Yesterday was the 2nd annual Cantrell Center 5k. It's a tough course, mainly because the last mile is one GIANT hill. I don't have much love for this race, mainly since it's still too cold, in my opinion, to be sporting little shorty shorts and a singlet at 7am. Don't get me wrong, those folks at the Cantrell Center do a fantastic job of putting this thing on...I just wish it were in April or October or any other month where the average temps are above 60 degrees. At any rate, I had to go to the race because I got a free race entry from my favorite running store: Run Fit Sports.
(Note: I voluntarily signed up for the free race entry so any and all complaining about how cold it was or how difficult the course was is completely, and 100% my fault.)
So, I dreaded it and kept telling Troy that if weren't for that dreaded free entry, I'd stay at home in the confines of my warm bed.
When will it ever warm up around here???
At any rate, I carpooled to the race with Angela and boy was I thankful we decided to ride together. She's been going through the same bouts of un-lovingness for all things running faster, just the same as I have been. It was nice to spend 30 minutes comparing over-taxed schedules, unmotivation, and how much we both despise this cold weather. It really was nice to talk to someone else who is my similar shoes (no pun intended...unless you like puns, of course).
We arrived at the race and went to pick our packet's up. Upon entering the packet area, I spotted Runner Ashley. She's a 16 year old who frequents our Tuesday night track workouts and really is just a very sweet girl. I don't know why I did it...but I asked her if she'd like me to pace her on the race. She's relatively new to running, doesn't have a great coaching staff at her very small school, and therefore suffers in knowing what to do to get faster. She ran a 5k last weekend in 34 minutes. She's good as gold, until about mile 2 where she's spent, gives up, and decides to walk the rest of the way. I didn't want to run this race, so I figured it would be a perfect opportunity to take the pressure off of myself and do something for someone else. She didn't really have any goal in mind. Just to run faster and not give up. In my mind, I wanted to help her break 30 minutes and NEVER stop running.
At the start, I just told her to stay next to me. If she started having trouble, to just stay one step behind me. I'd get her to the finish, show her she can run faster than she thinks, and that she can do all of that and not die! We began at a 9 minute pace. I figured if I could just keep her there for the 1st mile, she would have enough energy to get through the hills without stopping.
I talked and talked and talked. Probably doesn't surprise anyone....I was having a ball. No pressure. Just solid encouragement for someone in need. She did really well through the first 1.5 miles. We came to some rolling hills and I told her to just let gravity take her down them, and use that momentum to climb back up. I was actually surprised to see that she didn't stop once! Around mile 2, the climb for the last hill begins...you can see it coming so it wasn't like I could hide it from her. She asked to stop at the water station. I told her she could grab water but to just keep on running. She did it! As we began the climb to the top of the hill, she began to get frustrated. She kept saying she couldn't do it. Everything hurt. She really just wanted to stop and give up. I kept telling her to keep going, that she wasn't losing much time on the hills, and to focus on the people she could pass. By the time we got to the top of the hill all she could say was "I can't do this." And I'd say "Yes you can." And she'd follow with "I can't do this." And again, I'd just say "Yes you can." I started repeating my mantra to her, the one I say over and over again when things get tough:
"I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me." Phil 4:13
She probably thought I was crazy but I just kept saying it to her over and over again. We rounded the turn...less than .20 of a mile to go. We could see the finish line....I told her to start sprinting...do what she is good at. She began crying. At a 7:45 pace....lol. She had no idea she was running that fast. And she just kept crying as she crossed the finish line in 28 minutes and 57 seconds! Her step-dad came over and asked me why she was crying. I patted her on the back and told him "those are tears of joy." She agreed.
I was really proud of her. She never stopped once. She did everything I told her to do even when she didn't want to. A little Grasshopper in the making! I really was proud of her.
Now, I have to get myself back in the game. I've run about 20 miles this week. Not stellar but better than many of the past few (several, many) weeks. Maybe the warm weather will show up soon and I'll make more time for it. Maybe...just maybe.