Five miles. FIVE. MILES!

And the blessings just keep on coming.

This Saturday, I took part in the annual St. Louis St. Patrick’s Day Parade Run.

As late as Friday night, I really didn’t want to go. I don’t run regularly – I mean, I do for Crossfit, because good cardio is a part of the routine. I run 200 meters for a warm-up, a couple of miles (separated by a good chunk of bodyweight exercises) in a WOD, and one time I ran two miles, rested for a few minutes, then ran two more.

Though I don’t run regularly, running for me right now is kind of a miracle. When I first started Crossfit, I also was in physical therapy for a bad back. The therapist told me, “You probably should quit Crossfit. Or at least, no box jumps, running, or anything else high impact.” And I admit, doing those things did seem to make things worse.

But the idea of quitting Crossfit? As the man in “The Princess Bride” said: “Incontheivable!”

So I did something daring and radical: I quit physical therapy instead. And started going to a chiropractor. One who Crossfits. And who, with his wife who also Crossfits, believes in a holistic lifestyle – spiritual, emotional, physical. The whole thing.

My back began to feel better. And I began to run. And run.

Now it’s true that on those days when we run a lot, or when the WOD includes deadlifts AND running or deadlifts AND box jumps or any combination of the above, I spend most of the evening with my ice pack, Minimasseuse, and Biofreeze. But it’s worth the extra effort, to keep achieving those goals.

But anyway…back to the St. Patty’s Day race – remember that? The reason why I called you here in the first place? Like I said, I thought about not going. I thought about it a lot. Though several of us from Parkland Crossfit were planning to go, I thought I probably wouldn’t see many of them once the race started – I can run, but I’m not the fastest cheetah in the coalition (yep, that’s what it’s called – I looked it up). It’s rough enough being at the rear of a WOD pack of 12 – did I really want to see over 10,000 backs in front of me?? With strangers?

On top of that, I would have to get up at 4:30 to get there in time. AND drive into the evil city. AND try to find a parking place. AND try to find the rest of the PCF’ers before I lost them in the crowd.

Not to mention that my running bib never arrived in the mail. It was like a sign or something.

But Friday night, my friend Shara and I were texting…and while we were discussing the run (I refuse to say “race” to maintain my denial), she suggested that I meet her in Arnold so we could drive in together.

With that, the fun quotient went up and the fear quotient went down a bit.

The getting up sucked, it’s true. But it just got better after that! First I got to go to Dierberg’s and have this amazing breakfast bar that I’ll have to find again. And as I wandered around the store, I thought, “Can’t wait for the race to be over so I can eat some ice cream and not feel guilty about it” (Yeah, the food thing is a whole ‘nother blog).

Shara and Chris arrived, and thank goodness Shara had seen the latest weather forecast, because I was wearing knee britches (compression pants), my Fearless Workout Crew t-shirt, and a sweatshirt, with plans to ditch the sweatshirt before the race. But Shara announced when she arrived that the temperature – which was a lovely 60 degrees at that point – was going to drop to 46 before the race.

Back to the back of the car. Digging through my massive workout bag. Finding a long-sleeved shirt to put under the tee – the right color to match the bright yellow shirt, the right material so I wouldn’t either freeze or sweat to death once the race started. Gloves or not?? Shara graciously provided an ear cover and a pair of cheeky green and while knee socks…and off we went!

Chris was the perfect navigator – he’s apparently been downtown a lot, and he knew exactly where to park. The garage wasn’t a block from the registration tent, so once I (finally!) got my bib and my t-shirt, we could take the shirts back to the van.

So here we are…all St. Patty’d up:

Levi Chris Shara and Me before the race

We pinned on our bibs. We stretched. We went to the bathroom about twenty times. We found the rest of the Fearless Workout crew – some of them in kilts:

Kenny Kilt

Adam Kilt

We took a bunch of group pictures…most of them were kinda dark because where was the sun? Apparently it started celebrating the holiday extra early and was sleeping in. And the one nice bright one? Well, I was off looking for a PortaPotty without a line with my friend Donna…who found one…that turned out to be for the race officials. OOPS! But hey, I got to go to the bathroom one last time before the race started.

