The anxious butterfly feeling before any race is often sickening. But ask any runner and they know that it’s a good feeling. The nervousness eats you up days before and kills you as the minutes tick before the start siren blares. These gut wrenching moments are what runners live for.
I was living for the moment I can race again. A race where I’d know if it was the return of something beautiful or the beginning of the end. I wanted to vomit but more importantly, I want to be set free and run my heart out.
Queued up in Corral B, I couldn’t help but choke back tears. 5 years ago, I was over a block back in the open corral with the rest of the masses (about the distance of the 2nd green traffic light).
Today, I was mere yards from the starting line. The only the elites and Corral A separated me from the start.
The minutes ticked away from the start of the 2012 Bank of America Shamrock Shuffle 8K as I desperately stretched my calves in my coveted B corral. The uneasiness of my stomach matched how much confidence I had in myself this perfect morning. I didn’t know what to expect; only hoping for the best as I waited for the race to start.
And waited until I was finally off, crossing the starting line on my first race in almost a year.
Down Columbus Drive I strolled with the rest of Corral B. Left foot then right foot repeating in front of me as I made my strides along this enormously populated 8K. Left onto Grand Ave and there was the first mile marker. I cross the starting line about 1:14 seconds from the start of the race. If my math skills are correct, the first mile clocked in at 8 minutes.
8 FREAKING MINUTES!
When I first started running again just over a month ago, I clocked in at 9:30. Today, at this very moment, I threw down my first 8 minute mile in over a year. As exciting as it was, I knew I was going too fast. I had to slow down and left people pass me. I can’t afford to be injured and losing everything again. So I slowed down only to clock an 8:15 for mile 2 and then again for mile 3.
Not the kind of slowing down I was expecting, but when you’re racing, the adrenaline and competitiveness kicked in. As I round to Michigan Ave, I saw the Mile 4 marker and then I almost stopped in my tracks. My math was blurred but for some reason the previous mile clocked in a sub 8. Hitting 8 was one thing but breaking sub 8 in the same hour? Improbable!
This was the point where I noted to myself that I have never ran more than 5 consecutive miles in over a year and my body felt like blech. I wanted to stop and walk but I sucked it up and pushed myself to finish strong. And strong I did as I crossed just over 42 minutes.
Official 8K time: 40:20.
Not only was this my best Shamrock Shuffle time ever, but my second best 8K time. And to think I only gave 80% this day.
40 minutes and 20 seconds for an 8K. Wow, I was fast this day. But the best part was not that I was fast but I was back. And with that, I raise my glass to a return to a wonderful running (recovery) season.