This past Sunday was the 40th Annual Turkey Day 5 Miler in Owensboro. Gary and I ran it three years ago, but were not able to the past two years because we had so much to do to prepare for Thanksgiving. Since we aren’t hosting this year, we signed up, along with about 20 other Perry Countians. It is incredible to see how running has grown in our community. We used to see a couple other Tell City runners when we went to races out of town, but now there is always a crew. For several, this race was the longest race they had run. What an accomplishment! As always, I looked at last year’s times. Owensboro runners are just fast. I looked at my age group, and realized that even if I hit my goal pace, which was 9:00, I would not even be close to placing. I was okay with that, and kept my goal. For some reason I was really excited about this race. Saturday night I bought some new songs from Itunes after researching running playlists. Sunday morning we skipped church (God understands that I had lots to do before taking off for the race). Gary and I had to go to Walmart that morning, so I finally bought some new earbuds. When we got home I loaded up the playlist and ran up and down our drive to make sure my new buds stayed put. Thankfully, we have no neighbors, so there was no one to witness my freakish behavior. I was so pleased with my music choices I just had to dance around outside. We had to go to a couple of stores before the race, so we arrived in Owensboro early. I was still pretty fired up, although my goal pace seemed less and less attainable as time passed. I am typically nervous on the way to a race, but the jitters didn’t start until we were within a block of the starting point. I was rather unreasonable at that point (just ask my husband). I wanted to be left alone to get in my zone, and I want to be prepared and at the starting line early. Then I worried that I would get too hot because I wore long sleeves. I decided I had no choice, and let that go. I wore a ruffled running skirt (super-cute), which I knew would make some of my running friends cringe. It makes me feel good to wear a running skirt (and to have a perfectly coordinated outfit), so I was happy with my choice. And so it was time to line up. I wished my husband and friends good luck, got my Iphone app ready, and waited for the gun. When it went off, we took off, and I couldn’t get my app to start! It only took a few seconds to get it set, but that didn’t make for a good start. I got going, and I went hard. I got totally absorbed in ‘Good Time’, and I ran. It was hard – really, really hard – but I was determined. When I hit the one mile mark, there was a guy yelling out times. I ran the first mile in 7:58! My first thought was Shit! I can’t run that fast! I knew I had to slow down or I would never make it to the end, but I also knew that if I didn’t slow too much, I could have a good average pace. I kept working hard. At the two mile mark, an older man came up on my left and fell into step with me. I began to pace with him. He told me that he hoped he wasn’t slowing me down, and I replied that he was keeping a nice, steady pace, and I needed that. He told me that if we could keep that pace, we would finish well. We ended up running the rest of the race together, and there were times that had he not been there, I would have slowed way down. He told me about running his first marathon; I told him about how to find good music, and the running app he could get on his Iphone. When I would begin to slow, he would motion for me to speed up and keep going. We crossed the finish line together – in 41:02! My goal was 45 minutes, and I finished in 41:02!!!!!! I was exhausted; I wanted to puke; and my body was spent. But I ran an 8:20 pace, which is the fastest I have ever run. I so appreciated my pacer, but I couldn’t even tell you what he looked like. We were side-by-side, and one can’t exactly try to run and look at someone’s face at the same time. I did get the opportunity to thank him when we were waiting for awards. And guess what! I placed 3rd in my division! Woo Hoo! If I can do that, anyone can. I am not an athlete; I wasn’t an athlete in high school. I didn’t begin running until I was 42 years old. With hard work, determination, and goals, we – all of us – can accomplish amazing feats. Now let’s talk post-race. That wasn’t so pretty or exciting. Almost immediately, my stomach began to hurt. And it didn’t stop. By the time we got home, not only did my belly hurt, but I was also absolutely exhausted. I began to wonder if I had pushed too hard. I questioned if it was even worth it. I spent the entire even lying on the couch. If I am stressed, whether it be mentally or physically, my stomach is the first to go. I think that because I ran 1 1/2-2 minutes faster per mile than I typically run, my body was stressed to the max. Fortunately, by the next morning I was pretty much back to normal, except for the sore muscles that are to be expected. Once I realized that I was likely going to live, I decided it was indeed worth the effort. I don’t know if I will ever run that fast again, but I did it Sunday, and that’s enough (for now). Congratulations to all of the Tell City runners! Many others placed; I don’t want to try to name them because I would surely leave someone out. Many met goals, and others overcame injuries and illness and finished with very respectable times. No one gave up! My husband beat his goal by over four minutes, running his fastest pace ever! Who says we have to slow down with age? I am so proud of my incredible running friends! I love seeing them do things they never thought possible. The next race is December 1; it’s a Holiday Hustle. Who’s in??