Sunday, July 15, 2012
Lesson 163: Rain is a Good Thing
He has risen! James Monroe, that is. Our fifth president has been resurrected into the body of a 41 year old female, who ran the Erie Half Marathon today. Eloise writes under a pen name, so why not run under one, too?
It is just one of the little quirky things I do to make that beast of a run and all of its practice sessions tolerable. I earned my set of dead US President Pez dispensers for display, #1-6.
I keep track of the formal runs I make with my daughters according to the order of the US Presidents. I ran as John Quincy Adams, 41 year old female yesterday as well in the North East Cherry Festival race. The next set in the series, Jackson through Taylor, has already been added to my Amazon cart and I am anxiously awaiting its arrival. I'll keep it hidden away until I finish six more races, then it will go on display up in the Lamp Post.
Never an athlete, but always a sports enthusiast, I've always been active. My ultimate goal is to live to be 100 years old, so that means saying no to the smokes, keeping the beer to one a week, eating right pretty much of the time, and exercising all of the time. After 20 years on the treadmill I began to get bored and I took up jaunts outdoors last spring. I quickly realized that outdoor running was the perfect combo of my true loves: nature and exercise. It's done wonders for my sleep, stress level, and endurance. Morning runs leave me energized all day. Energy begets energy, so says one fellow blogger whom I notified in advance that I would be stealing this phrase from.
As I opened my eyes at 4:14 am, I said my morning prayer: Lord, thank you for this day..............and please don't let me humiliate myself in front of 1,000 people.
My friend Tracy Northern picked me up within the hour and we headed to the race site still in darkness that seemed a little extra dark. Ten minutes into that drive we realized that heavy rain clouds were blocking the way of dawn's early light. Cracks of lightning split through the sky and the downpour started with only a half an hour to the blow of the horn. Runners were crammed into cars--sneakers against the windshields trying to get some stretch time in.
"I'm going to kill you," I said to TNorthern. She laughed and shook her head, ignorantly believing that I wouldn't.
She should have been afraid. After all, I've threatened to kill her, choke her, punch her, and beat her senseless all throughout our long training runs. I kept referring to her as my Soon To Be Former Friend Tracy (that should clear up the whole Northern, Southern thing for my readers). "What did you sign me up for?" I would whine.
Despite the insults and snide remarks I made to her throughout this journey together, our friendship is cemented. It's strengthened with every step we took along the roadways, even when I miscalculated an 11 mile run to be a 14. Whoops. Never claimed to be any good at math.
We wore matching t-shirts and several people mistook us for sisters given our height and curly pony tails. These were our shirts:
I got my flesh and blood sister one as well, but she ran half naked because she's a Kenyan and all.....
Plus the only thing I ever see of Kenyan in a race is a flash of her a$$ because she's so fast.
We all can't be Kenyan. I've learned to run the race in the body that you are in. I never felt more compelled to finished than when people in wheelchairs were handing out water at the mile nine watering hole. Complain as I do about my legs, I knew they'd give anything to have them, so I finished strong with the thoughts of them never leaving my head.
Finishing the race with a partner is one of life's better moments, even with chafed skin and throbbing feet. Even Kenyan, my speedy fast sister owes her fantastic finish time of 6ish minutes shy of two hours to her pace girlfriend Heather and her running partner Rob.
Eloise's left ankle is screaming at me a bit as I type this and I'm a bit slow from sit to stand. Other than that, I'm not too beat up. The only casualty of the race is my favorite little orange iPod Nano. It's been a trusted friend that has carried me through the last year of workouts. It is currently drying out in a pile of rice (I need Myth Busters, does that even work?). We hit a downpour at mile 12 and I should have moved it to my belt pack, but nearing exhaustion, I feared losing focus. I hoped it would get me to the end and send me a sign of things to come. I was concentrating on what songs would pop up on my Country Music playlist. 12.5 miles Carrie Underwood was belting out a beautiful rendition of How Great Thou Art. Awesome. As mile 13 came into sight, I laughed when Sin Wagon by the Dixie Chicks came out. With one measly tenth of a mile to go, the iPod quit. Shut down. Kaputo. Kerplunk. Kerpoohey! I was hoping for a Tim McGraw song to pop up and cross me through the finish, but instead it died. What kind of a sign was that? Then I cried.
The cheers of the crowd and my soaking wet family (grandma included) became my music. I finished holding Northern's hand, with Kenyan and Heather leading us in as they finished and they ran back to run the end again with us. The bond of sweat and sisterhood. Even a soaking rain couldn't wash that memory away. The water God sent from the sky sure felt good though. Luke Bryan is right. Rain is a good thing.
Posted by eloise hawking at 8:54 PM