Daughter #4 came for the weekend yesterday, which she does from time to time. We were standing around the kitchen bar waiting for dinner to cook when she mentioned that there was a 5K race at the college in our town Saturday morning, and she was thinking about running it. I got excited and said, "Oh, cool! I'll come take pictures!"
So while we were reading about the event on my laptop, Ben came around the bar, put his arms around my waist, and whispered in my ear, "I think you should run it."
Noelle looked hopeful and I looked scared to death. But I figured I'd run 3.5 a couple of times, so there was no reason I couldn't do 3.1 (which actually turned out to be almost 3.2), so I agreed and immediately registered online so I couldn't back out.
This morning at 6:30 when we left the house, it was 41° and we screamed when we hit the leather in Noelle's car, but praise God for seat heaters. Amen. When we got to the race site, it was still 41°. An hour later when the race started, the temperature remained the same balmy 41.
I knew enough to line up toward the back of the pack, and when the gun went off my first thought was, "Why do we pay money to do this to ourselves?"
I was quickly passed by a LOT of people, but fell into a good, slow rhythm with a guy who looked to be about my age. He didn't know it, but he kept me going through the entire race. About a half mile in, we went down a long, steep hill and all I could think was, "Dang, we have to come back UP sometime."
After that the course was pretty flat, winding through old neighborhoods where most people were still snug in their beds.
At 2.5, we turned a corner to come back toward the campus, and my earlier prediction hit hard: the dreaded UP. My race buddy ran partway up and slowed to a walk, so I followed suit, gasping for air. After maybe 25 yards, he started running again, and if I'd been able to produce sound, I would have yelled, "NO! Not yet!" But I took off after him and almost caught him on the downhill past the dining hall.
At 3 miles, all of the university's athletes lined the sidewalk leading up the last hill, clapping and cheering for those of us still crawling to the finish. By this time, Noelle had finished and come back to run the rest of the way with me. What a huge psychological help! As we came to the finish, she yelled, "Look at that time!" Under 35 minutes, which was my goal.
After the race, we waited for the results to be posted. Noelle was in the first group, with a time of 26:20. We waited for a while for the next bunch to be posted, but got tired of standing in the cold (now 47°), so we left for hot coffee and home.
We'd been home a while when I received an email from the race folks. They informed me my time was 34:22, and I was stunned to read I was the first finisher in my age group. Wonders never cease.
Not bad for my first one. Next week I'm running another 5K with Leah in South Carolina. I've never been happier to be in a higher age group.
Be thankful ~