My favorite running race of all time, the Dipsea, was about a month ago, and I’ve been so busy with work, travel, and … life, that I’m just now writing about it here.
Yes, I had been trying to rehab my hip/hamstring/back injury just enough to be able to run, really run, my favorite race.
And I was really very happy to be there, at the starting line, with minimal aches and pains. I was raring to go. (And I was ecstatic that friends of ours agreed to drive our little Sam from the starting line to the finish line, and that he didn’t cause too much trouble for them.)
What happened over the next 7.5 trail miles was both fun and extremely painful. I just didn’t have any gusto off the starting line. I ran those 676 stairs okay, walking up the steepest ones and trotting when I could. But I felt slow. On the downhills, the first, through Windy Gap, I had a blast. I charged and passed people, riding the line between just barely in, and totally out, of control.
All the downhills that day were equally as fun. I tore down Suicide, the steepest, roughest of descents about midway through the race, and charged down the Swoop, a rutty singletrack with falling into tall brush as your consequence. But on the uphills, and on the gradual downhills where you can really stride out, I just didn’t have it. I slogged through those portions, and it hurt.
My husband, who started five minutes behind me in the uniquely handicapped race, passed me about mile five. I’m pretty sure I said the F-word, followed by, “Oh, Mark!” followed by… “Go Mark!” And I meant the latter (and the prior). I wanted him to have a good race, even if I was having a bad one.
When I crossed the finish line, I about collapsed. But I also cried. I was in so much physical pain from the effort, but I was also pretty bummed I hadn’t had a good race. I finished much further back than I had in the past six times I’d run the race, and I guess I just hadn’t realized I was that far off where I’d been.
Then I got a big hug from Sam. “Mama,” he said, and reached for me from my friend’s arms. I had this overly sappy sentiment that no matter how slow I was, my son still loved me a whole lot.
Supportive friends and family members have since said things to me like, “You’re older now,” to which I say: “Phooey.” They’ve said, “You have a child now,” to which I say: “There are plenty of fast moms.” There’s the whole: “You’ve been injured” thing, which I can stomach—I have, and that one means there’s hope I can regain speed.
I am happy that I’ve been so busy being mom, working, going to physical therapy, traveling (more on that later), and running. As long as running is in the mix—even if it is slower than I’ve been, and like to be—I feel…like myself. And that’s good.