A few months ago, I had an utterly ridiculous idea.
I saw a Facebook post announcing the date of the Capital 10-miler – A Race for the Arts. Now, I’m a pushover for supporting the arts, and I have been making valiant efforts at improving my running and cycling skills – not because of any perceived, yet negligible talent, but because I love the challenges both can provide.
You can see where this is going.
Despite having never once run more than six miles or even attempted to do a run/walk combination on anything so long, I signed up for the race and set about training. It was spotty at best in the early days, as I took advantage of the unusually frequent warm days to go outside for a run. I’ve even been training with a program through my local running company (s/o Appalachian Running Company).
When race day dawned – no kidding – on April Fools Day, I had only the thought of finishing the race. Time didn’t matter. The challenge for me was to go the distance.
That doesn’t mean it was easy around mile 4 when the runners who started 45 minutes after me – at the real start of the race – caught up and passed me.
It wasn’t easy when I was running/walking along the Susquehanna River and looked up to see the winners running across the bridge to the finish line at about the same time that I passed the 6-mile sign.
It wasn’t easy when first single runners and then little groups of runners ran past me with seemingly little effort.
It wasn’t easy when the wind nearly whipped my hat off as I crossed the bridge twice in the final miles.
But that’s the stuff stories are made of. That’s the stuff you laugh about when you’re telling your friends about the ridiculous idea you had to sign up for a race.
When the race results sheet shows that you’ve placed dead last among the 200-plus runners, you realize that you’re still a winner. You crossed a finish line in a race that plenty of others dared not start. You realize with some degree of surprise that you can indeed walk the next day, and you aren’t nearly as stiff as you thought you might be.
Then, after a bit of ice cream, a good night’s sleep, and some tea and stretches on a beautiful morning., you make another crazy decision.
And think to yourself, “Maybe next year, I can get to mile six before they catch me.”