“No matter how slow you go, you’re still lapping everyone on the couch.”
This weekend brought an adventure to see my older son in his new home state of Georgia. A few months ago, he had the idea of running the Savannah Rock and Roll half marathon together. Er, well, we would participate in the same event. Let’s be honest; we’ll never run together – I can’t even begin to keep up with him.
A heat advisory was in effect for the race that day, so the start time was moved up to give us a bit more time in the cooler part of the day. I certainly didn’t complain; the early hour allowed for a moonlight start. (See the full moon? It’s to the left of the stop lights.)
And here’s my boy at the start.
And then there was this guy in my corral. Loved the Stay Puft Marshmallow Man, but I had to wonder what he was thinking trying to run in that suit given the predicted temperatures.
But off we went through Savannah. We ran through neighborhoods with gorgeous architecture and moss-covered trees lining the streets. And lemme tell ya, these people LOVE their marathon. It was like one big block party. It was so fun and festive.
But the temperatures and the humidity made for some tough conditions. And I struggled. A lot.
By the way, Mr. Stay Puft didn’t last. Found his head around mile 5.
Somehow we finished, but it wasn’t pretty. I got body chills around mile 7 (yeah, that’s probably not a good sign) and it all went downhill from there. I walked the entire last three miles in a head fog. When the course took us through a particularly festive neighborhood a mile or two from the finish, I noticed one particular spectator standing on the curb. He was wearing a bath robe, lifting his morning beer in the air. “Why are you all walking? They call this a RUN,” he teased.
I don’t remember much about those last three miles of that race, but I will never forget that man. I know he thought he was being funny, but the absurdity of the moment jerked me out of my heat-induced haze: Dude, What. The. Heck? Seriously?
I brushed it aside until I crossed the finish line and began to recuperate. When I finally began the (LONG) walk back to the hotel, the guy’s words rolled around in my head. My blood came to a slow boil. Yes, I walked a lot over that course of 13.1 miles. And my time wasn’t great. But I gave it everything I had in less-than-ideal conditions. That guy was making fun of racers for walking? He wasn’t even moving. The only energy he was exerting was lifting his beer can to his mouth. At first I decided that he was definitely a jerk.
But then I thought…maybe he’s not a jerk. Maybe he’s just not funny. Maybe he’s right? Maybe I just didn’t train hard enough? Maybe I’m just not good at this? Maybe I’m too old. Maybe I’m too fat. Maybe I should be embarrassed that I had to walk so much? Self-doubt started to creep in and it got kind of ugly.
But then I spotted this goofy guy and I started to laugh. I decided to accept my race, stop taking it all so seriously, get over it, and start enjoying the sights of Savannah again.
Of course, the doubt didn’t go away completely. Every now and then I could hear that guy in my brain and I’d have to accept myself all over again.
Then…a little bit of magic happened when I got home.
Back story: two or so weeks ago, I ran a small 10K race over in Illinois — a race I almost didn’t run. I’d made the drive over to Illinois, parked the car at the start, looked around, and promptly freaked out at the number of participants. I was positive I was going to come in dead last and the volunteers would be standing around, rolling their eyes, waiting for me to cross the line so they could go home. But I made myself get out of the car, pin on my bib, and run. I didn’t quite finish last, but it wouldn’t have mattered if I had. The volunteers actually cheered loudest for the last finishers. And not in a “thank goodness they’re done” way. It was in a heartfelt “you are awesome” way. I didn’t stick around for the awards ceremony after, figuring there was no point.
Fast forward to my arrival home yesterday. Look what race organizers had sent me in the mail.
Seriously??? I won my age group?? I’m fairly certain this means that I was the only female participant in my category, but hey, I will take it. The only other time I’ve had a first place finish was when the Rock and Roll had a glitch and didn’t include my birthdate on my registration a few years ago. So I finished first in the 0 age group. And no, I did not notify event organizers of this error. I took a screen grab of that result and owned it.
At first, I had a really good laugh when I found this medal in my mail. But then I remembered that guy in Savannah. You know what, dude? Both the above medal and my Rock and Roll finishers medal from this weekend represent the same thing: I showed up. Yes, I was slow. Yes, I had to walk. But I put myself out there.
And I was still faster than you.