My joy for today is running 13.1 miles.
It was an unusual morning, complete with gale force winds, plunging temperatures, thunder, lightning, and rain. My alarm went off at 5:15 am and I could hear the rain slamming against my bedroom window. Would the race even happen? I got out of bed, checked my cell phone and e-mail, had no messages, so paced around for a few minutes. Thankfully, Amelia started calling and I nursed her while contemplating whether or not this race would happen in such weather. I put the baby back to bed and checked me e-mail yet again. My own personal weatherman, my kind husband, had been spending his time checking the radar and concluded that the worst of the storm had passed through the race location, about 45 minutes from our home. So I somewhat reluctantly got dressed.
Spencer came over to the house and we left about 15 minutes later than we had planned, due to my questioning of the status of the race. After arriving for packet pick-up, Spencer stood in line while I went to the restroom, primarily to find shelter from the cold. It was extremely windy, wet, and about fifty degrees. This Florida girl was not happy. I rejoined Spencer in line, found that he had quite expectedly made a friend, and received my number, chip, shirt, and other goodies.
We ran our stuff back to the car and then waited. The race started a little late, due to the weather. The countdown started, and we started running. And running, and running, and running. We had planned to attempt to run, without walking, the entire first 5 miles. This may not sound like much, but it was far more than we had ever done in training. I was unsure of this goal the morning of the race as I was battling a cold, complete with snot and sore throat. I asked Spencer at about a mile and a half how far we had gone. I did not ask again until we were at six and a half miles. We had made the five mile goal! Since I had made it so far past five miles, I began to wonder how much farther I could make it without stopping. So we kept running. And running, and running, and running. We ran straight to the finish line.
In some ways, it is strange to pay money to do something you can do in your own neighborhood. You do get a medal, a shirt, official timing, and other perks, but the camaraderie among runners is one of the most unique differences from running on your own. Spencer and I were closer to the back of the pack than to the front. It was a primarily out and back course, meaning that we were passed by the leaders of the race very noticeably. They literally ran right by us. Of course, the winners passed us, on their way back to the start/finish, embarrassingly early. After a while, we had seen so many people go by, that I was sure the turnaround had to be coming up soon. So I started yelling to people running by, begging them to tell me that the turnaround was just ahead. One runner said, “I don’t want to lie to you. It’s a little ways yet.” That was discouraging. But as we kept running, sometimes without me even asking, runners on their way home would see the look of despair in my face, and yell, “Almost to the turnaround! Great job!” Those kinds of comments literally made my feet keep moving.
There was much less fanfare in this race than in my previous half, the Disney Princess, or in my husband’s full marathon in Miami. In Miami, practically the entire course is lined with supporters and well wishers. In residential areas, people stand on their front lawns with signs, drinks, and snacks, to encourage runners that are complete strangers. You can only imagine what the hoopla is like at a Disney race. This was not the case in the Orange Blossom Half Marathon. Although almost the whole course is among private homes, there was not a single home that had a supporter outside. It was a quiet course with beautiful scenery, around a gorgeous Florida lake, for more serious runners, just doing their thang, running 13.1 miles, early in the morning.
What the course lacked in fanfare, my family made up for at the finish line. My family of six, my parents, my Granny, my cousin, and a friend of Spencer’s rounded out our cheering squad. I was greeted by the most precious handmade posters from my six and four year olds, three bouquets of flowers, balloons, and doughnuts. There was video and pictures taken with every combination of people possible. We felt admired and adored. It was indeed a joyous day.
Enjoy your joys for today.