WOO HOO! I was right the Gobbler Hobbler 10K didn’t kill me! 1:23:15 for my first ever 10K. I MADE IT!

At the start of the race I was in the back of the pack starting at the 11 minute mile marker, feeling like an imposter, but only because they didn’t have a “corral” for a 13+ minute mile. The only people behind me were in the “corral” for the walkers.

I was so far back I never heard them say “GO”. There was the surge forward and I placed one foot in front of the other trying to keep a slow pace start and not allow myself to get excited. Telling myself, this was just for fun. FUN, have fun! I didn’t want to wear myself out in the first 5 minutes, but then something quite unusual happened to me as I approached the turn out of the subdivision and onto the highway.  I was with a few others in the front of the pack! I have never seen that view before in my 5K races. I’ll say this; it paid to look over the map 900 times before the race and play it out over and over in my head each night I laid down to sleep. All the front leaders went the wrong way for about a half mile and had to turn around. There was no volunteer to point the direction and they obviously didn’t read the map as many times as I had! Some of them were in the process of a turn around as I took the correct route, so there I was with just a handful of others in the lead with a clear view of the road ahead!  I had that view for about .2 miles. Oh it was pretty and then they were whizzing by me on either side, trying not to trip over me I’m sure and I was right where I belonged in the back of the pack. It was relief to have them all back where they belonged, because for the second time I had felt like an imposter, but it was FUN! I knew the view would not last, but for a few brief seconds I could pretend.

As I ran up the first incline of the bridge over the river I remembered I wanted to enjoy this and I was and I raised my head, instead of blazing a hole with the stare of my eyes in the wood beneath my feet. I took in the scenery of both the pack of runners already on the bike path ahead and the river. I smiled. Glorious! I am running. I don’t hurt. My lungs aren’t screaming and I’ve already finished the first mile. The first mile is always the hardest for me and seems to go on for an eternity, but not today! Then a split second later I got dizzy as the bridge felt like it was moving with all the other runners pounding down on the wood, in front and behind me. I believe I smiled a little bigger! It was like being on a ride at the fair.

I stepped off the bridge and on to the bike path for the ¾ miles to the first water stop at the 2 mile mark. I made it there in 25 minutes something or other and felt good about that time. I recognized the woman calling the time. I had told her a few weeks ago this would be my first 10k when I went in to get that map to study over and over again. I wondered if she remembered me, but I only stopped long enough for a couple sips of water before crossing the highway and tackling that hill I’d been yapping about for too many weeks. I had planned this one out in my head over and over as I drove past this every day to work. I walked up that hill as fast as I could to conserve my energy for the 4 miles that still lay ahead. At the top of the hill, just as I prepared to take off running again, I noticed a man chatting with the runners that passed him. I got a smile on my face as I recognized him as someone I had worked with a few years back. I smiled yet again on this journey as he recognized me and we quickly asked how the other was doing.

I made it to the 3 mile mark at 39:50, good time for me. I had actually pushed harder than I had planned because I wasn’t struggling like I usually do and knew I was half way there. As I entered into mile 4 I kept running. It had been my plan all along. I told myself if I could run 3 miles non-stop for a 5K, I could run 4 miles this day with stops for water and walking up hills. I had also competed in close to or just over 4 mile trail runs, three years in a row. Mile 4 seemed to go by like a breeze, I couldn’t believe it, but I had run this piece of the run several times, just for training, so I looked to my right and took in the site of the river once more having come out of another subdivision and a large downhill. I had soared down that hill and found myself smiling again. I was actually doing this! I wasn’t crawling, or whining. I was running!

Into mile 5 I was still in familiar territory and made my last water stop, soaring down yet one last downhill, knowing there was one last large hill to get this old gal up and over in about a miles time. I reached that hill with a man at least 20 years younger than I and he told me the hills were killer! I sympathized with him and told him that was why I had agreed to myself to not even attempt to run these hills. I wanted to make it to the finish. I wasn’t about to lay down and give up all because of a hill. One foot in front of the other I pulled myself up that hill. I can’t remember now was that young man behind or in front of me, but I like to think I made it up that hill before he did.

The school where we all started from came into view several minutes later. The end was almost in my sight. The END! It WAS in sight and so were two of my friends coming back for me. They are very decent runners and I was honored to now have them beside me, pushing me the last half mile, even if they thought they were going as slow as me, but instead I had increased my speed to match them. I didn’t realize how tough that pace was until we hit the 6 mile mark and I only had .2 miles to go. I knew that now my husband, standing at the finish could see me making my way around the last leg, the last curve and then straight on to the finish line. I am happy with how I did. I was proud of the fact that I never heard the little screamer in my head screaming STOP, what are you doing! It was a good day for a run with just a tad bit of walking. I would guess all total combined I maybe walked a half mile, and it was not a lolly gagging walk, I was booking it!

As I laid down to rest my weary body that afternoon, still on a high from this new accomplishment I thought back one year ago when I tried to run the Gobbler Hobbler ONE mile. It was complete torture. I was and had been mourning terribly the death of my Mom and I’m pretty sure the last time I had ran was the Summer Scamper 5K about a week or two after she died in August. By November I was a broken spirit for keeping up with my running. I could not even run a mile.

Today I hit that same stretch that broke me last year, with Karen on one side and Laura on the other and my husband at the finish watching me make that journey once again this year. That last stretch with them was difficult, as I gasped for air and my head began tilting to one side and my legs burning, getting heavier by the second and seeing the people who were left, waiting for me to make it those last several feet to cross that line and get my participants ribbon, but unlike the one mile of last year, even though it was tough, my spirit was not broken.  I knew I would eventually get there with those two by my side and I had just ran 6 miles. 6 MILES. Something I had never, ever done. NEVER, Until yesterday.

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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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