Last weekend I was able to run the 2nd Annual Across the Bay 10k, or the Bay Bridge Run.
This was my first race post-collegiate running and postpartum. I hadn't stepped onto a race course in over a year and a half... I was a bit nervous to say the least.
Those pre-race rituals and emotions come back like muscle memory. Laying out all my gear the night before. Keeping water next to my bed. Waking up before my alarm. Super cleaned out digestive system. :) I felt like a college athlete all over again.
This was only the 2nd Annual Across the Bay 10k, but the Bay Bridge Run was coordinated like clockwork. It is already 6th largest 10k in the nation, with over 20,000 participants who are running a point to point race across a 4-mile bridge over the Chesapeake Bay. Getting runners and participants shuttled to their appropriate locations is no small task, as you can see below.
Though the Bay Bridge Run was not an ideal spectator course, the volunteers and shuttles did an amazing job of getting spectators to the finish and participants to the start at any given time of the day. The race started at 7:00 am and had 15 waves of runners, the last beginning at 9:30 am.
Our plan for this race was to have Joe run in the first wave. Elle and I would meet him at the finish line, and we would "hand her off," So I could jump in a later wave and race. Because the shuttles ran continuously and at many locations, I instantly jumped on a bus, made it to the start, and ran wave 9 of the race. It was really smooth and a great race option for parents who both like to race but have kiddos who aren't able to join them... yet. :)
I'll admit my Bay Bride Run time was no top-finishing time like my beastly husband (He won the race at 31:33). Wave 9 meant weaving in and out of walkers for most the race. It was really difficult for me to gain speed and really get in race zone. However, I think I received a greater prize that day. I was reminded that is it this type of event that makes me feel most alive.
We are all made unique. We all have a special "thing" that we can do in a way that no one else can. We don't even necessarily have to be the best at it. However, there's something about us doing that thing that really makes us come alive.
When I'm at a race, that is the place I feel most myself.
What other place is it acceptable to run around in tights and bright colors, screaming demanding nonsense like a maniac all while people push themselves to painful limits, often resulting in puking, spitting, and snot dripping?
Yes, there is an element to running that is extremely odd, and only makes sense to a small population of people. But there is something so beautifully perfect about this unique sport. When you see someone running, you watch their story unfold with every passing push of the pavement.
We were unsure what Joe's performance would look like that day. Joe has battled multiple injuries throughout this year and had only had 4 weeks of consistent running under his belt. While struggling through the grass with our Bob Stroller to get to the course (there were not many spectator options besides the finish line, and I was hoping to catch him at the 400 to go mark.) I saw a view that put this stroller mommy in a dead sprint.
Joe was winning the Bay Bridge Run. I could see the drive and determination with every breath he took. I saw those early morning cross training sessions. I saw his diligent Physical Therapy work in our living room. I watched him throw aside the excuses and injury frustrations and decide to race with all he had.
I instantly turned into THAT Mom. I sprinted through the police cars and barricades, screaming at my husband to kick it in gear, as he'd just made a wrong turn on the course and had the 2nd place runner only 5 steps behind him. Joe is by no means a sprinter, and when put next to a runner with a kick, he's in trouble.
But not today. Joe chose to cease the opportunity. He held off the chase and finished first with a time of 31:33, breaking the race record by nearly 2 minutes!
I went nuts. Tears running down my face, I jumped up and down, telling every stranger around me that that was MY HUSBAND. "HE WON!! HE DID IT!" I screamed at the volunteers and firefighters. They laughed. I honestly looked like a complete idiot. But I did not care one bit.
I began sprinting around the finish expo, Elle in the Bob, trying to find a short-cut back to the finish so I could congratulate Joe. Getting to my husband took about 10 minutes. If you were not in the finish shoot, you had to go around the entire Bay Bridge Run finish expo to get back to the finish line. After finally spotting him and striding aggressively through the bumpy grass, I embraced my handsome victor. So many great racing memories flew through my head. I was so proud of the work he had put in, and that the modified training plan we were able to make for him actually worked!
He was able to match his college 10k PR on less training than he's had in a long time. The best years are ahead of this man, and I am so excited to get him in more races and watch him use his gift.
There are two things I hope you take away from reading this.
First, use your gift, and use it often. What do you do that makes you feel most alive? What activity makes you feel God's pleasure most? Do you paint? Sing? Garden? Fly RC Planes? Ride Horses? Play guitar? Whatever it is, make a point of incorporating that activity in your life on a daily or weekly basis.
Don't waste your days focused on being "so busy" with work and life that you let go of the things that make you who you are.
I can assure you that making time for these things will make you better at your life's many tasks, doing them with more joy and intention, if you are making time to fuel yourself by using your gifts.
Also, while using your gift, use it well. Watch YouTube videos to gain more skill. Read books about it. Seek someone who teaches this skill and have them show you how to do it better.
If you are a newbie or experienced runner looking for a plan to take your racing to the next level, leave your information below. I'd be honored to help you reach your goals, and would find so much joy in watching you reach your true potential. Your best days are ahead of you. Make time for what matters most today.