One of the reasons I love running so much is because it is so unpredictable to me.
Sure, I can log training runs and prepare for races with the best of them but when it comes down to it, no two runs are alike. Heck, even with one run you can have one mile where you feel like a million bucks and the next like you're sucking pond water.
The BAA 10K was no different in it's unpredictability. But it wasn't because of the heat at 8 a.m. (that I really wasn't mentally prepared for) and it wasn't because the miles themselves were unpredictable.
No, what really made the day special was a series of little, seemingly insignificant events that shaped my race day experience.
If you know me, you know I am usually either early or exactly on time for something, and yesterday I made sure I was early to the start of the race just so I could make a pit stop.
I hadn't spent any time in Copley Square since the Boston Marathon. And so, alone, and in my running clothes, I trekked over to the memorial near the Boston Public Library (which happens to be paces away from where I spent most of my marathon day).
I was alone when I got to the memorial: It was about 6:50 a.m. It was quiet and the air was still. For what seemed like an eternity I just stood there. Staring. I feel like I read every message -- took note of the color of every running shoe left. I took a deep breath. A few silent tears streamed down my face. I wanted a hug. But I was alone, and had a race to get to and friends to meet. So I wiped my face, took one photo, and started a quiet, slow walk to the starting area of the race.
As I texted my friends to see where they were, and picked a spot to camp out and stretch, I thought about how much I've changed in the last few years and how far I've come in terms of running. That's when Victoria walked up to me. The night before the 10K, she and I had been tweeting about the race and how we were excited to run it -- and she overheard me chatting with another person about this blog. Turns out, Victoria and I have a friend in common (thanks, Emily!) and she now lives in the town where I grew up. Small. World. We chatted about running, about my hometown, about people we knew in common, about the race. I love meeting new people because of running. And after the quiet, lonely experience I had at the marathon memorial, meeting someone who read my blog was almost like getting that hug I so desperately wanted.
I also bumped in to my buddy, Tim, who has gone on several long runs with me. He's one of my most-reliable long-run buddies, right when I started getting butterflies in my stomach about the race. I do that. I get all nerved up before a race and then, all it takes is a reminder from a friend that I can tackle something for me to feel just fine.
The whole race was very much the same way -- one minute I would be thinking to myself that it was just too hot and I miserable and then I'd see someone I knew running near me. A simple wave, smile, and "Hi, Elizabeth" from my buddy, David, was enough to fuel me through the half-way point (which also happened to be right when I was feeling my most overheated).
When I got a pang of heartache going through the same underpass as the BAA 5K course took me through just one day before the marathon, a policeman reached out his hand and signaled me for a high five.
All day, I felt like runners were carrying me on their backs when I needed a little boost. Emotionally, this race was hard for me, and physically I am still getting over a terrible virus.
Thank you to everyone who came and cheered. Thank you for everyone who gave me a little boost yesterday.
I busted my previous PR of 1:15 for a 10K by putting up 1:02. Next race, I'll be even stronger. I hope by then I can start carrying someone the way I was carried.