Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Warm Sweet Goodness

There are no words to describe the amount of happy good vibes that I received Sunday (and along the 2 month journey) for my FIRST 10k. It’s difficult to explain the reason why this was such a big deal, because there are so many reasons. Many have to do with my body and finally being able to actually DO the things that I always knew I could do but for my undiagnosed genetic disorder I just couldn’t, no matter how hard I tried. Then after going through the weight loss and feeling stronger I was sidelined in 2012 by the three leg operations and lengthy recuperation time which further delayed my opportunity to let this body FLY. Now I’m feeling spectacular, I want to do everything and it is all so new and wonderful that it bursts my heart and my head just thinking about all the things I can– or try - to do.
Swason lead me to victory on Sunday with her commanding athletic spirit, her empathetic guidance and her perfectly timed words of powerful encouragement. As we stood shoulder to shoulder in the pack of 1,987 runners awaiting the starter’s pistol Swason and I discussed our pace and agreed that we would stick together if we could, but no worries if we split up.
Bang – we were off.
I was scared and anxious, I’ve been running this distance for a few weeks but it felt so different. The cement was hard, I missed my last potty pit stop and all these runners looked so strong and elegant. But Swason stayed with me, even though I didn’t turn my head to see her, I knew she was there.
I usually jog easily until about 4.5 miles however as I reached mile 2 my right calf began to cramp. As the pain increased I thought I would “run it out” until the turn around at 3.1 but the pain quickly spread through my right hip up to my shoulder then down to my foot. I tried to ignore it, I tried to focus on the traffic lights 6 blocks away, I tried to think of all of you cheering me on and Susan gliding easily over my left shoulder but when my right foot began to burn then go numb the fear of a thrombosis rupturing in my right leg finally convinced my body to stop.

Swason stuck with me as I felt the heavy pressure to complete the full 6.2 miles well up inside. She slowly and calmly led me through a series of stretches as I explained my symptoms. This was an entirely new side of Swason that I never experienced, she was the composed all knowing expert and I was the novice seeking her help. If I wasn’t so focused on relieving the pain and quieting my inner angel of death screaming “YOU ARE GOING TO DIE” I would have hugged all the air out of her – but I don’t think dominators do that, so I didn’t.
After the stretching Swason instructed me to walk for 1/10 mile then reassess my pain. I took off at my speed walking pace and moved to the center of the street instead of the right gutter where I had been jogging previously so I wouldn’t interfere with the “real” runners.  After making these adjustments I was free of pain and back at my cruising jog– ya know why? Cause I wasn’t running in the right gutter! Full on rookie move…ughhhh. Yeah, so when the street slopes to the side and there are big metal grates over the storm drains ya don’t wanna run there – lesson learned.
At mile 3.1 Swason took the lead at the turn around calling over her shoulder, “It’s shorter on the way back.” I knew mathematically that couldn’t be correct but Swason is the harbinger of truth and a marathon trainee so I accepted her words wholeheartedly as my smile grew wide and my feet welcomed the forgiving softer asphalt of the return trail.

Mile 4 my ear buds revolted, silencing my music and my GPS lady who tells me I'm a running superstar every ½ mile. I tucked the useless cord and buds into my sports bra and tried not to focus on my echoing heavy breathing and the unknown distance ahead.

4.5 miles and I hit my wall, as per always. I felt heavy and slow. Swason had pulled ahead and if I had any extra breath I would have called out to her …. just go…. leave me here…. I’ll be ok. But as my head screamed out to Swason in silence she turned as if sensing my psychic cry and yelled out “Only one and a half miles!” Swason's  words were perfectly timed, she didn’t have to say “You can do it” because I knew she was certain I had the power to conquer the next 1.5 miles and then I thought of T-bone’s beads on my laces that spelled out “Glew” “Strong” and I pumped my arms and pushed my legs.

Swason remained a few steps ahead, guiding me closer to 6.2 miles. When the 6 mile marker sign came into view my emotions erupted, stunting my lungs and clamping my throat shut. I gasped twice finding no air then I focused on the back of Swanson’s left shoulder, her gate was relaxed and steady, I wanted to feel that. My lungs loosened and I was back in the game just in time for a recreational runner, who was heading towards me in the opposite lane, to give me a massive high five as he yelled out, “You’re almost there!”

Swason and I crossed the finish line at 1:12:13 just as we began, shoulder to shoulder with broad smiles and laughter (me with tears). The announcer sang out our names like a European football announcer calls GOAL-A GOAL-A GOAL-A as my mom eagerly rang a cowbell, tooted a duck call and held a sign exclaiming Swason's and my awesomeness. We were awesome… we are awesome and so was my mom with her generous spirit, unending support and superior effervescent cheer leading.

10K Sunday ended with a celebration French Toast brunch attended by Mom and…. Sweets. Yes Sweets and I didn’t work as dating partners, and yes things were said and done that filled my head with crap but we are working really well as friends.  Sweets has always been a champion of my physical achievements and while dating not only did he introduce me to scores of new activities while never doubting my ability to conquer challenges but he named my gams “Adventure Legs”. Sweets also was the first to tell me that my strength and power were worthy of a 10K and supported me wholeheartedly throughout my training. Sweets understood what Sunday meant to me, it wasn’t JUST running 6.2 miles, it was bigger than that, it was the sum of all the parts.  Sweets and I never unpacked our emotions and shared our lives, but somehow he got it, he got that this 10K was bigger than a race and it was wonderful that he desired to share in the glory of my big day and eat my leftover bacon and french toast.

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