RUNNING... (this one's a rambler)
As part of my regular running routine, I try to race about once a month. I aim to get one marathon in each year and maybe a half, but the rest of the time I like to do smaller, local races which are usually 5Ks or 5 milers. I rarely do these races on my own as I'm not a big fan of the solo mission. Half the fun of racing for me is hanging out with my friends and/or family before or after the event. But, this past week-end I had to fly solo due to a schedule conflict. Originally, a group of us were going to race together on Sunday but after I signed up, I learned that my high school girls track team had a meet so I had to duck out. Since I had planned to race, I was already in the game mentally, so last week I got online to find another one that I could run on Saturday instead. Thank you coolrunning. Saturday morning, I drove over to Malden to run the 1st Annual Malden Education Association 5K. I picked up my number and then, because I was on my own, I threw my headphones on and ran a couple miles to warm up. Then I just spent some time stretching and grooving out to my music; keeping to myself and soaking up the good vibes of the race. The next thing I knew, a gentleman tapped me on my shoulder and asked me what pace I was planning to run. He explained that he was shooting for a certain time and was trying to find someone to pair up with to hit his goal. We continued to chat as we walked to the starting line. I listened as he told me how he has just got into running and racing and was excited because he was steadily bringing his 5K time down. As it turned out, we weren't going to be running the same pace, but before the race started we wished each other good luck and high-fived. The walkers were heading off first and while we waited for them to start, the woman next to me told me she'd lost satellite on her Garmin and asked whether she should just roll with it rather than stress about her splits. I suggested she might be better of in the end without it and we both laughed as we agreed that we depend on them too much. We chatted for about five more minutes and then we, too, wished each other good luck. After a totally unexpected "GO!" from the race director, who then jumped in to run with us, we were off. It was a great race. The pros - perfect weather, great camaraderie, & Dunkin Donuts coffee at the finish - heavily outweighed the cons - late start and a tough course with a steady incline for the entire first mile. I was the first woman to cross the line in this small group of 130 runners. The ladies cheering at the finish line, all total strangers, came over and gave me a hug or a hive five. As I was hanging out and enjoying an orange, I noticed a gentleman walking in my direction having just finished. He gave me a thumbs up. "20:50" he said "not bad". I nodded though I wasn't 100% sure he was talking to me. He kept going, "I felt pretty good, but I still think I can get my time down". I looked around to make sure he was, in fact, talking to me. He was. "That's awesome" I said. The next thing I know, Bob and I were having an in depth conversation about our running careers, the various marathons that we'd run, how we manage to fit it all in (in his case running and teaching special-ed and in my case running, coaching and being a mom) and what we had left on our bucket list (he wants to complete 10 marathons before his knees give out and I'd like to run a marathon in an exotic location and maybe a 50 miler). About thirty minutes later we shook hands and wished each other good luck. I stayed to grab my medal and to take a picture with the race director who was an unbelievably friendly guy that everyone clearly loved. And then I headed home; solo again. But that's the thing...even when you show up at these races on your own, you're not really alone. Runners, in general, tend be one big happy family. And, now more than ever, regardless of whether you are running or walking, young or old, fast or slow, spectator or volunteer, EVERYONE is a member.
Listen to this:
Alive - Empire of the Sun
-->"Loving every minute cause you make me feel so alive."