My bedroom is completely black save for the small frosted window above my bathtub, so if it's light out at all it's hard to tell the approximate hour. My phone was on it's charger in the living room, in preparation to keep me company on the run, holding a brand-new playlist I'd made for the occasion, my first time trying to sync myself to the songs that would maintain my pace and my mood. Our small analog clock sits across the room, too far for me to see without my glasses, so telling the time of day or night is pretty hard no matter if you're anxiously anticipating an event or not.
In the morning Kyle prepped himself and the kids while I pulled things together, trying to decide what I'd need and what would only be in the way. We hit the road and met up with my uncle, aunt, and two of my three cousins from that branch, my kids playing shy amidst the large crowds and the several dogs in attendance.
I expressed my concern that he would miss me crossing the finish line if he let the kids wander too much -- I had no idea how long it would take me, but I didn't want him to overestimate my lack of training and miss this moment I'd been working towards for the better part of two months.
I started with my cousins, but quickly found myself pulling ahead of them (my youngest cousin, a cross country runner, stayed with my oldest cousin, with her healing hip) and weaving between runners and their accompanying dogs as I usually would weave through pedestrian traffic in a larger city than the one I live in. I soon found my pace between a larger gentleman in a neon shirt, a couple in matching (gag) outfits, and a young girl with the child-sized version of the same running shoes I wore.
I made it about a mile and a half before my side began to cramp up, triggering my shingles pain to spear through my right lung and ribcage, forcing me to walk.
I knew I wouldn't be able to run the whole thing -- I was only six weeks into my eight week training program thanks to those shingles -- but I wanted to run as much as possible. I spent the last mile and a half running when I could, walking when the pain was too much, realizing that my walking speed is actually faster than some people's running pace. Having ridiculously long legs can be a benefit.
As we exited the neighborhood the course was in, I ran along a road that flanked my childhood neighborhood, albeit far less developed back then. The significance of being so close to most familiar places of my youth while accomplishing a goal of my adulthood was not lost on me.
I ran most of this leg, along that road, and pushed through the shingles pain to round the last corner into the parking lot where the finish line sat, the vision of it catching my breath and withdrawing a sob before I could stop it, refusing to become a blubbering mess a tenth of a mile from being able to say I did it.
I crossed at 34:52 according to the clock; 34:48 according to RunKeeper -- my younger cousin later said he thought the clock was about 20 seconds off, cutting my time to approximately 34:30.
That's about ten minutes faster than I thought I'd do, based on my training times.
Kyle and the kids were at the finish line, though it took me a while to see them. Both kids gave me a huge hug, and as I switched from my running shoes to my flip flops to give my feet (and the slightly infected blister on my right pinky toe) some air, I listened as my kids cheered and clapped for the runners, both of them yelling yay, good job, you made it and my heart exploded with grace and pride. Kyle said they cheered almost the whole time, making several runners smile at their enthusiasm and glee.
We hung out for a moment longer, snacking on the fruit and water set out for the runners before getting smoothies in celebration.
And I'm ready for the next one.