And I did it!
I woke up unnaturally at 5:30 (damn alarm clock) and ate my normal pre-race breakfast of half a bagel with 2 tbsp of almond butter and a banana (so much food is still a fear for my E.D., but I do it anyway). I was so nervous my stomach decided to grumble and complain about the food until it recoiled at even a hydrating drop of water. But I didn't let it deter me. At 6:30 I left my house and turned on my GPS and navigated the suburbs, highways, and byways to find Big Peach Running Company, the meet-up destination for the participants. Just making it by myself to Atlanta was a score, so I didn’t care if I ran or not.
Not really. I was all about the run.
Since I left early, I arrived early: 7:00. As we were waiting until 7:30 for everyone to arrive, I sat down on the sidewalk and looked down and noticed something funny. Can you tell what it is?
In the 5:30 am, no-coffee-allowed-before-a-race mind fog, I changed out one sock and not the other. So I have on two different socks. Someone less anal than me would have been, “Oh, well,” but not me. So I went inside the store and found a pair of socks.
I didn’t know what to expect, if anything, from “special” running socks, but they were SO not worth the $10 bucks I paid on the fly for them. Boo. But at least I matched after that.
Anyway, at 7:30 we divided ourselves into wave groups according to pace, and when it was my group's turn to go, all I could hear was the sound of beeps going off from everyone’s Garmin being set. I found it amusing. I don’t know why, because I have a Garmin and mine was one of the many beeps playing music, but, still, it made me chuckle. Runners are a peculiar lot.
So I had no warm-up and foolishly didn’t stretch, and I paid dearly for it in the beginning of the run. It wasn’t until after the first mile that I finally began to get in my zone. I had my iPod playing and I was feeling pretty good and was looking around at all the Atlanta landmarks I’ve never seen before. I turned around and looked behind me, and I saw no one. I was the last one in my group. I was the freakin’ caboose. Did this bother my recovery minded, compete-with-no-one, compare yourself to no one attitude? Hell, yeah! But I was still making great time, so I just focused on the backs of the runners in front of me and kept going.
I was warned that around mile four we would come to what has been affectionately known as Cardiac Hill/Heart attack Hill/Heartbreak Hill. Take your pick, they’re all freakin’ true. For one whole miserable mile, it was all uphill. I stopped once, but only for two seconds. Then kept right on going.
All in all, the run took us from Brookhaven to Midtown, a total of 7.0 miles. When we were done, we were given Marta Breeze passes for free to transport us back to Brookhaven where we were parked. Aside from the sock incident, the no stretching, and being the caboose, my run had gone off without a hitch. . . until I made it to the Marta station. I didn’t know what the heck a Breeze pass was or how to use it. I felt really scared, lost, and overwhelmed. I didn't know what to do without looking like a total incompetent. There were other runners in my group using Marta and I could see them staring at my indecision. Finally I summoned the station attendant and asked him what the heck I was doing. He was less than helpful, almost indignant that I didn’t know what to do. So I just copied what my fellow runners were doing and how they were doing it.
I know I looked naïve, but that’s because I am. And that’s okay. I grew up a little today by taking on a new experience, putting myself in new situations, opening myself up to the possibility of good things happening. New experiences always have bumps and curves in the road; there’s no shame in that. It’s how we navigate those turns that prove how successful we are.
And I consider today to be a success!