It was a cold and dark morning when that 4:30am alarm went off. I hit snooze. Twice. Okay, maybe three times. I finally crawled out of bed at a little before 5am to check on my house guests. Marisa came up from Deland to run the race, and Tiffany was crashing with me so she could get a ride over to the start line. Heather wasn’t there yet, but had texted that she would be there before the 5:15am departure time.
It was cold. It was awfully cold. It was 30 degrees cold. Which for Florida is FREEZING.
I was not a happy panda.
When Heather got to my place, we grabbed our last minute stuff and then hurried into my car so we could warm up and get moving. Brian wasn’t running this race, so I kissed him goodbye as he went back to sleep all warm in our bed. I kind of hated him for that, but I knew I had a mission to accomplish. See, this race wasn’t about time. I knew for a fact that it wasn’t going to be about time. It was about finishing and finishing without a migraine. My first race post surgery and I had zero training. I was stressed, cold and nervous, but excited nonetheless.
Marisa sat in the front of my car and made fun of me because I tried to drive before the front windshield was clear and ready for me to drive. We had to get out there though! It wasn’t until I was halfway down Southside blvd and headed to the highway that it cleared enough for me to not drive bent over and peering through the small hole made low in the window. We listened to music, laughed and sang, and goofed off until we got into the parking lot. Then we just sat in the car and tried to stay warm.
There was a lot of complaining about the cold, and not coming form me. Sure it was cold, but really? Start running and you’ll be warm! I have no doubts.
We hung out a little and then decided we needed to find some porta-potties. Off we went! While we were running around, we found an old family friend – Noel. He was there to see his girlfriend run her first half marathon and met us at the porta-potties. We did our deal and then walked around to the PRS tent so Marisa could say hi to friends. (NOTE: PRS is Personal Running Solutions, the running group I am joining in January.) They weren’t there, so we wandered back to the side of the road that held the heat lamps and a massage table.
SIDE NOTE: Did you know that there is a new awesome app called RaceJoy? You can have instant posts to your social media pages on how you are doing if you run with the app active on your player or phone. I talked to the people at the RaceJoy tent about when they were going to get Twitter active, and they said they hoped by the end of the year. What’s also cool about this app? People who are following you can send you cheers that play over your music. I was STOKED, and used my day old new iPhone 5c instead of my player so I could hear the cheers. The lady at the RaceJoy tent was sending me some and it made the race way easier to run, for sure.
Soon it was time to line up. I knew that I wanted to start farther in the back of the pack. Remember: First race post surgery, NO training. So I walked in the back of the pack with Heather and Tiffany. Heather was going to run the race with me, and that was important to me. She’s been the one who has been there all through the years with my migraines, I wanted her to be there when I finished the first event post surgery that required me to do some hard work without a migraine. We had lost Marisa earlier, but I knew she had a time to beat so I wanted to make sure she had her own start anyway.
The race started late. The timing mats were frozen. FROZEN. It’s FLORIDA and the timing mats were FROZEN. Over the bullhorn, the race director told us to just jump over the start timing mats. I had to roll my eyes. When the gun finally went off, we walked forward (there were a lot of people there) and then we jumped over the mats and off we went. Heather kept yelling at me to slow down my pace, and then she got frustrated with me for having to stop and walk a lot. Half way through the race, she had to stop and pee.
“Go ahead and keep going, I’ll catch up to you,” she said as she bound off for the bathrooms. okay… I said with a shrug. I took off and started run/walk/run my own pace and then I realized I was almost at mile 8 and I had no idea where she was. I started to slow down and walk backwards looking for her. I was getting bummed. I kept getting calls on my cell phone from numbers I didn’t recognize and I ignored them. I was in the middle of a race, people!!
“You’re looking for your sister?” someone asked, pointing at my tutu.
“YES!” I said loudly. The two ladies nodded.
“She’s looking for you. Just wait for her and she’ll find you!” they said as they slowly ran past me.
“Great! Thank you!” I said, as I walked to the side and started looking for her. She finally cam around the corner and we both cheered. She said that she had tried to call me from three different people’s phones trying to find me, and I laughed. We took off again, slow and steady with a consistent voice in my ear saying “Slow down, Jamie… My pace…. if you ran my pace you wouldn’t have to walk so much.”
I wanted to punch her.
My leg was killing me, my IT band acting up. I was walking more than I was running toward the end because I felt like my knee cap was being yanked out of place. But when we came up on that finish line, I grabbed Heather’s hand and we ran the finish. I didn’t look at the clock, and I was starting to hyperventilate because I was starting to cry. But when we crossed that finish line, and all my friends were there at the end ready to give me hugs I was on cloud nine.
“No migraines, right?” Heather asked. I just hugged her. I couldn’t answer her. Marisa gave me a hug. Eric gave me a hug. Tiffany and Noel gave me a hug. Marisa then hugged me again, and again since I was crying and so excited. I was floating on cloud nine. My leg hurt like mofo, my feet ached, I was out of breath, sweaty and salty – but my head didn’t hurt. At all. Not at all.
Later that evening , I headed to my parents house for Thanksgivakah with friends in two. We ate lots of food, drank wine, opened presents and enjoyed our evening. When we got home, I crashed while Brian and Marisa played music trivia with each other (THAT was entertaining) and I felt good. Sore, achy, and satisfied in a way that screamed “You are okay. This is proof. Now go do better”
I can’t wait until I am able to train full out.