After a series of evaluation exercises and realizing that they in themselves caused pain, I accepted I would not be running the 5K and asked the physical therapist if I could walk it. "Yes," he said, "as long as you stop if you start hurting."
Saturday morning, I left the house a little later than I wanted to but still in time for the walkers' scheduled start at 8:15am. (Runners started at 8 am.) I arrived at the parking lot about 8:05 and walked over to where there was a group of people. I stood around waiting for directions. After a couple minutes, I noticed some sign-in sheets. I signed one, and a lady made me a badge stating my name and age (33, BTW). I don't know why the age was pertinent. Maybe to easily identify my bloated body when they found it on the route?
I stuck my badge on, wandered around, then asked "When do the walkers start?" At this point, my friend Kim overheard me and said "Oh-- we let them start already, right after the runners." Uhhhhhh... what? I was stumped as what to do, as I had anticipated walking along with some people from our ward. Kim said, "They didn't leave too long ago. If you jog, you can catch up to them soon." I was thinking, "I'm not supposed to be jogging," but then rationalized that a minute or two of jogging wouldn't aggravate my injuries.
"What were they wearing?" I asked as I walked towards the route.
"Amy is wearing red."
Red. Ok, red. So, I began jogging thinking, "Red. Red. Red. Red." You know, it's a hard color to remember; I kept repeating it in my head.
Red. Red. Red. Wearing red. Red. Red. Ok, I see some walkers; that's not too far. Just look for red.
I spotted a red shirt and cap in the distance. Maybe that's her. Red. (pant) Red. (pant) Red. Holy crap, those walkers must be going 35mph.
I don't know how long I jogged, and I didn't want to know. I just knew that I was NOT doing the planned walking of the 5K. My lungs said, "wheeze, wheeze, wheeze" to remind me of this.
I got to Red and it was indeed Amy, who was walking with Carrie. I expected a few other ladies to be walking with them, so I asked who else was at the event.
"Oh, Christi is up there. She's wearing a green shirt."
Green. Ok, green. I said goodbye and started jogging looking for a green shirt.
Green, green, green. Green, green, green.
At this point, I remembered what the physical therapist said: If it hurts, stop. I realized if I did start hurting and I stopped, then I'd just be out in the middle of nowhere, with no phone, no ride, nothing. (That, kids, is how you plan ahead.) I kept jogging and thought, "well, my back's not hurting, my knee's not hurting, my ankle... wait a minute- where's my ankle?" I didn't feel pain. In fact, I didn't feel anything below my right ankle. At all. Everything was numb down there. Well, it wasn't PAIN, and I didn't have a way to get someone to come get me so... green, green, green.
I spotted a green shirt in the distance. Green. Green. Green. Man, she's really booking it. Green. Green. Green.
I thought I would never catch up to Green Shirt, but after a couple days, I did. I went through my "Hi, hello, how's it going, this is hard, who else is here" thing.
"Aubrey is up there wearing a white shirt and a white bandana."
Ok. White. (pant) White. (pant) White shirt, white bandana. Wh(pant)ite. White (gasp). Wh...
I stopped thinking. I was just moving my feet and gasping for air. I got closer to the white bandana, and I was pretty sure it was Aubrey, but my brain was conserving energy and had stopped processing thought. I decided I was going to smack White Bandana's butt when I caught up.
And I did. White Bandana turned around and yelled "hey!" That's when I realized White Bandana was...
Aubrey! You thought I was going to say a stranger?
Aubrey and her husband Russ were hauling butt (butts?), and I was out of breath. Team AubRuss was walking/jogging faster than I had planned on. The day suddenly got hot, and by "the day," I mean me. The water station up ahead told me I had so far jogged/speed-walked half of the race I was supposed to be walking. I walked past the table and grabbed my 8oz bottle of water. (Yes, 8oz. One cup. Basically a spitwad in a bottle.)
Now, the thing about grabbing a water bottle at this run was that the coordinators did not plan a water bottle DROP OFF. So, I drank my water, and then, I was stuck with an empty bottle in my hand. My hot hand. My hot, sweaty hand. The hand that could barely move to wipe sweat off my neck.
I've never been a litterbug. In fact, I tend to go out of my way to throw garbage into a receptacle. I recycle. I pick up trash off the street. Never had I wanted to litter as much as I did on that run.
I decided I was gonna do something I hadn't planned on doing that day but had been forced to do halfway already. I was going to jog the race. For spirit? For health? For personal triumph? I was going to jog to the finish line, so I could find the trash can and dispose of the annoying bottle. And I had to get there fast because I was being tempted to toss it in a field.
The truth that then revealed itself was that the last time (and only time) I ran 3 miles was back in 2000. If you know anything about math, that means 8 years ago. If you know anything about science, it means I was about to begin a long, slow death. "I can do a little more," I thought. I spotted a pink posterboard sign marking the route, so I said to AubRuss, "I'm going to jog to the pink sign. Pick my body up when you get to it." And off I went.
Pink. Pink. (pant) Pink. Pink. (pant) Just to the pink (pant) (pant) sign. Pink. Pink. (pant) Pink.
I reached it and walked. The bottle was still in my hand. Agh. I spotted another pink sign.
Pink. (pant) Sign. Pink. (pant) Sign. Jog. (pant) Jog. Pink. (pant) Sign.
I reached it and walked a minute. My hand was twitching to drop the plastic bottle. I spotted another pink sign.
Repeat this scenario about a dozen times and presto-change-o you are in my head for the rest of the run. Walk. Sweaty Hand. Don't toss it. Pink sign. Jog. Pink. Pink.
I got past the empty fields and back into a residential area which meant I was close to the finish line, but my legs said " ... ... ... " They couldn't really say anything. They're legs. Legs don't talk.
And then I saw this:
Well, I didn't have my camera with me, but if I did, the above photo would be of my smiling husband cheering, pushing a baby stroller with one hand and holding a camera in the other coming towards me. And I immediately felt exceedingly happy. I reached him and stopped, looked at my cutie baby and said hello to her. I forgot about the run. Totally spaced it. I posed for some photos for him, and then he said, "Go! Go run!" And I was like, "oh yeah."
(One guess what I'm posing with in my right hand.)
I recommenced running, and then heard my name being yelled out. There was a bunch of people from my ward who had finished the 5K already because-- get this-- they had planned on running.
(The last pink sign.)
I, of course, finished with the flair of Adhis, occasionally leaping in great exaggeration towards the finish line with my big mouth opened and smiling. I'm such a flippin' clown, but those of you who know me, well... you know me. And I forgot I hurt. And I forgot I couldn't breathe. And I forgot I had the water bottle in my hand. All I felt was energy, happiness, and great fun. I even said "I hope they do this every year!"
Next year, I'll ask my friends to run their colors in alphabetical order (Blue, Brown, Fuschia, Green, Maroon, Teal, etc.) so I can keep track easier.
That's if I don't finish dying my long, slow death before then. It began this morning.
[Posted song: "Eye of the Tiger" by Survivor]