Two weekends ago, I ran my second Charlottesville TenMiler. And yes for those of you keeping track (ha!), that was the same weekend I visited Lynchburg with the kids, which meant a two plus hour car ride to Lynchburg on Friday, an hour car ride each way to C’ville on Saturday morning, and a two plus hour car ride back to Richmond to close the weekend. It sounds completely crazy now, but for those of you who have a runner as a close friend or relative will know that we are all just a little bit wacky when it comes to our races.
The hardest part was the 4am wake-up call on Saturday morning. It wasn’t the early hour so much; my usual weekday alarm is set at 4am (see what I mean? Wacky, I tell you), rather it was my complete inability to fall asleep the night before. Looking back, I’m sure it was the anticipation of the next day’s run that kept my brain from shutting down for the night. I didn’t feel nervous, but I guess I was subconsciously and nervously excited. Wanting to get enough shut-eye, I turned in around 9pm, but tossed and turned until I heard my parent’s living room mantle clock chime at 10pm. Then 11pm. Then midnight?! Once I heard the 1am chime, I realized that I would never fall asleep…and the next thing I knew my alarm was blaring.
Fueled on Frank’s coffee, 3 hours of sleep, and a small cup of Greek yogurt, I jumped in the car and headed north in plenty of time to make the 7:15am start time. And this is the point when I can fairly say that runners are just not normal people because I loved every minute of my morning from that point forward. On my drive up, I listened to great radio songs (a shout out to the DJs who were playing early 90s pop hits in the wee morning hours—your one-listener/singing audience thanks you!), I arrived early enough to get a great parking spot, stretched in the cool (but not cold) morning, and headed for the starting line.
The race itself went fine—I was about 30 seconds slower than my last year’s time, but considering my lack of sleep and a change in the course (UPHILL ONE MILE FINISH?? Why do race directors do that to a girl?), I was thrilled. Around mile 8, a man behind me said to his running buddy, “Okay, dude, I think I’m done. Good luck finishing, everyone!” That was by-far the hardest moment of the entire race. Miles 7 and 8 of a ten mile hilly course are the worst part—you’re more than half-way done, which means your lungs and legs are toast, but you still have (what may as well be) an eternity until the finish line. You want nothing more than to quit, walk to the nearest bed, and fall down on it immediately. Thankfully, some fellow tired soul next to me started giggling when we all realized the ridiculousness of the moment, giving me a final push to finish as hard as I could.
The best part of the morning? Meeting up with my friend, Robin, from college. We hadn’t seen each other in years and although I had to head back to Lynchburg much too quickly, we left promising to get together again (with our kids) as soon as possible.
I’ve probably written about it enough for everyone to know how much I love running, and I do. I love it. And I particularly love racing. I am almost always disappointed in my time, rewinding the entire race in my head and thinking through where I could have pushed harder or run smarter. But I also know there is no perfect race and that each one I complete when I don’t have some nagging injury, muscle cramp, dehydration issue, blister problem, or all of the above is the best race I could have run on that day.
"I always loved running...it was something you could do by yourself, and under your own power. You could go in any direction, fast or slow as you wanted, fighting the wind if you felt like it, seeking out new sights just on the strength of your feet and the courage of your lungs."
Happy Thursday (almost Friday), everyone!