Saturday, May 05, 2007

WalkAmerica Recap

Another 12 miles in the books for Rainey and Grace.

The weather called for rain and temperatures in the 50's, so I was prepared for a very wet and uncomfortable run. Fortunately, this morning the sun looked like it was trying really hard to burn through the cloud cover. Through the first half of the run there were some sprinkles, but nothing harder ever fell. There was a good sturdy wind, however, which did make the going a little more tough. Temperature was comfortable when running but chilly when at a standstill.

I have a bad cold which is greatly aggrevating my asthma. I also have a strained back from dropping my bike. Yes, I said 'dropping my bike'. I was not moving at the time, fortunately, and my bike is fine. So, I was unable to run yesterday when I tried due to the lung and back pain. That had me pretty worried about today. I used my inhaler a few times during the night and again first thing in the morning, took two cold pills and two Aleve.

Had a bagel and some coffee and did some stretching. Kitty did the same, and we got ready to go. She was walking six miles, for which she's been training for a month.

We arrived at the park and got signed in. Because I'd raised $757.00 and Kitty had raised $600.00, we received 38 and 30 raffle tickets on which we needed to write our name and phone number. 68 raffle tickets later, neither of us won a thing. Bummer. There were some cool prizes.

We watched some older ladies and college-aged boys doing some Jane Fonda style calesthenics and listened to some local beauty queen sing an off-key rendition of the National Anthem.

Then we took off. I started in the front of the pack, since I was one of very few runners almong a pack of hundreds of walkers. I started my iPod, playing the mix I made for the half-marathon I ran by myself. It crashed after a mile and a half. It's not been working well lately. So I ran on in silence. Well, not really in silence...I listened to the plop-plop-plop of my feet hitting pavement and the panting, coughing, and wheezing escaping from my mouth.

I passed the three mile marker feeling better than I expected to (with the cold and back issues)and played running leap frog with a team of two runners and three rollerbladers for the next two miles.

At mile five I split off from the course and ran a mile South to the cemetary where Rainey and Grace are burried. Had a little visit with them and then backtracked to catch back up with the course. I ran across the finish line at eight miles. 'Eight', you ask? 'I thought you were running 12', you question? That's right. I crossed the line at eight but was running 12. They only had three or six mile courses this year, so I ran the six with two added on for the cemetary visit, crossed the finish line and took off for four more miles.

Those first eight miles really went very well. Cruised along (without music or conversation) thinking about all four of my girls, asking them to run with me. My legs were pretty loose and strong, and my back was not so bad. When I crossed the finish line, I took Libby to the trailer where Bobo the clown was making balloon animals and the beauty queens were stamping kids' hands and providing lick and stick tattoos. Grabbed her an ice cream, introduced her to the giant pink dress-wearing cow, returned her to Chris, Amelia, and Jim (Chris' dad), and took off again. I ran back through the finish line, in the opposite direction, and headed off to look for Kitty and then finish my 12.

It didn't take long to find Kitty. She was truckin' right towards me about a quarter mile from the finish, with a big smile on her face. I am so proud of her. She pushed through a lot of arthritic pain and crappy asthma to do this for our girls and the grandbaby of her friends in California, lost at about the same gestational age as Rainey and Grace. It was a beautiful act of grandmotherly love. Rainey and Grace must have been with her, too.

After stopping for fifteen minutes and standing in the cold wind, my muscles got cold and tight. That made the last four miles very difficult. The first mile out was not too legs were tight and heavy, but not terribly so. Miles ten, eleven, and twelve, however, were filled with cramping from my glutes to calves. Had I not been running for my girls, I would have stopped. But I promised them that I would always do 12 miles for them, and nothing was going to stop me from doing just that.

The last mile felt like I was running on legs made of lead, but I made it by repeating 'running for my girls' -- 'running for my girls' -- 'running for my girls'...... I finished mile twelve around the corner from my house, in 2 hours nine minutes of running time. That made for an average pace of 10:45. Respectable with the cold, asthma, back issues, no music or conversation, and wind. Most importantly, both Kitty and I finished our goal distances and felt wonderful about our experience.

I love you, Rainey and Grace...and we miss you terribly. Thanks for watching over your sisters. I'll run with you again next year -- same time, same place.

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