At one point during the last eight weeks I was sweaty and my foot hurt. I thought surely my toes were going to light on fire and burn through my new running shoes. I was heading up another hill during our FIT4MOM Midtown Raleigh Running Club. I thought, "I'm just not a runner. I don't think I'll do this again. I'll do the race and then I'm done."
My coworker and Running Club instructor Elaine, sent me the purchase order the month before with a note that said, "Just do it Amy. Just sign up." I told my husband that I wanted to train to run a 10k. I was running a lot in our neighborhood last spring and summer but I had never had any formal run training nor had I ever run a timed race. Of course he was wonderfully supportive and for two months we juggled kids between his workout and Running Club.
Elaine alternated training sites between the North Carolina Museum of Art and Kiwanis Park. I loved Tuesdays at Kiwanis Park because it was luxuriously flat and shaded. I learned flat paths and shade can be described as "luxurious" because they are luxuries for runners. While NCMA is gorgeous and one of our favorite FIT4MOM workout spots, it's hilly. When we ran the opposite way, across Blue Ridge Road, it was hilly and sunny. Ooph!
Throughout the course, Elaine varied our training from run/walks to timed sprints, all building up to going 6.2 miles on race day. I'm not gonna lie. Six miles felt daunting. I had, in fact, run six miles once before on a particularly ambitious day in my neighborhood but I don't think I ran the whole time. That was part of what was cool, though. We had some moms in the course who used to be pretty serious runners and had done races previously. We also had moms who had never laced up before.
Form became very important. I had never given much thought to running form. Let's be honest, sometimes you just don't want to pass out on a long run. Bringing attention to form was hugely helpful. Elaine was always reminding us to think about our stride and our shoulders. She encouraged us to unclench fists and pretend we were "running on lava" sometimes. The "lava" would encourage us to only have our foot on the ground momentarily
Speaking of a foot, my foot has been a problem for me for several years now. I broke it when my second child was an infant. Nearly three years later I have a very irritating Morton's Neuroma. As luck would have it, it flared up as I was training for my first 10k. Great. I went to the orthopaedic. I taped up my foot. I bought new shoes. It still hurt. I knew I genuinely wasn't training like I should for fear of numbness and tingling turning into burning pain. Up to the day before the race I was trying out different insoles and wearing a toe spacer at night.
The day before the race we all met for a short, easy run. It was amazing how that was an "easy run." It wouldn't have been eight weeks prior. We met up for coffee and breakfast after. Elaine passed out our shirts and went over logistics for race day. We were as ready as we would ever be. I could already feel myself pumped up for the next day.
Sunday morning was cool and drizzly. Thank goodness! It was perfect! Not hot! I ran back in the house and grabbed a long sleeved shirt to throw over my new FIT4MOM tank. I whispered to my half sleeping husband, got my water, and left. I hadn't slept well because I had hydrated so well the night before that I was up three times in the bathroom. My bladder didn't care that I had a race the next day. It was going to wake me up. Elaine texted all of us so we could meet up at 6:45. The 10K began at 7:20, twenty minutes after the half-marathoners.
The people at the North Carolina Roadrunners Club Classic were impressive. They were real deal runners. They had compression socks, fanny packs and timing chips. Many were looking to improve their times. Our group took a picture before the start. I honestly don't know that I had time to be nervous. It wasn't nerves. It was adrenaline.
At the start I looked at Elaine who had told me to "Just do it Amy. Just sign up." I just ran. We had made it this far. It all led up to this. I didn't worry about hills or my foot or whatever. I trusted my training. I trusted that my body would know what to do and I just ran.
I just ran.
I had my wireless headphones with my inspirational tunes going. I turned it down when I was running next to another mom to chat. I crossed over the Old Reedy Creek Road bridge during the course and smiled. I had spent countless hours on that bridge in snow and other severe weather during live shots back when I was a news reporter. I chuckled at my new fitness life and how I would've scoffed at myself running. Just running.
At the halfway mark I looked at Elaine and said, "That's half?!" Okay. Halfway. I knew at that point I could do it. She dropped behind me to be with some of the other moms and I picked up speed. At that point it was just me and the clock. Could I make it in under an hour? A new mom, Karli was attempting to do it in 54:00. She was experienced. I was pretty far behind her, but I was hanging in there. I passed a few runners, then they would pass me. We did this dance for the last two miles. God bless the woman at the final mile mark telling us it was just one more mile. One more mile felt like nothing.
Well, it felt like nothing until the final hill. That final hill was NO JOKE! I was so incredibly grateful for the hills at NCMA. I knew what to do. I just kept running. Uphill and dragging, but I ran.
I had been wondering about my family. They were going to meet me at the finish line. Oh! That sweet finish line! I heard their voices before I saw them to my right. They hugged me even though I was sweaty. My husband told me how proud he was of me and I thought that finishing this race and seeing them might be the best feeling in the world.
1:01. Cool. Maybe I can get under an hour next time. Wait. Next time?! What?!
I waited for the rest of the moms. We cheered. We hugged. We laughed about that last hill. We stretched and my family left. We got the race results and I was delighted to see that I finished 8th in my age group. (Females 35-39) Seriously?!
I got home to flowers and cards from my family. Was this the best day of my life all of the sudden?! Was I this happy about just running?!
I crashed hard after eating and drinking more water. I had to take a nap. I was wiped. But, not before looking up future races in the area. Who am I?!
I'm I non-runner who just ran.