|Thank you, Solomon family.|
It has been a GREAT run.
Why? I have no idea. I have a pair with a pink logo and many pairs with the gray logo. They are all the same socks. I could even wear one sock with the blue logo and one with the pink, and I would not be able to tell you the difference.
But as I set out my race day attire, I HAD to have the blue sock.
Earlier in the day, I got mad at myself for not getting to the ribbon store before it closed. I have to wear a bow in my hair (usually just a plain ol' grosgrain ribbon), the color of which is representative of the race somehow. How I came to add this to the wardrobe is a long story, and since this is going to be a long post anyway, we'll have to wait for another time on that. I thought about going to one of the craft stores that are open until 9 or 10PM, but I decided to wear a ribbon that I already knew I had at home, the one I had worn to the ovarian cancer 5K I ran back in September.
"Gosh, I hope that it's OK to wear the same ribbon."
Yeah, like anyone was going to notice. But I still thought that, multiple times, as I resisted the temptation to make just one more stop to get myself the "perfect" ribbon.
So, there we have it. I'm a Superstitious Athlete. I can no longer make fun of the baseball players who polish their fingernails or football players who must eat the same meal before each game. I am one of them. Just not extremely famous and well-paid for my amazing athletic talent.
Even though The Husband set his alarm to go off a half hour earlier than I did (he usually takes about an hour's worth of hitting the snooze button to rouse himself into his pre-coffee, almost-humanlike state - he actually left the race to go get coffee, although races ARE pretty boring, so I am not holding that against him; that he didn't bring me back a doughnut is what I hold against him), when my alarm went off, Zooey naturally thought it was Time to Run. Sorry, girl. She begrudgingly went on an early walk with The Husband while I brushed my teeth, put on mascara (a race is no reason not to look your best), and choked down my pre-race breakfast of a Naked® Green Machine smoothie and a sesame bagel smeared with peanut butter. The other day I had played with the idea of making my own pre-race smoothie. Then I remembered how early I had to be up.
Last year, I was terrified that I wouldn't get to Schnepf Farms (the amazing local peach farm that has hosted London's Run for the past several years) on time to start the 10K. The farm is out in Queen Creek, and the road narrows to one lane each way. Of course, because of the event, traffic was extremely backed up last year, and while I made it in time, I didn't want to risk it for the half marathon, which started before the 10K.
We were out the door by 6:30, and we got there with enough time to spare so that we were able to sit in the car for a bit, enjoying the heated seats (that was just me) before it was time to head out into the pre-dawn chill and hit the Porta-Potty line (seriously the best half marathon advice I've gotten).
|We actually were there early enough that I was able to snap|
a pic before the crowds converged onto the starting line.
The thing that made being there that early great was this:
|Arizona sunrise - the second most gorgeous thing in Arizona.|
Right behind an Arizona sunset.
Then London's mom spoke. Her graciousness and appreciation was almost too much for me to bear. I honest to goodness had to hold myself back from running right to the stage and throwing my arms around her to thank her for letting us share in London's story. It really put everything into crystal clear perspective for me. Her words brought me back to why I started running in the first place - to support those who are sick and struggling to walk ten feet (like Breanna did last year during the Run - she wanted to finish the race herself).
Last year, my friends and I ran to support Lily, my friend Alicia's daughter. This year, I had planned to run in celebration that Lily is in remission (after this week's chemotherapy session, she is finished with her treatment). But as I listened to London's mom, I realized that I can't run in celebration only, because there are too many people who are still fighting to make it through another day.
It was this thought that carried me through the entire race. Like last year, there were many signs posted throughout the course, signs that had pictures of some of the kids at Phoenix Children's Hospital who are fighting for their lives. Some of the signs had simple words, like "Good luck!" or "Keep Running!" Others were funny: "Toenails are overrated;" while others were heart-wrenching and inspirational: "Hey, stranger - I'm proud of you" and "Find joy in the journey." When I wanted to stop around mile 9 (my wall came earlier than I had thought it would), those signs made me keep running (I am happy to say that I ran the entire way except at water stops, when I walked as I drank, in order to not slosh all over myself).
I made the decision not to bring my hydration belt and to utilize the water stops. I think that was the only decision I am not pleased I made. While there were plenty of water stops (three of which also offered Gu), I still had to have water when I got there, not whenever I felt I could use a swig. And since this race was almost completely on dirt, I felt that often. I definitely was happy that I brought my own Gu; I had some about 5 minutes before the start of the race, and I could feel a difference when I sucked down my second packet out on the course. Gu is a little sticky, but it's far easier for me to take in than jelly beans or gummy things while I'm running.
So, that was mile 6. Mile 8 was when I felt like that wall was upon me, and sure enough, by the time I got to mile 9, I had hit it. Hard.
I honestly don't feel like I ever got my second wind. I'd love to say that I did, that those signs or another packet of Gu re-invigorated me, but I honestly kind of wished I had signed up for the 10K. It really wasn't until today (Sunday, the day after the race) that I am able to reflect back on it and think, "Yeah, it really was not that bad, and I'll do a half marathon again, but I can't say 26.2 is anywhere in my near future."
Finally, finally, I saw the finish line. That arch of balloons was the prettiest thing I had ever seen (although the camel that we ran by in the first mile or so was pretty cool, too). I was SO ready to be done.
Even though I was tired and had slowed my average pace from an acceptable 9:39/mile to a disappointing 10:11/mile, I had enough energy to sprint the last 400 meters. Once I hit that final straightaway, I was determined to beat someone. Sorry, woman in the white shirt whom I paced for about the last three miles; you always finish your race strong.
|The Husband took this picture.|
Had I known he was, I would have tried to look happy.
PS - Can you see my ribbon?
All I have to say at this point is Hooray For Free Post-Race Massages, even though it was only about 5 minutes long.
|See? I know he's taking the picture,|
so I look happy.
Of course, I was DONE, so I WAS happy.
Sorry about the sweat stains.
I hope that the seven years of London's Run has brought comfort and a semblance of closure to the Solomon family and to those families who have benefitted from the subsequent runs. I hope that every step, every breath, and every heartbeat out on each course (2-mile fun run, 10K, and half marathon) in each year have positively impacted those children who are fighting so hard for their lives. It is because of these families and children that I lace up my shoes each week and head out the door; I am running to save the world, one cancer, one illness, one person at a time.
|We all have our finish lines.|
Remember to always finish strong.
I thought I'd share a few more random photos from race day with you as well, should you want to end on a less teary note...
|Hey! Look! An alpaca!|
(The woman holding it was also holding a fennec fox)
|Call me Dusty.|
|The "Lawrence's Original"|
spinach, mushroom, and garlic
|This is why people come to Oregano's:|
The Pizza Cookie.
Hello, unbuttoned pants