About half way though the race I lost sight of the main pack and settle in with a mom who was yawging (walking/jogging) with her daughter and a girl I surmised was a friend. To my shock, I couldn’t find the old man in the yellow jacket. Where the hell was he, and how did he get so far ahead of me? The ground was perfectly flat, I was going and my slow but respectable pace…and this old guy was kicking my ass!!!
I was feeling fine like wine. It was in the 40s, which to me is a perfect temperature to run at…just cool enough to sweat and not feel like you’re going to overheat or catch pneumonia. The Latin house tunes were going in my head, whispering of sunnier locales. The cops were there to re-route traffic.
As we wound through the residential neighborhoods around the zoo, I ticked off the miles with the signs that were posted. One mile…two…when I saw the third mile sign, I knew I was in the home stretch, even if I couldn’t see the finish line.
A man on the bike trail stopped on his bike to cheer us on. “Good job, runners! Way to go!” he yelled from his bike.
Wait…was he talking to me? HELL YEAH! I’M A RUNNER!!! My chest puffed up a little bit and I got the extra sprint in my step that I needed to cross the finish line.
My thighs were on fire, my face was red, hair was sticky and I must’ve smelled something fierce. But my parents, two sisters and youngest brother crowded around me to hug me and congratulate all the hard work and training I had done. I ran 3.1 miles in 43:18, which was :42 faster than any 5K I had ever timed myself. I had told my family I’d finish in about 50 minutes to set the bar low, but I actually kicked its ass!
The first group had finished long before and were actually leaving the park by the time I crossed the finish line. Hell, even the older man in the yellow jacket had crossed long before I did. But that didn’t matter.
I ran the entire race without stopping to walk. I ran 3.1 miles in less time than I had set out to. And I was cheered on by my five family members. They didn’t have to come, but they did and I am grateful for that!
I usually don’t quote the Bible or get terribly sentimental, but 2 Timothy 4: 7 nicely sums up what I went through. We read it and my Grandpa Ernie’s funeral and I think it very apropos: