Yes, the girl who hates running ran her first 10K. Phew! Got that item checked off the bucket list.
It was never on my bucket list. I never had any desire to run. Ever. I love working out, but I’ve always hated running. It makes you out of breath. And sweaty. It’s solitary. And it’s hard. Really, really hard.
But thanks to some annoyingly fit (and supportive) friends, the best gym in the world, and an incredible trainer (thank you Regan – I couldn’t have done it without you!), I DID IT! I ran my first 10K.
Every year for the last eight years I’ve stood outside my house and watched 10K and 5K runners run past my house for the Great Race of Agoura.
This year my neighbors were watching me. (Well, me and 1,227 others, but I’m pretty sure mostly me.)
I have to admit, it was pretty exciting. I gathered at the start line with all my run club friends getting ready to do something I never imagined myself doing. Something I never imaged I could do – running for six miles, putting one foot in front of the other and gasping for breath for over an hour straight. What the hell was I thinking?!
When the gun went off and I crossed the start line I was a bit emotional. A little choked up, actually. (Probably because I realized there was no turning back.) I smiled as I ran down the street and saw the people from my neighborhood waving at me (and 1,227 others). Dave was out early to a NASCAR race (don’t ask) and Marley slept over at my mom’s, but Chandler was waiting for me on our driveway. I waved at him excitedly as I passed. He gave me a head nod and raised his hand in sort-of half wave and turned around and walked inside. Apparently the moment was not as monumentous for him as it was for me. (Whatever. Teenagers!)
Mile One was surprisingly easy. It must have been the adrenaline. The excitement. My neighbors cheering me on. Plus it was all downhill. That certainly didn’t hurt.
The distance between Mile One and Mile Two was not quite as easy. I thought maybe they forgot to put up the mile marker. Or maybe I missed it. I couldn’t have missed it could I? Wasn’t there supposed to be a water station there? I was parched. Where the hell was Mile Two?! Finally! Water station and mile marker. Two miles down, four to go. (Seriously, what was I thinking?)
I hate to admit it, but between Mile Two and Mile Three it wasn’t that terrible. I didn’t like it, but I was well-trained and I knew I could do it. I never felt like I had to walk. Don’t get me wrong – I wanted to walk, but I never felt like I had to. My friends were all long gone. I’ve always been the slowest runner in my group (by far), but that was okay. There were still people behind me. A lot of people behind me!
When I hit Mile Four I was scared. Really, really scared. I knew the dreaded hills (or is that mountains?) were just around the corner.
But before the
mountains hills, I was coming up to a U-turn so the runners ahead of me were running towards me. I’d call out my friend’s names and scream, “Whooo!” as I saw them pass and they’d scream, “Whooo, Charlene” back.
And then I saw him.
There was a child who could not have been more than five years old with a 10K race bib on coming towards me. I’m talking five-years-old tops. I was being outpaced by a freaking toddler!
Have I ever mentioned that running sucks?
(I know what you’re thinking, by the way. You’re thinking that I’m exaggerating. You’re thinking that some short nine-year-old was out there being all Bruce Jenner-like. (When Bruce Jenner was a runner and not a reality star.) No, I’m telling you, if this kid was in kindergarten he is for sure the youngest one in his class. Does one of the local pre-schools have a tiny tot track and field program? I mentioned this toddler running prodigy to my friends at the finish line and they saw him too. My friend Juliana said she saw him pass her, high-fiving people along the way. So I’m telling you, this kid was five-years-old. He was real. And I hate him!)
Anyway… on to the hills.
Here is the first one:
What the F?
Yeah, I had to go up that. Do you see how those people are bent over? No, it’s not because they’re vomiting (although who could blame them if they were?), it’s because that hill is so freaking steep you have to bend over like that to get up it. Also, I took this picture from the middle of the hill, so it’s also longer than it looks.
This is the hill of running legends and myths. This hill is the reason our
asshole beloved trainer Regan wouldn’t let us run the course before the race. This is the hill that makes people make that face when you tell them you’re doing the Great Race of Agoura 10K. You know that face that people make when you tell them you’re about to do something stupid? The face with one eyebrow raised, their chin tilted down and the tsk tsk tsk that goes along with it? Yeah, this is that hill.
(I might or might have walked it. That’s for me to know and you to never ever find out.)
And then after going up another very terrible horrible no good hill I saw the most beautiful thing I’ve ever seen in my entire life.
No, it wasn’t this:
Or even this:
It was this:
I cannot tell you the joy I felt seeing the 5-mile marker sign. It made me happier than I’ve ever been in my entire life (maybe this is what they mean by a runner’s high) because in 12 minutes or less I was going to be done! And it was all downhill! Well, mostly downhill. Until that last short but extremely steep hill that took me by complete surprise. (GRRR!)
As I came down the final hill and turned the corner towards the finish line I actually picked up some speed. I really wanted to finish strong. I do wish the last 50 feet weren’t on overgrown un-mowed grass, which is really hard to run on by the way.
My friends were waiting for me at the finish with high fives and sweaty hugs. We did it! And I’ll never ever ever have to do it again. (Maybe.)
And in case you were wondering how I did (you were, weren’t you?), here you go:
Oh, and can I end this post with a little bit of a mommy brag? My son? The one who gave me the half-hearted-yeah-whatever wave from the driveway? He ran the 5K and won. Yeah, that’s right – 1st place out of 999 runners. He must get his running gene from me! (Or I guess, probably not.)
Today I am resting. But tomorrow I might go running again. (We’ll see.)
*And yes, Lisa, I did steal that picture of the beach at sunset from your Facebook page. (Thank you!)