Tuesday, January 29, 2013

oh sh*#

A few months ago, I signed up for a 10K race. It's a small event in a neighboring town, and I'd heard about it for years, but somehow that weekend always filled up. As soon as I saw registration open, I sent in my check and looked up the route. The route was described as having "challenging hills," and I thought to myself that the hills I routinely run up and down from the Rose Bowl have me in great shape for this kind of race.

After signing up, I decided to run the route to see for myself. The first half of the race is the same course as the 5K, a flat and even course around town. No problem. The course takes you past the high school track as you close mile 3, where the 5K runners veer off to end their run, while the 10K runners continue on and turn left. There was a slight incline as you near the so-called "challenging hills," then another turn left into some neighborhoods. On my practice run, I made that second left turn, looked up, stopped and said, "Oh. Shit."

That was the biggest hill I'd ever considered running up.

I've told you before that I'm not one for cursing, but I've found myself saying "Oh Shit" a lot lately. This is the sentiment that has come when, as they say, Shit Got Real. What I mean is that I can talk a lot of talk about writing, dating, running, etc. But then when an opportunity comes up to act on something, ie to run up that hill, reality hits real quick.

That first practice run, I walked up the hill.

Leading up to the race, my running wasn't what I wanted it to be - shorter days, health issues and a writing class meant that intentional training for the race took a back seat. So when race day rolled around, all I could think was, "Oh Shit." I called my sister the night before the race for advice. Should I go all out on the first 5K and just settle for being slow the second half? Or save energy so that I can run the hills - when, even running up them, I'd slow down? My sister didn't tell me exactly how to run, but she did suggest how I think. Don't get it in your mind that you'll be miserable, or you probably will be. Just be open to how you feel and how the race goes.

Under the circumstances, that was the best advice. I felt pretty good and ran the first 5K a little faster than I probably should have, but it was because I wanted to. The high school girls who were stationed along the race gave me a thumbs up for my pink hat, shirt and socks, and some guys that passed me around mile 2 yelled, "nice socks!" about my tiger print neon knee-highs. I had energy going into the first hill, then slowed and kept pace with an older guy. Together we watched a 13 year old boy pass us, then yell, "You're almost at the top!" After the second descent, I slowly walked down a slippery bike path, then ran all out into the stadium for the last loop around the track. My time wasn't great, but I finished, and later found out that I had even placed third in my age group. For the rest of the weekend I made self-deprecating jokes with my housemates about always being "third in my age group." Inwardly, though, it felt good to have gotten over another "Oh Shit" moment, and with a paperweight to prove it.

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