We were standing amongst 50 or so people, most of them in running gear, athletic and fit, smiling at the sunshine and getting amped up as U2's It's a Beautiful Day pulsed through the air. I knew more than half of the faces, some of them veteran St. Mary's families, and some of them through Luke's pre-school class. I offered to go get our race numbers and get us registered while John stayed with the kids. As I walked down the stairs to the flurry of activity the tears started to well up in my eyes.
I am here. I am about to run a 5K. Me. I have always and forever hated running. Hated it. It is not fun to me. But I want to love it.
My dad used to jog all the time. He called me his "pacer", I'd ride my bike along side him during his jogging route, which coincidentally was pretty much the route of this race. He had bad knees and I don't think jogging was really his thing, but he was in the military and it was part of the deal so he stuck with it.
I brushed off the tears long enough to get our numbers, we registered soon after hearing they were doing a 5K, so our race numbers were 2 and 3. I grabbed our bags and headed back outside to John where I choked up again. He kissed me and said, "just do your best, don't worry if you walk part of it, the idea is that you're here."
And then we were off.
John kept pace with the front group of runners, I was with him for all of 3 minutes before my pace clearly was slower. We ran entirely through my families stomping grounds, past the street I grew up on, along the bike trail that was once a railroad where my neighborhood friends and I would leave pennies for the trains to flatten (kids, do not do this please!). I let the sun shine on my face as my thighs burned and my shins felt as if they were being stabbed by some evil monster. I walked, I ran, I walked, I jogged, I walked. I joked at the water table that this was so much harder than the treadmill.
My mom watched as I ran past our street again, she cheered as I thanked her and told her I was going to die. I walked. I jogged. No one was in front of me and I was afraid to see if or who was behind me. I was 4 streets away when I passed the neighborhood watering hole complete with an outdoor band who cheered me on, "go, go, go, go!" I kept running. Smiling through the fear of wanting to throw up.
I rounded the corner of Church Street and was greeted with clapping and cheering as I saw my family on the sidelines. John was smiling so big and as I passed him I heard him say, "you did it! Yeah!" And then I heard "here's Amy Stevens with a time of..." as ran through the finish line.
Ellie wanted me to hold her immediately as I tried to catch my breath and Luke said, "hey, mama, where you been?" All I could do was laugh and kiss his honest to goodness sweet little face.
The finish line has created an addiction. I can't wait for the next race, the next runners high, the next best time.
And I would like to congratulate my husband for finishing with a time of 26 minutes. Sweet awesomeness.