When I woke up on Saturday morning for the Rock 'n Sole Quarter Marathon in Milwaukee, WI, I felt a twinge of doubt.
The night before started off on a great foot. My family went to the Calderone Club Downtown, an Italian restaurant, for the traditional pre-race dinner (and yes, I carb-loaded in a delicious chicken marsala way). But that evening, long after we had been tucked in bed, the hotel’s emergency lights and alarms started blaring, followed by a message to evacuate.
In a panic, we woke the children, climbed down five stories, and crossed the street in our pajamas along with all of the other hotel guests. Luckily the event was a false alarm, but I was pretty tired when I woke up five hours later. I thought the thrill of the day would pick me up, but then I peeked outside only to see a dreary sky and soaked streets. It was raining. My heart sank. Could I run 6.55 miles?
The family dropped me off as close to the start line as possible. I found my corral and stood in the drizzle to wait with the other runners.
Once 7 a.m. came, off we went. Climbing the on-ramp of I-794 was immediately a challenge. The rain had ceased, but the air was thick and humid. I decided to break down the race into miles with the top of Hoan Bridge being my main goal each way.
Once I got over that first challenging hump, which included burning hamstrings and running too fast (a habit I need to tame), I settled into a comfortable pace and was able to enjoy the city views with dozens of church steeples on one side and the lake complete with a lighthouse on the other.
Overhead, a plane buzzed by, trailing a sign that said "Rock on Runners." Each mile that passed, I felt a sense of accomplishment. By the time I hit mile four, I knew I could make the rest of the run without walking. When mile five approached, I picked up my speed and kept up my faster pace until the end. The closer to the finish line that I ran, the more exciting the day became. Between the sound of cowbells and strangers calling my name, I didn't let up, and for the first time I actually ran right across the finish line. Just as I crossed, I heard my family yelling my name. All I could do was smile.
Despite being tired, nervous about the rain, and facing the steep challenge of the bridge twice, I still managed to run the entire quarter marathon! Afterward, my husband reminded me that I just proved to myself that day that I could truly do anything I set my mind to. And he was right.
I smiled again.