Ugly and about to puke. This is what people look like when they run. My boyfriend watched other runners finish, and said it was just a montage of ugly people looking like they were going to puke.
He is right, I guess. Runners are weird people. Why would anyone join a group where everybody gets together and makes puke face?
Because puke face is awesome.
My first race was fun and unfortunately puke-less. I chose an 8K because running is intimidating. The night before I was nervous because I hadn’t done a longer run (that means over three miles for me) in two weeks. My cross training had been the very NOT cardiovascular yoga. I didn’t know if I could finish.
At the start, the walkers and runners were all lined up together. Mooo. My first mile was by far the slowest: fourteen ridiculous minutes. I kept passing people, feeling like the hare instead of the more sensible tortoise, but I was feeling no pain. It felt weird, but I kept passing people, and around the 5th kilometer, mostly runners remained in my path. I had found my stride. Around the 6th kilometer, I felt a little discomfort, but focused on my breathing (thanks yoga!) and kept telling myself I could keep running, and to just focus on maintaining my pace. Still, I was smiling. I was still running! Further than I ever had before!
Seeing the marker telling me I’d passed kilometer 7 snapped me out of my trance. Only one more kilometer to go! I picked up my pace. The finish line was so close, I could hear traditional Irish music, which always makes me smile. Then the course looped what felt like a long way away, and I wondered about my decision to pick up my pace. Before I knew it, I could see the finish line. I heard girls I’d been pacing myself with from a distance for the past few kilometers talk about picking it up and finishing strong.
I started running for real and started passing people. I passed some chick in a sweet Lululemon jacket, some old dude in compression pants, some other dude wearing a spangled green hat and no shirt, some lady panting and grunting. My run was effortless, like I could maintain that pace for miles. I could feel my body working like a sublime organism, like it had found its purpose and my thinking brain was just along for the ride. The the pureness and rightness of that last half kilometer is what running is about.
I reached the finish line too soon. I realized that during the race I hadn’t pushed myself enough. I had underestimated my body and feel like I wasted its potential. I will never start near the back of the crowd again.
I begged my poor boyfriend to come with me just so he could take a snapshot of me ugly and sweaty and about to puke in my moment of glory. But I’ve got a huge cheesy smile on my face. I ran my first race and finished stronger than I thought I could.
Running in a group felt like everyone there was on my side, like each person was a running buddy yet someone surpass. I can’t wait to sign up for another race. And I’ll trust the feelings of no pain as soon as they start and see how fast and how far I can go. I thought people who did yoga were the cheesiest. Maybe cheese is me, running.