Sunday, March 18th.
A day I had been training for, running up and down the hills through my neighborhood, listening to my "run, baby, run" playlist and convincing myself that I could, indeed, run a 15K race.
I set what I thought was a reasonable goal: under two hours, maybe a bit of walking but mostly running.
On Saturday, I hydrated and carb-ed up and went to bed early.
I woke up at 3am with nightmares (forgot my running shoes, lost the race chip, couldn't find a bathroom). I finally gave up at 5am and just climbed out of bed.
I ate the "right" things...a bit of oatmeal, a banana, some water. I headed downtown to meet up with my Christ Hospital group, nervous butterflies in my stomach.
7:50am: The start of the race.
This race is usually cold and rainy, so we were surprised to be blessed with perfect weather. 60's and partly sunny, with a nice breeze coming over the Ohio River.
I ran the first six miles without stopping, keeping pace with another Christ Hospital nurse and truly enjoying myself. I just KNEW I was going to beat my goal. Feet pounding the pavement, a smile on my face, feeling strong and GOOD.
Then, the biggest hill of the race. Practically a 90-degree angle, for heaven's sake. We had already decided we would walk up the hill, then run down and finish the last three miles. My knee, however, had other plans. Despite the support brace I was wearing to prevent this sort of injury, that last hill did me in. I had to urge the other girls to keep going while I walked it out, hoping to run again after a few minutes.
However, every time I tried, the pain almost brought me to the ground. I could walk, but I could not run. So walk I did. Until the last 1/2 mile, when I could see the finish line. I was determined to RUN across that line. Clenching my teeth, holding back the tears, I sucked in the pain and ran.
My time? One hour, fifty-five minutes. Still five minutes under my goal. With friends cheering me on, making me feel so proud. I. Did. It.
And when I hobbled to my van, I opened up my phone to find a text from Isabel:
Congratulations, Mom, you did it! I love you! You should be proud of yourself!
My heart grew two sizes bigger (name that book), and despite the painful knee, I smiled all the way home.