Its taken me a while to sit down to write the recap of the last day of the challenge. Before I dwell on the why, I want to finally get it down.
It was a remarkable day. I didn’t really have a plan per se. I knew I would finish whatever miles I had at the high school track after the Cheetah’s cross country practice but that was really the only thing I had set in stone.
I didn’t know how my legs would feel in the morning. Day 29 had been such a success but SOOOO many miles. And, whenever I have a couple of good days there’s always a bad one waiting for me.
So, when I got up… I stretched. I tested my legs… And, it looked like I’d able to run in an hour or so. That was good. I had a little breakfast, took a pain killer, got dressed, yanked the hair back, brushed the teeth, laced up my shoes, put Sheila on my arm and headed out the door.
I wasn’t sure how far I wanted to go. I was hoping for at least 5, maybe 7 miles. The more I could do in the morning, the less I’d have to do in the evening. I chose one of my new favorite routes, a little hill in the beginning and fairly flat until the final leg back home.
I walked about the first third of a mile. I really had to warm up the right leg. Had it had its way, I wouldn’t have ran, but that wasn’t up for discussion. It had to come along whether it wanted to or not AND it had to participate and be joyful about it. And, for the most part it was.
When I turned the first corner to head up the hill I started running and I didn’t stop until the final hill home. A lot of things went through my mind… this was the last day, I was actually going to accomplish this gnarly goal, would my leg survive, what was I gonna do next, all sorts of things!
When I hit mile 5 I was feeling good so I kept going and ran by a different high school and then decided to lengthen the route. I bypassed some stop lights but the ones I did hit I didn’t let get to me. My average pace was pretty slow because I had started out walking and then each light added to the time. I ran by my church and through its parking lot. I ran by my gym and then headed for home. The pain killer enabled me to run almost 11 miles in that first run. At the time I thought that was awesome! (Later, and for another post, I found that was a huge mistake!)
I got home and my hubby asked “well? how far did you go?” When I told him 10.72 miles he smiled! The kind of smile that says “you got this! you are so going to crush this!” And, even though I was tired and my legs were sore, I smiled inwardly. He knows me. He gets me. 🙂
The next two runs were on the treadmill. They were painful and quiet. I didn’t even watch Netflix. I simply ran. I turned the mill on, put it on a speed that I could handle and just ran. In those two runs I knocked out another 10 miles. My legs were tired. I was tired. But it was almost over. Almost.
I went to the high school cross country practice. These kids have really grown on me. They know about my challenge and they always ask “Coach, how many miles did you run today? How’s your leg?” Today was no different. They are very excited for me and maybe even a little impressed. They can’t really complain too much when I answer “20 miles” and then they find out they must run 5 or 6. And, I’m going with them. Anyway…
Today’s run was one of the best ones for us all. We decided to do a 5 mile route and I knew I needed to hang with them. My leg was sore and I’d popped another pain killer but I was going to do all 5 with them… come heck or high water! I started out in the back of the pack, and slowly moved my way to the middle. Now it drives them crazy when I pass them. They’re runners now you know. 🙂 And, then I pulled in front of the girls and I actually surged a bit. Not sure why, legs felt good, so I went. The Coach on the Bike called out to the girls “go with her! go with her!” And something inside me made me go faster. I lengthened my stride, calmed my breathing and ran. I was looking to catch the boys in front of me. All the while, Coach on the Bike is encouraging the girls to pick it up, “don’t let her get too far out! you gotta go! pick it up!” It was almost like we were in a race! It was pretty awesome! Finally I heard one of the girls coming up behind me. I could hear her footfalls and her heavy, heavy breathing. I knew that if I surged again she wasn’t in any condition (based on what I was hearing) to take me but this run wasn’t about winning it was a teaching moment. I called back to her “relax! take deep breaths! you’re running too heavy, lighten your steps! relax! stay calm! persist… don’t push!” And, I could tell she was listening. Her footsteps quieted, her breathing became deeper, quieter and she began running more efficiently. And, slowly, she came up on me, ran next to me and then went in front of me. Strong. As she ran beside me I encouraged her, “you got this. slow your breathing down, don’t run so heavy, pick up your feet, lengthen your stride. run efficiently.” and finally, “go!” And with that she took the lead. I called out to her “nice job! stay relaxed! run easy! Go!” I don’t know why but I got the biggest grin on my face as I watched her pull away. It was crazy! It was something I won’t ever forget. Every run isn’t perfect but every run is worth it.
