By Alexis Mercer
I am having a hard time typing this story because every muscle in my body is sore. Do ears have muscles? Because those are sore, too.
The good news is that it is the good kind of sore. You know what I mean. There is a good sore and a bad sore. My college volleyball teammates and I used to laugh hysterically as we knew we had reached a point of no return when we had “two-a-days” (two practices a day) for tryouts and we would have to fall on the toilet our leg muscles would be so exhausted.
This is that kind of good sore. It’s the “I accomplished something” sore. It may not have been fast and it may not have been pretty, but I did it. So I earned this waddle that I have going on, and probably will for two more days.
If you’ve followed my running stories, you’ll know that I run with a partner whose name is Lindsey. She beat breast cancer and wanted to start running again after her doctor cleared her for activity. I had just gotten over a broken leg thanks to one bad step on a walnut shell while I was running this past fall. We were both at ground zero. Nowhere to go but up.
We started small. A 5k to get our feet wet. They got wet...cold and wet at the Fremont Frostbite. So we upped our game and set our sights on the Kent City Ridge Run 15k in March. The mantra we gained from that race is that the “wind keeps us honest.” As did the hills. Lots and lots of hills for 9.3 miles.
Our next step was a half marathon. We decided on the Gazelle Girl Half Marathon on April 22.
If you are a runner, or used to be a runner, or have thought about being a runner, you’ll know that there is a big difference between a 5k and a half marathon beyond the obvious difference in length. The training becomes crucial. A lot of people could go out and run a 5k after not having trained and still manage to get out of bed the next morning. But a half marathon? Unless you’re a superhuman, it would be awfully difficult to trudge through 13.1 miles without serious training.
So we trained. We met Tuesdays and Thursdays to run shorter distances, ran a few times a week on our own and either met on weekends or at least shared our distance run success with each other via text messages and pictures of our routes. I even dragged her into speed repeats on the track when she would let me. “It’s fun,” I said.
Lindsey went to Florida for a week and sent me smiling, happy run photos while I was freezing in Michigan. Then it was my turn to take a trip to the Keys and I sent my drowning-in-sweat selfies like any good running partner would.
Last weekend we needed to run 6 miles to taper down (this is run speak for running less the week before your race to give your body a chance to be fresh for the event). It just so happened that Snowmageddon was hitting as we were running. Sleet, wind, snow, rain, hail...we ran through it all. In fact every time we ran under a huge limb hanging over the road we would say “NO WHAMMIES!” We managed to survive the last long run and we were ready.
Race day was perfect. We arrived early enough to find prime parking (for free), we managed to choose relatively smart clothes for temps that began in the low 30s and quickly rose to mid-50s; we were excited and ready.
The race course was beautiful. We ran along the river for most of the miles. At one point Lindsey said “I am in the ‘grateful to be running’ mode.” I couldn’t have agreed more. We were thankful to be out there participating in a race where women of all shapes, sizes, backgrounds and stories were running with us.
We came up to the mile 5 marker as the lead pack of women raced in the opposite direction, at mile 8. Everyone around us cheered and clapped and encouraged them to continue with their phenomenal pace.
I can’t honestly say the whole race was easy. We may have trained and we may have been ready, but running a race is never easy. We pushed our limits and boundaries and dug deep to cross the finish line.
We did it. And were even smiling as we crossed the line.
So even though every single muscle in my body aches today, my heart and mind are happy. We set a lofty goal and we accomplished what we set out to do.
I might not be able to walk without a shuffle or waddle for a week. But I’ll take this good sore feeling anytime. It is worth it.
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