Sure, I just finished a marathon in a decent amount of time. And yes, I just managed to run the fastest 5K I have ever attempted. Yet, neither of those accomplishments can surpass what I just did today. Today was the victory of all victories. It was a once in a lifetime opportunity that happened to present itself today. And I took it with all I had. The victory is mine!
Oh, let me back up a few years… about 8 1/2 to be exact. Lets go back to the time when I met my husband. We were at Coast Guard training. I liked him. He liked me. He was very athletic. I wasn’t, but somehow I managed to pass the physical requirements to get into the program. Well, we didn’t really have much time alone so we figured that the best way to get to know each other would be to run together in our free time. I suppose he must have done all the talking because I know I must have mustered all of my energy and lung capacity to keep up with him. I knew that he was running very slow in order to maintain my pace. But that is what we do when we like someone, right? 🙂
Yeah, he ended up getting the physical fitness award for our group. He was in prime shape and I was, well, just me. Then things started to happen. We got married, we moved (many times) and had three kids. Somewhere during all of that chaos, he started running less and I actually started running like someone who likes running. I even signed up for races, like half-marathons! My husband did his thing and sometimes he would run the race and sometimes he would just cheer me on at the finish. Actually, he could do both at the same time because he was always at the finish well ahead of me. What really irritated me was the fact that he could just run a race without even training for it while I worked my butt off to get myself to the finish line.
As most of you know, just recently, I started running a whole lot. Loads of running with some half-marathons and marathons mixed in to keep it goal oriented. I remember the first half-marathon after giving birth to my third child. Not my best time, but I was proud no less… seriously, I had just given birth 3 months prior to the event. No surprise that my husband flew by and made great time. But that wasn’t even close to being the end for me. I was in serious training mode and I ran my first marathon just months later. At the same time, my husband was not so focused on running. Oh, he is intent on completing an Ironman Triatholon by the end of the year, but he has been on the bike and in the pool and not so often out pounding pavement.
I saw all of these changes as a chance to turn things around. The Gate River Run 15K was in my sights. A week ago I asked my husband if he wanted to run with me and you know what he said?? That he would be mad at himself if I made it to the finish line first. Well, how is that supposed to make me feel? Yes, you said it: super competitive. So, on Tuesday night I worked hard on speed and I told my running buddy that my only goal for the race was to beat my husband. I didn’t have a time like most people set their sights on. No, I could care less about the time. I just wanted to BEAT him! As we ran the bridges fast that night I thought about how I did have one advantage… I am GOOD at bridges. They don’t scare me in the slightest. Actually, they get my adrenaline pumping even more and somehow I can move my legs faster than most people. So, the plan I had formulated in my head was to stay behind him for the first 8 miles and then pass him on the bridge that leads to mile 9 and then bring it home!
Soon it was the morning of the race. I was standing next to some of the members of the running group I often participate in (the one with the really fast women who keep me going) and next to my husband. As soon as we passed the starting line, he took off in a sprint. There was nothing I could do because it was a mess of runners in all directions. He was wearing the blue race shirt that like half of the other runners were wearing! I lost him right then and there. I didn’t even make it a half mile. All I could think was that I just needed to keep moving fast. And that is just what I did. I don’t even know what happened to the rest of the group because I was so intent on propelling forward. By the time I got to mile 2 I was a little scared. I was worried that maybe I had started off too fast. What if I die during the last half of the race? No, don’t think negative thoughts Heidi! I have read that positive thoughts can actually make you stronger so I just kept thinking about how I would catch my husband. I spent most of my time scanning the crowd ahead of me so I had little time to think about how my legs felt like they might fall off or how I felt like I was choking on air. I kept telling myself that I should probably slow down, but that didn’t really happen. My body did force me to slow down, but my pace was a lot better than I ever expected it would be halfway through the race.
Then, around mile 8, there it was. The bridge. I had never been on this bridge because it doesn’t have a sidewalk so people can’t legally run on it (that doesn’t stop some runners). It looked very long… very, very long. And my legs were feeling weak… very, very weak. I started up slowly, but then I saw the fast woman from the running group and I passed her so that only gave me more motivation to increase my speed. I was passing people left and right. Ha! They don’t seem to be a fan of bridges! Then there was this really loud, obnoxious music coming out of the speakers near the top of the bridge. I wasn’t really paying attention to my surroundings because I was waiting for the downhill portion of the bridge to show itself. And thats when I saw HIM. Yes, my husband was right there in front of me. I just said “hey” as I continued running past him. Then the downhill side of the bridge stretched before me. I ran as fast as my legs could carry me down that hill. I didn’t even risk using energy to look behind me. I feared that every runner passing me was my husband. I couldn’t let that happen. Not now. Not when I am this close. I just pounded the pavement not caring what I was doing to my body. I will pay for that later. For now, I just need to cross that finish line. Then there was a curve in the course and all of these people were there cheering us on. I totally thought it was the end of the line so I started sprinting around the bend just to find out that the finish was not there. It was at least another 0.1 miles further! I nearly ran out of steam. I have no idea how I looked when I crossed that finish line, but all I can say is that I was so proud that I made it there before my husband did. He wasn’t far behind, but he was still BEHIND. This time, I had to wait for him.
This will probably be the only time that this will ever occur, but it will forever remain in my memory as one of the best moments of my running career.