Today was it. The day of the Meijer Festival of Races at the 2014 National Cherry Festival. I have crossed the start line. I have crossed the finish line. Yay!
Like everything else I do, I got there early. Way early. As in, an hour before my race was supposed to start. Admittedly, this was mostly due to the fact that I thought it would take me way longer than it did to get my packet. And find parking. Hell, I even had time to swing by Burger King to carb up a bit. And still got into the parking lot an hour before I needed to be anywhere.
So I sat there, ate my sausage and hash browns, put on my knee brace, popped a couple ibuprofen and then decided to wander my way over to the start line to stand there by myself, looking like an idiot
Thankfully, we didn’t end up having to maneuver ourselves around that Tundra.
And there I stood. I wandered around some, found the hydration station, noted where the port-a-potties were and was thankful that I knew what buildings on campus were open so that I didn’t have to use them. And then they told us all to line up, and since I had nothing better to do I headed over.
I really don’t do this selfie thing.
I lined myself up under what they called the “Fun” section, with the people planning on doing 12:30+ per mile. I figured that was a really good place for me. I haven’t done a 12-minute mile since I was 14, prior to the knee blowing out and subsequent surgery. Besides, the Fun section was where all the fun was anyway, and I wasn’t there to win, I was just there to do it as a symbol of all that I’ve been through and all that I’ve accomplished.
The fun is always where I’m at.
We sang the Star-Spangled Banner, and then we were off. And I ran. I ran a good half-mile, as a matter of fact. A slow jogging pace, but it’s still the longest I have been able to run in one shot. Ever. Until my thighs started protesting, and I had to slow it down. I jogged a little here and a little there, but in the end it was a lot of walking. The miles seemed to drag on, probably because when I go for my runs, I know exactly where the mile markers are and I can anticipate them. As a matter of fact, I use the known man-made mile markers (AKA where roads intersect) as a point to focus on when I’m going. I will say though that it really did feel like there was more than a mile between the signs, but I’m sure that’s just my inexperience talking.
So there I was, walking along, and then I got into downtown. Which was hands-down the most awesome feeling, ever. All those people, lining the roads, cheering and making noise. Now, there had been people all along the route, chilling in their camp chairs in their front yards cheering us on, but getting into downtown was something else. All the noise, all the excitement, that was something that I had never experienced before. And it felt good. It was a straight shot for about half a mile and I could see the finish line, and despite the fact that my busted left knee was vehemently protesting, I started jogging again. I had to stop for a bit, my knee couldn’t take it, but once I hit Mile 3, knowing I only had 0.10 miles to go, I ran. No sprint, just a light job, but I ran.
And I crossed the finish line. Running.
I will admit that it took a bit of work to keep from sobbing as I crossed. I had done it! Despite the diabetes, despite the primary immune deficiency, despite a lifetime of chest pain and knee pain, I did it. I crossed the finish line. It was hands-down the best feeling ever. Hearing my name announced as I crossed was something else. It gave a new level of accomplishment that I have never before felt. And it felt good.
My brother was running the 10K so I waited for him at the finish line because I wanted to be there cheering him on. Lord Imp wasn’t keen on getting up out of bed to meet me at the finish line which made me sad a little, and I got over it. But I wanted to be the person cheering my brother. I wanted to take photos of him crossing the finish line, but knowing that my shutter speed on my phone is awful and I’m really bad at taking action shots, I put the phone away. But not after accidentally taking some photos that can only be filed under “weird shit I find on my Lumia.”
Because everyone needs a photo of a crosswalk on their phone.
My brother finally crossed and I met up with him, and I continued my diet-destroying for the day by snagging myself an M&M cookie that it turns out I really needed because after that cookie, a slice of cherry walnut bread, a diabetic-friendly-ish cup of cherries and 45 minutes and a couple units of insulin, my blood sugar was only 115. And that was even after keeping a 25% temp basal running since about halfway through the race.
I destroyed that awesome blood sugar and my diet even further with a stack of pancakes at our favourite breakfast stop after the race with my family. And to be honest, I really don’t care right now. Those pancakes were good.
All-in-all, it was definitely an experience that I plan on doing again. Sure, my knee still hurts and my calves are a little sore (even with Lord Imp massaging them), but it was a lot of fun. It made me feel like I was in control of me, myself, my body and my destiny. And right now, that mental strength is what I need more than anything.