As the time of the race drew near, the crowd got thicker and packed closer. I set my phone into Airplane Mode so the battery wouldn’t die before the end of the race, and chose Ron’s Songs as my running playlist. Over the sound of the chatter, we barely heard the countdown to the start…but suddenly the pack began to move. Slowly. My feet barely left the ground, but gradually we shuffled our way to the starting line, and at last the crowd began to spread out.

As predicted, I pretty quickly lost the rest of the Fearless Workout Crew, though I managed to keep Donna in sight most of the way.

The race itself is something of a blur. I mostly focused on my music, not stepping into potholes, steering around some people, trying to stay out of others’ way. The first mile went by surprisingly quickly…and I felt very good. The second mile…felt very comfortable too.

Then…the course began to go up. And up. Not a steep up…a gradual one, but one that just seemed to go up and up and up and up…My right hip and Achilles’ tendon began to talk to me. Before the race, I had thought I would run two miles, walk one, then run the last two, so I decided to slow down and walk.

That lasted about half a block.

I won’t deny that the walking was infinitely easier than the running. It was easier to breathe and to move.

But I clearly wasn’t going to burn up the Parkland Crossfit roster, so I made a decision: my new goal was to run. And keep running. Until I ran it all.

The. Whole. Darn. Thing.

So I picked up my feet and my pace.

I passed people. People passed me. Someone swatted me on the butt, and Shannon, Adam and Erin waved by – surprising since I thought they had pulled away from me long before!

Mile three passed and I thought with a little thrill: “I think I can do this!”

My hip still hurt. I ran on my heels a little in an attempt to alleviate the pain in my Achilles, but that made my knees unhappy.

I kept going.

Mile 4 finally came…and then…there was another hill. I thought, “Really? A hill in the last mile? How cruel is that?”

I put my head down. I kept going.

Where was the darned finish line?

We turned a corner. The announcer was going nuts, saying something about this turn, one more lap, run towards the Arch. I looked up, saw the Arch, still saw the sea of shirts in front of me. My heart sank…still so far.

And then, suddenly, there it was! There was no banner, just a time clock and a plastic thingie under my feet that I figured was the device noting my time. There were two of them, one after the other…

I stopped, I walked. My calves hurt. My hip hurt. I found more of the yellow shirts that made the Fearless Workout Crew stand out from the rest of the grey or green clad crowd. I bumped fists. I beamed.


Note to self: next time, take the headband off and the scrunchy OUT. Post-race hair is not my best look.

Shara and Me after the Race

This is me and my friend Shara after the race. She was wise enough to take off her hat beforehand. She looks wonderful. I still have post-race hair, LOL…only now the headband covers most of it…

I was sure the time clock said 53:54 when I crossed the finish line. As my peers received texts informing them of their official time, I checked mine obsessively, then resigned myself to the fact that I probably wouldn’t get one, since my original bib had never arrived. I thought, though, that since it had taken us about five minutes to get to the starting line, that my time would be around 48-49 minutes.

When I got my results later that day, I was a bit disappointed, I must admit: my official time was 50:23. However, I finished in the top half overall, the top third of women, and the top fifth of women my age.

But then I just kept saying to myself: “I DID IT!!!!!!” I ran a FIVE MILE RACE. I’ve never done that. The last time I ran a 5K (about 3.5 miles), I was in my twenties, I think. I ran six miles once and could barely walk the next day. True, we’d run some distance in Crossfit, but the most I’d run at one time was two miles.

I still can’t believe it. I’m overwhelmed with happiness and gratitude…to my coach and to God for bringing me here and getting me through.

Oh, I know it’s a relatively trivial thing. It’s a race, not the cure for the common cold. I don’t exactly have a wall full of medals proclaiming me the queen of runners, even of 50-year-old runners.

But it actually wasn’t bad. In fact, it was kind of gloriously fun. As the day went on, I just kept saying to myself in wonderment:

“I ran. FIVE MILES!!!!!!!!!!!!!!” YIPPEE!

And I can’t wait to do it again!

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