Friday night, I cut myself off after two beers in prep for waking up and being in Lexington by 8 am. The week of non-stop holiday parties had already gotten to me and I was exhausted. I woke up, threw on my clothes and grabbed a granola bar for the car. I never realized how close Lexington was until I plugged it into my gps and found out my arrival time would be 15 minutes later. Found parking right in front of the store and walked in surrounded by amazingly fit athletes. I won't lie, I was pretty intimidated. Luckily, I saw some now familiar faces from the newbie meeting in which calmed my nerves just a bit. They started off with announcements and an overview of the course. You had your option of anything from 5 miles to 10 miles. As I realize that most of the fast guys will run their 10 miles in my 10k pace, I opted for doing a little over a 10k.
I started out on the course with a group keeping pace. They were running at an awesome speed and one that I would like to keep up with. Of course, at mile 1.5 that dreaded granola bar decided it hated me. Lesson learned...always practice nutrition! Good thing this was a fun run and not race day. My pace dropped back significantly and I started to keep pace with this awesome back of the packer. We chatted for a bit and she restored my faith in being a back of the packer. See, I started as one back in '08 doing triathlons barely able to run a mile. And as my blog title says, I am a "real girl" which means I was built more like a linebacker than a speed star. As training for tris progressed, I became a mid-packer which, while not as fun, allowed me to finish strong before they packed up the refreshment stations. So, while I was feeling down about everyone passing me by, this lovely lady made the comment that we were doing much more than those who were on their couch or still in bed. Yes, I was trotting along slow, but I was out there running and soon will be out there doing a marathon. I may not be first, heck we know I'm not Kenyan, but I will finish in my own time. I let me new friend speed along as I scouted for some woods.
Shortly after my break, I approached the 2.5 mile water stop. The parents manning the station were the cutest people I have seen and so cheerful. It reminded me that I am not alone in this race. Between the donors behind me and the people there watching me run each mile, I have a support network. After stopping to chat, I jogged along to the turnaround for a 6.5 mile run. I turned around just as the fast 8 milers were running on by. As I moved along the fast 10 milers started to run by as well. Everyone was so nice and cheered each other along as we passed by others. The final downhill approach brought everyone in sight including the running store. I took a bit of a long path back in order to feed my meter. Low and behold, someone had done that for me which put a smile on my face!
Back in the running store, everyone was chatting away. I ended up making some much needed purchases to get me through the dark winter and went outside to stretch. I got to talking to those still out there and once again was reminded of how supportive everyone is. We were discussing past races and upcoming ones and the challenges we face. No matter how fast you are, there will always be someone ahead of you to try and beat. It was nice to hear that because after doing a lot less than the super fast group, I was starting to doubt myself.
I came home, took a nice hot shower and sat on my couch for the next few hours. As I was flipping through my blackberry, I saw a DFMC email come through with a notification of a donation. A very sizeable donation was made in memory of a dear neighbor whose funeral I had attended 2 days before. As I was sitting there in a pile of a mush, I was reminded that yes, today was not the best of runs for me, but that wasn't why I was running. I am running so one day I won't see the in memory of as a subject line. And with that, my faith in running was restored.