Slow dancing over the Gulf of Mexico

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I’m asked quite often now what events are on my 2014 calendar. Of course, if you’ve followed along, you know my response 😉

Today was one of the events. I really do want to re-race each event I’ve done so far to measure any decrease in pace, if any. The Port Isabel Longest Causeway race was my first 10k, almost exactly one month after my first 5k. I had been running for just about three months. Still very green, awkward and overcome with nerves.

But today was different. Not that I’m all Olympian or Kenyan by any means, but I really did feel at home at this race today.  Practice, training and experience has all helped me overcome the nerves and focus on just doing my best and enjoying everything around me.

This may sound weird to you non-runners but as a flat valley runner with little to no experience with hills or elevated grades, running up the Causeway is a serious challenge that takes great physical effort and stamina. The challenge plays mind games with you… or at least it does with me. I did a pretty good pace going up and stopped three times to take photos of a few fellow Cyclepaths that I saw along the way. Coach Hector marked my time trial at 10:45 with a 13:15 goal pace. *My run pace has slowed tremendously so I’m building it back up by returning to Running 101 class and tons of run drills that coach has designed just for me. I think it’s working.

I held an 11:40 pace (even with all the stopping for photos and chit chats with friends) which puts me at 2 minutes faster than Coach’s goal pace for me. I finished at 1:14… nothing to be ecstatic about right? Wrong.

Wanna see why this is so exciting for me? Look at my time from the last Causeway race.

My first 10k - The Longest Causeway run

 

To me, any improvement is worthy of celebration!!! Especially after doing so much with so little experience.

I would love to say that by CapTex I can get back to my 8 min paces but truth is that these last couple of months I’ve focused solely on running pace. Once I begin to incorporate swimming and biking into the weekly routines, I’m sure that my 8 dreams will likely fizzle. So I won’t get upset if I don’t reach 8 but that doesn’t mean I’m not gonna try and it doesn’t mean that I’m gonna kill myself trying to get there. Ya, re-read that last line. Do it again. Understand?

Oh! My review of the race today you ask?

Honestly, today was a bit of a blurr. What stood out the most were three parts.

1. Going uphill on the Causeway was a bit surreal. It wasn’t like last time – sunny and calm with the smell of the salt water filling your lungs. Today had a thick brownish sticky fog that smothered the view and your body with an icky feeling. It took me back to my younger days in dance clubs where the dance floor would poof up with thick smoke and that lovey dovey slow song would play for the traditional “it’s 2:00a.m. bar is closing hook up” song. I remember smiling big as ever as I found myself slow dancing over the Gulf of Mexico. Its hard to describe the feelings I get when I run. I remember getting a few boys upset when I was younger dancing with them at clubs because once I closed my eyes and my hands went up into the sky, I was in my own little world and they knew I was no longer with them. It was how I escaped. I never needed drugs or alcohol. I just needed a good beat to dance to. Well, the same kinda goes for running.

It’s a sensual exhilarating exhausting feeling that isn’t sexual. Does that make sense? People kept telling me how addictive running was and to watch out for the “runner’s high” and I’d laugh. Maybe this is what they were talking about. Maybe I do get high. Maybe running is my drug. Wow. I hope coffee doesn’t get jealous!!!

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2. The last mile just as I turned the corner, I flashed back to the year prior when I witnessed a fellow Run Walk or Crawl runner fall to the street with a broken hip. I said a quick prayer of thanks for the ability to run without injury. So many people are not able to. This is a gift that I and all those around me at the time were given. And that’s when my mind went to David Mendez. I had asked a fellow Team in Training team mate about him two days ago. He’s struggling now and has spent the last two weeks at MD Anderson.  And that’s when I jumped into high gear…

3. It was the thought of David that pushed me to my last sprint across the finish. Normally, I gracefully prance across the finish with my hands held high showing my momma in Heaven my hand signs and smiling big for the cameras. Today was different. I don’t know what came over me but I was just so filled with emotion. How could I waste this gift that has been given to me? And my inner voice loudly commanded me to go… go as fast as I possibly could. Sprint. Race. David can’t. You can. Go! I didn’t look at anyone around me. I focused on that finish line and went for it like a crazy mad woman. I scared even myself!!! But it was a great feeling. That was for David because I still don’t know what to say to him to make it all better. So I run.

With all that I’ve been though, I should know what to say by now to people who have been hurt by cancer. Shouldn’t I?

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