisa– I let her go and decided to do my own thing. And I felt calm, steady.
Maybe because this is my sixth race now– I knew I would find her afterward. I wasn’t worried about getting separated or lost.
I trust her more. I trust *myself* more.
I chose to run my own slow, steady pace– right down the yellow line of the streets blocked off for this event.
Proud to say I ran the first 1.5 miles at around 13 minutes!! I had set my Pandora on my phone to Selena and that driving Latino beat was perfect for the occasion.
But after that, I was conscious of the two added miles and felt I’d slow down and walk a bit. And then first my right knee and then both knees began to hurt. And I had to acknowledge it.
I tried running sporadically after but had to accept that with the added miles I couldn’t push it or I might not finish.
But oh, running along Lake Shore Drive!!! Since I began running it’s been a fantasy of mine. I always thought I’d drive up and park somewhere and be one of those cool people you always see while in traffic, inbound to the city North on 41.
Until Lisa mentioned it last night, I had no idea this was part of the course route.
God arranged my dream to come true.
And thank Him that I wore pants, not shorts– and brought two long-sleeved shirts. Since it was a 9 a.m. race and I tend to get cold, I brought an extra hoodie in case it rained or was cold by the lake.
Talk about The Windy City!! Once we hit the third mile and were right next to the lake on our right, both those shirts felt like a joke!! But I felt badly for those wearing only tank tops or shorts, or even t-shirts. Had I been otherwise attired, I might have quit.
Between my knees, which seemed to get worse– and the serrating chill lakeside, I was beyond tempted.
But I saw racers returning, wearing medals. That energized me.
And each mile marker surprised me. I had learned to just ENJOY the race.
I was always moving except when I stopped to take a few pictures– a tree in front of the lake, the MARIACHI band performing!
I loved the man around mile 2– a tall old man with white hair waving maracas. “Everybody’s gonna finish,” he said with a smile.
And I believed him. When I felt weak, I thought of him.
Not long before mile 4, one of the women also from Joliet in the parking garage before the race appeared next to me. She tapped my shoulder and smiled. I slowed down and we commiserated about our knees. She gave me a vital tip: she takes Ipubprofen before a race. I prefer Tylenol– but I’ll remember that next time.
Maybe start taking a supplement to help my joints. Loosen them up by running regularly.
Rather than accept my joint pain and give up running– I’ll learn to take better care of myself to prevent it.
Even the Tin Man couldn’t walk the Yellow Brick Road with un-oiled joints! Oil is needed.
God was showing me that we’re never alone in the race. This race called life.
I allowed her to pass me, and felt at peace.
I had told Lisa to text me when she finished– and when she did, I was happy for her! Glad she did her thing and I did mine. For one of the first times in my life, I didn’t feel envy.
What a blessing!
I felt stronger than I thought capable once I saw the FINISH around the corner!!
I started running again: it was important to finish RUNNING.
Volunteers were standing in a cluster, handing out finisher’s medals.
When I arrived I was shocked to feel emotional– tears started to well up.
I almost cried– but I didn’t allow myself. I admit at that moment I did feel self-conscious.
I suppose I associate crying with loss– grief.
When was the last time I cried with RELIEF?? I don’t remember.
I couldn’t totally let go. But I teared up again, gulped deep breaths.
And vowed to start training again. My time is 1:36: 05
Lisa and I are already planning our next race! We talked non-stop on the way home.
I know I can do it. I’m already getting better.
And one day, I will let go enough to ACTUALLY cry with joy at the finish line.