The morning of the race, I felt a nervous excitement and had Matthew drop me off. It was overcast and rainy. I told Matt that if it was really difficult with the kids in tow and raining he didn’t need to be there. “Besides”, I said “Look, there are thousands of keeners all ready to rock this run”. “I will be fine, Right”. I found my assigned start area. I was ready to run my first 5km race.
As the horn blew to signal the start, the crowd slowly moved forward. There were lots of supporters cheering. After I crossed under the start banner, I knew the time was ticking and now, I wanted to do well. The first kilometre or so felt good physically. Emotionally it felt great to be with all the runners and hearing all the cheers of support from strangers. Then came the challenge. I was winded, thirsty, I had a cramp in my side and was running out of steam. I thought I must be at the half way mark or so, then I saw the sign at the bottom of a hill I was about to run up. I was only at the 2km mark. “Oh No” “I’m not going to be able to make it”. Is all that was repeating in my head. I have 3km still to go. Then came my relief, there was a guy standing half way up the hill with a sign that read “you are all nuts for doing this”. I laughed, and it allowed me to keep going. I slowed down, and slowly made my way to the top of the hill. I decided that I would stop and walk for a minute or two when I got to the top. After a 2 minute walk, I started running again. I was relieved to see the water station up ahead, and more people were walking around me now. Wanting to keep going, and feeling like a pro, after my energy burst, I decided I could take the water and drink it while I ran. They do it on TV in big races. That’s certainly not something the real runners practice. I thought, “even if it spills, it will cool me off”. My mistake was assuming it was water. I tipped back my cup and spilled the whole thing over my face and chest by accident. I know, you are laughing now. But, it’s seriously tough to drink and run. I challenge you all to try it. Now I was covered in sticky juice and I hate Gatorade as it is. So, at the next opportunity to grab a drink, I asked if it was water. She said “yes” This time I stopped instead and drank it back. I didn’t see any garbage cans close by and felt bad about littering and there were cups all over the ground. But, we are taught not to litter right? So, I asked one of the people where to put my cup. She said “just toss it”. She must have thought I was crazy. Maybe I am.
I continued around a bend, and after a few minutes, I saw the sign that brought on an unanticipated gush of emotion. It said “500m”. There was a person on a loud speaking saying “way to go runners” “thank you for your support” and “you are almost there”.
Tears filled up in my eyes. It wasn’t the distance I ran, it wasn’t the crowds of people lining the street (although that really helped) it was the sense of achievement I felt.
After I cleared the crowd, I realized that I had not made a very good plan with Matt. Even if he was here with the boys, I would not find them without a meeting spot. Also, because I was running of course, I had no phone to call him and no money either. I walked aimlessly for a bit trying to figure out what to do. I could take a cab, or the streetcar without money, I didn’t even have change for a payphone. Are there any payphone left anyway? So, I walked along and started to head for home. I knew it was about 7km away. I was not pleased at the least that I now had to walk 7km home. Thankfully, I turned down a street and saw a row of school buses with runners lining up beside them. “They have buses” I’ve never been so relieved to see a school bus. We boarded the buses and headed back to the start point. Now my walk would be less than a 1km, I could handle that. On the bus ride, the lady beside me was looking up her time on her phone. I didn’t realize that was possible or how to do it so I asked her to look me up. I ran it in 35 minutes. No world records broken but, a personal one for sure. I did it. Now I knew, with the right training, I would be able to do the “Give it a Tri”.
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