And then I felt my IT band behind my knee, but it wasn't bad. Definitely not the worse it's felt, so I was still optimistic about running. After hitting the porta-potties, we made our way to the start line.
|Me, (cold) Marian, Elaine, Kelly, Carol, and Amy...|
and the porta-potty in the background
Finally the gun went off! And we didn't move. And we didn't move. And then I wondered if the gun had actually gone off. And it did, but there was just that many people! It was a few minutes before we got back into line and more than 6 minutes before we crossed the start line.
And then we were off. The crowds lining the sidewalks were cheering, and it was a great day to be outside. And then I felt my legs. And I knew I was in trouble. I was falling behind Carol and Kelly and we weren't even a mile in.
It wasn't the same jarring, sharp pain that I had been feeling; but it was pain. I wasn't going to make it. That's a horrible feeling. So many things were going through my mind, and then I heard Kelly say, "Oh how beautiful!" I am so happy that she said that because otherwise I would not have looked up. We were in the middle of downtown Houston. The sun had won its battle with the clouds, and it was reflecting against the towering skyscrapers that were surrounding the course. The sky had changed from the ash gray color it was to a beautiful Oiler blue (if you're from Houston -or a long time football fan, you know what that means.)
And then that beautiful moment passed, and I was back in the race. Kelly, I know, was feeling great. I was holding her back. Close to mile 2, I saw an aid station. I would stop. I told Kelly to go ahead and run on. She didn't. She said we could slow down. She said we would just have a fun run. After all, it was Saturday, and this was just another 6 mile run.
I passed the aid station, and slowly we kept going. Then my leg went numb. It felt like I was running on a foot the size of an elephant's and it was tingling. How in the hell your leg can fall asleep while your running, I don't know; but mine managed to. Again at the 5K turnaround point, I told her to go on. I would just turn around and finish the 5K. In my head, just the thought of running to the 5K finish seemed like agony and unreachable. She questioned me, "Are you sure? " No. I wasn't sure of anything except that I honestly didn't think I could do it! I started to cry. But when we got to the 5K turnaround, I kept going.
Finally, around mile 4 or 4.5, I started feeling better. I'm not sure why, but I would take it. At mile 5, Kelly did take off. She finished strong. I know she could have PR'd if she hadn't stuck with me, but I also know that without her, I would have never have kept going. She truly is a gift to me.
So, I'm almost finished. I pass mile 6, and then someone shouted only .2 to go! WTF? 0.2?Well, I'm used to 0.1. A 5K is 3.1. A half marathon is 13.1. POINT ONE PEOPLE!!! So I was totally disgruntled that I had 0.2 to go! I did not finish strong, but I finished and I finished it running.
The results weren't as horrible as I had thought they would be. My second split pace was about a minute faster than my first, but it's still not a time that I'm proud of. This should be getting easier, and this was not an easy run for me. As dissapointed as I was, there was still much to be grateful for. I did finish, and I was with a great group of ladies.
We celebrated with hot pastrami sandwiches and a bloody Mary Well, at least I did. When I saw that bloody Mary I had to have one! I justified it by saying my body must need the lycopene.
The course was great, the crowds were great, the bands were great. The post race party was not. By the time we finished, the booths were closing down even though it was supposed to be going on for another 45 minutes. No bananas, no yogurt, no baggies of goodies. They did have water, thank goodness. But seriously. If you are going to sign up 15,000 runners, you need to be ready to accommodate 15,000 runners! Every other race I've done (not that I've done tons or anything) has had post race food and goodies for participants, but they were giving everything to everyone and that left nothing for of the runners. Bad. Bad, bad, bad!
So the next day, I was in pain. I told my husband that I shouldn't have run. Later that day, I said what I had been thinking and dreading, and that was that I was going to have to stop running for a while. I actually started crying as I said the words out loud. I've had those moments before when I realized that, no matter how slow I am, I am a runner. This was one of them. When the thought of not being able to get out there breaks your heart, you know. Whether it's a 16 minute mile or a 6 minute mile, a mile is still a mile; and not being able to run even one makes me sad.
Running has come to mean so much to me. I can't wait to get back out there.