Monday, August 10, 2009

Island Runner

I said I was not going to run the 39th annual Captain Bill Gallagher 10 Mile Island Run in Sea Isle. It's an annual August race that combines conditions I hate: heat, humidity and sand. My plan was to head down to Sea Isle in time to see the start or at least the finish. But instead, there I was in Sea Isle on Saturday morning, turning over a $25 check for a race tag and t-shirt.

I did this for a few reasons. I've felt weak since my shoulder was cut open three weeks ago, but I've started to rebound. I'm out of running shape but knew completing this challenge would help me get back on track and be a boost when I start training for a November half marathon. Just watching the race would have make me antsy. And the biggest reason: Bill, my boyfriend, is moving to Minneapolis in September. I hope this isn't our last race together, but if it is, I wanted to run in it instead of waiting for him to cross the finish line.

The race was more miserable than I expected. It's 80 percent on sand. Every time you step into sand, you push harder to spring out of it. Add to that the humidity and heat, the sand and salt water, and throw on top of that I hadn't been training, and it wasn't the best race I've run. I think it was the worst.

I was huffing by the second mile. By the fourth mile, I almost quit. Same at the fifth and sixth. I told myself at the start that I would stop if my surgery site started bleeding, but my lungs were in agony.

Once I got past the sixth mile, though, it's all downhill since I knew I'd run more than half of the race. I did everything I could to get across the finish line. I stopped and took a break. I walked. I even cried a little. But I had to finish that race, even if I walked across the finish line. I needed this. I kept telling myself as I plodded along that if I could overcome a major physical and emotional loss to gut out 10 miles in August on the beach, then I could do anything.

I ran the race in 1:33:36. That's 14 minutes slower than my Broad Street Run time, 947th overall. But I don't care. I finished. When things get tough this fall, I can look back to crossing that line and know I've been in worse spots and made it out OK.

A few thank yous to folks who helped me get through the race:

1. Spectators. You guys were great, lining the beach, handing out water between the water stations, and trying to cover up holes in the sand so we didn't fall.
2. Bill's parents. Seeing you guys at mile 4 gave me an extra boost to make it through.
3. Orange people. Whoever handed out orange slices, THANK YOU. I knew I needed something more than water to get me through, and those oranges were it. THANK YOU, THANK YOU, THANK YOU.
4. Everyone who ran. It was a crappy race day, so running it with 1400 other people made me feel less insane.
5. Bill. Thanks for coming back and running the last half mile with me. It meant more to me than I could ever say.

I felt sick after the race (and threw up most the post-race food). My body didn't know what hit it, and I'm still sore today. I don't have to race again until September, though Saturday wasn't really a race for me. It was a finish. Despite the aches I feel today, I am so glad I went to Sea Isle early on Saturday and signed up for that race. I can also say that I ran it...and never have to run it again.

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Shann said...

congratulations, jen! sometimes finishing is all that matters :)

Momma said...

Sometimes we do things because they're there! I ran the Marine Corps Marathon 2 weeks after my mother died. I had been training for it but slowed down a bit when she was in the hospital. I wasn't sure I was going to finish. I had the option of bailing at mile 8. There was no way physically or emotionally I should have finished the whole 26 miles but I did and on some spiritual level it changed my life.

Leslie Elizabeth said...

congratulations on the finish. you are so brave for pulling through with it. Way to go.

joyRuN said...

It was TOUGH, but now your November half will hopefully seem easier after having finished this.