Monday, September 28, 2009

Miracle Miles 15k - The Good, The Bad, The Ugly, and The Worth It

Note: The Miracle Miles 15k and 5k are organized each year to benefit The Winnie Palmer Hospital for Women & Babies; specifically the babies in NICU. Great cause.

I was not supposed to run this race. I had no plans to run this race. In fact, I should have been in Augusta, Georgia for the inaugural Augusta 70.3. But I wasn't. The past week has not been the best one I've ever logged in the books. So when a friend said

"Come on. Just do it with us."

I decided I would run. The "us" was three of my Nation's Triathlon teammates. And they were planning to run this race in style. How could I resist showing up with this crew... purple capes, purple glasses, and the stockings!!

It's been since February that I had run more than 6.2 miles in one shot, but I figured a little physical discomfort might do me some good. So less than 24 hours before the starting gun, I signed up and became bib #1446. The starting gun sounded at 7:00 A.M. and thus began ...

... The Good (aka miles 1-3)

The start was great. Even though it was muggy, the sun wasn't quite up yet so it wasn't hot. I positioned myself in the perfect spot at the start so I didn't have to zig-zag around too many people running slower than me. I thought

"This isn't going to be so bad"

and ran on. I wanted to get as far as I could before the sun came up too much - I was already drenched by the first half-mile. A glance at my watch as I passed each mile mark told me I was starting out too fast but I didn't pay attention. I was feeling great! But right around the corner was ...

... The Bad (aka miles 4-7)

Somewhere between miles four and five, I quit sweating and got goosebumps. This is bad as it's an indicator of starting to become dehydrated. I know I don't drink enough water. You'd think I'd learn. How many times do I have to repeat the same mistake? I thought

"This isn't going to be so good"

But I ran on. I have to say this is a pretty boring course. I think we made all of three or four turns and running down Michigan and then Orange Ave is the worst. I got more than just little cranky with myself every now and again.

I didn't have my iPod and since there was NOTHING to look at, the only entertainment I had was me. Sooooo, I started thinking. (yes, feel free to insert here a joke at my expense) Which lead to ...

... The Ugly (aka miles 8-9)

I started crying. There's no other way to say it. I'm not sure exactly what triggered it. Events of the last year? Events of the last week? Uncertainties of the future? All of the above? I don't know. What I do know is that it's darn near impossible to run and cry at the same time because the whole breathing thing tends to not work so well. I thought

"This most definitely is not good"

I ended up walking for a couple minutes until I pulled myself back together. Then I ran on, which brought me to ...

... The Worth It (aka the finish)

Surprisingly, the last 0.3 was easy. I picked up the pace and finished strongly. I crossed the finish in 1:27:07, which was less than my goal time, and was handed my medal. Looking at it I had the "you are so lucky. this was totally worth it." moment. On the medal are a set of baby footprints. Not just any prints; but prints in the actual size of a 14 ounce baby.

I met a number of children that day who were born weighing less that two pounds. Some were even closer to one pound. So tiny, and yet they are now big and thriving thanks to the care received at Winnie (previously Arnold) Palmer Hospital. I also met more than one parent whose baby didn't make it.

Once again I am reminded of my fortune. I have two wonderful, healthy boys that I (most times) love and adore. And (most times) they love and adore me back. My problems and concerns are very real and very valid. But they are miniscule compared to the moms and dads who worry that their little one will be gone far too soon.

I will keep slogging forward one day at a time. I know there are good, bad, and ugly days ahead. But I also know, at some point, that I will look back and say

It was worth it.

Thanks LK for suggesting I run. I owe you.

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