Race number 10 is in the books. For some, 10 races is a typical summer. For me, it was a number I never thought in a million years I’d hit. I mean, seriously, me? Finish 10 races… 7 of which were half-marathons? Seems absurd.
My tenth race was a repeat of Journey’s in Eagle River, Wisconsin. It was the 20th anniversary of the race. It is the perfect small-town race in a cute tourist town that has not one but two candy shops on Main Street and three local coffee shops.
I’m happy to say I finished the race. But, if I’m being honest, it was a rough race, as in, really rough. There was of course the mishaps leading up to the race – winter illnesses, losing my mojo and skipping a few key runs, not losing any weight, and then my first real injury. Two weeks before the race I self-diagnosed myself with what I can only describe as plantar fascia. In my unprofessional medical opinion, it wasn’t severe but solid pain. I have a super low tolerance for pain so this was an epic injury. It also came at a time when I wanted to quit anyway. I knew I wasn’t going to set a PR or in fact have a run I could feel good about. This in itself would have been enough, but then there was the extended forecast. Over the course of a week, I watched the forecast plummet from a high of 40 to 25 degrees and a mix of rain, sleet and snow be predicted for game day. Seeing this, I really wanted to quit.
Thanks to VRBO, I had already paid for our weekend away. It was non-refundable at this time so we decided to head to Eagle River anyway. On Friday, I was still trying to decide if I should run a 10k or Half-marathon. My foot felt ok but by this time, I hadn’t put on any serious miles in two weeks. I went to packet pick-up Friday night still unsure what I was going to register for. As I filled out the registration slip, I wanted to circle 10k but chose half-marathon. Before I could change my mind I turned my slip in. In my hurry to not back pedal, I forgot I recently had a birthday and officially registered as a 37-year old instead of 38. I left the registration area and cried the entire way back to the cabin. I was frustrated, disappointed and seriously questioning if I could even cross the finish line.
I awoke Saturday morning to sunshine. From the comfort of the cabin, it didn’t seem too bad. Then I saw the snow on the ground and heard the howling of the wind through the cabin walls. It was a mere 20 degrees out. A series of mishaps, including trying to get anywhere on time with a toddler and my coffee shop moving, made me the last person to load the last bus heading to the start line. Slamming my McDonalds skim mocha on the drive up, I realized I really didn’t want to get off the bus. But, when the bus stopped on the start line and herded the stragglers (me) off, I realized there was no turning back. I had made it this far. And at this point, the only option was to try my best and get over that finish line, even if I was crawling.
In the 20-minutes leading up to the race I went to the bathroom twice, posted on Facebook, chatted with racers, and attempted to stay warm in the freezing temperatures, pelting sleet and wind. I admired the well-kept red pine forest and thanked the volunteers who weren’t even going to get a medal for being here. The announcer eventually lined us up where he shared words about life and used cliché phrases like it isn’t about the destination but the journey. The Star Spangled banner blared in the forest and then the gunshot. My feet started moving. They weren’t moving fast but they were moving. They did for the next 13.1 miles.
Over the course of the next 3+ hours, I was passed by power walkers and full-marathoners, serenaded with polka music, honked at and had strangers clap for me like I was some sort of rockstar. I nursed my foot for the first 4 miles, and then the next 5 miles. With 4 miles left, it was clear this would be one of my worse races ever. But, I was still moving. I texted my husband a revised estimate of when I’d cross the finish line. I eventually made it. And guess what? It was the same medal. I crossed the line knowing I wasn’t a quitter. My son later said, “Mommy ran super fast.”
By all accounts, this was not a good race. The weather was horrible. My training was horrible. My time was horrible. I didn’t hit any of my goals. Except for one. I didn’t quit. I’m not sure what comes next. But I do know that whatever is next, I’ll show up and try my best. And for now, that is enough.