I ran my last race before the St. Jude half marathon---The Country Store 15K this morning at 8 a.m. in Olive Branch, MS, marking the furthest distance I have traveled for a race in the last 5 months. We have had 2 sick kiddos at home the last couple of days, and I thought just maybe the country road and I would never meet, but Jan was willing to keep the kids at home to allow me to finish this "thing" I have started.
I walked out the door at 6:00 a.m., programmed the GPS for the Country Store address, popped in a Christmas music CD (alone in the car time = a perfect time to practice for the upcoming choir special at church and the solo I have on Dec. 18), and away I went.
It was a nice day, a little chilly, but I would expect nothing less this time of the year. No trails today, praise the Lord! (Whew! I learned my lesson about trail races last Saturday.hehe) Today, it was just a long stretch of a paved, country road beginning at a small church in a slightly remote part of Olive Branch. 9.3 miles of paved road...
I knew NO ONE there!! Which I thought might be a good thing. :) So, my day began with short, casual conversations with a handful of complete strangers. And let me admit here, I'm guilty of being a "people watcher". I watched the people around me as they stretched and ran warm ups and talked to their friends. I saw others who, like me, were alone in this "adventure". I saw 2 "girls" driving minivans, and I smiled as I wondered if they, too, had left behind a number of children and a husband in charge of those children so they could be here to run this race. I wondered if any of these racers were training for the 1/2 on Dec. 3rd, too. I also wondered if anyone else was like me in that this race was their FIRST 15K? I felt like I should be wearing a sign or something that read, "This is my first 15K!" Wouldn't that have been a sight? Bet I would've gotten some looks or maybe even sparked a few extra conversations with that.
And broadcasting my 15K maiden voyage might have bought me some sympathy in the end 'cause this group of runners, as I quickly learned after the start of the race, was a fast group!! Honestly, I just couldn't get myself in a "groove" for the first 3 miles today. I saw all these folks passing me and moving ahead quickly, and I thought to myself, "O.K., you are not here to win anything, just finishing this is your goal. Chill out!"
I have kept up with all of my finish times, and it's safe to say that I am presently averaging 9 1/2 to 10 minutes per mile. That's not fast, but it's not too bad for a start, I guess. If I could drop some pounds, I might could run faster. If I weighed 125 pounds or LESS like some of these other girls that run, imagine how fast I might be. Instead, my weight, which is currently almost exactly what I weighed in high school, would probably put me in the "Clydesdale" category of women who run races! When I told Jan that some races have this "Clydesdale" category and what the requirements are and how it depressed me that I could easily be a member of that category, he tried to make me feel better by saying, "See what you can do, Nicole!! I'd like to see how fast those girls would run if I strapped a 25 or 30 pound backpack on them and told them to run with it." Thanks, sweetheart. :)
Anyhoo...let me get to the end of this story and this day so I can take my sore knee to bed.
I finished in 1:33:00 today which from the looks of the group already at the finish and enjoying their "after race" food, was probably in the bottom portion of the race finish times. (I haven't actually seen the results at this time, so I can't be for sure.) I grabbed some grapes and a bottle of water and headed to my car.
The "unknown racer" makes her quiet and quick exit...haha
Goodbye, country road race and all you FAST country "bumpkins". (Oh, and no offense intended with that "bumpkins" comment... I am a certified "bumpkin" myself!)
What does the near future hold? Well, I don't have another race scheduled until the half! My plans for the next 3 weeks include: 1st- resting this sore knee, enjoying a trip with my husband next week before celebrating Thanksgiving with my family, and doing some running on my own before I tackle the 13.1 miles on Dec. 3rd!
Most importantly, I have learned from this "race training" experience that so much in life requires perserverance and faith and hard work. I have been reminded that God is good all the time and that even when we find bumps in the road, He's there. Maybe He even put that bump there to get our attention. My "bump in the road" or the thing God has been working on most in my life since January 2010 is: trust. Fearing tomorrow or what could happen tomorrow began eating away at me over a year ago when our Mary Claire was diagnosed with cortical dysplasia. I let fear take over in many ways due to the lack of control I had on the situation and her diagnosis. It was, and still is, something I deal with everyday. But with God's help, I know I cannot fear the future. I trust He's already there and He already knows and He already has a plan for the things I know nothing of. I will simply thank Him for the blessing of today, for His grace, and His mercy.