I signed up for this summer challenge to 1,500 minutes of a skill of your choice. Every time I complete 15 minutes, I fill in a block on a chart. When the chart is full, I’ve met the challenge. I picked writing as my skill, and this seems like the best place to start.
I’ve been lazy. The winter weather kicked my butt, and my mojo took a hike. (Actually, a hike would have been good; more like a nap. An extended one.) Between the weather and my lack of motivation, I did way less running than I’d planned. The result was realizing I was not going to be able to run the Pittsburgh half marathon – at least not without either hurting myself or wanting to hurt myself. Feeling more relief than regret, selling my bib was an easier decision than I expected. I knew I made the right one.
Well, no sooner than I’d found someone to buy my bib, I learned that my sister-in-law needed to replace a member of her relay team (specifically, my brudder). I thought I was all set to just sleep in on marathon Sunday, but then I thought, “Hell, I can’t run 13.1 miles, but I can do six or so….” It felt like a good consolation prize for the race: I’d still get to participate even though I wasn’t prepared for the race I’d intended to run. (And I’d still get a medal. Yes, it matters.)
I had a fabulous time at the race – better even than I ‘d hoped. I had the middle leg of the race, which at ~6.2 miles, was the second-longest, but most uphill-est of the relay legs. It had also gotten pretty warm out by the time it was my turn to hit the pavement. The heat combined with my lack of training meant that I struggled to “just” run those six little miles. It was tempting to beat myself up about that, but I talked myself out of it. Hell, I still woke up at 4:00 AM, right? I showed up. It “counts.”
The best part of being a relay participant is that you get to be both runner and spectator. Standing on the South Side for a couple of hours, I got to hang out with the best cheering section ever – the gang from Cupid’s Undie Run:
I also got to see the elite runners come flying through, which was really neat. Plus, I spotted quite a few of my half and full marathon friends as they passed by. I got to cheer and clap and get emotional over the experience of being at an event that is – according to my dear friend Julie is not just a race, but – a festival of running.
But as I’d mentioned, “just” six miles was trying for me. I was determined that I was going to at least make it to the top of the hill into Oakland, which would have been around the three-mile mark of my leg. I didn’t. I got about 3/4 of the way up and had to walk. Then there was a lot of walking, running, walking, running. The worst part about walking during the second half of the middle marathon relay leg is that you are now in the race with full marathon runners who are running miles 12-15 and they know you just started. Why? Because relay runners have to wear a big “RELAY” sign on our backs. The relay bibs are already a different color, but even runners approaching you from behind (i.e., passing you) know that you have just set out.
I managed to finish strong with help from a conversation with a full marathon runner. With about half a mile left in my leg, I was coming around a bend, walking because it was uphill, and I passed a woman with a full bib. I pulled out my headphones and asked her how she was doing. She said that she was all right, but that she had the stomach flu that week, and was feeling just a bit dehydrated in spite of taking lots of water at each stop.
Whoa. That’ll make you feel like a complete slackass.
After she assured me that she would be okay, I said to her, “If you can still show up to complete the full marathon you trained for with the stomach flu, I think imma run up this hill now. Thanks! Good luck!”
And I ran as fast as I could to the relay exchange, where my sister-in-law – whom I’ve never been so happy to see – gave me a hug and my relay medal. Then I headed straight to the shuttle!
I found my way to the party on the lawn and my new Monroeville Moms Run This Town friends, which included my “old,” and very dear, friend Jessica Marks. Here is the group of us.
I’m in the back row, second face from the right. I look weird because the walk from the shuttle leaves you at the “finish” but beyond where the food is. I was doing fine at first, but then I started to get a little stabby for some chips. If I’m not mistaken, I hadn’t quite gotten to the bottom of the bag of chips Jessica had given to me by the time this was taken. [NOTE: Jessica got those chips from my new – and darling – friend Renee (4th from left in photo above). Luckily, Renee willingly handed them over because I don’t know what I would have done to Jessica if she hadn’t come up with chips after she texted me that she had chips. I’m telling you: I needed that salt.]
Bottom line: I had a great time and the experience helped me get my enthusiasm for running back after the cold, under-active winter.
Upcoming topics to help me get through my
1,500 1,470 minutes of summer writing: Girls on the Run coaching + race experience and my second visit to the Decker’s Creek Half Marathon!