This past Saturday I ran my first official race, the Fifth Third Riverbank 5k Run.
The night before I was a nervous wreck, which is embarrassing since I had multiple friends who ran the 25k, five times the miles I was going to run.
Just as I suspected, it was an uphill climb getting out the door on Saturday morning. I made a quick cup of coffee and nibbled piece of peanut butter toast while pumping a bottle for Clara before rousing the kiddos. A good call as I needed that “sort of” quiet moment to psych myself up. Coffee, peanut butter and the whirr of the breast-pump- the pre-race routine of champions people.
While Kel loaded the kids in the car I pinned my bib to my new (aqua of course) running shirt and felt like a huge poser.
I actually texted my friend Jenni to make sure I had it on correctly.
I kept half-joking that they were going to kick me out when I got there, because I’m really good at quitting physical endeavors before things get too… hard.
Kel hit every red light imaginable on our way downtown as I jammered on about… “you know that episode of Seinfeld where the runner stays with Jerry and oversleeps for the race after oversleeping for the Olympics”
Kel didn’t remember it. He is terrible at Seinfeld Trivia.
Anyway, in true Seinfeld fashion, I arrived late and by the time I jumped out of the car and made for the staring line the gun was going off and I had to sprint my way across four blocks to get down there in time.
A nice guard saw my bib and let me into the pack and a few minutes, and a lot of fiddling with my fancy new iPhone arm band later, they released my group, I was off!
It was a sticky, damp morning but as I jogged along in the pack of 5k runners the rain held off for the most part.
I just kept going, listening to my “Leanne burns it” Spotify playlist and people watching. I’m obsessed with scanning people’s tshirts, seeing if they have a cause or memory that keeps their feet moving.
Mile one seemed to fly by and as I finished up mile two, I crossed the Grand River and caught sight of my lovely little family, huddled under a blue golf umbrella. Noelle eagerly gave me a high five while Caedmon stood back shyly, as he does when faced with new and public things.
I jogged in place and waited for him, knowing that if I ran off without waiting for him to feel comfortable enough to step forward, he would cry.
Then I tickled Clara, thanked Kel for being there, got another hug from Noelle and kept on running.
Of course all this took less than 5 seconds.
No sooner had I yelled “bye guys!” over my shoulder than the rain got serious. I can’t tell you how glad I was that it held off until I got to see my family and they could get back to the van un-drenched. So glad. Their misery was one of my biggest anxieties that morning.
At that point I was starting to lose a little steam. I was getting pretty soggy and the last mile had a fair few hills and inclines.
Luckily the Spotify gods were kind and played a quick succession of “shut up and dance” by Walk the Moon followed by “Send me on my Way” by Rusted Good to see me through.
Music is energy sometimes.
As I ran on I thought of all the reasons I was running this race in the first place.
I was running to show my kids that we can do hard things
To rage, RAGE against the depression and heart disease that killed my parents
To prove to myself that I am strong and that the junior high girl who was too scared to try crosses the finish line in the end.
And sure, also to get moving and get into those pre-baby, polka dot shorts.
As the home stretch approached, my ears became too wet to hold in the ear buds, they kept slipping out.
So I gave up and stuffed them down the front of my shirt and instead tuned in to the noise of the crowd cheering us on as we approached the finish line.
Then I remembered that you’re supposed to sprint to the finish line if you can, and I could, so I did.
Not the sprint of Kenyan Olympian, but a sprint nonetheless.
And then it was over, I did it! #boom #irock
If there weren’t thousands of people in front and behind me I would have laid on the ground and cried.
Because I did it!
I wanted to scream the lyrics from the Kimmy Schmidt theme song.
“Unbreakable! They laugh dammit but females are strong as hell!”
(blame Netflix for the language, not me. Or just watch the show and laugh, laughter ranks just below running for general endorphin-getting.)
Strong. Me! I did this.
After a baby, in the midst of a move, in spite of depression and being a self-proclaimed “non athlete” I had done all the things that led up to this day and THEN I showed up and ran.
All week I had been telling people that I was doing the Riverbank Run but just the 5k.
Just the 5k. No big deal.
But you know what? No.
I ran a 5k.
Life is hard but Females are strong as Hell.
And you know what? Now for a 10k. Dangit.
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