A year ago I swore I’d never run in an organized race. I’ve since eaten those words and then some. Saturday I finished the Seashore Nature Trail 50k in Virginia Beach, VA. Never say never.
I was terrified in the weeks and days prior to the race, afraid of not finishing, feeling like a fool. I’d never run a marathon and my feet were killing me after two twenty mile training runs. Things came to a head the day before the race when school called and my youngest was throwing up. It’d been a rough and emotional week at work as they sometimes are and this was the icing on the cake. It meant my work day would run late and I’d have to scramble to get from central VA to the beach in time for packet pick up Friday night and on top of that my family would have to stay at home. I didn’t think they’d mind but they surprised me and their disappointment made it especially hard to leave. I ran down the stairs with my sick daughter bawling, “No! Don’t go! Take me with you!” Not easy.
But I woke up to the sound of the ocean and watched the sunrise over the Chesapeake Bay and made up my mind that I would finish the race, my only goal. I expected to walk some, to take time at the aid stations, to eat plenty, drink enough and pay attention to what my body needed. This wasn’t an ordinary race. I planned to be out for the duration, the better part of the day and to take my time and enjoy it.
As luck had it, my husband and three kids made it in time for the halfway point in the race and then came back for the end. It was a gorgeous, 70 degree day, December 21st. Amazing.
Apparently I wandered around a bit at the halfway point, nibbled on this sandwich forever and chatted it up.
and dug through my drop bag while my husband got a shot of this lady “rolling her butt” which the kids thought was hilarious. Then she offered me her stick. I declined. They were rolling.
I guess I had a little chuckle too.
Then I made sure I was going the right way. I think this guy was checking to make sure I wasn’t too confused to run. He’s thinking, just turn around lady and run back the way you came.
Still confused and eating that stupid sandwich.
That was a little over halfway I think. I don’t wear a GPS watch on purpose because I think it’d mess with my mind. Staying oblivious is part of my strategy. If I know too much it can be a death march but when I’m pleasantly surprised at the passing of time it’s a huge mental boost.
So was this sign:
From that point on things were a blur but I remember asking at one point how much farther it was and the volunteer said, 2.5 miles! One more mile to the aid station and then it’s 1.5 miles from there. I said, “I’m so psyched!” and kicked it into gear. Then I walked through the next aid station. Then I ran. I hooked up with a couple of runners near the end who really helped me finish strong. You can see them at the finish line with me. One even lives not far away in Ashland.
And the kids ran with me to the finish! So great.
Finally the finish line, and a pat on the back from the guy from Ashland. I didn’t realize that in the blur. I like the volunteer wearing the same shoes as me.
Sweet relief! I finished in 5:57, the twentieth woman and eleventh in the masters age group so I can’t complain. The number one and two women were both 47 years old! I love that. I took it very slow, knowing that going out too fast can be the kiss of death especially with such a long distance. Maybe one day I’ll race for time but at this point it’s not my goal.
This wouldn’t have been the same run without such great support from family and the few friends I told. I doubted myself in anticipation of the race but their belief in me was pretty astounding and really helped motivate me to suck it up and run even when I thought my feet wouldn’t let me. I feel good afterward too, my feet feel better than before the race which proves how much my nerves had a hold of my mind and how much I needed my friends and family.
I know running isn’t for everyone and running distances longer than a marathon isn’t for every runner but running and training has taught me more about myself than any of my other personal pursuits. And so, I’ll be on the lookout for another race.