There are so many things I love about running. One of my favorite things is that your only real competitor is yourself. Even in a race scenario, you’re a winner for training and finishing. Your main goal is to beat your best time at that distance (a PR). I knew going into this half mary that I wasn’t ready for it. I’ve really laid low the last month, trying to get my mojo back, working on reconnecting with my love to run, just taking it easy. So, instead of a taper week, I’ve had a taper month, with only 5 or 6 runs since my last race. And, no real long runs for all that time. But, that was okay. I made the decision (at the strong suggestion of my coach – my man, that is) to just run this race like it was a training run. He even encouraged me to run naked (NO GARMIN). And, I agreed.
Race morning dawned way too early and was a little cooler at the start than I like, but promised to warm up quickly. Kaitlyn ran the 5k, and smoked it. I’m so proud of her, and especially proud that she realizes what a huge deal it is to shave four seconds off your time. If she puts her mind to it, she can really excel at this. She’s been looking for her mojo lately, too, though. Hope she found it again today.
I started out on track. Left the Garmin at home, just wore my pacing timer. I really did feel naked, but as it turned out, I’m glad I didn’t have the Garmin. It was an awesome race – well planned (thank you, Heather Hood, and the rest of the H’burg Clinic team), plenty of volunteers for all those tricky turns, weather was amazing after the coolish start, excellent race course through and around my alma mater, the University of Southern Mississippi-recently hit hard and devastated by a tornado, lots of familiar faces, and I felt pretty good. I didn’t worry about pace, but there’s something about a race that makes you a little panicky when you start passing all those runners ahead of you going in the opposite direction. I let my nerves get the better of me about mile 6, pushing it harder than I should, not wanting to drop the ball too far from my wheel house.
Then, at about mile 7 1/2 something happened to me that never has before. I fell. Hard. On my right knee, the one that always gives me trouble anyway. Fortunately, I was rounding Reed Green Coliseum and there was no one around to witness the event (which would have made if infinitely worse), but there it was. A potential race ender. I picked myself up and saw blood gushing from said knee, then limped on around the coliseum. Race volunteers ran quickly to my aid, helping me wipe the blood up, offering to call someone, and expressing heartfelt and genuine concern. I’ll admit, the thought of a DNF did cross my mind appealingly. But, then, I thought about my man with his broken leg, consistently working out and pushing through pain. I thought of how I would feel at the end of the day to have a DNF over a fall. I thought of how I would feel riding back to the finish line, instead of running across it. And, I looked at the sweet race volunteer and said, “I’m good. I’ll walk it out.” And, walk it out I did. After about a half mile or so, I tested an easy jog. Then, I picked up the pace, and finished the race. Because, isn’t that what runners do? And, I realized, this was Divine Intervention to keep me from stressing about my pace (or lack thereof). I couldn’t push hard on a blood dripping knee.
The last five miles had lots of hills, and I took an easy pace that favored my dripping and wobbly knee. When I was about two miles from the finish, a car went by with passengers who yelled, “Go Mrs. Jayne!” I couldn’t see who they were, but I think it may have been my “Run for God” buddies. I turned around and waved, what a boost that was!! Thanks, guys!
As I neared the end, I realized I had no idea how much time had passed. Considering the two potty stops and the time I spent cleaning my bobo, then limping along, I figured I was pushing the three hour mark. A long way from a PR, but like I said, I was trying not to worry about that. I was very pleasantly surprised when I got to the finish line and the clock read 2:40. Maybe I need to run naked more often. 😉
I think if there’s one lesson I want to take from this race, it’s this. Don’t wait until you can do something perfectly to do it. If I waited until I could be the first across the finish line, I would never cross one. Reach out, grab the world, and run with it. Even if you fall, you’re still ahead of the people who never even give it a shot.