Lucky for me, I was surrounded by my amazing family. We did a little shopping in Graceville, ate lunch, laughed, talked, and just enjoyed being together. Finally, it was time to change into my running attire and get ready to head to Dothan, Alabama for the 26th annual Critter Run.
Like I said before my mom and my Uncle Rudy were running with me. So the three of us posed for some before pictures before we left.
The rest of the family left a little later since we needed to be there early to get our numbers and such. My stomach was a little tense as I drove us to Dothan.
I felt proud as we got our numbers. I mean, how many people out there can't say that they've ever run a 5K. I used to hear about races and think to myself that I wished I was the type of person who could do that. Now, I was. There was no wishing. I had trained hard for 9 weeks. I was still a bit apprehensive since I hadn't actually run 3 miles yet. The farthest was probably around 2.5 miles. But I was smiling as my mom pinned my number to my shirt.
Our "entourage" finally arrived just before the race started. Did I mention that the course was described as "rolling?" Meaning that it had a LOT of hills. I have NEVER run hills. It's pretty flat where I run in Slidell. So we got behind the starting line and waited to hear the whistle. And off we went. The plan had been for us to stay together but our paces were so different that we just decided to do it at our own paces. As soon as I started running I felt tears prick the corners of my eyes. I couldn't believe I was doing it and I was so thankful for the support of not only my mom and uncle but my whole family as well.
I didn't see my mom much again after this photo. I stayed not too far behind her for the first mile but after that I didn't see her again until near the finish line. I lost sight of my uncle from the get go! :) I ran the first mile in 11:14. Not to bad, huh? Making it to the second mile was tough because that's where those nasty hills came up. There was one time that my legs literally felt on fire and I REALLY wanted to stop. But I kept telling myself that my one goal was finishing without stopping. It didn't matter how long it took me. I also didn't want to finish last!
Just as I came to the second mile marker a lady was walking beside me and started up a conversation. Normally I wouldn't want to talk while I was running but this was just what I needed. She encouraged me and made me forget how bad my legs wanted me to stop. She eventually started back running and I didn't see her again. There was another lady that made me want to laugh. I guess I was her measuring stick on how well she was doing because she would run and walk. She was either behind me or in front of me most of the way. Near the end of the race she tried to stay in front of me. When she was walking, she'd let me get right up to her but before I could pass her, she started running again. In the end, I passed her and stayed in front of her the rest of the way. But I guess the Lord knew I needed a laugh while I was running.
After all of this I realized that I had to be near the end. But the end also meant a pretty long incline. My legs were burning and I was taking deliberate breaths and pushing out hard through my mouth. That's when I saw them...my mom and uncle. I can barely type this without tears. They came back to cheer me on the rest of the way. As soon as I saw them I started crying. I had to ignore it so I could finish but with my uncle beside me and my mom behind me, they cheered me on up that final, awful hill to the finish. I ran the race and I finished well...under an hour and definitely not the last person! My time was 41:45 (the seconds may be off but I know it was under 50 seconds. The race results should be posted online in a couple of days so I should know my exact time soon.) It took me a minute after it was over to feel "normal" again. I felt a bit shaky and I had to catch my breath after I ran hard up that final hill.
WE DID IT!!!!!!!!
Here I am in the t-shirt from the Critter Run. The animal for this year was the Orangutan...interesting!
Peace, Love, and Healthy Living,