It happens, you know?
I had a stupid moment over the weekend. Actually ... it was a stupid 12 hours.
Blame it on being back in the Twin Cities, where I lived during some of the most memorable 2 years of my life.
Blame it on those trees being the perfect fall colors.
Blame it on seeing my bestest running friends again.
Blame it on the Twin Cities Marathon for having the best finish ever. Yes, ever. Out of all other finish lines, this one is the best. I would contend that even Olympians would agree, if they had the chance to cross it.
Blame it on me. Me and my sentimentalist self, which totally goes insane when it's kicked into full gear. And it was in full gear on Saturday afternoon.
So, I found myself offering to run the TC 10 Mile with a friend who wasn't going to run because of a slightly bothered knee. Then, I found myself surprised when she actually said, "Let's do this." And by the time common sense took over a few hours later, I was hearing, "Just knowing we are going to do this together tomorrow has lifted my spirits."
Great. I can't back out now.
Sigh. This is what I get for bringing my good running shoes, in case I wanted to take a jaunt across the Stone Arch Bridge (my old running route).
So, somehow, between what I brought to do a quick workout in the hotel and all the extras my hotel roommates brought, I scraped together a last minute outfit. That night, I couldn't sleep. I tossed and turned, even my psoas was complaining. I kept thinking to myself, I'll text my friend in the morning and tell her, I can't run but I'll go to the start with her.
But morning came and I didn't text her. It's the people pleaser in me. When I was younger, I was desperate to make everyone happy, to have everyone like me and some days, it still gets the best of me. I forget to take care of me and try to take care of everyone else. People say it's because I have a big heart. Perhaps there's some truth to that, but really ... well, that in itself is a story that doesn't belong here.
So we start the race. I try to do warm ups, but when it's 28*F, and you have to stand in a crowded corral for 15 minutes, warm ups aren't very effective. Great.
The thing that I do love about the TC 10 Mile is that it goes fairly quickly. The first time I ran, miles 3 and 4 were there before I knew it, and in spite of purposely going slow, they still managed to fly by this time around. And soon we were hitting the medical drop out point, which I believe is somewhere around mile 5 or 6. Had I been smart, had I been thinking at all, I would have realized that my friend was doing just fine & didn't need me the rest of the race. I could have gracefully bowed out then. I would have been happy with a 5 or 6 mile run that day on a course that I love.
But I didn't stop, and soon after, I began to think I should have. I walked a lot. I stopped to stretch. I stopped for Tylenol.
side note: did you know they won't give you Advil during a race? Apparently, it's really bad for your kidneys to take an NSAID and then exercise. I so need to have a conversation with my sports med doc.
We stumbled (very nearly quite literally) across a woman who was also struggling. So I decided to finish with her. We walked when she needed to walk. I scolded her for checking her watch (seriously, at that point, who cares? Let's just get to the finish). The last half a mile was painful for her. It was painful for me too. My calf started cramping and I couldn't push off as hard as I wanted to. That finish was beautiful. It always is. That finish also sucked. Stopping and finally feeling all of the pain was the worst. Hearing that my friend felt like she could have ran a marathon made me want to scream. I felt like I had run a marathon.
I was glad that I had gotten my friend on the course. I was glad she had the confidence boost she needed for her half marathon this weekend. I was annoyed with myself. Irritated. So much that I didn't want the finisher medal. I didn't want the finisher t-shirt - they were never mine in the first place. The only reason there is a medal in my house now is a volunteer shoved one in my hand and I didn't have the energy to argue. Whatever.
I was a hot mess after the race. The only thing that saved me was the massage tent and a very great gal who was willing to work on my psoas and find that awful knot in my calf.
I could go on, but I probably sound like the candidates on the debates by now - simply repeating the same damn thing without offering any new information.
Here's something new: no one ever forgets their first race. The feeling of accomplishment at crossing that finish line, of doing something they never thought they were capable of doing. I remember that feeling so vividly, and after a year of crap races, I think a part of me desperately needed that feeling again. That's probably why I didn't drop out. That's probably why a lot of us don't drop when we are supposed to. That finish line is very nearly the best thing ever.
And perhaps that's why I've beaten myself up so much over this race. I didn't find what I was looking for. But my friend did, so I keep reminding myself of that. That is what matters, right?