Saturday, October 16, 2010 I woke up at 4:50a.m. I did not need to get up until 5:45a.m., but once I was up the race was in my head and the adrenaline was flowing. I got up, brushed my teeth, looked at my clothes, pulled my hair into a ponytail- all actions of a normal day. I was not going to let myself waste energy and enthusiasm on the getting ready process.
Jenn (2nd leg runner), Josh and I got in the car and drove to Baltimore. We talked about finding the other team members, where we would park and our post race plans, but we did not really talk about the race. We met Tina and Scott in front of the M&T Bank stadium and stood, talking to each other in short, hushed and halted sentences. We tried to coordinate who would meet where after each leg of the race.
Jenn made her way to the bus that would take her to the beginning of her leg.
Scott, Tina and Josh followed me to the start of my leg- the first leg of the race. The crowd got thicker and thicker the closer we got to my starting point. Eventually I just said my good byes and good lucks to them and made my way to my starting point alone.
It was a little moment of zen. I tuned out everything around me and gave myself a little pep talk. "You can do this." "You have worked so hard for this and here you are." "You don't need to go to the bathroom one last time." "Don't let that hill psych you out."
As I settled into my starting point, I chatted up (surprise!) a couple next to me. They gave me some pointers, we wished each other good luck and took off on our own.
Confetti was flying through the air as I officially began the race running through the balloon arch. Running themed songs were blaring over the loud speakers, cow bells were ringing, strangers- hundreds of strangers- were cheering the runners, me, on.
As we started up the street the runners around me started to figure out their place in the race. Some people blew past me and I never saw them again. Others sort of hoovered around me in a group.
A friends' husband, who has run quite a bit, suggested that I pick someone ahead of me and just keep pace with them- always have them in my line of view. I picked a girl in a gray t-shirt.
Then I passed her.
I missed the first mile marker. I was running and thinking that this first mile felt terribly long and I was not going to be able to make it through my entire leg. Then I looked up and saw "MILE 2" written in red on a white sandwich board.
Mile 2? Great! Oh. Wait- THE HILL is on mile 3- it's coming!
Shortly after seeing the mile 2 marker, I dropped the timing chip. This means that our team's time would not be recorded past my first two miles. In a sense my team would not be official. Once I realized the chip was not on my wrist, I immediately went into panic mode. I froze.
Then I turned around and frantically scanned the ground with my eyes. A lady shouted, "It's just back there a bit further!"
I ran for about 40 or 50 yards without the chip, so I had to go back about 40 or 50 yards to get it. Then I was just praying no one stepped on it because if the chip was crushed, again no tracking time.
I found it and it was in tacked. I put it back on my wrist and made myself forget it and focus on the race again.
Mile 3- 245 feet above sea level- THE HILL.
I crushed that hill. Two hundred forty five feet above sea level? I spit in your face.
Mile 5- peace out! Only .7 to go.
Wait, there's another hill? The last bit of my leg serpentined through some sort of gravel sand lot and then I saw it. A hill. Not a big hill, but a steep hill. You've got to be kidding me. I'm not walking across the finish line. I will not let Jenn see me walking when I ran the whole thing. I will finish running.
As I came up the top of the hill I saw her. Dressed in black, wearing an Adidas hat, just like me, and a bouncy blonde ponytail- Jenn. My finish line. I pushed the timing chip into her hand, took her jacket and she was off.
After an unexpected adventurous bus ride, an impromptu mile trek to the end of Jenn's leg (and the beginning of Scott's), followed by about another mile to find Josh, we finally all met up again after Tina finished her leg. We had our medals. We accomplished our goal.
I ran my entire leg in about an hour. My team finished in just over 4 hours. I am not a runner. When I was asked to do this I initially said no. I'm so glad I changed my mind. The work that went into this was beyond worth it. The support of my family and friends make me feel so very lucky. I am overwhelmed by all of this.
There are events in your life that kind of stop you in your tracks. You are forced to realize their impact and power- your wedding day, finding out you going to have a baby and then meeting that baby, setting a goal and achieving it.
It sounds silly, but as I was running and people were coming out of their houses to cheer us on, when I ran up that hill I was scared of moments before, when I saw some of my best friends at the end of the race and knew we did this together- all these moments, brought tears to my eyes.
Final verdict: It was SUPER fun and I WILL do it again- maybe even the half marathon...one day...