Well technically it’s the afternoon before, but it seems oh so much closer. Eight weeks or so ago when I signed up for this 10K I had high held plans to “be ready”. Well I’m not. At least in the fact that I haven’t been out running and increasing my mileage on a weekly basis. Yet mentally at this moment I am as ready as I think I could ever be. Tomorrow after I take off and run that first 100 steps I’m sure I’ll hear the yelling once more in my head of “what WAS I thinking?” But that’s okay, I hear that every time I take off in one of my many 5K races.

Back eight weeks ago when I went out running with the intention of adding mileage I really struggled. A few times to get a run in it was necessary for me to go out right after I got home from work. I was miserable. After standing for 5 hours and usually having had nothing to eat but my morning cereal, too much coffee and a granola bar on my break I just did not have any energy and my legs felt like 60 lb weights. It didn’t take long for me to get discouraged and depressed. My brain started telling me there was no way I could do this, but then I have a good run every once in a while.

Like the old days of when I started running I spent some time throwing myself that little pity party and scaring myself thinking about those extra 3 miles. Thinking about those races where I crossed the finish line at 3.1 miles and realizing this time I couldn’t stop, but would have to do that all over again before I could cross the finish. 6.2 miles running the mean streets of Oswego. Yeah okay maybe not so mean, but certainly at least one area that was concerning me, having to run on the highway. Wondering if I would be able to run facing traffic or would it be coming up behind me, and wondering about the mentality of the person behind the wheel. Wondering, yes, whether they’d be paying attention, but worse what would they be thinking about my jiggly old  butt in front of them, seeming to get nowhere fast on those short turtle legs.  Then there were the hills. I know it’s pretty flat around here but having a river cut through the town means some inclines, and when I look at them, they look rather huge and I must climb hard to get to the top.  Sometimes they look so large I wonder where the snow-capped peak is. Okay that’s slightly overboard in thinking I know.

It amazes me that after these 3 years of off and on running I can still almost  convince myself I can’t do this. I went along for a few weeks letting it all get the better of me until one day, driving to work and looking to my right and seeing one of those giant hills I have to tackle, well my brain cleared. If I hadn’t been sitting in my car I would have tried hard to kick myself in the behind. As it was I slapped my forehead. Shame on me. Shame on me for getting scared, for getting discourage, for thinking I couldn’t possibly do this. Shame, shame, shame on me.

I will cross the finish line! There is no runner’s police to watch me, and how I tackle each step of this. There is no right or wrong way for me to get through this. It’s just me putting one foot in front of the other and enjoying the scenery. Enjoying that I CAN do this. Why did I lose sight?  I do this for no one but me. I don’t have to keep up with anyone, there is no time limit, the finish line will still be there when I get there, whether next to last or last. The only thing different from the 5K and the 10K are 3.1 miles. I am no longer running mail box to mail box, I am running MILES! I know I can run 3 without stopping.  I’ve forced myself to bypass the water stops the last several races partly in preparation for this run. That has been difficult due to the radiation damage. I will NOT pass up the water stops tomorrow. I will stop and drink my water and maybe chat with the volunteers. No, probably not, but maybe. I’ve bought myself a bright yellow sweatshirt to show myself off to that traffic on RT. 31 and I bought myself a “runner’s bottle” to carry water with me because I know I’ll need it this time.

I’m thinking if I can run 3 miles maybe I can squeak out another mile before I walk a bit, catch my breath and run some more. If I have to walk up a hill to get up it, then so be it. I AM MOVING and I AM NOT standing STILL. I’m thinking if I do this in an hour and a half I’ve done an awesome job and I’m thinking if it takes me longer I’ve still done an awesome job, because I will not stop moving forward whether it means running or walking, I will reach that finish line!

How can I expect to be an example to my youngest son if I give up on myself, to think I am not capable, to give up because I might have to walk some of this, to give up because my lungs are screaming. So what! There is no rule, except follow the path set out for this race. I’ve said it before, I am not an elite athlete. But this time I say thank God! They won’t be following me giving commentary to the TV audience, “She WAS right, she IS slow as a Turtle, back to you in the studio”. Nope it will be just me out there, with maybe a few runners in sight ahead of me, but most likely not.

When I picked up my Bib number last week, the young guy told me to double-check my age to make sure it was correct. I said, “yep 52, I’m not getting any younger.” To which he replied, “hey your 52 and you’re doing a 10K, I’m 22 and I’m not”. I take that as a huge pat on the back by that guy. But I did want to ask him, “why not?”

I’ll have lots of time out there to be thankful, thankful that I am alive, thankful that I am doing something that I would never have thought possible 8 years ago. Thankful that my brain is finally saying, YES, whether my old body agrees or not.  I am me, with my short little turtle legs and my crappy lungs just trying to put one foot in front of the other until I reach the Finish line and say Yes I did it, it was hard, it hurt, I gasped for air, but it didn’t kill me. Least ways I hope not.

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About jlturtlerunner

12 plus Years Surviving Stage IV Oral Cancer. I have become a "Turtle" runner since that diagnosis, as a way of saying, "Take That Sucker!" After 12 years of being a Turtle Runner, I'm adding a new title, Turtle Rucker!

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