I tried to maintain my pace. I still had another girl behind me and I needed her to push herself. She needed to be able to beat Coach. And if I slowed down then she wouldn’t have done it on her own. I needed her to push. I could hear Coach on the Bike talking to her “watch that ponytail! Go get her! Move up! You got this!” And then I could hear her footsteps. Not too heavy, her breathing wasn’t too shallow. She was methodically moving up and catching me. I tried to surge just a little but my energy was pretty spent. And, finally she was beside me. I encouraged her just like I did the other runner but I told her “run steady, don’t fall back, focus forward, run relaxed, you got this.” And slowly she passed me and pulled away. I probably could have stayed with her for awhile but for some reason I let her go. I had tears stinging my eyes. My cross country girls were finally “getting it”. And, this run… this run, on day 30, was phenonmenal.
I ended up walking just a bit and then picked it up to meet them back at the school. What a great run! Seriously. A great run!
And, then I headed to the Cheetah’s practice. I had just under 5 miles left to run. 5 miles. That number never sounded so easy but sounded so long at the same time. Once practice was over, the high school marching band came out onto the field. I wonder what these kids think of the old lady who runs around and around and around and around the track while they practice. I wasn’t running fast, I picked a speed that I knew I could maintain for 20 laps, and I willed my legs to go. I listened to the band go through their movements. Apparently they have some book that’s got 44 pages in it that they keep track of their “dots” or spots where they are supposed to be on the field at any given moment. Some of the kids don’t move fast enough or take long enough steps to get to their next “dot” and they are always getting in trouble for it. The guy in the booth always threatens them. 🙂 They must have some big competition coming up cuz he was telling them what the judges would be looking for and if they weren’t on their “dot” the judge would know! And, this particular movement they were practicing required them to move slowly so they had to have PERFECT form so they should take advantage of this practice to get it RIGHT! Meanwhile, I’m sure they were distracted by the lady who keeps running and running and running. Will she ever stop? 🙂
When Sheila told me I had hit mile 4 you would think that I would have sped up! Get this over with! RUN Rhonda RUN! But, I didn’t. I maintained and I told myself… 4 more laps. 4 more laps. This is it. 4 more laps. I was looking for my hubby and my kids. I thought they’d be there. But, no it was just me and the marching band under the lights.
3 more… once again, I was accomplishing some CRAZY challenge that I forced myself into. Just keep putting one foot in front of the other.
2 more… you can do this. its almost done. you stuck it out. you never gave up. you kept going. no matter what.
1 more… and the tears welled up. I can’t believe its almost over. I’m doing it. I’m finishing. I’m strong. And, oh so slightly crazy! And the tears fell. Slowly, softly they rolled down my cheeks for the final 100 meters. Just me and the band. “Get on your dots!”
I crossed my imaginary finished line and came to a stop. I looked around. No crowds, no cheers, no one. I picked up my jacket and water that I had left on the side of the track and walked out the gate. I knew I’d probably run here again but it wouldn’t be the same. It wouldn’t be surreal like it was just now. As I walked to my car I saw the headlights. I wiped my tears and smiled. He stopped the car right in front of me, jumped out, a dozen roses in his hands, “You did it! You did it!” He hugged me and twirled me around! “You did it!” He apologized for being late and missing me cross the finish line (he knows me) and asked if I would take a victory lap with him. My legs were sore and tired but I couldn’t resist one more lap. Especially with the guy who is my everything. My biggest fan, my cheerleader, my coach, my trainer, my best friend, Mine. So we walk back up to the track, snap a picture and start walking. I know the band really had to think something was up cuz now I was carrying a dozen white roses and had a papparazzi following me around the track! It was crazy!
30 days. 465 miles. I ran 465 in September. A mile for every day of the month. Nothing more nothing less. All because I set a goal and someone said I couldn’t. Someone said I shouldn’t. And, someone said I wouldn’t. They don’t know me. I could, I should and I most definitely would. 🙂 And, then I did. 🙂