(As with the Turkey Trot, my daughter ran the kids 1K beforehand. Unfortunately, this time did not go as well as the previous. It was longer, colder, and she was both sick and without a friend to run with her. I tried to push her and encourage her, but there was a point where there were too many tears on her wind-burned cheeks where too much, and I just carried her. Once the finish line was in sight, I did place her back on the ground and make her reluctantly jog out the last stretch.
When I was a child, if something did not come naturally to me, I simply did not really do it. I was fortunate that enough things came naturally to me that no one really noticed. But I never practiced, never tried at anything until my adult life. Running is one of the first things that was hard for me that I continued to pursue. Yet jogging with my miserable 3 year-old, I found it difficult to find the line between pushing her past my opportunist disposition she might have inherited and making her do something that made her genuinely unhappy.)
5Ks are starting to feel like 5Ks again. They still suck, but at least they are getting shorter.
I made the foolish mistake, that I have made over and over, of thinking a route would be flat. It was, of course, not flat. Nowhere in Colorado is flat. Nowhere!
I lit out from the starting line (as much as a turtle can), feeling very good, feeling very familiar. Turns out, I was chasing my pre-pregnancy pace and nearly killed myself in the first mile. By the time I was running past horses shitting in their pasture beside the road (ah, the charms of Fountain), I was starting to feel it.
The route turned into a park. The way the path weaved through an otherwise open field hearkened to the Great Pumpkin Race we do every October. The hills were relatively small and rolling, yet the unseasonable December sun was cooking me and was panting and drooling from pushing too fast at the start.
At the first mile sign, I thought I could do this. When there was no second mile sign, my faith began to waiver. I knew I was heading back towards the start, looping back through the park. Yet my body was rebelling, objecting. I felt myself going slower and slower, panting harder and harder, roasting hotter and hotter.
I wanted to stop. The thought kept pounding in my head. My body wanted to walk. Over and over, I felt the consciousness of my legs and feet falling into a walking rhythm, but I refused. I refused to drop the wog; I refused to walk.
Yet as I approached pavement again, a short but huge hill sprung up ahead of me. I forced myself to wog up it, moving at the pace of standing still. But I made it.
Then I felt the dry heaves closing around my throat. My stomach folded on itself and tried to leap into my mouth. So I started walking.
Run until you puke or pass out. My rules. I guess dry heaving was close enough to buy me a block.
Once my temperature dropped a few degrees and the nausea retreated, I returned to my sad, slow run. I knew, by the point, I had to be close, and the course directors confirmed it. I was dying by the time I could see the finish. I had no sprint left in me, but when I saw 36 minutes on the clock, I gave it all I had.
My goal had been under 40 minutes (beating my Turkey Trot finish of just under 41). I made it in just over 37 minutes.
The time made all the pain (and dry heaving in the finish chute) totally worth it.