But I knew it would be extra tough since I had spent the week crying and not eating or sleeping. I felt like a zombie during the day - physically there but mentally somewhere else. I had to do something to snap out of it and ultimately that's what made me decide to sign up for the race. I would run for Eddie.
I was still grieving hard on race morning and went into it resolved to make it hurt as much as possible. I knew I didn't have the fitness to back up a fast 5k time but I also didn't really care. My intention was to start fast and hold on as best I could to the finish. I wanted to physically hurt as much as I was emotionally hurting.
As I lined up at the start, I felt surprisingly calm even though I knew I was about to take a ride on the pain train. I met a fellow PRO teammate, Susie, who is extremely speedy. I knew she would likely win the race (spoiler alert: she won!) so I lined up behind her.
As we got going, I went out too fast for my current fitness. As we crested the only hill on the course I was already feeling it, oddly enough in my shoulders and arms. The smart thing to do would have been to back off the pace a bit but since I was only interested in making it hurt, I kept pushing forward.
It was about halfway through the race that I broke down. All the sadness, loneliness, stress, guilt, disappointment and feelings of being so undeserving fueled me through the first part of the course. But those feelings had burnt out and I had nothing.
I started walking and thought about sitting down on the curb to cry and wait for Mom, who was also running. I was so low at that moment I didn't know if I could even finish the race. It seemed I had failed myself and Eddie in this attempt.
But then I started thinking about how Eddie would never have viewed it as a failure. If you've ever had a pet, you know what I mean when I say that they are always accepting of us, even when we are not at our best. I also realized that racing to hurt was not racing to celebrate Eddie. Our relationship was about love, not pain. So I found the will to start moving again and I reset my focus to running on love.
I ended up walking five more times during the race, but I understood on that day it was the best I could do. Even though I ended up with terrible time, I could accept it because I know Eddie would have accepted it. And as Mom and I drove home, I felt a little more at peace.
As for the race itself, I have nothing but good things to say. The organization was fantastic and the course was great. One thing I really liked is that it finished with a loop around Whitewater High School's track. For those of you who are into medals, there are finisher medals for both the half marathon and 5k distances. And if you're extra speedy, the half marathon offers prize money for the top three men and women!
My questions for you:
- Have you ever raced while going through a tough time? How did it turn out?
- Have you ever finished a race on a track?
I hope I get to race this one again next year. I plan on cranking it around that track instead of plodding along like a turtle!