It really couldn’t have gone any better than it did.
I was nervous — about the weather — as the four of us drove from Seattle to Whidbey Island in mixed snow and rainfall Saturday morning.
“She better be right!” Phyllis, my friend, who will also be my maid of honor, yelled from the back seat. Her husband, Andrew, sat next to her.
The “she” Phyllis was referring to was our wedding venue manager. Our wedding is going to be on Whidbey this summer and the venue manager has told us several times that even if the weather is crappy down south/at the ferry dock, it is always nice inland on the island.
This fact proved accurate on race day. I really hope it proves accurate on the wedding day as well.
I bumped into a few friendly faces at the Fort Ebey Trail Race before the start, so that was a nice surprise. Though everyone I knew, including my friends and Bryce, were all running the 10K. I had about 15 minutes of waiting by myself in the extremely cold wind for my 5K to begin. This is when the self-doubt kicked in.
What if lots of people pass me? What if my knee starts hurting really badly? What if I have to walk a ton?
Finally it was time for us 5K-ers to line up at the start. As the group of us stood there practically shivering, I reconsidered my choice to not wear gloves and my earwarmer headband.
We started the race with a small loop along the bluff, which was annoying but helpful since it helped disperse runners before we got to the narrow single-track trail. Once running in the forested trail, I felt warmer not being out by the water and the wind. My fingers and toes were starting to thaw out but my nose was a running mess.
I leaned forward to attempt a snot rocket — without it hitting the runner right behind me. This was a mistake. I (thankfully) did not hit the runner behind me but in an awkward maneuver to move forward while shooting a snot rocket, I lost my footing and tripped on a root in the ground.
Now my left ankle really hurt. I sort of limp-jogged, wondering if I should step to the side of the trail to let those directly behind me pass. Because at this point we had only been running for about five minutes or less. Nah, I’m fine, I thought. Channeling all the Olympic figure skating I had watched in the past week, I figured if skaters can land jumps awkwardly on their ankles yet continue their routines flawlessly, I can continue running on a rolled ankle.
After a few minutes, the throbbing ankle pain went away and it just continued to be sore, which was fine by me. Plus, my lungs were getting a beating — from my lack of being in shape — so, I eventually forgot about my ankle pain.
As I continued, there were a few runners directly in front of me. The woman immediately in front of me had a windbreaker tied around her waist that kept obstructing my view ahead of the trail. After running through a pile of mud that I could have easily avoided had I been able to see it, I decided to run ahead of her.
After I passed her, I continued on and passed one or two other runners. Overall, I was feeling pretty good. I was running!
Halfway through, I’ll be honest, I was getting tired. I started doubting my fitness and was worried that the people I had passed would catch up to me.
I even walked some parts of the last mile. Yes, I admit that I walked during a 5K! But, there were a few steep parts on that 5K course!
In the last quarter-mile, I could see that there was another women close behind me. With every wide turn, I could either see her out of the corner of my eye or hear her.
My competitive nature, which really only comes out while racing, kicked in.
I will not let her beat me.
Why this particular person? Probably because the entire race, no other female runner had passed me — just two or maybe three guys did.
Once I was out of the woods and the trees started to clear, I knew I was close to the finish. Eventually the finish line became visible and I could see and hear spectators cheering.
This is it. Time to finish this.
I sprinted the last few (or several?) meters with a smile. As soon as I got out of the finish chute, I realized that not many people were standing around. I walked over to one of the aid tents and asked a volunteer if any of the 10K runners had finished yet.
“Nope. Just a few 5K finishers so far. You’re early!” she said.
Her comment made me feel pretty darn proud.
I hit the portapotty, got some electrolyte drink and posted up near the finish to watch Bryce, Phyllis and Andrew finish their 10K races. Bryce came flying in, beating the guy behind him by a handful of seconds. Phyllis and Andrew later arrived running side by side looking very happy and cute.
Overall, it was a great day of running for everyone.
And, to my great surprise, I finished second overall in the women’s division! (Bryce won third in the 10K, too).
“And you say you’re injured?” everyone kept saying to me as I held my “second place” mug I was awarded that I had filled with popcorn.
Maybe it was just luck, or the fact that only about 50 women ran the 5K race, but I did podium. And, while my knee did feel achy after I had completed the race, it really wasn’t that bothersome during the race.
I guess I’m officially not injured anymore?