A light drizzle fell softly as I made my way to the center of the field in hopes of finding my family. It was 8 am, 30 minutes to go until race time.
I hitched a ride with my neighbor who was also running Broad Street, Philadelphia's famous 10 mile run down Broad Street. This was my first time so he showed me how to get to the center of the field where I found my brother (the running nut) and niece. My neighbor then went off to prep for his run. He runs everyday and races quite often. I don't run everyday but I kind of wish I had the will power to do so. Of course, I don't shower everyday either so maybe I should start there.
My brother and niece had just returned from Germany where not only did my niece graduate from University but they also ran a half-marathon in Bonn. I can't imagine running 23 miles in a week (plus all the shorter runs they did in between). They looked refreshed and ready. I was just scared and needed to pee.
No one else in our family showed up at the field (we were expecting another sister, a brother in law and another niece) so we trotted off to our corrals. We all ran in different corrals based on our times. I was in the one of the back corrals meaning I'm a slow runner.
Broad Street is mostly downhill with a small gradual incline about half way through. I started the race with a bang and ran quite fast for the first mile or two when I realized that I needed to slow down in order to make the 10 miles.
Before the race, I had hoped to finish with a 10 minute per mile pace. By mile 4, I was hoping to finish. My knees started whispering to me, complaining that we had gone far enough.
By mile 6, I thought about just walking for the rest of the race. My knees were quite vociferous at this point, informing me in no uncertain terms that they had quite enough thank you very much.
Mile 7 was the worst. I was ready to pack it all in. I tried walking for a few minutes to alleviate the throbbing in my knees. I could hear them yelling at me: WHAT DO YOU THINK YOU ARE DOING? YOU ARE 40 YEARS OLD, DO NOT TRY TO RE-CAPTURE YOUR YOUTH BY COMPLETING THIS STUPID RACE. WE'RE NOT GOING TO TAKE IT ANYMORE DO YOU HEAR US?
I grabbed some gatorade and contemplated just stopping but something stubborn inside would not let me quit. It kept poking at me and pushing me forward. C'mon, it said, you're pace is right where you want it to be. Slow down but keep running. It's less that 30 minutes to the finish, you can't quit now.
I kept going. I ran near one guy who kept urging his wife on by telling her how close she was to the finish. I pretended that he was talking to me. I listened to the cheers of the crowd and welled up with tears of gratitude and delirium as I thought about all these people standing in the cold rain helping us push forward with their words of praise.
At mile 9, I knew I had less than 10 minutes to the finish. The rain began in earnest and my entire body ached but I did it. I ran across that finish line and collected my medal. And yes, that is my official race time up at the top of this post. And yes, I'm damned proud of myself.
After the race, I limped through the food line and found the rest of my family. We all congratulated each other and then my sister drove me to my rehearsal. After rehearsal, my brother called to say he and his family would be in Philly for dinner and did I want to join him? Of course, I needed to finally celebrate my accomplishment. Over beers and dinner we re-hashed parts of the run basking in our success. I was still on an endorphin high and thought hmm, maybe I should start running everyday.
Of course my knees don't entirely agree.