Sunday, October 31, 2010

There's only one FIRST one. Part One

Yesterday was probably a day of more mixed emotions than I have ever known.
The weather, although slightly windy, couldn’t have been more perfect for a run in the park. 
My first 5K: Pumpkins in the Park.
The starting line. I'm in there somewhere.
Picture from Fleet Feet Sports website

A couple friends were originally supposed to run with me, and at the last minute I found out I indeed would be running this solo (albeit with 466 other strangers). 

My fears came hard and strong…what if my lungs start giving out? 
Or my heartrate gets too high and I fall?  No one will know me or my situation.
No one knows me in this crowd. I'm just an anonymous runner.

I had to quickly squelch the fear. I stretched my legs and readied for  the start. I had prepared, I was ready and I was doing this for (and with) Zach. some ways it was prophetic, that I run this matter my disappointment.

By the time the start sounded adrenaline was pumping through me...and I just ran with the colorful crowd. Leave it to me to get lost in a crowd of butterflywings, colored wigs and zombies on my first race. Yet the beginning felt good. I felt the energy of everyone around me and kept a solid stride. By the time we rounded onto Cobbs Hill Drive I was still confident.
I am somewhere in this pack.
Picture from Fleet Feet Sports website
I'd run this little uphill neighborhood trail several times over the last two months since I'd found the course map online. The first mile was great, but as often happens (even in my workouts) I felt the rolling and winded breath fill my chest soon after the mile mark.  

I had stayed with the racing crowd but at over a mile I began to gradually lose those familiar costumed characters dotted around me. An umpalumpa, a princess, a wizard, and a runaway bride passed as I began to feel the heaviness in my chest thunder in.

My heart-rate was 187. I slowed to a fast walk.
This is nuts, I thought. What am I doing, trying this while still recovering from an upper respiratory infection and after having such a difficult week?

I kept checking back at my monitor---waiting for my heart to go down 30 before I attempted to run again. It was then that I was approaching the hardest part of the run, the reservoir—all uphill. I honestly don’t have any memory of getting up that hill….something took over. The next thing I remember was that I was cresting the top and some volunteer had seen my shirt saying Zach’s name and shouted something encouraging…and then his name.  I heard it and the tears came…I wasn’t going to stop because this is what I came here for.

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