Last fall I heard about the Get Lucky Twin Cities Half-Marathon and 7K that was to be held on St. Patrick's Day weekend. I knew it was way too soon for a half-marathon, but the 7K seemed doable—or a least a fun goal to work toward. I decided to see if I could get some of my friends to join me, and after an e-mail blast to a group of my mom-friends, a dozen ladies responded with a tentative "yes."
As the winter weeks went by, I was feeling doubtful about the weather holding up for our festive weekend race. Even though my friends and I talked about training together, it never happened. The weather was frigid, often dipping below zero. Even on the "warm" days when the temps were in the teens, the icy hills were treacherous.
Thanks to my husband's thoughtful Christmas gift of Yaktrax (traction for running shoes) I ran outside a few times when the temperature reached the 20s and the roads were manageable, but I mostly stuck with my gym routine to avoid slipping. By the time the big week arrived, many of my friends had bowed out due to injuries, family schedules, or fear of the cold weather. Our pack had whittled down to five ladies.
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The day before the Get Lucky 7K, it rained, hailed, and snowed. By evening, the roads were slick, and the racing outlook was grim. But the next morning, my friends Katie, Catherine, Jennifer, Tammy, and I were huddled in the freezing cold wind along with the other 9,797 runners. (The race was later named Minnesota's Largest Timed Road Race because of the turnout.) Our fingers and toes were numb as we waited almost an hour just to get to the start line. As we started, some racers were already finishing!
Once we started moving, our bodies slowly began warming up—but other problems presented themselves. Since all of the runners were dressed alike in the same "Get Lucky" sweatshirt and green embellishments, it was hard to keep track of everyone. I kept counting friends like moms count kids on field trips.
Then, not far into the race, we were running down a slight grade, and people around us were slipping and falling on the ice. It was then that I realized this wasn't going to be a running race, but rather a "let's finish safely" race. With the support of each other, we managed to get through the race at a steady pace, running when we could and walking when we needed to.
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We looked to the distance markers for motivation, and when the 5K marker approached, our spirits soared. Before we knew it, the 7K finish line was ahead. As we crossed, the announcer called our names and we rejoiced! When we were handed our shiny finisher medals, our breathlessness had vanished and we were all smiles.
Thinking about it afterward, I realized the race was like my experience with weight loss. Starting was rocky and took a leap of faith. It tested my willpower and determination as I climbed through the icy, windy hills, slowing down and recollecting when I needed to, leaning on my friends for support, looking to the markers for motivation, and sailing through the easier stretches. I thought about how, even through the trials and doubts, it didn't matter how fast or slow I went. What really mattered was that I crossed the finish line.