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My “Sole” Mate.

September 10, 2016

Today my husband and I ran a 5k. It was over 90 degrees, with torturous humidity, and the race didn’t start until 10 so it was not prime running conditions by any means. While we were waiting to start, we chatted about how slow we were going to run, since it was hot, humid, and my hip hurt. We had arrived super early (for me, anyway) and had over an hour to kill while we waited to start. We walked around for a bit, then sat on a bench, which was not a good idea, because I began to feel like going back to bed. It was hot, and running (even though it was 3.1 miles and not 13.1) just didn’t sound like something I wanted to do today. So I made my husband get up and walk around, in order to keep me from snoozing or just deciding to bag the whole running thing altogether.

Fast forward to the start. My husband decided that he was going to at least try to run a little competitively, and I was still in the “I don’t care if i’m slow, it’s hot” mode. As the horn sounded and we began the slow processional toward the starting line, we kissed goodbye, and my husband headed off ahead of me into the maddening crowd.

Then, it happened. I’m still honestly not quite sure what “it” was, but as I stepped across that starting line, something came over me, and began propelling me forward at a much faster pace then I had intended to go. I was passing everyone. I was doing what I like to call the “Indiana Jones jump and dodge” – passing people on the left, cutting through the crowd with a turn of the shoulder, passing on the right, jumping over curbs, etc. I blew through the first hot mile at an 8:11 pace, with no hip pain and no fatigue.

At 1.5 miles, it was a different story. The heat caught up with me and I was checking my Garmin literally every minute to see how much farther I had to run. I finally made it to mile 2 after what seemed like an eternity, with a 9 minute mile. Still not too bad, but quite obviously slower than mile 1. Did I mention the crappy hill in mile 2? Who knew a neighborhood in South Jersey could have a hill such as this. Anyway, shortly after I crossed the mile 2 mark, I started feeling really light headed. This worried me, and I began to imagine what would happen if I passed out on the course. Would people just keep running right over me? And besides that, I was actually running at a pace that still could beat my best 5k time ever. If I passed out, that went out the window. But like an oasis in the distance, I saw it – the water station. And so the battle between me and myself began:

Me: I bet if I stopped for some water, I’d be able to finish the race without passing out.

Myself: But stopping for water takes time, you fool, and then you’ll definitely not beat your PR!

Me: But if I stop, I have a better chance of finishing at all, and I’ve never not finished a race.

And with that argument, Me won. I stopped. I drank the water. The light-headedness slowly began to subside. I lost time, but I gained strength. I kept going. I saw the finish line ahead. It was a half mile away, with no shade in sight. I was getting closer, yet it seemed to be getting farther away. I again started to feel slightly ill, when out of nowhere, my husband appeared with water, and poured it on my head. “Good job, Honey!” he shouted and ran off.

I knew I could finish now. Not only because the water had cooled me down, but my own personal cheering section was there right when I needed him. I crossed the finish with a 27:08. I did not beat my PR (which was in much cooler weather, fyi), but I did so much better than I had thought I would. (I was 8th in my age group – not too shabby for a race of 1113 total).

Sometimes, all it takes is that little bit of encouragement from someone to keep us going. Let’s cheer each other on. Together, we can all achieve greatness.

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Me and my sole mate.

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