|Pic by Judi Lee|
Last Monday when I got home, I thought I saw Kevin. The neighbor was standing right in front of our mailbox while checking his own. He was turned so I only saw him from the back, and he was wearing an olive green jacket the same color as one Kevin had. When I saw him standing there as I was driving up the street, just for a second I thought Kevin was getting the mail and I was a little surprised he was just getting home since he usually was earlier than me. All this flashed through my head for just a second, and then I remembered. And it broke my heart all over again. I pulled in the garage and ran into the house crying hysterically.
So that kind of sets the stage for the whole week leading up to the Mini. I've just been so weepy and emotional, and then I will go run and it's that magic reset button so I'm okay for a little while, until I start falling back down. The nightmares came back - the ones where Kevin is alive he just doesn't want to be with me anymore. All while I was still trying to get ready for a race that's a really big deal. (For blog readers not in the Indy area, the Mini Marathon is huge: over 28,000 people ran it this year. Seven times the population of Canton, NC, in one race.) I was planning my outfit and posting updates on social media, but secretly I was wishing I hadn't even signed up for the Mini this year. I thought maybe it was still too close to the crapiversary of Kevin's death and that I should've taken a few more weeks off from racing.
On Thursday, it got even worse. I started getting nervous about the race, like I always do, which made me miss Kevin even more. He could always calm me down when I get too worked up. He honestly didn't understand the appeal of running at all, and he also couldn't understand why I would get nervous about a race when I run all the time. But even though he didn't get it, he could always make me feel calmer just by being there and being him. In 2014, the other time I ran the Mini, it was only my second half at the time, and I still hadn't silenced the voice in my head telling me I couldn't do it. Kevin never doubted that I could, though. And when I was too nervous to eat but I knew I needed something, he went out and got me a smoothie.
|Frank Shorter at the Run(317) booth!|
Friday I worked the Mini Expo promoting Run (317). Working an Expo and being on my feet for over 6 hours straight the day before a big race might not have been the smartest decision, but I had a lot of fun at the Expo and saw a lot of friends. I think being worn out from going all day helped me sleep better Friday night, so that's a plus. As I always do on race eve, I laid out my outfit and all my gear, did a few relaxing yoga stretches, drank some warm milk and went to bed.
Gear List:Bondi Band headband
Kevin's Nike sunglasses (I wear something of Kevin's in every race)
Tank by Just Blingin It on Etsy
Green with Envy Glitter Skirt
Nike capri tights
Hawaiian Tropic SPF 30 sunscreen
Running Buddy pouch for my phone, and Ear Buddy single ear running headphones
Brooks Ariel 12 shoes with Nathan Lock Laces
Smart Wool socks
Honey Stinger energy chews in Cherry Cola & Orange Blossom, & energy wafer in Honey
Nuun rehydration tablets in grape
Nathan handheld water bottle
Not pictured: Nike+ GPS watch, Moving Comfort sports bra, parking pass, and gear check bag with car keys, Nike sandals, & a dry shirt just in case.
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I slept pretty good for the night before a race. Got up Saturday morning and had my usual breakfast of cereal with berries, chia seeds and almond milk. Made a cup of coffee to drink in the car. Put a Nuun tablet in my water bottle, put the Honey Stinger chews in the pocket of the water bottle, filled it with water and set it by my bathroom sink to let the Nuun dissolve (this part is important, we'll refer to it again later). I got dressed, grabbed my gear check bag and coffee, and headed out. On the drive downtown, I started getting both weepy and nervous. I almost turned around and went home and back to bed. I probably looked like a crazy person: crying, talking out loud to Kevin, and telling myself to just keep going because I'd be okay once I got there.
I parked in my favorite parking lot and headed to the start line. A couple of blocks from my car, I realized I didn't have my water bottle. Remember where I left it? Yup, still there. Now my nerves dialed up to 11. I still fear a repeat of the disaster that was the Winter Night Trail Half, when I forgot to eat. I did not want to do this race without fuel. I texted Laura, then I texted Josh asking him to bring it and meet me in Speedway. I didn't hold out much hope he'd actually be awake in time though. I dropped off my gear check bag and got in line for the port-o-let, still feeling very panicky. I finally remembered to pray. Why don't I do that first? God calmed me down, reminded me that there would be plenty of water on the course and I could take it easy if I needed to, and also reminded me that I did have a Honey Stinger wafer I had planned to eat before the race. I decided to save it for after I came out of the track instead. So I finally got in the start corral, barely 10 minutes before my wave is supposed to start. I'm calmer by now, but I'm already deciding not to even try for a PR. I look around for my friends who are in the same corral, but don't see them yet. The race starts, and once I'm going then yes, I'm okay again. Better than okay. I'm glad I'm here. I spotted Theresa and Christina shortly after we started, and we ran together for the first 5K. Once past the 5K mark, I was feeling a lot better and I picked up my pace a little bit. My mood continued to swing back and forth, but something about just moving forward seems to help.
I know a lot of runners who don't like the Mini, but I really don't understand why. The course is kind of boring on its own, but the crowd support makes it so much fun! Bands and dancers and cheerleaders and people holding funny signs and shouting encouragement line the entire course. There was a little boy holding a sign that said "You still look pretty Mama, even with all that sweat! Keep going!" Aw! And one I especially liked: "You believed in Santa for 8 years; You can believe in yourself for 2 hours".
As the race went on and I continued to feel okay physically, I kept increasing my pace. I never really pushed hard, but I felt fine the entire time, and my splits show mile 2 was my slowest, and mile 11 was my fastest. As we crossed the New York Street bridge heading into town on the final mile, I passed someone running in socks and carrying her shoes. I think if my shoes hurt that much, I'd just toss them. Running that last little stretch with so many people cheering, I started getting weepy again, and I full on cried after I finished. But you can't really tell the tears from the sweat by that point anyway. Final time: 2:53:33. Not a PR, and slower than I ran it in 2014, but I am not disappointed. I saw a lot of friends while I was out there, I felt good physically the entire run, and nothing was hurting after I was done.
Takeaways? I am going to continue to work on getting faster, especially in the 5K distance, but sometimes it's okay to put my goals aside and just therapy run again. I also probably need to look at my schedule and make sure I have left myself enough down time to just miss Kevin and grieve, so I can try to keep my emotions in check when I need to.